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The Brown-Shirted Seeds of Hate are Starting To Blossom

From Dr. James Benjamin, a few fragments of how all the right-wing hatred is starting to bubble over. Things are going to start getting a lot uglier, real soon.

When an 18-year-old couldn't convince his girlfriend that George W. Bush was the right choice for president, he became enraged, put a screwdriver to her throat and threatened to kill her, sheriff's officials said.

"You won't live to see the next election," Steven Soper told Stacey Silveira on Tuesday night...

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An anti-John Kerry demonstrator was charged with felony aggravated assault with a gun for allegedly pointing a weapon at the head of a Kerry supporter...

Pickering argued with the anti-Kerry protesters, and then got out of the car and knocked a sign out of the hands of one of the demonstrators.

"That's when (Garone) walked up to my car and stuck a gun to my head," Pickering said. "I said 'I'm sorry' and 'Please don't kill me,' drove away and called the cops."

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Vandals hit a Fair Oaks Democratic Party campaign office late Tuesday or early Wednesday, spraying racist and political graffiti on the exterior.

Campaign workers came to work Wednesday morning to discover their Sunrise Boulevard office defaced with spraypainted swastikas, the word "Bush," and a variety of other slogans. There was also a small caliber bullet hole in the office door window.

This will help fill in the gaps of what's happening and where things are heading.

"You're the ones who did it. You liberals are the descendents of Adolf Hitler, only you don't know it. You're the most dangerous people on planet Earth. I am your enemy. I am your worst nightmare. I will expose you. I know who you are and I know you're suicidal and I'm going to expose you until this government acts finally to stop you. I am not kidding you. I'm telling it as it is."
    -Michael Savage

The Evil That Men Think, Then Do

Naturally curious, children are likely to pick up strange objects, such as the infamous toy-like 'butterfly' mines that Soviet forces spread by the millions in Afghanistan.

Operative Sugar introduced me to butterfly mines today. In the course of my investigations I've read too much about the horrific and heinous things our species does to each other, for whatever inane and unjustifiable reasons. But this one has deeply disturbed me — my insides are shaking in ways I've seldom felt before.

The butterfly mine:

Butterfly mines are one of the deadliest form of anti-personnel landmine, a device designed to explode on contact with a human being.

Brightly coloured and made of plastic, butterfly mines do not specifically target children, according to their manufacturers. But the fact remains they hold an often-fatal attraction.

But they do target children. Someone, somewhere, had an idea to create an anti-personnel device specifically targeted at children.

The targets:

They were called butterfly mines because when scattered from a helicopter, they fall from the air like butterflies. Because they are colorful and look interesting, children pick them up and while they are playing with them, the blasting caps blow off the children's fingers. After this, a nitric acid-like liquid inside the mines blinds them. The Soviet Union used these mines to show the Afghan resistance forces the consequences of their resistance.


Millions of these small green mines were scattered from helicopters or launched from artillery throughout the war in Afghanistan. They became so familiar that children began to call them "green parrots". One 'wing' contains liquid explosive.

When pressure is applied the explosive is forced into contact with the fuse. The amount of explosive is small, but it can still take a child's hand off.

Some 4 year old, being naturally inquisitive, picks it up, turns it over a few times in his hands, bends it back and fortBOOM! blasts his face off.

I don't have much more to say about this. I'm just thoroughly sad and disgusted at our species, and wonder if maybe we deserve whatever is going to happen to us once Bush is re-selected next week.

Brown Butterfly MineGreen Butterfly Mine w Doll

Think for a moment about the concept of the flamethrower. Okay? The flamethrower. Because we have them. Well, *we* don't have them, the army has them. That's right. We don't have any flamethrowers. I'd say we're fucked if we have to go up against the army, wouldn't you? But we have flamethrowers. And what this indicates to me, it means that at some point, some person said to himself, "Gee, I sure would like to set those people on fire over there. But I'm way to far away to get the job done. If only I had something that would throw flame on them." Well, it might have ended right there, but he mentioned it to his friend. His friend who was good with tools. And about a month later, he was back. "Hey, quite a concept!" WHHOOOOOOOOSSHHH! And of course the army heard about it, and they came around. "We'd like to buy about five hundred-thousand of them please. We have some people we'd like to throw flame on. Give us five hundred thousand and paint them dark brown. We don't want anyone to see them.
    -George Carlin

[On a related note, here in the Toronto area lately there have been a string of heinous pranks involving hidden razors and glass shards on beaches and in playgrounds. Sometimes I really wish there was such as thing as Justice and Hell...]


Of Zombies, Bloggers, and The Will To Power As Disappearance [Part I: Zombies]

Note: This article attempts to answer the questions first raised by the article Co-optation, Radicals, Idealists, Realists, and Blogging. This is the first installment.

The Zombie Servants of Golem

I little imagined when I began writing this article that it would become the behemoth it has. Shortly after I started writing it I watched Resident Evil, followed by a quick check of my blog stats before retiring to bed. I came across, via Harry, Billmon's eulogy for blogdom. I felt a curious, almost poetic homology between these two experiences. Zombies were not originally part of this article. But I realized that to fully address the topics this article raises I need to begin at the beginning. And so zombies will lead the way...

Zombies Defined

What is a zombie?

Resident Evil:

—It [the T-cell virus that causes zombiehood] brings the dead back to life?
—Not fully. The subjects have the simplest of motor functions. Perhaps a little memory. Virtually no intelligence. They are driven by the basest of impulses, the most basic of needs.
—Which is?
—The need to feed.

Dawn of the Dead:

—These creatures cannot be considered human. They prey on humans. They do not prey on each other, that's the difference. They attack and they feed only on warm flesh. Intelligence? Seemingly little or no reasoning power, but basic skills remain, of more remembered behaviours from normal life. There are reports of these creatures using tools, but even these actions are the most primitive. The use of external articles as bludgeons and so forth...I might point out to you that even animals will adopt the basic use of tools in these matters. These creatures are nothing but pure motorized instinct. We must not be lulled by the concept that they are our family members or our friends. They are not. They will not respond to such emotions. They must be destroyed on sight!
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[In the mall the zombies approach Penny's Department Store after our living heroes embark on a "shopping spree".]
—They're still here.
—They're after us. They know we're still in here.
—They're after the place. They don't know why, they just remember...remember that they want to be in here.
—What the hell are they?
—They're us, that's all. There's no more room in hell.

Day of the Dead:

—The brain is the engine, Sarah, the motor that drives them. They don't need any blood flow, don't need any of their internal organs. Now, I've severed all the vital organs in this one. There's nothing left of the corpse but brain and limbs, and still it functions. Oh, look, Sarah. Look. [He holds his hand before a zombie's mouth who instinctively tries to eat it.]Image Hosted by ImageShack.us See, it wants me. It wants food, but it has no stomach. It can take no nourishment from what it ingests.
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—He told me himself they don't eat for nourishment. What are we hoping for here?
—Hoping to satisfy the urge. You see, Sarah, they're...They are us! They are the extensions of us. They are the same animal, simply functioning less perfectly. They can be fooled, you see? They can be tricked into being good little girls and boys, the same way we were tricked into it on the promise of some reward to come. They have to be rewarded. Reward is the key. I'm convinced of that now.
—Well, is he dead or alive?
—Well, that's the question, isn't it?

We see with increasing clarity that zombies are nothing more than living dead who exist to consume. But if that was their entire function they would cease to resonate as effectively as they do as a cultural metaphor replete with symbolic association.

Two quick observations:
  • It wants food, but it has no stomach. It can take no nourishment from what it ingests.

    "From the moment that we place desire on the side of acquisition, we make desire an idealistic (dialectical, nihilistic) conception, which causes us to look upon it as primarily a lack: a lack of an object, a lack of the real object." Deleuze & Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

  • They can be tricked into being good little girls and boys, the same way we were tricked into it on the promise of some reward to come. They have to be rewarded. Reward is the key. I'm convinced of that now.

