Saturday, March 28, 2009

what a world....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, Let Me Reintroduce You to the Radical Right

Dear Radical Right,
You've been in power so long that now, beaten, bruised, and marginalized, you can finally return to your true roots as an ideology of truly revolutionary ideals. I once thought that aspects of your worldview were quarantined in the hinterland of Texas radio. But now, finally, your time has come. On Fox News, your Eye of Sauron has uncovered the plot to place American citizens in Concentration Camps. In the halls of Congress, your representatives have asked the globalist conspirators (ahem...Bernanke and Geithner) whether (or perhaps, when) they will implement the Global Currency. But as any John Bircher will tell you, you can trust a globalist as far as you can throw one. These Jews are heavy after all! So you look critically upon their "categorical rejections" of such a move, and bring a bill before Congress making sure that the People will reject the economic tenets of globalism.

Yet, these two are only half-measures. It's time to get serious. It's time, ladies and gentlemen, to put the "radical" back in the right. Let me read you some of the recent words of someone who is willing to speak truth to power. "At this point the American people - it's like Thomas Jefferson said, a revolution every now and then is a good thing," this right-wing-freedom-fighter-channeling-the-Symbionese-Liberation-Army tells us. What you, the radical right see, and the rest of us don't, is that lurking under that dark complexion lies a King George, a Caesar. "Where freedom is tried, the people rejoice," we are reminded, citing the great maxim perhaps attributable to Thomas Paine. "But where tyranny is enforced upon the people, as Barack Obama is doing, the people suffer and mourn." "Reporting from enemy lines," you the radical right assure us that this Hussein won't be the one to break our "230 years, a continuous link of freedom that every generation has ceded to the next generation."

But why not? Why not let the globalist Marxists take over and go somewhere else? Why not go retire to the sweet lands of liberty in, say Nicaragua, as other great freedom fighters have done? Well, it's because Nicaragua, like every other fucking country is also taken over by fucking globalists!
Do we get into an inner tube and float 90 miles to some free country? There is no free country for us to repair to!
There is no free country for us to repair to, indeed! Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sad to report that as of today you, the radical right, can no longer claim my current state of Wisconsin as the great cradle of liberty. That honor has moved to our neighbor to the left. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Rep. Michelle Bachmann and urge you to cling to her every word, for therein lies a real t(h)reat.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

kiss the rings, bitch!

look at their faces! what a bunch of supplicants.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

On Revered Humanitarians Entertaining Colonialism

This clip from Tyler Cowen's interview with Peter Singer strikes me as a bit unsettling.  It's a terrific episode and I recommend people watch/listen to the program in its entirety.  In this particular moment, however, I think we see the worst of the Cowen-esque economics-profession "imagination" as well as the narrowness of Singer's utilitarianism.  

In this brief exchange, the fearless Cowen asks whether the best way to solve Africa's problems would be to go back in time and make sure European colonialism never lost its grip.  The argument is simply that regardless of the occasional hurt feelings ("humiliation," as Singer puts it) and bloody resistance movement, the total amount of suffering pales in comparison to places like today's Congo, or Somalia, or Zimbabwe.  While Singer is at first hesitant to go along with Cowen, in the end you'll find he comes remarkably close to fully accepting the truth of the premise.  

A few thoughts are in order here.  First, if only it weren't for those hurt feelings...

Second, I think that a Deweyan (or even Socratic) ethical theory, while sometimes inadequate, might be helpful in problematizing the utilitarians: just means can only produce just ends. Colonialism might not have directly led to suffering on the scale of modern Congo or Darfur, but it's just shocking to me that Singer failed to mention that these bad consequences were in large part the result of colonial practices themselves.  Why not, we might ask, turn the clock back to pre-colonial times?  

Is Man is to Woman as Sustainability is to Nature?

Just a quick speculation here, punning off of everyone's favorite Sherry B. Ortner essay. Being so deeply and at times dreadfully inured in the language of sustainability these days, I'm wondering if anyone has charted a lot of the gender consequences of the discourse. Seeing it mostly from the perspectives of planners and architects on the one hand and media punditry on the other, there is an emphasis on sustainability as being strongly related to technology, building, and construction. Not come on too strong with the Freud (because sometimes a LEED certified building is just a LEED certified building), but this seems a very masculine if not phallic approach to the idea of change in society. Which is, of course, what sustainability will ahve to be, change in our society and the habits and means of production and consumption that we currently enjoy (/suffer from).

