Tuesday, December 18, 2012

shit public grievers say

Imagine Americans were asked this question: "Is it wrong to kill children?"

Of course, the vast majority would say yes. Practically everyone will say they think it's wrong to kill children.

If you press further and ask: "What do you think of a person who sees that children have been killed and doesn't see it as a problem?"

A) that's despicable B) that's understandable, everyone has their own opinion C) they're right, it isn't a problem. One expects "A" would win in a landslide.

A third question then: "What of the person who makes excuses for the killers?"

And finally: "Would it be wrong to willingly fund a group of child killers?"

Clearly, the vast majority of Americans share my view that killing children is terrible and that anger is an appropriate response and that it's wrong to makes excuses for or fund the operations of child killers. And since these same people themselves do all these things when it comes to their government killing children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere, we can assume that they're a bunch of self-loathers wearing hairshirts and the like. Ha! Did you know your government has been killing children every month of every year since as long as anyone can remember? Ah, ah, ah, save it. We said no excuses, remember? Anyway, here's shit public grievers say (please use stoned college kid voice):
you guys, I'm really concerned about this...

that monster will rot in hell...

there's no cure for evil...

hey, I'm totally bummed about this whole thing, the kids, ohh those kids, I can't watch, you know?...

God is waiting for them in heaven...

I hugged my kids today...


ohhhhhh, it's terrrrrrrible!...

I've got some deep thoughts about this whole thing, what if we just...

we need to sit down in, like, the national kitchen and have a national conversation about this...

hey, you guys? we need to invest in mental healthcare...


moral decay...

intermittent explosive disorder...

guns don't kill people, people do...

people with guns kill people...

people with guns kill other people with guns...or not...

a guy with a knife in China attacked a bunch of kids but was not very efficient because, like, anecdotally, not having guns saves lives...

a good ol' American killed a would-be child-killer with a gun...with a gun...so anecdotally, having guns saves lives...

I'm going to forget about this in approximately...what were we talking about?

hey, what are we gunna do about Iran's nukes [sic]? national kitchen time, guys. ok, we've got two choices...sanctions or bomb them back to the stone age...
Hey, do they have kids in Iran?  

Monday, December 17, 2012

you fix broken kids with science, duh

Aside from the public displays of grieving, how is America talking about this school rampage problem? Not living in the U.S., I'm no expert on that topic, but the soccer mom article I discussed yesterday was posted with vigorous approval by several facebook friends of differing political persuasions. Two conservative Catholics, a Krugmanian/Obamist/pragmatist economist, a Democracy Now anti-imperialist Quaker, and a couple others. So that's my frame of reference.

Part of the appeal of that post is its strong emphasis on how much we love our kids. Especially now, it's nice to hear that sentiment. It reminds us how good we are.

Another appealing element is this -- "we love our kids so much we don't to see them in prison." Good people don't want to see their kids in prison. Good people want to see their kids fixed. Very nice. I'm feeling good about myself. Ahhh...

Oh, you can fix broken kids, you say? Why yes, and that's the main appeal of the article. Importantly, like every political idea in recent decades that has any chance of being acted on, this approach doesn't require you to give up anything. You just throw money at the problem and it goes away. And when it doesn't, you did your best. Or so you convince yourself.

The gun people -- both the arms manufacturers and the frontier fantasists -- like this idea because it shifts the debate away from guns. The healthcare industry likes it, obviously. If the prison industry feels threatened, they shouldn't. If anything, improperly dealing with mental health issues is good for business in the long run. Politicians should like it because they can look like they're tackling a problem while scoring points with the healthcare industry. The education industry, the violence industry, all those companies whose advertisements aim to break down children's fragile sense of self in order to fill them back up with stuff-you-buy (which is to say, any corporation that sells anything to kids)...nobody has to change a thing! It's a win-win-win-win...lose. The "lose" represents the kids of course, but who gives a shit about them?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

tell me what to feel

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it? 
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.
--60 Minutes (5/12/96)
In 1996, Americans were told that they were responsible for the deaths of half a million children. What they weren't told, and this is very important, was that they should be upset about it. So they weren't. "Hey guys, is this a thing? Should we...? Touchdown! Boobs! Woohoo!" So that's how that went.

If, instead, media, who are essentially our tribal leaders slash opinion establishers, had sent different signals --these are our children, our children, our children -- the reaction would have resembled recent reactions to child slaughter, with all the requisite wailing and gnashing.

Media didn't, of course, and this because those children weren't ours, tribally speaking. Those Iraqi children "we" killed were enemies, but it's too awkward to say that. And just as you can't be both a lion and a giraffe, you can't be both an enemy and a child. So they were filed under "enemy" by tribal leaders and the forgetting is what followed.

Friday, December 14, 2012

i woke up to an outpouring of digital grief over slain children so...

...of course, i'm glad to finally have this discussion of drone control.

Friday, November 23, 2012

the war on not christmas

Sweet baby Jesus the war on Not Christmas is heating up. Not Christmas is trembling in the corner as Father Christmas, having broken and entered, romps around a giant nativity scene bellowing, off-pitch, about a child who just saw a fat burglar in a red pajama suit kissing her mom. Egg nog in hand, he clumsily shifts to a different track, warning that he sees you when you're sleeping, knows when you're hiding from him under the bed. He's inside your head, along with Jesus. He'll punish or reward you based on how you conform to his wishes. He doesn't mention how his offerings of sugar and plastic are made by Indonesian child slaves. That's too obviously evil.

Whoops, did I say the war on Not Christmas is heating up? I meant flaring up, because Christmas is a hemorrhoid on the ass of the universe, at most. This entire scene is intra-hemorrhoidal. Not christmas only exists in relation to Christmas. That ass will heal, friends.

Anyway, how about that war on Muslims, a war that's actually a war, with bombs and whatforth?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


There's a beefy brawler, some kind of pro fighter, encroaching on your wheelchair-bound grandma's property. He's all "I'm taking this, ya mind?" She's like "mmm, yeah?" and he's like "go fuck yahself!" He comes and goes as he pleases and tells her which parts of the house she can use and when. Can I use the bathroom now? Maybe. Sometimes she gathers the courage to spit at him, defiantly, knowing she stands no chance, knowing the payback will make her regret it, physically. Self-respect is worth it. He beats the shit out of her to remind her who's in charge.

The New York Times reports: "Extremist grandma spits on neighbor. Trying to work things out. Tenous situation. No end in sight. A standoff. Peace negotiators on their way. When will the fighting stop?"

Saturday, September 22, 2012

eery parallels between bible faith and obama faith

The following is surely too simple, too progressive, too Hegelian, too half-assed. Only the first and last of these are long-standing problems of mine, I hope. But I was thinking on lesser evilism and Obama-ism and taxonomizing some stages whereby a person who believes in things like Obama's human decency that have been exposed as contradictory retreats from their original position only to set up a new line of defense elsewhere and I saw an easy crossover to religious belief.

