Caleb Powell – Writing & Photos

Archive for the ‘Bullshit Politics’ Category

How Media Inadvertently Helped Trump

leave a comment »


On April 6, 1994, a missile shot down an airplane carrying Hutu leaders Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprian Ntayamira in Rwanda, unleashing the ethnic majority Hutus against the minority Tutsis on a campaign of mass murder. As the atrocity spread, the world debated the nuances of the word ‘genocide’. Three months and at least half a million deaths later proved that, yes, it was genocide. Semantics matter. During the 2016 US election, mainstream media’s refusal to correctly identify bigotry, while perhaps not as egregious as mislabelling ethnic cleansing, has contributed to Donald Trump’s victory. Semantics matter.

Trump’s detractors, and count me as one, remain perplexed. We can’t blame the Republicans, they won. We may ponder hypothetical scenarios: what if Gary Johnson had run a stronger campaign and pulled votes from Trump? Or Jill Stein simply ceased to exist? But this does not explain how the media alienated voters.

Consider Roxane Gay’s post-election analysis in The New York Times:…(more)

Written by Caleb Powell

November 25, 2016 at 8:15 am

PEN World Voices: Should We Boycott Israeli Writers?

leave a comment »

Andrew Solomon

On April 5, 2016, Andrew Solomon, president of PEN America, sent a letter to over 4,000 members asking for comments regarding a call to boycott “two Israeli writers who are taking part in this year’s PEN World Voices Festival.”

Solomon noted PEN’s position, “put forth in 2007…is opposed to cultural boycotts.” World Voices Festival Director Jakab Orsos and Chairman Colm Toibin reiterated this by responding that “PEN and PWVF must always fall on the side of maximum protections for free expressions.” Who would suggest otherwise?

Ethan and Omar: Two PEN members of the Adalah – NY:  New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel. Not surprisingly, many signatories supported religious chauvinism when they protested last year’s award given by PEN to Charlie Hebdo.

E & O make two mistakes. The first concerns their view of Israel-Palestine, but this should be open to debate; the second, though, is their egregious “Campaign.” Boycotts, when just, have merit; when misguided they become soft censorship. Outside of, say, inciting violence (The murder of Ahmadi Asad Shah in the U.K. relates to how Khatme Nabuwwat instructs followers to kill Ahmadiyya), all speech must be allowed. But fascists by nature need censorship to promote their ideas and suppress opposition, for their ideas cannot disseminate otherwise. (They claim they would support Israeli writers, but not under Israeli sponsorship, which is equivocation.)

That Ethan and Omar wish to boycott the only state in the Middle East where Jews can live free from prejudice, women have equal rights, and homosexuals live openly, suggests duplicity. How can they explain that Israel had 200,000 Arab citizens in 1948 and the present day population is 1.8 million while the Arab states’ Jewish populations have, without exception, dwindled? In Saudi Arabia and Yemen there are no remaining Jews. At the same time these two “fascist lites” ignore Palestinian government responsibility for the miserable situation of the Palestinian people:  corruption, refusal to renounce violence, and call for the destruction of Israel. When you ascribe moral inferiority to Israel, without applying your standard to yourself or other nations, you are not only anti-Semitic but a hypocrite.

The error of E & O’s position on Israel is reflected by their subversively fascist view of speech. To E & O, I quote the biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s (who wrote under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre) interpretation of Voltaire’s ideal:  “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Thus we will listen to your views and attempt to counter with superior arguments. You should allow others the same opportunity.

Written by Caleb Powell

April 26, 2016 at 10:25 am

Melissa Chen: Free Speech Destroys Islamic Extremism

leave a comment »

Melissa Chen on Blasphemy

Free Speech:  The right to speak without censorship or restraint except for libel, slander, or inciting violence. Also, to speak w/o government interference.

Expanding Limits:  The present cultural climate of “Psychotic PC” has extended limits on speech to include the criticism of ideas or political views. Hyper-sensitivity to “racism/Islamophobia/homophobia/sexism” has created Neo-McCarthyites aka Social Justice Warriors who believe “My bigotry is justified, yours ain’t.” These fascists must be stopped. To inhibit free speech, as Melissa Chen notes above, is to repress the means that destroys evil ideas.

