Well, well, well.
Fuck it. Today is officially Dr. Strangelove Day, in honor of the Kubrickian insanity at work in Newsworld. In that vein: George C. Scott was never, ever better than his Curtis Lemay turn as Air Force General Buck Turgidson. “Well, I hate to judge before all the facts are in,” he says to President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers, in one of three roles), just after the President says that another air force general who launched an impromptu nuclear attack on the USSR is “clearly insane.” The deadpan is what does it.
Thus: “I hate to judge before all the facts are in,” but it appears that the auteur who most influenced Operation, ahem, Swarmer was not Kubrick, but rather Eisenstein. And with that, I turn it over to the ever-interesting Pat Lang, and the always-amusing James Wolcott.
I am not, by habit, a naïf, and unlike some antiwar commentary I’ve read, I don’t propose to be shocked, shocked that the American government would stage the most expensive third-grade pageant in recent memory in order to convince Ma and Pa McHomeland that we’re winnin’ ‘gainst the turists in Ah-rack. It’s the halftime show in a game on which the hometown fans have already soured, designed to convince the folks in the bleachers that the price of admission was worth it, and that they ought to stick around for at least another quarter. Meanwhile, the suits in the skyboxes are calling their car services and planning to beat the post-game traffic.
I don’t think it’ll work, but like Wolcott I find myself nodding in weary resignation as the nations elite media once again pulls on the combat boots and awakes the postmenopausal television colonels—“military analysts” and such—from their cryogenic slumber. Wolf Blitzer, whose style of interviewing calls to mind that line from Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation, “Ouisa is a dada manifesto,” simply could not conceal his giant erection. Joking aside, it’s absolutely astonishing how quickly a man who shares a name with a Duran Duran song can blossom into a vast, seething stew of moronic priapism at the marginal possibility of an actual battle.
The actual battle never came, of course. They might as well have filmed Tonka toys in stop-motion. I’m sure that Victor Davis Hanson, the Bard in the Belfry, who’s like a polyp on the colon of the legacy of Thucydides, would be less impressed, and the opportunities for gaseous cable-news catechisms with the Geriatric Generals would be somewhat reduced. But honestly, people are already calling the whole charade a Potemkin operation, and anything that lends itself that easily to cliché is bad, bad news indeed.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Well, well, well.
Via Crooks and Liars: a clip of Bill Schneider on CNN giving mad props to Jam-Master Fine Gold.
For those of you more inclined to conspiratorialism, and I know you're out there, it's worth it just to watch Wolf "My Beard Distracts from My Preposterous Name" Blitzer in the opening seconds, as he stands in front of an image of the towering Freemasonic phallus of the Washington Monument and intones, Re: Sen. Feingold, "Could he skewer his own party with that lance of his?"
Pat Robertson should be all over this.
GEN. JACK D. RIPPER: Did they torture you?I know that the merest suggestion of undirected brutality at the heart of the American military’s apparent predilection for torture gives Chucky Krauthammer and the No Girls Allowed Club the vapors ‘n’ faints, but honestly now . . .
GROUP CAPTAIN LIONEL MANDRAKE: Ah... yes, they did. I was tortured by the Japanese, Jack, if you must know. Not a pretty story.
RIPPER: Well what happened?
MANDRAKE: Oh... well... I don't know, Jack. Difficult to think of under these conditions. But, well, what happened was they got me on the old Rangoon HNRR railway. I was laying train mines for the bloody Japanese puff puffs.
RIPPER: No, I mean when they tortured you, did you talk?
MANDRAKE: Ah, oh no, I ah... I don't think they wanted me to talk, really. I don't think they wanted me to say anything. It was just their way of having... a bit of fun, the swines. Strange thing is they make such bloody good cameras.
Paintball practice? It’s as if the Pentagon intentionally reinvented itself as the al-Qaeda Western Marketing Division.