Here's the bones:

1. true belief
2. external circumstances as excuse
3. OK, OK, it's not perfect (it's complicated)
4. holding onto a very tiny thread
5. freedom

Here's the meat (just a little; half an ass, remember?):

What is the Bible? 
The Bible is the Word of God, 100% pure truth and goodness.

conservative Christians
The authors of the Bible did the best they possibly could given the level of human knowledge at the time. Let's be realistic, it couldn't have been written better given those conditions.

liberal Christians
OK, the sexism and racism (and certain other things I'm not quite prepared to describe with complete honesty) are a little disturbing. Things have been brought to my attention that I can't explain away with context. Some real head scratchers in there. But...(apology, apology).

Unitarian Universalist
The Bible is loaded with stories of rape and genocide carried out by the protagonists. On the other hand, though I consider myself an atheist, it's not like I can just stop going to Church.


Who is Obama?
Democrat fundamentalist
Obama is perfect.

Obama is doing the best he possibly can considering the obstacles, particularly the evil Republicans, corporations; it's the system, man. He needs to give in a little here so he can get the big victories there. Under the circumstances, this is the best anyone could possibly do.

somewhat disappointed pragmatist
Obama isn't perfect. There are things I can't explain away with context though I won't call them by their name. He has made mistakes. I wish he'd cut defense spending more [sic], for example, or take a less hawkish approach to Iran and its nuclear weapons program [sic]. But...(apology, apology).

Obama is a war criminal who is completely owned by Wall Street, just a terrible human being, but he's not quite as bad as the other guy. Yes, he's 99.9% as bad, but that .1% difference demands my nose-holding vote. Though I consider myself an anarchist, it's not like I can just stop going to the voting booth.*


*I'm not entirely convinced of my own point here. And for the record that no one's keeping, I'm quite pro-Noam in general because I see 99% of his arrogance being directed at the worst of the worst.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

moral outrage part II

Agency, as I understand it, is phenomenological. It's the body as experienced, or what a normal person might call "subjective" (a term best avoided, I think, because it's set against "objective" in an unfortunate Cartesian legacy dichotomy). The agent is me, right now, and the way I choose how to be, a competition for self-perpetuation in my body between different patterns of world.

To place demands on other humans to act in a way that conforms to certain rational patterns, call them principles, developed in my mind in order to make me feel better, is something I'm surely OK with but, epistemologically, it takes some serious leaping.  

When I select someone as a target for my moral outrage, an Obama, say, it's, first of all, because they caused someone harm and secondly, because from my perspective, it could have easily not happened. If the harmer had simply been me, it wouldn't have.

I assume that Obama and I have most of the same hardwiring and are genetically both capable of drone bombing or blogging against drone bombing. He chose drone bombing. Because he's evil? I chose the other thing. Because I'm good?

There's only pain and pleasure and the causing of these by highly embrained animals. Forces that self-perpetuated in me failed to do so in him and vice versa. Where was "I" when all this was happening?

to be continued, hopefully...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

moral outrage

As a rule, beliefs that feel good deserve the most skepticism. Humans will always believe the best story their cognitive dissonance can handle.

Victim's rage feels good. I don't mean victimization feels good, of course, I mean a response to it that doesn't accept blame feels good. Screaming, punching, reading blog rants, what have you.  

Whether one is actually a victim or not in the broadest sense has little or nothing to do with the feeling of rage at having been victimized. The (further) destruction of Afghanistan in response to 9/11 was a case of victim's rage, even as that rage ignored the broader context in which America is the greatest victimizer of its time. The point being that the feeling is essentially the same whether you've actually been victimized or not. If the technology were available, I suspect it would look the same, or almost, on a brainscan.

Victim's rage is a lashing out at the thing that caused pain. The concept of agency is a way to justify this rage, to put the victim in the right on some cosmic or metaphysical level. Agency is an act of imagination.

"He knew what he was doing. He hurt me because he wanted me to suffer. He chose to do it." This is eerily similar to the evildoing Muslims haunting American dreams. "They hate us for our freedoms. They want us to suffer for no good reason." The evil victimizer who wants you to suffer can be hated. The hurricane that destroyed your house cannot. Convenient.

At the very least, I think agency as an intellectual construct should be seen as secondary, as a justification.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Obama as the GM of Team America

Maybe not the perfect analogy but...

The Red Sox have a huge revenue stream and decided to use it to sign a bunch of big-name vets to lengthy contracts. What are we supposed to do with this money, just let it sit there, they thought?

The U.S. has an enormous military and decides how to spend their weapons. What are we supposed to with all this destructive power, just let it sit there, they thought?

The Red Sox regretted some of those contracts. Carl Crawford was the biggest mistake. They ended up dumping Crawford on the Dodgers and absorbing a lot of his salary. They took a loss but at least they got out. Whoops, try again next year.

So I'm thinking Obama sees Iran as a 34 year-old future Hall of Famer who wants a $200 million dollar, 8-year deal. Intriguing, but the price isn't right.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Chris Rock's lesser evilism

How many mistakes can you pack into 26 words? Not as many as Chris Rock.
If you vote against Obama because he can't get stuff done, it's kind of like saying, "this guy can't cure cancer. I'm gonna vote for cancer." 
The my hero fallacy: Rock assumes that Obama is trying to do good things (like fix America!) but gosh darn it, it's hard. I explained here the common, almost universal mistake of seeing politicians as one's own protagonist. In short, the salesman isn't trying to give you a good deal, he's trying to give himself a good deal so he's not failing when he rips you off. The advertiser isn't trying to help you lead a fulfilling life, so he's not failing when you buy something it's not in your interests to buy. The cheetah isn't failing to do a good job of letting all the gazelles run free and so on.

Strawman: No principled Obama critic (the ones Rock is going after here) is concerned about Obama's imperfection. The charge is that he regularly does terrible things like murdering by drone and torturing whistleblowers. The charge is that he is actively evil. The strawman relies on the my hero fallacy.

Obama's passivity: Every bad thing Obama seems to have done was actually done by Republicans. They're cancer. He's fighting them, sometimes unsuccessfully. If you start with the assumption that Obama is the protagonist, this hero-with-his-hands-tied theory may be the best way to make sense of Obama's actions. So work back and re-examine that premise because Obama went out of his way to become the most powerful man in the world and once in office, has gone out of his way to punish whistleblowers, Gitmo detainees, first responders to his own drone attacks, etc. And not just because Republicans will call him a pussy if he doesn't, which would be far beyond bad enough. No, the Obama administration has been the leading edge of the sword more often than not. Did Republicans push him to declare the right to kill anyone on the planet at any time for any reason whatsoever? I could browse Glenn Greenwald's archives and post dozens more examples but you shouldn't need more than that one.


