A dovetail joint of news, art, science, politics, philosophy & global affairs

Grasping the currency true to our time

"Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει"










July 22nd
10:33 AM
Via
"It is always expensive for Obama to affirm his identity as an African American, and so his representation of African American experience and perspective on the Zimmerman trial…came couched in qualifiers…It was straight talk wrapped in apophasis—’saying by not saying,’ or saying what I say I shouldn’t say: That African Americans still encounter reflexive prejudice in their daily lives, that American justice is still far from colorblind, that we are still collectively failing African American inner city youth. That’s not a departure for Obama. His dominant mental reflex is to balance countervailing facts, on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand…All the more so when he gets personal…this time, the personal was in a pronoun—not ‘I,’ the politician’s favorite, but ‘we,’ as in ‘we African Americans.’ Obama…has not often, when addressing the whole nation, used the pronoun ‘we’ in reference to himself and African Americans…He did so [this time] sparingly—in just one sentence actually—in the account…of the painful experience he shares with the African American community. Somehow, that ‘we’ renders Obama more vulnerable (to my ear) than the more familiar first-person references to his own experiences of white fear."
—  Andrew Sprung, at XPOSTFACTOID 
May 14th
3:13 PM
Symptoms of Benghazi Syndrome
Richard Cohen  |  Washington Post »

…It is not a crime either to make a mountain out of a molehill, but this particular one is constructed of a fetid combination of bad taste and poisonous politics. Dig down a bit and it becomes clear that some — many? — Republicans suspect that Barack Obama and-or Hillary Clinton are capable of letting people die to cover up a terrorist attack. Either that, or this is what they want us to think.In the end, it all comes down to an irrational and absolutely rabid dislike of Obama that so clouds judgment that utterly preposterous statements are uttered, usually within the precincts of the Fox News studios. This, as you might have guessed, is classic Benghazi Syndrome. There is no known cure.   >continue<

Symptoms of Benghazi Syndrome

Richard Cohen  |  Washington Post »

…It is not a crime either to make a mountain out of a molehill, but this particular one is constructed of a fetid combination of bad taste and poisonous politics. Dig down a bit and it becomes clear that some — many? — Republicans suspect that Barack Obama and-or Hillary Clinton are capable of letting people die to cover up a terrorist attack. Either that, or this is what they want us to think.

In the end, it all comes down to an irrational and absolutely rabid dislike of Obama that so clouds judgment that utterly preposterous statements are uttered, usually within the precincts of the Fox News studios. This, as you might have guessed, is classic Benghazi Syndrome. There is no known cure.   >continue<

January 21st
10:08 PM
"While these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing."
—  

Barak Obama, 2nd Inaugural Speech

Making real, bridging meaning, recognizing the heart of the matter in action. In Obama’s speeches one can catch the scent of Hegel. During the campaign of ‘08 we hear the Swabian echo of “pure self-recognition in absolute otherness” punctuate his “A More Perfect Union” speech. There, a “single moment of recognition…is not enough” but “where we start” and where “perfection begins”.

Today, fidelity to founding principle finds itself not in sentimental supplication to inert ideas, finished “for all time”, but rather in a duty requiring “new responses”, an action and a work, a constant task of making real:

"…if the fear of falling into error sets up a mistrust of Science, which in the absence of such scruples gets on with the work itself… it is hard to see why we should not turn round and mistrust this very mistrust. Should we not be concerned that this fear of error is the not just the error itself?" (PG §74)

Today we hear the same call to move beyond a false sense of perfection into an adroit movement whose certainty resides in a stubborn resolve to dust itself off, to pick itself up in response to shortcoming, confident that real perfection gets annealed through pain and experience. Indeed, “we are made for this moment”, for “engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.” And it’s this moment that makes us.

Exceptionalism turns neither on a regard for the simple immediacy of a given image nor the idolatry of accomplishments past. It comes in the guts to liberate ourselves from semblance, in an active, engaged knowing that “we cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics…we must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.”

Who knows if intent or scholarly affinity energize this echo. Perhaps what shows itself cannot be said. And yet, something appears to be “self-sundering or stepping forth”, sounding between the lines.

.

