Yet it might be useful to consider one more filter. Consider it the World Order filter. The fact that we live our lives amid order and not chaos is the great achievement of civilization. This order should not be taken for granted.
This order is tenuously maintained by brave soldiers but also by talkative leaders and diplomats. Every second of every day, leaders and diplomats are engaged in a never-ending conversation. The leaked cables reveal this conversation. They show diplomats seeking information, cajoling each other and engaging in faux-friendships and petty hypocrisies as they seek to avoid global disasters.
at a minimum, i propose that the question of whether the operations of world governments and their brave soldiers have a negative or positive effect on "order" is open. david brooks lives his life amid order, i suppose. but say he was living in kandahar, or grozny, or darfur, or even really downtown. the disasters that are happening in these places - with the possible exception of downtown - are due precisely to the operations of states, and the inter-operations among states. one of the many interesting features of this wholesome order is that it has developed for the first time the ability to annihilate all life on earth.
understand that when folks like brooks use the words 'order,' and even, god help us, 'community,' they mean coercion. every statist philosophy, from brooks-style burkean conservatism to obama semi-progressivism to stalinism, holds that the state is in its essence the cooperative activity of people. cf tony judt, for example: he frames the whole thing as a choice: serve yourself or serve a higher social cooperation = the state. now if that's the position i would just point out that cooperation cannot be coerced, that cooperation can take place only in an atmosphere of freedom. in some sense coerced action may be concerted or simultaneous action but it is precisely the opposite of cooperative action.
now secrecy is central to the operations of coercive power. the vast power of the gov to coerce is applied precisely to keep the activities of the state - including the coercion itself - unknown and hence irresistible. coercion both supposes and enhances secrecy. of course, ignorance of what in fact you're doing - when you pay your taxes, for example - is also completely incompatible with any sort of actual cooperation. at any rate, this is why the activities of governments must be relentlessly exposed. and few have ever done better at that task than wikileaks.
what's better than a law (or constitutional amendment!) banning an act that no one ever even considered performing? how about a federal court blocking the enactment of such a law? really this need never end, though we may have to invent whole new layers of authority to keep overturning and reinstating it. but this idea opens up vast new areas of the law, of just the sort the lawyers are so good at thoroughly exploring: now all we have to do is enumerate those things that it has never occurred to anyone to do, so we can outlaw all of them, not to mention get busy doing them. it'll be fun!
i like the response to wikileaks: seriously they are now invoking the apocalypse, or multiple apocalypses.
Koh wrote that publication of the documents would "place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals" as well as military initiatives and cooperation between countries to confront problems from terrorism to pandemic disease.
obviously assange and everyone else better watch their backs. i don't pretend to evaluate the charges against assange, only of course one has to be extremely suspicious of a frame. it's a small price to pay to avoid pandemics, nuclear warfare, and the deaths of countless individuals (as well as a few pairs of conjoined twins).
Maj Gen You Nak-jun, the head of the marine corps, said: "We'll certainly repay North Korea a thousand-fold for killing and harming our marines.
"South Korean active-duty marines and all reserve forces will engrave this anger and hostility in our bones and we will make sure we take revenge on North Korea."
The North calls the military drills an "unpardonable provocation". State media promised a "sea of fire" if North Korean territory was violated.
etc. i must say i really dig these koreans! it's like the wwe, but without the actual bouts. i declare verbal war! we will flirt with your women and rape your pets. we will annihilate you as though your nation were paper, your people pencil marks, and our invulnerable military force a big eraser by claes oldenburg. fuck you fuck you fuck you!
really, once you start talking this kind of smack, you better pay off, or we'll all just point and laugh at you, you pussies. if the korean peninsula doesn't drown this weekend in a sea of fire, i will lose all respect for both governments, and for every person of korean origin.
on the other hand, surely somewhere deep in the bowels they're reviewing contingency plans for blowing the shit out of north korea's leadership. can china just unqualifiedly be opposed to that? negotiate a regime change with china to try to make it a viable economy etc.
