Saturday, January 26, 2008

When Presidents Lie About Iraq and WMD . . .

. . . they need to be as good at it as Bill Clinton, probably the most accomplished liar in the history of American politics.

Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade and much of his nation's wealth not on providing for the Iraqi people but on developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them.

Of course, this was just a few weeks after the Monica Lewinsky scandal. When that led to an impeachment resolution, Clinton ups the ante, this time ordering a military strike:

"The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world.

The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government -- a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people."

Our Bill is such a good liar he even convinced his wife - here she is supporting Bush's war resolution 3 1/2 years later:

"He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members...

It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well, effects American security.

This is a very difficult vote, this is probably the hardest decision I've ever had to make. Any vote that might lead to war should be hard, but I cast it with conviction."

Hat Tip: Gateway Pundit

Sunday, January 13, 2008

For a Good Laugh . . .

. . . pay a visit to Dennis the Peasant. Sharp, biting, and very funny commentary about both wingnuts and lefists. One of his targets is Amanda Marcotte - see Dennis's Amanda Marcotte Sentence of the Week.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Timeline of Her Tears

Via the Anchoress - the full story of Hillary's watershed moment. Hillary even telegraphed it the night before.

They even have a link to Bill's instantaneous tear-up for the cameras at Ron Brown's funeral.

And like I said - they will get as nasty as they need to. See Andrew Cuomo saying "shuck and jive" didn't work in New Hampshire. Hmmmm.

Update: I take the preceding back - when seen in context, it may not refer to Obama. Plausible deniability.

Speaking Truth to Power [Safely]

From the London Times Online

Britain’s contemporary artists are fĂȘted around the world for their willingness to shock but fear is preventing them from tackling Islamic fundamentalism. Grayson Perry, the cross-dressing potter, Turner Prize winner and former Times columnist, said that he had consciously avoided commenting on radical Islam in his otherwise highly provocative body of work because of the threat of reprisals.

Perry also believes that many of his fellow visual artists have also ducked the issue, and one leading British gallery director told The Times that few major venues would be prepared to show potentially inflammatory works.

“I’ve censored myself,” Perry said at a discussion on art and politics organised by the Art Fund. “The reason I haven’t gone all out attacking Islamism in my art is because I feel real fear that someone will slit my throat.”

Perry’s highly decorated pots can sell for more than £50,000 and often feature sex, violence and childhood motifs. One work depicted a teddy bear being born from a penis as the Virgin Mary. “I’m interested in religion and I’ve made a lot of pieces about it,” he said. “With other targets you’ve got a better idea of who they are but Islamism is very amorphous. You don’t know what the threshold is. Even what seems an innocuous image might trigger off a really violent reaction so I just play safe all the time.”

At least he’s honest enough to admit he isn’t that brave. Lots of other artists maintain the conceit that their blasphemies (and blasphemy is the easiest, most juvenile of endeavors) are somehow brave and daring in an age that for the most part really doesn’t care. As if tweaking Bill Donohue makes you some sort of Martin Luther

I’m not suggesting new blasphemies against other religions and beliefs – that is hateful and wrong. I just wish some artists would stop thinking themselves brave when all they are really doing is piling on.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Flameout Attempt to Triangulate Between Feminists

I've been following the discussions here and here on Hugo Schwyzer's blog. Hugo is a male feminist, trying to persuade other feminists that Jessica Valenti's Yes means Yes project may have some value as part of a wider general discourse between feminists and what I'll call "normal people". The fundamental controversy is between WOC bloggers and Jessica, because WOC bloggers feel that Jessica's call for submissions trivializes their experiences. And marginalizes. And silences . . . blah, blah, blah.

Hugo tries to split the difference, saying that both points of view have some validity. Jessica is a "popularizer", WOC bloggers are "purists" - and both are needed. To ideologues, those are fighting words.

I don't really care about feminism, and I could care less what Jessica Valenti or the various WOC bloggers that are involved in this controversy think. What interests me is Hugo's attempt to add his voice to the mix, by trying to convince both sides that there is room for both in his big-tent view of feminism. And I care very much what Hugo thinks, because he is clearly a decent man, and a deep thinker. He is trying to blend Christianity and feminism, and I'm skeptical that such a blend is possible with the more ideological feminists.

Like all of these discussions, it always – always! - boils down to a matter of privilege. Privilege is the leftist counterpart to the Christian doctrine of original sin, absent its universality. Hugo, like many people that try and engage with feminists, falls for the bait-and-switch tactics that leftists use in privilege-based discourse. Ideologues claim that if privileged people acknowledge their privilege ("unpack it" in their parlance) they will then understand the revealed truth of feminism, or ableism or racism. . . whatever. Failure to understand the truth can only be because of the blinding, corrosive nature of privilege. Sound circular? It is – that’s why it takes an intellectual to believe it.

But when you see a controversy like this, where leftist ideologues have fundamental differences, then the real meaning of privilege analysis becomes clear.

Look at this comment thread. Hugo, claiming he has something of value to say, says things like:

I think Jaclyn and Jessica have done a really awesome job of hearing the criticisms of their original call for submissions; that’s a consequence of this dynamic process of having these various constituencies weighing in. The anthology will be better as a result.
And you’re absolutely right that the popularizer can be the purist of the reframing. As someone who teaches a survey course on women’s history, the only course on feminist history in the whole college, I have to monitor myself very carefully here to make sure I don’t slip into doing exactly that.

