checkin in on c-span coverage of the debate on boehner's +constitutional amendment bill or whatever it may be. man sometimes these people are puzzling. after sheila jackson-lee (d-texas) called boehner's bill "the most horrible piece of legislation in the history of our country," marcy kaptur (d-ohio) issued her plea for compromise: she said the republicans want to take grandma off the ventilator, unplug her, and then "push her down the elevator shaft" into the "proverbial black hole." anyway, they obviously think they have time to just keep yapping like metaphor-generating software. never too late for vicious, though meaningless, rhetoric. well pelosi seems a bit more statesmanlike.
anne applebaum is one of the best opinion writers. this column seems like it's specifically written to tick me off, though. the problem isn't terrorism or whatever; it's 'illegitimism,' the 'insane' position that, for example, the government of norway is not legitimate. course i've spent a chunk of my authorship arguing for illegitimism. all i can say is i'm not taking the blame either! and of course, there's quite a distance between the idea that the government is illegitimate and strapping up and heading to the youth camp. there's nothing violent (or, i think, insane) about the critique of state power per se. look i can prove it, more or less: william lloyd garrison, adin ballou, and leo tolstoy all denied the legitimacy of government on pacifist grounds.
you might ponder the question: which has unleashed more mayhem on the world, illegitimism or legitimism?
very predictably, glenn beck is getting smacked at five minute intervals on msnbc for throwing out 'hitler youth' with regard to the political camp that was the site of the shootings in norway. well it's not the best way in, especially given that the nazi was breivik. still as i blogged that day, the camp has a creepy quality of youth indoctrination. so people have squawked that beck is directly/indirectly connected to right-wing youth programs in the usa. if so, maybe beck should pipe down. but on the other hand, beck isn't running camps for the republican party. and ask yourself: are you comforted by the fact that glenn beck does it too? does that make it less creepy? are you sending your kids to beck camp this summer?
this appeared to be something more than that, of course: it looks like a kind of installation, a youth training facility, actually owned by the rulling party of a democratic country. maybe that is routine? even if so i say it's creepy. not as creepy, of course, as going in shooting.
the thing i want to say about amy winehouse is just that i think the very worst idea you can have is to create a public persona around substance abuse: just hitch your wagon - your repertoire, even - to junk. you know this idea had its good and bad outcomes, from like de quincey or baudelaire or whatever to some of these beatnik and hippie-types. maybe right at this moment you feel loyal to your substance: later you're just going to have to turn against it even if you don't stop. the last thing you want to do is to stake your persona on loyalty to shit like that.
say you literally start out your op-ed piece as folllows,"i am rational, and my opponents are not." now of course that doesn't go anywhere toward establishing your rationality; it's not a particularly rational thing to say. indeed, it's rather hard to see what sort of fools would think that something like that could enhance the columnist's credibility. that you are an egomaniac, that your indulge in continual preening self-congratulation and flattery of your audience, while basing your 'argument' around ridiculing your opponents: these tend rather to establish your uselessness than your rationality. in actual debate, you might want to try prefacing every sentence with 'all rational people agree with me that...' this would give everyone good reasons to agree with you.
in general, the thing you need to doubt is what people say in praise of themselves. you're a fool if you believe what someone says who starts with a stirring tribute to her own honesty. you might think about whether and to what extent my declaration of my own honesty establishes the truth of what i'm saying. if someone's telling you how fair they are, or how good, or how beautiful, immediately draw the opposite conclusion. and if someone is telling you how rational they themselves are and praising you for how rational you are for agreeing with them, switch them off. they're not helping you to think clearly, and they don't actually care about the truth, just saying whatever can supplement their self-esteem. the only people with a rational motive to tell you how rational they are all the time are psychotic feebs.
it's like a comedian who starts with: this is going to be so funny.