An Inaugural Surmise | discuss

August 24th
5:33 PM
"In a democracy, so the saying goes, the people get the government they deserve. Part of Obama’s genius is a remarkable ability to soothe race consciousness among whites. Any black person who’s worked in the professional world is well acquainted with this trick. But never has it been practiced at such a high level, and never have its limits been so obviously exposed. This need to talk in dulcet tones, to never be angry regardless of the offense, bespeaks a strange and compromised integration indeed, revealing a country so infantile that it can countenance white acceptance of blacks only when they meet an Al Roker standard."
—  Ta-Nehisi Coates, Fear of a Black President
August 16th
12:57 PM

Stimulus Games

Citizen Zed - 8/16/12 »

Everywhere we’re supposed to buy the cookie cutter factoid that the economy helps Romney. That’s the way it’s always been. Such things always hurt the incumbent. This truism, once it percolates through the den of paint-by-numbers “political” consultancy, issues forth in a thick, steaming carafe of GOP squawking points. Obama is a failure. Everything he’s done is an epic fail. The stimulus, that latest example of government trying to do what it can’t, was a failure.

Just when you think it’s all so incontestably obvious, perhaps even as a “leftist” bemoaning the lack of a bigger stimulus, comes an interesting long read, one which traffics in such quaint notions as rationality, empirical detail and history regarding the “failed” stimulus. In “Think Again: Obama’s New Deal, The president’s Republican critics are dead wrong. The Stimulus worked.”, Michael Grunwald writes:

"When it comes to the Recovery Act, the facts are on Obama’s side.

For starters, there is voluminous evidence that the stimulus did provide real stimulus, helping to stop a terrifying free-fall, avert a second Depression, and end a brutal recession…

Politically, it’s awkward for the president to argue that without the stimulus, the bad economy would have been much worse. It sounds lame to point out that recessions caused by financial meltdowns tend to be unusually long and nasty. But it’s true.”  >continue<

Awkward enough, that is, to where Karl Rove likely rubs his hands, anticipating Obama coaxed into lecturing like a professor while studiously attempting to limn out the facts. “Come on Obama, quit making excuses, quit teaching - and better yet, get out of the way and let those that can do take the reins. The failure is just all so obvious as to make a mockery of tedious academic apology.” So goes the predictable line in a world where the “intellectuality” of Paul Ryan amounts to the prize in a Cracker Jack box, where the dramaturgy and “substance” of politics has the flavor of professional wrestling.

If one unreflectively trades with the currency of a pre-2008 mentality, a frame harkening back to a fat, happy yet unravelling time, where entertainment might suffice for politics, all this might have better traction. Then the economy might automatically help Romney. Polls appear to show, however, that voters are wary of this game - perhaps like dogs unaccountably wary of antifreeze. They may not be ready to retroactively retire the Reagan Revolution but there appears to be a willingness to pause before reactively handing the keys back to the GOP. They may reckon, with legitimate suspicion, that even our out-sized expectations of presidents can’t muster the requisite suspension of disbelief necessary to hold Obama accountable for smoothly pulling a recovery out of a hat.

Countering the dawning of adult cognition, Romney and the GOP quadruple down with talk of failure. If they can’t convince by framing with labels, slight of hand proceeds to loudly repeat bare conclusions free of either tested premises or the actual structure of argument - and free of the political context whereby a “loyal opposition” has engaged in every contortion imaginable to torque Washington into abject deadlock. The party of Atwater, Rove, and Ailes cries foul at any interrogation, fingering Obama as hateful and divisive - and thus “distracted” from the real job of recovery. But it’s this act that’s the distraction, engaged in the worn out game of projecting and hanging its essence upon another.

The managers of this “discourse” don’t worry that anyone in the target demographic will be shocked by pushing every nonsensical claim imaginable against Obama, studded with the repetition of remarks so wrenched out of context as to problematize an Onion parody. Indeed, they trade on the confidence that if you’re a Tea Party dude lacking 6th grade reading skills, you didn’t get that. It’s an austerity eschewing science, empirical grounding or intellectual honesty. It’s an austerity impoverished enough to celebrate pulling stuff out of its ass, forever stuck in the loud denial of what 2008 meant and continues to mean.

July 11th
4:48 PM
Via

Obama the Socialist? Not Even Close

barticles:

“Cuckoo’s Nest” director Milos Forman:

WHEN I was asked to direct “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” my friends warned me not to go anywhere near it.

The story is so American, they argued, that I, an immigrant fresh off the boat, could not do it justice. They were surprised when I explained why I wanted to make the film. To me it was not just literature but real life, the life I lived in Czechoslovakia from my birth in 1932 until 1968. The Communist Party was my Nurse Ratched, telling me what I could and could not do; what I was or was not allowed to say; where I was and was not allowed to go; even who I was and was not.

Now, years later, I hear the word “socialist” being tossed around by the likes of Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and others. President Obama, they warn, is a socialist. The critics cry, “Obamacare is socialism!” They falsely equate Western European-style socialism, and its government provision of social insurance and health care, with Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism. It offends me, and cheapens the experience of millions who lived, and continue to live, under brutal forms of socialism.