again with the 10-year-old as an excuse, i've been downloading beatles, now that they're ituned. i put together a best from the beginning through revolver. i must say that my basic assessment remains unchanged, however. for british kids, they were a crack r&b unit in a revved-up pop vein that came to be called "bubblegum." and as the songwriting shifted and got more elaborate, they retained an extreme boyish charm. but that's sort of about it. i think 10-year-olds are a good audience: the beatles have a certain raffi-esque childishness: jane loves "good day sunshine," for example. or of course yellow submarine or magical mystery tour really are children's shows of some sort. in many moments, they rock just as hard as raffi, too. no artist who is as overwhelming a cultural presence as the beatles is not overrated. but the beatles are just insanely overrated. it's like you took the dave clark five and abased yourself before them as before a pantheon of pagan gods. there are definitely good songs, and there is a lot of self-indulgent, meaningless, or infantile jive. it's funny but it's way too late to re-narrate the music of the sixties: classics have to be accepted even if you are against their classic status, one of the most frustrating things about being a social, historical animal. anyway i will also concede that this is pretty damn good stuff; the guitar solo is perfect:
this reveals an incompetence that's almost beyond imagination.
“It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. “And we gave him a lot of money.”
it could not be more obvious that we are not going to do anything like win in afghanistan. what i really, really do not understand is how in the conversation they must have every day in the white house, state, defense etc they come back to karzai. propping up karzai is beyond non-promising. and yet they keep not doing anything about it. would it shock you to find out that the impostor has connections back to karzai? i think the strategy is to milk the occupation for every possible cent before absconding. honestly if it can't develop an alternative plan, the usa might just as well surrender unconditionally now and get it over with. soon we'll be lifting karzai's brothers off the roof of the u.s. embassy in kabul and evacuating them to their private caribbean islands. on the other hand perhaps if we spend another twenty years dealing with the shame of defeat we'll end up a little less aggressive, arrogant, and stupid.
yeah and now the israelis are practically crowin over their web weapon (just to gloat once, had that on september 27). as well they should, but dude we are opening up a can of worms. i think a lot of hackers and governments are probably working out the rudiments of how it was made.
here's a little thought experiment. suppose that terrorism is not not a bizarre mentally-ill aberration of an infinitesimal percentage of fanatics, but something sort of built in to the human organism; or the massacre at columbine etc. suppose that it grew in pervasiveness through a few decades. compared to that, global warming might be relatively minor. like it might make airline travel impossible. it might make cities untenable; already you could shut down any city in the first world with a few backpacks and clock radios. it might blow up the internet in one direction or another.
it's cool that there's been a burst of privacy activism with regard to tsa screenings. you would expect me to be outraged. i saw penn gilette and ron paul, among others, squawking about it on the tube yesterday. but actually? as an actual person actually getting on a plane it doesn't bother me worse than anything else. i don't care whether these people have pictures of what i look like beneath my clothes: they can knock themselves out, and the frisking just isn't going to annoy me particularly. it's funny but privacy isn't my screeching libertarian motto, i think perhaps because i was more or less raised in a culture of confession: my high school had group therapy but no actual classes, e.g., and there's been shitload of therapy and twelve-step meetings since then, though i'm not necessarily in these modes now. my writing has at least sometimes been confessional. in my heart i almost think of privacy as a problem. so my opposition is kind of half-hearted. also i must say that if you are a member of a species that can develop and deploy the crotch bomb, you deserve to have your junk squoze.
