Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Our Plan to Control the World

It amazes me that anyone has doubts about this administration's intentions, or doubt regarding their involvement in Sept 11. I mean for christ sake's these people set up a website( their agenda, just like any individual would do. It's a simple agenda too: Pax Americana, a world peace on American terms. Every high ranking member of the Bush Administration is a part of this group except for the President.

These people even explain how such a plan must be carried. First - transformation of the military. Second - preserve oil interests. Third - The only way it can be carried out is through a "new pearl harbor-a catalyzing and catastrophic event." This is from the website in a paper called

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Thomas Friedman reads Wash Av Huffy Crew

In today's New York Times Op-Ed Section, Thomas Friedman writes:

"Every war has THE picture that captures its essence, and the Palestinian civil war is no exception. My nominee would be the photograph of a Hamas figher in Gaza, lounging in a senior Fatah official's office over which he has just taken control."

Woah Tom, no citation? WTF?

Can a WOMAN be elected President?

I doubt it. Hillary has all the money, power, and connections, but she is a woman after all.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Interesting friendship we have with Pakistan:

"Pakistan's minister for religious affairs has condemned the knighthood given to the author Salman Rushdie. Religious Affair Minister Mohammad Ejaz-ul-Haq said Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses" insulted Muslims around the world and that insults to Islam were the root cause of terrorism. "If someone commits suicide bombing to protect the honour of the Prophet Mohammad, his act is justified" link

De facto condoning of suicide bombings. DrudgeReport has an article linked to ABCNews that shows video of a suicide bomber graduation....the 300 recruits are divided by the country they are being sent to....USA, Germany, UK, and Canada.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Picture Says A Thousand Words

Every war has its defining picture. Vietnam's is often Philip Jones' naked children running down the street. The photograph's strength overcomes the enormous pressures of history that could possibly suck it dry. This image is enduring and it continues to be revived and reviled to this day.

I wonder.........what will be the picture from the Iraq war? What will be the picture that says a thousand words, that tells the story of our heroic efforts to liberate the Iraqis? How about this one. Have you seen this one????? with the man standing on a box? in a hood? with electrodes connected to his fingers?

Seymour Hersch has written a new article about the investigation into Abu Gharib. I encourage any decent individual to read it, as it sheds light on the horrible conditions at the prison. Excerpts:

"I learned from Taguba[the General in charge of the investigation, who testified before Congress] that the first wave of materials included descriptions of the sexual humiliation of a father with his son...."

"At that point, Taguba recalled, “I described a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum, and said, ‘That’s not abuse. That’s torture."

Friday, June 15, 2007

Warning: Contains Sensitive Information

*UPDATE* - Names have been changed. See comments section for access to the full conversation.

Mr. Liberty did, in fact, claim ownership of the voice in the video. Observe:
From: John Liberty
To: d'Mardree
Date: Sat, Jun 9, 2007 at 4:23 PM
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John Liberty
Date: Jun 9, 2007 4:22 PM
To: Josh the Hippie Killer
paris hilton going back to jail
From: d'Mardree
To: John Liberty
Date: Sun, Jun 10, 2007 at 12:28 AM
weird...that sounds like your voice. check this one out.
[Quoted text hidden]
From: John Liberty
To: d'Mardree
Date: Sun, Jun 10, 2007 at 1:18 AM
it was mine <----------------- PWNED
[Quoted text hidden]

First, a clarification: I never said that I was the one screaming at the LA County Court Press Conference. How could I be in LA if I was in NY? Do you think I was trying to trick you into thinking I was in two places at the same time? That just doesn't make sense.

Marjorie I see where you erred. Eugene Levy is also a Jewish-Candian who was at the conference that day. He has the same rustic, woodsy Canadian look that I have but with a severe Judaic twist. His was probably the painfully neurotic yelling.

Second, an epitaph: At the dem debates every candidate seemed like they were whining, as if after every vitrolic criticism they expected us to say "OH GAWD", or "HEY YEAH, SENATOR CLINTON'S RIGHT, WE GOT PROBLEMS." Such inspiring tirades as "this is George Bush's war! He is responsible for this war! He started the war!" really got me energized....against her. Wow, Hillary, no one had any idea it was Bush's war, because we thought it was your war too. But nice defelection manuever. Are they really trying to feed me this dogshit? What kind of people are eating it?