The Significance:  Donald Trump and Zakir Naik may speak without censorship or restraint, and we will respond with  better ideas. Those who bolster their counterargument with a demand that we limit speech are not only regressive, but lack the strength of their convictions. They are insecure in their ability to debate.

Progress:  Superior ideas win without the need of force of censorship. From ancient days through the Age of Englightenment and beyond, bad ideas needed protection to survive:  Patriarchy, Kleptocratic Regimes/Communism, fundamental Christianity, and slavery were replaced with women’s rights, socio-capitalistic democracy, secularism, and Emancipation.

Three books that incite misogyny/homophobia/and religious supremacism:  If the trilogy of holy books from Judaism/Christianity/Islam went under the same scrutiny that the Radical PC  supporters and Social Justice Warriors demand, these would be the first three books to go.

Moderation:  When religions moderate for the benefit of all, it is because of free speech. As philosophies, religions have much to offer, as ultimate truths they are flimsy. Only free speech can transform ideology in a progressive manner, and thus to want a tolerant and benevolent world is to champion speech.

Related:  These Bangladeshi bloggers were murdered by Islamist extremists. Here are some of their writings

Written by Caleb Powell

April 24, 2016 at 8:53 am

David Shields: “I mean, all you’re doing is fucking me over.”

leave a comment »

From the Los Angeles Review of Books (5:49):

Caleb Powell: Why did you get so angry about the letter?
David Shields:
Good question…I mean, all you’re doing is fucking me over. (Riding Lawn Mower video)
Caleb Powell: …I have a license to antagonize, ’cause anything I do wrong to you will end up helping us.

Our book launch for I Thing You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel at University Bookstore coincides with Charlie Hebdo massacre (52:03):

Caleb Powell: We should bomb the world with images that offend these terrorists
David Shields: That’s a typical sort of Caleb move, which is ostensibly about politics but is really meant to reflect a sort of moral glory on himself.

Written by Caleb Powell

February 3, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Cambodian Refugee Sophal Ear vs. Noam Chomsky

leave a comment »

“Noam Chomsky, Professor, MIT” vs. “Sophal Ear, Professor, Naval Postgraduate School”

“Chomsky uses official KR statements and propaganda as ‘credible documentation’ while dismissing the eyewitness accounts of people fleeing abominable conditions and further states ‘Washington is the torture and political murder capital of the world.'”Nate Thayer – Western journalist specializing in Cambodian affairs. Known for his 1997 interview of Pol Pot.

Noam Chomsky:“…executions have numbered at most in the thousands; that these were localized in areas of limited Khmer Rouge influence and unusual peasant discontent, where brutal revenge killings were aggravated by the threat of starvation resulting from the American destruction and killing.”

(Note:  Chomsky cites magazines, including “a letter to the editor” in The Economist. This quote comes from a 1977 essay in The Nation Distortions at Fourth Hand.’)

Sophal Ear: “I am merely a former Cambodian refugee, for whom English is my fourth language. Yet it does not take much effort to find precisely what Chomsky wrote in 1979 (After the Cataclysm) and to let it speak for itself.”

Noam Chomsky:  “In the first place, is it proper to attribute deaths from malnutrition and disease to Cambodian authorities?”

Sophal Ear:  “While my family worked and died in rice fields, Chomsky sharpened his theories and amended his arguments while seated in his armchair in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I believe that he would probably have me blame the Americans and their bombs for causing everything around the Khmer Rouge to go wrong.”

Noam Chomsky:  “If a serious study… is someday undertaken, it may well be discovered… that the Khmer Rouge programmes elicited a positive response.”

Sophal Ear:  “Since Cambodia, he has expanded his game to North Korea and Bosnia. I must hand it to him – more than three decades after wagging his finger at refugees like myself in ‘Distortions at Fourth Hand‘ (The Nation, 6 June 1977), and later in After the Cataclysm (South End Press, 1979) he continues to quote selectively and to obfuscate.”

(Note: quoting, by nature, is selective. Chomsky, in his 1988 book The Culture of Terrorism, self-obfuscates as he attributes chief responsibility for killings to the Khmer Rouge.)

Noam Chomsky: “Personally I’m very much opposed to Hamas’ policies in almost every respect. However, we should recognize that the policies of Hamas are more forthcoming and more conducive to a peaceful settlement than those of the United States or Israel. So to repeat: the policies, in my view, are unacceptable, but preferable to the policies of the United States and Israel.”

