Of course, when has

the wealthy entertainment elite, from the beatles to lady gaga or whoever one might name, backed the politics of their lyrics with a single dime? many of them are in fact, tax evaders and only spend money on centrist politics at best. one can name a handful who support charities, or become cultural ambassadors, like Angelina Jolie for William Hague, former minister of state under Cameron’s Tory government. Or Bono’s questionable charity activities in Africa. Or the DiCaprio Foundation charity. All worthy endeavors no doubt. And, all safe ventures relative to any Hollywood political fallout.

however, just imagine if even a small percentage of their collective wealth were put to the same purpose as the koch brothers? for even liberal political causes, not to mention genuinely progressive or genuinely left causes.

now, imagine what power cultural consumers have, should they decide to boycott the cultural elite?

the cultural elite are politically compromised, and like Tom Cruise, stash their cash in tax free off shore accounts, and are therefore, basically hypocrites. they don’t give a shite, in practice, about those they sing about. or perform in movies for. they all rake in millions and millions and live the lives of billionaires. along with them. so the ‘politics’ they entertain us with, is just that, entertainment, part of the cultural industry complex, as Adorno and Horkeimer called it. just as the obamas spend their holidays with the likes of Virgin billionaire, richard branson, in bromance, while presenting themselves as ‘progressives’. Meanwhile, delivering TOO BIG TO FAIL global economics, the debacle of housing foreclosures, forgiving the Bush administrations torture policies, while ramping up his policy of extrajudicial assassinations by drone warfare. etc etc.

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Of course, when has

sound, even older school: AND – Israeli and US law of extrajudicial assassinations

London calling to the faraway towns
Now war is declared and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls
London calling now don’t look to us
Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling see we ain’t got no swing
‘Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing

The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in
Meltdown expected and the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running but I have no fear
London is drowning and I live by the river

London calling to the imitation zone
Forget it, brother, you can go it alone
London calling upon the zombies of death
Quit holding out and draw another breath
London calling and I don’t wanna shout
But when we were talking I saw you nodding out
London calling see we ain’t got no highs
Except for that one with the yellowy eyes

The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in
Engines stop running and the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error but I have no fear
London is drowning and I, I live by the river

Now get this
London calling yes I was there too
An’ you know what they said? Well some of it was true
London calling at the top of the dial
And after all this, won’t you give me a smile?

I never felt so much a’like a’like a’like

THOUGH it may be relative:

‘popularism’, has a long history, and for most of that history, it’s been radically left, authentically, if, anarchistically, politically left, and not right. Philosophically right, but not politically ‘right’, it called out the hypocracies of political alliances and monetary deal making.

for the above video, today, the Clash would be assassinated by MBS. an act of extrajudicial justice no doubt sanctioned by Teresa May, as part of her hostile environment program.

so, in that historical spirit, in defense of their prescient take, there could be no greater lawyer than

harvard’s gabriella blum,

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who helped to create the law international law in support of extrajudicial assassinations. and who seems, now, to be somewhat apologetic about it.

[The Israeli government] didn’t want to call their conflict with the Palestinians a “war” since that would recognize the inevitability of a Palestinian state and trigger a number of requirements under the laws of war. But they also didn’t want call it an “occupation,” since then they would be subject to the laws that govern occupiers. Among other things, occupation law would mandate them to use policing powers instead of offensive military tactics like targeted killing. So to avoid doing either, they simply created a new and unprecedented legal category that is, in effect, a new law for colonial dominance.

After 9/11, there was a shift under the Bush administration toward the use of preventive force, as opposed to pre-emptive self-defense, under customary law, or a response to an armed attack under treaty law. This shift becomes the basis of legal justification for extrajudicial assassinations, or targeted killings, outside of hot battlefields.

It was during the Obama-era drone warfare campaign, however, that these changes were really institutionalized.

No other state has invoked the concept of “armed conflict, short of war” in any other scenario, which Israel’s military lawyers admit they made up. Israel wants to be an occupying power in the Palestinian territories, but also claim that those territories are not occupied as a matter of law so that it can facilitate its settler-colonial territorial expansion. That is why Israel has remained in the territories for so long — it has never intended on withdrawing from them.