It was the same thing with the Republicans, more self-righteous jabbering and moral indignation. The most common talking point on CNN postdebate was the fact that Rudy Guliani really handled the situation well when lightening cut off his microphone: "coming from a parochial school, this is a little scary," he said. There was bipartisan consensus on the issue; Anderson Cooper and Dick Morris alike gave Rudy a thumbs up on making us feel at ease during the scary thunderstorm.

Cute comeback Mayor Guliani. It was probably a good thing god smitted you otherwise you might have had to talk about how you've been divorced three times,broke up with one of your wives at a press conference, and dated your second cousin, you good Catholic boy you.

Who believes any of these fucking people? Why are the reporters spending 5 minutes discussing the weather? We know the answer to these questions: because somehow everyone got retarded really fast in this country including the journalists. And no one cares.....

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This I believe.....

is what I call the New American Complacency.

In this amazing display of self-righteous idiocy, Corrine Colbert (no relation to Steven, I assume) explains, "My husband is not my best friend. He doesn't complete me. In fact, he can be a self-absorbed jerk. We're nearly polar opposites: He's a lifetime member of the NRA who doesn't care for journalists, and I'm a lifelong liberal with a journalism degree. On the other hand, he doesn't beat or emotionally abuse me. He doesn't drink or chase other women. He's a good provider. So I'm sticking with him."

As it is one of NPR's "top emailed stories," I am led to assume that either readers are a)digusted, as am I or b)middle-aged house fraus fwding their fellow PTA members a pathetic justification of mediocrity in between watching Dr.Phil and a driving the Ford Explorer to Walgreens for some more Xanax (hi mom!).

This piece, to me, seems anachronistic.
Is this a generational difference? Or are women really so quick to forsake youthful idealism? Is it even 'idealism' at all? NRA jokes aside, in my opinion, it isn't that far-fetched to hope that it is worth holding out until you find someone who (god forbid!) respects your career and whose positive attributes extend further than just a grocery list of negative (and illegal, hello!) attributes he lacks (i.e. abuse, infidelity, etc).

I'd like to hear other opinions on this, but what offends me is the assumption that it is better to have a husband who can 'provide' (food and shelter) is better than no husband at all, or even a husband who provides (love and fulfilling companionship) but not the 'essentials.' Is it so freakishly modern to think that a woman, in the case she is unable to find the perfect man (tragic!), should consider the idea of independence?
If Corrine could have stepped up her journalism, maybe she could have worked her dream job at RS and made enough money not to have to stay with a husband who doesn't seem to intellectually interest her in the least. But maybe that was too difficult for her to do what with her douchebad hubby shooting a 12 guage in the backyard and making cracks about 'bleedin' heart liberals' over the evening casserole. Sigh.

Paranoid Humanoid?

So living in NYC, I can honestly say that terrorism is an issue that on my mind literally every day. While living in St. Louis or South Florida, the issue (comparatively) hardly ever crossed my mind, but in NYC my mood is obviously different. And when I speak with friends or colleagues, I can tell that I am not the only one who thinks about the possibility of an attack on a daily basis.

I realize/hope that my fear of being the victim of a terrorist attack is irrational, but lately I’m beginning to wonder if my fear really is that... silly and paranoid. It’s not so much a few isolated bombings that I fear, as much as it is the possibility of a larger-scale nuclear terrorist-attack on NYC.

There has been much in the news lately about NYC installing radiation sensors along all major bridges and tunnels, and now NYC has again stepped up its efforts to further protect us against the supposed nuclear threat.

As a rational person, I recognize that the threat of a successful nuclear strike against NYC is very, very small. There are many reasons for this assumption, which I am too lazy/busy to type. However, these reasons all essentially boil down to the facts that (1.) there are more porous cities around the world where an attack would be easier to pull off yet would retain a similar effect on the world economy/psyche and (2.) that all terrorist attacks against the U.S. have thus far been ragtag, especially compared to the planning and execution that a nuclear strike would require.

