Saturday, February 09, 2008

The British are savages too 

The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams (who, as is probably clear, is one of my heroes), has stirred up a cloud of hatred by making some precise, modest, but ultimately original and challenging points about sharia, or Muslim law.

Essentially, he said that legal theorists and judges might consider the possibility that the British state could recognize certain areas which could fall under the jurisdiction of local religious communities, Islamic and Jewish. He said that this is "inevitable," as it is in fact already happening, though not formally; and he said that this was good.

Every possible qualification was included in the speech. Any aspect of sharia law that is not consistent with the basic principles of British jurisprudence could not possibly be allowed to have legal authority. No deprivation of women's rights, etc. But in certain areas--for example, financial disputes--litigants might, Williams imagined, eventually be able to choose to submit to the authority of a religious court.

The idea is that through a process of demand and negotiation, the state could cede (or be made to cede) certain well-defined areas of control to local communities. And as he notes, this kind of thing has occurred for a long time within Orthodox Jewish communities in Britain, though the practice has not been given formulation in the terms of British law.

That's all the Archbishop said. He went out of his way to note, again, that any number of areas could not possibly fall under local religious jurisdiction. He insisted that the state would have to ensure that certain aspects of religious law were kept without any legal power whatsoever.

For saying this, the Archbishop has been denounced and mocked by all sides--including Gordon Brown and any number of other liberal politicians. Many clergy have called for his resignation. The media has reported ad nauseam that Williams sees the advent of sharia rule in Britain as inevitable.

A nice, brief account of this "event" can be found here.

This is all very interesting. Not only does it show the British to be capable of the same xenophobic hysteria as the state-side yahoos. It also shows that supposed "progressive" politicians are very, very jealous of state power.

For what the Archbishop was doing, very mildly, was suggesting that the state itself not be the sole legal power--not be the sovereign. And this is blasphemy, not just for conservatives, but also for "progressive" liberals.

The "rule of law"--everyone being equal before ONE law--is held up as the epitome of fairness by many, many Democrats when they attack Bush's depraved acts. But the fact is: the universality of ONE law only means the rule of the state; and those who control the ONE law have always used it for their own ends, as Bush has done.

The state is absolute in any liberal society; it is the only institution with the power to create the law, and also to suspend the law and to write new laws with the point of the sword. It has always had that power, and aggrandized it to itself.

More precisely, the state is what emerged, in the 17th century, when all legal power was concentrated, for the first time, in ONE place--the absolute monarch. Before that, monarchy was not absolute. In the next 200 years, monarchy ended; absolute state power survived (meaning, not dictatorship, but the concentration of legal or legislative power in ONE place--the state).

When the state alone has legal power, it can and will be abused. John Yoo's disgusting legal opinions are egregious examples of what has happened many times in the history of the liberal (absolute) state: violence has been dressed up in the abstract language of law.

The way to work against this possibility is to set up alternative and parallel systems of legal authority, so that the state is not the sole legal authority. Williams was taking a step in that direction; and it is not a coincidence that he was doing so in his capacity as the leader of a religious community.

Apparently the worshipers of the state will haven none of it.

Friday, February 08, 2008

why I rarely log in to MySpace 

found in my "new friend request" box:

Is looking like an animatronic droid a requirement for high office in this country?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tagg '12!!!! 

OK, here are my choice bits from Quittens' [h/t Maddow] quittin' speech today:

I am convinced that unless America changes course, we will become the France of the 21st century...

Americans love God, and those who don't have faith, typically believe in something greater than themselves – a 'Purpose Driven Life.' And we sacrifice everything we have, even our lives, for our families, our freedoms and our country.

The threat to our culture comes from within.

Europe is facing a demographic disaster. That is the inevitable product of weakened faith in the Creator, failed families, disrespect for the sanctity of human life and eroded morality.

China and Asia are emerging from centuries of poverty. Their people are plentiful, innovative and ambitious. If we do not change course, Asia or China will pass us by as the economic superpower, just as we passed England and France during the last century.

["Most politicians"] act as if money just happens – that it's just there. But every dollar represents a good or service produced in the private sector.

They hate everything we believe about freedom just as we hate everything they believe about radical Jihad.

If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.

Two questions remain:

1.) What will become of Five Brothers: The Romney Campaign Blog?

2.) Will FredHeads for Mitt for McCain now be established?

simple answers to stup...zzzzzzzzzzz 

Schneier (no, not that one) on Security:

In the first counterterrorism strategy of its kind in the nation, roving teams of New York City police officers armed with automatic rifles and accompanied by bomb-sniffing dogs will patrol the city's subway system daily, beginning next month, officials said on Friday.

Under a tactical plan called Operation Torch, the officers will board trains and patrol platforms, focusing on sites like Pennsylvania Station, Herald Square, Columbus Circle, Rockefeller Center and Times Square in Manhattan, and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

What does it accomplish besides intimidating innocent commuters?

