Sunday, June 25, 2006

Politics As Such

John Tester took on Conrad Burns in an hour long debate this morning and handled him quite well. Conrad said, and I quote "goodness gracious sakes alive" on five separate occasions. He is less coherant than George Bush and he has beady eyes and a bad haircut. He's got nothing but folksy -republican-speak-cliches and he's done. Tester has to pander to the tighter border, traditional marriage, anti-flag burning "moderates"of Montana but the Spectacle imposes certain demands.

Im thinking of the relation between American political exceptionalism and Christian exceptionalism, how the amalgamation of the two has led us into what I believe to be a deep, existential, imperial crisis. David Rieff, in his Nation review of Elizabeth Borgwardt's A New Deal For The World and Michael Mandelbaums The Case For Goliath states this simple truth:"What liberal idealists and neoconservatives share is a view that the United States has a mission to reshape the world in it's image." This same theme is echoed by the religious right in their claims that God holds America in some special favor. The proof? Look at all the cool shit we got, look at all the power we got, He must love us best.

Here's a little thought experiment. Say black Africans had colonized North America, or anybody for that matter, Chinese or Peruvians. They instead of white Europeans had stumbled on a continent incredibly rich in natural resources, surrounded by water, and inhabited by a few natives poorly armed and unable to defend their territory. How much wealth might they have been able to extract in a short period of time,(especially if they had imported slaves to do the back breaking labor) how much power would they have ended up with after Europe decimated itself with catastrophic War? Would God have shed his Grace on them? Or is it just Christians so blessedly empowered?

So what doth I protest, some thinks a bit to much? Is it the idea of one set having a "mission" to change the rest? (after all, Im a revolutionary socialist with my own agenda) or is it the "image" with which I find disfavor ? Sure I want to change the world but reject the idea of vangaurdism in all it's forms, missionary , imperial, and otherwise.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Dallas Erickson, best known for his perpetual anti-obscenity crusade and Citizens for Economic Opportunity, has stepped up this time to defend the right of Wal-Mart to build a super center in our little ,rural town and drive out all the local businesses. The county imposed zoning cap on buildings over 60,000 sq. ft. "goes totally against free enterprise" he said. His group gathered the signatures of 6,500 residents (with Wal-Mart money covering mailing costs, salaries, data base etc) who also hope to protect sacred capitalism from the regulating commie scum. Dallas fought against anti-bullying legislation we tried to pass last year because it included sexual orientation as part of it's definition and he is committed to protecting our State from the Gay Agenda. He also was part of the effort to get "intelligent design" inserted into the highschool science curriculum. A true patriot and all around righteous dude. But like most conservatives, he's an idiot. Cluelesly supporting a monopoly that more closely resembles the economic organization of the 1950s Soviet Union. These morons think they are protecting free enterprise, which Im no great fan of, by the way, by helping a Goliath destroy all the competition. Fools.

Your IT

I was "tagged" a while back by Renegade Eye and it took me two weeks to find out what tagged meant and another week to get to a computer long enough to finally reply. (I live on the fringes of civilization for most of the summer) So, the deal is, Im to list Ten Simple Pleasures. Here then:

1. Snarkily commenting about Sunday morning pundits.
2. fried green tomatoes
3.finally fooling a trout on the eleventh drift
4.over-analyzing things ( what do you mean by "simple" pleasures?)
5. lifting off in a jet bound for some new place
6. a cold Moose Drool (local Missoula beer) with friends
7. harassing the folks at neo-neocon.blogspot
8. Coltrain riff on Lush Life
9. watching my guests bite into my famous eggplant Parmigiana
10. a good, open discussion (as opposed to "harassing")

I guess the deal is, I now "tag" someone else. I'll get my comrade Che Bob.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Rules of Engagement

From the Washington Post: "Puckett said it was STANDARD procedure at the time for the Marines to shoot suspicious people fleeing a bombing, and the Marines opened fire, killing four or five men."
"Once you go back over it, you have to determine if the y APPLIED the RULES., did they feel threatened? Did they PERCIEVE hostile INTENT or hostile action? The Marine Corp does not discuss rules of engagement."
"The Marine described a house-to-house hunt that went TRAGICALLY AWRY in the middle of a chaotic battlefield." "Marines followed STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES when they 'cleared' the houses,using fragmentation grenades and gunshots..."

I make no judgements, in fact I realize with horror that placed in the same situation I would probably do whatever it takes to try to stay alive. I would "percieve hostile intent " from the second I landed in country till the second I left and would be willing to kill whatever moved, people running from an explosion, people crouched in their houses, despite any "rules". This language of standardization, of technologized mechanization, brings to mind Enzo Traversos' description of the Nazi death camps as situated at "the terrible intersection of European modernity's industrialization of killing, dehumanization of death, and colonial mindset." And Arendts description of the "banality of evil".