What are some of the frustrations that exist with the way that matters of Israeli targeted killing policy are discussed, particularly with regard to legal rationales?

Even in contrast to the United States, Israel attempts to frame itself as the more humane face of war because they’ve been legally regulating their war. But what articles like this don’t really mention is that even when defining rules around civilian harm and proportionality, as the PCATI v. Government of Israel decision does, Israel’s military lawyers, ethicists, and practitioners are able to legally redefine who counts as a civilian or not.

Israeli Gabriella Blum, Lawyer, Professor at Harvard Law School


and don’t forget zappa:

Zappa, from Plastic People:

Take a day and walk around
Watch the nazis run your town
Then go home and check yourself
You think we’re singing ’bout someone else…

and as a reminder of political positionality: so everyone stands somewhere, relative to some ethical ‘center’. how political is your center?

new _left_to_right diagrams.001

left-right_historical shift.002

sound, even older school: AND – Israeli and US law of extrajudicial assassinations

To cleanse the palette after the last post

a  partially arbitrary choice. one could cite many other examples no doubt. but the following has been in the wind, so to speak, recently. and it’s not just the music itself, as brilliant as it is. it’s the fact of the commitment of Kronos to commissioning music from composers and musicians from all parts of the world, as well as recording music not generally palatable, that otherwise would not be heard.

so, in sync with GVN:

[and as an aside, i’ve always wondered if there were a connection between Riley’s dream collector and Wender’s Until the End of the World.]

To cleanse the palette after the last post

just to record the event: kavanaugh’s ascension to the highest bench in the US, which in honor of Zappa, should be called, not SCOTUS, but, SCROTUM.

[SCROTUM = Supreme Court Republicans of&for Totemic Ultra Males]

such an acronym in no way is meant to suggest that ‘all’ masculinity is at stake. though some writers on the topic like rebecca solnit, suggest that. as though masculinity were a  singular, homogeneous category, that should be on the whole, summarily transformed. if not castrated. one of the great lessons of second wave feminism was that the category of ‘woman’ was not a homogeneous category. not all men are harvey weinstein. but solnit doesn’t seem to buy that.

so, moving on from the post title: with the proper response. to mark what in the near future may be interpreted as the moment when the US was pushed over the edge by the far right into a final abdication of ‘equality and justice for all’… only time will tell, of course. but any pretense that the US is a just society has now been completely eviscerated. the last semblance of hope that principle has an effect on the bastions of power,  has been entirely unmasked by this brazen display by the power elite. not the first time in US history this has happened, or course. but, it should not be forgotten that, that the only reason that kauvanaugh has been nominated, is because the republicans denied, for a year, obama nominating Garland. so after that, anything the republicans say, is purely hypocritical, and, no less than sinister.

the democrats, pragmatically speaking, are a bunch of pushovers in the face of the war against them. and pelosi and feinstien are to a large degree, responsible for this,  given their respective positions. these ancient women need to be voted out of the house and senate. how long must we wait until the likes of kamala harris and barbara lee have power? but the bigger question is, why is it so difficult to get rid of pelosi and feinstein? surely that is a sign of a broken democratic system. any vote for democrats, seem to be based on some perverse sense of loyalty, no different that the perverse loyalty that sustains Trump. lesser of evil voting practices in part, no doubt. but lesser of evil voting is in itself, evil, because it continues to promote the evil. it never votes for actual change.

this may be a watershed moment, nonetheless. the story is not over. the question remains; how will liberals and the left respond?  I hope Ehrenreich’s hope, indicated below, that now that the entire political machine has been discredited, that this unmasking of the brutality of power, will lead to a tearing of it all down. But I’m extremely  skeptical that that will come to pass. Why am I skeptical? For at least three reasons. social media now has a death grip around the throat of the dissemination of ‘fact’ and its ‘in depth political analysis’; and because the US, to put it paradoxically, has been historically hardwired, by liberals, to descend into the populist regime that is now fully blown; and, thirdly, because the wealth gap is now so great that it can’t be reversed without tearing the system down, without as vast a redistribution of wealth now accumulated since Reagan in the pockets of the so called 1%; which Americans have zero taste for. And even if they did, they have zero will for that; and so won’t being happening anytime in the near future. Blind hope seems to reign eternal in the US. The ice caps will have melted before the US population decides it’s time to do something about it. And the “left”? They have rolled over and allowed themselves to expire. And as much as I admire and have hope for the likes of Ocasio-Cortez, she’s likely only a false promise because the democratic machine is so adept at chewing the likes of her up, and spitting her out, as they did Sanders, through their well oiled, snow blower. within the US system of government, the only hope in the near term would be to establish congressional term limits to rid the system of career politicians; and, impose very strict campaign finance regulations. any president could simply impose the latter. that obama was asked to, and refused, is an indication of how difficult that is. and with the unethical behavior of the democratic party, led still and hopelessly by Pelosi, Feinstein, Schumer and the like, all beholden to corporate America, there is no chance for campaign finance reform because the current systems benefits them too much.

to be a bit pedantic about it, here are a couple of a diagrams by yours truly that demonstrate the way the political ‘center’ shifts, historically. meaning, that the standard terms, progressive, liberal, conservative, shift historically and don’t represent any kind of principled ethic or belief systems. it’s all a mirage of aspiring to success no matter the ethical consequences…

the diagrams below are works in progress… but on the whole, they are approximately accurate, historically speaking. 1945, with FDR was the most ‘left’ the US has ever been. ever since, it’s been down hill to the right ever since. to the degree that liberals have tracked to the right of center, and the left has kept measure with them, at best. the greatest coup against the left was the election of obama, who, by most measures, was to the right of clinton. and with his era defining policy that he could have challenged, but was predisposed not to – his too big to fail policy, altered the global, economic landscape irreparably.  that policy was the equivalent in all ways, in historical significance, to 9/11, but with far more dire, far more long term consequences. let’s hope that it will be less than 25 years before his legacy is determined. that karl rove is an obama fan, just as thatcher was a blair fan, says no where enough, but a lot.


new _left_to_right diagrams.001

left-right_historical shift.002

dear HB,

quick reply, so as not to carry on and on… 🙂
i agree with you, that, my assessment of the percentage of US conservatives is too high… it’s true that the majority of ‘non-conservative’ voters has been larger than ‘conservatives’ at least since SCROTUM handed bush 2 the election…
however, my diagram doesn’t sufficiently demonstrate where the categories of ‘progressive’, ‘liberal’, and ‘conservative’ begin and end, which is very difficult to determine. the latest above attempts to improve on that. each of these categories today are blended. the same voter might have characteristics of some or all of them… what my previous diagram failed to do with any precision, is sufficiently determine where the dividing lines between them lie… what is today called, ‘liberal’, relative to 1945, could be called conservative… and relative to 1776, 1968 could be called conservative… that 3 million more citizens voted for hilary than trump, is not an index of where they lie on the spectrum of progressive-liberal-conservative…. the criteria that separate them is a moving target, historically…
the democratic party is certainly no measure of that… the ‘center’ has moved very far to the right. in any case, i hope the above diagram is a bit better than the previous one…



left-right_historical shift.001

left-right_historical shift.001

Diagrams based on historical facts do not lie, even though they my not get it right. And there is no doubt how much Trump and Netenyahou love each other; nor, is there any doubt about how much they both hate Obama. So the diagrams above simply represents the facts, as far as they can be known or assessed. Even though Obama was more on both their sides than either clinton or reagan would have been.

as for fact, see the recent Intercept article, on Israel’s influence on US, and international, policy on extrajudicial killings…


Extraordinary Measures
Israel’s Gabriella Blum Helped Write the Laws of Drone Warfare. Nearly Two Decades Later, She Has Regrets.

[or does she really?]

some excerpts:

And not just Israel. The George W. Bush administration pointed to the IDF’s precedent in the wake of 9/11 as they pushed the authorization for use of military force, or AUMF — which the U.S. has used to wage its war on terror against Al Qaeda, ISIS, and any future “associated forces” — through Congress. As the New Yorker reported, “Bush’s legal advisers modelled their rationale on Israel’s position against terrorism, arguing that the U.S. government had the right to use lethal force against suspected terrorists in ‘anticipatory’ self-defense.”

