Necromancy Progress Report

As mentioned before, I’m using The Wayback Machine to recover all of my old posts from my various blogging platforms because REASONS.

I’ve finished 2004 (I’d only posted in November and December), and have realized a few things.

1. I really needed an editor. Still do, but DAMN did I need an editor.
2. I wasn’t a good enough blogger or writer to deserve an editor.
3. Posting links to blogs and news articles without excerpting from them is probably an exercise in futility, because they quite often go away. The Internet is not forever.
4. In fact, I was an incredibly sucky blogger.

I don’t recommend you go back and look at them, but it’s very obvious that browsers didn’t have spell-check in 2004. PAINFULLY obvious.

Steve Pociask is Repetitive

As Paul Krugman has pointed out in many of his pieces, you can often tell when someone is arguing from ideology rather than reason. If the solution they prescribe never changes no matter what the problem is, then they don’t care about the problem; they just want to push their “solution.”

Case in point: Steve Pociask of the “American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research” (in quotes because the name does not describe at all what the organization actually does).

He looks at the upcoming expiration of the Internet Tax Moratorium and the FCC’s possible efforts to enforce Net Neutrality by reclassifying ISPs as telecommunications providers and sees a horrible threat!

By my estimate reclassification and end of the moratorium would eventually increase broadband prices by more than 17%, due to increases in state and local taxes traditionally imposed upon telecommunications and utility services, including property and receipts-based taxes. The increase in costs, when passed through to consumers in the form of higher prices, will lead to a decrease in the otherwise growing base of nationwide broadband subscribers by as much as 65 million by 2020.

This decrease in subscribership would affect economic output by reducing Gross Domestic Product by as much as a quarter of a trillion dollars over the next 10 years, including the loss of a half a million jobs. Finally, the effect of price increases and demand services would produce a decrease in consumer welfare by as much as $81.1 billion over the next ten years for the broadband services market. Lower levels of investment, higher prices and reduced demand are precisely the opposite outcomes that Congress and the FCC have set out to achieve in the National Broadband Plan. In short, allowing the moratorium to expire and reclassifying broadband services – would do more to make broadband unaffordable, which will discourage broadband adoption and lower consumer welfare.

Given the potential downside from the risk of increased Internet regulation and taxes, policymakers need to prevent this confluence of events. Congress is mulling over the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, which would extend the tax moratorium indefinitely. On the Net Neutrality issue, the FCC needs to take a break from writing and promulgating new Internet regulations, at least until they can identify some serious violation that would require some regulatory remedy, rather than anticipating the potential for market failure. These actions would provide broadband consumers with adequate shelter from the storm.

First of all, when someone says that someone else “needs” to do something but handwaves away the specifics of why, be suspicious. The second paragraph above has the implicit assumption that (assuming that the numbers are accurate, which given that they come from the Heartland Institute, your one-stop-shop for obstructing climate change legislation) tax receipts disappear from the economy never to be seen again, which isn’t true at all. A huge part of what lengthened the recession that just happened is the mass firing of government employees at all levels, first local and state, and later federal. This meant fewer people working, fewer services being provided, and generally fewer things that need doing getting done. This despite the fact that raising taxes is a good idea given that we’ve slashed everything in state and local budgets to the bone except for law enforcement and the like. The meat of the piece is about two things: increased regulation, and taxes, both of which are Worse than Hitler in his eyes.

A compendium of wrongness:

The recession belongs to Obama, and taxes are worse than deficits.
Credit unions need to be less stable and risk people’s money the way banks do. This is a nicely done piece in that he’s sneakily trying to undermine the very thing that makes Credit Unions so attractive as well as justifying their tax break, under the guise of giving CUs FREEDOM.
Internet Freedom does not need to be preserved because FREEDOM! NOW WITH A FLAG BACKGROUND!
Municipal Wi-Fi is bad BECAUSE REASONS.
Taxes are worse than Credit Unions.
Internet access is not a utility, and having wires going to your house is the same thing as actually being connected to the Internet.

Note what he argues for in each of these things: lower taxes, more business FREEDOM, and less government. No matter the subject, those prescriptions never change.

If your doctor wanted to give you a coffee enema each and every time you visited, no matter what the visit was for, wouldn’t you start looking for another doctor?

Fear Itself

litany-of-fear-fixed
I really want to have something comforting to say about Elliot Rodger, about the world, and about people in general. Unfortunately, I’m going to stick with what’s real, as far as I can tell. Before you tell me what to go do with myself for writing such platitudes, I’ll remind you that we are talking about visceral human emotions that are beyond words, even for some of the best writers in the world. I don’t feel like I even live on the same planet as the people who could write about this terror, so I really don’t care how much you think I suck. What I’m hoping is that someone reads this and maybe decides to step back from whatever terror they’ve embraced.

First, the bad news (I’ll keep it short): if you think he was bad, there are far, far worse out there all over the world. Men have cornered the market on that kind of evil, but to be human and to want to control others (which is almost the same thing) is to harm others. Y’all can argue back and forth over who experiences the greater fear (based on whatever sorting category you want), and who experiences the greater pain, who lives with the greater risk, and I’m almost certain you’ll have a sorting criteria that backs your answer (if you don’t, I’m pretty sure you’ll either change your answer, your sorting criteria, or just say “that’s what I believe.”).

Now the ugly (I’ll keep this shorter): most of this is because you can not experience anyone else’s fear as keenly as your own. You just can’t. You can empathize, and how much you try and take other people’s feelings into account is definitely to your credit (unless you start imagining you know what they feel, in which case you’re Scary and Bad, so go away). This means that in this world in which most people are unhappy (or worse) a large percentage of the time, you can’t even comprehend why, and when you’re given a reason, you can’t truly comprehend that either.

Now the good (a good person, that is): About a year after the 9/11 attacks, I met a New Yorker who worked two blocks from the Towers (and definitely knew fear that day). Her main regret, to her a tragedy that eclipsed the attacks themselves, was that we went into Afghanistan, rather than spending all that money and effort on rebuilding the towers, better and stronger than before, to show that we wouldn’t be changed by their image of us or their attack. I haven’t spoken with her since, but I imagine Iraq and the creeping paranoia we live under would make her even sadder. I don’t even know her name, but she’s one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met.

And lastly, a question (with some context): as far as I can tell, your life can best be described as what you build it around. Given that, I don’t care what your gender, race, age, or sexuality might be. I have one question for you: do you want to build a monument to the things that terrify you, and glorify them at the center of your existence, or do you want to build something in spite of them, knowing that you might fail? I’ll tell you what, you will get no lasting reward from anyone either way, and living in fear will not keep you safe. You’ll never get to compare notes with anyone else, and on most days, someone telling you how strong they think you are will probably just puzzle you (if it doesn’t, you’re high on your own self). You will, however, be working to shape yourself rather than willingly be shaped by that which you hate and fear.

tl;dr: the only thing you get to build is you. What will you be?

Human Predation

One of the things that some people on the Right have gotten somewhat correct about Elliott Rodgers (for the wrong reason, mostly “it’s all the Left’s fault”)* is that it’s more than just hatred of women that drove him. He didn’t kill four men because he hated women, he killed them because they were in the way of his “rightful” place in life. He viewed half of his fellow human beings as objects (disobedient and disrespectful living currency, an echo of a very old and ugly view), but this had consequences in how he viewed the other half of the human race: as competitors (at best), as thugs, as thieves, or as outright threats. Even his father, who he seemed to both be in fear and awe of, earned contempt from Elliott for raising such a weak son.

Elliott did not just reveal misogyny or misandry*; he was a paradigm of misanthropy. This is what a lot of younger Social Justice people don’t necessarily get, and what most of those who mock Feminism most certainly don’t get. Sometimes calling the systemic poison that ails us Patriarchy is to grant it certain types of power it doesn’t have in our collective imagination. Further than that, it is to understate just how insidiously this hatred of the Other is combined with an Othering of (and hatred for) the self for either never quite living up to its standards, or for just what an amoral and destructive being you become while attempting to enforce them.