    "Early on in your education you are socialized to understand the need to support the power structure, primarily corporations — the business class. The lesson you learn in the socialization through education is that if you don't support the interest of the people who have wealth and power, you don't survive very long. You are just weeded out of the system or marginalized." Noam Chomsky. Chomsky on Mis-Education.

The Zombie Denizens of Wealth Bondage

If gangster movies are the morality plays capital performs for itself to explore capital's inherent ethical dilemmas, then zombie movies are the phenomenological fairy tales of the denizens who live within capital's ubiquitous empire. But it took a while for the zombie to attach itself to its cultural meaning.

The first zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead, is also the most terrifying. Much of this was due to the brilliant lighting and grainy black and white film, the intense sense of claustrophobia, and overall mise-en-scene. But much of its terror is also due to the fact that the zombies were, in the parlance of semiotics, "empty signifiers", or "signifiers without a signified." They were completely irrational forces of assimilation, seeking to "consume" the living and, thereby, turn the living into one of the them — but without any symbolic attachment. There was no reason for their existence, and their unquenchable hunger and their lurking premonition of death was as implacable and ineluctable as death itself. In this they capture the awesome terror of amoral nature in its essential purity.

With the next major zombie movie, Dawn of the Dead, the signifier glommed onto the signified like a glove onto a hand — and so the true cultural import of what a zombie signifies came to life. They are the soulless living-dead who go to the mall, "consumers" in the purest sense of the word since their entire raison d'etre is to "consume." This conflation of zombies who want to consume living flesh with shoppers who want to consume the effluvia of capital known as products is made unmistably concrete by shots of the zombies clamoring at store windows seeking entrance to "consume" what's inside. Image Hosted by ImageShack.us"They are us," as has been said by the living protagonists confronting them. Simply put, zombie movies are fascinating cultural metaphors for assimilation into Wealth Bondage. What are zombies if not soul-deadened automatons who desire nothing more than to "consume"? Is there any better metaphor for consumer capitalism?

In addition, zombies must feed on the living because everyone must be like them — that's why zombies don't feed on each other. Thus, not only are they consumers, they are strict, reactionary conformists who cannot tolerate difference. All life must succumb to the status of living dead — there can be no real life, no real freedom. There can be no "outside." Thus zombies are not just metaphors for consumer capitalism, they become symbolic metaphors for totalitarianism.

Zombie Alien-host Borgs in the Matrix

The theme of absorption into a closed culture has become one of the primary cultural metaphors of our time. Other manifestations of this theme of co-optation and assimilation have multiplied like the meme viruses they are: The Borg, They Live, The Matrix (where man is no longer even a cog, but a battery that keeps Wealth Bondage functioning!), etc. And it's not just "assimilation" into a closed culture, but a particular kind of culture: the culture of corporate capitalism. These are all metaphorical incarnations for corporate capitalism's co-optation of our environment, our media, our time, our autonomy, our very souls.

It's no coincidence that this meme first appeared shortly after WWII, at what is considered the apotheosis of The American Way of Life™ as epitomized by Ozzie and Harriet and Father Knows Best — the Golden Age of America idealized out of all recognition by Ronald Reagan, and promulgated by the forces of political reaction as they try to force America back there kicking and screaming. 50s precursors to the zombie metaphor of assimilation were the eponymous Blob Steve McQueen ran from, and the suburban pod people of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (Many people assume that the pod people were a metaphor for communism. Or for McCarthyism. The answer is Yes — both of them: assimilation to a closed culture transcends doctrinal differences since the end result is the same — the transference of identity and autonomy to that of the group. Fascists and statist communists may hate each other — but whether left wing or right, they're both totalitarianisms.)

Perhaps the most pointed symbolic metaphor for the way in which corporate capitalism has overtaken our lives is Alien. Alien is a bio-engineered R&D military "product" of The Company. Alien procreates by implanting its progeny (via a facehugger) into the guts of a living human host. Thus humans are the living host by which Alien qua corporate product fulfills its biological imperative to continue the life of the species. The metaphor is complete here — we are the unwitting carriers of the very evil we wish to eradicate, the biological entity by which the corporate product promulgates. Whether battery, cog, worker bee in a hive, or living host, the end result is always the same — our lives are not our own, but are at the service of some nefarious, universal conspiracy that we inhabit but do not, or cannot, comprehend — one that seeks the subjugation of humanity to serve its own ends, ends that are either rapacious, power-crazed, or both.

Thus the theme of assimilation warps and woofs around another major cultural metaphor that has emerged recently: the "alternate reality" metaphor, a metaphor that crosses all genres: The Matrix, Jacob's Ladder, The Sixth Sense, Dark City, The Others, Family Man, The Game, Lost Highway, Sliding Doors, etc etc. This is, perhaps, the major metaphor of our time: our culture senses that there is an alternate reality, that things are not as they appear, that the reality in which we find ourselves is not necessarily the real reality, that there is, there must be!, another reality, another way of being.

But not just that. It goes deeper. It reaches a veritable postmodern ontological chaos where reality is truly up for grabs. (Exemplified, on the political level, by BushCo's assertion that "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.") Reality is up for grabs, and people are not happy with the reality they currently inhabit. There must be another one. But how to get there?

A comparable postmodern ontological explosion occurred during the Roman Empire as vastly different cultures, each with its own awareness and interpretation of reality, came into crashing conflicts with each other, each competing to define reality by its own standards. Anytime radically alien cultures interweave with each other a society's ontology becomes dissonantly fluid, causing reactionary and tenacious reversions to the safety of given cultural ideologies. (Ie, when an ontological earthquake occurs, people seek shelter in the terra firma of their ingrained cultural truths. "In the midst of absurdity the trumpet is certain." —E. O. Wilson) (This, by the way, was one of the contributing factors to the decline of the Roman Empire. It's not the ontological crash of cultures in itself that causes the problem, it's the way in which the dominant society reacts to it. A society that enforces a "melting-pot" assimilation causes xenophobic reactions that lead to in-group and out-group mentalities, which then lead to social fractures and, ultimately, failure; a society that tolerates and encourages "cultural mosaics" will adapt and thrive.)

Zombie movies are the mature and fully realized symbolic metaphor of corporate capitalism's ability to co-opt anything into its fold. It's also no coincidence that zombies create new zombies by spreading a "virus" into the living; and that zombies can only be killed by destroying their brain. Their condition is, metaphorically, one of perception: they have been indoctrinated by a virus to be the ultimate consumers of, and servants to, corporate capital, and cannot imagine any other way of being. A blow to the head snaps them out of it (by killing them). (In this regard it's useful to remember that Death is often a symbol for rebirth — the death of the old self allows room for a new self to emerge. cf: the Death card of the Tarot.)

Resident Evil brings together many such symbols, and then adds several more contemporary symbolic metaphors to make it a very rich semiotic stew. In addition to the zombie theme, it includes references to Alice in Wonderland and False Exteriors (alternate realities), The Hive (an obvious metaphor for subsuming identity to the group), the "nefarious gaze" (the panoptic gaze of some hidden omniscience), "malign architecture" (one does not belong in one's space (because it's trying to kill you)), "Puppetmasters" (events are controlled by hidden others who have their own agendas), the evil corporation, mad scientists, etc. Resident Evil's mythic structure is practically Homeric: the gods (ie, The Umbrella Corporation) create the theatre in which mortals seek to find their way home, battling through an assortment of symbolically resonant obstacles placed in their path.

The plot is very simple: the Umbrella Corporation is an evil multinational corporation whose nefarious researches involve genetic experimentation that lead to the creation of zombies. The research takes place in an underground facility referred to as The Hive, lorded over by a Panoptic warden called the Red Queen. Our heroes try to escape.

Resident Evil is exemplary of the "zombie as denizen of corporate capital" metaphor, even self-consciously so. Here's the very first thing we read and hear (as voiceover narration) after the fade in:

Confidential Report
The Events Leading to the Incident at Raccoon City.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Umbrella Corporation had become the largest commercial entity in the United States.

