Saturday, March 29, 2008

When it Comes to War – America Means Business

John Cusak on yesterday’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” promoting his new film “War Inc.” due to be released in May. The film is partly inspired by Naomi Klein’s article “Baghdad Year Zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia” and her book “The Shock Doctrine” Oh, and it’s a comedy. How appropriate.

If you haven’t already, you really should check out that “Why We Fight” video posted yesterday. That documentary explores the same subject from a more dispassionate angle.

Earth Hour

Sure, why not? It may well be a relatively insignificant gesture, but as Lao-tzu famously noted “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

It’s really quite incomprehensible to me why some self-indulgent, narrow-minded people — all so-called “conservatives” I might add — are being such complete fucking assholes about it. They could of course simply choose to ignore this awareness stunt and go about their normal business, but no… being the obdurately stupid folk they are, these moronic nitwits are going to go out of their way to charge up and turn on every energy consuming device and form of illumination in their homes in order to make some kind of futile, entirely unproductive “counterpoint”…

Idiots — every last one of them. Pray for electrical fires...

McCain Unplugged

Aside from being able to remember “who’s who in the zoo” in Iraq, here’s something else Grandpa McCain can’t do... sing. Let’s hope the DNC picks up on this. That last bit where he breaks into “Nobody’s going to rain on my parade” would go together just wonderfully with an image like say... Oh, I dunno... this perhaps.

Why They Fight

A while back I posted several episodes of Frank Capra’s iconic WWII propaganda film “Why We Fight.” In addition to having a peculiar historical value of its own, the intent was actually just a preliminary to the modern version of a documentary film with the same title by Eugene Jarecki that won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.

Inspired by Dwight Eisenhower’s legendary farewell speech (in which he coined the infamous phrase “military industrial complex” — the film aired exactly 44 years to the day after that address, by the way), this documentary describes the rise and maintenance of the United States military-industrial complex and its involvement in the wars led by the United States during the last fifty years, and in particular in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. The film alleges that in every decade since World War II, the American public has been told a lie to bring it into war to fuel the military-economic machine, which in turn maintains American dominance in the world.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Roots of “Anti-Americanism”

Ah, quite foolishly I’d thought all this was common knowledge. But sadly, no.

More delightfully perverse “blasts from the past” regarding Canada’s historical mandate in North America can be found here. (Sorry for being a bit of a spoiler...)

Child Abuse

“Just as we all stand up against child marriage, because marriage is an institution meant for adults, and just as we do not let children participate in certain civic duties, such as voting, until they reach a certain age, the time has come to debate the participation of children in religious institutions. While some might see it as a matter better left to parents, the negative influence of religion and its subsequent contribution to child abuse from religious beliefs and practices requires us to ask whether organized religion is an institution that needs limits set on how early it should have access to children.”

More here.

There’s so much that’s profoundly wrong with this… I’ve said before that I have some trouble with the contention that religious indoctrination is a perverse form of mental “child abuse” but I’d suggest this is a pretty compelling argument in favour of that proposition.

It’s really quite heartbreaking to see inquiring young minds deliberately stunted and warped in this manner simply in order to make them conform to a superstitious, fact-free creed by people who are, without dispute, quite fantastically ignorant — “Billy Jack” and “Rusty” in this instance…

h/t: Zorpheous

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What We Still Don’t Know

Well, it almost goes without saying, a good deal of things as it turns out.

Astronomer Royal (now there’s an absolutely stupendous title to have!) Sir Martin Rees ponders a few of the great unsolved mysteries of the cosmos, in the process demonstrating once again that science is vastly more mysterious and intriguing than religion’s absurd yet surprisingly mundane contrivances could ever hope to be.

Aside from now fairly routine observations about the existence of life on other planets and conventional misconceptions about the atomic structure of matter, the most truly interesting bits come at the end, where he ventures into speculation about the theoretical “multiverse” and post-biological life, wondering along the way, as many of us doubtless have from time to time in our more elevated reveries, if we might possibly just be the product of someone else’s experiment…

Chris Hedges: Iraq & the Meaning of War

Another little break from my self-imposed “hiatus”… (And yes, I’m quite hopelessly, tragically addicted to blogging. No need to point that out, thank you.)