So that was my first take to this quote, which I think captures lesser evilism as well as it can be captured and, so, deserves scrutiny. I left it unposted for a few days because it was only 95% done and I was busy. Second take:

A lot of expats in Japan will go out of their way, in trying to show how racist and regressive the Japanese government is, to compare it to the U.S. government, with the latter as the example of how things should be. Readers of this blog (hey, you three!) don't  need me to explain the problem with making the U.S. your ideal on anti-racism issues. But it's just easier, or for whatever reason more appealing, to think dichotomously. Forget Obama's 11 dimensional chess, how about some 2+ dimensional chess? How about starting with principles and then seeing whose actions match up with them? Japan is racist as hell. The U.S. is racist as hell. Fuck both of them. Hitler's evil in no way mitigated Stalin's evil.

OK, here's this, my pithiest and best response. The Republicans are cancer. Got it. Agreed. This does not mean the Democrats are anti-cancer. The Democrats are not even 99% cancer, as last stage lesser evilism contends (before dying). The Democrats are AIDS.

Friday, August 3, 2012


80% of Americans think Iran's nuclear program threatens the U.S.

official media: What are you going to do about the stockpile of semi-automatic weapons and ammo your neighbor keeps in his garage?

41% -- blow up his house
39% -- starve his children
19% -- wuhh...? do you...? whatever...no, wait, Obama?
1% -- do you have any proof at all that he has a stockpile of weapons in his garage? No? Oh, that's funny, that reaffirms my assessment that you're professional liars.

Hey, did you know IRAN DOESN'T HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM and that high-ranking officials acknowledge this?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

freckle spatter analysis

It's hard to be a good American when you're living in Japan. There are things you inevitably miss, like daily interactions with people who ask you how much you bench, bro, and eventually you end up half-American, knowing that Lady Gaga is a singer but not knowing any of her songs or who her favorite politician is. And I don't watch CNN or MSNBC or FOX, not even accidentally at the dentist's office, so for the past several years I've been getting my news via the written word and therefore assuming that this Obama and this Romney were nicknames for the same person, since they both favor the same war on everything policies and get caught being full of exactly the same kind of shit literally all the time. Both their names rhyme with bomb. What were the chances? I figured it was something Bush came up with.

But the other day I came across a picture of this Obama next to a picture of this Romney and though they look pretty much the same -- in a word, or a couple of them, like rich dicks -- I noticed a difference I suppose is worth considering. The one wears his tightly curling hair closely trimmed while the other reps a hundred dollar hey look at my hair Ivy douche look. This is when I realized I had failed miserably in my admittedly half-assed text-based attempts to be a decent American citizen -- something that, in my defense, is very hard to do when you're not watching TV at least two hours a day -- and I decided to print out a picture of each of the candidates for 2013-2017 bomber-in-chief, place these lovingly in frames enspattered with corporate logos and, from now until the election, inspect them for at least 30 minutes a day in the hopes of advancing my understanding of politics to at least the point where I can enter the 4th quintile of Americans who care about democracy.      

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

joepa who?

However restorative or cathartic the imaginary balancing of the scales of justice or the symbolic dishappening of the past might be -- and humans are strange, magic-believing creatures, all of us, often made better by our own fantasies or, more positively, imaginations, and telling off your tormentor who's now dead or otherwise out of reach works for some -- institutional justice as a rule serves the institution that delivers it and any punishment delivered by the NCAA is capable of delivering justice to anything non-NCAA only accidentally.

If you told me the victims of Jerry Sandusky, no, PSU, no, the NCAA had entered wherever that statue is being kept, taken it out, spat on it and burned it, I'd say that smells of justice, however imperfect and incomplete. And if someone said, well, then, they should let them do that, I'd say look at the word let in that sentence -- that's the problem. Who would let them? The people in charge. Why would they let them? Because it benefits the people in charge.

But the people in charge in this case chose a different path, unsurprisingly. Those responsible for the problem, who steer and advance a profit-driven system predictably inclined to institutional profit-protecting coverups -- and really the existence of hierarchical institutions is the problem, with the profit motive an amplifier -- reap the benefits of so-called justice by first externalizing, then disappearing the problem by way of purification ritual magic, thus ensuring its reoccurence elsewhere in the organism. They said the JoePa era never happened, not the bad part at least. The NCAA will gladly sacrifice a limb, one that will grow back soon enough anyway on a larger creature, to ensure its survival. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

anarchist take on batman

batman as the man, here.

ESPN supports this blog

Borrowing from Devin Lenda's morality play, one assumes, ESPN/Grantland's Jay Caspian Kang demonstrates a solid grasp of the tendency of people with no control over a situation to imagine they are the person with control over that situation and then justify practically anything the actual decider does even when it hurts them because the projector's actual self is not part of the fantasy so, like any non-existent character in a drama, can't be hurt.

Imagined control is intoxicating. Without this type of projection, the Democrat versus Republican show would be impossible. The (inevitably very inaccurately) imagined perspective of Obama is the lens through which Obama fans view Obama's actions. Same for Romney fans, of course, and so on.

Here's Kang:
When, exactly, did fans start to believe that their best interests and the best interests of team owners were the same? When did, "Well, I don't think [INSERT NAME OF REALLY RICH GUY] should spend his money in a way that would provide maximum entertainment value for me, the paying fan" become the go-to response? We have no idea how much money Jim Dolan stands to lose and how that affects the Knicks' future. And Knicks fans shouldn't care. They should just want the most entertaining, best product on the court. A team with Jeremy Lin is a better product for consumers than a team without Jeremy Lin. That should be 99 percent of every fan's calculation...
Jeremy Lin owes Jim Dolan? In what America does that make sense, except in the America where every employee owes every rich guy undying loyalty for life because the rich guy happens to sign his checks? Especially when said employee was the linchpin in a TV contract and when his popularity was the leading factor in a $600 million increase in the value of said rich guy's company? Oh, wait, that's exactly what Jim Dolan's America looks like. We are all just paying witnesses...
But hey, adding salary money when you're already paying the luxury tax for FLAT, Melo, Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby, and others doesn't make "basketball sense," right? And spending Jim Dolan's money wisely has become the burden of every Knicks fan, right? And the logical move, empirically speaking, would be to blindly side with the one rich owner who has done more to disgrace the good name of logic than anyone else in the history of the NBA?
From a logical fan's perspective, the decision to keep a wildly popular, potentially transformative player should never be about money. It's true that Jeremy Lin started in only 25 games for the Knicks, but I challenge anyone to come up with a more telling, dynamic 25 games. More important, we — meaning everyone who is not Jim Dolan and his investors — are not paying the luxury tax. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

just tell me where to direct my moral outrage

I'm glad to see my fellow Americans' disgust directed at a powerful man for the role he played in a case of unmistakable child predation. Their outrage at the way a cash cow program took precedence over children's well-being is a welcome occurrence. Their dismay at the intimidation of witnesses into silence in order to protect that powerful man and his buds and that cash cow is a good sign. It's about time.