i've seen some pathetic rhetorical strategies, but self-praise is the worst, and just offhand i want to point out that it's the basic rhetorical strategy of the american left, which issues a rhythmic drumbeat of 'we're so smart.' obviously, people have a motivation to believe good things about themselves without regard to whether those things are true. and obviously they have a motivation for getting you to agree with them about these assessments; that is, they are establishing right there a conflict of interest with regard to the truth of the question. even if they weren't trying to manipulate you, the self-interest and self-indulgence they're expressing undermines their credibility; they'll say whatever makes them feel ok about themselves right now. the self-praise is a strategy for enhancing self-esteem and forging a consensus by means irrelevant to truth, or connected to it inversely.
connected to it inversely: i say that you know the truth by effacing rather than inflating the self; you've got to see what's there, not merely what you want to see or what it makes you feel good to see. making any factual issue into a kind of pecking-order in which i turn out to be rational and you not (or i christian and you not, for example, depending on the community) makes you wonder whether truth is what matters or this pecking order, truth or making you feel good about yourself.
It argues for Mr. Bowie less as an instinctive rocker than as a shape-shifting cabaret singer and composer writ large, a performer working in the tradition of Harold Arlen, Frank Sinatra, Hoagy Carmichael and Bertolt Brecht as well as the blues.
i think if you really tried to compare him, say, as a lyricist, to those figures, you'd begin to see the problem. it's so amazing that he was all dolled up and androgynous! yeah. astonishing. liberating. marketing. modeling. too bad about the music.
David Bowie had little talent but cool to burn.
He replaced more talented singers in bands because, well, that’s what cool kids do.
Mr. Trynka quotes the music writer Charles Shaar Murray, wonderfully, about Mr. Bowie’s puzzling career choices during the ’80s. “I suddenly thought, He’s turned into a rock-and-roll version of Prince Charles,” Mr. Murray said, noting the “old-fashioned haircut like a lemon meringue on his head.”
The singer Morrissey said about him: “He’s a business, you know. He’s not really a person.”
Mr. Bowie was not a natural singer or songwriter.
Mr. Trynka notes how closely Mr. Bowie’s song “Starman” resembles “Over the Rainbow.” Mr. Bowie’s hit “The Jean Genie” pilfered a riff from Muddy Waters’s “I’m a Man.” The song “Life on Mars” borrowed a chord sequence from a French song called “Comme d’Habitude,” later reworked into English by Paul Anka as “My Way.”
About “The Laughing Gnome,” a terrible early song of Mr. Bowie’s, the author says, “As long as one is happy to abandon all notions of taste, the song is brilliantly crafted.”
ok you throw that all out there, then finish with this: "David Bowie’s greatness, this book suggests, more than caught up with his coolness."
my advice is listen to yourself. you know he always sucked; in fact you said he always sucked. if you're going to do any sort of criticism, you're going to have to learn to believe your own actual assessments.
perhaps we've rather underestimated the preppy threat. there are many good-hearted, non-violent preps who form a vital part of our vibrant, diverse american society. but there are extreme preps who care more about the brand of their polo shirt than about the lives of the innocent. they hate our sacred way of life.
'al qaeda al qaeda al qaeda.' the guardian has this:
Neil Perry tells me the police have said that the same man was seen at the site of both attacks.He thinks this is starting to look less like the work of international terrorists and more like that of a lone attacker with a grudge against the government.
one sort of obvious thing i find strange and repugnant in the phone-hacking scandal is that newspapers are hiring private detectives, which seems to be a routine practice over there. don't you have, um, reporters? i suppose you have to think the private eyes are doing work that journalists can't, won't, are not permitted to do.
The conservative clerics, and like-minded military commanders, complain that Ahmadinejad must do more to ensure that the dress code is strictly enforced, even, as some have said, “if blood needs to be shed.” Some of them have also blamed recent violence against women on the victims themselves, arguing that they are at fault because of their failure to wear the veil properly.
no cost in lives is too high for enforcing the dress code.
i kind of appreciate murdoch's straightforwardness before that parliamentary committee today: no i'm not responsible. it's someone else. the usual procedure is to take full responsibility and then to assert that you didn't know anything about what was going on and it's someone else.
