Archive | September 7, 2013

Socialists and the ‘Pet’ Contradiction

sleepwalkers_stephen_king_monster_morphingJon Hochschartner writes at Counterpunch:

Socialists, like everyone else, absorb our culture’s contradictory messages regarding the value of animals. We learn that certain species, such as dogs and cats, should be cherished as members of our families. While other other species, such as pigs and chickens, should be viewed as resources to be exploited. By looking at the relationships between three influential socialists of varying perspectives — Leon Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, and Alexander Berkman — and their companion animals, I’d like to illuminate the irrational positions they held and so many of us continue to hold toward other species.

In 1938 the surrealist writer Andre Breton traveled to Mexico to visit the exiled Russian Marxist Leon Trotsky. As Breton walked with the old Bolshevik, he was disappointed to find that when Trotsky spoke of his dog, “his speech became less precise, his thought less exacting.”

In fact, Breton continues, Trotsky “went so far as to express love for the animal, lending it natural goodness.” Since here Breton uses the impersonal pronoun, which one would apply to non-conscious objects, it should come as no surprise the surrealist argues, “there was something arbitrary about endowing beasts with feelings.”

But Trotsky, apparently, would have none of it.

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Y’all Comin’ to the 9/11 Festival?

911funI saw this flyer on the way to jiu-jitsu class and had to share. Something about a 9/11 memorial event offering food, door prizes and a fun run turns my stomach, but apparently I’m in the minority here in the Deep South. A local athletic shoe company and church is sponsoring the event, along with the local utility company and fire department.

“Bring the whole family for a fun-filled day!”

Shudder.

PS: Be sure to get your tickets for the Pearl Harbor Ice Cream Social and Sack Race.… Read the rest

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Alabama Radio Station’s Alien Invasion Spoof Causes Mass Panic

alien invasion promo

A little more healthy skepticism could be of benefit. Via al.com:

A radio promotion spoofing aliens hacking into a Florence, Alabama radio station spooked students into believing schools would be attacked.

To bring attention to a format change at Star 94.9, Brian Rickman, program director for Shoals Radio Group, said the station on Monday began airing conversations between aliens.

“The concept being that they heard our frequency several light years away, they didn’t like Justin Bieber and the pop music we were playing and they were going to take over the radio station and adjust the format,” Rickman said.

A flood of phone messages were awaiting Rickman when he got to work Tuesday, he said, including those from police and superintendents of area school systems. Law enforcement still decided to put extra security on campuses as the aliens announced that they would be taking over the radio station at 9 a.m. today.

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Ten weirdest Right-Wing Christian Conspiracy Theories

Pat Robertson Paparazzo PhotographyIt must have been so hard to choose! From Alternet via Salon:

For the Christian right, having a “faith-based” worldview extends far beyond claims about demons and angels. Unsurprisingly, the world of fundamentalist Christians is absolutely crawling with conspiracy theories, urban legends, and just plain bizarre beliefs about how the world works. Here’s a list of 10 of the weirder ones are currently in circulation.

1) Same-sex marriage is an elaborate scheme concocted by lesbians to entrap men. David Usher of the Center for Marriage Policy managed to cough up a theory that is an outstanding blend of homophobia, misogynist myths about the mendacity of women, and paranoia about the supposed gravy train that is child support. He argues that women will marry each other and conscript men into supporting them by “pretending they are using birth control when they are not.” The men will then “become economically conscripted third parties to these marriages, but get nothing in return,” presumably because the only reason a man would want to care for his own children would be in exchange for sex and housework.

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Why The Law Won’t Save Us From The Police State

whistleblowersVia Salon, Chase Madar on the limits of a legalistic outlook:

Law remains our litmus test. Very often the mightiest anathema we can muster for something we oppose is that it’s “illegal” or, even worse, “unconstitutional.” One of the first reasons given for the Iraq War’s wrongness is it’s “illegality”; today, the mass surveillance is denounced as “unconstitutional.”

These condemnations pack all the fierce visceral impact of Ned Flanders trying to curse. Would the Iraq War have been redeemed by a permission slip from the UN Security Council? Were the sanctions against Iraq, which killed hundreds of thousands, okay because they were in conformance with the UN charter? And even if the NSA surveillance is ruled unconstitutional is this really the problem with it? And what if the courts determine, as is entirely possible, that the NSA surveillance is legally permissible?

We urgently need to remind ourselves that “lawfulness” is never an indicator of wisdom, efficacy, prudence, or even justice.

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The Repetition Compulsion For War – And How It Might Fail This Time

Barack Obama hugs John Kerry in the Oval OfficeNo matter how many times we’ve seen it before, the frenzy for launching a military attack on another country is — to the extent we’re not numb — profoundly upsetting. Tanked up with talking points in Washington, top officials drive policy while intoxicated with what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism,” and most media coverage becomes similarly unhinged. That’s where we are now.

But new variables have opened up possibilities for disrupting the repetitive plunge to war. Syria is in the crosshairs of U.S. firepower, but cracks in the political machinery of the warfare state are widening here at home. For advocates of militarism and empire by any other name, the specter of democratic constraint looms as an ominous threat.

Into the Capitol Hill arena, the Obama White House sent Secretary of State John Kerry to speak in a best-and-brightest dialect of neocon tongues. The congressional hierarchies of both parties — Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, John Boehner, Eric Cantor — are on the same page for an attack on Syria.… Read the rest

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