franco un american

Workout Log 3-29-17

Good morning, Good Lookin’! I stuck to my word and did abs this morning. I usually do my cardio sessions on Wednesday, but after clocking out at 25,000 steps yesterday I decided it best to lay those suckers up and recuperate them. Y’know, this is pretty nice for me because I can sometimes be so stringent with schedules and routine to point of irritation if I change a single thing. The skill of organization has an ugly side! 

Running in place and jump roping (warm up)
Core Stabilizers w/ dumbbell: 15 lbs 3 x 12
Standing Side Bend w/ dumbbells: 15 lbs 3 x 12
Plank: 60s x 2
Side Plank: 30s each side x 2
Russian Twist: w/ 5 lb medicine ball 45 s x 3
Leg Lifts: 3 x 12
Heel Touches: 60 s x 3
Bicycle Kicks: 45 s x 3
Knee Tuck Crunches: 45 s x 3  

Playlist Picks: Google Music was behaving a little bit better this morning, but only a little bit. Did they put out a borked update or something? When I hit shuffle, it really wouldn’t shuffle. It would just go to a random point in the list and play in a linear fashion. So, I had to keep hitting shuffle. Anyway, I choose NOFX “Franco Un-American and Flobots “Combat.”

It’s nice again outside, so I forsee another walk. Uhm, so we’ll see how this whole “rest your legs” thing works. It probably won’t. 

PYONGYANG, MON AMOUR

North Korea is in the news again. The latest as of this writing is that not only has Sony pulled The Interview from theaters because of the hacker attacks and threats, but Paramount has pulled Team America from showing in theaters from which the former was already recalled. I am also informed that another film about the country with Steve Carrel otherwise just about to start shooting has been cancelled.

Let me say this without any ambiguity: The Interview is a racist film. It is bloated with nationalist chauvinism’s tired clichés about its enemies. It is purposefully inflammatory and the outrage from North Korea is what the U.S. wanted. One doesn’t need to even watch the film to know this for the same reasons that one didn’t need to see Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! to know it’s a sexist film.

North Korea has been a target of western mockery for many years. It’s not hard to poke fun at totalitarianism. But given how serious the current matter is and given the amount of media coverage, you’d think people would be aware of the history of the place. But the media isn’t interested in seriously examining history or broader contexts about this issue.

Korea, after a brutal occupation by Japan, was split in half at the 38th Parallel by the United States and its allies in 1953. This was after a brutal war which took 2-3 million Korean lives. It was lead on the American side by General Douglas McArthur, one of the most savage racists this country has ever produced. Harry Truman had to fire him before he could drop an atomic bomb on China. From the onset of the war until the democratic uprising in 1987, South Korea was run by a puppet government installed and supported until the end by America. During the Clinton Administration, steps were being taken towards reunifying Korea. This was completely reversed during the Bush Administration. Tariq Ali tells an anecdote about a debate he had with a senior Rumsfeld advisor. After the debate he asked this person why they decided to keep Korea split. The advisor told him “You don’t know the South Korean generals like we do. When they talk about reunification you see the glint in their eye and the glint is that if Korea is reunified, they will be a nuclear power and if Korea is a nuclear power, there’s no denying the Japanese the bomb and if Korea, Japan and China all have the bomb, then it will be very difficult to get what we want there.” Divide and conquer. Keep divided and keep managed. Since the end of the Korean War, the United States has kept a massive military presence in South Korea which continues to this day.

There are now 30,000 plus American servicemen stationed in South Korea. In every place in the world where the United States has bases, especially in southeast Asia, soldiers rape, murder and cause havoc often with impunity. This is because of visiting forces agreements, which mean that soldiers are under their own military’s jurisdiction, never the hosting nation’s. Local economies are destabilized by the base’s impositions both ecological and in terms of the soldiers’ wants and excesses. You may have heard of the transgender woman who was recently murdered in a bathroom stall in the Phillipines by an American soldier. He was prosecuted by his chain of command even though there was a widespread call to have him stand trial in a Filipino court. You may also know about the fight by locals in Okinawa over getting rid of the US base there, which has brought staggering ecological damage and harbored soldiers who raped and murdered women with impunity for decades. All of this is the extreme end. What is also unspoken is the limited freedom from U.S. economic, political and military policies and the even less examined social and cultural effects. All of this North Korean planners see and are naturally wary of.