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, 2006: “We will never recognize the usurper Zionist government and will continue our jihad-like movement until the liberation of Jerusalem.” And 2013:  “The gun is our only response to [the] Zionist regime. In time we have come to understand that we can obtain our goals only through fighting and armed resistance and no compromise should be made with the enemy.”

Sophal Ear:  “Indeed, perhaps someday Chomsky will acknowledge his ‘honest errors’ in his memoirs, speaking of the burdens of academia and the tragic irony of history. His victims, the peasants of Indochina, will write no memoirs and will be forgotten. They will be joined by his North Korean and Bosnian victims…For decades, Chomsky has vilified his critics as only a world class linguist can. However, for me and the surviving members of my family, questions about life under the Khmer Rouge are not intellectual parlour games.”

Written by Caleb Powell

March 9, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Holland: The Psychopath Sanctuary – Herman Koch’s The Dinner and the Murder of Greg Halman

leave a comment »

“In the Netherlands, for beating to death a fellow human, you might receive eight years, I figured. It wasn’t much. With a little good behavior, a little raking around the prison grounds, you could be out the gates within five.” – Herman Koch, from The Dinner

On November 21, 2011, in Rotterdam, Jason Halman killed his brother Greg. The tragedy of Greg Halman, a Seattle Mariner and one of a few Dutch nationals to play in the Major Leagues, parallels Dutch novelist Herman Koch’s The Dinner. Both show how psychopathy and mental illness can flourish.

Eddy Halman, Patriarch and Perpetrator of Domestic Violence:  The Halman family trials, told by ESPN, detail violence, envy, and restrictive family ties. Papa Halman played professional baseball. He became derailed by alcoholism, a virulent temper, and a penchant for violence, especially towards his wife. One son, Greg Halman, had special talent. He eventually was signed by the Mariners and made his MLB debut in September of 2010. The other son, Jason, took after his father.

Trouble in Holland: Greg Halman showed promise, and in 2011 had 91 At Bats and hit .230 with two homers. His power, speed, and defensive prowess looked to help the Mariners in 2012. After the 2011 season ended he returned to Holland. There, his brother stabbed him to death in an argument over loud music. Jason Halman was released less than a year later  because he suffered from a “psychoses” that was “exacerbated by marijuana use.” There’s more, as the ESPN link shows, but what a gruesome legal and medical system that gives criminally inclined psychopaths treatment with the aim of freeing them.

The Dinner:  Herman Koch’s The Dinner examines two brothers, Paul and Serge, and their wives, Claire and Babette. Serge is a prominent politician and Paul is an educator on leave. Paul and Claire have a son; Serge and Babette have a son, an adopted African son, and a daughter. The four adults dine at a very expensive restaurant in Amsterdam, where they will discuss the fact their three sons are complicit in the murder of a homeless person, fuzzy and ambiguous footage of their crime is caught on security camera. The African son did not commit the murder, but has evidence on his brother and cousin, and thus is  blackmailing them.

Psychopath Patriarch Number Two:  Paul has a past. He assaulted his brother, his superior at school, and received a “punishment” of paid administrative leave, counseling, and psychotropic drugs. Paul believes the elimination of “scum” improves society, and knows the Dutch penal system favors the criminal at expense of society and the victim. He almost obliquely coaches his son not to feel remorse or compassion. By dessert Claire also proves herself nuts. The finale’s disturbing message:  Most sociopaths, despite their craziness, are sane enough to take advantage of the system.

US vs. Holland: This is tangential, but some people may ask, what about the US? In a previous post, A Mexican Foreign Worker vs. Lila Abu-Lughod, a Mexican criticized Algerian culture. In the comments section a friend, rather than engaging, noted that Mexico had similar problems. This is counter productive. When pointing out violence, sexism, racism, and other societal problems, groups tend to look at others rather than themselves. This is especially egregious when a member of one country or religion feels attacked. They misread an attack on misogyny or other injustice as an attack on them. A pan-humanitarian philosophy can avoid this. No matter how different cultures are, humans are humans. What’s wrong in Holland is also wrong in the USA. Example:  Former Angel Lyman Bostock’s Tragic Death, Ethan Couch, ‘Affluenza’ Teen Who Killed 4 In Crash, Given No Jail Time. and Judge lets Spoiled Teen Killer Off. And so?

