Assadism: Haunted By Its Own Success

P U L S E

The task of defining Assadism is useful for specific purposes only—such as identifying arguments that legitimate or exonerate Assad’s iron fist rule and crimes. But to even gnaw at what Assadism exactly is, it is necessary to adopt a holistic approach and thus move on to define what conservatism exactly is.

I wish to argue that Assadism is conservatism. It should be clear as day, but this argument should be elucidated. So what is conservatism? If we wish to define it narrowly: conservatism is the ideology of reaction to demands for egalitarianism. Historians of conservatism trace its progeny to the reaction to the events in Revolutionary France that began in 1789—all the way down to opposition to feminism and racial equality. Commonly thought to be conceived by Edmund Burke, conservatism has been embellished and re-produced by thinkers stretching from slaveholder intellectuals such John C. Calhoun to Ayn Rand and Ludwig Von Mises. One would reasonably ask: why would such an impulse—to…

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Russia Today and the post-truth virus

P U L S E

A video is circulating of a woman revealing “the truth” on Syria that is being withheld from us by “the mainstream media”. The woman is introduced as an “independent Canadian journalist”. She is said to be speaking  “at the UN”. The date is December 9, 2016. The video has become viral.

Eva Bartlett, the woman in the video, writes for various conspiracy sites including SOTT.net, The Duran, MintPress and Globalresearch.ca. But more recently she has emerged as a contributor to Russia Today. And though her wordpress blog is called “In Gaza”, and though she has a past in Palestine solidarity work, unlike the people of Gaza, she is a strong supporter of Assad and she uses language to describe Assad’s opponents that is a virtual echo of the language Israeli propagandists use against Gazans.

Bartlett was recently a guest of the Assad regime, attending a regime sponsored PR conference and going on a tour of regime-controlled areas herded no doubt by the ubiquitous…

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A Farewell to Veterans for Peace

P U L S E

Re-posted from Andy Berman: Threads of My Time, the blog of longtime antiwar activist and Veterans for Peace member Andy Berman

A Farewell to Arms: Till We Meet Again

By Andy Berman

May 11, 2016

Farewell-to-ArmsTill-We-Meet-AgainPreface:

As a longstanding member of Veterans for Peace, I often contributed to internal online VFP discussion groups over the last few years.  With Syria the bloodiest war on the planet, and thus a topic that nominally should be high on VFP’s agenda, I often wrote about developments in Syria.

My contributions frequently clashed with the self-identified “anti-imperialists” in VFP who blame the Syria conflict entirely on the United States and either defend or ignore the criminal role of Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah in Syria.

While my prose was always exceedingly civil, I was relentlessly attacked by a handful of angry and disturbed VFP members using extremely vile personal diatribe against me.

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The Junius Pamphlet 2016: Attack 1.0

                                                                              “Comparisons are odorous” – Dogberry

It’s been 100 years since the publication of The Junius Pamphlet, Rosa Luxemburg’s attack on the German Social Democratic Party for supporting its own government’s entry into World War I. Rosa was in jail when it was published.

rosa

Luxemburg famously called the Second International a “stinking corpse” and called for re-building the revolutionary movement.

Now Sam Charles Hamad has called out “the left” for its support for the genocidal Bashar Al-Assad in similar terms, correctly placing the Syrian revolution at the center of world politics, making its betrayal therefore inexcusable. I agree with him in general and in detail. Of course he has not said everything. That’s why his is Attack 1.0. Others already exist but you have to start somewhere and Hamad’s piece functions well as a grounding document for me.

We should heed his voice and act accordingly.

Among other things the Syrian Revolution exposes the idiotic fragmentation of the western left and its ancient but surviving (and ruling!) divisions and incantations, once again shown to be of no value whatsoever in discerning reality or changing it.

 

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In Case You Think There’s No Real Estate Bubble…

 

Had a conversation with a rep from my mortgage holder this morning. It think it tells a story. The prologue is that for no good reason I totally forgot to pay my mortgage this past June. First I knew of it a very polite young man called from somewhere in the South and inquired if I had a date in mind for paying my mortgage, now 25 days past due. Sure enough, I checked the Bill Payer, apologized to the guy and made a double payment for June and July right then and there. End of prologue.

