Looking at the "deal" being formed to solve the "debt ceiling crisis," I thought it was appropriate to break out the old headline I used a few years ago. The current reference, of course, is to the extraordinary "special committee" or "Super Congress" which the deal intends to establish. This is an unaccountable politburo which will be able to circumvent all normal democratic (and republican) principles and issue budget-slashing, tax-cutting legislation that cannot be debated or amended, but simply approved or rejected by the rest of the now-powerless representatives and senators.That's not all. If the politburo -- handpicked members split evenly between the two gangs of thieves and poltroons that now hold sway on Capitol Hill -- can't agree on just how much they want to gut the budget and cut taxes for the rich, why then, this will trip a series of "triggers" which will automatically start gutting, slashing and cutting, without any vote by the democratically elected representatives whatsoever. And surely it would be superfluous in me to point out that these unaccountable "superpowers" will soon stretch to cover other areas of legislation beyond budgeting and taxes.Behind all the flim-flammery of this manufactured "crisis", we are watching the creation of a new form of government -- or rather, the further mutation of the new form of government that the United States has been crawling toward for a long time. We called it a "neo-feudal oligarchy backed by a militarist...
There is not much to say about the horrific events in Norway, beyond this general observation. If a white, Christian nationalist carries out such atrocities, then he is, inevitably and always, a "lone nut," an outlier, emblematic of nothing but his own individual lunacy. But if a Muslim-- or any person of color or non-white ethnicity -- does anything similar (or indeed, far less serious in scope), why then, that perpetrator is emblematic of an entire race or religion or ethnic group: a group which must then be laid under collective suspicion, and collective harrasment, by the "security" forces (and the chattering classes) of the West. In the coming days, we will hear much about the tormented psychology of the Norwegian terrorist ... who, as Glenn Greenwald notes, will no longer be known as a "terrorist" at all -- precisely because he is white, Christian and a "patriot."
You can tread the path of militarism -- ride it high, slog through it low, make it the very form of your national being and your personal worldview -- but where, exactly, will it lead? Here's a brief examination of this question.
Do you support the policies and political fortunes of President Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate? Then this is what you support: cowardly, cold-blooded mass murder. You support mass murder. You support the shredding to pieces of innocent people, many of them children, week after week, month after month. You support the murder of children. You support the cultivation of extremism and hatred: hatred aimed at you, and your children, for the mass murder -- the state terrorism -- committed in your name by your progressive president. You support extremism. You support hatred. You support terrorism.
When I first saw the stories about the CIA’s super-cunning covert op – setting up a fake vaccination scheme to try to get DNA from Osama bin Laden's children in Abbottabad – I immediately thought: How many innocent people are going to die or suffer needlessly from this unconscionable tainting of medical programmes by Terror War subterfuge? How many people will now turn away from ostensibly genuine humanitarian efforts, wary of being used by foreign spies infiltrating their country? How many more genuine medical relief and health care workers will now be targeted as agents of militarist agendas in troubled lands already rightly suspicious of the murderous spy games being played in their midst?
A friend pointed me to this remarkable performance by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings of a now-old song. I pass it along here not only for its inherent worth, but also because it seems to chime with many of the thoughts and intimations behind this blog. Here we can see, through the conjurations of two guitars and two human voices, how the bloody murk of history is turned into a powerful myth -- a myth of yearning, a yearning for liberation: from the bonds of convention, from the sentence of mortality, from the soul-draining exigencies of history itself.
An EP of recent songs is now on sale here. (Note: New blog posts can be found below.)
Worrying news this week from the Middle East, as Jason Ditz reports:
A few readers have been kind enough to inquire if any of the tunes occasionally featured on this site are for sale. Well, now they are. A four-song sampler EP, "Just One Plank," is now available for download right here. I'm not exactly au fait with the technology, and there seems to be a bit of delay with the cover art at the site, but the songs themselves are up there and ready to go. Check it out, if you take a notion.We'll be back to regular service here in just a bit. Thanks for your patience. (Photo from Shorpy.com; Scotts Run, West Virginia, 1935.)
No dogma, no doctrine, no parties, no political poltroonery; just one plank in this platform: I'm for the poor.
I wanted to write about Barack Obama’s recent speech announcing the alleged partial withdrawal of some of the tens of thousands of troops he has added to the decade-long American occupation of Afghanistan during his three Bush-like “surges” of that conflict. Events – and a deep reluctance to “waste my beautiful mind” on such a self-evident assemblage of murderous mendacity – stayed my hand. But this was, as it turned out, all good, as the saying goes, for now I find that Arthur Silber has, to paraphrase the Bard, named my very deed of rage. You should read the whole piece – and the links which provide historical context to the president’s long-tortured relationship with truth – but here’s a snippet to wet your whistle: