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October 25, 2009

A Song for Sunday #30

Filed under: A Song for Sunday,Music — rmangum @ 11:26 pm

Spider and the Fly 3It’s the last Sunday before Halloween, so this will be the final installment of the freaky song series. I hope you dig it. Here’s The Spider and the Fly by The Monocles. It dates back to 1967, a supremely bad year for horror-oriented rock, and is found on the garage punk comp Pebbles volume 3: the Acid Gallery. This isn’t the first time I’ve posted a song from that collection (I featured weirdo folk act Race Marbles previously), and it probably won’t be the last. Anyway, here’s what the liner notes have to say about the Monocles:

Formed in 1964 in the seething Colorado scene, these guys played Top 40 hits and originals, driving to gigs in a custom hearse. Their first single was a weird instrumental called “Psychedelic”, followed by this wild offering, a remake of a record from the ’50s that came out around the time of the movie The Fly.


October 19, 2009

A Song for Sunday #29

Filed under: A Song for Sunday,Drugs,Music — rmangum @ 5:05 am

I was going to do a spooky song every week this month, but I missed last week, so it’ll be a twofer today to make up for it.

Liberty-LunchI don’t think I can say much about Roky Erickson that hasn’t already been said. A singer-songwriter from Texas, a state which specializes in producing singer-songwriters, Erickson joined a special kind of elite in the Rock N’ Roll mythos, the talented but mentally unstable who further blew their brains out on psychedelics in the late 60’s. This includes Brian Wilson, Syd Barrett, and Skip Spence. Erickson has had probably the most tortured history of any, while paradoxically (or not) having the greatest longevity of output.

The occult and horror-movie obsessed Erickson has produced a multitude of songs which I could use here (“Night of the Vampire” and “I Walked With a Zombie” being two of my favorites), but I’d like to showcase an odd yet representative song, “Burn the Flames”, which I happen to have two versions of: an acoustic version and an electric version.

October 16, 2009

The mainsream American Left is ignorant and naive: some recent evidence

Filed under: Economics,State,U.S.A,War — rmangum @ 6:46 pm
Tags: , , ,

Let’s go from least to most egregious. First, Rachel Maddow, a prime example of what Kevin Carson terms “goo-goo” liberalism. He writes:

Recently Rachel Maddow mentioned Congressman Jim DeMint’s planned trip to Honduras, where he intended to encourage coup leaders to defy the U.S. government.

Maddow prefaced her remarks with a long homily on how badly the U.S. government hated military coups, because they ran counter to everything the U.S. government stands for, were so abhorrent to American values that the U.S. government cut off all ties to such repugnant pariah regimes, and blah blah woof woof.

This is amazingly stupid—almost as stupid as the Congressman I saw back in the ’90s, speaking in regard to Clinton’s Balkan wars, who said he’d learned in school that the U.S. never went to war to obtain a square foot of territory or a dollar of treasure. The U.S. government is opposed to coups, especially against democratically elected leaders? Yeah, maybe in the Bearded Spock universe. Um, ever hear of Armas? Suharto? Mourão Filho? Pinochet? I’m sure all those nice folks in the U.S. government cried over such coups, just like Iron Eyes Cody watching somebody litter Central Park—or rather just like Lewis Carrol’s Walrus, weeping even as he polished off the last of the oysters.

Maddow also suggested it was “treason” to encourage another government to defy the policies of the United States government.

Carson adds that “It’s usually Olbermann who’s prone to this kind of liberal mirror-imaging of right-wing know-nothingism”, and I have noticed a more critical attitude toward Obama, however tepid, on her show than on others. Still, she’s part of the choir for sure.

Then there’s our good friend Michael Moore, always playing trenchant critic of the status quo while stumping for what is in effect a slightly more left-wing version of it. From what I have read of his new film Capitalism: A Love Story (no, I have not seen it), he shows an American government owned by Wall Street, and yet peddles the line that the election of Obama is a sign of Hope and Change. And yet who do we find right near the top of Obama’s campaign contributors? That’s right, Goldman freakin’ Sachs! You can rest assured that if McCain were president, Moore would have mentioned this fact in his movie. But Democrats just can’t be corrupted like that. Even the NPR review I heard pointed out that Obama’s policies are largely the same.