9 out of every 10 homes contain its products.

It's political and financial influence is felt everywhere.

In public, it is the world's leading supplier of:
  • Computer Technology

  • Medical Products

  • Healthcare

Unknown even to its own employees, its massive profits are generated by:
  • Military Technology

  • Genetic Experimentation

  • Viral Weaponry

And thus begins our descent into "The Hive", an underground research facility developing nefarious bio-weapons, bio-weapons that lead, naturally, to the transformation of all the employees of The Umbrella Corporation into zombies during an act of industrial sabotage.

We will return to The Hive in a later article as it warrants discussion because it contains within itself two relevant contemporary horror sub-genres mentioned before: the "nefarious gaze" and "malign architecture." One of the most interesting touches in The Hive is that windows reveal a cityscape outside. But The Hive is underground, so how is this possible? "Makes it easier to work underground, thinking there's a view." Their entire environment is thus a prison in which an "outside" is seen but is not real: they live in a simulacra. They are voluntary prisoners both of The Umbrella Corporation and of their own perceptions, since they have internalized the simulation of the outside as a simulation that paradoxically comforts them. They have adapted themselves to the comfort of lies to make their lives easier to bear. Another excellent metaphor that extends the symbol of corporate zombiehood.


So what, exactly, is a Golem? A Golem is an artificial human being in Hebrew folklore endowed with life. But The Golem has a modern incarnation.

Corporations before 1886 were required to serve the common good, and were created with limited lifespans and rights that expired when they fulfilled their mandate.

But a practically offhanded comment by Supreme Court Justice Morrison Remick Waite in the 1886 Supreme Court decision in Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad transformed corporations into beings that held the rights of actual humans, bestowed them with immortality, and thus allowed them free rein to wield tremendous power.

In its contemporary incarnation:
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usImage Hosted by ImageShack.us

Corporate persons, or golems, have since utilized rights granted to humans for their own gain and motives, usually in the name of profit and shareholder value. They use the First Amendment to justify their right to lie or deceive in advertising. They use it to pump millions of dollars into our political system. They invoke Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure of assets thwarting government oversight and auditing. The Fourteenth Amendment ensures they are not discriminated against in law and is used when a community does not wish their presence—even when brought to a general vote. The sum gain is a twisted political system which serves the rights and common good of large golems, depressed cheap-labor communities, and environmental decay. Essentially, it is the collapse of the "town commons" and democracy itself.

Thus zombies are the soul-deadened servants of their comparably soul-deadened Golem overlords.

Zombies are what the Golems require us to be. All they ask in exchange for the trinkets of our consumption is our souls, our time, and our lives. And, further, there can be no one who isn't a zombie — complete and universal conformity is required. There can be no escape — there is no "outside."

Diversion 1: The Anti-Hollywood Sorrows of Corporate Capitalism

There's a reason why so many movies cast large corporations as the villain to the point of cliche. There's also an unstated though related reason why Washington hates Hollywood so much. As "commercial" as Hollywood is, and as potent an ideological tool as movies are in spreading the gospel of consumer capitalism, they remain products largely created by an educated and artistic elite who are able to express themselves in works of art [loosely defined]. The fact that they are so incredibly successful indicates that they are tapping into the mythic structures of society as a whole, a society that may not be able to articulate in what ways it does so, but certainly the Hollywood "product" conveys a message that reflects a shared experience as much as it promulgates it.

It's no big surprise that business and government often find themselves at odds with Hollywood. Hollywood is a powerful and famous adversary that refuses to play nice and toe the party line. There are countless screeds about Hollywood warping the minds of our youth, all too ready to blame Hollywood for anything that goes wrong in our society.

Though it's a simplification, it ultimately comes down to a question of opposing worldviews between the humanities and business. And business and government don't like the way they are analyzed and portrayed by the humanities. It's only natural that they would feel some enmity towards Hollywood for constantly being depicted as villains.

Hence this vapid but nonetheless interesting article by Professor Larry E. Ribstein that seeks to explain to capital the reasons for this conflict. He has the wisdom and insight to see that there are two worldviews at play, and he articulates them, from his limited point of view, quite nicely:

A strong argument can be made that all artists share an anti-capital bias. Authors, painters and other artists have reason to resent the lack of money that would permit them to pursue their art without concern for market pressures...Moreover, all artists see themselves as searching for the true meaning of things rather than for wealth. For the artist, success is measured by the inherent quality of perception or expression rather than, like the typical capitalist, accumulation of wealth.

(I'm not going to comment on his gross generalization that "all artists see themselves as searching for the true meaning of things rather than wealth," other than to bring our attention to it.) And these different motivations between artists and capitalists are, in essence, according to Ribstein, the entire reason Hollywood hates business: he ends up attributing Hollywood's "anti-corporate bias" as purely sour grapes: "When filmmakers want David and Goliath story [sic], they aim at the power that most affects them — those who control the money they need to do their art."

He addresses several other reasons for this "bias", including the notion that perhaps movies depict business accurrately; but he quickly dismisses such a fanciful idea by enlisting pro-business homilies straight out of the Cato Institute. Eg:

Finally, films often ignore the power of markets to root out bad conduct in the long run, even if not in the short term. For example, in the film version of The Fugitive, the filmmakers assume that a pharmaceutical company would want so desperately to protect false test results that its executive would kill to do so. Yet in a competitive market the firm is likely to be exposed, with results much worse than if it had disclosed the test results in the first place. Accordingly, it is much more likely that the firm is the victim of a cover-up by its agent, who might be able to abscond with a short-term gain, than that the cover-up is being done in the firm's interests.

He completely ignores the systemic injustices inherent in corporate capitalism's raison d'etre to pursue profit because he cannot conceive of such a thing. ("There is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition, without deception or fraud." —Milton Friedman.) For example, to continue with Big Pharma, a quick and simple search at, say, Multinational Monitor reveals this:

Multination Monitor: What are the problems that arise from an inadequate drug regulatory system?

Dr. Sidney Wolfe: There are four general ways in which problems arise with prescription drugs. Initially, before the new drug application is even submitted, is the failure to adequately test products, or the failure to test them ethically. Second, even if the tests are done right, there can be a failure to properly report the results to the government. Third, even if the tests are ethically and adequately conducted and reported, the government may fail to regulate, usually for reasons having to do with pressure from industry. The fourth problem is failure to accurately and promptly inform patients and doctors of risks.

Ok, so maybe an executive wouldn't kill someone to protect false test results. But such a plot device functions as a symbolic synecdoche: it uses a particular, fabricated example to represent a systemic whole. After all, stories are told through people, not institutions; there's a difference between literal versus symbolic interpretation. (Just ask any fundamentalist.) Though it's easy to dismiss such a thing as a fictional contrivance, people nonetheless sense that there's a deeper truth at play — that's why it rings so true to us. Here's another example from later in the same interview:

Dr. Sidney Wolfe: ...Another drug which stayed on the market for a number of years after it should have been banned is Seldane, a widely prescribed antihistamine. For two or three years after it was crystal clear that this drug caused fatal cardiac arrhythmia when used with other drugs, it stayed on the market because the FDA was waiting for the company that made it to get another drug approved which had the benefits but not, by and large, the risks. During that period, a lot of people were taking it and a number of cases of cardiac arrhythmia and death occurred.

Did the market "root out bad conduct" against the drug manufacturer (Hoechst Marion Roussel) responsible for Seldane? Of course not, because there's a world of difference between the feel-good theories and homilies one wants to believe about the way the world works, and what actually transpires in it. (This article from Business Week, "Too Much Corporate Power?", is good for a laugh if you feel like seeing how mainstream business reporting conducts soul searching.)

