Saturday, December 30, 2006

RIP Saddam Hussein

One of the most reviled men in recent history is now dead. His once-dignified existence has been rapidly terminated by Iraqi executioners just prior to the start of the Muslim holiday Eid and just before the end of the Gregorian calendar year. James Brown, Gerald Ford, and Saddam Hussein all dead in one week. That's a helluva dead cast of characters in such a short period of time. I'm more in mourning for Mr. Brown than either of the other two folks, but I've definitely spent some time pondering the implications of the passings of all three famous gentlemen.

The death of a political leader is most certainly welcomed by people who suffered under his yoke. Saddam directly caused the deaths of upwards of one hundred thousand people, although George W. Bush could now be said to have commanded military campaigns that have resulted in even more murders. Yet, Bush's murders are not of his own countrymen, so perhaps that is more palatable for people to swallow. The club of murderous gentlemen has swelled its ranks in the past century, with the advance of arms technologies that make swift killing a facile task. The great paradox of modern life is the simultaneous development of medical technologies that prolong life and of potent weapons that are capable of cutting short an immensely high number of lives. The modern availability of guns, bombs, and the exponentially increasing population densities have led to deathly conflicts in parts of the world that never possibly could have been this violent prior to the arrival of killing tools. We now have tools that facilitate living and tools that facilitate dying.

Over time philosophers and poets have suggested that nearly omnipotent entities were dead in order to call attention to their ephemerality or incipient demise. When Nietzsche proclaimed that God was dead, he meant that this was true merely due to the perception that people no longer feared him and thus his existence was not so relevant. Nas has declared the death of hip-hop due to similar causes. Folks don't lend credence to the power of hip-hop and have instead ushered in its decline. But, the question begs itself: are such proclamations indicative of the desire on the part of these proclaimers to kill or conversely to revitalize the entities that whose survival they lament.

God certainly isn't yet dead, since upwards of 90% of Americans believe in him. The deity's credit rating may have been downgraded through the years, but his existence is still honored by countless mortals. Similarly, hip-hop appears not to have disappeared, even if its quality has been degraded since its golden age in the mid-90s. Hip-hop glory has been eroded, no doubt. But as a creed and arbiter of cultural moeurs, this mammoth is far from deceased.

On the other hand, Saddam the paranoid totalitarian dictator has kicked the bucket. His New Year has been ruined by masked Iraqi executioners. Leagues of Shiites and Kurds are ecstatic. Gerald Ford is also dead and gone. As a result of this American Presidential death, we have a federal day of remembrance on Tuesday with no mail service and closed financial markets. I wonder if Iraq will honor its felled leader with a similar day of mourning and closures. All I know is that James Brown contributed more joy and funkiness to the world than either of these political clowns. His funeral procession involved four darling white horses, an ivory white carriage, and a 24-karat gold coffin. This is a man's man's world, for sure, and these dead men are being commiserated the world over. However, it's no longer just dead white men that we commemorate. I'm fairly certain that Saddam won't be resurrected anytime soon, but we can expect hip-hop to rise from the dead sometime around Easter. I got my Limewire prepped for that revival.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

PHEVs on the Horizon

The next hot shit to hit the street will be PHEVs. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles combine the best of both worlds: electric car world and hybrid car world. These puppies are essentially souped up hybrid electric/internal combustion engines with an extra lithium ion battery that gets plugged into a 120volt outlet. That means you can plug it into anywhere, preferably at night when the overall demand on the electric grid is low and power is cheap. This killer combo means that total carbon dioxide emissions will be almost half of what they are with straight internal combustion engines. MPG can reach 90 to 100. That's amost 5 score miles to the gallon at an equivalent cost of what amounts to about 1$/gallon. That's strictly unfathomable, right? Today, I hath seen such glory with my own eyes. The deadly PHEV is here to stay, and eventually this whip will be able to handle flex-fuel, i.e., some combo fuel of gasoline, biodiesel, and ethanol.

The county government of Fairfax VA had the environmental wherewithal and the unexpected prescience to order hybrid vehicles in 2002. However, this uncanny sense of ecological responsibility was not cashed in for a PHEV until several weeks ago, when Hymotion in Toronto shipped the folks down in Fairfax their brand new battery pack to slap down in the trunk of one of the fleet's 2004 Priuses. The car takes about 3-4 hours to charge up, and the charge will last about 30 some miles, after which the hybrid engine will take over completely. There is a manual switch that can take you back and forth, but the engine automatically goes on from electric only when there is significant giddy up needed. The car has the performance of any other Prius, low long-term maintenance costs, and becomes greener and greener as it ages. The theory goes that as the grid becomes more and more replete with renewable energy in the future, the plug-in takes advantage of these green changes as well.

PHEVs are going to be the viable way we transport ourselves in private motor vehicles in the medium to long term. Eventually, we will most like have the hydrogen distribution system and cheap hydrogen fuel cell technology to power our cars like so. But, in the meantime, get used to the concept of a PHEV. Though they cost around 15k to equip if you've already got a hybrid on hand, the price of the battery kit is decreasingly rapidly. The battery technology will continue to improve immensely, as one automaker after the other begins to commit to plug-in hybrids. GM has already promised to release a Saturn Vue PHEV, and "Who Killer the Electric Car" inspired New York State to order the electric conversion of 600 vehicles in its hybrid fleet. One day, fleets of PHEVs will power buildings and machinery in the event of electrical outages. If you want serious fuel mileage and a smoothe electric ride, get your body electric on down to the PHEV paradise. Fight the Axis of Carbon with your zip zap zooom.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

World War IV Rumbles Onward

I must give credit to the neocons (and certain paleocons such as Huntington) for recognizing the onslaught of World War IV. Commentators most frequently compare this World War to World War II, due to the supposed similarities between fascism and Islamo-fascism, among other things. In the buildup of the American empire over the course of the past 100 years, each successive World War has served to bring in enemy nations from the cold, domesticate them, and therefore ensure their dutiful participation in the Empire (as termed by Hardt and Negri) in the political, economic, and military spheres. American military basing went from being limited to the Caribbean and near Pacific to becoming a globally present phenom that has taken root from Djibouti to Jalalabad. The World War IV in which we are now embroiled has become the dominant paradigm with which to conceptualize global affairs. Perhaps we have fanned the flames of war by means of bellicose semantics, yet whether normatively good or bad, the war is here regardless.