i'd say that, first of all, sarah palin is running for president. and i think all this 'qualified' business has got to go: she's a natural-born american citizen (probably: where's the birth cert? on the other hand no other country in the history of the world could have produced her), at least 35 years old. not only that, but she is going to be a formidable candidate. she is such a perfect, an exquisite contrast to obama. they represent, as i even argued in a book, different entire theories of political representation: the representative as idealized picture of the people, the best of us, a kind of neo-platonic picture, vs. the imitation theory: she represents us because she's just like us. contrary to popular belief it is not perfectly obvious which is preferable, and both ideas (and both persons as avatars of these ideas) have many problems. i actually think that the representation relation on which so much modern democratic theory rests has fundamental unsolved conceptual problems: the idea is that, say, obama is a picture of us, a representation. trying to make out any of the terms - what is being represented, how, and by what - is going to embroil you in myriad difficulties or impossibilities or absurdities.
at any rate, a debate between obama and palin could be an amazing matter meets anti-matter spectacle. it might seem obvious that obama could just wipe the floor with her, but i think not. however, let me say that i do not want to be governed by sarah palin, and the militarism and legislation of religious strictures would never let me vote for her. but if i think about it in terms of who i'd actually like to watch on television for four years, we'd have to make it sarah. i can't stay awake through a whole barack sentence anymore. but such a campaign would be archetypal or fundamental as well as fun.
as you know, i ecstatically affirm all that is. if i were going to quibble, though, i might express a leetle resrvation about the way people talk these days. check out this npr interview with the head of the tsa on, you know, full body scans etc.. the first sentence will do: "There have been a variety of reactions, I think informed perhaps by individuals' experiences and perspectives." it goes on from there, saying absolutely nothing, or less than nothing: saying the opposite of something. he's managing to jam multiple qualifications into every sentence, but there is nothing they qualify: he explores qualification as its own intrinsic activity. i not only can't agree or disagree with anything he said; i literally don't think it's possible to agree or disagree with it; i don't know what it would mean to agree or disagree. i guess my pet peeve is "strategic communication": where you have various purposes - placating or bewildering the public, e.g. - that have nothing to do with expressing any definite assertion or opinion; it doesn't have the right relationship to pistole or to the world to constitute communication in any sense. i would just ban that under threat of execution: say something or die suddenly. i actually seriously don't know how these people can keep talking, or why they do. i do note that that sentence would be typical in one of my student papers: one stares through such locutions into the absolute abyss.
anyway, i'm not just picking up one useless sentence. try to understand the relation of pistole's responses to the questions, for example. try to figure out what he's saying about 'intelligence.' try to figure out whether or not he's acknowledging that some studies have found problems with health risks etc.
continuing to teach my way through you know a slightly-modified western civ canon. i am reminded how truly excellent dubois's souls of black folk is. i sort of lost track because there is a lot lot of unreadable dreck after that; the sociology and early essays are the strongest. later he goes ever-more into sort-of hegelian oracular poesy. ohmygod i am going to be teaching things fall apart. one thing i want to say is that novels are fictional. they're not true! another thing is that even though this is written by a native, as it were, it's surely a little ooga-booga pre-postcolonial; well i think about myself as an audience and i don't feel all that different from kipling. i am remembering why i hated it in 1976. this sucker has been sitting in the canon for many decades, so it's time to stop pretending it's a gesture of inclusion. its reputation is an affirmative action-type gesture.
sorry for the goofy titles; imovie insists on crashing if i try any other approach. i'm supposed to be in san antonio, but i am sick in bed in pennsylvania! but i did get this in the can yesterday. [update: re-uploaded with youtube annotations rather than titles. i'm helpless at this sort of thing!]
honestly, dana milbank has a lot to learn about talking smack or, in the old style, chaffing. o'reilly delivers a funny, good-natured bitch-slap ("does sharia law mean we get to behead dana milbank?'), which is perfectly helpful to your career - a compliment, really - you got to come back with, 'you know the scariest thing is that if we beheaded bill o'reilly, the head would just keep yappin. o'reilly! anytime! anywhere!' etc. instead it's like "bill o'reilly is threatening me! he's such a thug!" that's the only time you really get your ass jumped and beat down good, and understandably so. remember men?