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Trout Bum Update

Tuesday was spent on Rock Creek. On the way over we saw elk, deer, antelope and big horn sheep. While floating down we saw several moose, a momma black bear with two cubs, a blond coyote, and more velvet antlered elk. Did I mention the fifty nice trout we boated on salmon flies? Wednesday we threw black wooly buggers on the Big Hole and released many large fish, low clouds , light rain, perfect. Then the heavy rain started, Wed. night , Thurs and yesterday (including epic hail storm) and now the river is OUT.

From MSNBC front page news: "the death of al-Zarqawi could mark a turning point for al-Qaeda and the global jihadist movement, according to terrorist analysts and intelligence officials." The same analysts and officials said the moon COULD be made of Brie or Munster.Stay tooned. Stay tuned. More Spectacular "news" tommorro.

"The conservative base will appreciate the fact we are trying" said Trent Lott, referring to the transparent sucking up, butt sniffing, condescending politicking. (gay marriage, flag burning, death tax blah blah) Pathetic slime, the ones who scrape and the ones who buy into it.

Like our own Max Baucus, who supports repeal of the estate tax. "A lot of people spend a fortune just trying to avoid the tax" says a spokesman. They support the war with bumper stickers but whine about paying for it. Slime.

Walmart Yes

A coalition has sprung to life here locally to help bring a Wal-Mart Super Center to our little western Montana valley. Holding signs that say Yes To Wal-Mart these working class folks are gathering signatures for a petition to recind the temporary ban on Big Box stores enacted recently by county commisioners after a huge public display. Every action has a reaction. Interestingly, this coalition consists of religious zealots, er, evangelicals ( the same people who fight "the gay agenda" and wish to teach creationism) , the well organized Mormon Church (?) and ignorant poor people, which flourish here in the land of minimum wage and meth labs.

For poor people, Wal-Mart means cheap stuff and that is as far as their political analysis needs to go. OK. For evangelicals Wal-Mart means what? One thing of course, is it provides a chance to strike back at the secular liberals who have organized to oppose. Wal-Mart represents FREE ENTERPRISE, the beauty of capitalism, the American way of life and the "good" aspects of modernity, abundance, consumer goods, convenience, trailer home accessories galore.

But what are these Mormons up to? The worlds fastest growing religion, clean, shiny, white people optimistic and well organized. Like the Zionists they take care of their own, but rather than claim some Middle Eastern homeland they are building it right here in the high deserts of the Rocky Mountain West. They elected one of their own as a pro-development member of the commisioners. They are business leaders, lead civic organizations, influence state government in Utah, Idaho, Montana and elsewhere. The Church takes ten percent of everyones earnings right off the top, just like the Baptists. Thats a lot of cash, people, a lot of cash. Read Under The Banner of Heaven if you are sleeping a little to well at night.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Afflicted Powers

And ressembling our Afflicted Powers,
Consult how we may henceforth most offend
Our Enemy, our own loss how repair,
How overcome this dire Calamity,
What reinforcement we may gain from Hope
If not what resolution from despare.

Paradise Lost, Book 1 Milton

Does this ring as true for the Left as for the Right? For the Occident as well as the Orient? Is the Calamity the battle over the meaning of modernity?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Stupid, Naive?

naive: marked by unaffected simplicity, showing lack of informed judgment; esp. credulous
This is different from slow of mind or dumb, lacking in power to absorb ideas or unthinking, lacking intelligence or reason. But I surely suppose one could be both and I am thinking of a number of conversations I have had recently, a comment or two to my last post (why do we kill each other) and some of the talking head chat this morning.
"Most of the day was dedicated to speeches from politicians and Minutemen leaders and celebrating large donations the Minutemen group has been recieving." From the paper. Or Republicans sending in bills to ban gay marriage, flag burning, etc.. The pudits knowingly grimace and talk of political calculations but We The People?Naive? Stupid?

I don't encourage talking politics in my boat ( a policy for self-preservation) but.. conservatives/republicans (is there some esoteric difference? most people seperate the two) have lately been obsessing, totally unprovoked by me, about the failure of their party/ideology to deal with problems. As soon as they get in and start fishing they bring up the national debt, over-spending, the war, immigrants, crowded prisons blah blah. As a fishing guide I am also part psychiatrist so I nod understandingly but inside I am wondering, naive or stupid? Did they really think a little Reaganomics and tough-love cuts in social spending would right the world?

Then there is just hateful. One irate fascist thought we should nuke Saudi Arabia, "turn it into glass!" to get at the oil. Called Hillary the C word about five times, hated her more viscerally than Jane Fonda even, wished Ted Kennnedy had killed himself that night on Marthas Vineyard. Naive, stupid and hateful.But his anxiety springs from the same well as the anxiety of the guys collecting signatures down at K Mart this morning for an initiative to put away sex offenders, or most of the Islamic world or the old black men polled who couldn't understand the attitude of young blacks. This is the well of meaning, or lack of it in life and the never-quite -knowing if the well is half empty or half full.