Jim Henley, who seems intent on becoming the Medici to my Miniver, which is probably to the discredit of his otherwise impeccable judgment (but I ain’t complainin’), says this in response to my labeling the Bush genetic bouillabaisse as our future hereditary oligarchy:
My concern remains that we’ll skip straight to some sort of state-capitalist analog of Brezhnev-era Sovietism without bothering to go through all the excitement and bother of purges and famines. Which has to count as a small blessing, though I think it takes some tang out of the parades.And we do love a parade.
Joking aside, I happen to share that concern, though I’m obliged to admit that with every passing dip into the bottomless pool of filmic and documentary Third-Reich-ery, I feel a knot of recognition in my stomach. (As a necessary housekeeping note: this site is a Godwin-Free Zone. Nazi analogies can certainly be tawdry, hysterical, or otherwise inaccurate, but at the root of most objections to the raised specter of National Socialism, the concern isn’t that such comparisons are overstated, but rather that they’re effective.) In any event, I think Jim is right; Americans haven’t the inclination for Nazism or Stalinism, or whatever their modern equivalents might be. National Greatness, as the David-Brooksian turn of phrase goes, isn’t a project that inspires what Mencken used to call “the plain people,” despite the fact that our government seeks some kind of psychic connection with Joe and Jane McAmerican by buying all that Greatness on credit, presumably under the misapprehension that in twenty years TaWonda at the Credit Consolidation and Bloodletting Hotline call center will help to simplify those debts into a single, easy, monthly fee. Greatness isn’t a project; it’s a positive symptom of justice, fairness, legality, prosperity, etc.
I’m rambling. The point is that yes: if America resembles any prior political system, it is late Sovietism, just as the wheels were beginning to come off, when the leadership and devoted commentariat could still believe in the expansion of influence and in ideological victory around the globe even as the People, in the memorable words of Soviet Ambassador Alexi de Sadesky, grumble for “more nylons and washing machines.”
But as I’m not Arthur Silber, I haven’t the intellectual wherewithal to actually dive into diagnosing our current cultural malaise. I’m just capering over the surface like a water bug, which is why the real point of this post is to ask you politico-literary types, wherever you are, if George Bush doesn’t increasingly strike you as an honestly tragic figure. Personally, I see more MacBeth in him every day, though Danger Dick Cheney makes about the ugliest Lady I’ve ever seen. That is to say that Georgey's monstrous over-belief in his own capacity to do anything seems surely to have been inculcated in him by other schemers, and it’s also to say that his special hamartia isn’t overweening pride so much as overabundant gullibility. First he believed that he could rule, then that he should, and finally he believes that he must. And that’s a dangerous thing indeed when your catalyst is crazy and gets over the damned spot by getting out the birdshot.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Well, I'm a little late to the party.
There used to be such a thing as a Jewish intelligentsia in this country, and I'm fairly convinced that it was ruined not by encounters with the much-maligned and little-understood Leo Strauss, but rather by the prose style of Saul Bellow. (Which is perhaps a fancy way of saying that I blame Chicago.) What are neoconservatives, after all, but a bunch of retrospective Ravelsteins? Frankly, I suspect Allan Bloom would've had nothing to do with these jokers and would've mocked their various certitudes. But he's dead, and the thing about legacies is that they belong to everyone but their possessors.
Anyway, Wieseltier is a pompous ass. Obviously. And I'm certainly not going to be the one to claim that Judaism in America--particularly the intellectual sort--was entirely without pomposity prior to Bellow writing, "I am an American. Etc. Etc. Blah blah blah." But I am claiming that guys like Wiesletier read Bellow's "first to knock; first admitted" prose and decided to drop Diaspora and plug themselves into the American rough-and-tumble. The single most defining characteristic of Jewish thought, as I see it, was its unrelenting embrace of the interrogative, even when making a pronouncement. And that, folks, is why Jewish parody involves turning every declarative into a question with a rising tone at the end and a what comma at the beginning. As in: "What, you're telling me that Leon Wieseltier doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about, especially when he's talking about Hume?"