If Hollywood routinely casts corporations as villains it's not for the fatuous reason that artists resent "a lack of money" to pursue their art — especially in Hollywood, of all places; it's because artists have a penchant to see the world more clearly because they scratch the surface to get at the workings underneath, and then seek to express what they find. If we apply Professor Ribstein's logic of market correction to movies then we would expect audiences that don't relate to typecasting corporations as villains to avoid movies that portray them in this manner. Movies would then be compelled to find other villains in an effort to bring their audiences back. The fact is, audiences do relate to corporations as villains — for a plenitude of valid reasons — and the movies reflect this awareness back to their audience.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

(I could go off on another diversion here to explore Jung's definition of personality as the synthesis of four dichotomous preferences, one of them being Sensing versus Intuition as the way in which one perceives the world. Though this is a vital element that flows under, around, and through much of this entire discussion I will save it for another day.)

Zombie Fascists

Zombie movies, as discussed above, are one of our culture's most pointed metaphors for assimilation of citizens into Wealth Bondage as the servants of Golem — soulless living-dead who must "consume" the living, both to satisfy a craving that can never be satisfied, and to convert the living to become like them.

What is fascism if not the submersion of individual identity to a group identity? Fascism is the ultimate conformity, the ultimate "Hive" mentality, the ultimate striving for order — the order that is death. (Here we are using a broader definition of fascism to encompass such a phenomenon, the sense of fascism as used by Michel Foucault in his introduction to Deleuze & Guattari's book Anti-Oedipus: "And not only historical fascism, the fascism of Hitler and Mussolini — which was able to mobilize and use the desire of the masses so effectively — but also the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.") Thus zombies, as a symbol for the mandatory and complete conformity of a society's members to achieve an impervious group identity, as well as being a symbol of insatiable, soul-deadened consumers, represent the latent fascism inherent in consumer capitalism.

Zombies are thus a locus of symbolic associations for contemporary life, of which the three most prominent functional metaphors are:
  • the unlived life

  • the personification of desire as a lack that can never be filled (ie, consumers who can never be satiated)

  • a social group that demands complete conformity via viral assimilation (ie, the fascism as defined by Foucault: "to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us")

The only thing left unsaid about zombie movies is that they all share a similar structure: the protagonists all seek to escape the zombie's overwhelming conformist pressures and find their way to freedom. Is there a way out?

Next: The Creation and Training of Zombies


Murka as 'NLP-Based Reality' Pomo Cult

From Xymphora I just learned of the Ron Suskind article wherein "reality-based community" is mentioned. It has the ring of truth that comes from a braggadicio rooted in unchallengeable power that has no reason to dissemble:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend - but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'

Xymphora then says, quite accurately,

That is exactly how psychopaths think and act. 'Reality' is as much a quibble to them as is morality. Strong people do what they want, and weak people just get to watch. The unfortunate thing is that the United States is powerful enough now that it can act without paying any attention to the opinions of anybody else, or even to the apparent realities which would normally constrain it...By the time the shit hits the fan, the psychopaths will be long gone, and everybody else will have to pick up the pieces, if there are any pieces left to pick up. The strength of the United States means there is no check on the bad decisions of evil people, and the strength of the United States is thus its weakness.

On a related note, I came across this article at Hairy Fish Nuts:

Posted on Fri, Oct. 22, 2004

Many Bush supporters disregard Iraq weapons findings

By Frank Davies
Knight Ridder

WASHINGTON - A large majority of President Bush's supporters continue to believe that Iraq either had weapons of mass destruction (47 percent) or a major program to develop them (25 percent), contrary to official findings, a survey taken this month found.

Three out of four Bush backers believe Saddam Hussein provided substantial support to Al-Qaida or was involved in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, while 56 percent said the Sept. 11 Commission found such ties.

In reality, the commission found "no collaborative relationship" between Iraq and Al-Qaida.

The survey by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes, released Thursday, shows that the supporters of Bush and Sen. John Kerry have stark differences and see "separate realities" about Iraq and other foreign-policy issues.

The poll, conducted by Knowledge Networks, was taken of 968 people Oct. 12-18, after the final report by Charles Duelfer concluded that Iraq did not have a significant weapons of mass destruction program. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.2 percentage points to four percentage points.

Earlier samples of 798 and 959 people were taken in September.

Steven Kull, program director, said Bush supporters had a "resistance to information" on several fronts that reflected a powerful bond with the president formed after the Sept. 11 attacks. Kull also cited the perception -- shared by Kerry supporters -- that Bush still asserts that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

In recent months, Bush has said that he was "disappointed" that such weapons were not found, that the search continues and that it was important to "disarm" Saddam.

There may be another reason for the misperceptions, Kull said. Asked whether U.S. forces should have invaded Iraq if U.S. intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making weapons of mass destruction or providing support to Al-Qaida, 58 percent of Bush supporters said no.

"To support the president and to accept that he took the United States to war based on mistaken assumptions is difficult to bear, especially in light of the continuing costs in terms of lives and money," Kull said.

"Apparently, to avoid this cognitive dissonance, Bush supporters suppress awareness of unsettling information."

A Bush campaign official, Reed Dickens, said the perceptions on weapons were understandable "given that it's only in the last few weeks we've had this definitive finding" of the Duelfer report.

I'm glad the term "cognitive dissonance" was used to account for this, since that is exactly the reason BushCo supporters cannot face realities that counter their beliefs. Those interested in learning more about the mindset that allows such doublethink should refer to this recent study of the psychology behind conservatism.

Following which one might want to start thinking about their escape plans.

From later in Ron Suskind's article we read the following:

Come to the hustings on Labor Day and meet the base. In 2004, you know a candidate by his base, and the Bush campaign is harnessing the might of churches, with hordes of voters registering through church-sponsored programs. Following the news of Bush on his national tour in the week after the Republican convention, you could sense how a faith-based president campaigns: on a surf of prayer and righteous rage.
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And for those who don't get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me. "You think he's an idiot, don't you?" I said, no, I didn't. "No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!" In this instance, the final "you," of course, meant the entire reality-based community.

The bond between Bush and his base is a bond of mutual support. He supports them with his actions, doing his level best to stand firm on wedge issues like abortion and same-sex marriage while he identifies evil in the world, at home and abroad. They respond with fierce faith. The power of this transaction is something that people, especially those who are religious, tend to connect to their own lives. If you have faith in someone, that person is filled like a vessel. Your faith is the wind beneath his or her wings. That person may well rise to the occasion and surprise you: I had faith in you, and my faith was rewarded. Or, I know you've been struggling, and I need to pray harder.
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The life of the nation and the life of Bush effortlessly merge -- his fortitude, even in the face of doubters, is that of the nation; his ordinariness, like theirs, is heroic; his resolve, to whatever end, will turn the wheel of history.

Do these last couple of paragraphs remind you of any particular 20th leader? [Hint: "Do not seek Adolf Hitler with your mind. You will find him through the strength of your hearts! Adolf Hitler is Germany and Germany is Adolf Hitler." -Rudolf Hess]

To give some insight into this phenomenon here's an apposite excerpt from Political Paranoia: The Psychopolitics of Hatred by Robert S Robins and Jerrold M. Post, MD:

Doubt and doubters threaten commitment to the cause, which requires uncritical loyalty to the movement and its leaders. So it is that uniformity of thought is required within the group. For if doubts persist and grow, the unity of the movement is threatened. Doubt implies an ability to stand outside the group and take measure; the capacity to doubt dogma implies self-assurance. There is no room for questioning, self-assured individuals in fanatic movements, for doubt is the enemy of unquestioning commitment...Blind faith depends on insecurity, and the more self-doubt, the more powerful the passion of the true believer.
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The feeling of oneness with the crowd is powerful, but equally powerful is the feeling of distrust and persecution toward those who do not belong, the outsiders who are perceived to be intent on destroying the crowd. Those who do not subscribe to the belief system challenge the very foundations of the crowd. Insiders who question the unifying beliefs of the movement are an even greater threat. Skepticism is treason, and the insider who persists in questioning will find himself an outsider. The feelings of persecution, then, are directed against both the "attack" from without and the "conspiracy" from within. Like a besieged city, the movement must strengthen its walls against the enemy without and search for enemies within. True belief does not permit question and doubt. [em. mine]
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There is a comfort in belonging to an association of like-minded individuals on the side of the angels and together opposing the evil, conspiring other, whether that association is a union in conflict with management or a nation at war. This human tendency to adopt the paranoid position when enmeshed in social organizations, especially in times of stress, becomes intensified when a paranoid leader is at the helm of the organization and shapes it to reinforce his own paranoid disposition.


