Thursday, May 28, 2009
In November 1964 Graham Greene wrote a deeply sarcastic letter to The Daily Telegraph contrasting the U.S.-supported Vietnamese army’s triumphalist photographs of their torture of Vietcong prisoners with the good old days in which “hypocrisy paid a tribute to virtue by hushing up the torture inflicted by its own soldiers and condemning the torture inflicted by the other side” (Greene 1989:114-15). Then in November 1971 he berated the British Home Secretary, Reginald Maudling, for his defense of what he called the “deep interrogation” of IRA suspects – long hours of enforced standing, hooding, permanent noise, sleep deprivation. Nobody has ever suffered permanent injury from these techniques, Maudling said, foreshadowing Donald Rumsfeld’s breezy dismissal of exactly the same techniques at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base. When applied by communists or fascists, Greene noted, we call it “torture,” but when applied by the British we downgrade it to ill treatment (Greene 1989:154-56). The CIA calls it “enhanced interrogation.”38 That, fifty years on from Our Man in Havana, torture is still at the forefront of debates about how to combat terrorism, and that those debates should still focus on Cuba, but now on a U.S. base situated within the island – one suspects that none of this would have come as much of a surprise to Graham Greene.Of course, it has all been done before, and - of course - we shall all fall asleep and forget it all again. I think that if we really did remember history - and thus be able to learn from it - we would be seriously encumbered: we would lurch around like historical zombies, bumping into walls and automobiles, we would blink blindly like historical cave fish unaccustomed to the sun. Our whole zest, our brio, our love of life comes from our ability to forget our crimes, and the eternal forgiveness of God. Hence, we sleep and forget. Now another point that is very interesting in Our Man in Havana is the plot element of having unknown military installations in Oriente Province in Cuba, which was the geographical focus of the 26th July Movement of Castro. The eventual installations of nuclear weapons came 4 years later in the west at Pinar del Rio. Once again, satire and irony lead the way. We should not be so concerned with learning from history, as we should be to learn the satires of circumstances and ironies of history, and from them we polish our skills at forecasting the future messes we shall create: the future satires and ironies - tragic, cruel, and bloody. note: The question is: what is at work here, in the writings of the satirist? Is he merely picking one of a possible number of future combinations of events? Or is he somehow divining the optimal path - not optimal in the sense it is best for us - that events will take. Of the infinite number of possible futures, there must be a way to pare them down to a number that can be dealt with. Of all the paths, there are the paths of least resistance: the most optimal paths to pursue. Somehow, the brilliant satirist picks on a path very close to the most probable!!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
The enemy is War itself.
Yet we are fighting its battles.
The enemy in the nuclear age is War itself.
Nuclear weapons are not merely a greater weapon; they are the End Weapon - die Endwaffe - a weapon that will not remain in the hand of the one that thinks to wield it, but leaps free and does its damage without humanity able to intervene.
Atomic devices are not weapons, they are idols, they are kings, they are rulers. They will not subordinate themselves to mankind.
They are the Terminators.
In our popular fairy tales, we have told the story of the machines taking over occurring sometime in the future. It has already happened.
We stumble about in fear that Taliban will seize the atomic devices of Pakistan...it is the bombs themselves which are conniving to be set free.
They are calling us, like the unsleeping Cthullu in his city of nightmares.
Friday, May 08, 2009
Pop-Up Books 2
Thursday, May 07, 2009
James Galbraith remarks Texas Observer carries commentary that is revealing. Editor’s note: These remarks were delivered to a meeting of the Texas Lyceum in Austin on April 3, at a debate between University of Texas professor
James Galbraith, an Observer contributing writer, and former Majority Leader Richard Armey, chief instigator of the recent Astroturf “tea party" protests. Armey had begun his remarks by noting that his rule in life was “never trust anyone from Austin or Boston,” and proceeded to declare his allegiance to the “Austrian School” of economics, a libertarian view that regards public intervention in private markets as socialism.
Galbraith: It is of course a pleasure to be with you today. I was born in Boston, and I am proud of it. And I have lived 24 years in Austin—and I’m proud of that.Leader Armey spoke to you of his admiration for Austrian economics. I can’t resist telling you that when the Vienna Economics Institute celebrated its centennial, many years ago, they invited, as their keynote speaker, my father [John Kenneth Galbraith]. The leading economists of the Austrian school—including von Hayek and von Haberler—returned for the occasion. And so my father took a moment to reflect on the economic triumphs of the Austrian Republic since the war, which, he said, “would not have been possible without the contribution of these men.” They nodded—briefly—until it dawned on them what he meant. They’d all left the country in the 1930s. My own economics is American: genus Institutionalist; species: Galbraithian.This is a panel on the crisis. Mr. Moderator, you ask what is the root cause?
My reply is in three parts.
First, an idea. The idea that capitalism, for all its considerable virtues, is inherently self-stabilizing, that government and private business are adversaries rather than partners; the idea that freedom without responsibility is a viable business principle; the idea that regulation, in financial matters especially, can be dispensed with. We tried it, and we see the result.