North Korea for all the mockery made of its irrationality, is quite sane in the belief that it is surrounded by hostile powers. The bilateral alliances between South Korea, Japan and most of southeast Asia and the United States are direct military threats. If you somehow don’t think they are, you should be willing to accept that the U.S.S.R., separated from it by the Bering Sea, was not a direct threat to the United States and neither was Missile Crisis-era Cuba. Nearly every country that surrounds North Korea besides China is to hostile to it. There are constant military provocations. Probing of airspace. Parking submarines and navy ships near territorial waters. Incidents on the border. China is its sole ally and provides most of the aid, including food, that helps keep North Korea from collapse. In return, North Korea provides mainly its mineral resources and some agriculture. It is not unlike many other states in the Global South, also called the developing or third world by the less considerate. In some discourses, they’re called peripheral states while the industrial and militarily powerful states are called core states. Peripheral states provide raw materials to industrialized core states. Core states strongarm and pick peripherals’ leadership to ensure their supply of cheap goods. In return these often undemocratic governments, like those of Idi Amin, Pinochet, Somoza, and Suharto get to stay in power. The only difference is North Korea’s imperial master is China, not the U.S.

Crises involving North Korea usually go about in a simple way. First there is some provocation carried out, usually by the U.S. and/or its allies. Some nuclear submarines or aircraft carriers are publicly parked in South Korean waters or a new base, like on Jeju Island, begins construction. The North Koreans respond with a missile test or some other such nuclear saber-rattling. There’s condemnations all around, everyone gets in a panic, and finally some diplomacy sets in. With the negotiation process the U.S. gets to pretend it’s an impartial broker and the North Korean government gets to keep in power and a little aid so its people can stay above starving. Oh, and the U.S. gets to justify having nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers and tens of thousands of troops half a world away from the country they’re supposed to defend.

The Interview is a unique play on the provocation strategy. This has been the recent trend in American aggression: finding creative ways to reduce the need for brute military force to maintain the empire. This is why we have drone warfare. It’s much cheaper to have men with joysticks in air-conditioned rooms in Nevada blowing up wedding parties in Yemen than sending commandos in. This is why we have dragnet surveillance and bulk data collection. Less spies thinking their cover is blown and shooting their way through crowded Pakistani markets to make their getaways. This is why we have films like The Interview. It’s much less dangerous to put out a provocative, racist propaganda film than to park a nuclear aircraft carrier a little too close. It worked incredibly well by U.S. military planners’ perspective. The threat was a 9/11-style attack, which is much less destructive than a nuclear weapon. The damage was a security leak at Sony and some cancelled movie contracts, which is also much less terrible than a nuclear weapon. Nuclear Armageddon, may I remind you, is what is usually at stake in the game being played.

I shouldn’t have to explain why films lambasting totalitarian regimes while glorifying western freedom are racist, but I will. The predictable question posed in defense of the film is “Well, if they’re really a totalitarian state, what’s racist about being accurate about it?” Anyone who’s had to endure racism can tell you it doesn’t end at obviously inaccurate squinty-eyed, buck-toothed cartoons. The caricatures have to come from somewhere and are usually disseminated in slightly more subtle ways. Generally media finds humiliating instances like the imagery around North Korea. It zeroes in on them and ignores everything else. That’s why you have reality TV shows perpetuating stereotypes of the poor, especially black people. Racism in the end is about reducing the other to an abstract threat. It’s about saying the other can be understood from the outside in simplistic ways.

So you have a dictatorship like in North Korea which is humiliating enough for its own for its people. U.S. media crows about the Kim dynasty’s vanities like he’s an NBA player. They constantly reminds us what a weak, backwards, primitive, dangerous and controlling little country North Korea is and how we have to contain it.  By contrast, they remind us, the U.S. is a strong, forward-thinking, modern, secure and free superpower and ‘we’ have every right and indeed an obligation to promote that freedom around the world. It is the same damned thing with every “other” out there. Putin, Hussein, Bin Laden, Ho Chi Minh, you name it. It’s racism at its most elementary because the point is to make people think of “North Korea” the threat to American security with its crazy leaders and inept though frightening weapons and forget about North Korea a country with a people who have a history the United States did a hell of a lot to create and a miserable status that the U.S. perpetuates. Arguably more important than making an ideal other, it makes people think of the “America” that fights for freedom and justice around the world, not the number one terrorist state in the world where cops and soldiers murder and torture with impunity.

What is shocking to the mainstream media about this affair is the fact that North Korea is capable of cyber attacks. The racist assumption here is of course that North Korea is too backwards, too primitive, too refusing of superior western ways to be capable of pulling off such an attack. I’m reminded of what Edward Said said about the 1967 Israeli-Arab war; how the western media was full of empty orientalist rhetoric about how the Arabs can’t fight and they’re too cowardly only to be shocked when Egyptian army crossed the Jordan River and proved they could fight just like anybody. Of course if it was as easy as proving people wrong, racism would have been over as soon as it started. Racism, this kind in particular anyways, continues because it reinforces the belief systems that are created to guide and justify American foreign policy and bait its adversaries into the endless cycle that it dominates and controls.