My sister-in-law’s father, Jan Kunasek, lived in Czechoslovakia all his life. He was a middle-class man who ran a tiny inn in a tiny village. One winter night in 1972, during a blizzard, a man, soaked to the bone, awakened him at 2 in the morning. The man looked destitute and, while asking for shelter, couldn’t stop cursing the Communists. Taking pity, the elderly Mr. Kunasek put him up for the night.

A couple of hours later, Mr. Kunasek was awakened again, this time by three plainclothes policemen. He was arrested, accused of sheltering a terrorist and sentenced to several years of hard labor in uranium mines. The state seized his property. When he was finally released, ill and penniless, he died within a few weeks. Years later we learned that the night visitor had been working for the police. According to the Communists, Mr. Kunasek was a class enemy and deserved to be punished….

Marx believed that we could wipe out social inequities and Lenin tested those ideas on the Soviet Union. It was his dream to create a classless society. But reality set in, as it always does. And the results were devastating. Blood flowed through Russia’s streets. The Soviet elite usurped all privileges; sycophants were allowed some and the plebes none. The entire Eastern bloc, including Czechoslovakia, followed miserably.

I’m not sure Americans today appreciate quite how predatory socialism was. It was not — as Mr. Obama’s detractors suggest — merely a government so centralized and bloated that it hobbled private enterprise: it was a spoils system that killed off everything, all in the name of “social justice.”

June 14th
7:21 PM
How Obama Has Failed to DeliverUllrich Fichtner, Marc Hujer and Gregor Peter Schmitz  | Der Spiegel&#160;&#187;

&#8230;The bloggers and tweeters have taken control of the media, as have new media outlets like Politico, a blog whose reporters have 15 minutes after a presidential speech to turn in their first analyses. They are groomed to focus on conflict because it attracts the most attention. Readers are quick to click away from stories that don&#8217;t titillate, so that fleeting moments become the real story in Washington.&#8230;The Tea Party is a problem for Obama, not because it could come into power itself, but because it exerts so much influence over the Republican Party and, in the end, has become the loudspeaker for the conservative half of America&#8217;s population. More alarmingly than ever, the Tea Party combines the glorification of the unsophisticated with megalomania, and conspiracy theories with poor education. Its supporters represent dark clichés of a vapid America, one in which there are plenty of people who would have no objection to many a modern book being burned.  &gt;continue&lt;

A German analysis of the state of America and the Presidency - and a good long read with some focus on the evaporation of civil intelligence and the apparent collapse of critical thought.  In one recent but poignant blip a Sunday Morning talk show host felt the need to apologize for evidencing the rare spirit of scientific and interrogative play, this time up against the sentimental employment of the term &#8216;hero&#8217;. In a nation reduced to &#8220;people&#8221; who &#8220;only read opinions that reinforce their own views" any pause over pushing sacred premises must abase itself before the altar of vulgarity.
The same overwhelming stew of outrage that once wielded the accusation of a &#8220;pre 9/11 mentality&#8221; now, after a financial collapse in 2008 which arguably eclipses the significance of September 11th, gives a pre 2008 mentality free reign. The duplicity has all the consistency of denial. We can&#8217;t look at Obama as rational individuals, taking in a shocking modern scenario earnestly and interrogatively, for we - as in Children of Men - aren&#8217;t reproducing humans any more. At best, when we can see past our appetites, we glimpse only broken bits of culture all jumbled up in a disfigured background.
A foreign perspective, then, which takes longer to read than a tweet.

How Obama Has Failed to Deliver
Ullrich Fichtner, Marc Hujer and Gregor Peter Schmitz  | Der Spiegel »

…The bloggers and tweeters have taken control of the media, as have new media outlets like Politico, a blog whose reporters have 15 minutes after a presidential speech to turn in their first analyses. They are groomed to focus on conflict because it attracts the most attention. Readers are quick to click away from stories that don’t titillate, so that fleeting moments become the real story in Washington.

…The Tea Party is a problem for Obama, not because it could come into power itself, but because it exerts so much influence over the Republican Party and, in the end, has become the loudspeaker for the conservative half of America’s population. More alarmingly than ever, the Tea Party combines the glorification of the unsophisticated with megalomania, and conspiracy theories with poor education. Its supporters represent dark clichés of a vapid America, one in which there are plenty of people who would have no objection to many a modern book being burned.  >continue<

A German analysis of the state of America and the Presidency - and a good long read with some focus on the evaporation of civil intelligence and the apparent collapse of critical thought.  In one recent but poignant blip a Sunday Morning talk show host felt the need to apologize for evidencing the rare spirit of scientific and interrogative play, this time up against the sentimental employment of the term ‘hero’. In a nation reduced to “people” who “only read opinions that reinforce their own views" any pause over pushing sacred premises must abase itself before the altar of vulgarity.