Maybe this is overreaching, but maybe it might be useful to think about what it might mean for sustainability discourse to 'become woman'. I'm not saying that we should all start thinking of home ec. and thriftiness in the family (which, now that I think about it, is a big part of the mainstream discourse on the topic and at the same time very neatly seems to coincide with traditional gender roles as well), but maybe there are large gaps in the way we conceive of what need be done to achieve more sustainable futures.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Only in the "Commercial Republic" (tm David Brooks), pt. 1

(This is part one of what will be an ongoing series where I investigate statements and actions that would normally entail public shaming and/or mob violence and which seem to be possible only in a world of insulated elite superciliousness.)

Perhaps you noticed NY Times "Dealbook" columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin's "offensive and painful" defense of AIG bonuses:

"Imagine what it would look like if the business community started to worry that the government would start to abrogate contracts left and right."

"Here is the second, perhaps more sobering thought: A.I.G. built this bomb, and it may be the only outfit that really knows how to defuse it."

"You can bet that someone would scoop up the talent from A.I.G. and, quite possibly, put it to work — against taxpayers’ interests."

Ah, yes, the "sanctity of contracts," the destroyer/savior paradox, and the threat of talent flight. It's a tough world we live in. No one said it was fair. But while we have to live with these outrageous imbalances of power, privilege, and profits, we can at least do our best to help out those at the bottom of the ladder, right?

Here's what the hot young wunderkind said last November about the automaker bailouts, and the "gold-plated," "off-the-charts" union benefits:
Part of the problem is summed up by comments like this one in The Detroit Free Press, made by Kandy O’Neill, 39, an assembler at G.M.’s plant in Lake Orion, Mich., where she builds the Chevy Malibu and Pontiac G6. “I think we’ve given enough,” she said about the cuts to her salary and pension plan.

“Everybody wants to come down hard on the workers,” she said. “Nobody knows what we do inside there but the people who work there. It’s hard. It is not an easy job.”

When you read a line like that you might sympathize with her, but then you realize that nothing can be accomplished without bankruptcy. Ms. O’Neill: your company is asking the taxpayers — many of whom don’t have health care coverage — to pay your salary and health insurance.
You tell that parasite, Andrew!

In a statement that should elicit either laughter or tears, or both, Sorkin in his AIG column notes as an aside that "(The auto industry unions are facing a similar issue — but the big difference is that there is a negotiation; no one is unilaterally tearing up contracts.)"

Pity the poor AIG executives, who don't get the luxury of a negotiation! Are we to assume that but for their "renegotiations," signed at virtual gunpoint from a chorus of labor-busting big interests, the unions would have gotten a worse deal than they already did? Even with the strongest possible comparison scenario -- full union benefits vs. no AIG bonuses this year -- are we really supposed to think that financial executives would be overall worse off? Oh, but it's not about well-being, it's about the sanctity of the contract (which somehow always seems to redound to the benefit of the already better-off).

The world is full of people who would normally be tarred and feathered.

BONUS: Ruth Marcus drops some economic science on us:
But, you ask, what about autoworkers who are being squeezed to renegotiate their contracts? Those renegotiations mostly involve the future terms of employment, though, it is true, they also could affect retiree health benefits. If an autoworker doesn't want to show up on the assembly line under the terms of a new deal, he or she doesn't have to. That's different from telling AIG employees they're not getting the amount on which they agreed for work they've already performed.
Ha-HA! You silly people forget that in the land of free labor, you can always walk away, even when your contract was renogiated in a moment of crisis by manipulative elites and governmental pressure. Whereas the freedom fighters at AIG are just trying to secure their basic rights, by damn!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Can I throw stones at AIG since 80% of the building is mine?

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Very glad to see postmodern academics still up to their usual shenanigans.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Kennedy Knighted, Dodd laughs at Constitution

Well, hello lovers. I haven't posted on here in so long I almost forgot how blogger works. Anyway, I'm sure all of you have heard about Senator Kennedy's recent knighting by the crossdressing relic of feudalism that is Queen Elizabeth II.
Since I don't watch TV I have no idea if the mainstream media has cared to report that this knighthood is a violation of Article I Section 9 of the Consitution, which states:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.

When asked about this discrepancy, Senator Dodd laughed in the face of a reporter, clearly indicating that they have no intention of taking this violation seriously. My questions : Does it matter that the knighthood is 'honorary?' (I mean, aren't all knighthood honorary? Do we really expect Sir Paul McCartney or Elton John to don chainmail and ride out on their trusty steeds to defend the British Kingdom?) But more importantly, should we not uphold our elected officials to a very strict interpretation of the Constitution? Should Kennedy be removed from office or at least have to explain why 200+ years after we supposedly fought for our freedom and our rights he is supplicating to the throne? The Brits still do not have a constitution, and if our so-called 'leaders' are laughing in the face of ours we might as well not have one either. While we're at it why don't we turn in our guns, put up some more security cameras, start eating bangers and mash for breakfast and scream GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!