Just now a very polite young woman, also from the South, called to ask if I had a date in mind for paying the current month’s (July’s) payment. I say I think I paid already, let’s look. I open Bill Payer and there it is, I paid double. She checks her screen and says I get it, they applied your double payment to the principle, not to July, so I’ll reverse that and you’re good, do you have a date in mind to make August’s payment? So I go maybe the 25th or so and she says Oh you just pay a late fee every month. It takes me a minute to realize that she thinks I mean August 25 so she’s onto that script already without taking a breath.

She says this like it’s the most natural thing in the world, she’s just making sure she has it right. Obviously she deals with people with such problems all the time, people who never run a surplus so they can never catch up, they always pay late, they always pay the service fee, that’s their life. She’s very accommodating. She says they have services available, ways to make this better (for me). She is going way out of her way to convince me not to walk away from my mortgage because the software has identified me as a new loan late two payments in a row, triggering a sympathetic and information-heavy series of scripts aimed at helping the very desperate me keep those payments coming in.

This is someone servicing a tranche you don’t even want to think about. These particular guys think it is idiotic to drive debt slaves away. There is a financial instrument somewhere with an exorbitant payout because the income stream to service that payout comes from super-dodgy high-interest mortgages, car payments and so forth sold to desperate people who will soon be shamed for their prodigality. My daughter and her hubs, e.g., were about to pay 27% or so for a car loan because reasons. That’s what happens when you’re young and on your own.

Someone will always figure out how to create a cash flow by creating more and more “odious debt,” which means giving money to people you know have no chance of paying it back. They used to call it “going to the street” when you ran out of legitimate credit but big capital has muscled in on that Mafia niche with payday loans and such like.

So, in this instance, they really do care about me. Not the bank, they sold the mortgage long ago, but the current (3rd) owner would really like to help me keep those payments up.

Why would a bank make a really bad loan? Because it plans to immediately sell that loan. It will wind up the property of someone who wants bad loans, for whom all this risky business was undertaken in the first place. Or maybe just to diversify, kinda juice up a corner of a portfolio. There are legions of people who do nothing but think up stuff like this because all that wealth that used to finance schools and suchlike now lines the coffers of really bad rich people and must be put to work. We should be so lucky they would sit on it, like Smaug, but no, they pursue their crazy visions of, say, a regimen of achievement tests for elementary school students that runs to over 20 days a year with the same glee they summoned for garotting their competitors. In however bizarrely and convolutedly a manner, it was once a social decision about how to spend part of the social surplus.

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Lesser Evil Politics: Really, Noam? Hubert Humphrey?

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/07/08/lesser-evil-politics-really-noam-hubert-humphrey/

The link above is to my article published today on Counterpunch. It is a response to:

https://chomsky.info/an-eight-point-brief-for-lev-lesser-evil-voting/

I liked the title better without the Lesser Evil Politics subhead but I am often willing to let subtlety have its way when others prefer gigantic flashing arrows. Leaden is my least favorite flavor of sarcasm. Like photographs with the viewer, I see no reason why prose should not let the reader do a little of the work. Readily apprehended things can be boring while teasing stuff out is more rewarding. Presuming you have the inclination and the wattage.

 

 

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Ross Douthat: Gaping Asshole

douthat-circular-thumblarge

Here’s an amazing piece from Ross Douthat of the NY Times for Sunday’s paper. He argues: it is good that the Republican and Democratic Parties have all these patently undemocratic gotchas and are run by the rich in secret, because that’s all that stops Yahoos like you and me from hijacking the nomination (read: winning primaries) to put someone like Trump (or Bernie) into contention. This muzzling of the electorate’s wilder whims is not only necessary, it is indeed a positive good, because only the rich can save us from ourselves.

Another way to look about this: Douthat  is expressing his gratitude that there’s a poll tax. Only the poll tax is billions of dollars and if you don’t have billions of dollars your vote doesn’t count, literally. And you should be happy there’s a poll tax because that’s all that keeps you from electing people that are bad for you.

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