Now of course I haven’t seen the film as I’m sure most people haven’t. I suppose if you haven’t been paying attention, you can question my judging the film as racist that way. Well, if you are, let me first point to the absurdity of defending a film where the heroes are supposed to be morally in the right for assassinating a leader—any leader—to destabilize and change the regime in a country that isn’t even their own. The fact that America thinks it has the right to do this is incredible enough. The fact that they do this regularly anyway and brag about it with films like this is itself a pattern of terrorist tactics.

But even if you ignore the absurdity of the film you’re trying to defend, there’s still the picture it presents of North Korea: of a totalitarian state with a self-aggrandizing buffoon as a leader. As an aside, this is the same picture of a ‘Communist’ country the United States has used as a foil to its “free” market and “free” press. The description of the North Korean figurehead isn’t inaccurate, but if you don’t ask what that portrayal leaves out, you’ve failed to see the whole picture. Ask yourself this: does this film showcase the real and legitimate anxiety of a country with tens of thousands of a hostile nation’s troops at its doors? Does it show anything about what the people in this country really think of its leadership? Does it show the constant, punishing economic blockade that North Korea faces because of the U.S.? If you think the film being an hour and a half or two hours isn’t enough time to cover all that, which is a pretty weak excuse anyways, you still have to ask: Why this portrayal of North Korea? What informs it? What’s the point of a story like this? I don’t think the answers to these questions are innocent at all.

The last, or should I say first bastion of defending racist propaganda like this, especially if it’s funded by a massive corporation like Sony, is free speech. The first amendment is abused and transformed into a pretty incredible bludgeon for all sorts of people who want impunity for their actions. The idea of reducing this affair to a free speech versus censorship issue is starting to prove one of my suspicions: that chauvinistic, hatemongering people are beginning to use the tactics of the gun “rights” crowd’s rhetoric as a model in their bid to warp the concept of free speech to their agendas. But that’s a whole other analysis.

The general idea here is that Sony caving to threats and cyber attacks sets a precedent that making fun of North Korea is off-limits and thus wears away at free speech. It makes free speech seem like a besieged country we live in that we’re slowly ceding territory from, which is ridiculous. It does free speech as a principle no harm to ask these questions: Free speech for whom? To make what kind of statements with what intent? At whose cost? For whose benefit? I have to ask those so righteously concerned with free speech here where their concern is for the very unambiguous assaults on free speech taking place today. Where were you for the whistleblowers and journalists as the Obama Administration threatened and jailed more of them than any other presidency? Where is your concern for Chelsea Manning’s free speech? Where is your support for the people who protest outside of UN climate talks who can’t use the words “Keystone XL” on their signs when John Kerry’s in town? Where are you for the people in democratic countries like Japan who want American military bases out of their countries yet whose voices are continually suppressed in mainstream media? If you’re so concerned about a major media corporation’s right to free speech but not these issues, I have serious doubts about your motives.

The other argument is that caving in to these attacks validates the practice of terrorism.  First, my answer to that is if you’re so concerned about not letting terrorism be a viable tactic, I suggest you tell the United States to stop terrorizing people around the world with its bases in 75% of all countries, massive torture center networks, dragnet global surveillance, economic thuggery by the WTO, World Bank and International Monetary Fund, ships and planes and submarines threatening nuclear holocaust and carpet bombing on anyone who opposes its policies and the rest of the obscene terrorist project that is the maintenance and expansion of its empire. In my opinion, if you want terrorism to be an illegitimate means and yet you ignore the biggest terrorist state in the world, you have absolutely no legitimate arguments to make.

But that doesn’t address the argument about legitimating terrorism by caving into demands. I won’t address this in a massive amount of detail, but I’d advise you to study the history of the kind of terrorism, usually by nonstate actors, that you’re so keen to oppose. The vast majority of what constitutes terrorism in the popular imagination is carried out by desperate people who come from from desperate situations. 9/11 and essentially all radical Islamist attacks for example were and are carried out by people from states whose governments are undemocratic and rely completely on western support in exchange for oil and other resources. Saudi Arabia is the prime example. These are desperate people whose actions are a product of the violent situation imposed upon them.