Freeing sociopaths is bad, period:  Sending the rich and/or insane messages that you can kill with minimum impunity damages everyone in society.

Written by Caleb Powell

March 6, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Imam Steve Carell vs. Reverend Stephen Colbert

with 5 comments

Tonight’s topic: Islam vs. Christianity – Which is Right?

A transcription of an Even Stevphen skit from the The Daily Show:

Imam Steve Carell:  Islam.

Reverend Stephen Colbert:  Christianity.

Carell:  Islaaaaam!!!! There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his Prophet! Stephen?

Colbert:  Steve, this debate is about religion, let’s discuss it rationally, now…think about it, if you were God would you manifest your divine glory to a shepherd in a cave in Saudi Arabia in the seventh century? Or as the son of a carpenter in a manger in Judea in the year zero? C’mon, use your mind.

Carell:  Stephen, what part of “there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his Prophet” don’t you understand? Look. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that your God is the one true God. That would mean Allah is not the one true God. Which we know he is. Don’t you see your logic eats itself!

Colbert:  First off, it’s not my logic, Steve, it’s God’s logic as written in the Bible, every word of which is true. And we know every word is true because the Bible says that the Bible is true, and, if you remember from earlier in this sentence: every word of the Bible is true. Now, are you following me here, or are  you some kind of mindless zealot?

Carell:  You know, there is one way of settling this.

Colbert:  Crusade.

Carell:  Alright, there are two ways of settling this. The one that I was thinking of – a pray off. You pray to your…god. And I will pray to mine, and we will see which one of us gets smited.

Colbert:  Great, let’s do it.

Carell: Is your God ready?

Colbert:  My God was born ready…er, not so much born as begot-not-made-one-being-with-the-father ready.

Both:  On your mark, get set…pray!

(Both pray. Revered Colbert drags his finger across his neck, “slitting” as he points to Imam Carell)

Colbert:  Done!

Carell:  No no n-n-n-no. I’m done, too, and I appear to be unsmoted.

Colbert:  For now, but let me tell you, when you die and go to hell you’re going to wish you weren’t dead.

Carell:  Hmm. Interesting. And I’m going to be doing that after I go to Paradise to join my bevy of spotless virgins for all eternity. You know, I just want to give them a heads up where I’m going for eternity.

Jon Stewart:  Guys, I’m sorry, I’m starting to think that this religion thing we’re not going to settle in three minutes, so if you can just wrap it up and find some common ground…that would be great.

Carell:  Maybe the Jew’s right.

Colbert: Yeah, maybe so, which is funny ’cause I normally don’t care for Jews.

Carell:  We don’t either.

Colbert:  Really?

Carell:  We seem to find them kind of…scheming.

Colbert:  We’re very big on that too.

Carell:  Really!

Colbert:  Yes.

Carell:  We’re not so different after all.

(Both laugh maniacally)

Written by Caleb Powell

March 9, 2013 at 7:49 am

Letter to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times Regarding the Hall of Fame

with one comment

“I’m not going to let steroids association keep me from voting for a candidate.” – Larry Stone

“Dr. Thomas DeLoughery said Mr. Alzado died of complications of a rare form of brain cancer, which was diagnosed a year ago and which the athlete attributed to his years of taking massive doses of steroids to build and maintain a formidable physique.” – LA Times

I love the drama, character building, and competition sports involves. There are many life lessons. Sports can teach honor, fairness, and respect. I’ve attacked the dorks at KJR for lacking this honor (The Bigger Dance and Seattle Mariners Sign a Convicted Rapist and Felon), and now it’s Hall of Fame time and a beef with Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone:

McGwire, Bonds, & Giambi

Dear Larry Stone,

I respect and follow you in the paper and sports talk radio, but I disagree hugely on one issue. On January 4 you disclosed your Hall of Fame ballot in the Seattle Times. Yesterday the vote came out. You voted for these ten: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Alan Trammell and Larry Walker. You also mentioned that, could you have, you would have voted or given strong consideration to Mark McGwire and Sammy “corked bat” Sosa. This alone should disqualify you from the “Sports Journalism Hall of Fame.”