The Tutor on Branding

He's not called Tutor for nothing:

Yes, my first encounter with the delusion that we are all rich or going to be rich was in 81. A door to door salesman for the Britanica Encylcopedia and I had been hired to do sales training for a financial services outfit. Neither of us was making much money, but like Willy Loman, he had a shoeshine and a dream - "Hey, some day I'll be rich." He retired, a few years ago, without much money, in pretty much the same job he started in, but I am sure he is still as optimisitic as ever, "You gotta believe!" We call this "aspirational marketing." Every peasant lining the highway and throwing his cap in the air as the King goes by, feels that he is the Prince. Symbolic representation. When you have little, you don't want to be deprived of your consoling the delusions, the big sale that will make you rich, the playoff victory that will make your home town #1, the war tha will prove that your country is still #1. The slow downward slide that accompanies these dreams is expressed as anxiety about those below, and a desperate effort to differentiate yourself from "them," the doomed. So, cut taxes for the rich, since we will soon be rich too, and stick it to the poor, since "they" are not me. I am a winner. Bush once waved at me at a Nascar rally. Wish that more enlightened people understood sales and poetry better. It is all about stories and identification, symolism, ritual enactment, ceremony, as Steve Denning understands in his stuff on branding. We need to be better tellers of the tale, not telling the others that they are what they are, but what they could be: "The meek shall inherit the world."

"A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep."
    -Saul Bellow

Another Quick Update -- Good Advice from Mr. Wirearchy

Met Jon Husband (of Wirearchy fame) monday night at a local tavern for another great discussion. One of our many topics was the current article I'm working on. He suggested that perhaps, for a variety of reasons, posting what currently logs in at 120 single-spaced pages as a single item isn't the greatest idea. After much reflection on this (about ten seconds) I realized that maybe he was right.

He also suggested that visual aids might be nice, to help literally illustrate ideas, since slogging through reams of words can get a bit tiresome. I'm taking his advice seriously and may even follow it, even though it means lots more unanticipated work for me.

The working title has always been Of Zombies, Bloggers, and The Will to Power as Disappearance, but Jon hinted that maybe such a title wasn't a real grabber. Fine. (No pleasing some people.)

So in the interests of my own sanity, time, and to get the fucking thing out there without having to complete it all first, I will post the first installment of Of Zombies, Bloggers, and Camouflaged Handshaking hopefully by the beginning of next week.

Thank you, Jon, for everything — it was great to see you again!

Oh, I also discovered that my blog looks like ASS! in some browsers, like Explorer. I've always assumed that it looks great in all browsers, since it looks so good in Safari and Mozilla — the two I most use. But someone once told me that the sidebar was hidden in their Explorer browser, so I took a look and I was stunned at how crappy it looked!

So a request — if you see any obvious problems with my blog in your browser, please let me know. I don't know that I can fix it, but at least I can be frustrated by the knowledge.



The Quiet Before the Storm

US planes pound Falluja

Tuesday 19 October 2004, 14:06 Makka Time, 11:06 GMT
US warplanes unleashed a series of strikes in the Iraqi city of Falluja overnight on buildings claimed to be connected to al-Qaida-linked Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's network.

The 96 minutes of air strikes on Falluja, 50km west of Baghdad, destroyed safe houses and weapons' caches used by followers of al-Zarqawi, the US military said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Multiple secondary explosions indicate a significant amount of explosives or ammunition inside the houses," it said.

The strikes, part of a near-nightly routine in recent weeks, were conducted between 10.55pm on Monday (1955 GMT) and 12.31am on Tuesday, the army said.
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Death toll climbs as Falluja siege continues

Jamie Wilson
Tuesday October 19, 2004
The Guardian

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Outside Falluja, American marines maintained their siege of the city, continuing a military push that began on Friday and appeared to be laying the groundwork for an attempt to retake the city from insurgents. US and Iraqi au thorities released Sheikh Khaled al-Jumeili, the chief negotiator for the city, who was arrested on Thursday when peace talks broke down after city leaders rejected demands from the Iraqi Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, to hand over "foreign terrorists," including the Jordanian extremist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

He said peace talks to end the standoff in the city would remain suspended as a protest against his detention by US troops, who had accused him of representing the militants.

Falluja clerics insist that Zarqawi, whose Tawhid and Jihad movement has claimed responsibility for multiple suicide car-bombings and hostage beheadings including that of the British contractor Ken Bigley, is not in the city.

"The fact is that I am negotiating on behalf of Falluja people - civilians, kids, women - who have no power but through being represented by somebody. Since the situation has got up to this, each can go wherever they want and we don't need to talk about negotiations," he said in an interview on Al-Arabiya TV.
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The Consequence of Killing Sheikh Yassin

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What the Israeli critics of this latest assassination likely recognize is that not only has Sharon sealed the death warrants for dozens of Israeli's in the expected attacks to follow, but that he has also systematically derailed any attempts to reduce violence. Assassinations have only served to embolden and empower the militant groups and may have made them even more dangerous.

In effect, Sharon appears willing to sacrifice Israeli lives in order to justify his relentless efforts to colonize Palestinian lands with Israeli settlements and destroy Palestinian society so that they will submit to the crumbs cast their way. Suicide bombings have become a crucial pretext for enabling the brute force and violence needed to achieve these objectives.
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Why I won't serve Sharon

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Any suicide attack within Israel, deplorable as it is, is used by Sharon as a pretext for inflicting ever-increasing misery on the 3.5 million inhabitants of Palestine. And if suicide attacks are not forthcoming, you can count on Sharon to provoke them with his so-called "targeted killings", which usually leave alleged terrorists unharmed but often leave women and children dead.

In this so-called war, any pretext is used to inflict a second Nakba (the catastrophe of 1948) on the Palestinians. Just look at the wanton destruction of the Palestinian ministry of culture, the bureau of statistics, the ministry of education; look at the destruction of such national symbols as the Palestinian international airport and the Voice of Palestine radio station, not to mention the shameful episode of Arafat's virtual house arrest. All this is aimed not at some terrorist infrastructure but at the basic foundations of a society struggling to attain independence and develop its future from under the Israeli army boot. This is something conscientious Israelis are no longer willing to take part in.

Sharon's strength is in turning Israeli society into an obedient herd. He did that remarkably well 20 years ago, leading us into Lebanon...
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Feds mum on pre-election terror threat

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 ? Last updated 12:46 p.m. PT

Feds mum on pre-election terror threat


WASHINGTON -- FBI, Justice Department and Homeland Security Department officials aren't talking much about the threat of a terrorist attack to disrupt the election in two weeks.

It hasn't gone away; they're just wary of saying anything in public that could prompt Democrats to charge the administration is playing up a terror threat to frighten voters.

It was far different in the months and weeks before the political conventions in July and August. Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge all openly discussed the seriousness of the threat.

By all accounts, many hundreds of law enforcement agents are working around the clock to prevent al-Qaida from pulling off the major attack that intelligence suggests the terror network wants to carry out before the Nov. 2 election.

But Ashcroft, Mueller and Ridge have been largely silent of late about a pre-election threat, and there has been no change in the nation's color-coded threat level, which remains at the midpoint of yellow, or elevated.
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In an interview with The Associated Press, Bush said Monday the government remains worried that terrorists want to disrupt the U.S. election as they did in Spain, where the ruling party was defeated after commuter train attacks in March killed 191 people.

"We have no specific threat information, otherwise we would have - we would have let everybody know," Bush told the AP.

Cheney said Tuesday in Ohio that "the ultimate threat" is the possible use by terrorists of a weapon of mass destruction against a U.S. target.

