Posted this to MeFi a few days ago. Crossposting here, ’cause I can.
Article 98. From 1995 through 2000, the U.S. government supported the establishment of an International Criminal Court. In 2001, the Bush Administration ended US participation in ICC meetings and, on 6 May 2002, officially nullified the previous signature of the Rome Statute.
Since then, the Bush administration has been actively pursuing agreements — with such human-rights aware nations as Kazakhstan, Bahrain, Botswana and Bhutan[pdf], and through coercion in the case of destitute Nauru — which would provide immunity for Americans in the ICC. Human Rights watch, amongst other organizations, is appalled. Echoing the sentiment of most who have not agreed to US demands, Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner of Austria (who has not signed an agreement on Article 98 with the US) spoke out in 2002 about the need for a common position. “There is a fundamental need for everyone to be open to prosecution. It is important that there is no immunity.”
If you’re not reading Billmon already, you should be. He delivers another bang-on-target essay here.
Though most people know of them already, I’m sure : like The Memory Hole, the deliberately unbloglike UnderReported is a good way to try and keep track of the sh-tstorm of lies and propaganda howling around our heads, as of course is the excellent and more weblogesque cursor.org. These sites invite you to draw your own conclusions, an invitation we too rarely receive these days.
Though undeniably entertaining, reading the ranting of bloggers is less rewarding, perhaps. Your mileage, as they say, may vary. Which is not to say that I’m going to stop ranting any time soon, but rather to note that you, dear reader, should most assuredly take it for what it is worth, which is bugger-all other than a bit of (hopefully) amusing wordplay.
It must be said, too, that there are times when one has to stand back and point, with some small measure of humility, at some of the diamond-bullet stuff bloggers are pulling out of their hats, ranty or otherwise, like this little juxtapotato from a certain maniacal South African down the block :
You are being lied to, clumsily. Redux.
My seething hatred of the American Junta still, you know, seethes. Occasionally it froths a bit, and it is known occasionally to erupt, after which it drips slowly down my leg. Most of the time, it merely simmers, on a low boil, until I see something like this, and, well, then I’m off and seething again.
“We were not lying,” a Bush administration official told ABC News. “But it was just a matter of emphasis.”
you bullet-headed, baby-killing micro-phallused warwanktard, you
I might be lying to you too, of course, and in fact I probably am : but at least it’s moderately more artful than the cheesedick trailerpark celebrity faux-cathexis that serves for discourse on the tee-vee.
You have been lied to, and it’s a lovely feeling, that they should still care enough to try, isn’t it? But they’re clearly not trying very hard. Or they’re trying their damnedest, but they are so ham-handed, half-witted, blinded by hubris, too busy slapping each other on the back while carefully wiping the faeces off each other’s dicks after the latest washingtonian clusterf–k that they actually think the dog-and-pony show is fooling people.
Of course, inside the borders of their mighty nation, they’d be right, to a surprising extent. Pity, that.
You are being lied to, clumsily.
But you knew that already, didn’t you?
OK, I’m done. That should hold me for week or so.
Edit : No, I was wrong. One more thing.
Gary Hart, as everyone knows by now, has his very own weblog thingy. This in and of itself is moderately interesting, I suppose. An indication to the starry-eyed that Blogging Really Does Matter (*cough*bullsh-t*cough*), a sign to the less credulous that political PR fluffsters are working every damn angle they can (possibly having studied the RagingCow Episode and powerpointed up a clever way to avoid the halfwit faux-hip clankers that fell like blue-ice jet-toilet turdmeteors in the wake of that one). I stopped by Gary’s site for the first time today, and was…uh, underwhelmed.
If this is the kind of rhetoric we can expect from the defanged and image-managed yawnocrats that roam free-range across the political landscape in America these days, we may well be in deeper sh-t than we think. Ten out of ten for linking to Metafilter on the blogroll, Gary, but minus several million for meaningless, pandering empty-talk like this :
Yeah, right, that’s it. And, as a wise man once said, monkeys will fly out of my butt.
That said, though, this entry is somewhat less tepid, and briefly fans aglow that deeply buried spark of hope I still carry around in the skull of a goat (wait, no, that was Quest For Fire, wasn’t it?) that all is not lost.
I’m sure everyone’s already seen this, as it’s been on that there newfangled Daypop thingy all the kids are talkin’ about for a couple of days, but it is pure brilliance, and I’m a sharing, caring kinda guy :
A little Iraquiz, nicely footnoted, just to help you keep your eye on the ball as more Americans die, and the evil wobbly old f–ks in Washington start casting about for ways to clean the poop out of their drawers :
Not a worst case scenario, actually. Not at all. I can think of worse, but if I concentrate on it too much, I feel like ripping the throat out of the next person who annoys me. Especially if they’re American.
Chicken little (but not inaccurate) quotable quote :
My friend John has made something very good. A way, one hopes, to make a statement of some kind, a statement like ‘Ahhhhhh, sh-t,’ for example. An easy, lazy way, sure, but better than whipping up bad photoshops and typing out apoplectic rants, which have been the main thrust of my statementation so far. And easy, lazy stuff is the way of the future, people keep telling me. So get on the bus! Next stop – somewhere else. Hopefully.