Recent declarations by outgoing Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan buttress this point. He emphasized the centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the morass of events within the Middle East. Though internationalists and leftists typically don't employ the same semantics as reactionary folks in qualifying the world they perceive, it has become evident that that clash between the West and Islam is truly of gargantuan proportions. For one, as I heard Colin Powell declare in Baltimore a few days ago, the United States was in need of a new enemy at the end of the Cold War. Without the Communists to orientalize and stigmatize, the American yearning for global domination needed an outlet. Out of a bipolar system in which American alliances often formed with those who were sworn enemies in the prior World War (Germans, Japanese) emerged a new World War IV alignment in which old pals overnight became transformed into mortal archnemeses. American World War III funding to the Taliban and Iraqi Baathists was intended to further American anti-Soviet agitation. The Soviets were the primary enemy in World War III, although Communists located everywhere else in the world, whether within America itself or in Vietnam, Korea, and Angola, were considered enemies.

The Cold War was thus the World War from which World War IV emerges. World War III has not completely subsided. World Wars in this postmodern epoch do not contain a clear-cut beginning or end because of the multi-layered nature of violent conflict and its sociological bases. There are World War III enemies that still gnaw away at American imperial might (Cuba, North Korea). The last vestiges of World War III won't be settled for some time now. Most notably, the superpower rivalry between the US and the USSR did not end in full reconciliaton and amity. Far from it, Russia is currently very adamantly opposed (understandably so) to the continuing American policy of encirclement, which has brought Western troops to Russia's doorstep in Estonia, Bulgaria, Uzbekistan, and beyond. The West will continue to enjoy only limited support from Russia in its attempts to rollback Iranian, Palestinian, and Chinese military potential.

World War IV's deep roots lie in Israeli independence, which itself was a process very similar to many other nationalist movements across the world ranging from Ghana to Slovenia. However, the Arab world couldn't stomach the imperialist foot of the West all the way up its hind quarters. Yet, World War IV did not really get heated until 1973's oil embargo. Amidst staggeringly high oil prices, it continued to escalate during the Islamic Revolution in 1979 Iran. Still World War III was raging, through the heightened pace of the arms race during Reagan's massive increase in defense expeditures, which led to the creation of massive American public debt. World War III came to a close as Communist regimes throughout Eastern Europe lost steam, and the Soviet puppet states in turn led to the Soviet Union's own demise. The 90's were solidified as an upbeat decade during which American hegemony expanded, and the lack of a significant external threat permitted some political hacks to declare that the end of history had been reached. Such was wishful thinking, as men with big guns eventually get tired of holding up their guns if they never get to fire them. Thus, the new Pearl Harbor occurred on a dreadful day in 2001. World War IV only then became the dominant paradigm for explaining the alignment of nation-states, as the "terrorist" soon replaced what had been known as the "communist." Straussian ideology had found its new emnity that could be employed to catalyze national action and mobilize the masses to redirect their hope, dreams, and fears. The catastrophic events of September 11th allowed for a subsequent shift in focus, and the big guns were soon drawn.

Anti-American regimes were soon replaced in Afghanistan and Iraq by puppet states, despite protracted violent strife in both of those nations. While much of Europe rested contentedly on its laurels, the Anglo-American coalition (plus a few others like Denmark and Tonga, which actually withdrew its 45 troops in 2004) took on the white man's burden. The Yankees gladly accepted their role as world policemen, and a fresh balance of power surfaced. World War IV, as the second postmodern World War, does not feature simplistic and and isolated battles between clearly defined nation-states. Rather, complex ideological and supranational agents carry out their plans on many different levels through a sophisticated system of financial, diplomatic, and military strategery. Actors are not bound by loyalty to constantly shifting national identities. Populaces often do not wish to fight on the same side of this World War as their governments. Such is the case in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Egypt, countries whose Sunni Muslim governments are theoretically on the American side of World War IV. The US contributes billions of dollars to the development of economic and political infrastructures in these nations, yet millions of people that reside therein swear each day to destroy America.

Therefore, in explaining the role of critical geopolitics in evaluating today's alignment of countries, we must realize that arbitrary borders between states and illusions of sovereignty make impossible the conventional ways of establishing truths about violent conflict. The dualism inherent in the traditional dichotomy of victory and defeat does not explain why nations, transnations, or supranations make war these days. Winners do not win wars like they used to. Protracted struggles entail that both sides must compute whether death toll, financial loss, and social destruction amount to sufficient negative "externalities" or "blowback" to turn off the war machine. A minority of citizens supports the actual and ongoing violent struggle, yet hordes of believers have lent tacit approval to various social, ideological, and professional programs that necessitate their complicity in carrying out jihad - on both sides. War is big business. Religion is for sale. Fundamentalist guerilla fighters govern better than governments.

This line of thought will be followed up at a later date. For now, it suffices to generalize by saying that Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezb'allah, al-Qaeda are on one site of World War IV and the U.S., Israel, EU, and a number of Middle Eastern regimes are on the other. A more nuanced picture will emerge graphically later.

The conclusion of this line of thought is that the West is ultimately going to place international keepers of the peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors at those points where no peace agreement has been cemented. By establishing a network of internationally-sanctioned Israeli insulation from Arabs, the Western security forces are shoring up the borders of their imperial space. Perhaps it is ultimately Europe's responsibility to physically protect Israel from the Arab aggressors? Is this the ultimate result of the Holocaust? American soldiers are in a position to fight on the brutal colonial frontier, where coveted geopolitical resources such as oil are at stake, while Europeans will be the guardians of peace.