Answer: Are you really asking this question?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Home State Advantage 

Just wanted to add my half-cent to the day's mathematical orgy.

Home states:

In New York, Hillary won 57% and 137 delegates; Obama won 40% and 95 delegates.

In Illinois, Obama won 65% and 101 delegates; Hillary won 33% and 52 delegates.

When you add up the delegate totals from the two home states:

Obama: 196

Clinton: 189

I think that's rather impressive. That's all.

the field 

Al Giordano of Narco News has been doing excellent analysis over at The Field. Worth keeping an eye on:

A few straggling votes out there are yet to be counted, but the grand total when primary and caucus voters are added together is:

Clinton: 7,186,853 (48.78%)
Obama: 7,142,354 (48.48%)
Edwards: (2.74%)

Considering that the polls were saying, even yesterday, that there was an overal 50 percent to 30 lead for Clinton in all Tsunami Tuesday states combined, that’s quite a comeback for Obama. And more important than fighting to a virtual tie over delegates and the popular vote, even more important than the psychological win of gaining more states than his rival, the top story today is that he made her spend her entire campaign chest - more than a year of fundraising - in yesterday’s states and now begins a march through the next ones flush and relentless with a commanding ability to deploy field staff and pay for television ads while the rival needs to take the gas can to the petrol station and beg for credit to get to the next stop.

What I mean to say is, look now for Clinton to loan her campaign a few million just to stay politically alive.

Television and Newspapers Continue to Suck; also People 

I'm really not sure why everyone called California for Hillary at 15% counted, considering that moments later in Missouri, with 98% reporting, Obama took the lead.  He will now win the state and the Associated Press will have to retract its calling of the state for Hillary.

At any rate, Hillary may well win California, despite Obama's evidently having won among both whites and blacks.

The delegate count, it seems, will be evenly divided.  Obama will have done very well--not fantasy-come-true well, but more than well enough to keep fighting the Democratic Suicide Machine, which this year happens to be fronted by Hillary Clinton (an otherwise admirable woman who would make a fine president).

Also, it's my birthday.

Also, I'm putting my money where my mouth is, and just donated $47 to Obama.  Please do the same tonight, if you support his campaign.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Super Tuesday 

I would like to reprise a thought from speakingcorpse in a post from January 3, 2004:

Anyway, there are two key points. One is that Dean is doing better than all the Dems against Bush, although several are in a near dead-heat with him. Two is that more than half of Americans aren't paying close attention at all to the race. For a Democrat to win, he has to somehow interest a small number of these normally uninterested people. They are not now "undecided," agonizing over whether to move to the right or to the left. This demographic has been invented by Frank Luntz for his TV focus groups; it has no real independent existence. How hard is it, really, to decide, once you give the matter some attention? Either you're a fascist or you're not. The real "undecideds" are those who haven't yet given the matter any attention at all. They simply don't give a shit.

Every election, a small number of these people eventually begins to pay attention--exactly who pays attention probably varies from election to election; and what finally draws them in probably varies as well. A Dem won't draw some of them into the process by "moving to the center"--that will in fact ensure that these people will remain, understandably, uninterested. Nor will a Dem attract their attention, necessarily, by moving to the left. He will attract their attention by being attractive and interesting--by saying something new, and saying it well, by stirring up trouble, by striking a memorable pose. Only Dean is doing this thus far. He can win.

May I add: Obama is doing this.  He is attracting interest.  He is attractive and interesting.  He's not saying anything new, but he's saying it exceptionally well.  He is striking a very, very memorable pose.  

I submit the following as evidence:

Can you imagine the reaction if John Kerry, or Al Gore, or--god forbid--Michael Dukakis had worn such a hat?

We can win because Obama looks fucking cool in that hat. He looks bad ass. He can win.

Monday, February 04, 2008


Downtown Brooklyn, this evening:

No Cars Go...to the Superbowl!! 

Most if not all of you may not give a crap about the Arcade Fire fiasco, but I do, so I was very pleased to find the nightmare seems not to be true.

from Pitchfork (h/t Fixin's):
Yes, That Was an Arcade Fire Song in a Super Bowl Ad

No, the band didn't have anything to do with it

As you might have noticed, some kind of important televised sporting event happened earlier this evening. A ball was kicked and thrown and men in extremely tight pants ran back and forth across something resembling grass. In the middle, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed, though they didn't really seem to get what all the fuss was about. (Tom didn't even think the occasion was worth shaving for.)

A few minutes after the halftime show, something weird happened. And it wasn't just the realization that holy shit, the Giants actually have a chance here. It was an ad for NFL on Fox, buoying its triumphant montage of sweaty dudes in helmets with the rousing strains of the coda to the Arcade Fire's "No Cars Go".

Verrry interrrresting. We knew these guys were sports fans, but would Win, Regine, and the gang really sell their music to Rupert Murdoch so that he could advertise his football television program?