My admiration for Hedges grows the more I see him interviewed at length. It seems almost funny now (in deeply sad way) that he was actually booed off a stage back in 2003 for casting doubts on the red-blooded, “patriotic” virtues of going war with Iraq back when blind cheerleading and full metal hysteria was prevalent in the corporate mainstream media. This interview with the Houston PBS program “The Connection” about his book “War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning” offers some very insightful observations about war in general based on his experiences as a correspondent and, more specifically, the complicity of the media in the run-up to the present situation in the Middle East.

4000 Mosaic

The above picture (click on it or here for the large version) also deserves some recognition. I don’t want to be excessive in lauding the obviously meticulous and painstaking effort that went into its construction lest that diminish in some way the sacrifice of the subjects involved, but it really is quite astounding. Still, it would be better if it had no reason to exist at all.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

In Pursuit of Traditional Conservatism

Dred Tory

Long-time readers of my old blog may recall that decrying the unfortunate perversion of “authentic” conservatism and the debasement of our political language was an occasional hobby-horse of mine. As a displaced “Red Tory” myself, it’s a great pleasure therefore to promote the new blog of a good friend, an honest to goodness old-school Tory, who keenly appreciates the traditional basis of Canada’s distinct political culture and is committed to vigorously prosecuting the argument against further encroachment into our political discourse by the degenerate brand of “movement” conservatism that’s already so horribly disfigured American politics.

“The task of a real conservative is to keep alive the idea that conservatism can and must have a spirit, a mind, a memory, and deep roots in our living tradition, and, by so doing, reveal the current “Conservative” Party of Canada as the soulless, corrupt, hack-led apparatus it is.”

Amen to that.

Update: Points of Convergence

I just want to expand on something in the comments to explain myself a little better.

In recent decades, traditional conservatism (what some might call “authentic” conservatism or “Toryism” if you will) hasn’t been much in evidence in Canada. It’s become a somewhat unfashionably quaint notion, largely forgotten if not altogether unknown by younger Canadians, displaced instead by a loathsome, right-wing American-inspired “movement” version that’s politically expedient and cynical to the core. Movement conservatism of course is really little more than neo-liberal market worship that embraces the wholesale disruption of traditional Canadian values so long as corporations are making money in the process and the ever-increasing concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few continues unabated. It channels the reactionary and xenophobic impulses of its followers into a few red-meat issues – abortion, gays, immigration, crime and so on – that pose no threat whatsoever to the corporate power structure.

Contrary to what one might be inclined to gather from reading the endless steam of puerile, culturally illiterate right-wing bilge disgorged ad nauseam by the so-called “Blogging Tories” (a tragic misnomer) or the obscenely inane twaddle of pundits in the mainstream media, the bedrock political philosophy of Canadian conservatives has always been one that’s wary of American empire, firmly federalist, and politically centrist. In fact, traditional conservatives are as suspicious of free-market libertarians and corporatists on the right as they are of the anti-establishment socialists on the left. Whereas being a Tory in Canada used to mean adherence to the principles of universality, the common good, and the progressive role of the state in nation-building, these concepts are now considered reprehensibly “liberal” and, as such, are widely reviled and loudly denounced by the extreme right-wing ideologues operating in conservative disguise.

While so-called “progressives” may be at fundamental odds with the tenets of traditional conservatism in several key respects, there are also many points of convergence with which common cause can be made. For example, it seems fair to suggest a shared disgust amongst both groups with what might be called “Wal-Mart conservatives” — by which I mean people who worship at the altar of the “cheapest price” — and the prevalent utilitarian values of the market right generally. On the both the environmental and “New Urbanism” fronts, there is also much inspiration that draws heavily from the conservative well (although you’d never know it from the dunderheads that comprise the “Blogging Tories”) such as the thinking of Jane Jacobs and E.F. Schumacher, to name but a couple of influences in these areas. In terms of nationalism and opposition to the relentless economic integration with the United States, here too many “progressives” are of one mind in terms of developing our own distinctly Canadian economic and cultural sovereignty.

My point in all this is that in today’s “dumbed down” political discourse, dominated as it is by the highly adversarial left/right paradigm, we “progressives” would do well to look beyond the hackneyed ideological stereotypes. There are allies out there, and not always where one might expect to find them.

The God Who Wasn’t There (Complete)

Happy Christian Co-opted Adaptation of a Pagan Spring Fertility Festival Day! Now that we have that out of the way, hand over the chocolate eggs.*

*So sayeth Frank!