The split between people and their governments is ever-lasting. Populist-Islamist forces vs. Capitalist-western-oriented regimes creates a looming Civil War within the Arab world in which the West is intervening. In fact, it is rather an imperial war, but the West merely has learned how to commission Arab manpower and assets in order to fight for the West. Given the current dichotomy, Baathist government, while nasty and brutish, doesn't seem that horrible. Are Arab nationalism and pan-Arabism more palatable than medieval Islamism or Islamo-fascism? Are Islamist governments even sincere? Or is religion just twisted to provide a form of systematic propaganda for despotic and anachronistic governmental methods of population control? Is Islamism more xenophobic and/or backward than medieval Christian rule? Bush, though revolting and rather ayatollesque, is a pawn submerged in a struggle amongst forces far stronger than himself. Though the Arab-Muslim world is divisively split and seemingly backward, it's more advanced that medieval Europe was during its intra-European Civil Wars, which raged on for decades. The intra-Arab Civil War has just begun. Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq are zones are peril. It's time to plant some olive trees.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wire on Tap

Drugs get transacted. Buyers and sellers develop an extensive system of exchanging product for capital. The industry thrives, while the city ails. Addicts, runners, snitches, and bystanders get stomped by industry head honchos, who patrol the streets of the ghetto with full impunity. Their eyes are lit up with the knowledge that their code of behavior is more robust than the official rule of law. Cops attempt to rollback the prevailing urban pharmaceutical system of distrubution with the courts, zero tolerance, aggressive enforcement tactics. But to no avail. This is the world inhabited by the Wire, HBO's stellar program that just concluded its fourth season.

Authenticity is the province of this show, as its writer and director were born and bred on Baltimore's police, journalism, and urban mayhem. There is substantial reason to believe that the show expertly captures the gritty reality of a vast segment of Baltimorean cultural and economic life. The dealers are case studies in diehard entrepreneurialism, their egos stroked by a city whose fiends soak up a constant supply of chemical sustenance. The drug kingpins in the Wire are depicted as masters of their domain who generally are inclined to knock off relatively undeserving interlopers. Stringer, the Barksdales, and Omar consist of the business elite in the show's capitalizing upper echelons. Their drive to accumulate wealth is egged on by the mouths of the hungry and hopeless habitual drug users, who number around 50,000 in today's Baltimore.

That's in a city of about 640,000 folks. A city on the population rebound from it's lowpoint in 2000. An urban unit that suffers from the highest per capita murder rate of any American city with a population over 250,000. Averaging between 250 and 300 murders yearly, Baltimore's murder rate remains stagnant at about 6 times New York's. Believe it or not, Baltimore was the largest American city after NYC until 1870.

In this context, the Wire portrays B-more as a city on the edge. Though so far I've not watched past the first season, the show depicts my hometown as a battlefield. The cops try desperately to pursue justice the best ways they know how, without trampling on too many civil liberties but also without full respect for the rights of the criminals. Clearly, in the Machiavellian world of the drug trade, the cops can't be too bothered by the letter of the law. Clearly, the dealers aren't bound by anything more than a primitive Stop Snitching ethic that supposedly governs their actions - until they too face the Prisoner's Dilemma head on and must rat to save their own skin.

Is the show excessively negative in its depiction of a criminal culture that seems to overshadow the more promising aspects of city life? What does the show owe the city in terms of positive reinforcement of viable role models or upright citizens? The show does not delude viewers into thinking that the drug trade is all gravy. And neither does it suggest that police work is sacred. To the contrary, no one truly ends up on top in the Sisyphean challenge of preserving a semblance of urban order. Cops need to cooperate with the dealers to whom they have access. The way they pit certain players against others that get played reiterates the idea that anyone is liable to "get got" at almost any time. The brutish tendencies of both sides in the drug war belie the best intentions of certain cops to earn an honest living and of the few dealers that seek to minimize the collateral damage of their daily peddling and gun-toting.

The Wire treats enterntainment as a profane pursuit. Whereas some cop shows profess to contain sacrosanct messages about public policy or social redemption, this particular one steers clear of moralizing. The nightly reality of Baltimore's thug culture is straight fucked up. There's no denying the deadly characteristics of a street game that, while increasing the inner city GDP by a significant multiple, renders decrepit vast expanses of the city and creates an entrenched cycle of violent engagement between urban security forces, opposing drug gangs, and the dreaded snitches that bridge the gap in this civil war of sorts. Government soldiers cannot be entrusted with the authority to enforce laws on an equal basis. Gangsters produce an endearing culture of criminal glorification with regards to the urban other. Historically accurate fiction gives us the impression that we are privy to these social universes that are far removed from our own. The Wire has got me on tap.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The War on Carbon

Either you're with us or you're against us. This is a battle to the death between good and evil. The simple binarisms carry over beautifully into this campaign. This is another war on a noun, but it is brought to you by rather different folks who inculcated you in the other wars on nouns. This war hath no clear beginning nor end. That is, unless the first act of war was the commencement of the Industrial Revolution...and then the endgame would be the day when the earth turns into an overheated hellhouse where we all burn up and die. The War on Carbon is upon us. Aiding or abetting in the conspiracy to commit acts of Carbonism are punishable by death. Carbonism is a crime tantamount to treason.

A Convenient Truth: Carbonism is akin to Communism

Essentially, committing Carbonism entails the decision to perfidiously turn against one's country. All Carbonist offenses are deemed sinful, unAmerican, and thoroughly unpatriotic. Such disregard for the national wellbeing will not be tolerated in a society where full-blooded patriots and God-fearing folk must swear allegiance to the anti-Carbonist crusade and root out any Carbonist who hides among us. In fact, your neighbor might be harboring Carbonists. Your next door neighbor might be the most unrepentant Carbonist ever to step foot on American soil. If you see something, say something! You shall report your neighbor to the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that this traitor is doomed to a life of misery for Carbonist crimes against the environment and thus against humanity. Failure to abide by Western civilization's environmental creed is something only illegal aliens or lesser races would consider. Carbonists have pledged their loyalties to the God of pollution, waste, and profligacy. Even some holy roller figures have recently been implicated in Carbonist scandals that involved homosexual prostitution, crank, and illicit conspiracy to destroy the moral fabric of the nation.