Wieseltier et al. decided to jettison all that and horn in on that mood of American pugilism, and when he runs into someone asking impertinent questions about the origins of belief--something he holds rather dear, apparently--he lacks the confident humor to shrug and offer a prayer for the Tzar. Instead, he's got to get all neologistic on us and start throwing elbows at something called scientism, which one presumes to related to science in the same manner as alchemy to chemistry, astrology to astronomy, and so on. He throws -isms around like a boxer jabs, and for all the pretense of intellectual fisticuffs, he comes off as more than a bit punch-drunk, as if the task of standing athwart the rising tide of atheistic materialism has left him a little weak in the knees and woozy in the head. What, you can't take the heat? What, you need to get out of the kitchen?
Wiesltier didn't like Daniel Dennett's project of examining the origins of faith. "You can't disprove an idea by studying its origins," he cries. That may be true. But just this morning, one of the downtown homeless with whom I sometimes converse about the more pressing questions of space aliens in government and international Freemasonry gave me a piece of cardboard ripped from a box and scrawled with the equation, Bill Gates = Christina Aguilera. I examined its origins, and I decided it was disproved.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
I'm rapidly losing my capacity to believe that the downward-gyre of the Febrile Crescent © and its neighbors to the . . . well, in every direction, can simply be chalked up to the unintended consequences of idiocy backed by big sticks. Take this latest dispatch from the environs of South Narcostan. Now, I know that argument by anecdote is weak methodology indeed, but the image of two soldiers driving sixty kilos of heroin directly from the capital city is too potent to pass up. 90% of the world's heroin?
And here I thought the Afghanis just grew the shit for their millenia-old tribal brunch rituals:
First a stipulation: I support a national health-care program. So far as I can tell, the best argument against it boils down to "people in Canada and the UK have to wait." Ye gods! Because queues are unknown in the American system. I lived in France for a time, and with the exception of the top-flight American transplant programs (speaking of waiting lists), I would much rather seek treatment for illness, injury, or other infirmity there than anywhere else in the world. The facilities are superb. The staffs are superb. Tout est bien. I say this as someone with a better health plan than 99% of Americans. Do you still have 100% coverages? I do. And still . . .
"But IOZ, aren't you a self-professed libertarian?" Well sure, but I'm not a dogmatist. Doxologies are for intellectual pansies (says the gay guy). As my favorite uncle told me when we used to carpool to work together: "Every libertarian is a hypocrite the moment the back wheels of his car leave the driveway and hit the city-maintained road." Hear, hear. Regarding health care, I'll say this much: I susbscribe to John Rawls doctrines (perhaps the wrong word) of fairness and justice. For most of human history medicine was primitive and ineffective, and therefore hardly a predicate for reasonably equitable opportunity. But ever since the advent of universal vaccination in the West—and more acutely every passing year since—access to medicine and the fruits of medical science has become a fundamental element of a free and fair society. Besides which, modern medicine is phenomenally expensive to develop and to deliver, and I’m a realist: I believe in the power of economies of scale.
Regardless of your personal beliefs about the desirability and viability of state-run (or at least state-funded) healthcare, the essential fact remains: the State is in the healthcare racket. More specifically, the states are in that racket. Don’t believe me? Go spend an hour in the billing and coding department of your local hospital. Like any other racket, the racketeers may be dishonest, they may be incompetent, they may be bureaucrats, and they may be sons of bitches, but they still have some obligation to protect the folks paying the protection money. Ergo, this nonsense really pisses me off, because the states are also in the welfare and social service racket, and every unwanted kid born to a poor single woman is an additional set of costs, as well as an additional precious, extra-special, unique, et al. soul worthy of rights and dignity and so forth and so on.
