Oh, the yoo-manatee. "Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, which grooms future diplomats, has confirmed to The Lede that it did send an e-mail to students this week warning them to avoid posting comments online about the leaked diplomatic cables, if they ever hope to work for the State Department." I am not ordinarily on the side of the censors, obviously, but giving a gaggle of Ivy-League anal-rententive future-State-Dept. imperial pencil-pushers a little rectal rictus as they struggle to scrub their digital histories of impure thoughts and actions, well, it's worth the black redactor's pen, don't ya think?
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
The west has fiscalised its basic power relationships through a web of contracts, loans, shareholdings, bank holdings and so on. In such an environment it is easy for speech to be "free" because a change in political will rarely leads to any change in these basic instruments. Western speech, as something that rarely has any effect on power, is, like badgers and birds, free. In states like China, there is pervasive censorship, because speech still has power and power is scared of it. We should always look at censorship as an economic signal that reveals the potential power of speech in that jurisdiction. The attacks against us by the US point to a great hope, speech powerful enough to break the fiscal blockade.
I am pleased to note that of the two major modern examples of successful "secret" diplomacy cited by the some-old-professor that the Times exhumed to criticize wikileaks, one of them is the Treaty of Versailles. Oh, man, yeah, that really worked out well for everyone.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
In language candid and bald, the cables reveal an assessment of Mr. Putin’s Russia as highly centralized, occasionally brutal and all but irretrievably cynical and corrupt. The Kremlin, by this description, lies at the center of a constellation of official and quasi-official rackets.Boy, that is certainly the pot calling the kettle a highly centralized, occasionally brutal, all but irretrievably cynical, and corrupt. The White House, by this description, lies at the center of a constellation of official and quasi-official rackets. Le Palais d'Elysée se trouve au milieu d'un réseau des escroqueries . . . I mean, really. Physician, bribe thyself.
Like Crispin, I am a bit befuddled by the specific nature of the "charges" against Julian Assange.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Via one of our many far-flung correspondents, I was turned onto this delightful Times hand-wringer, which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Children, Who Are The Future, are a lot fucking smarter than their elders. Well, I'm sure that'll be ground out of them in high school.
The astonishing findings of the reported-on research are this: smart kids who easily master academic subjects are too smart to give a fuck about the various and sundry rituals of participation. Meanwhile, another group of equally smart kids have figured out that teachers are easy subjects for manipulation; like all adults in positions of ersatz authority, they crave gaudy obedience and demonstrative respect.
All of this of course causes education technocrats to reel around trying to figure out how to "reach out"--to make social achievers more academically sound and academic achievers more socially acceptable. Fortunately, and I have every confidence, kids will continue to foil their best efforts, behaving exactly as they are not supposed to, forever and ever, amen.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
On the basis of a study about bias in evaluating job applications, Yglesias pronounces:
My casual-ish impression is that in 2010 racism is generally a bigger problem in Western Europe than in the United States.Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son, as the bard once wrote. Now in the first place, I want you to name me a Western European nation that has incarcerated a million fucking black men and then tell me that "racism is generally a bigger problem in Western Europe." Racism is different in Western Europe, in that it is not predominantly focused on the modern descendents of African slaves, but it is hardly "a bigger problem." Anyway, do the same goddamn job application experiment in America using the names Suzanne vs. Shabonquanetta and get the same fucking result.
On CNN last night, Wolf Blitzer was beside himself with rage over the fact that the U.S. Government had failed to keep all these things secret from him.I think I have accused Glenn Greenwald of humorlessness before, but I take it back. That right there is a nice bit of understated humor. I definitely lolz'd, and not just because it felicitously describes the entire edifice of the American newsmedia reporting on the reporting of secrets, but because it illuminates so perfectly the style of Wolf Blitzer, a man whose every fiber of being seems to revolt violently against the prospect of knowing anything.
[Ex post facto General Eric] Holder was asked Monday how the United States could prosecute Assange, who is an Australian citizen. "Let me be very clear," he replied. "It is not saber rattling.I think this is a fascinating position. Foreigners are exempt from our legal protections but subject to our legal punishments, and if those punishments don't yet exist, then by god and by the way, we're gonna create 'em.
"To the extent there are gaps in our laws," Holder continued, "we will move to close those gaps, which is not to say . . . that anybody at this point, because of their citizenship or their residence, is not a target or a subject of an investigation that's ongoing." He did not indicate that Assange is being investigated for possible violations of the Espionage Act.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Diplomacy, even more than early twentieth century English house-parties, requires hypocrisyWell, no. Dominance requires hypocrisy. And to be fair, diplomacy is generally in the service of dominance, either those who currently have it, or those who are currently seeking it. Hypocrisy in this context has to do not at all with polite fictions, but rather with deliberate, ongoing, and calculated dishonesty in the pursuit of advantage and power. Pretending not to hear an inadvertant fart at the dinner table is obviously not the same thing at all as, say, the US and Saudi Arabia hatch backroom plots, or while European governments secretly urge America to act in their own martial interest even as they publicly crow about how much more peaceful they are than the trigger-happy Americans. The people who read the latest wikileaked documents and proclaim that they simply show what we already know--that diplomats' delicately crafted public stance of politesse do not reflect their true feelings or the honest positions of the governments they represent--are making the same claims as those who read the dumped Iraq War documents and proclaimed that therein was found nothing new. But obviously in both cases what is "new" is not the plot, but the documentary evidence.
-Henry at Crooked Timber
I just want to take this opportunity to proclaim that I no longer understand the rules of football. So, like, James Harrison delivering a mid-chest tackle to Ryan Fitzpatrick durning which the top of his helmet makes incidental contact with the bottom of the QB's facemask is a 15-yard personal foul, whereas 17 Bills linemen jumping on Ben Roethlisberger and driving his head in the turf while they repeatedly punch him in the gut trying to strip the ball even though he is already down is a legal play. Chris Kemoeatu jogging off the sideline is apparently a hold, whereas seven Buffaloes horsecollaring a Steelers lineman is a legal block.
Had the Steelers lost, I wouldn't have blamed it on the officiating. I would have blamed it on Emmanuel Sanders consistent ability to turn upfield before he actually catches the ball. But still, I am starting to get the distinct scent of An Example Being Made.
Just so. Now it's worth saying something about the nature of institutions here. Within institutions, you have people seeking to increase their own influence and prestige in the context of the institution to which they belong, and those institutions in turn are part of a larger set of competiting institutions that are in their own no less concrete way trying to increase their influence and prestige relative to each other all within the context of a vast and semihegemonic state trying to maintain its preeminence within a world of competeing state and non-state entitites who are themselves filled with the same sorts of competiting institutions which are in turn populated by humans, or shape-shifting reptitlian infiltrators, or what have you. So the FBI is essentially creating make-work for itself, then trumpeting the successful completion of its self-created and self-assigned tasks as a measure of a kind of external success--look! we are catching the terrorists that we are creating. But, you know, on a larger scale, and at the same time, what else is America doing in Afghanistan, say, but catching the terrorists that we are creating. So what if human lives are just getting constantly ground to dust and exploded and vaporized and smashed and bombed and tortured and so on. There is no morality here; there is no authority to whom one appeals this inhumanity. Barack Obama cannot put a stop to it; could not even if he wanted to. I mean, why is the state? Well, obviously, to, uh, protect us from our fundamentally violent and destructive nature. It is necessary to erect a fundamentally violent and destructive bulwark against our own fundamental violence and destruction. We must wage constant war against the forces of constant war. Would you rather live in Somalia?