…which leads me to wonder why there is such large amount of time and resources dedicated to detecting radioactive materials in NYC. Is it because there is an actual threat, or is this just a typical post 9-11 freak-out? Does the government want us to feel/be safer, or feel/be more scared? Were these measures implemented due to credible intelligence, or due to the lobbying efforts of a paranoid NYC?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Massive immigration

I have yet to hear a good argument against this.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday video fun!

Do you recognize a fellow Huffy-Crew-er in this video?

And I'm sure many of you have seen this one by now, but ohhh man.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Richard Rorty, R.I.P.

Richard Rorty has died of pancreatic cancer. This is an unfortunate thing, as he was still philosophically active in the last years of his life and no doubt still had many years of work, play, and companionship left in him. Since I'm unqualified to say anything substantial about his life, I will instead offer a few words about Rorty's effect on my own development, since it was and continues to be pretty profound.

I can't remember exactly when I started reading Rorty, but it must have been some time around Junior year, when many of us here on the blog were enrolled in the "Rhetoric and Anti-Rhetoric" course. Rorty's name came up in Stanley Fish's infamous The Trouble with Principle, and I soon began taking advantage of the library's free printing policies to gobble up every JStor article I possibly could.

This meant pieces long and short, investigations into linguistics, epistemology, ethics, and metaphysics, and terse statements of purpose like "Postmodernist Bourgeois Liberalism." But in all of them Rorty was pretty much telling the same story (which was either his virtue or his vice, depending on how you look at it):

1) philosophy is a historically conditioned and contingent discipline which despite this fact has taken on a mantle of arrogant self-importance and timelessness;

2) foundationalisms of all kinds, which seek to secure themselves on "eternal," "rational" principles are not only doomed to failure, they're positively detrimental to the sorts of problems we wish to solve;

3) ethics and politics cannot be ultimately "proved" by anything, but must rest on the uneasy ground of solidarity, friendship, and experience, which are all we have;

4) philosophy can be good insofar as it helps us do things, because doing, experiencing, testing, and making our way in the world will have to suffice where metaphysics has failed;

5) novels, poems, and literature of all kinds are often the best substitutes for the dry, worthless academizing of philosophy departments, and truly help us to see the world in newer, better ways;

6) John Dewey was really fucking awesome.

This kind of thinking, which Rorty called "pragmatism" but is surely a slightly different beast from the tradition of Peirce, James, and Dewey, was manna for my confused undergraduate mind. Rorty spoke to values and ideas such as democracy, progress, and hope without claiming to base his ideas on anything that could be sufficiently explained to a philosoper (or at least, on the philosopher's own terms). He was also decidedly friendlier than Fish, who only seemed to care about beating people in argument and driving sportscars as a comfortably tenured academic. As an atheistic, liberal, more-or-less relativistic youngster I needed someone who could assure me of the things I cherished most (freedom, democracy, intellectualism) while denouncing the sorts of "grand metanarratives" (religion, capital-R Reason, Marxism) which I harbored suspicions about.

But more than anything, Rorty was a real window into the world of philosophy for me, and he explained it fantastically, albeit with his antifoundationalist slant. Before reading Rorty I was pretty much only trained in the "classics" of philosophy, but afterwards I absorbed a huge catalogue of names, movements, and yet even finer sub-movements: people like Dilthey, Husserl, Heidegger, and Gadamer on the continental side of the spectrum, the aforementioned fathers of pragmatism, various "traditional" critical theorists and their ilk (Habermas, Thomas McCarthy, Seyla Benhabib, Christopher Norris), a whole slew of poststructuralists and deconstructionists including Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, Paul de Man, and Jonathan Culler, "analytic" philosophers like Wittgenstein, Wilfrid Sellars, Hilary Putnam, and Donald Davidson, and odds 'n' sods like Alasdair MacIntyre and Thomas Kuhn.

(I would be remiss here in not also acknowledging the awesome power of the Sheriff's bookshelf in introducing me to much philosophy, especially postmodernism and, after the fact, Marxism [funny how that sequence works].)

This vast influx of ideas was, in a word, earth-shattering. Not to mention distracting! If you ever saw me at Meshuggah's reading W.V.O. Quine's "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" or excerpts from Rudolph Carnap's Meaning and Necessity instead of doing my Latin homework, the explanation was Richard Rorty.