The official, Sir Paul Stephenson, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, commonly known as the Met or Scotland Yard, said that he had decided to step down because “the ongoing speculation and accusations relating to the Met’s links with News International at a senior level” had made it difficult for him to do his job.
But he said that he had done nothing wrong and that he would not “lose sleep over my personal integrity.” He also said that because he had not been involved in the original phone-hacking investigation, he had had no idea that Neil Wallis, a former News of the World deputy editor who had become a public-relations consultant for the police after leaving the paper, was himself suspected of phone hacking.
i'll tell you this: that's horseshit. if all that were true, then why in the world would you resign? as far as i have seen, he hasn't actually been nailed by the guardian, etc. he will be.
really it is amazing that the republican caucus in the u.s. congress is now full of nihilists and anarchists. they really don't dress like it. now one might think that nihilists and anarchists are the sort of people who want to destroy everything and assert that life has no meaning. the idea that the rate of growth in federal spending should be adjusted downward of course more or less amounts to that. anyway, i am super-enthusiastic! i hope to be able to vote nihilist in the next election, and what's really cool is the idea of fundamentalist christian nihilists like bachmann or perry. what an amazing, creative, bold moment this is in american politics!
remember when you were all pissed off at the absurd notion that barack was a socialist? what kind of bizarre extremist could issue a racist slander like that? only a nihilist.
i think that the mainline left wants government growth in order to accomplish specific admirable goals: the amelioration of poverty, for example. but i also do think that there's an underlying commitment to statism almost no matter what, because the basic idea is that the state is all of us together; it's our collective action and identity; it ameliorates not only poverty (well...) but our aloneness, our individuality. this is why inside that discourse 'individualism' is a name for evil, what we're supposed to be fighting against. the state is our solidarity, our unity, or even our love etc. now all of this would be relatively groovy, if the whole thing did not obviously rest on coercion. the reality so luridly puts the lie to the ideology that i find it hard to imagine how the ideology persists.
it's hard to deal with rigid rightists who don't like debt and taxes. on the other hand, it's pretty hard to deal with people, such as tim egan and paul krugman who simply screech that their opponents are evil and insane. indeed egan launches the missile: eric cantor is an anarchist. fortunately no one actually does have to deal with egan and krugman in the context of a budget negotiation, and everyone in their echo chamber can just nod along. the left feels good about themselves in proportion as they can portray their opponents as inhuman, irrational monsters. they measure their own intelligence by the insults they can throw at their opponents (consider the non-stop 'stupid!' aimed at reagan, bush, palin); this is an excellent self-esteem enhancer, but unfortunately, the extreme grim repetitiveness and excruciating unoriginality with which these insults are formulated are a better index of the intellectual capacity of those who repeat them than are their own self-congratulations. i guess that's their strategy for overcoming the partisan divide. you might want to keep in mind that krugman's basic position is that a $14 trillion dollar debt is unacceptably low.
jackie calmes in the nyt points out the obvious: that the debt debate is really coming down to a fundamental difference about the 'scope and role' of government. there is much to be said for a clash on this basic question, for the occasional foray into basic political visions/principles. now i think it's true that the republicans want to aid the wealthy. but on the other hand they are opposing any increase in taxation on anyone for any reason: indeed a rigid position (and a principled one). but from the other side, you get the feeling from the left that government is simply and obviously a good thing, good for its own sake, that higher taxes and a bigger 'public sector' is self-evidently good in itself. that's the sort of position rachel maddow takes up, i think. and also some of my facebook friends (nadelhoffer, anyone?). i suppose that no one will simply flatly state that, but that doesn't mean it isn't in effect what they hold: we will accept no position that doesn't include revenue increases; obama will veto it if there isn't more tax money. when the position gets that raw, i just have to say it just can't be right. we are on the edge of showing that statism and leftism amount virtually to the same thing in our actual political spectrum. well, you could start backwards into keynes, marx, and rousseau, for example: cultists of the state. a libertarian left is possible and sensible; i'd just like to see more of it.