Here's a summary from a leading media outlet:
• Obama and others showed "callous and shocking disregard for child victims."
• Evidence shows Obama and Biden do know that Clinton killed half a million Iraqis, mostly children, in the 1990s and that Bush killed many more and Obama is "totally cool with that," so much so that he followed suit himself.
• The U.S. establishment let Clinton retire in 2001 "not as a known child predator, but as a valued member of the American legacy," allowing him to rake in millions selling speeches and books to establishment audiences about the glories of ruling the world, thereby grooming future child predators.
• The U.S. establishment "concealed critical facts ... to avoid consequences of bad publicity."
• Obama "was an integral part of this active decision to conceal" and his impeachment would be justified.
• The U.S. establishment did not alert the putative authorities in a democracy, the people, to the nature of the crimes.
• The U.S. establishment failed to adhere to international law requiring not committing crimes such as the ones Clinton and Bush committed (and Obama continues to commit).
Of course that's not where the rage is directed. Instead it's just another easy target. Minor players. Sick 'em America. Burn your Penn State paraphernalia. Root against its uniquely evil football team. And make sure your Obama 2012 sticker is looking fresh because Obama is going to clean up college football in his second term. Here's the original, unedited:
• Paterno and others showed "callous and shocking disregard for child victims."*
• Evidence shows Paterno, Spanier, Schultz and Curley did know of 1998 investigation and Paterno "failed to take any action."
• PSU let Sandusky retire in 1999 "not as a suspected child predator, but as a valued member of the Penn State football legacy," allowing him to groom victims.
• PSU "concealed critical facts ... to avoid consequences of bad publicity."
• Paterno "was an integral part of this active decision to conceal" and his firing was justified.
• PSU did not alert authorities to 2001 assault. Intervening factor in not reporting was conversation between Curley, Paterno.
• PSU failed to adhere to federal law requiring reporting crimes such as the ones Sandusky committed.

 *Paterno murder victim Abdulrahman al-Awlaki (middle):

ahh, that's where I heard that

BDR got me thinking of Peter Murphy yesterday, who hadn't popped into consciousness in years I'm sure, and as I re-opened the file wondering if it was high school or college that I was listening to that guy, I recalled that my favorite song was Crystal Wrists, the main riff of which is the same as R.E.M.'s Me in Honey, a song I also like quite a bit. I made the connection after I started this post, the original version of which mentioned "an R.E.M. song probably from the Out of Time/Automatic period which I'm too lazy to track down." But I got it done in the end, demonstrating an extreme level of dedication to this blog. Murphy's came out first which means Michael Stipe shares my taste in music.

Monday, July 9, 2012

to share, uhh, your premises

A baseballer was accused of the worst crime imagineable, being a woman, to which he responded "oh no, no, that's not true at all," reaffirming the slander which has come to serve him. The "you're prejudiced" bit from the accuser is fairly amusing, you have to admit.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

burden of poof and the magic firecracker smoke that obscures its necessity

Countless historians on facebook are telling me my freedom is being fought for, which is reassuring, obviously. The detailed pictorial argumentation and precise flag-based analyses got me thinking of the time the raghead tried to kill me with his underpants and the Troop saved me. Every day my freedom is under attack by hill 'n cave people but sometimes I wonder what 'n where my freedom is. I imagine it's something like a king in chess or perhaps it's my johnson (in chess). But what strikes me is just how selfless these people are who want to protect this thing (what?) from these people who want it (who?) for reasons (what?) that are perfectly clear if you stare at the right flag with good in your heart. Aw man, remember the war of irack when the bwah-hah-hajis came after us or the vietgooks who tried to burn down our village and rape our sisters or that Ivan Drago guy who tried to beat up the sausage salesman who had only pugilistic good in his heart? That's what they're talking about.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

full of shit

I remember just where I was when those Iranian terrorists shot down the plane with 290 American civilians. I remember my white-knuckled, red-faced rage when the Ayatollah said “I’ll never apologize for Iran. Ever. I don’t care what the facts are” and I remember shouting at the TV: What is wrong with those people? Why do they hate us? What did we ever do to them?

I was on the toilet, that's where I was, hallucinating, red-knuckled and white-faced as the pain from my bowels overcame me; up was down and down was up and maybe I got the players mixed up.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

government explained

h/t the facebook page George W. Obama (recommended):

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

failing to prevent oneself from actively damaging kids

Even as it struggles with the revelations of sexual abuse and the failure of top officials to act, the Philadelphia Archdiocese, long considered an eminent stronghold of Catholic power and tradition, is being battered from several sides [emphasis added].  NYT
To act or not to act is not the question. The failure to act in this case is an action, ethically speaking. A person who watches someone burn when they could save them is acting. Lying in bed all day is an action. To exist is to act and the active/inactive spectrum by itself tells us little or nothing of these actions' ontological or ethical character but rather speaks to an everyday sensibility that may or may not have something to do with energy, movement, vegetation, animation...it's a distraction relying on semantic confusion...

Ah, but this discussion isn't even necessary here because it's quite misleading to say that "top officials" chose to let child abuse happen when they could have easily prevented it, which would have been horrible enough. They were not put in an unfortunate position, their options limited, victims of circumstances and third parties. They were not caught in the crossfire. They didn't try to do the right thing but gosh-darn everyone makes mistakes. They were not victims. They were causes. They were active in any sense you can think of, normal, weirdo-philosophical, or whatever. They created the problem, as is clear from the same article:
[T]he searing trial...ended Friday with the conviction of a senior Philadelphia archdiocese official, Msgr. William J. Lynn, on a charge of endangering children by placing a known pedophile in an unwary parish [emphasis added].  
The pedophile priests, almost all of whom went to Catholic schools or at least were raised in Catholic homes, are products of the Church. They were vetted by the Church. After demonstrating their predatory habits, they were set up by the Church to "sin" again. (And, come to think of it, this is telling. With the focus on sinning, wrong actions hurt God first and foremost, while victims' pain is always part of a test. Strike that "first and foremost," because this is only about God -- maybe this is a good time to mention that God is an authoritarian parent substitute? Victims' pain can't even be called "secondary" because without God, pain, pleasure, and humans don't matter. Nothing matters. This is why Catholics are so confused when non-religionists argue for humanist ethics. "Why do you care?," they wonder.)