An open letter to George W, purporting to be from Brazilian writer Paul Coelho, translated from the Portuguese here :
Shelley speaks, in pellucid and evocative language, of the tensions between the individual and community, conflicts between the strength of uncompromising individuality and the sense of responsibility to others, which are often expressed in ways contrarian and discordant. If you read her words often, you know that she cherishes this part of herself, and is proud to be the one who pushes back, who questions, about matters political and gender-related, about issues social and relating to the blogosphere, and this is one of the things many other people cherish about her too. I’m glad – more than glad, I’m indebted in a multitude of ways and even if I disagree with her on the details deeply grateful – that she is around to kick against the pricks, as exhausting and demoralizing an avocation as that is.
One of the many reasons I feel indebted to her (and to others around the ever-more-loosely-joined virtual neighbourhood of which I feel a part) is that she kickstarts thoughts in me, and if I’m at the precise juncture where the caffeine has overcome my natural lethargy (like right now), I’m liable to write about them. The exercise of deciding whether this is a Good Thing or not is left to the reader.
The following is long and personal, and no doubt philosophically suspect. So sue me!
Particularly in these difficult days, people accuse me of being anti-American, and I invariably admit that I am, although perhaps not in the sense in which they mean it. The phrase anti-American almost certainly means different things to different people, and in different languages (long ramble about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis excised – I’ll leave that for another day). Occasionally I’m even asked why, although this is rare, and like dg here, it’s usually as part of a low-intensity injoke that bounces around Metafilter occasionally : ‘Why do you hate America so much?’
I wish I were able to trace back to the beginning my first stirrings of anti-American sentiment, way up there in my Northern BC village. That sort of thing is a fool’s game, though, particularly when your long-term memory is as wildly inaccurate as mine. We only got two television channels up there – CTV and CBC – and so there was no nose-upturned pseudo-intellectual pooh-poohing of American entertainment, though you can be sure I affected a whole range of other arrogant smartboy behaviours, feeling as I did a lone island of brilliance in a sea of millworkers and fetal alcohol syndrome genetic sports.
The second album I remember buying was The Clash’s London Calling – perhaps that was the trigger.
With lyrics like
it fired me up in a way that I still feel, bowel-deep and still burning decades later. But really that album, political as it was, had very little in the way of attacks on America itself – it chose broader targets, and knocked them over with rakish, snarling aplomb.
Like Shelley, I read Ayn Rand as a teen too, and everything else I could get my hands on, which, thanks to a mother visibly relieved that I was more interested in books than cars, was almost everything I could think of, but it didn’t leave much of a mark on me, I don’t think. Similar expressions of libertarian ideals in Heinlein’s juvenilia and other SF novels did leave their mark, though. I remember quoting him, sneeringly, over the years : ‘specialization is for insects.’ But I was too interested in individuals (which I mentioned in another context, in a post of which I’m particularly proud, here) to care much about -isms. This decision, this disdain of politics, has stayed with me to this day.
So how does a disdain of politics and a Clash song jibe with a repeatedly-reiterated anti-Americanism? I’m getting to that, honest.
One of the things that Shelley’s piece today started me contemplating was how my feelings on individuality differ from the ones she expresses so well, and how imagining myself as a contrarian (if people-loving) curmudgeon all these years has molded my life. When I think about it, lyrics from another song bubble up into my mind, and I suppose they express the root of my feeling as well as anything else :
All my life, I’ve fashioned myself as the Outsider, the exile, the individual, rugged or otherwise. I feel little to no obligation to any sense of community, other than that which is mandated by my own sense of what is right. It has roots, no doubt, in childhood bereavements, and first saw the light when a psychologist diagnosed me as a kindergarten sociopath. It matured with the fingernails-ripped-out clawing at the well-walls of my hometown – let me out! – and has evolved slowly since. It’s led to me to live as an expatriate all over the planet for most of the last 15 years, complaining about my new hosts, wherever they have been, and equally kept me from returning home. It’s made me unwilling to consider myself part of any group larger than a self-selected circle of close friends, virtual and otherwise. It’s led me inexorably to spending a significant portion of my waking hours in front of a computer, typing my life out for people I have never met.
But it’s also made me a better man, in many ways, I think, if a somewhat solipsistic one. I do believe that all you have is your soul, and that, absurd as it seems, is true even if there is no such thing as a soul. That’s an argument I’m not interested in, as it simply doesn’t matter. But I believe that once you have done your best to detach, in best buddhist fashion (though I hasten to add that I am no more a buddhist than I am an evangelical christian) – detach from political or religious affiliation, from outmoded and useless labels like ‘left’ and ‘right’, from exhortations to patriotism and considerations of race, from fretting about whether this group or that is disadvantaged or exploited – and tried to live according to the dictates of your conscience and love and do what good you can for those you know….well, we all want that, in one way or another, don’t we?
At the end of the day, ignoring the clamoring of the crowds to join in and be a part of something is the strategy of the hermit, and I am no hermit. I partake, joyfully or furiously, depending on the provenance of the brain chemicals circulating intraskull, with as much enthusiasm as someone might who defined themselves by their job, or their religion, or their gender, or their sexual preference, or their nationality, or their political affiliation, or their race.