The same overwhelming stew of outrage that once wielded the accusation of a “pre 9/11 mentality” now, after a financial collapse in 2008 which arguably eclipses the significance of September 11th, gives a pre 2008 mentality free reign. The duplicity has all the consistency of denial. We can’t look at Obama as rational individuals, taking in a shocking modern scenario earnestly and interrogatively, for we - as in Children of Men - aren’t reproducing humans any more. At best, when we can see past our appetites, we glimpse only broken bits of culture all jumbled up in a disfigured background.

A foreign perspective, then, which takes longer to read than a tweet.

May 29th
9:32 AM
Via
"Mitt was not particularly popular. He was very, very ordinary. He was an average Cranbrook student. He was not an athlete, he was not a student leader, he was not a scholar. The thing that separated Mitt there was that his father was the governor of Michigan."
March 2nd
9:17 PM
Dear President Obama: Listen to the Israelis, not the LikudJuan Cole&#160;&#187;

&#8230;The poll shows that the vast majority of Israelis does not think that  their government should strike Iran without the support of the United  States.  It shows that only about half of Israelis think that the result  of such a strike would be a delay in Iran’s nuclear program lasting  more than a couple of years, and 12% believe it would accelerate the  program.  A fifth think it would have no effect at all.
&#8230;As for their preference for a US president, Barack Obama has a slight  lead among Israeli Jews over Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, and a big  lead over Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.  Given that all the GOP candidates  but Paul have virtually joined the Likud Party and committed verbal  genocide against the Palestinians, it is remarkable how little swayed  Israeli Jews have been by these extravagant positions.  Obama remains  relatively popular with Israeli Jews, not despite his commitment to a  peace process rejected by the Likud government but because of it. &gt;continue&lt;

Although public opinion (at least in the US) often has little to do with either rationality or truth, it appears to say something when large numbers of Israelis harbour doubts - even up against the supposed &#8220;existential threat&#8221; posed by Iran.

Dear President Obama: Listen to the Israelis, not the Likud
Juan Cole »

…The poll shows that the vast majority of Israelis does not think that their government should strike Iran without the support of the United States. It shows that only about half of Israelis think that the result of such a strike would be a delay in Iran’s nuclear program lasting more than a couple of years, and 12% believe it would accelerate the program. A fifth think it would have no effect at all.

…As for their preference for a US president, Barack Obama has a slight lead among Israeli Jews over Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, and a big lead over Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. Given that all the GOP candidates but Paul have virtually joined the Likud Party and committed verbal genocide against the Palestinians, it is remarkable how little swayed Israeli Jews have been by these extravagant positions. Obama remains relatively popular with Israeli Jews, not despite his commitment to a peace process rejected by the Likud government but because of it. >continue<

Although public opinion (at least in the US) often has little to do with either rationality or truth, it appears to say something when large numbers of Israelis harbour doubts - even up against the supposed “existential threat” posed by Iran.

February 23rd
12:09 PM
Via
"They say that President Obama is a Muslim, but if he isn’t, he’s a secularist who is waging war on religion. On some days he’s a Nazi, but on most others he’s merely a socialist. His especially creative opponents see him as having a ‘Kenyan anti-colonial worldview,’ while the less adventurous say that he’s an elitist who spent too much time in Cambridge, Hyde Park and other excessively academic precincts. Whatever our president is, he is never allowed to be a garden-variety American who plays basketball and golf, has a remarkably old-fashioned family life and, in the manner we regularly recommend to our kids, got ahead by getting a good education."
February 14th
11:09 AM
"See, conservative politicians and their media mouthpieces have gathered around a cauldron in the middle of an oil patch and they’ve filled it with Kenyan dirt and pelican blood and Muslim eyeballs and a whisker from Karl Marx’s beard. They’ve danced nude around the giant pot, with flames licking its sides from the fire beneath it, Grover Norquist and Andrew Breitbart and one Koch or another and Karl Rove and others, adding their own spit and semen to the potion. They madly chanted to gods and ghosts of their crazed conservative forefathers, Reagan and McCarthy and Goldwater and Thurmond, willing into existence a horror, a phantom Obama that fulfills all their rhetorical needs. Oh, no, it doesn’t look like the real Barack Obama in any way, but that’s not the point. Surely, the creature that emerged from the viscous liquid of the cauldron, contorted and grotesque, bears enough of a resemblance that those who merely glance at it will be convinced that it is the same as the real President."
January 5th
5:27 PM

Iran’s growing state of desperation

Fareed Zakaria »

Iran’s nuclear program is making progress. This is inevitable: Nuclear technology is 70 years old; Iran has a serious scientific community, and it sees a nuclear program as an emblem of national security and pride. But do we think of North Korea as strong and on the rise because it has a few crude nuclear devices? (It is worth pointing out to those, such as Gingrich, who see regime change as the “solution” that Mousavi and other leaders of Iran’s Green Movement strongly support its nuclear program and have criticized Ahmadinejad for giving away too much in his offers of negotiations with the West.)