Anyway, where was I? I guess just bringing attention to this propaganda technique: "failing to prevent bad things from happening [that were actually the predictably horrible consequences of one's own behavior]."

Saturday, June 23, 2012


The alcoholic wants to drink and the authoritarian wants to control. Ask either to stop and watch the struggle. The pretense that discipline is for the disciplined embarrasses itself when the authoritarian tries to stop but can't. It's an addiction, you nipplefuckers. You do it because you want to.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

what's good for the pederast is good for the pentagon

‎"The jury also heard from a psychologist who testified that Sandusky has a personality disorder that might explain the "creepy" letters he sent to one of his accusers. The defense also offered more testimony touting Jerry Sandusky's reputation as a family man and community stalwart."  link

X is absolutely perfect all the time. Angelic, ideal, unreal.

If you think X has done something non-perfect you're wrong, and how dare you!

It doesn't matter if you think X has done something horrible or something trivial because this is a dichotomy (when convenient) and, as in baseball, all ties go to the runner.

If you can't prove it beyond a ridiculous doubt, it absolutely didn't happen, and, again, how dare you! Perfection sustained, move on.

If you can prove it beyond a ridiculous doubt -- dichotomy, what dichotomy? Time for hairsplitting: It's not as bad as they say. It was only this much money X stole. It was only this number of people X killed. And they weren't even real people, just semi-sub-people.

Next, of those split hairs found to be slightly ungood, they're not X's fault. Something non-X was doing that, a personality disorder, perhaps, or a bad apple or uncharacteristic mistake now removed or corrected and forever unrepeatable. Forever!

X's perfection has been established. This never happened. Delete. What never happened? As you were, X.

(This defense works better for perps like, say, a massive empire, which can make sure the prosecution's/critics' message is never properly heard and in any case has been in the jurors' homes and schools from early childhood establishing itself as an unassailable part of the jurors' own self-image. Sandusky, on the other hand, is in a bit of trouble here.)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Miller's takedown of Freud

Freud had his famous id-ego-superego triangle. He changed up his terms often, contradicting earlier selves but simply: id is raw, shapeshifting drive. Left alone, it's a tornado destroying everything in its path. Ego is the conscious self. The superego is conscience. The superego can go too far and get people hating themselves for no good reason, but a healthy superego is a good cop controlling the id's harmful tendencies. The superego is the result of early childhood discipline. The child is scolded and the parent's voice gets stuck in their head. While super-puritanical parenting forces the child to repress too much sexuality and is responsible for mental disorders, a good parent scolds mildly for the right reasons and a healthy superego develops.

For Alice Miller, instead of id and ego, there's simply a body; and what Freud called the superego is precisely the problem, the main cause of destructive behaviors. That voice in Catholics' heads, for example, telling them they're worthless shitbags is parents, priests, and nuns torturing them. In its absence they'd just be healthy people doing things like not becoming mass murderers and giving cupcakes to their neighbors for no damn reason. In fact, says Miller, they'd be far less likely to be violent. Violence is not in the body per se, it's in the pedagogy; it gets passed down, by way of pedagogists' behavior, from body to body. The desire to hurt people does not come from any essential aspect of the body, it comes from poisonous pedagogists.

There are clear advantages for the scolders and manipulators to induce subservient behaviors. Sociologically speaking, poisonous pedagogy helps the group live on, for example, by way of a lifetime of donations to the Church. The scolders' hatred gives the ultimatum: donate and be loved or don't and be rejected/killed by your parents. At the same time, the scolders avoid having to face the fact that their own parents abused them.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

i believe in symmetry

Some plans were made and rice was thrown

A house was built, a baby born
How time can move both fast and slow
Amazes me
And so I raise my glass to symmetry
To the second hand and its accuracy
To the actual size of everything
The desert is the sand
You can't hold it in your hand
It won't bow to your demands
There's no difference you can make
There's no difference you can make
And if it seems like an accident
A collage of senselessness
You weren't looking hard enough
I wasn't looking hard enough at it

An argument for consciousness
The instinct of the blind insect
Who makes love to the flower bed
And dies in the first freeze
Oh I want to learn such simple things
No politics, no history
Till what I want and what I need
Can finally be the same

I just got myself to blame
Leave everything up to fate
When there's choices I could make
When there's choices I could make
And now my heart needs a polygraph
Always so eager to pack my bags
When I really wanna stay
When I really wanna stay

When I wanna stay [4x]

The arc of time, the stench of sex
The innocence you can't protect
Each quarter note, each marble step
Walk up and down that lonely treble clef
Each wanting the next one
Each wanting the next one to arrive
Each wanting the next one
Each wanting the next one to arrive

An argument for consciousness
The instinct of the blind insect
Who never thinks 
Not to accept its fate, that's faith
There is happiness in death
You get to the next one
You get to the next one down the line
You get to the next one
You get to the next one down the line

The levity of longing that 
Distills each dream inside my head
By morning watered down forget
On silver stars I wish and wish and wish

From one to the next one
From one to the next right down the line
From one to the next one
From one to the next right down the line

You get to the next one
You get to the next one down the line
You get to the next one
You get to the next one down the line

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

death games

Dying is not as radical a change as it's made out to be. The body does not cease to exist upon dying. Even when it decomposes and becomes unrecognizable as a body the effects of its effects of its effects are felt...forever. Death is the ceasing to be of a unity, a self, and a shift to a different operational principle for a bit of world which, when alive, is called "human".

In any case, as human selves, death is the ultimate either/or because world is fundamentally either/or, from every moment to the next, what repeats and what doesn't, what's created and what isn't, what world comes into being at the expense of what other worlds.

I assume the zebra feels an adrenaline rush upon escaping the lion. It is arguably the highest experience for any self to avoid death, to be right at that edge and see the other side and come back to this one.