Beyond that, I have no words.

Updated: Echidne’s deep dive into his madness is depressing and revealing (and shows great strength of character on her part), though it is a different perspective. Also, I do have more words now. It seems that human beings assume great solidarity among the Other(s), while usually feeling very isolated amongst people we identify with, which is why division between groups has always been easier than encouraging solidarity. Seriously, once you manage to “other” a group, how hard is it to impress a single imaginary organizational framework upon that group? Answer: depressingly easy, especially as compared with the effort it takes to actually organize that group.

Add to that the division between “alphas” (those who should reproduce) and “betas” (those who don’t deserve to), and the ability to cull anyone who shows weakness from the rank of “alphas,” and you have a culture that exists only to feed on itself (which is why I consider it a smaller, more intense version of our larger social culture in the U.S., that encourages men to prey on (or at the very least control) women, and men to poach women from (and ultimately destroy and overcome) other men. There’s no camaraderie, and there’s little or no common humanity, only the shared scapegoat of the moment. If this sounds familiar, it is because it is the classic Feminist description of Patriarchy (and it’s also the idea world of Ayn Rand and her acolytes, go fig). I guess I take it personally in a different way, because I have no choice.

* Roy Edroso’s roundup here.
** I shudder to think of how he viewed those outside that simple binary formulation

Upton_sinclar_1

The Lost Legacy of Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair - Public Domain image via Wikipedia

If you’ve ever read The Jungle, which exposed us to the nightmare working conditions of the meat-packing industry in early 20th Century America, there is a scene that is horrifying in many, many ways, where a man falls into a sausage grinder and apparently becomes part of the packing-plant’s product. Well, I don’t know of any workers becoming a part of our sausage or hummus, but with company executives pushing both cost-cutting measures and the skirting of safety regulations (because it’s cheaper to pay a fine than to make workers safe, let alone reasonably-paid) the machines they work on are still killing them.

And though the article about the death of Michael Raper above does not say it, apparently there was a safety violation involved, though the fine was only $7,000.

Is that outrageous to anyone else?

bagofdicks

A Principled Left Should Tell You What To Go Do With Yourself.

Over at Common Dreams, there is a piece titled “Why a Principled Left Should Support the Benghazi Inquiry” by Ajamu Baraka.

And if you thought that didn’t bode well, here’s the subtitle:

The GOP want to destroy Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in one fell swoop, but there’s a deeper issue to investigate that deserves public scrutiny: How the US/Nato invasion of Libya unleashed widespread violence across North Africa and beyond.

So basically let me sum this up for you. You can’t understand Boko Haram without understanding how the operation against Qaddafi’s Libya and the weapons we provided the rebels energized all sorts of crazy radicals in Africa. Oh, but Boko Haram is older than that operation. Also, there are emails that may indicate the administration mislead the public, if by “mislead” you mean “pre-emptively PR spin to counter any possible assertion that the attack was a direct result of U.S. policies,” which I guess is true because nothing is completely a result of U.S. policies. Also, if by “the administration” you mean “one guy in the administration.” Oh, and if by “emails” you mean “an email.”

He also says that… oh fuck this, I’ll just quote him.

The response from the Democrats has been predictable. Democrats already lined-up behind a Clinton campaign understand that no matter what comes out this inquiry, Benghazi has the potential to become a permanent yoke that wears down the Clinton candidacy. But in another bizarre display of political and ideological subordination to the Democrat Party and its rightist elite, elements of the left have also expressed opposition to this inquiry.

One would think that those on the left would support this inquiry, as limited and partisan as it will be, on the democratic principle that the people have a right to know what occurred before, during and in the aftermath of the attack. But even more importantly, by demanding a more comprehensive examination of all the activity of the U.S. in Libya in the aftermath of the destruction of that state, including the mission of the CIA in Benghazi, the left can and should raise serious questions that expose the dangerous strategy of empowering anti-democratic, right-wing forces, from al Qaeda-connected jihadists in Syria to neo-fascists in Ukraine.

