Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Are you with Israel or Turkiyeh?

Will Israel Go Fascist?

Fascism is notoriously difficult to describe.  As a reviewer of the book of Robert Paxton's McConnell cites in this piece points out, when JFK said "ask not..." he said something that sounded fascist, but wasn't really fascist.

But McConnell quotes Blumenthal quoting a woman on a bus asking "Are you with Israel or Turkiyeh?" when discussing the Israeli commando raid on the Gaza flotilla.  I think this is one of the hallmarks of fascism: The treatment of one's political unit as a football team, which one supports no matter their behavior.  It drives me nuts, frankly, that questions of policy that must be hashed out and debated from multiple perspectives get reduced to "If the other side suggested it then its wrong."  That happens, to some degree, with people on the left, but so rarely its counts as a unicorn sighting.  Its common on the right, however.

The new hosers

Rob Ford and the triumph of the new hosers

Canadians spent much of the 70s and 80s trying to identify themselves.  What did it mean to be a Canadian?  What was Canadian behavior?  Why were Canadians in Canada as opposed to some other country, more specifically the US?  How could you create a country out of two groups of people who didn't really like each other, but were otherwise forced to live in the same space because it was so cold all the time?  And if Canada is a mosaic in contrast to the US melting pot, what kind of glue holds the pieces in place and does the mosaic actually make some kind of coherent sense?

Monday, November 04, 2013

Ender's Blues

The song above is from Miles Davis's performance at the Blackhawk in San Francisco, Friday and Saturday night at the end of April, 1961.  There's some performances on this album that stand with some of his best.  This particular version of "If I Were A Bell" hits all the highlights for Miles Davis: Its modal, a form he invented, which frankly turns jazz from a collection of major-scale solos - certainly beautiful, but limited nonetheless - into a new form of music; its indescribably cool; its a sentimental favorite that he does something new with; its both technically proficient and accessible; and its catchy.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Bag men

Two things of note happened in the Y axis of the above graph.

1. Earmarks disappeared from the Congressional toolbox.  The sole job of a congressman is to get good stuff for their district; its this correlation of self-interests among potential competitors that makes the American system work.  I know we all looked down on earmarks as a hallmark of the unacceptable corruption of a previously high-minded institution, but the institution was never that high-minded and it was never designed to be. 

2. Americans elected a black guy President, and he was promptly tagged as corrupt and likely to hand out money to poor people who were undeserving because they are poor.

So what you see in that graph is a successful takeover of infrastructure spending by people who have power not by virtue of their elections - the President, the House - but by virtue of their institutional longevity and ability to work the system from the inside, i.e. the Speaker of the House.  And of course the thorazine wing of the Republican party is what enabled Newt to gain and hold the power, and for some reason - not his race and your racist for suggesting it! - they hate Obama, and like Frankenstein's monster or Godzilla they've now decided to wreck everything in their path because that's all they were really designed to do.

(I think that might be the best way to understand the thorazine wing.  They're not there because they have ideas about government or the inclination to govern.  They're there because they smash things, or at least up until recently threaten to.  With strong leaders they feel warm and cozy because that is, after all, what they really want - a strong leader who is of the people but also above them, irreproachable in morals but not afraid to wield his disapproval like a sword, a kind of Jesus Christ via 1928 Munich.  With weak leaders like Boehner they run amok wrecking things, asking stupid and irrelevant questions, and generally doing the things the strong leader threatens they will do.  But its always a mystery when they do, because we're supposed to believe these people have rich inner lives and read Locke and Burke in their spare time when really they're not much more than Christian Dominionist robots.)

Its going to be an interesting 20 years, as bridges start to collapse, interstate highways crumble, and airports fall apart, all because Newt Gingrich wanted to rule the world and the Washington establishment felt uncomfortable calling out the racists in their midst.  These idiots have no problem using my tax dollars to air condition tents in the desert, but making sure my kids' schoolmates aren't hungry during the day and that their schools aren't falling apart is bleeding-heart liberalism.