Games make sense in this context as an attempt to replicate the rush of death avoidance without actual risk of death (note: except for games that involve actual risk of death). War happens when games are not enough. Every game is predicated on either/or for a reason. Games are sublimated death matches with human rules mimicking life/death certainty. You win or you lose. You get six points for a touchdown, three points for a field goal and so on. There's a fake sort of clarity you get with these human-devised parameters. A tie score lets radical egalitarians like me pretend death doesn't happen. Games without winners and losers are called practice. Nobody wants to watch practice, except as it relates to game performance. Judging is added to figure skating to make it interesting. Art gets jammed into human hierarchies by critics and rankers and American Idol judges. Death is everywhere in human cultures.

more of the same

World has been doing whatever it's doing for..., approximately, ...ever, give or take, or how the hell should I know?, so I hardly think that whatever carbon-based life is, or even whatever human intelligence is, is some radical departure. The main part of being anything at all is existing from one moment to the next, a remarkable struggle that looks easy because no one has ever experienced not-it; it's hypernormalized, "the air we breathe" taken to another level. Humans will tend to look at life/non-life and human/non-human distinctions under a microscope and see huge differences in kind and this is valid, but there's an equally or in some ways more valid picture -- the big picture -- in which one can see all earth-specific developments as more of the same. So when someone makes statements of the form "world wants X," it needn't be panpsychism -- the belief that the non-human world follows human processes; properly understood, it's the opposite -- the belief that human processes are world processes. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The (Extrajudicial) Assassin

That's a good nickname for a guy who supposedly has a good jumpshot. His Republican gym buddies use the moniker grudgingly, his Democrat pals proudly. Hmmm. But let's not forget he loves the gays -- or rather realized they're not so bad after decades of soul searching and/or fundraising -- except maybe when he's murdering them in their sleep. Paragon of fucking virtue, this guy.

friendly racism is still racism and the madonna is just as othered as the whore

Excellent article on Japanese racism by Arudou Debito here

The term used in Japan to refer to dominant culture members is nihonjin (日本人), or Japanese person. This is a racial term. If two "white" Americans move to Japan, become fluent, and have kids, neither they nor their kids will be considered Japanese. This is not disputed. Ask any nihonjin. These "white" kids will regularly be spoken to in English, often even after demonstrating Japanese language competence. Alternatively, their language skills will be complemented with the unstated microagressive message "pretty good...for a white person." The kids of my own loins, for real, are considered "half" (I'm northern European-looking, wife is Japanese in recent lineage), in spite of being born and acculturated in Japan. 

Group habits and tendencies, such as caring about blood type, using chopsticks and commenting on how cute everything is, acquired due to unique Japanese circumstances, such as Japan's recent feudal history and rapid industrialization, its particular brand of top-down Prussian-style education, its physical environment, etc. are granted essential status, considered to be products of Japanese genes, whether or not the racial component is explicitly stated. Japanese media is filled with statements of the form "nihonjins are like X, gaijins (外人 -- foreigners, outsiders, barbarians) are like Y." Yesterday, I learned from the TV that nihonjins are fond of the chord progression "Am G F C." It goes without saying that gaijins who like that progression are not Japanese to that extent, they're simply gaijins who like something nihonjins like.    

If those of us considered gaijin call ourselves non-Japanese (NJ), as Debito has suggested as a substitute for gaijin, we're accepting the racist terminology of the dominant culture and saying "we're not genetically Japanese and we accept that this is a relevant paradigm." But let me tell you, there is no such thing as "genetically Japanese." There is no goddamn Japanese race. (See here or a somewhat simpler version here.) And as long as we use the term "nihonjin" without qualification we're accepting its racial message. You cannot separate race from nihonjin. "Non-Japanese" means "not members of the Japanese race."

The genetic differences between the wife and I amount to phenotypes and fuckall. The actual difference between us, as a "Japanese" and an "American," is that she grew up in Japan and I grew up in the U.S. Instead of dividing the long-term residents of Japan into Japanese and non-Japanese, then, I'd suggest calling them Acculturated In Japan (AIJ) and Acculturated in (wherever). (There's an argument to be made that even this concedes too much, that where and how we were acculturated is also irrelevant, since any judgments based thereon will be matters of pigeon-holing.)

Now to call myself Acculturated Outside of Japan (AOJ) makes some sense in the fake, social construct world of Japanese culture but accepts the Japanese view that there are two types of people in the world, Japanese and everyone else. On this view, I have more in common with a person acculturated in and living in Peru than with my neighbors, even though I share a wide set of daily experiences with the latter, such as going to Lawson's, eating okonomiyaki, communicating in Japanese, etc., while I share far less culturally with the former.

But I share with any Peruvian living in Japan for some time the experience of being considered an outsider in Japan. An apt label for us "gaijin" might be: "considered impure by race for having been acculturated in a place other than the Japanese archipelago, whose inhabitants, having been acculturated rather uniformly to wrongly consider themselves as belonging to a race, maintain their dominant culture status in part by way of this myth and therefore are inclined to perpetuate it until otherwise deterred." This needs an acronym. So within the false narrative the Peruvian and I are a unity, and because this is a dominant culture narrative, the unity is a reality. We really are outsiders because we are considered as such.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

"good reporting"

Like The Onion, the NYT usually jams the entire joke into the headline so you don't have to bother reading the whole thing, or if you do, you'll wish you had that time back, which is my excuse for not linking to this:
Netanyahu Says U.S. and Israeli 'Clocks' Differ on Iran's Threat
How about some quotation marks for that last word? Did they just run out? Sure, "clocks" should have quotes too, but gets them above only because Netanyahu doesn't have an actual war clock in his office. Duh. A good reason for "clocks" to get quotes is that it's a metaphor for an attack U.S. and Israeli bosses are planning. In other words, "clocks" doesn't refer to clocks but to actual plans for an aggressive war. Threats? That would be a weak way to put it.

Iran's (offensive military) "threat," on the other hand, does not exist, and therefore also needs quotes. Or "[sic]" or mockery.

How about this, instead?
Netanyahu Says 'Israel' 'Wants' to 'Crush' 'Iran' ASAP, 'U.S.' 'Dragging Feet'; 'Iran' 'Just Sitting There, Trembling'

Thursday, March 8, 2012

morality play

The passive observer of human drama instinctively looks for someone to identify with. Who's the good guy in this story? To care at all about a story is to find some kind of rooting interest. 

Children grow up watching drama every day -- at home, at school, on TV, everywhere. They're passive long before they're active. They're acted upon. Someone has to fight their fights for them because they're weak. Someone has to get them food, not kill them, not let them be killed.

Children want their adults to be good, to be committed to them, to share their perceptions of things, to do what they would do in the same circumstances. They see in the adult -- their protagonist -- a more powerful version of themselves, regardless of what that person does or what their motives are. The weak do not get to decide. The adult's motives become the child's.

Morality is projected onto every meaningful event of childhood. The good guys are self, the bad guys other.

Adult spectatorship relies on this childlike capacity to project. When you are helpless to change anything, you fall into the old patterns.

I saw this sentence from someone who'd just argued that Bush was the Patriot Act guy, therefore worse than Obama:
I'm not trying to make the argument that either of the last two presidents has been great on privacy.   
Well, the idea that either of the last two presidents wanted to be "great on privacy" assumes that they think like you do, that they're your protagonist.

They are not. They are not. They are not.

Friend 1: "You're not very good at letting me eat that hamburger."
Friend 2, eating hamburger: "I don't want you to eat it. I want it."
Friend 1: "Yeah, but you're not good at letting me eat it!"
Friend 2: "Don't I have to be trying to do something to be good or not good at it?"