So why do I hate America so much, though I’ve said over and over again that I love many American people? Because America does evil, and I cannot help but hate that which does evil, all the while knowing that it is evil. There’s no need for me to recite the litany of Terrible Wrongs that America has done – no matter how you sit on the love/hate/fear/security map, you know those things of which I speak.
This is not to say that other nations, other governments, other groups political or otherwise, today and in the past (and no doubt far into the future) have not done great evil. Cambodia, Germany, Japan, Rwanda, Russia, El Salvador, Guatemala…. any of us could go on, endlessly, and point to massive evils that, in sheer scale if nothing else, dwarf the worst that anyone could accuse America of.
For me, though, disappointment is the key to my dislike of America. Deep, weary, beaten-down disappointment. Disappointment at the massive disconnect between the way that America portrays itself, and the way that many Americans who are ignorant of both history and geography perceive America. Regardless of how shocked people may have been at the million corpses littering the ground in Rwanda a decade ago, I believe that were the blood of those multitudes on American hands through action rather than inaction, the shock and outrage would be many times more powerful. When I was young I expected – and many people, American and otherwise feel the same – that America would always be a force for good in the world. Americans are supposed to be heros, damn it! That’s what their movies tell us, and their television, and their news agencies and their government. That’s what their duplicitous sold-out scumbag of a president keeps repeating in halting tones when they trot him out to read another script about ‘smoking out the evil-doers.’ And nothing, we all know, is as disappointing as a fallen hero.
(Of course, you can probably guess that I directly blame George W Bush and his administration for the death of one of my best friends, as much as I blame the sack of sh-t who set and detonated that bomb in Bali. They loaded and cocked the gun – that little Indonesian just pulled the trigger. Their bumbling PR-driven war in Afghanistan drove al Qaeda members to Indonesia, the nation with the largest Muslim population on the planet, where those escappes were no doubt instrumental in the murder of all those people in Kuta. My resentment of the abject stupidity of the conduct of the little Bush-te revenge-war has only honed my anger and resentment and disappointment to a fine edge.)
But to people not dependent on their politics or their nationality to define themselves, to someone for whom identity is not built on ideas and groups outside of him or herself, the words of Official America are at so far a remove from the realities that anger and disappointment are the only responses that seem rational. Anger that wrong is being portrayed as right, to the apparent unquestioning satisfaction of many who would fight evil if they recognized it. Disappointment because America, the great power of our world, could do so much good, and instead has been locked into a path that will bear bitter fruit for everyone for as far as the mind can see into the cratered, smoke-shrouded wasteland of the future.
I love Americans, many of them. I hate America because through those who lead that powerful nation, it seems to be hellbent on making a world that is worse in every way that’s important for most of the people in it. And I feel this way not because I am Canadian, or ‘lefty’, or religious, or anything else other than who I am. I hate America because I want so desperately to love it.
From Kim Dae-shik, a physics professor at Seoul National University to the head of the US Forces Korea :
You are being lied to, clumsily.
Pass it on.
Also : Douglas Ord is having his synchronicity fuses blown, and expands on a boggling series of odd coincidences some of which were also noticed by the Bearman recently. The mind can take any set of events, or numbers, or words, and automagically see a serendipitous pattern in them – pattern recognition is what intelligence is, I think, at least in part – but sometimes the random patterns end up looking like the face of the Virgin Mary, and all synaptic hell breaks loose.
[both via wood s lot]
Also, while I’m at it : this is an interesting and quite plausible argument (to me, admittedly undereducated as I am on these matters) that the real reasons behind many of the decisions being made by the Bush administration with regard to throwing their geopolitical weight around is the “goal of preventing further Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) momentum towards the euro as an oil transaction currency standard.”
Not entirely free of spin, by any means, but worth a look. A lot of the dots seem to link up pretty damn well.
I was thinking of sharing my fascinating thoughts on the North Korean Thing with you, but I find [via Tim Bishop] that Josh Marshall pretty much has it in hand (Edit : As does friend Matt, here), except he doesn’t use nearly as many obscenities as I do. A forgiveable offense.
I am quite confident that this too shall pass, but don’t quote me on that.
I asked a couple of days ago, in high dudgeon :
“How much more of this are Americans willing to take? How many more clear signals can there be that the principles for which their nation is claimed to stand are being dismantled and subverted by their almost-elected officials? What will it take to get them to wake the f–k up and throw these weasels out?”
and this was one of the answers left in the comments…
Thanks, Sarah. If I were American, I’d be a little scared of being branded an Enemy of the State for adding my name to the list, and being imprisoned without that old-fashioned habeus corpus to get in the way. But if I were American, you can damn well bet I would sign, anyway. At least someone’s trying to do something.
How much more of this are Americans willing to take? How many more clear signals can there be that the principles for which their nation is claimed to stand are being dismantled and subverted by their almost-elected officials? What will it take to get them to wake the f–k up and throw these weasels out?
See, now I’m all grumpy again.