These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. ~~~ Thomas Paine, 1776

Shoot the fuck and walk away

Here is a piece from George Carlin's last show: It's all bullshit. I created subtitles of course, because the primary reason I put it up on the internet is because I wanna share my favorite comedians with other French people. Who otherwise would never hear about them.

Here it is.

I would like to simply talk about the first part of Carlin's rants: pride. I hesitated to do that, because I'm always unsure whether Carlin is serious about the things he says on his shows. Is this simply comedy material or is this serious ? He certainly showed he was able to use logic. But then, how much did he know and how much did he fake not knowing, in order to make us laugh ?

I still want to talk about this one, because it's a position I held for a long time, at least until recently. Why would you be proud of being American, or Italian, or Irish ? As Carlin says, being Irish isn't a skill. It is of course true and this is what I've been thinking to myself for years.

But then, he also mentions Black and Puerto-Rican pride. And now, if no one sees a pattern emerge, when you bring up the Italians, the Irish, the Blacks and the Puerto-Ricans... Well what the hell are you doing in America ? I'm the one who sees the pattern and you don't ! Come on ! Switch places with me !

This should be obvious to everyone, that each of these groups has been discriminated against, in its time. And is there not a gay pride as well ? Aren't gays the most reviled group in history ? I think they are.

And this is how I saw through Carlin's unability to understand ethnic or national pride. Because I recently read an article by Arthur Silber, about how Whites could never understand Blacks or Gays. Arthur had favorably mentioned an essay by Madeline Moore, where she said that all Whites were racist from the moment they were born. Another blogger took notice and destroyed that statement with cold logic. But Arthur had this to say:

I acknowledge that, viewed in isolation, Moore uses the term "racist" imprecisely and inaccurately in the excerpt above; without grasping the entire context in which Moore makes the statements that elicit Larry's anger, those statements are wrong -- even obviously wrong, as Larry says repeatedly.

But the surrounding context ought to be painfully obvious: Moore is discussing a society and a culture which are founded on, organized around and which embody white, straight male privilege across the board, and in virtually every aspect and particular. That critical, broader context must inform how one interprets Moore's narrower statements. Instead, Larry takes a great deal of time and attention to make a very delimited philosophic point which is (as he himself argues) painfully obvious to anyone with half a brain, while the much more complex and infinitely more significant cultural realities entirely elude him. As a result, Larry's argument is, to use his own word, "trivial" given his avoidance of the overriding political, social and cultural dynamics in play.

And so you see, even though the national and ethnic pride, taken alone, do not make any kind of sense, when you consider the 'broader context' they take on a completely new meaning: it was a way for those groups to fight against discrimination. When someone tries to deny your rights, what they really say is "You're not one of us, you're inferior, you should be ashamed."

There are two options when you're confronted with this: either you lie low and live with what you've got, or you resist, and that comes in the form of 'pride'. "I'm not inferior, and I'll never be ashamed. In fact, I'm at least as worthy as you, if not more. I'm proud of what I am."

This gets homophobes annoyed at gay pride. "You would think they could be quiet. But no, they have to shove it in your face." Well, maybe they can't be quiet. Maybe the only way to resist discrimination is to be exuberant.

One last quote from a very important essay by Arthur and I'm out:

Let me tell you something: unless you've been there, you do not know what it's like. You just don't. And don't tell me you do. Yes, you can understand it, and you can offer genuine and meaningful sympathy. But you don't know what it's like to feel that, and to experience that to the very core of your being -- to realize that no matter what you do, no matter how good you are, no matter how hard you work, some people just won't give a damn. And they won't give you a chance -- when they would give the same chance, and much more, to someone who wasn't gay, or who wasn't a woman, or who wasn't black, and who deserved it much less than you did.

British Papers Paid Hundreds Of Thousands To Families Of Alleged Liquid Bombers: Why?

Mistakes were made when the so-called "Liquid Bombers" were arrested, and in two instances, British national dailies reported information which turned out to be false. These false reports led to claims of defamation which have cost the publishers hundreds of thousands to settle out of court.
And guess who got the money?

You can read more here, or comment below:

You Know We're Really Screwed When ... Even The Anti-War Propaganda Has A Pro-War Bias

At A Tiny Revolution (good blog!), Jonathan Schwarz has been highlighting a new book by former U.S. Army colonel Andrew Bacevich [photo], who is now a professor of history and international relations at Boston University.

Bacevich's new book is called "The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism" and in it he hits some "notes" that I consider "right", such as the assertion (which is, or is close to, the central thesis of his book) that

the lessons drawn from America's post-9/11 military experience are the wrong ones.
I agree with Bacevich when he says
America doesn't need a bigger army. It needs a smaller -- that is, more modest -- foreign policy.
But I found it hard not to gag ...

You can read more here, and/or comment below:

Local And State Police To Be Granted New Spy Powers

Just what we need.

According to Spencer Hsu and Carrie Johnson in the Washington Post,
The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years.

The proposed changes would revise the federal government's rules for police intelligence-gathering for the first time since 1993 and would apply to any of the nation's 18,000 state and local police agencies that receive roughly $1.6 billion each year in federal grants.

Quietly unveiled late last month, the proposal is part of a flurry of domestic intelligence changes issued and planned by the Bush administration in its waning months. They include a recent executive order that guides the reorganization of federal spy agencies and a pending Justice Department overhaul of FBI procedures for gathering intelligence and investigating terrorism cases within U.S. borders.

Taken together, critics in Congress and elsewhere say, the moves are intended to lock in policies for Bush's successor and to enshrine controversial post-Sept. 11 approaches that some say have fed the greatest expansion of executive authority since the Watergate era.

You can read all about it here, or comment below.


Hello, and welcome to the new winter palace. It's nice to see so many new people here, and it's nice to see familiar names as well.

This is meant to be OUR site, not just mine. It's a good place to host comments related to my blog, but it's intended as more than that; it's for ALL of us and (within reason) we can all use it however we like.

Once you register here, you can post new blogs, start new threads in the forum, start a poll, or comment on any thread that's already going.

If you have a blog of your own and you have something there that you want to bring to our attention, by all means do so. Give us a few paragraphs and a link, and if anyone accuses you of "link-whoring", I'll slap 'em! (in a polite, virtual way of course).

Or if you find yourself reading something really good (or really bad) and you want to share it with a few like-minded cranky dissidents, feel free: that's what this site is for.

Thanks again to NJT for setting up this site for us, and best wishes to all my online friends, as always.

Federal Court Grants Immunity To Sponsors Of 9/11 Attacks

Yesterday, according to Reuters, a federal court ruled that
"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, four princes and other Saudi entities are immune from a lawsuit filed by victims of the September 11 attacks and their families alleging they gave material support to al Qaeda..."
Why? Because foreigners are protected by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act unless their country is "designated a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. State Department", and Saudi Arabia is not so designated. So there.
You can read more here or comment below
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