Biggio, Bagwell, Martinez et al are worthy considerations. But Bonds and Clemens? McGwire and Sosa? No-way no-how not-ever not-in-hell not-in-this world. Never. Drawing the line at Palmeiro, as you did, doesn’t cut it. Here’s why:

PED user Chris Benoit murdered his wife and son, and then committed suicide

No athlete should have to choose between performance enhancing drugs or health. Just take a look at dead-at-43 Lyle Alzado. The harms caused to the user are many:  acne, enlarged prostrate, testicular atrophy, liver damage, hair loss, sterility, not to mention psychosis and violent tendencies, as witnessed when wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife.

Likewise, no athlete who plays fair should lose his or her job or have to compete against opponents who use steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. Ever. It doesn’t matter if others may have done steroids or worse but never were caught or lived in a different age. Integrity now cannot be compromised because dubious behavior has been tolerated in the past. To ensure a richer future in sports, we must change the culture. I want this for my children, Mr. Stone, don’t you?

Therefore, to get into the Hall of Fame, if you think a player used, then he has no place in baseball’s shrine. Larry, your views do not merit the “hate” mail you claim you have received, they are your opinions. But my opinion is that the more people who share your opinion, the greater the harm to future generations. Evidently you are not so naïve to think Bonds and Clemens didn’t use. But you voted for them anyway. Therefore, you have elected to be wrong.


Caleb Powell

Written by Caleb Powell

January 10, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Che vs. Kim Jong Il

with one comment

A big thanks to Deus Do, editor at Reed Magazine, for accepting and publishing my art/poem, “The Glorious Right to Insult Kim Jong Il.” Kim Jong Il is a universally lampooned bozo, from Team America World Police to North Korean propaganda boasting of his shooting 38 under par. No one debates Kim Jong Il’s evil.Two years ago the Rio Grande Review published “Poem in the Form of Che,” a companion to my Kim Jong Il. How does lovable ol’ Che compare to a North Korean goon? Not well.

Ever since I lived in Argentina and read el diario del che en bolivia I plunged off the Che bandwagon. Guys like Pol Pot and Mao and Stalin and Kim Jong Il are easy targets.  Everyone hates them. But why hate on Che-dolf?

Because journals I read and respect, like Guernica, idolize him and avoid any real debate of whether he was a mass murderer. The simple one sentence conclusion: Che started good and died an evil man. Okay, the Che debate deserves at least a paragraph.The same people that are against torture, extra-judicial execution, killing of civilians, these anti-war people often adore and glorify the “legend” of Che. I can understand if you live in Cuba and have been force fed Che-paganda, there’s no free press in Cuba, but c’mon, Guernica, this is the West. We can look at all sides. In Argentina he’s only a “hero” to the far left, to the majority he’s a demagogue. I’ll concede his case falls into the realm of “moral ambiguity” and that he definitely had a humanitarian side. But dig deeper on Che. He should be reviled and not revered.

Reed Magazine, el diario del che en bolivia, Rio Grande Review

“Ai Weiwei Loves the Future” at The Evergreen Review

leave a comment »

Evergreen Review

RIP to Barney Rosset (1922-2012), founder and editor of Grove Press and The Evergreen Review.

Ai Weiwei has had a tough year. He was arrested and mistreated in detention by the Chinese government. Time Magazine nominated him for Man of the Year, and his story of promoting humanitarian causes through art continues. Last spring, shortly after his arrest, I wrote two poems about him, one published at Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, “Double Fuck the Party Central Communist.” The second is now at Evergreen Review. Thanks to managing editor Aliya Tyus-Barnwell and everyone at Evergreen for selecting my poem:

艾未未 – 中國藝術家

Ài Wèiwèi Loves the Future


刘晓波 Liú Xiǎobō

December, 2009: The Chinese Communist Party Central Committee sentenced Liú Xiǎobō to eleven years for inciting the subversion of state power. In 2010 Mr Liú received the Nobel Peace Prize, the fourth recipient awarded the honor while in detention. Ài Wèiwèi publicly denounced the Chinese government’s treatment of Liú. April, 2011: Ài Wèiwèi is arrested.

i. ài

ài  a common surname…(continue)

FRONTLINE VIDEO: 谁在害怕艾未未 = Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei?