Friday, April 02, 2010

Pop Jihad 

This morning I find myself utterly stunned by this image of Dzhennet "Abdullayeva" Abdurakhmanov with her assassinated husband Umalat Magomedov. According to state-sponsored-- which should already give us pause-- Russian newspaper Kommersant the widow was one of the Moscow suicide bombers.

For me this is a new image: "Jihadists"/"extremists"/"terrorists"/etc. wholly sutured to the pop-cultural image bank of Bonnie and Clyde couples-on-the-run. The first thought in my mind was: this has to be a joke. These MUST be actors. Putin has concocted this she-badguy to put a face on his latest state of exception.

But then it occurred to me that this is the only logical conclusion of a media cycle that began with 9/11 and Osama bin Laden. This internet-era phase of Jihad has from the start been about invisible netizens forcibly inserting themselves into the streams of popular culture at the moment that all distinctions between media content are falling away. The doomed teen romance, one part Godard, one part Jay-Z's "'03 Bonnie and Clyde," merely takes us full circle.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

our source of useful ideas 

WASHINGTONā€”In an effort to reduce wasteful spending and eliminate non-vital federal services, the U.S. government announced plans this week to cut its long-standing senator program, a move it says will help save more than $300 billion each year.

According to officials, the decision to cut the national legislative body was reached during a budget review meeting on Tuesday. After hours of deliberation, it was agreed that the cost of financing U.S. senators far outweighed the benefits they provided.


"Even just the space the Senate currently occupies could be put to better use," consumer advocate Michael Dodgerson said. "Were the government to open a day-care center, a homeless shelter, or even an affordable restaurant in that building, it would make more of a difference in the lives of everyday Americans than what's there now."


Sunday, March 28, 2010

caretaking vs. transformation 

Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland, on the prospects for transformational politics:

Perlstein is a student of liberal presidencies and right-wing backlashes and makes some pretty interesting observations. In spite of the title, the talk is quite sympathetic to Obama. Hilariously, he also notes that in the 60's in addition to the Birchers, whom I knew about, was the National Indignation Society, which I didn't. I wish they'd survived, if only for their name.

Basically Perlstein is noting some historical patterns of "transformational presidencies" and making suggestions about how Obama could conceivably have one. Unlike Reich, he doesn't see the healthcare bill as quite doing the job it needs to, mostly because it doesn't tell a clear story about liberalism vs. conservatism.

The Q&A is also worthwhile. It is noted that the New Deal and Great Society wouldn't have been possible without social movements like the CIO and civil-rights movement respectively. Perlstein is ambivalent on whether the netroots constitutes a sufficient movement to generate real change; on the one hand dismissing the idea that we need to get in the streets in order to have a social movement, but on the other noting how netrootsia has been boxed out by the Obama admin., and then on the third hand noting how they nearly scotched the health bill thus demonstrating their power...but not their lack of it...confusing.

As always with Obama, he concludes that it's still "up in the air" and the only thing to do is "wait and see" if BO initiates a more forceful phase II of his operation. While this is likely a proper attitude for an historian such as Perlstein, this posture is poison to social movements. If we don't get real change without movements, but can't get a movement underway because everyone is waiting to see how it turns out and hoping for the best, we're sunk.


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