I was also plowing through his own work, including Essays on Heidegger and Others, The Consequences of Pragmatism, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, and Philosophy and Social Hope, all wonderful and provocative books. Admittedly, I have never finished his magnum opus and the work he's best known for in philosophic circles, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, but perhaps some day.

The dream only lasts so long, however, and I've since fallen away from the initial enthusiasm I had for Rorty's "project," if he can be said to have one at all. I realized that "postmodern bourgeois liberalism" is for a certain kind of reader and a certain kind of thinker, namely one raised in the comfortable environment of...postmodern bourgeois liberalism. Although it fits nicely into its time and place, it tells us little about how we ought to order our lives beyond the confines of our immediate society and how positive change might occur in a larger, even global, context, where the power of ideas is still very, very important (not everyone can afford to live in a comfortable, "post-ideological" age).

I think at its best Rorty's philosophy is refreshing and liberating from the chains of departmental, philosophical orthodoxy. At its worst it's smug, unreflective, and self-content. Even with respect to what it believes in, it lacks the drive, effort, and optimism of its forefather, Dewey, whose idea of a radically creative and emancipated democratic community (from what I can tell; correct me if I'm wrong Robot) always clung to at least some shred of strong social critique (in Dewey's case, the call for a socialistic society). Rorty's position was that if you're within his circle of cosmopolitan, liberal, open-minded, belle-lettre-reading friends you're probably doing just fine. This might be in a sense true but it disregards the historical forces that made such a community possible in the first place, and it fails to question whether or not something might even be wrong with such a community.

My interpretation of Rorty is of course not the decisive one, and in some peoples' eyes I may very well have mischaracterized his position here, although I offer it in good faith and with much respect and admiration for Rorty himself. It's just that I find myself more on the side of some sort of "critical theory" grouping these days, rather than the "pragmatist" grouping of my younger years (as if this weren't a mere two years ago...).

However, I cannot deny the immense importance of Rorty's writings in my life and the time and mental effort on my part his works have exacted from me. (Only Plato and Nietzsche occupy more space on my shelf--and Rorty would probably find this amusing.) Outside of my own subjective viewpoint on him, I think I can confidently say that he was one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century and an undeniable friend of free thought and democracy.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

My New Roommate...!


Thank you for responding to my posting. I am married and have used the
apartment to house "friends" while my wife goes away for the summer for little or no money --
depending on how "friendly" things get. Essentially, I'm looking for summer companionship and willing to provide a beautiful, spacious and private apartment. By "companinship" I mean going out for drinks, dinner, clubs, trips, etc. and hopefully more. I am NOT looking for a long-term
relationship, just a casual relationship with an attractive girl who has a great personality with whom I would enjoy spending some time.

If you are ok with this arrangement, please send me a pic of yourself and I will provide you with additional information.

All the best,


G-8 Protesters: You're lame

Apropos of this NYTimes article about the G-8 conference's protesters, people need to think about the usefulness of their protests. Whatever has been on the agenda in years past, the current conference is:
  1. creating a forum for discussion of global warming and its prevention and,
  2. bringing Bush and Putin into dialogue at what seems to be a turning point in Russo-American relations.
According to the Times, the protesters are rallying against globalization and the "undemocratic" nature of the meetings. Quoth one, "I’m here because this so-called democratic meeting is not democratic."
Well, guess what, guys, you're not going to change that, and the current effect you're having on the meeting is only impeding progress on issues that are (presumably) as important as any others you care about. Knock it off, these annual clashes with the police would be lame even if they weren't counterproductive.

That old time religion

Shorter Norman Podhoretz: Some people say that calling yourself God's chosen people could potentially lead to racism, but this is not a problem when you are, in fact, God's chosen people. And no, you can't have East Jerusalem.

(By the way, how do others feel about the "shorter so-and-so" rhetorical strategy? I see it quite a bit and realize it could be annoying and potentially obscuring of complex arguments. But honestly, you're not missing much substance in the Podhoretz piece. This is the sort of person who tunes in to MEMRI tv every day to freak out over whatever anti-Semitic garbage some imam somewhere is spouting, but is himself a complete tool.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

On naturalistic democracy

My subject in this post is naturalistic democracy. By that I mean an idea that Aristotle develops in the Politics, specifically along the lines of the following loci, taken together as a sort of argument:

1. I.1.1253a1 ff.: "Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal (zoion politikon). ... Nature, as we often say, makes nothing in vain, and man is the only animal who has the gift of speech. And whereas mere voice is but an indication of pleasure and pain, and is therefore found in other animals...the power of speech is intended to set forth the expedient and the inexpedient, and therefore likewise the just and the unjust."