From a non-projected perspective, Obama has been great on privacy. He thinks you should have as little as possible, apparently, and he's doing a good job at achieving his goal.

And to the 5 year-old who thinks her parents could be doing a better job of letting her go to bed whenever she wants: they want you in bed at 9!

Monday, March 5, 2012

across this line you will not

Dear Mr. Limbaugh,

We respect your right to make a living as a professional misogynist. Afterall, you provide a service valued by certain people with a disproportionate share of the wealth, this obtained by leveraging systemic advantages against certain groups, like, for example, women.  That these moneyed people, for example, men, want to maintain a power imbalance that favors them is not only understandable, it's the American way. Freedom of speech is great, especially if you can afford it. We respect your right to produce words that push minds towards misogyny and improve the viability of the patriarchal model going forward, thus helping people with misogynist gains to use same to maintain same and so on.

But, c'mon, do not use the "s" word. We will run with it. Laugh's on you, chump!

The Liberals

P.S. Also, the "c" word and the "n" word and the "h" word...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

deception by repetition


99 images of a bearded demon in a nuclear facility accompanied by deceptions like "what are we going to do about the Iranian threat?" spoken in ominous tones by "respected authority figures," mixed in with a missile launch on loop...  


a single appearance on MSNBC by Glenn Greenwald in which he explains that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program and is in no way a threat to the U.S.

Propaganda works because it has numbers and time. It's a Russian winter with millions of poorly armed soldiers. Or a death star that mass produces stormtroopers or something. Its arguments are weak. They are self-contradictory and absurd, at odds with observable reality. Sociopathy reinvents reality to comport with its needs. It thinks like a traumatized child whose psychological survival depends on the truth of an untrue statement (for example, "my parents don't hate me") and proceeds to find proof. Contradictions ensue.  

But 99 demons can beat the hell out of a single accurate statement. The demons have persuasive power mainly because they have numbers. An attempt to manipulate unconscious fears with Freud-derived chicanery would mostly fall flat without control of the "mass" side of mass media. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012


"The World" versus "World"
"The world" suggests to me a thing with boundaries. It points to some outer limits of "the universe" and suggests something beyond. Nothingness? "The world" is a singularity that can be counted. So people speak of possible worlds, for example.

"World" is uncountable. It's what is, now. It's not only these things in my presence. It's what I am and what I'm experiencing. But really, what am I? I'm a configuration of world relating to itself and nothing more. I am world.

Separation is an act of imagination  
Nothing can be separated from anything. If I take a nail and sterilize it and put it on a sterilized table in a white room and run tests on it, I have only distanced it from things things like bacteria and other nails. I can never separate it from world. I can only rearrange world.

Language -- whether everyday, philosophical, scientific, mathematical -- treats world as separable, isolatable. It's based on a suspension of other ways world operates. Language tends to treat "the world" like a box with a number of distinct things in it, then tries to figure out how they interact. Some would call it a lie.

The apparent gap between conscious human experience -- a system flooded with reductions, more so in powerful brains that read a lot -- and other aspects of world confounded Descartes. He called one the subject and the other the object. The subject was transcendent, outside of "the world." Christians believe in a soul.

The imagination works by way of reduction. So, for example, there are no apples, per se. There are configurations of world that the bit of body we call brain calls apples because that's how part of our body relates to other bits of world. The human body needs to change the apple into something else in order to bring it closer and manipulate it. Sometimes followed by action. This is a product of evolution. It's power-over, and power-over has survival advantages.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Obama faith

Obama progressives have a lot riding (everything?) on one proposition:

"Obama is doing the best he can (or close to it) under the circumstances." 

The scenario is something like this:

There's a prison that has one guy in charge. It's this person's job to kill at least one prisoner a day and torture five a day. If he doesn't, he'll lose his job and have to go back to being a lawyer. Now, he took this job, the progressive speculates, because he thinks he can do it with less brutality than the other candidates would have. He doesn't want to do the bad things, and by doing less of them than a hypothetical alternative (a Republican!), he's actually doing a good thing. He'll find ways to torture less, perhaps. He'll pretend he's executed someone but without anyone seeing, he'll sneak them out an escape tunnel while presenting a fake corpse to the bosses. He'll make the most of that space between the bad things he has to do and the good things he can do without getting caught.

You can never finally disprove this.  The believer can always get around demonstrable evil, even things they agree are evil (though they'll try to talk down the level of evil to kinda bad or mistakes), because they've started with their conclusion that Obama is good and all examples to the contrary have a ready-made irrefutable but baseless explanation.   

Most Obama progs I know personally are non-religionists (contradiction in terms? yes, I'm getting to that) so let me back up and use methodology they're familiar with. Here's a hypothesis:

"Obama is just like any other power-haver. Obama does not do anything that will hurt his chances to hold onto power, anything that will hurt his chances for reelection and if reelected, will not do anything to hurt his chances at a (Bill) Clintonian ride off into the bestseller, speechgiving ex-prez sunset. This means he will continue the drug war that incarcerates millions, expand Presidential power, expand the military-industrial complex, expand government control of the internet, etc."

He will do the bad things. He has done them. There is no reason whatsoever to suspect that he's doing them against his will. There is no evidence at all pointing in that direction. He has not done anything, even your favorite thing that you think he's done, that cannot be best explained as having been calculated to increase his own hold on power. In other words, he'd like to kill two prisoners a day and torture six. He does not have bosses per se. He has cohorts and he has rivals. Most people he works with fall into both categories.

Here's another hypothesis: "No matter what happens, I know God loves me. God tests me sometimes, is all. Wife has cancer? The Lord works in mysterious ways. Won the lottery? God loves me. Bitten by a rabid donkey while trying to save a small child? Oh, God, you silly guy. What is up with you, man? Ha, I'll understand when I get to heaven. God loves everyone, as proven by..." nothing, of course.  When good things happen, God gets credit. When bad things happen, God gets excuses. Evidence is not a factor.

Finally: "Whenever Obama does the good things, it's because he's good. Whenever he does the bad things, he's acting against his own will."

God doesn't want to hurt anyone. Obama doesn't want to hurt anyone.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Shock value + the right arguments + production quality + badassness + brilliant music = best anti-imperialist media I know of. Lowkey. Please share.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

human condition-ing

I keep reading versions of this (I paraphrase): "if the state disappears tomorrow, a bunch of gangs will compete to fill the vacuum and we'll end up where we started."

This is true whether you believe that human biology has us rigged to hurt each other at fairly constant rates wherever and whenever (violence is hard-wired) or if you believe that good parenting results in relatively less violent adults and offers hope, however slight, for long-term improvement in the human condition. Either way, current humans are violent and the sudden disappearance of what we call states would not dramatically change the human condition.