In 2007, writing in the Yale Law Journal, Kristen E. Eichensehr, now a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles law school, called the Israeli High Court’s decision “the first authoritative judicial treatment of targeted killings” and warned that it was “likely to influence … the United States—the only state besides Israel to conduct targeted killings openly.” She went on: “The Israeli court’s laxer definition … may be exploited. … What state would have the moral fortitude to be the last adherent to a strict definition of necessity?”

The Obama administration answered that question in 2010, in a Justice Department memo justifying the targeting of the jihadi propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen. The memo directly quotes the ILD’s argument in the PCATI case. “Although arrest, investigation and trial ‘might actually be particularly practical under the conditions of belligerent occupation, in which the army controls the area in which the operation takes place,’” the memo reads, “such alternatives ‘are not means which can always be used,’ either because they are impossible or because they involve a great risk to the lives of soldiers.” A U.S. drone killed al-Awlaki in September 2011 in Yemen.

The next year, then-Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech at Northwestern University School of Law implicitly defending America’s targeted killings program. In his justification, Holder echoed many of the principles that the ILD had laid down roughly a decade earlier. Targeted killings would only happen when “the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack” and “capture is not feasible,” he said, and would only be “conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.”

On the topic of the Holder speech, Reisner cracked, “I could sue him for plagiarism!”

therefore, the following is all the more relevant:

Zappa, from Plastic People:

Take a day and walk around
Watch the nazis run your town
Then go home and check yourself
You think we’re singing ’bout someone else…

Barbara Ehrenreich, author and activist

“It’s the sheer audacity of the insult that curdles my stomach: the transparency of Kavanaugh’s lies under oath, his self-indulgent rage, the faux FBI investigation. The real attraction of Brett Kavanaugh may have been his choir-boy devotion to executive power, which would seem to guarantee Trump’s right to pardon all the gangsters he has employed, including himself.

“A liberal I know bemoans the fact that Kavanaugh’s ascendency will discredit the supreme court. Actually, that’s exactly what I’m hoping for. The presidency has been discredited, the cabinet is a collection of clowns, the government busies itself with the torture of children. As the more intemperate among us used to say in the 60s: tear it all down!”


The only credible music for this event, and worthy of Ehrenreich’s comment,  that I can think of, has been compiled on Zappa’s album, Understanding America. Though it can be found everywhere in his music. But Americans have no tolerance for irony, satire, parody, or, particularly, perhaps especially, for self criticism. Solnit is a perfect case study of that American problem, on the so called, left. Despite the approval ratings for comedy, for example, that does not go very deeply into the American soul. ‘Popular’ America loved Archie Bunker, [so we might imagine and Archie Rebecca],  not because they understood the brilliant satire of that show, but because they agreed with him, despite Norman Lear’s intentions. Only liberals watch SNL or Seinfeld, etc. So it might be argued that ‘liberal comedy’ is part of the problem. Americans, on the whole, are not liberal; they are conservative; and are inured, after all, to ‘American exceptualism’, from which the fantasy of the American Dream cannot be disassociated. Yet, many on the right hold views that even Marx would approve. So the US may be exceptional, but only by giving the finger to the rest of the world. Thus, Trump. And American liberals have bought into that myth, entirely. Just remember that it wasn’t until 2016 that the term, socialism, could be used in public, anywhere, at any time, under any conditions. The ghost of McCarthy is still ever present in the US.

I should note that Zappa’s play with musical forms is parallel to the satire of his lyrics.  Zappa is the quintessential pearodoxicologist. high-low, profane-profound, maestro-fool, serious-ridiculous, pop-classical, opera-cabaret/panto, etc-etc, all find fusion in his oeuvre.

When the music industry began branding albums with voluntary warnings about offensive content under pressure from the PMRC in the mid-Eighties, Zappa wrote a disclaimer of his own, which he stickered on his releases:

“WARNING! This album contains material which a truly free society would neither fear nor suppress. The language and concepts contained herein are guaranteed not to cause eternal torment in the place where the guy with the horns and pointed stick conducts his business. This guarantee is as real as the threats of the video fundamentalists who use attacks on rock music in their attempt to transform America into a nation of check-mailing nincompoops (in the name of Jesus Christ). If there is a hell, its fires wait for them, not us.”