2. III.1.1275a18 ff: "But the citizen whom we are seeking to define is a citizen in the strictest sense, against whom no such exception can be taken, and his special characteristic is that he shares in the administration of justice, and in offices."

3. III.4.1277b12 ff: "It has been well said that he who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander. The excellence of the two [commander and citizen] is not the same, but the good citizen ought to be capable of both; he should know how to govern like a free man, and how to obey like a free man -- these are the excellences of a citizen."

4. VII.3.1325b1 ff: "For the actions of a ruler cannot really be honorable, unless he is as much superior to other men as a man is to a woman, or a father to his children, or a master to his slaves. And therefore he who violates the law can never recover by any success, however great, what he has already lost in departing from excellence. For equals the honorable and the just consist in sharing alike, as is just and equal. But that the unequal should be given to equals, and the unlike to those who are like, is contrary to nature, and nothing which is contrary to nature is good."

I apologize for the somewhat slapdash presentation of these ideas, but put together I think we can see a theory emerge: (1) Every person (for Aristotle, "man") has the innate, natural capacity to communicate his ideas of the just and unjust through speech. (2 & 3) The citizen, then (he who is not a woman, child, or slave), being equal to his fellow citizens, is fit to share in the government of his polis and to rule and be ruled in turn. And, supplementally, (4) it is never better to exercise power tyrannically when one could do it moderately and in an egalitarian, participatory fashion, since equals deserve equal goods. And looming over all of this is the notion implicit in the designation of man as a "political animal," namely that it is a natural (and therefore good) thing to participate in the affairs of the polis.

This, I wish to say, is naturalistic democracy. Of course, we would not call it democracy now, for a myriad of reasons: It excludes women and those deemed to be "natural slaves"; it deprives (as we later find out) artisans and laborers of the status of citizenship, since these occupations make people ignoble and warped -- in a word, "unnatural"; and the society in which such a "naturalistic democracy" will eventually be founded is an aristocracy of equals living off the enforced, exploited labor of serfs. (Sounds a bit like Sparta, no?)

Still, there might be reasons for finding Aristotle's naturalistic, teleological (for this is undeniably what it is: a political ideal based on a notion of man's natural telos, or end) conception of participatory government appealing. Specifically, if we can think away all the unpleasant bits lurking beneath the surface, we come up with a fine idea indeed: That all people contain within themselves, "naturally," the capacity/drive/need/telos of sharing in the administration of common affairs. Using Aristotle's telos as our foundation, we might build up a normatively powerful argument for democracy. For if "nature" designed people for democracy, authoritarianism "unnaturally" deprives them of it. And if a population does indeed govern themselves democratically, we can say that they are successfully participating in a deeper, more thorough version of human flourishing than those who don't.

The problem with this view, it seems to me, is that it has virtually nothing but empty words working in its favor, but some potentially nasty drawbacks working against. By an empty word, I primarily mean "nature." What exactly is the force of this word for us now, and how much is it Aristotle's naturalistic thesis actually borne out in real life and real human history? Speaking in both a scientific and non-scientific sense, "natural" for us seems to mean (among other things, but primarily) something like "frequent, consistent." A "natural" human heart rate is such-and-such, a "natural" period of pregnancy is x months for y species, etc. And, to put it in a way that does not do full justice to the complexities of evolution, these "natural" statistics are not indicative of a "telos" of any sort, but are rather the sort of residual leftovers of the evolutionary process: it is "natural" for a giraffe's neck to be such-and-such a length because this particular species of giraffe managed to survive with this characteristic. These "natural" traits are not static but can change with environment over time.