The Axis of Carbon

Carbonism in all its forms has been decreed to violate the principles behind our Constitution. Carbonism that relates to either power plants, motor vehicles, or domiciles can never be differentiated. Carbonist-related activity, especially if it initiated in a state-sponsored Carbonist network, must be rooted out once and for all. Once a Carbonist, always a Carbonist. Carbonism is beyond unconstitutional. It's subhuman, for God's sake! Never again will we tolerate such levels of Carbon in our stratosphere! The time has come for us to realize that the current clash of civilizations between Carbonists and true Westerners must be won before it is lost! Carbonist agitation has reached dangerously high levels. Although all of us once consented to the funding of Carbonist infrastructures in a number of societies, we've reached a national consensus that this support for fundamentalist Carbonism was a mistake. We allied with the Carbonists back then merely to ensure victory over the last noun that we summarily defeated.
Carbonism Threatens Your Children!

Carbonists deserve to be stripped of their citizenship, civil liberties, and financial assets. In the event that any vacancies arise at Guantanamo Bay, Carbonists ought to serve out their life sentences amongst the most vile convicts of other wars on nouns. Carbonists are the worst type of enemy combatant. They deserve no legal representation and certainly no right to habeas corpus. Carbonists and all Carbonist sympathizers deserve to be stripped fully of their dignity, for they have attempted to ensure that the Axis of Carbon will triumph over freedom and democracy.

Carbo-Fascism is Primitive and non-Western

All fundamentalist Carbonists attempt to overthrow the Western belief in the rule of law. They actually value death more than life. Indeed, they believe that engaging in lifelong pursuit of maximum carbon emission will result in one's ascendance to heaven, where there will be hordes of virgins waiting to please even the most extremist Carbonist. Carbo-Fascism is the work of the heathen who has forsaken the tenets of Western ideology in favor of a fundamentalist crusade to overheat this earth, in effect turning our planet into a greenhouse.

Greenism is the Antidote to Carbonism

Greenists will soon defeat all Carbonist insurgents and their allies. Carbonists have been reported to threaten a number of capitals in certain regions of the world. However, the true will of the people shall prevail. The Western way of life will triumph over this demonstrable evil. Carbonist regimes will be punished to the fullest, and unrepentant Carbonists will pay the price for their willful destruction of our habitats and our sanity. This earth cannot bear the brunt of Carbonist bombings and brutality. Carbonist supporters claim to follow an elite of freedom fighters. However, no rational human being actually wants to live in a society run by Carbonist crusaders, but the debased Carbo-Fascists continue to swindle ordinary people into supporting their evil deeds. End the reign of Carbon before it's too late! Behold, the doctrine of Carbonism is the most dire threat this civilization has ever faced. The Carbon menace is upon us, and the time is now to take up arms against anyone suspected of being involved in Carbonist-related behavior. Anti-Carbonists of the world, unite! The Carbonists shall not be allowed to take from us our freedom and our way of life. We will win the War on Carbon no matter the cost. Set their Carbonist smokestacks ablaze, and usurp their Carbonist fuels. Carbonism has been on the rise for far too long. We must reverse the tide of Carbonist expansion to ensure that our children enjoy freedom from Carbonist oppression. The War on Carbon must be fought on all fronts. The Carbonist hates you because he knows he's up against truth and morality. Fear not, we will not cease the War on Carbon until each and every last Carbonist is brought to justice.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

United Nations = Global Government

For better or for ill, the United Nations forms the basis of what has become the global tier of government in the modern age. Although the levels are government in this supposedly globalized society are usually said to be local, state, and federal, there is no reason why we ought to stop at the federal level when we conceive of what political layers of hierarchy are ruling over our lives. While the global level of government is not nearly as powerful as it will be some time down the road, it surely took centuries before the nation-state system became the dominant organizational form of political relations between people. But, at this juncture in political evolution, it seems clear that nation-states have indeed ceded power to a superior level of governmental might.

This becomes undeniably true upon comprehension of a foundational infrastructure that takes root on another plane. Introducing the world government, which, having been dominated by the Western neocolonial interests since its inception, is augmented semiotically by the merger-cum-emergence of two disparate loci of power that inhere seminally beyond the pale. Planar ascendance becomes the overarching focus of political discourse, as the anachronistic planar arrangements are cast out for a new round of infectiously legitimate but nihilistically ontological precepts...Without forecasting the complete submersion of inferior levels of government under the global mantra, it does seem however necessary to explain the extent of globally active governing bodies.

The IMF, World Bank, and WTO are some of the more invidious world bodies that exert a tremendous amount of control over the monetary, economic, and financial systems that regulate the flow of goods and currency throughout the world. In the financial realm, though these bodies control and govern in unprecedented ways, multinational corporations have proven that, in the financial sphere, the world government is still relatively weak - especially when compared with the powers of the multinationals, as well as central/national banks.

In terms of military prowess, the global government is decidedly even weaker than on the economic front. Though the UN Security Council is endowed with certain rights under international law that supposedly leave the bottom line military issues to be resolved by this body, most nations ultimately will act unilaterally if they so deem necessary. I believe, like one notorious Sam has suggested, that the optimal UN fighting force should be composed of professional soldiers who are paid by the global body politic and are not explicitly or publicly tied to any nation-state. While they would not be considered mercs, they run the risk of being treated as such. In order to combat this tendency, it seems that UN member countries should donate a number of soldiers to this international force that is proportional to their national populations. The force would be 6 million strong if countries contributed a mere .1% of their populations to this force. The soldiers would not serve as representatives of their nations; they would honor the sovereignty of the UN command structure.

In the human rights and ecological discourses, which are dominated largely by non-governmental organizations, the world government is rather strong. Its capacity to impose quasi-Western standards upon the rest of the world is even resisted by nations that do not yet pass muster in the house of the world government. Next, I see that in the social and cultural spheres, localized production will reign supreme, and peoples that do not wield the most economic or military advantage will nonetheless often incur tremendous cultural dominion over their spheres of influence. Cultural memes are often spreading like wildfire across the globe and creating empires of which treasury ministries, military chiefs, and parochial diplomats are unaware. There are innumerable ways of measuring progress, of redefining progress, and of re-evaluating what preference orders filter into the list of global governmental priorities. Social, ecological, and cultural goods will be incorporated into the Pax Suprema that replaces imperialist and coloniast discourses, even if these former discourses pretend already to represent peace and freedom in the current era.