Kerry's running mate, Sen. John Edwards, accused Bush this week of "playing on people's fears" by basing his campaign on fighting terrorism.

Campaigning and political speeches are far different from official government threat warnings, and some Democrats contend those have been subjected to political manipulation.

"I am concerned that every time something happens that's not good for President Bush, he plays this trump card, which is terrorism," former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said in August after warnings were issued for financial institutions in New York, New Jersey and Washington.

Although Kerry distanced himself from those comments - "I haven't suggested that, and I won't suggest that," he said then - a dire new warning from the FBI or Homeland Security Department would raise new political red flags among Democrats.

"They could accuse the administration of doing things for political reasons instead of security reasons," said Robert Shapiro, political science professor at Columbia University.

Robb Willer, a Cornell University sociology professor, said his research shows that each time a terror warning is issued the president's approval rating increases a couple of points the following week, as measured by the Gallup polling organization. [em. mine]

"This research suggests that individuals may respond to reminders of their mortality, like terror warnings, by supporting their current leaders," Willer said.

For their part, administration officials say they are focused on the threat, not politics. Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said Tuesday the level of intensity among federal agents is nearly what it was in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

"We are doing everything we can within the law to protect the lives and liberties of all Americans by preventing another terrorist attack," Corallo said. "No serious person would claim that politics has anything to do with the Justice Department's efforts to disrupt and disable the threat."
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Putin backs Bush victory

Julian Borger and Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Tuesday October 19, 2004
The Guardian

Vladimir Putin waded into the American election campaign in support of George Bush yesterday, declaring that if the president lost, it would lead to the "spread of terrorism" around the world.

The endorsement was a significant boost for Mr Bush who has been under fire from John Kerry for failing to maintain international support for the US "war on terror".

"International terrorists have set as their goal inflicting the maximum damage to Bush, to prevent his election to a second term," the Russian president said at a central Asian summit in Tajikistan.

"If they succeed in doing that, they will celebrate a victory over America and over the entire anti-terror coalition. In that case, this would give an additional impulse to international terrorists and to their activities, and could lead to the spread of terrorism to other parts of the world." He added he would respect "any choice by the American people".

It was by far his strongest endorsement of Mr Bush to date, and the most direct intervention in the race so far by a foreign leader.

The endorsement came as Mr Bush regained a small but significant lead in the polls after his mediocre performance in the three debates with Mr Kerry, and on a day when he accused his rival of retreat in the war on terror, playing on memories of the September 11 2001 terror attacks in the hopes of plucking off the reliably Democratic state of New Jersey.

Xymphora on Beslan

Russian spinning on this incident [Beslan school attack] has been amusing. Putin's initial reaction was to use it as a method of demonizing the Chechens, and providing an excuse for the continuation of the brutal Russian campaign against them (he actually put out a bounty on Chechen leaders). This campaign, largely ignored by the international press for various political reasons, is one of the great collections of war crimes and crimes against humanity taking place in the world today... When it became clear that the Russian people didn't buy Putin's initial line, and were actually blaming Putin's intransigence for creating the conditions that would provoke such an attack, the official Russian position turned 180 degrees overnight, and suddenly none of the terrorists were Chechens, but were some unidentified collection of 'Arab' terrorists. 'Terrorism' is a very malleable tool in the hands of unscrupulous politicians.

Putin's Career Rooted in Russia's KGB

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Putin defends the Soviet-era intelligence service to this day. In recent comments to a writers' group in Moscow, he even seemed to excuse its role in dictator Joseph Stalin's brutal purges, saying it would be "insincere" for him to assail the agency where he worked for so many years. Fiercely patriotic, Putin once said he could not read a book by a Soviet defector because "I don't read books by people who have betrayed the Motherland."
Until he was handpicked in August by then-President Boris Yeltsin to become prime minister, Putin had never been a public figure. He spent 17 years as a mid-level agent in the Soviet KGB's foreign intelligence wing, rising only to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Later, as an aide to a prickly, controversial mayor of St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city and Putin's home town, he made a point of staying in the background.
"The state security bodies should not be seen as an institution that works against society and the state; one needs to understand what makes them work against their own people. If one recollects those hard years connected with the activities of the security bodies, and the damage they brought to society, one must keep in mind what sort of society it was. But that was an entirely different country. That country produced such security bodies."
Putin's role in the blatantly misleading information issued by the government about the Chechnya offensive also has been criticized. His talent for creating legends has been evident in his explanations about the war. For example, Putin told the writers group that the military had been open with the news media, when the military has in fact hidden information about casualties, combat events, attacks on civilians and its goals and methods.

Felix Svetov, a writer who spent time in Stalin's prison camps as a child and who lost his father in the purges, was present at the writers meeting. He said Putin's comment "does not correspond with reality." Putin is a typical KGB type, he added. "If the snow is falling, they will calmly tell you, the sun is shining."

Russia rejects Powell's criticism, joins forces with Israel

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

HERZLIYA, Israel ? While rejecting U.S. and EU criticism of its anti-terrorism reforms, Russia plans to adopt Israel's counter-insurgency methods in Moscow's war against Chechen rebels.

Russian officials said the government in Moscow has agreed to increase security cooperation with Israel and focus on counter-insurgency. The officials said the cooperation would include Israeli training and instruction on a range of issues, including aviation security and civil defense.

"We are being helped by your expertise in the field of aviation security," Vladimir Vasilyev, chairman of the Security Committee of Russia's parliament, told Israeli reporters.

Vasilyev and other Russian officials said security cooperation was already taking place, Middle East Newsline reported. They said teams from both countries were arranging meetings in an effort meant to learn the lessons of the Chechen takeover of a high school in North Ossetia in late August. Nearly 400 people were killed in the hostage episode.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, in an interview with Reuters, backed liberal criticism in Russia by saying the changes were "pulling back on some of the democratic reforms".

But Russia's foreign minister said Washington had no right to impose its model of democracy on others.
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The Real axis of terror--U.S., Russia and Israel

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Putin's genocide of the Chechens had been largely ignored by the western governments because he was clever enough, from the outset of his rampage in Chechnya, to paint the Chechen freedom struggle as an extension of the Taliban take-over of Afghanistan. European countries took his alarm at its face value that if the Chechens succeeded in throwing off the Russian yoke, Islamic fundamentalism of an extremely militant kind will be knocking at the gates of Europe like the Vandals of antiquity.
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Then came September 11 and an apparently God-send for Putin. Reading perfectly the mind of his American counterpart, who had been propelled to power in circumstances as dubious as Putin's own, he quickly joined George W. Bush's rhetorical chorus of a "global war against terrorism." He did not have much to do except jump on the Bush rolling bandwagon. In return for this, Bush has never uttered one syllable of criticism or condemnation of Putin's marauding ways in Chechnya.
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For Bush, in particular, Putin is an indispensable cog in his rolling bandwagon to pursue his "crusade" against global Islamic terrorism. Therefore, all that Putin is doing to the Chechens quite neatly fits into his worldwide campaign.
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For the moment Putin has been resisting the Bush blandishments and coaxing on Iraq. But that is only tactical, not moral, resistance. It is not because Putin has any regard for the Iraqis or concern for their misery and suffering which is only going to get worse once the American military juggernaut starts belching fire.

Putin's concern is for 8 billion dollars owed to Russia by Iraq from previous loans, and potentially lucrative agreements signed by Saddam Hussain in the past few years with the Russians to exploit Iraq's rich oil fields. However, Washington hawks are not overly worried. They know that Putin is dragging his foot only to raise his bargaining counter before he relents and throws his weight behind Bush against Iraq.

Knowing the Putin tactics, Bush and his hawks have been quietly working on Putin in private while publicly bamboozling the UN Security Council to give in to Washington's crude blackmail. Now, in the wake of the Moscow incident, the Bushites think they have a trump card that cannot lose.

