Monday, October 27, 2008

Letters exchanged between Giorgio Agamben and Hannah Arendt. Who knew?

Got it here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On Enmity

Let's talk about Al-Qaeda. According to the Washington Post, some faction or other within Al-Qaeda is now endorsing John McCain:

Al-Qaeda is watching the U.S. stock market's downward slide with something akin to jubilation, with its leaders hailing the financial crisis as a vindication of its strategy of crippling America's economy through endless, costly foreign wars against Islamist insurgents.

And at least some of its supporters think Sen. John McCain is the presidential candidate best suited to continue that trend.

"Al-Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming election," said a commentary posted Monday on the extremist Web site al-Hesbah, which is closely linked to the terrorist group. It said the Arizona Republican would continue the "failing march of his predecessor," President Bush.

This is sure to get people on the left smiling, though it should be noted that Hamas endorsed Obama not that long ago. Great.

It's interesting to look at the way our country deals with statements uttered by "terrorists." During an election, the Right is happy to believe Hamas when it says it wants Obama to win. During an election, the Left is happy to believe that Al-Qaeda means what it says when it endorses McCain. But credencing either of these statements is an act of bad faith on the part of politicians and the talking heads. Neither puts faith in the statements of "terrorists" because, according to the logic of absolute enmity, terrorists are not capable of speaking the truth. It is for this reason that nobody pays any attention when Bin Laden releases a video; as an absolute enemy, what he says cannot be trusted.

Enmity is a concept without content -- or rather, it is a category that must be perpetually constituted according to local and temporary needs. If Bin Laden says that he wants the US out of Israel, it is regarded as a ploy for some greater, more sinister purpose, be it Islamo-fascist theocracy or total war. Yet, if a "terrorist" admits under duress at Guantanamo that he or she planned an attack or engaged in terroristic activity, that's another story. Because such statements fulfill local and temporary political functions, the terrorist may speak a "truth" that is otherwise inconceivable. The same goes for the current elections; Hamas or Al-Qaeda is allowed to demonstrate a preference for one or another candidate in a foreign, democratic election if such statements fulfill the needs of our domestic political environment.

The point here is that the war on terror, in a historically novel way, abrogates the basic conditions of veracity that make politics a meaningful category of human discourse. If the possibility of a "terrorist" uttering a true statement is permanently witheld, there is no real enemy to fight at all--there is only our mirror image of who we are as a people. We are damned to perpetually dream up our own worst enemy--and fight ourselves to the death.

GOP terrified of the "real" America

OK, this is the last post of a Brave New Film video, but I think this one about ACORN is simple and to the point. This is maybe the one theme that I think the GOP has been able to push on the media and win on. That isn't to say that it will make a huge difference in the election outcome necessarily, but it does enable the GOP to peremptorily change the legitimacy of an Obama presidency, as well as poison the post-election political environment. At the same time, I can't quite understand why this story of all stories has found traction in the media. It has some sort alchemy to it suggests that McCain isn't dead quite yet.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

make it end

I've been really on edge this last week as McCain's campaign has gone nuclear. I don't always love the films that Brave New Films makes, but this one McCain's "Politics of Hate" is pretty good. My only quibble is that watching one might get the sense that McCain's incitements to violence have garnered serious media coverage, which, obvious, they haven't. Check it out:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Escape Hatch

Should all the polls be wrong, or the election be stolen (again), or a serious campaign meltdown of catastrophic proportions occur . . .

there's always Plan B:

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's hard to say whether or not McCain will be able to put out the fire he has started, but there's some evidence that his own people are turning on him for his effort to incite a mob.

Frank Schaeffer, a Republican and long-time McCain supporter, writing in the Baltimore Sun says:

John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as "not one of us," I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Get more Gitmo

According to the ACLU, the US military attempted to set up Gitmo-style torture sites within the borders of the United States at military brigs in Virginia and South Carolina. Not that borders change things ethically, but on a purely legal level, the governmental effort to set up a "law-free" space within US sovereign territory should strike fear into your heart.

But then again, what's new?

Douche bag

Let the record show that McCain continues to be a douche bag.

I can't tell whether the rhetoric that casts Obama as a terrorist is actually effective in branding Obama--that is, in making people truly believe that he is a terrorist--or whether it's just a rhetoric through which disenchanted Republicans can vent their frustration (or whether these things are seperable at all). But, judging by the nature of the mobs that McCain is rousing at his rallies, I'm inclined to believe that McCain is actually branding Obama for a certain segment of the population (as several videos shot at his rallies show).

When you have trained your constituency to believe that the opponent is a terrorist, as many of McCain's supporters apparently believe, you become personally responsible for the actions taken by your constituents. By pushing this Ayers nonsense in a moment of economic crisis when people already have nothing to lose, McCain is doing something unfathomably irresponsible--like pouring gasoline on a fire. It's a lynch mob in the making. If anything happens to Obama between now and inauguration day, it's on John McCain's head.

Douche bag.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Russian roulette

I really haven't had much to say about the election, mostly because I have been so hopelessly hooked on the strategic aspects of the race. But as the race turns into the last month, and the McCain camp is starting to spin out of control, I am gripped by a sense of worry--not about the election, but about the bigger picture. The new round of smears goes way beyond the pale. Here's TPM on McCain's behavior today:

So we have McCain today getting his crowd riled up asking who Barack Obama is and then apparently giving a wink and a nod when one member of the crowd screams out "terrorist."

And later we have Sarah Palin with the same mob racket, getting members of the crowd to yell out "kill him", though it's not clear whether the call for murder was for Bill Ayers or Barack Obama. It didn't seem to matter.

These are dangerous and sick people, McCain and Palin. Whatever it takes. Stop at nothing.

"Kill him," someone yelled. Allow yourself to imagine it for just a moment. If that were to happen between now and election day, it is hard to imagine the backlash. And who would we blame if such a tragedy were to occur? Well, McCain for starters. And then his party as a whole. And then the media and every one of McCain's supporters that acted as a megaphone for what is clearly an inflammatory and racially tinged rhetoric. And the entire poltical process wouldn't come off unscathed, either. And what would happen to the country in such a scenario? I can imagine that the LA riots of '92 would look tiny in comparison to the riots that would ensue. Given the economic meltdown, wouldn't such a situation amount to a total collapse of American society?

Measure your words, John McCain: you're playing with fire.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Electoral Judo

Needless to say, blogging will continue to be super slow as I read for my exams and obsessively read about the election. In the meantime, give yourself a little break and take out your election angst on the other party: Kung Fu Election. Enjoy.

Thanks to Hannah for this.