Thomas Naylor of the left-secessionist Second Vermont Republic likes the critique of Capitalism, but not the Big Government conclusions.

Moore is fully cognizant of the fact that the American economic machine is driven by money, power, speed, and greed. Unfortunately, he is a lot less savvy in his grasp of the problem of size in America. Moore appears to be oblivious to the fact that our country, our government, our cities, our corporations, our schools, our churches, our military, and our social welfare system are all too big, too powerful, too intrusive, too insular, and too unresponsive to the needs of individual citizens and small local communities.

The reason Moore is blind to the “problem of size” (and the problem of power) is that he is obviously not some anti-establishment rebel, but an authoritarian progressive. Another NPR reviewer, Kenneth Turan, points out:

In the end, perhaps the most startling thing about Capitalism is that Moore stands revealed not as some pointy-headed socialist, but as an unreconstructed New Deal Democrat. He admires Franklin D. Roosevelt, believes in increased democracy and opportunity, and feels that the decades-long weakening of unions has fatally weakened America.

For my money, I’ll take a pointy-headed socialist any day, many of whom actually believe that it was FDR’s incorporation of unions as a people’s movement into a managerial-capitalist structure that led to their ultimate weakening. Naylor’s article also quotes Moore as saying his major hero is Abraham Lincoln, which is quite revealing if you know anything about Lincoln’s economic policies, which were essentially mercantilist, and defined by Murray Rothbard as “a system of statism which employed economic fallacy to build up a structure of imperial state power, as well as special subsidy and monopolistic privilege to individuals or groups favored by the state.” If I may do a bit of shotgun revisionist economic history here, one could argue that the Hamilton-Henry Clay-Lincoln economic nationalist and pro-big banking philosophy led in a direct line to the Goldman Sachs’ America we have now. But could you make a hit movie about that?

Finally we have the selling out of the liberal anti-war movement in the Obama feel-good age (and isn’t he really like the Reagan of the left?), as Code Pink goes to Code Yellow. Founder Medea Benjamin is now thinking it might be a good idea to keep the war in Afghanistan after all, after former Karzai “Minister of Women” Masooda Jalal told her they needed more aid and more troops. Well, if the Minister of Women for a U.S. puppet says so! Medea may have just realized, along with authoritarian progressives all across the country, that this is the perfect war for her. As Anti-War.com’s Justin Raimondo writes:

This is a project sure to warm the hearts of “progressives” who long to do the same right here in the US – lift up the starving masses and pull them (forcibly, if necessary) into modernity. In the meantime, however, they’re content to settle for Afghanistan as a target of opportunity, and a kind of experimental laboratory in which to perfect their social engineering skills.

Added to this “humanitarian” impulse is the tremendous pull of identity politics, which dictates that something must be done about the status of women in Afghanistan – and if the US army does it, well then, Benjamin will hold her nose and overcome her distaste for the flag they fly long enough to applaud the “liberation” of Afghan women. Has a more appalling hypocrisy ever been conceived?

You may have noticed a theme in all these stories: a naivete in the face of power on the part of liberals, as long as that power says it is working for “democracy and opportunity”. At least, I only hope it is naivete. It could be that they know full well what they’re doing. It’s worth quoting again one of the most insightful points about the contemporary liberal mentality I have read, from Paul Gottfried’s After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State:

Like other contemporary social democrats who call themselves liberal, Rawls fails to discuss power. . . . The real reason, I would argue, is that liberals do not want to be seen as imposing their will upon others. They are philosophically and temperamentally uncomfortable with the power they both exercise and expand.