By ensuring Putin an absolute free hand on Chechnya they can corner him to either join the Bush onslaught against Iraq or, at the very least, turn a blind eye to it, the way Washington has been doing on Putin's pogroms in Chechnya.
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No single country has reaped such a bonanza as Israel from George Bush's declared war against global "Islamic terrorism." Israel's Sharon is Bush's best friend in the world and has been anointed and hailed by the world's new Caesar as " a man of peace." Sharon has indeed taken full advantage of it to let loose an unprecedented fury of Israeli vengeance against the unarmed Palestinians.

The 4 billion dollars of annual U.S. military assistance is being put to the daily torture, murder and persecution of the Palestinians who are no different than the Chechens in the eyes of Bush. All that Sharon is doing to the Palestinians is fair and legitimate to Bush because it is part of his campaign against terrorism. And the Palestinians are as much a band of terrorists against Israel as the Chechens are to Russia.

What is less well-known, however, is the two decades-old triangular co-operation between these three countries to promote and accelerate the emigration of Russian Jews to Israel.
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'He's just sleeping, I kept telling myself'

On Sunday, 13 Iraqis were killed and dozens injured in Baghdad when US helicopters fired on a crowd of unarmed civilians. G2 columnist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, who was injured in the attack, describes the scene of carnage - and reveals just how lucky he was to walk away.
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U.S. attacks insurgent stronghold of Samarra


BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a major attack against the insurgent stronghold of Samarra early Friday, securing government and police buildings in the city, the U.S. command said.
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Earlier on Thursday, U.S. forces attacked a suspected safehouse used by an al-Qaida-linked group in Fallujah, the military said.

Intelligence reports indicated the house was being used by followers of Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the military said in a statement, adding that the followers were planning attacks against U.S.-led forces and Iraqi citizens.

"Significant secondary explosions were observed during the impact indicating a large cache of illegal ordinance was stored in the safehouse," the statement said. Explosions continued in the northeastern part of the city for hours.

Witnesses said two houses were flattened and four others damaged in the strike.

At least four Iraqis were killed -- including two women and one child -- and eight wounded, said Dr. Ahmed Khalil at Fallujah General Hospital.

"Multinational forces take great care to minimize collateral damage and civilian casualties," the military said in the statement. "Terrorists' placement of weapons caches in homes, schools, hospitals and mosques continue to put innocent civilians at risk."

Falluja raid kills family of six

Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK

An American air raid on the Iraqi city of Falluja has killed six members of the same family.

US planes fired two rockets into the house of a couple and their four children early on Wednesday.

Another rocket hit a teachers' training college in the rebel city, but failed to explode.

A US military statement said the raids targeted houses used by forces of the militant leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whom the US is keen to capture.

The family had just returned to their home overnight after fleeing the city a week earlier, a neighbour told the Associated Press.

The US military has been waging a sustained campaign to root out militants.

Falluja is out of the control of US or Iraqi government forces, but both have signalled their intention to regain the upper hand before elections, which are due to be held across Iraq in January.

U.S. Steps Up Iraq Attacks Before Ramadan

Posted on Tue, Oct. 12, 2004
Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. troops went on the offensive from the gates of Baghdad to the Syrian border Tuesday, pounding Sunni insurgent positions from the air and supporting Iraqi soldiers in raids on mosques suspected of harboring extremists.

American and Iraqi forces launched the operations ahead of Ramadan, expected to start at week's end, in an apparent attempt at preventing a repeat of the insurgent violence that took place at the start of last year's Muslim holy month.
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Some of the sharpest exchanges took place in Hit, 90 miles northwest of Baghdad, where residents and hospital officials said U.S. aircraft attacked two sites, killing two people and wounding five. The U.S. command had no comment.

U.S. helicopters fired on a mosque in Hit on Monday and set it ablaze after the military said insurgents opened fire on Marines from the sanctuary. Scattered clashes were reported overnight, killing at least two Iraqis and wounding 15, hospital official said.
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In Baghdad, the Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni clerical group suspected of links to the insurgency, condemned the mosque raids as an example of alleged American hostility toward Islam.

"I think there is a religious ideology that drives the American troops," said the association's official spokesman, Mohammed Bashar al-Faydhi. "President Bush has said at the beginning of the war that this is a `crusade,'" he said, referring to the Christian attacks on Muslims in the Middle Ages.

Angry Ramadi residents accused the Americans of breaking down doors and violating the sanctity of mosques.

"This cowboy behavior cannot be accepted," said cleric Abdullah Abu Omar. "The Americans seem to have lost their senses and have gone out of control."
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Chechen Terrorists With Backpacks Cross Into Arizona From Mexico — Report

Created: 13.10.2004 10:06 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 15:44 MSK

U.S. security officials are investigating a recent intelligence report that 25 Chechen militants illegally entered the United States from Mexico in July.

The group, linked to separatists in Chechnya that took part in the deadly Beslan school siege last month, reportedly crossed into a mountainous part of Arizona from northern Mexico, wearing backpacks, The Washington Times reported, citing officials speaking on conditions of anonymity.

The area was said to be difficult for U.S. border guards to monitor.

The intelligence report was supplied to the U.S. government in late August or early September and was based on information from an intelligence source that has been proved reliable in other instances, one official was quoted as saying.

But he added that he did not know whether the report was true.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection was aware of the intelligence report and confirmed it to The Washington Times, but a spokesman said agents were unable to verify it.

After Chechens and other Islamists stormed the school in south Russia, killing over 330 people, the U.S. Education Department issued a warning to school officials to step up security in American schools. The Washington Times was unable to learn whether the warning was related in any way to the report of infiltration by Chechens.

U.S. security officials are on alert for al Qaeda members allegedly planning to cross over into the United States from the south after an operative was reportedly spotted in Mexico.

Chechen separatists have been linked in the past to al Qaeda.

Bush Job Performance Continues to Slip

Bush Job Performance


Positive %

Negative %

August 16-19, 2003




July 16-17, 2003




June 10, 2003

Post Iraqi War



March 16, 2003

Pre Iraqi War



September 25, 2002

One year Post 9/11



September 23, 2001

Post 9/11



August 27, 2001

Pre 9/11



April 26, 2001

100 Days in Office



January 16, 2001

Pre Inauguration



Bush/Kerry poll: Still too close to call


A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll has found Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and GOP nominee George Bush in a race for U.S. president too close to call.
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"Bush planners know as well as others that the resort to force increases the threat of terror, and that their militaristic and aggressive posture and actions provoke reactions that increase the risk of catastrophe."
-Noam Chomsky

BECAUSE, if a Kerry win is also a terrorist win (I agree that it would be), then "the American people" haven't made the "choice," but the terrorists have, terrorism has, by influence undue or outright.

A Monster Awakens?

"In the heart of America lies a monster that could destroy life on earth."

This worrying situation was confirmed on September 8th. by Dr. Bruce Cornet, a geologist and paleobotanist with the USGS, who explained: "Steam pressure is apparently building again in Yellowstone, and hydrothermal fluids and steam are working their way up through fractures and vents. If more steam vents appear, that means a continuous pathway for pressure release has been established to the magma chamber. If that happens, the pressure in the magma chamber will continue to drop until it reaches a critical stage when the superheated water within the magma explodes. Unfortunately, as the steam venting subsides, there will be a false sense of security. People will think it was just another cyclical event, and the danger is over. But that will be the farthest from the truth. It will be the quiet before the storm." Initially this should be of little or no consequence to anyone apart from those planning to visit Yellowstone .... except for one thing. Lurking beneath Yellowstone National Park is one of the most destructive natural phenomena in the world - a massive supervolcano.

The Quiet Before the Storm


How do you run a convention on a record of failure?

How do you run a convention on a record of failure?

A video summary of the Republican '04 Convention

Worth the download wait.


Highlights from the 3rd 'Debate'

Excerpts from the Presidential "Debate" on 10/13/04:

  • Q: I would like to ask you, what part does your faith play on your policy decisions?

  • Q: The New York Times reports that some Catholic archbishops are telling their church members that it would be a sin to vote for a candidate like you because you support a woman's right to choose an abortion and unlimited stem-cell research. What is your reaction to that?