[the above two paragraphs are intentionally lifted from the website of the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame. Though the RRHF doesn’t make mention that he was called before Congress to testify in a case against him for pornography, in which he was defended by none other than Al Gore. Like the case against James Joyce, Zappa won his case, though the latter’s case didn’t reach SCOTUS (which should now, in honor of Zappa, be re-designated as SCROTUM)  that is the theme of this post.

nominations are now open for how to decode the acronym, SCROTUM, even though it needs none… though i’m good with: Supreme Court Rot of the Ultra Masculine….

and, the only letter that’s replaceable really, is ‘R’…

so, Republican, Ruin, Riot, Rupture, and the like…

though UM has potential still…

Zappa, from, Dumb All Over:

Whoever we are
Wherever we’re from
We shoulda noticed by now
Our behavior is dumb
And if our chances
Expect to improve
It’s gonna take a lot more
Than tryin’ to remove
The other race
Or the other whatever
From the face
Of the planet altogether

well, as you will  experience below: zappa has been censored. by whom? well, by apple mostly, and then by, whoever else is anti-Z

etc.etc. listen to the entire album. you will find such prescient lyrics as the following. they may not be ‘high art’ poetry, but they are accurate observations. put them in the context of his music, and they certainly are as good if not better than most.

or, from Heavenly Bank Account:

And if these words you do not heed
Your pocketbook just kinda might recede
When some man comes along and claims a godly need
He will clean you out right through your tweed

(“That’s right, you asked for it, remember there is a big difference
between kneeling down and bending over . . .”)

He’s got twenty million dollars
In his Heavenly Bank Account . . .
All from those chumps who was
Born again
Oh yeah, oh yeah

He’s got seven limousines
And a private plane . . .
All for the use of his
Special Friends
Oh yeah, oh yeah

and he spares no one, not even his ‘own’:

from Who Needs the Peace Corp?

Think I’ll just DROP OUT
I’ll go to Frisco
Buy a wig & sleep
On Owsley’s floor

First I’ll buy some beads
And then perhaps a leather band
To go around my head
Some feathers and bells
And a book of Indian lure
I will ask the Chamber Of Commerce
How to get to Height Street
And smoke an awful lot of dope

I will wander around barefoot
I will have a psychedelic gleam in my eye at all times
I will love everyone
I will love the police as they kick the shit out of me on the street
I will sleep…
I will, I will go to a house
That’s, that’s what I will do
I will go to a house
Where there’s a rock & roll band
‘Cause the groups all live together
And I will join a rock & roll band
I will be their road manager
And I will stay there with them
And I will get the crabs
But I won’t care

tearing the system down, musically, at the BBC in 1968. so much for the Beatles and the Rolling Stones…

ultimately: as zappa suggests, politics forces everyone into the position of i don’t care; which is the end game of politics. so they can rule as elites. while also suggesting that politicians don’t EVEN care. suggesting, pearodoxically, that both the ruled and rulers are to blame for the lack of care. but the battle, in fact is uneven. the rulers won it long ago. yet, the ruled could rise up at any time since they are by far superior in numbers, yet they don’t. thus they are dumb all over.

just to record the event: kavanaugh’s ascension to the highest bench in the US, which in honor of Zappa, should be called, not SCOTUS, but, SCROTUM.

– hinge: uber-hinge even: moondog

for casey s.

it would be a sideswipe to suppose that this bearded Viking of 6th Avenue, NYC, as he was known, rather than by his proper name, Louis Thomas Hardin, blind from the age of 16, a busker since then, would ever be nominated as one of the great jazz composers of the 20th C. but so it is. he stands as one of the greatest condemnations of normality ever, in the US context. thankfully, the likes of neo-conservative, corporate educational institutions like, harvard, have never heard of him. it’s unfortunate, though, that he and zappa never knew of each other.

– hinge: uber-hinge even: moondog