October 11, 2009

Bartholomew on Evolution, Property, and Crime

Filed under: Music — rmangum @ 10:13 pm

October 8, 2009

Terrorists and Pharoahs

Filed under: Uncategorized — rmangum @ 4:47 am
Tags: , , ,

There have been two recent podcasts, each devoted to a figure that has held a peculiar hold on my imagination for a long time. The first is an episode of the BBC radio show In Our Time, discussing the mysterious Egyptian Pharoah Akhenaten, and the second is an Entitled Opinions episode on Theodore Kaczynski, a.k.a. the Unabomber. What interests me about these people? I think it is that each attempted, unsuccessfully, to completely revolutionize the society they lived in, the former from a position of absolute power by revamping the state religion (converting it to monotheism) of one of the most severely traditional societies in history, and the latter from a position of no power (a voice crying in the wilderness if there ever was one) by trying to stop the engine of the most dynamically unstable society yet created. The motivation and personality of each is inscrutable, and this holds an attraction for me (which is not at all to imply ideological sympathy in either case).

Akhenaten has been called “history’s first individual”. If Kaczynski (and Nietzsche) was right, he is certainly the last.

October 7, 2009

True Crime

For anyone who hasn’t been following the Sibel Edmonds story, or is just interested in a shocking tale of corruption and intrigue, I highly recommend the cover story of the latest issue of The American Conservative, “Who’s Afraid of Sibel Edmonds?” A former translator of Turkish for the FBI, Edmonds tells a fascinating story of State Department officials selling secrets to foreign intelligence, members of congress being bribed and blackmailed, American university professors acting as foreign agents, and negotiations between the people in the American and Turkish governments over potential occupation of Iraq before 9/11! Oh yeah, and a bit of sex scandal too.

The main reason this story isn’t being picked up by major media outlets is that it serves no partisan utility. It indicts Democrats as well as Republicans. Yes it is in The American Conservative, but don’t let the name scare you. This is an important story. When asked whether she expects change from the Obama administration, Edmonds expresses skepticism, pointing to the continuation or escalation of some of the worst Bush policies (the State Secrets Privelege, most notably), and adds:

The other thing I noticed is how Chicago, with its culture of political corruption, is central to the new administration. When I saw that Obama’s choice of chief of staff was Rahm Emanuel, knowing his relationship with Mayor Richard Daley and with the Hastert crowd, I knew we were not going to see positive changes. Changes possibly, but changes for the worse. It was no coincidence that the Turkish criminal entity’s operation centered on Chicago.

As the old conspiracy-theory saw has it, this one goes all the way to the top.

October 5, 2009

100 Greatest Movies pt. 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — rmangum @ 6:31 pm

A correction: I complained before that 2001: A Space Odyssey did not make the Battleship Pretension top 100 films list. It was in fact, number 3. Oops. At the time they had not revealed the top ten, and I thought they had mentioned that there were only three Kubrick films, Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, and Eyes Wide Shut.

Still a shame about The Maltese Falcon, though.

October 4, 2009

A Song for Sunday #28

Filed under: A Song for Sunday,Music — rmangum @ 9:17 pm

sys_08Well folks, October is upon us, and in my neck of the woods the temperature dropped and grey clouds came out just as soon as the rent was due (and right after my birthday, too- hmmm . . .). I thought it the perfect time to bring out a series of spooky songs. First up is Die Zorros, an appropriately freaky band from Swiss trash-rock label Voodoo Rhythm. Here’s Der Lachende Sarg. It means “The Laughing Coffin”, and it sounds like Ed Wood’s bachelor party. (Also, dig the Für Elise quotation by the organ.)

October 2, 2009

Leiter on Nietzsche Myths

Filed under: Philosophy — rmangum @ 12:22 am


Nietzsche scholar Brian Leiter was on Philosophy Bites debunking the major myths about Nietzsche: 1.He was an anti-semite (does anyone who has actually read him need to have this myth busted?) 2. The Ubermensch was central to his philosophy 3. The Will to Power was central to his philosophy, and 4. He was a Postmodernist.

Leiter also has a Nietzsche blog.

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