Yet, critical geopolitics demands that we explain how this normative plan becomes a reality. Is the above prescription a recipe for disaster in that it does not account for basic human nature and the Prisoner's Dilemma? Will nations and other units that currently control resources at different levels not be willing to forsake these powers in order to fulfill some universalist directive? Does this cosmopolitan, globalizing plan smack of conspiratorial schemes to foment a so-called new world order? Do these goals appear to entertain fraudulently revolutionary or phony messianic views of how the future will be capable of resolving the current material problems facing our world? Perhaps there are fundamental rules of the geopolitical universe that I have ignored in this outline. If so, then now is the time to develop pragmatic solutions to the material dilemmas that plague our planet. It is also necessary to break the stranglehold that ideology has achieved over our linguistic discourses. Maybe this plan for united world government will be fruitless if it too falls for the same ideological traps that befall my ideological opponents. I have tried not to rely on idealized assumptions about resource accumulation or the entrenched domination of capital in how we measure our lives.

So, all this definitely does not mean that I am in favor of the neoliberal turn, which has been one of the most dominant forces in the establishment of global authority over human life. I seek progressive government that allows for a high degree of regional and local autonomy in the decision-making proces. I support open, democratic governance where it is possible to attain such a level of understanding between governors and governed. However, I am not quixotically supportive of efforts to spread the gospel of democratic peace to the vast majority of the world that is so-called underdeveloped. I find that the buzzwords of freedom and democracy are generally pseudonyms for economic prosperity and/or cultural-racial superiority. Spreading American-style democracy and thus achieving American-ushered neoconservative global domination & neoliberal economic control is disingenuous and ill-advised. While Western geopolitical might has indeed reached critical mass in attaining dominion over much of the earth, and while most socioeconomic systems inherently seek merely to reproduce themselves, I find that it is best to limit the strength of any of the various imperial traditions that attempt to secure control over the global government. Perhaps this is naive to think that we could simply throw out the old assumptions about the Old World of foreign policy realism and the bottom line of hard power.

It is indeed idealistic to seek the creation of a new, progressive bottom line that emphasizes peace, justice, and tolerance. Yet, we must be ambitious about what objectives we strive to fulfill. The domination of the world is currently accomplished by globalizing influences that tend to monopolize access to credit, exert military force in unjust ways, and leave world bodies (corporations, NGO's, and the UN Security Council!) unaccountable to the people over which they rule. Perhaps my yearnings are horrifically populist or naively simplistic, in hoping that the masses might somehow be able to attain a greater degree of sovereignty over the decisions that regulate how they are fed, where they work, and who their leviathan is. Or, conversely, libertarians might scream that they desire not to have any sort of global tier of government which would supersede even the American federal government in its capacity to regulate, tax, and control. I too am skeptical about unifying this world under a massive bureaucracy that would control so many details of our lives. I harbor doubts about this global government's ability to promote the sort of governance that I imagine is possible. If I can't even get a federal government in this country of which I approve, why do I expect that I would appreciate the decisions made by my global regime du jour? Because I consider myself an alter-mondialist. We ought to aim for a constantly evolving system of alter-globalization. Un otro mundo es possible.

The answers are so complex that I will leave discussion of most of these topics to another time. However, i do know that uniting the consciences of the world under the umbrella of world government is perhaps a visible and realizable goal for the body we now know as the United Nations. This organ is poised to project itself boldly into primacy in terms of its role in the formation of a globally governing regime. This regime, we shall say, is beyond the 2006 conception of regime. A new sort of hegemonic force will be unsheathed as the World Government supersedes the Federal government, La Republique, and the Crown. At the moment when Emperors and Dukes, Amazonian Chiefs and Chechen Lords, all bow down to the same sovereign, so to speak, of the world government food chain, the world will have evolved beyond the myopic competition of empires and the clash of civilizations. This supernational approaches high quality of control over the mass of population groups in the process of accumulating a sufficient quantity of capital that is requisite for this level of political transfer between the aggressively uppity national governments and the World Government. Fear not the Talibanisation of federal structures, both within the traditionally-defined Islamic world and without. The subaltern governments would indeed experience gross fragmentation under the strain of a more sturdy planar People’s Palace from the top. At the supreme level of world government, this project of post-immodernity brings together a planar and hierarchical structure that results in the extension of layers of control exercised by the internationalist refusenik compadres over sinister nationalist apparachiks.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hamsters, Bodymore, and Bawlmerese

There are so many parochial facets of Baltimore that make this city's natives proud to call (c)Harm City home. The "o" in home is a long sort of "o," and there's a bit of a Hiberno-English or perhaps Cornish Enligh twang on the phoneme. All of you who are familiar with the highly particular "o" sounded in these parts will know of what I am speaking. While the accent and dialect of English spoken in Baltimore is similar to that spoken in and around Philadelphia, south Jersey, and up and down Delaware, the distinctly Baltimore accent is by far the most fascinating sort of mid-Atlantic English. Hyperbolic I am not, and you shall take a most pleasant trip to Highlandtown or Hampden to find out from where the mystique doth come.

In particular, the hamsters (Hampden hipsters) became enthralled so much by the accent most commonly found in Hampden that they began to flock to the neighborhood formerly inhabited exclusively by mill workers and other industrially-inclined folk whose ancestors migrated there from Appalachia. Though the neighborhood was in serious decline throughout the 80's and 90's, the urban locale is now one of the hottest areas in B-more. The main commercial artery of Hampden is known as the Avenue (36th st.), where a mix of true Hampdenites, hamsters, and assorted other Baltimorons roam the strip. Kitsch, schmaltz, and authentic indigenous crafts dot the landscape, but an uneasy feeling of invasion pervades. Is the old Baltimore reluctant to step aside, or can the two demographic segments coexist harmoniously? A-rabbers still parade their donkeys across the Avenue, peddling their produce to pedestrians while parroting paeans. And, Hampden plays host to a breed of urban dweller that is said to have missed the second half of the 20th Century.
The rudiments of Baltimore's unique flava are found in horrible haircuts, mispronounced consonants, and in the remarkably parochial citizenry who typically cannot name more than three neighborhoods outside of the one they inhabit. These attributes are beautiful, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Gentrificious, educated, and stodgy folks might lend human capital to their geographic niches, but the masses provide cities with a sense of tradition, a love of things that aren't so peachy, like stubborn murder rates and b-more club. However, don't let this laundry list convince you that Baltimore hasn't been well-served by its honorable mayor. Also, don't be deceived into thinking that I don't adore my native city (though I do in fact currently reside in the northwestern portion of the metropolitan region and not in the inner sector).