In the meantime, it's worth making the case against state violence and its perceived legitimacy -- its normalcy, its acceptability, the wide recognition it receives as either an overall positive or a necessary evil -- because the state is always an excuse for violence and because the more people think about justifications for state violence, the more likely they are to reject them.

The sudden disappearance of states is also a not-gunna-actually-happen hypothetical. Which is important because you don't have to actually worry about it, other than as an intellectual exercise. I don't mean states won't disappear some day, just that it won't be a handful of anarchists taking them apart in a series of coups in our current violent culture, for example, and then having to face an orgy of violence and think "what have we done!". So it makes no sense to talk like members of a committee planning a group action and expecting to reach a set of goals. "Hey guys, what do you think will happen when we set up our anarchy?" There is no downside to arguing against the state. These arguments are not actually going to unleash chaos.

I guess if you really think violence is unalterably hard-wired, you still have problems with a stateless world and with even arguing towards a distant one. Fine. Maybe you're Freud painting the superego as a good cop to the violent id in all of us. The state keeps us in check.

But no, I say, violence makes people more violent. Freud's superego, a product of parental violence, makes people more violent. Freud was horribly wrong.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stoic folly

At its best, stoicism turns a sharp blade into a blunt instrument,
surface area extended, force undiminished,
a new flavor of pain
a muscled beast called life still beating the shit out of you.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

God's omnipotence solved

Apparently Jeremy Lin has a Tebow-like ability to kiss God's ass. And God doth grant him favors in an inconsequential zero-sum game wherein to love a Lin is to hate his enemy. God hates Kobe precisely as much as he loves Lin. Now about those drone victims, is the problem that they're adulating an imposter divinity's rear or that God is busy watching the Knicks?

If I were a religionist, I'd urge an end to these omnipotence rumors. Do you know what kind of dick it makes you, big G, if you can but don't stop the bad things from happening? 

Forget that. God is bound and gagged. Lucifer's got him. He wants to help the little people but can't. 

"But why should I worship him if he can't help me?," asks the self-righteous gooddoer. Well, that's what the end times are about. God's gunna kick Lucifer's ass, and then he'll be able to save you. You'll be glad you bet on him then.     

Friday, February 3, 2012


Evil does not exist on its own. It's simply a word used by humans to indicate some sort of harm. I don't know how anything can be "deeply evil." Sounds metaphysical. "Very harmful" maybe.

I equate evil with victimization. Evil is the strong punching the weak, an adult spanking a child, an adult scolding a child, an adult manipulating a child with praise, drones ending lives, bosses using employees' economic dependence to control them, teachers using systems of reward and punishment such as grades, detentions, and "good job!" stickers to push kids down paths they wouldn't choose on their own, propaganda systematically diminishing opportunities for acting in one's own best interests (not talking about voting); evil is a human or a human system halting, retarding, redirecting the autonomy of another human without an obvious net benefit to the one acted upon.* (For example, if you push someone out of a car's way and they fall to the ground with some minor scrapes, you're replacing a greater loss of autonomy with a lesser one.  A non-evil exception.)

On the other hand, if you look inside the human body for evil, things get a lot murkier, for me anyway. The Alice Miller view, which I subscribe to, locates hate in repressed trauma. Example: Adults beat Stalin badly. Stalin the child, unable to confront the life-threatening horror of the truth, takes on the role of his parents in order to survive.  "I'm bad, my parents are right" can be allowed into consciousness. "My parents want to kill me" cannot. The pain of Stalin the child disappears from consciousness but remains in the body.  The repressed anger is an internalized conflict, internalized evil. Millions die.  If we could look inside Stalin, what we'd find is a miserable bastard fighting for psychic survival.  Which is not to say he wasn't evil. Of course. The point is that he was evil. The evil was in him. It just wasn't the work of a rational agent.

Non-sociopaths follow the same processes, more or less. Here's a hypothetical: A man is walking down the street. He sees someone his size punching someone much smaller. A number of forces compete to determine his action. Fear that he might get hurt himself. Fear that if he doesn't help, he'll feel like a coward or moral failure. Does he feel genuine empathy with the victim and want to fight off the bully with a similar intensity he'd want to fight off his own victimizer? Whatever he does, he'll always end up taking the least unpleasureable path. Even empathy works this way. It pushes him in the direction of using his body to prevent victimization, an admirable but dangerous move. The empathic person feels good if he intervenes in this case, bad if he doesn't. He's selfish. Every action is selfish in this broad sense. Selfishness is not the problem. Bad selfishness is the problem.

Stalin was acting bad-selfishly. The forces that won the competition to determine his actions were not empathic or rational. If you could talk to Stalin and give him the best explanation possible for why he's evil and why he should stop murdering people, anything that would make him confront the horrible truth is at a severe disadvantage. It would be recast in terms of the narrative he has spent his whole life constructing to protect himself.

I was a socially conservative Catholic until I was 20. Two things changed me. I read the Bible** and took a class called Philosophy of God with a Hegelian Catholic professor. I had something of an epiphany. Cognitive dissonance won. I just couldn't believe the old stuff anymore. My defenses were worn down by ideas. The struggle to believe things my judgment rejected was too much. These days I'm more principled and politically less of a dick, arguably. So where do I get credit? For reading the Bible? Taking that class? I did those things to try to re-affirm my harmful beliefs. It just didn't work out.  

Now even if you take the view that most or many or the most important choices are basically like cake versus salad, the thing I know I shouldn't do and the thing I know I should, where I'm a rational subject weighing the naughty against the nice, the complexity of each human life would make it impossible to determine what sort of free choice was involved in the myriad actions in each human life. Which forces were aligned against which, and how powerful they were, what sort of knowledge, this DNA and that environment, how each choice affects the dynamics of future choices. All these factors would change each new cake versus salad choice. All that matters is what real people do, not what a good person would have done in a situation.

Fortunately, these apparent challenges from a basically relativist perspective are not a problem as long as you focus on evil acts. Shredded limbs, rape, and torture are atrocious to anyone whose body has not been put through hell. We all have the same DNA. This is the anchor. The role of choice in Obama's actions is irrelevant and impossible to determine anyway. But we know he's responsible for killing. We know this is evil because our bodies tell us and we listen. We know that he wants to control and dominate and subjugate, etc. To hell with that mass-murderer. I mean the real Obama, not the caricature who's deviously surveying the same world we are and choosing evil.

*Take out the word human and there's a definition of violence. Violence happens when a force halts, retards, redirects the autonomy of another force.     

**Some sects raise kids on the Bible. The kids get used to the crazy. Catholicism raises kids to think God loves them as long as they're obedient and to think Jesus is groovy. They don't emphasize the Bible. You have to be really smart to twist the Bible into a love-y message so it needs to be left to experts.