sorry, but i'm completely in the tank for taylor swift. now if you came at it from a hardass country orientation (anyone still out there?) i suppose one would reject her poppiness. the teenage love lyrics, you know, almost by definition skate close to cliches. but i can hardly imagine a critic really listening to these albums and not coming away impressed. there just is no doubt about their craft in all dimensions. "you belong with me" and "better than revenge" are two perfect pop songs. one sign that you're in the hands of a writer on those numbers: the syllabification: the relation of the melody to the lyrics is absolutely precise. the stuff couldn't scan better if it was written by john fucking milton. but the lyrics also just flow naturally as conversation. that is a very hard thing to do, as you will see if you listen to a bunch of recent country or pop hits. i think perhaps she has been listening to hip hop: she's got mad flow like lil wayne. ok it's a completely different thing, but i think she rolls like an mc. unlike lil wayne, however, she can actually sing: soar, really. but that's where she could make more progress. i'd like to see her cover a few patsy cline numbers or something.
i guess the band has to be nashville? nobody can just rock a guitar-and-drums rock number better than the high-end nashville players: it comes across as a live performance with all the players in the same room. i find i can accept a little mandolin lick as signifying "country."
here's yet another attack on the tea party for being decentralized: 'The "Tea Party" does not exist. It has no members, leaders, office bearers, headquarters, policies, participatory structures, budget or representatives.' it's like younge or the naacp is exposing the tea party as a sham because it is not a single hierarchical organization with an identifiable fuhrer, and like the question of whether that discredits it or rather redounds to its credit cannot even possibly occur to them. what's really bold in younge's formulation is an apparently general ontological position that what is not arranged in a hierarchy of power does not exist. well that could provide a good inference, for example, from the existence of the universe to god and angels etc: the divine bureaucracy. not sure how you'd get to a principle like that; maybe it's the devastating and continual operation of the legacy of...slavery.
yo drip: sorry that post disappeared; long story. alright i'll try to systematize my thoughts on why obama or bernanke shouldn't be on the op-ed page.
(1) the op-ed page is for "opinion journalism," however we might define that. but however we do, it is the opposite of a press release; it constitutes an analysis by an independent voice. but an op-ed "by" barack is precisely a white house press release, and there is no other context in which the editors of the new york times would publish such a thing unfiltered, for very good reasons, reasons basic to their function.
(2) that shows, among other things, that such articles do not have the right relationship to their authors. they are written by staffs (i admit that unlike most presidents, obama could write a good press release. but of course it would surprise no one if that was written by the press staff.) thomas friedman is responsible for and connected to his column in a way that ben bernanke is not. these papers have become very careful about attributing the reporting in their news pages correctly. that is even more important in opinion pieces, i believe. these things express official positions and strategic political statements, not anyone's actual opinions.
(3) it puts the nyt in a very wrong relationship to the government. they would vie for the privilege of having barack's by-line. if fox said that the nyt is more or less simply a propaganda device of the obama administraton, they would certainly be right so far as this goes. maybe you should look for cogency or originality of opinion rather than prestige of the name on the by-line. their duty is to probe, question, if necessary to attack power; not to bow, scrape, and mirror.
(4) for that and for many other reasons, if you want to know what bo or ben thinks, you go send a reporter to ask them. their opinions are already represented continuously in your very own pages on every single issue of interest.
(5) which makes it obvious, but i'll say it again: barack obama has the very loudest voice in the world. putting him on your op-ed page is excruciatingly redundant. you should be looking for the voice that is missing, that needs representation, not the voice of the bludgeon that's already everywhere all the time.
i really think that this shows that the people running the post and times op-ed pages are under some kind of complete misapprehension of what their page is for. i think they thread their way through these super-prestigious journalism programs etc and they come out bowing and scraping. back in the day, american journalism could produce its menckens: proud grad of baltimore polytechnic high school and destroyer of idols. andrew rosenthal and fred hiatt, though, are mere idolators.