Lord O'Malley has indeed created a city that is more amenable for absorbing yuppies. Though this town ought not truthfully proclaim (as it does on omnipresent bus stop benches) that it's the Greatest City in America, this town has a lot going for it. One native, Spankrock, once said that Baltimore is the most under-rated party city in America. A budding anthropologist from Manhattan's Upper West Side once became so obsessed with both Dundalk and Hampden that he decided to excise his uptown Yankee demons and become baptized as a born again Baltimoron.

We got crabs, Berger cookies, and damn good police dramas abour our urban pharmaceutical industry. Stop Snitching, Babe Ruth, and Edgar Allan Poe all germinated in Baltimore. Long live Mr. Boh! How bout dem Ravens?

Me, I'm just impatiently waiting on the construction of two new mass transit lines: one, the Green, will be an extension to the NorthEast of the current Subway line that ends at Johns Hopkins Hospital; two, the Red, will run east-west from the Social Security Administration to Patterson Park, through downtown. These projects likely won't be completed til 2014 or so. We've got 1/3score to wait until Baltimore has a genuine public transit network. Citistat/Compstat may be able to pinpoint the locations of lead poisonings, waste removal, and property crimes, but it cannot provide sufficient impetus for an end to the tremendous favortism that city, state, and federal governments have exhibited for cars, highways, and sprawl. Enough is enough. Baltimore is back. JHU might be commandeering the Middle East community, but B-more is on the map now more than ever. After New York City, Baltimore was the 2nd city in the US to reach a population of 100,000. In fact, until 1870, Baltimore was indeed the 2nd most populous city in the nation. Rod Lee, show these knuckleheads what time it is!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

John Waters vs. Borat the Brute

Both of these not-so-gentlemen humor the world with a penchant for highly offensive musings on sex, substances, and seldomly serious stuff. For my money, humor seems like it almost mandates significantly disgusting or disconcerting content these days if it intends to arouse substantial reactions. John Waters puts on GayFace/VanillaFace, resulting in an irrepressible combo of wry wit and socially relevant chortling.

Borat, along with the two other incarnations of Sacha Baron Cohen, dons BlackFace/KazakhFace/ GayFace in order to cover the gamut of gangsta-ness, orientalizing barbarism, and gaiety. What do these masks convey in this funny world where the funny farm is overflowing with obscene narratives and culturally corrupt concepts?

Culture exists so that it might be corrupted. What is culture if it cannot be misappropriated and mashed up for conspicuous consumption? Comedians are said to be successful upon crossing the point at which they've appropriated appropriately enough to receive comedic license. This license allows for licentiousness and filthy frothings. In the case of Waters, the monologue tends to the familiar and cutesy, albeit nastily nauseating. For Borat the trickster, humor is a game in which he cons his subjects into displaying their alleged animosities and/or miseducations.

For the rodeo islamophobe, the ostensibly Jew-baiting gun merchant, and the frattish rv drunks, Borat eggs on their hatemongering. Borat enjoys bringing people into his universe in order to ridicule their absurdities and revel in the debased qualities of normal folks. Is this noble? Not terribly so. But, it's godforsaken hilarity. That movie has corpses turning giddy. Waters, on the other hand, knows how to document the styles and the accents of the common man, without managing to stick a fork in their collective anus. Waters perhaps does not aim for the same manner of cultural critique as Borat, but the effect in his films is a bit more deferential with respect to class differences, even if not to propriety and behavioral norms.

One looming issue strikes again. In the spirit of Dave Chapelle, are we allowed to make fun of our own people? Can we adopt a people and then code-switch into their ranks in order to become a cultural chameleon? Imeptuous Borat from the Kazakh steppe impersonates a brutish faux Central Asian in order to become an ethnically ambiguous character of his own creation. This character ends up being a hybrid Slav-Jew-Oriental uncouth ignoramous who never ceases to enthrall. Ali G, as a black person who is not actually black, also presents us with a Bamboozled sort of minstrelsy. Cohen no doubt embodes the new age minstrel show. Bruno, for his part perhaps more akin to Waters, is cast as a relentlessly "out" homosexual, who actually was once physically assaulted for his aggressively impudent advances. It is hard to reproduce the comedic effect of Borat on a blog, but his jokes turn poker faces sour, make soccer moms squirm, and leave the rest of us wondering what the net effect of his routine is. Do the offended feel more victimized than the fans feel uplifted?

The movie is designed to draw massive crowds of eager young fans, mouths gaping in awe of the cinematic presence that Borat captures. Conversely, Waters leaves his older cast of onlookers utterly stunned by the various cult films that he's churned out, punctuated by kitschy Cry Baby, virulent Serial Mom, and pop classic-turned Broadway thriller Hairspray.

Waters finds comedic relief in absolutely disgusting tales of anal blossoms, nurses feeding turds to unsuspecting patients, and meth-hooked hyperactive homos. Does this mean that Waters does not have to leave his cultural universe to attain superstardom? The creation of Kazakhstan as imaginary home of Eastern orientalisms and ignorant imbeciles for Borat's unending but misdirected adulation. The real nation that exists independent of Borat's illusions plays no role in this spoof. Nonetheless, it's not just a place represented by villages of angry Romanians who've sued Borat for misrepresenting them on screen and for exposing their virtues (or lack thereof) to the moviegoing set. (I read that the so-called town abortionist was the most irate upon realizing the SUCCESS of the Boratic travesties).