When we try to mate this sense of "natural" qua "frequent" or "consistent" with "democracy," however, we find that democracy is anything but. For most of human history, populations have not been free and equal in government in the way that Aristotle espouses. Quite the contrary: The history of human civilization is mostly one of monarchy/minority rule, oppression, and exploitation (whether in rent-seeking or whatever else). The equivalent of this, it seems to me, would be to imagine viewing a vast forest of thousands of trees, in which all but one or two, placed randomly, are green and vibrant; the rest are twisted and dead. And this would hardly be a "natural" forest to us. Similarly, democracy does not seem to be a "natural" occurrence.

But perhaps this doesn't matter. Perhaps democracy really is in our nature, it's just foiled all the time, goshdarnit. But if this is so, where is the justification for democracy as a natural human characteristic? Perhaps in the fact that people under democracy describe themselves as happier and better off than other, less fortunate, brutalized people? But this doesn't take into account the hypothetical scenario of people living under a benevolent dictator, with all their needs supplied for and their worries assuaged. Might they not then be just as happy? You or I might say that we, at any rate, wouldn't be content living under a dictatorship, no matter how well-meaning. We would undoubtedly overthrow it, because we value freedom and democratic flourishing more than mere existence. But can we make this claim for all people? What counts out the rebuttal that we only say this because we have been taught in such-and-such ways, that we have certain values that inform these sentiments; in other words, that love for democracy is something learned and lived, not found "naturally"?

In any case, the naturalistic case for democracy seems to me to be unfalsifiable, and thus not prima facie very interesting. Please don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying that democracy isn't good, desirable, beneficial, etc. I'm just saying that these ideas might come from learning, experience, reflection, culture, ideology, whatever you like -- but not from "nature." To call democracy natural would be to fall prey to the old problem of deriving an "ought" from an "is," and in this case it's too unconvincing an argument to accept.

But let's examine some of the potential downsides of calling democracy natural. The first point is that in doing so we might be accepting too uncritically an idea that was formed in a specific time and place, in the context of a specific range of values and presuppositions. And by this I mean in 4th century Greece, by a member of the social and economic elite. This supposes that there is much more than "nature" at work. It could be that a number of factors -- geographic, economic, social, military -- converged to create the emergence of the Greek city-state system, in which the question of political decision-making in relatively small, more-independent-than-dependent communities was of tantamount importance. Aristotle may have been attempting to find a way to justify the rule of society by himself and those like him, to the exclusion of menial workers, whose jobs would ideally be "staffed" by communities of natural slaves imported from Asia. This is all beginning to look rather unpleasant.

Furthermore, we might consider the fact that while the rhetorical weight of "natural" is relatively useless ("We're all living so naturally! How pleasant!"), the weight of "unnatural" is decidedly not. One can think of many perverse and pernicious uses of the word "unnatural": "This neighboring community consistently fails to live up to our conception of democracy, which of course we all know is natural. What shall we do with them?" "This area of the world is unnaturally undemocratic. Let's 'naturalize' them; it's according to nature's plan, after all." Or, more mundanely: "You choose not to participate to the extent I do. There must be something unnatural about you, while I of course am living a more flourishing life." There is much here to give pause and worry, I think.

Plus, while we might battle for something which is natural (if not frequent) in the form of democracy, why do we battle against something which is both natural and frequent? For example, the infirm: It is "natural" for cancer patients, people with AIDS, people with certain disabilities, and others to die sooner rather than later. Yet if they choose to attempt to live on as long as they can, we will/should/can aid them in their fight against the natural outcome. "Natural" events, both in terms of what they seem "naturally" designed to do and in their frequency, aren't necessarily imperatives to act in a certain way. We have to judge them against our other values. Perhaps this is an absurd counterargument, and I invite people to test it. Otherwise it seems pretty strong to me.

I'm running out of time, and so I'll leave the question open. What do we think of an idea like naturalistic democracy? I obviously have spoken against it, but I'm interested to hear what others think. We've had discussions of human nature before, but I hope this presents a new way of thinking about it.

Slim pickins

Ok, I know it's early on, and I know the Sheriff has no interest in election campaigning, but honestly: what am I to make of the fact that one day -- a day in November 2008, to be exact -- roughly 50% of Americans will pull the lever for one of the knuckleheads paraded on our television screens lately?