And he's met with responses like this:

Are you labeling concerns like the recognition that most people aren’t white and middle-class, are you casting that notion as a technical intricacy of interest only to purists?
And what kind of popularization is served by by selecting ideas that are targeted mainly at the wealthiest 5% of the world’s population?

So Hugo tries this tack:
On the other hand, a desire to be a successful, money-making writer doesn’t vitiate anyone’s progressive feminist credentials. It’s not a zero-sum game; a given feminist writer can make some money without automatically depriving other deserving folks. A rising tide really can lift all boats. (Damn, now you’ve made me sound like some hopeless supply-sider.)
And is met with this:
Spend some time outside of privileged spheres, read some Plato, read some Freire, do some listening to the experiences of the majority of the people on this planet, spend some time actually working with people in poverty, crisis, violence before crediting a blog or an ad campaign with the power to transform the world. Thousands of years of experience show effective social change is more complex than that. Basic social justice principles show that the same people saying the same things in the same way does not move us forward. Refresh yourself with what the legitimate criticisms of the call for submissions (not Jessica herself, regardless of your efforts to make it appear otherwise) were.
See – it always comes down to privilege! And Hugo takes the bait:
I don’t just pontificate in the classroom. I’ve done youth work for years and years — and not just with privileged white high schoolers. I’ve worked with pregnant teens in a variety of outreach programs in underprivileged areas. I’ve been to God knows how many clinics with scared young women. I’ve taught workshops on sexual harassment to sullen angry young men who call me “faggot” to my face over and over again. That volunteerism doesn’t make me a wonderful human being, and maybe it is just white guilt or noblesse oblige in your eyes — but I have lived out my values outside the confines of the classroom and the comforts of my home.
And this is the response:
And I cannot emphasize enough how unimpressed I am by you being called a fag. I mean you’re trying to claim that what? being called gay by a high school student is akin to the forced sterilization of native and black women or that it’s akin to seeing your friends and family arrested and thrown in prison because the police don’t care about being specific as long as they can arrest some black person.
You have not risked dying of dehydration crossing the border, you have not felt fear at the sound of police sirens despite your innocences, You have not wept at the stresses involved with tyring to pay for a court case, or suffered the symptoms of poisoning because your boss doesn’t follow enviromental health policies, you have not slept in a dirty alleyway with one eye open in case some random passerby takes it upon themselves to rape you, you have no fucking idea what hardship fucking is you little pissant.

Here is what is happening. In the view of ideological leftists, the sin of privilege - particularly that of a white, heterosexual American male - can never be washed away. It is a permanent defect of your soul. It means - to ideologues - that you have no moral worth. Despite what they say, no amount of “unpacking”, no amount of insight, no amount of loyal "ally work" can regain your humanity. In their eyes, your privilege means that - now and forever - you have nothing of value to say. Your experiences are of no consequence. Your views are always empty. While you might be trotted out on occasion as part of a show-trial illustration of remorse, once that is done you need to shut up and move to the background. Once you are privileged, you are free only to agree.

So as a privileged person, Hugo has no basis from which to persuade feminists about anything.

And to me, this is the danger of these ideologies. They make fundamental claims about the relative moral value of people. Sadly, we've long done this on the basis of race, class and gender. The new, modern ideologies want to do the same exact thing, but based on the "privilege" aspects of race, class and gender. Ain’t no difference. The only sort of justice that will result from this new twist will be the type of justice Stalin doled out to the privileged Kulaks.

The only analysis of privilege I accept is the Christian one. “It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get to Heaven.” Christ offered the tiny, but redemptive, possibility of forgiveness – to everyone. Ideologues do not.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

They Won't Go Gracefully

Some polls have Hillary third in Iowa. Apparently even Democrats are seeing her for what she is - a liar without her husband's ability to pull it off.

The Clintons were insufferable in power, and now we'll get to see how gracefully they handle defeat. It won't be an inspiring sight. Their shamelessness reached an earlier peak on the day of Bill's impeachment, when he pulled all of the House Democrats onto the White House lawn for a "rally" - as if impeachment for the crime of perjury was just some primary setback. This quality - their repellent shamelessness - was all that kept them in power. Richard Nixon had a sense of honor, but Bill Clinton never did. His wife's willingness to stand by him was a sure sign that nothing matters to her more than power.

I've always had this theory about the two of them. They wouldn't have gone willingly. If another one of Bill's bimbos had come forward during the impeachment hearings and testified as to what sort of man he was, the truth may have been so blunt, so undeniable, that it may have have turned a dozen or so reluctant Democratic senators. He might have been convicted by the Senate, just so they could be done with him.

Even then, the Clintons wouldn't have left the White House. Having said that the House impeachment was just politics, they would have said the same thing about the Senate conviction. They would have eagerly forced a constitutional crisis. A sitting president refusing to leave office on conviction by what they would have called a "partisan Senate." The only way they would have left the White House was if the army went in and used tear gas.

And surprisingly, I find myself in agreement with Andrea Dworkin on Hillary:

Ever since she went to the White House as First Lady, her life has been going down the tubes. She had to give up her profession and she's been the staunch wife standing by her husband, no matter what vile things he does to humiliate her. It's pathetic. She should pack her bags and leave.