Anyhow, join me on Borat's irreverent and repulsive bandwagon. Be sure to check the official Borat website for a slice of the cheese curd made from his mother's breast milk. Ahh yes, I liiiiike!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Early ChriKwaNukah Present: Progressive Power

Given the decisive victory achieved by the Democrats in the recent midterm elections, one might expect that a left-leaning individual such as myself would be pleased with the result. Moreover, given my energies expended working for the Democratic Party in Baltimore City, one might additionally assume that I was a faithful member of the donkey establishment. The former is somewhat true, while the latter is rather distant from the truth. On the one hand, I am undoubtedly giddy that the elephant no longer snubs his fat trunk at the masses of Americans upon whom he's consistently stomped. On the other, what assurances do I have that the Dems won't continue to cook up the same ole can of rancid pork and beans? Therefore, I hereby declare my support for an imaginary third party that has not yet come to fruition. Since I am somewhat of a pessimist regarding the political future of these divided states, I anxiously watch the entrenched two-party system, as it continues to erode the basic principles of open, accountable, and democratic government. Hence my tardy midterm vote for the rebirthed Progressive Party of America.

I have generally advocated voting Green to show support for various candidates - in order to build awareness about the party. But such a strategy is not viable if such a vote cast will come at the expense of handing the election to a horrific right-leaning candidate. The solution to this problem is ranked-choice voting (also known as prference or instant run-off voting), which has already been instituted in Australia and San Francisco.

There is undeniable difficulty inherent in third party action in the US, due to a robust yet diseased two-party tradition that has served America as a relatively stable outfit. Nonetheless, it is time for a drastic change. Political realignment is the best course currently, not merely for Progressives such as myself, but also for the median voter, who is poised to benefit from the injection of a higher dose of honesty in the political discourse of our day.
My dream would be to promote the emergence of a Progressive Party that would fill the void that has existed on the left for quite some time. Since the nation drifted rightward in the aftermath of all those lib movements, civil rights, student protests, and social upheaval, the political center in America has been rather to the right. As the perceived excesses of the Warren court were undone by subsequent judicial activism from the right, by legislative destruction of regulatory and social welfare provisions, and by a rash of executives committed to neoliberal ideology, the spectrum shifted. It is now time to reverse the rightward drift of the political standard. Rise up, barons of leftist ilk! Reclaim thine positions and reload your civic weaponry.

In such a scenario envisaged above, the current Democratic Party would continue its rightward migration and would become a truly centrist electoral behemoth. Renaming itself as the Liberal Democratic Party in the true sense of the term "liberal," this machine would promote the efficiency of corporate power, relatively small government, fiscal conservatism, and diplomatic prudence in the international arena. This party would inevitably receive upwards of 50% of the national vote total, as McCain-type libertarians, Arnoldesque Machiavellians, and Lieberman lovermen would flock to the erstwhile Democratic Party, which would still indeed be the proud home of the Clintons and many others.

On the right, the Christian Nationalist Patriotic Front would emerge with the support of approximately 30% of the national vote. As the unabashed tent for religiously reverent folks, cultural moralists, and admittedly chauvinistic souls, this camp could strive to represent candidly its egotistical yearnings. With most of the business types having vacated the party, this front could focus on the cultural and racial issues that the moderate Republicans never stomached. It has yet to be determined whether the isolationist or the aggressively neoconservative elements would win out, but it is likely that, without corporate support, the neoconservative comrades would be discredited. Even so, the paleocon base would abandon any allegiance to unrealistic international ambitions regarding the promotion of political buzzwords such as "freedom" and "democracy" in certain occupied countries but would also realize that their imperial goals propel America to similar ideological ends as the neocons.

The Progressive Party, which I wholeheartedly embrace, would base its platform upon much of what the current Green Party stands for but would create a broader set of goals. Public campaign financing, re-urbanization of America (i.e. an urban Marshall plan), universal healthcare, green energy, internationalist foreign policy orientation, increase in corporate taxation, and the reversal of massive socioeconomic disparities would be the tenets of this energized movement to incorporate the populist roots of fin-de-siecle progressivism, fulfill the needs of people excluded from the neoliberalist-dominated mainstream, and uplift Americans who had previously been deceived by cultural facades that masked ulterior economic motives. Progressives of the world, UNITE!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Circuit of Theory into the Future

At this juncture in the evolution of American political fashions, it has become necessary to segregate the various forces of ideological power in our multi-faceted system of domination by mainstreamed, neoliberal influences. These methods of incursion deem the benefactor not worthy of postcolonial liberation or even the slightest admission of credit-based tender and meeting the simplest of requisites for the injection of truly polyamorous government into American World War IV Society. That being said, in terms of the eventuality of primal dictatorship over the currencies of comprehension, we are pushed ultimately into the peripatetics of a residentially inept climate in this era of increasingly demolishable and demonical corporate control over the strictures and victuals that pervade our long lives. Is this proper to yield such aggressive and formidable interplay between the divergent mantras of central importance to the creation of an entirely novel set of norms that bridge the multiple discourses of geopolitical exaltation in such a way? That might encourage the adoption of a bifurcated disaster of a strategy to knock down the towers of the two party system. Ok, I must show you the two towers that now dominate the discourse on dispelling the occupation. Did you know that the two parties of the American political system are maintaining a complex of severe and strangulating occupation of our collective turf? The occupation will face a hasty end. This will come about as a result of the emergence of a Progressive Party that throws off the shackles of neoliberal domination and thusly inculcates the new front of forwardly oriented imaginations with a thoroughly green, black, and orange drapeau, articulating the future of international political expression.

Monday, November 06, 2006

3 Monotheisms = 3 Militarisms

The Iranian so-called "Holocaust cartoon contest" recently announced the winner of a $12,000 sum, for penning the most clever retort to the series of Danish caricatures of the Muslim uber-prophet, Mohammed. Jabbing at the Jewish faith in response to a secular Christian Western European nation's bold assertion of press freedoms, this Iranian contest allowed for supposedly intelligent people to continue lambasting rival monotheistic creeds. All have missed the point! My cartoon collage to the left makes use of a range of critical images designed to unify the collective absurdities of the contemporary inter-religious discourse and its undying strife.

A violent international controversy was unleashed in February 2006, months after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten (and subsequently several other Western newsdailies) published inflammtory cartoons depicting Mohammed, which Islam explicitly forbids (called aniconism, the absence of representations). As a result of the Danish failure to apologize for the publication of the hyperbolic and vitriolic representations, the Muslim world rose up in protest. This map shows the distribution both of re-publication and of violent reaction to the depictions. Altogether at least 139 people were killed in the riots, Danish/Norweigan embassies were set ablaze across the Middle East, and Danish companies lost approximately 134 million euros as part of the Arab economic boycott. However, Wikipedia reports that Danish exports to the U.S. climbed 17% in the U.S. for the 1st Quarter of 2006, as rightwing consumers snatched up Bang&Olufsen stereos and Legos galore.