Obviously, the frontrunners are going to be liars, thugs, and hypocrites (that means McCain, Giuliani, and Romney, as if it needed explanation), but what of the simpletons and bigots in the "tier" below them? Here's Mike Huckabee, offering an "eloquent" explanation of his belief in "creationism," as CNN puts it: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth... A person either believes that God created the process or believes that it was an accident and that it just happened all on its own... If anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it."

This man cannot be President. The other god stuff is fine; "God loves us," says McCain, "There's a God of the universe that loves us very much and was involved in the process," says Brownback, but come on--creationism? Argued eloquently? I might refer to children arguing "eloquently" for the existence of various mystical religious bunny rabbits and jolly old St. Present-Bearers, but my use of "eloquent" would be patronizing--exactly what I expect it to be when serious adults refer to people who argue for man's spontaneous creation, apart from apes. Such people might make friendly neighbors and loyal friends, but they cannot occupy the White House. (And I realize that Bush said that the "jury's out" on evolution, but everything he says is aberrant and surreal, right? We're living through a long, national nightmare, right? One which we will soon awake from...right??)

I don't want to bash Huckabee too much; he seems like a nice enough, genuine enough person. If only the same could be said for people like McCain, who pulled one of his hideous "straight talk" unspeak moments. The "surge," whatever this chimera is, is a total failure and he will never take responsibility for the needless deaths incurred. If the god of which these fine gentlemen speak exists, may He preserve us from this man.

CNN's "senior political analyst" Bill Schneider says he is "surprised" at Tom Tancredo's "astonishing" attack on Bush, as if Bush wasn't a complete and utter failure, completely discredited except in the eyes of the most virulent ideologues, and as if the central issue surrounding Tancredo's criticism of Bush wasn't the fact that Bush is not racist enough for Tancredo. This matter is also whence Tancredo derives most of his popularity.

Meanwhile, people are going ga-ga over Ron Paul, simply because he says half-sane things about foreign policy that even Democrats won't dare to speak. On domestic issues, however, he is extremely unpopular in his principled libertarian stance against Social Security and Medicare. That may be his bag, but I'm not an inch closer to voting for him, the only one of these jokers who comes close.

This is where lifelong partisanship is born, ladies and gentlemen. If this is what we have to look forward to for years to come, then I, the staunchest defender of democracy I hope one could find, might be sliding towards the caustic opinion of H.L. Mencken, who once quipped that “democracy is the theory that the people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Strange Powers

A Personal Note:

We've been cleaning out and refurbishing the flat here in Heliopolis that my father's family grew up in. My grandmother, both spendthrift and a packrat, had managed over the years to accumulate an unbelievable amount of crap in the apartment, most of which needed to be disposed of long ago. There have, however, been some interesting finds amongst the innumerable bits of plastic junk and bric-a-brac: we've found three old record players, for instance, an old X-Ray box that my dad made during medical school, a wealth of long-since out of print (if not banned) books on Socialism and Marxism, and a human skull signed by many of the members of my father's graduating med. school class.

Today however, in looking through some old papers and notebooks, I found some of my grandfather's old business cards. Though the cardstock was a bit thin by today's standards, the cards were striking enough to make even Pat Bateman freeze, and bore a simplicity of an age since passed. No email, no mobile, no fax; my grandfather's name, the company name and his position, and two numbers: one for Alexandria, one for Cairo (both only five digits).

I never knew my grandfather, he died shortly before my birth, but seeing his business card I feel as if I've learned something about the man, I've been able to locate the simplicity and grace that I'd heard about him in as many stories in a physical object of his. It may sound like I'm "Accessorizing the Renaissance" here, but it is interesting to think of the traces we leave, and ways that we mark objects and personal affects. There's a fair amount to be said about how objects, goods, and commodities shape our lives and change our ways of being, but I think it's equally interesting to consider how we go about the process of shaping those objects, changing their being.

I hope the Huffy Crew can indulge me in these personal ramblings, but I just can't get interested in the campaigning for the presidential election. Perhaps to open this up beyond the personal a bit more, I'll ask you fellow Crew members, what relationships do you have, if any, with such objects? Is what I'm describing merely nostalgia and the production of my imagination, or is there maybe a more intimate connection created between our objects and ourselves? I've no memories of my grandfather to be nostalgic about, but by seeing these very trivial cards that he carried, I feel as if I learned something about him. Any thoughts?