I can and will say I condemn all attacks and threats of attack, including those by North Korea or hackers associated with North Korea. But if you stop at condemning North Korea for this, you ignore the source of and thus impede any solution to the problems that creates such violence. Under international law, ‘aggression’ is the supreme crime encompassing all others. It is defined as the use of force or threat of force. If you think it’s okay for the United States to have the right to commit what under international law are acts of aggression but you condemn Al Qaeda and North Korea for such actions, I can only assume it is because you think the United States is better and more moral than other countries. Thinking your country is better than others and thus has the right to do to them what they can’t to you is textbook nationalist racism. There is absolutely no historical basis for such an assumption. I cannot state it more clearly: thinking that your country is morally superior to another is a racist belief.

I’m pretty sure Seth Rogen and James Franco aren’t going to read this, but if you two are, you should be ashamed of yourselves for being pawns in this vicious game. So should the hackers sending terror threats. I’m no Ghandian but I don’t agree with Frantz Fanon, either. I don’t think armed conflict or acts of terror are practical or productive. As I’ve said before, they’re usually desperation tactics; actions taken by people who don’t think they have any other choice.

Lastly, the ‘you’ I’m really here to address. If you’re one of the people who’s all hyped up in jingoistic free speech rhetoric about The Interview, all I can say is that whatever “victory” against the forces of North Korea and the spectre of censorship you end up getting out of watching this vile racist trash is as pathetic as the image of that struggling little country you feel so superior to. If you’re feeling a bit embarrassed for being excited about this film, good. You should be. I hope you re-evaluate how you think about these things.

I never thought about the universe, it made me feel small
Never thought about the problems of this planet at all 

Global warming, radio-active sites 

Imperialistic wrongs and animal rights! No!


Why think of all the bad things when life is so good? 

Why help with an ‘am’ when there’s always a ‘could’?

Let the whales worry about the poisons in the sea 

Outside of California, it’s foreign policy 


I don’t want changes, I have no reactions

Your dilemmas are my distractions 


—  NOFX
Franco Un-American - NOFX

I never thought about the universe, it made me feel small 
Never thought about the problems of this planet at all 
Global warming, radio-active sites 
Imperialistic wrongs and animal rights! No! 

Why think of all the bad things when life is so good? 
Why help with an ‘am’ when there’s always a 'could’? 
Let the whales worry about the poisons in the sea 
Outside of California, it’s foreign policy 

I don’t want changes, I have no reactions 
Your dilemmas are my distractions 

That’s no way to go, Franco Un-American 
No way to go, Franco Un-American 
No way to go, Franco Un-American 
No way to go, Franco, Franco Un-American 

I never looked around, never second-guessed 
Then I read some Howard Zinn now I’m always depressed 
And now I can’t sleep from years of apathy 
All because I read a little Noam Chomsky 

I’m eating vegetation, 'cause of fast food nation 
I’m wearing a couple of shoes 'cause of globalization 
I’m watching Michael Moore expose the awful truth 
I’m listening to Public Enemy and Reagan Youth 

I see no world peace 'cause of zealous armed forces 
I eat no breath-mints 'cause their from de-hoofed horses 
Now I can’t believe; what an absolute failure 
The president’s laughing 'cause we voted for Nader 

That’s no way to go, Franco Un-American 
No way to go, Franco Un-American 
No way to go, Franco Un-American 
Where can we go, Franco Un-American 

I want to move north and be a Canadian 
Or hang down low with the nice Australians 
I don’t want to be another 'I-don’t-care-ican' 
What are we gonna do Franco, Franco Un-American


I never thought about the universe, it made me feel small
Never thought about the problems of this planet at all
Global warming, radio-active sites
Imperialistic wrongs and animal rights! No!

Why think of all the bad things when life is so good?
Why help with an ‘am’ when there’s always a 'could’?
Let the whales worry about the poisons in the sea
Outside of California, it’s foreign policy

I don’t want changes, I have no reactions
Your dilemmas are my distractions

That’s no way to go, Franco Un-American
No way to go, Franco Un-American
No way to go, Franco Un-American
No way to go, Franco, Franco Un-American

I never looked around, never second-guessed
Then I read some Howard Zinn now I’m always depressed
And now I can’t sleep from years of apathy
All because I read a little Noam Chomsky

I’m eating vegetation, 'cause of Fast Food Nation
I’m wearing uncomfortable shoes 'cause of globalization
I’m watching Michael Moore expose the awful truth
I’m listening to Public Enemy and Reagan Youth

I see no world peace 'cause of zealous armed forces
I eat no breath-mints 'cause they’re from de-hoofed horses
Now I can’t believe; what an absolute failure
The president’s laughing 'cause we voted for Nader

That’s no way to go, Franco Un-American
No way to go, Franco Un-American
No way to go, Franco Un-American
Where can we go, Franco Un-American

I want to move north and be a Canadian
Or hang down low with the nice Australians
I don’t want to be another “I-don’t-care”-ican
What are we gonna do Franco, Franco Un-American