  • First, my faith plays a lot -- a big part in my life.

  • And my faith is a very -- it's very personal.

  • I pray for strength. I pray for wisdom. I pray for our troops in harm's way. I pray for my family. I pray for my little girls.

  • But I'm mindful in a free society that people can worship if they want to or not. You're equally an American if you choose to worship an Almighty and if you choose not to.

  • That's the great thing about America, is the right to worship the way you see fit.

  • Prayer and religion sustain me.

  • Religion is an important part.

  • I believe that God wants everybody to be free. That's what I believe.

  • And that's been part of my foreign policy. In Afghanistan, I believe that the freedom there is a gift from the Almighty.

  • And so my principles that I make decisions on are a part of me, and religion is a part of me.

  • God bless you.

  • Well, I respect everything that the president has said and certainly respect his faith. I think it's important and I share it. I think that he just said that freedom is a gift from the Almighty.

  • We're all God's children, Bob.

  • And I've met wives who are supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally sort of broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them.

  • Everything is a gift from the Almighty.

  • And as I measure the words of the Bible -- and we all do...[sic]

  • I went to a church school and I was taught that the two greatest commandments are: Love the Lord, your God, with all your mind, your body and your soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.

  • And the president and I have a difference of opinion about how we live out our sense of our faith.

  • I talked about it earlier when I talked about the works and faith without works being dead.

  • And as president, I will always respect everybody's right to practice religion as they choose -- or not to practice -- because that's part of America.

  • I am a Catholic.

  • I believe that I can't legislate or transfer to another American citizen my article of faith. What is an article of faith for me is not something that I can legislate on somebody who doesn't share that article of faith.

  • Now, with respect to religion, you know, as I said, I grew up a Catholic. I was an altar boy.

  • And as President Kennedy said when he ran for president, he said, "I'm not running to be a Catholic president. I'm running to be a president who happens to be Catholic."

  • My faith affects everything that I do, in truth. There's a great passage of the Bible that says, "What does it mean, my brother, to say you have faith if there are no deeds? Faith without works is dead."

  • And I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official way to other people.

  • That's why I fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith.

  • And, with faith in God and with conviction in the mission of America, I believe that we can reach higher.

  • And God bless the United States of America.

Transcript Tally:
  • Problem[s]:         21

  • Faith:               19

  • Economy/ic:         18

  • Protect[ed|ing]:     15

  • Promise[d]:         12

  • Safe[r]:             12

  • Terror[ist[s]]:     11

  • Love:                 10

  • God:                 9

  • Pray[er]:           8

  • Iraq:               8

  • Religion:           6

  • Catholic:           5

  • Almighty:           4

  • Homeland:           4

  • Principle[s]:         3

  • Troop[s]:           3

  • Worship:           3

  • Bible:               2

  • Church:            2

  • Altar Boy:         1

  • Lesbian:           1

  • Sin:                1

Angels on the Head of a Pin:
Bush: 18
Kerry: 31

Inspector Lohmann's blipvert analysis:
I'd say it's obvious, Bob, that Bush's faith is softspoken and sincere -- his faith is real. Kerry pushed it way too hard and comes off insincere: his attempt to appeal to the religious vote is transparent. I think Bush easily won this one, Bob.


'And I Say There Are 58 Angels Dancing On The Head Of A Pin! Vote For Me!'

Both sides putting faith in appeals to religious voters

Thu Oct 7, 9:40 AM ET
By Lisa Anderson Tribune national correspondent

&sdot &sdot &sdot
"If religion were not an important issue to many Americans, politicians would not be talking about religion. They are after votes," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, at a recent Interfaith Alliance forum on politics and religion in Atlanta.

Indeed, woe to the politician who discounts the significance of religion. According to an August poll by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, about 85 percent of Americans said religion is important in their lives. Moreover, in the same poll, 72 percent of registered voters told Pew that "it is important to them that a president have strong religious beliefs." [em. mine]
&sdot &sdot &sdot

I don't see a need to comment on this. I'll just say it again — there is still time to move.

In the midst of absurdity the trumpet is certain.
    —Edward O. Wilson

God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos; He will set them above their betters.
    —H. L. Mencken

The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.
    —H. L. Mencken [Mencken really understood.]

History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose.
    —Thomas Jefferson

The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder's lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.
    —Bertrand Russell

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
    —Seneca (the Younger)

Caesar: I thought you had reservations about the gods.
Gracchus: Privately, I believe in none of them. Neither do you. Publicly, I believe in them all.


Why Canada is Superior to Murka

This is actually a fairly weighty topic that warrants a much more thorough investigation. But I think it can all be summed up into one example:

There is no fucking way that my tax dollars in Murka would ever go to help fund a show as cool, funny, humanistic and subversive as Trailer Park Boys.


[It's been a while since I've said it, but I am so glad I'm in Canada now!]


A Quick Update, including a Thanks! and a Congrats!

The reaction to a recent post of mine surprised me by its warm reception. Tutor gave me a challenge (or assignment, or whatever you want to call it — when your mentor drops a hint it's as good as a command) to bring it to the next level. I accepted the challenge and began writing what I thought would be a fairly quick response.

Well, I am still writing it — it's turned into quite a major undertaking, far larger and more involved than I had originally intended and envisioned.

But in composing it I am in contravention of the medium of blogging. Tutor once lectured me that

...on the web, you need some enabling set of assumptions that let you link to others daily. Otherwise you are fighting the genre and the conventions of reciprocity.

I think this is good advice as this is indeed working with the medium.

But once an artist understands his medium he should be permitted to contravene or play with its conventions and inherent nature if, by so doing, it enables him to further his expression. In fact, the contravention may become a necessary aspect of his mode of expression and even serve to extend the medium's expressive capabilities.

So with all due respect to Tutor, much as I would love to abide by generic conventions I find it too much a straightjacket. I'm aware that I risk losing some of whatever capital I may have built up, but I believe a writer ultimately finds an audience who will give allowance for breaking convention if it furthers their mutual benefit. If not, so be it. If so, then I delight that we have found each other!

(On the other hand, the way this next post is going I don't know if I'll want to wait the week or fortnight it might take to complete it before posting other things. Perhaps I need to learn that one can write short pieces while composing lengthier ones.)

Basically, I'm busy on a major post, and though I would love to continue providing some kind of filler in the interim I just can't. I wouldn't have even bothered with this post if I didn't feel the desire to acknowledge the attention I recently garnered from Dr. Menlo.

But I had to post something after Dr. Menlo so graciously honored me as his "Progressive Blog of the Week". To which I say,

Thank you very much, Dr. Menlo.

And, while I'm at it, I would also like to congratulate Nick Lewis of the most excellent Net Politik for his great success in doubling his audience in a matter of a fortnight. Through his outreach across the progressive spectrum — by creating The Net Politik Fellowship of Punditry (of which I am honored to be one, even though I have not contributed much lately), as well as forming The Progressive Blog Alliance — he has done a great deal to bring many of us together, and I applaud his success!

I knew Nick was starting something special when he invited me to be one of the Fellowship because though we may strongly disagree on tactics, he was willing to look past that to see that we ultimately share the same goal and vision of a world in which social justice is a reality. And that is exactly what us Progressives, Radicals, Greens, Lefties and Anarchists need more of!

I also extend the same gratitude to Dr. Menlo for doing likewise with his several blogs, particularly the vitally important American Samizdat, another venue in which I am honored to participate. Dr. Menlo must be lauded for his efforts to bring us together as well!

So a hearty Congratulations! to Nick Lewis and Net Politik for their remarkable growth and success; and to Dr. Menlo and American Samizdat for setting a standard that brings us Progressives, Radicals, Greens, Lefties and Anarchists together!

I am glad to be a part of both of these worthy venues, and I look forward to contributing more to them in the (hopefully) near future.

[Hmm..."Greens, Radicals, Anarchists, Progressives, Lefties" = GRAPL ?]