No, no they wouldn't.

Turns out Fox never even asked the band if they could use their song, and they certainly weren't given permission to do so. (Gee, this sounds familiar.)

Right now, it's unclear if anything illegal took place, or if the Arcade Fire is owed any money from Fox. The matter is currently being reviewed by the band's camp.

UPDATE: Apparently "No Cars Go" has been used during NFL on Fox ads throughout the football season, according to various readers.

Throughout the season? And no one (including me) noticed till the superbowl? I guess there's not so much overlap between the AF fanship and the NFL viewership.

Oh, and while I'm at it, you'll have heard there are some polls out today. As far as I can remember, Zogby is the only one who always gets it right near the finish. And here's what he says about:

California - Democrats


Obama 46%

Clinton 40%

Missouri - Democrats


Obama 47%

Clinton 42%

New Jersey - Democrats


Clinton 43%

Obama 43%

Looking very good.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

America Wins, Loses, Blows Itself Up 

I know the superbowl is a generally fascist spectacle, but has the fascism--not just in spirit and symbolism but in actual content--always been rammed down the viewer's throat in this fashion?

Did you all see the bizarre "Declaration of Independence"-themed part of the pregame programming?  The chain of forced association seemed to be:

Throwing off an imperial overlord = America = football = righteous warfare against a craven enemy = watching television = freedom = history = America/football.

The segment concluded with a visual, in eighteenth-century style script, of a paragraph saying something like "Fox Sports and the National Football League dedicate this game, as well as the glorious history of our young nation, to the armed forces."

The obscene video hit all the key points in the Republicans' favorite metanarrative, that the United States is both
a) the scrappy underdog who's been mistreated for too long and just won't take it anymore; and
b) the nation whose power and might is so indomitable, immutable and essential that anyone who suggests otherwise is a lunatic or a traitor who threatens the tenuous and hard-won survival of
a) the scrappy underdog who's...
etc etc


Commercials I've seen so far:

--A an advertisement suggesting the nation is suffering from a pandemic of narcolepsy from which it cannot recover unless everybody consumed an overcaffeinated softdrink spiked with ginseng

--An apparently unironic homage to the pageantry of the Nazi rally, promoting an athletic shoe

--An ad council spot warning parents that their children now obtain drugs not from corner drug dealers, but from their parents' own medicine cabinets.  The message seemed not to encourage parents to consider why they have so many prescribed narcotic medications in their medicine chests, but rather to more tenaciously guard the drugs that are rightfully theirs from their theiving children.

--An ad for the new Yukon Hybrid, suggesting that if the mythical character Sisyphus can not only work hard, but also change and grow, he can get the boulder to the top of the mountain, thereby achieving success.

--An ad suggesting that a physically unattractive woman--if she applies to herself not perfume but rather the scent of Planters brand peanuts (e.g., by rubbing the peanuts on her person)--can attract numerous sexual admirers.

--A local advertisement for the planned community of Tradition, Florida.

Halftime: watching Tom Petty strikes me as even more depressing than watching Mick Jagger last year, because while Jagger has been falling in my estimation for years, Petty has been rising--I think his old songs sound better than ever, some of his new songs have a stunning simple beauty, and (unlike Dylan) I think age does actually make him sound more like himself, in a good way.  

Oh fuck.  I just heard part of an Arcade Fire song.  Arcade Fire has sold the song "No Cars Go" to FOX.  Fuck.

Fuck.  Please can this not be happening?  I think I'm about to lose consciousness.

--An infant who, speaking in the voice of an adult man, executes a stock trade via the internet, then vomits on himself and the keyboard.

--James Carville and Bill Frist quit arguing on a political talk-show, walk off the set, go for a day of sight-seeing in Washington.  The catalyst, medium, and telos of their resolved differences?  A Coca-Cola.


Everyone on television seems absolutely dejected.  The media--like Republicans--must loathe nothing more than the underdog actually winning, as opposed to a ritual sanctification/sacrifice of the underdog, followed by the favorite pissing on the underdog's grave.

My final interpretation of this "superbowl" event: the Giant's win means Obama will win California on Tuesday, secure the nomination, beat McCage and become president.

OK, one more thing:

Romney Boasts: 'I Emailed Tom Brady. He's A Friend'

Guess who's surprisingly cozy with the Patriots; star quarterback? No, not Giselle Bundchen.

"I exchanged emails yesterday with Tom Brady, and he's a friend," former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney told reporters today. "And I wish him the very best and I wish the team the very best,"

The Republican presidential candidate revealed this nugget when he was asked, as a Patriots fan, how he felt about his chief rival, John McCain, watching the Super Bowl at the Green Dragon Tavern near Faneuil Hall in Boston today.
"No business at all was conducted," Romney said, not wanting to mire himself in a sports controversy. "I just wish him the very best and feel the Patriots are going to be very successful today."



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