It would seem that this whole mess, which pitted virulent Western Islamophobia against a vengeful "Arab street," ought to have been avoided at all costs. Yet, flying the sanctimonious flag of almighty press freedom, Western media outlets pushed the limits of tolerance. Perhaps humor and satire should be acceptable means of critiquing all religions. Ideally, cartoons would never provoke such a response. But, given the current climate of tense relations between Islamists and Christian-Western nationalists, this quixotic desire to publish cartoons whimsically and successfully just could not be fulfilled.

In my humble opinion, all of these militant monotheists are fools and hyprocrites. None of the three faiths actually represents the virtues it purports to embrace. And, all of them clearly violate, on a daily level, the most basic tenets of the Abrahamic creed, which forms the basis of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. In a show of solidarity with the Muslims worldwide who suffered more from pens than they did from swords, the Iranian contest (sponsored by Tehran daily Hamshahri and displayed in Tehran's Contemporary Arts Museum) aimed to place Jews squarely in between the original Danish offenders and the offended Islamic audience. The entire spectacle becomes a celebration of Holocaust denial, in which there is a range of blame and negation for the Nazi victims and the Palestinian oppressed, who seem to have received the brunt of the historical karma that the Holocaust initiated. No Iranian media outlet actually published any of the winning entries, which were announced on November 2nd. Also, very few Iranians have apparently visited the exhibition, which featured a range of artists from around the world. The official sponsors claim that they wanted to test the West's tolerance for drawings about the Holocaust.

The winning entry (to the right) shows the landscape of the Auschwitz concentration camp etched into a separation wall being constructed around the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, Islam's third-holiest site. Another of the most notable toons also uses Holocaust imagery to project the suffering of the Palestinians. However, this cartoon also introduces the downtrodden Palestinian as the latter-day Jesus, since he is ostensibly being crucified by the historical Holocaust. Jesus was indeed an original Palestinian and a Jew, but Jesus would most likely not endorse the absurd set of cartoons that have been launched towards all of the three monotheisms.

Clearly, none of the three stands for the heinous violence and blatant lack of compassion that adherents to these faiths display without fail. While the Pope is able to apologize for offending Islam, why can he not simultaneously apologize for the fact that his religion has often acted as malevolently and disturbingly as the religion that he insulted? When will Jews realize that the Holocaust does not give them free reign to condemn Palestinians to an eternity of injustice and segregation? When will Muslims admit that their religion, among many others, was engendered by an agressive conqueror? The jingoistic/monotheistic deity that all 3 of these religions embrace is the same male, exclusive, and singular godhead. None of the three faiths is any better at carrying out the spiritual tradition of peace, tolerance, and freedom, while all three engage in perennial violence, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness IN THE NAME OF GOD.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Critical Mass On a Mission

The city of San Francisco has an inordinate tolerance for all manner of street celebrations. In the spirit of revelling, revolutionizing, and reviling in the street, this town's inhabitants display an uncanny level of respect for progressive culture and politics. Since my arrival here, I've participated in more demonstrations, festivals, and gatherings than perhaps I had in the whole rest of my life. Well, that might be a stretch, but either way, I want to promote a vision of this place as being ground zero for blunt expressions and manifestations of the urban will to power. SF makes me proud to rep a wide array of causes celebres, social reforms, and illogical idiosyncratic illin' at all hours.

The fervor with which last night's Critical Mass rally barreled through the streets turned me gleeful. I was thoroughly humored by the massive outpouring of support for the cause of bicycle riding. Critical Mass started controversially in this city 14 years ago. Having expanded to countless cities across the globe, the gatherings on the last Friday of every month continue to pit bicylists against motor vehicles. The monthly battles seek to gain momentum for politics that de-prioritize the health and wellbeing of the dominant culture of the pernicious motor vehicle. Critical Mass rallies block the flow of traffic in the hopes of generating enough attention to foment some real change in how our cities are set up. Bikes not building bombs. Bikes not financing SUV boors. Bikes not buying morbid machines.
Over a thousand bike peoples riding.
Cars be gone.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

YouTube B-More Club Videos

On this post, I will ignore my usual rules about posting solely my own creations. In search of elevated B-More Club dance skillz, I scoured YouTube for the best and brightest of Baltimore's dance brigade. I'll see yall at the Mo's Tunnel (that's the name I've given to the fantasyland B-More Club that we'll be establishing to recover the old glory of B-More Club's Golden Age. Enjoy the videos!

Quintessential Rockin Off

Stop Snitching and Start Dancing

Crackheads and Winos in Northwest B-More Git Up

East Baltimore Got the Club Face

Monday, October 16, 2006

Benzino's Recent Video Footage

Elephant Seals Boxing Brutishly in the Pacific

Tourettes Without Regrets Freestyle Battle in Oaktown Featuring Victorious Tantra

Subcommandante Marcos Puffs the War Pipe in Mexico City on Election Day

DuPont Circle Brass Band in the Nation's Capital

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Frisco in the Fall

Youngsters at the SMART program know how to get HYPHY with the authentic Bay Area juice concoction. Meanwhile, the political season has shifted into high gear, with the local Democratic machine trying to boost support for a national electorally-based party that no longer has my support. Blue Angels soar, tumble, and roll in the skies just above San Francisco on October 7th. The thunderous booms with which the jets shoot through the air above caused a great deal of ire in this town. The Burning Man Decompression party (October 8th) featured some angry Black Rock City Department of Public Works volunteers, who are no doubt facing some difficulties readjusting to non-Burner civilization. Where can I get one of those Playa Restoration tshirts? Gooferman tore up the set with their renditions of circus funkified vibe. Speaking of tshirts at this juncture, Disarm Bush hit the campaign trail on October 5th at a high-octane World Can't Wait rally. Frank Chu, of 12 Galaxies sign infamy, rocked the Disarm Bush creation with gusto.
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