Holy fucking shit I can not believe a Lefty human being living in the U.S. over the age of 40 actually wrote that. Limited? Really? Like Ken Starr was limited to investigating Whitewater, then spent YEARS digging into every orifice the Clintons had in order to come up with SOMETHING they could use against him? Partisan? You’d better fucking believe it’s partisan. The only difference now is this has race mixed into it, something you’d think Mr. Baraka would understand, since he’s done a whole lot of work talking about racism in the U.S.. He honestly tries to convince us in this essay that he thinks this is aimed at Hillary Clinton, but not at Barack Obama. Then he flips it around again.

I welcome the hearings and could not care less about the implications for the candidacy of Hilary Clinton or the reputation of Barack Obama.

Neither do I.

I am more interested in curbing the right-ward militarist trajectory of U.S. policy.

You’re a little late for that, and if you think that trajectory is going to be changed by a Tea Party-driven investigation centered in the Republican Majority in the U.S. House, you’re out of your goddamn mind.

As an African American the plight of the more than 200 school girls captured by Boko Haram holds a special outrage for me. But I am also outraged by the murder of people defending their rights to self-determination at the hands of U.S.-supported thugs in Odessa Ukraine, outraged by the fact that people are daily terrorized by the constant buzz of U.S. drones that kill women and children in wedding parties and individuals who may “act” like they might be so-called terrorists, outraged that people can call themselves moral and even progressive and support the brutal Israeli occupation and de-humanization of Palestinians.

Yeah, you’re a goddamn clear-eyed humanitarian. Except for the continued inability of minorities in the U.S. to get the benefits they need, especially in states that (in a shocking coincidence) not only have shitty Medicaid benefits, they also refused the Medicaid expansion and are suppressing the shit out of minority voters! By the way: before someone accuses me of valuing the lives of people in the U.S. over people outside of it, read on, there’s a little lesson for you at the end here.

And I am outraged knowing that U.S. policy-makers don’t give a damn about the school girls in Nigeria because their real objective is to use the threat of Boko Haram in the Northern part of the country to justify the real goal of occupying the oil fields in the South and to block the Chinese in Nigeria.

You display a stunning ignorance as to why this is happening, even as you’re so outraged by it.

Exposing the whole sordid story of the destruction of Libya and the role of Al-Qaeda as the “boots on the ground” for U.S. geo-strategic objectives in North Africa and the Middle East represents the only strategy that an independent and principled left could pursue in wake of the fact that the hearings are going to occur. Anything other than that is capitulation, something that the left has routinely done over the last six years, and some of us still struggle against in the hope that one day the “responsible” left will eschew the privileges that stem from its objective collaboration with the interests and world-view of neo-liberal white power and re-ground itself in authentic radical principles and the world-wide struggle against Western domination.

Let me say this in the clearest, most concise manner possible.

ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL.

The Benghazi hearings are about electing Republicans and defeating Democrats. Period. The overthrow of Qaddafi was as much about local politics in the EU as anything else (a big part of it being an attempt to bail out BP because of their massive losses in the US after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which was destroying pension holdings in the UK). We pulled out of Viet Nam because a domestic political shift made it politically untenable to remain there. Same for Iraq. Same for Afghanistan. If you want to make a long-term change in the behavior of people towards something that’s far away from them, find the intersection between the effects that thing produces and how they live their lives and hammer on that. You do not do it – ever – by giving political cover to your enemies.

All that the Left would do by supporting the Benghazi investigations is help the GOP to continue bashing anyone to the left of Ted Cruz. Assisting the party that is actively encouraging the disenfranchisement of your base is not the way to win in politics unless you are attempting to start a revolution. If that’s what you’re trying to do, you’re a horrible human being because you’re (from a position of authority and privilege yourself) saying that you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, and by eggs you mean people who have virtually no power or voice in this world. Way to go!

Finally in the spirit of the title, I’d just like to say this:
bagofdicks