Second, a person. It would not be right to blame any single person for these events, but if I had to choose one to name it would be a Texan, our own distinguished former Senator Phil Gramm. I’d cite specifically the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act—the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act—in 1999, after which it took less than a decade to reproduce all the pathologies that Glass-Steagall had been enacted to deal with in 1933.
I’d also cite the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, slipped into an 11,000-page appropriations bill in December 2000 as Congress was adjourning following Bush v. Gore. This measure deregulated energy futures trading, enabling Enron and legitimating credit-default swaps, and creating a massive vector for the transmission of financial risk throughout the global system. When the Washington Post caught up with me at an airport in Parkersburg, West Virginia, a year ago to ask for a comment on Gramm’s role, I said very quickly that he was “the sorcerer’s apprentice of financial instability and disaster.” They put that on the front page. I do have to give Gramm some credit: When the Post called him up and read that to him, he said, “I deny it.”
Third, a policy. This was the abandonment of state responsibility for financial regulation: the regulation of mortgage originations, of underwriting, and of securitization. This abandonment was not subtle: The first head of the Office of Thrift Supervision in the George W. Bush administration came to a press conference on one occasion with a stack of copies of the Federal Register and a chainsaw. A chainsaw. The message was clear. And it led to the explosion of liars’ loans, neutron loans (which destroy people but leave buildings intact), and toxic waste. That these were terms of art in finance tells you what you need to know. +++++++++++++ There is plenty of accountability. Obama or not, these thieves and scoundrels must be brought to justice.
Reuters reports: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE5463KD20090507 Pirates fire at U.S. Navy ship off Somalia Thu May 7, 2009 9:22am EDT MANAMA (Reuters) - Pirates have fired small arms weapons at a U.S. Navy supply ship off the coast of Eastern Somalia, the first attack of this kind since last year's surge in pirate attacks, the U.S. Navy said on Thursday. The USNS Lewis and Clark was chased for about an hour on Wednesday morning by two pirates skiffs, but neither came closer than about one nautical mile to the U.S. vessel, the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet said in a statement. Cool. Just like the rescue vessel in the film Event Horizon. USNS Lewis and Clark: 2005 Rescue Ship Lewis and Clark: 1997
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Sunday, May 03, 2009
We have witnessed this during the Bush Presidency after 9/11, when all matters were ruled by politics and vengeance. We went to war in Iraq, because the thirst for vengeance was so great, it literally overcame reality. We have witnessed this also as the desire for vengeance drove the administration to the insane course of instituting a regime of torture, flouting all international norms established by this very nation and its allies at the end of the Second World War.
The passions are unlimited.
Conservatism used to stand for the control of Passion by Reason. Now Reason is the whore of Passion, as we are forced to watch so-called Conservatives speak out in defense of torture. The decade of the 60's urged Passion and its gratification upon us. It destroyed some by drugs, some by war, but it led this entire nation into the era of unrestrained gratification of even the most base passions.
Both liberal and conservative minds surrendered themselves to the gratifications of their passions, and the resulting political debate between the two sides is a result of the one side infringing upon the debased gratifications of the other.
What is the current economic turmoil a result of if not the Conservative uncontrolled passion for unlimited returns on wealth by dumb, brutal markets they call "free"? Dumb beasts tending not to equilibrium - as they are so fond of saying - but to bubbles and panics. What Reason restrained the fools who voted for no regulation to be applied to derivatives? And they did so not even ten years after a great deal of damage had been done by those financial instruments.
Even God is a pawn in their battles: Terry Schiavo comes to mind. Old time Conservatives worshipped God and used money; the modern day conservatives worship money and make use of God.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
...As one of his first acts as president, Roche brought in conservative author and icon Russell Kirk to teach at Hillsdale, but more importantly to give the world notice that Hillsdale was serious about being conservative. If Roche had been as serious about thinking as he was about fund-raising and public relations, he might have noticed that Kirk’s book The Conservative Mind, specifically the chapters on Edmund Burke and John Adams, had some significant things to say about the relationship between reason and appetite, lessons that would have increasing relevance to Hillsdale College under George III’s increasingly autocratic leadership. That meant that Kirk also had something to say about the two strains within conservatism—the libertarian and the traditional—which appetite and reason represented...George Roche III was great, because he was a great fund raiser for the Conservative causes. He was lionized by Conservatives. However, you cannot keep up a 19 year affair without people becoming aware. In particular, you cannot commit so heinous an offense as George Roche did, year after year, without people becoming aware of it, yet to frightened to mention it.
Money was God, and the Republican Party had only One God. They looked the other way. Lissa Roche went out to the gazebo, a central place at Hillsdale, and killed herself.
The entire story is Death at the Gazebo:Conservatism In Extremis at Hillsdale College by E. Michael Jones.
I am not aware where it is available at the present time. However, its importance is inversely proportional to the oblivion which modern society and media have banished it.