…[hardball force] risks building up pressures that could take a course of their own — with explosive consequences. The price of oil is rising during a global slump only because of these political risks. Without a carefully considered strategy, these risks will grow. Weak countries whose regimes face pressure can sometimes cause more problems than strong nations.  >continue<

October 19th
2:06 PM
Via

Tea Party Nation Urges Businesses To Stop Hiring In Order To Hurt Obama

abaldwin360:

 

by Brian Tashman | rightwingwatch.org

Tea Party Nation sent to their members today a message from activist Melissa Brookstone urging businesspeople to “not hire a single person” to protest the Obama administration’s supposed “war against business and my country.” Brookstone writes that business owners should stop hiring new employees in order to stand up to “this new dictator,” the “global Progressive socialist movement,” Hollywood, the media and Occupy Wall Street.

Brookstone writes:

Resolved that: The Obama administration and the Democrat-controlled Senate, in alliance with a global Progressive socialist movement, have participated in what appears to be a globalist socialist agenda of redistribution of wealth, and the waging of class warfare against our constitutional republic’s heritage of individual rights, free market capitalism, and indeed our Constitution itself, with the ultimate goal of collapsing the U.S. economy and globalizing us into socialism.

Resolved that: President Obama has seized what amount to dictatorial powers to bypass our Congress, and that because the Congress is controlled by a Progressive socialist Senate that will not impeach one of their kind, they have allowed this and yielded what are rightfully congressional powers to this new dictator.

Resolved that: By their agenda and actions, those in our government who swore oaths to protect and defend our Constitution have committed treason against the United States.

…Resolved that: The current administration and Democrat majority in the Senate, in conjunction with Progressive socialists from all around the country, especially those from Hollywood and the left leaning news media (Indeed, most of the news media.) have worked in unison to advance an anti-business, an anti-free market, and an anti-capitalist (anti-individual rights and property ownership) agenda.

…Resolved that: Our President, the Democrats-Socialists, most of the media, and most of those from Hollywood, have now encouraged and supported “Occupy” demonstrations in our streets, which are now being perpetrated across the globe, and which are being populated by various marxists, socialists and even communists, and are protesting against business, private property ownership and capitalism, something I thought I’d never see in my country, in my lifetime.

[SOURCE]

August 23rd
2:05 PM
Via

MEDIAITE: Fox "News" tries to make the (almost) fall of Tripoli into a Barack Obama version of George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished"

inothernews:

Fox “News” scumbags are bags of scum.

Hard not to assent to the tautology. But really, this is a fascinating example of something that should be more evident. Namely, that having undergone the horrors and moronism of the 43 Bush League - seething for 8 years while all people not bereft of cognition looked upon him and his cohort as - well to put it charitably - the most catastrophic manifestation of the Peter Priniciple imaginable, the Republican base finds itself in an embarrassing form of sophomoric contortionism: essentially saying, "look we can make ‘your guy’ look bad too".

Yeah, half the time it’s ‘your boy’.

"Na Na Nana Na! See, we can deploy infinite argumentative vectors for the sake of framing this scene". You can hear this sophistic wavelength, for example, exuding from every orafice of Laura Ingraham’s snarky, loaded questioning of Charley Rangel.

It’s a high-school mentality still steaming over its team being wronged, whipping itself into an eye for eye style automatic gainsay of dishing back the hurt. Now it’s their turn. But it only projects this trauma with the awkward scent of teen spirit in an indirect admission.

August 2nd
10:37 AM

Obama Left Boehner Holding the Teabag, Again

Paul Krugman is a political rookie compared to Barack Obama. He is either unwilling or unable to actually look at the deal that was announced and realize what just happened: Barack Obama ate John Boehner’s lunch, and then he turned Boehner out to go preach to his conservative colleagues that this eating of the lunch by Obama is actually politically good for them.

I am not kidding. Nor exaggerating. I will show you exactly how that happened if you bear with me a little bit.. >consider<

With all the insta-analysis flying about on the debt deal, this atypical take could bear some scrutiny.