What’s particularly galling is the tone of moral uplift adopted by the opponents of contraception. Were that Mencken were alive today to hurl cats at these Pharisees. Promotes promiscuity? Please. I’ll tell you what promotes promiscuity: penises and vaginas, often if not exclusively in combination. The notion that denying contraceptive access to the poor will somehow positively reinforce the values of chastity and continence is so laughably stupid and so ignorant of basic human nature that I’m tempted to throw my standard politic speech to the wind and pronounce it, in my best cracking middle-school voice, totally retarded. If it didn’t work for Augustine, it’s sure as hell not going to work for some poor woman in a menial job with a deadbeat boyfriend who says he loves her and then leaves her post-quickening. What kind of deranged Puritanical revanchist proposes simultaneously to rid the world of abortions and to rid the world of any means to prevent unwanted or unplanned pregnancy short of the total suppression of the sexual drive? It’s a moral monstrosity.
Perhaps beyond the shadows on the walls of the cave, the perfect forms of the poor caper through fields in abstinent, loin-less joy. For those of us still chained in the cave and watching the silhouettes thrown by flickering firelight, however, the only possible outcome of this dunderheadedness is the further perpetuation of generational poverty, which we all pay for, and which, as a goddamn libertarian makes me pretty goddamn mad.
Never before in my lifetime did I find it even remotely possible that our country could fight another civil war. But I’m beginning to think that a (non-violent) civil war is coming—and that, frankly, it needs to happen. How it transpires, I have no idea—though I suspect migration patterns and a strong move to re-affirm federalist principles could provide the groundwork.
-Jeff "Not that Protein Wisdom" Goldstein
At the risk of calling down the retributory gods of unintended racism, the question must be asked: Nigga what?
In his other life, Jeff Goldstein is the author of perhaps the most unspeakably terrible experimental fiction this side of Alice B. Toklas. The linked piece is titled "Unlimited Semiosis"--do with it what you will--and it reads as if Mistah Kurtz got hold of Italo Calvino and tortured him into dictating some prose. The story is dedicated: "For Umberto Eco." Dear sweet Jesus, I hope no one ever mentions that to Maestro Eco; he might see fit to feed it into his own personal Abulafia just in order to see if it comes true.
Of course, Goldstein does sound a lot like the sort of crackpots that populate Eco's fiction, so maybe I'm missing some deep level of intertextuality in his weblog work. Frankly, I'm flummoxed: how do migratory patterns lead to a strong reassertion of federal principles which lead, in turn, to the nation fighting (sic) a non-violent civil war? He makes it sound as if packs of Federalists and Anti-Federalists are out roaming the Great Plains, following the buffalo and occasionally confronting each other with brutal . . . Sit-ins? Boycotts?
This is precisely the fantasia that the self-identified sides of the American political dichotomy engage in ceaselessly, egged on by a media culture desperate to commodify information and to reify political identity as characterological destiny. It requires degrees of cultural solipsism that I find difficult to fathom. Partisan warfare? Migration patterns? This is what a civil war looks like. There are caskets. There are graves.
I don't mean this uniformly to impeach domestic political concerns, nor to diminish the very real threats to American democracy (already, perhaps, beyond the point of recovery) currently roiling within our own borders. I don't mean to suggest that I disapprove of action to undermine the assinine authoritarianism of the current GOP. But let's get real: there are problems, and there are problems. The fact that the former bears some responsibility for the latter doesn't mitigate the fact that the domestic woes he causes are comparatively minor. We should do what we can to get rid of the Petulant Prince, but let's not lose sight of the fact that the man is most expressly not the policy, lest we fall into the same preposterous personality cultism that equates DJ G-dub with . . . whatever it equates him with on a given day.
Regardless, I leave you with this thought, courtesy of Mr. Amino Acids himself:
But then, today’s liberal-Democrats are nothing but opportunistic and increasingly reprehensible tin-plated Macchiavellians; to many of these people, rhetoric trumps truth; spin is paramount, and power is all.There are many, many things worth condemning in liberal Democrats (or liberal-Democrats). But I gotta tell ya, affinity for power doesn't seem to be one of them at this particular juncture.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Via Roy Edroso, who limns the lamentable tale better than I would be able, we find Dr. Helen doing a Zola routine with a heartfelt J'accuse!, explaining how the APA are a bunch of discriminatory muthafuckas for--get this!--failing to give their official approbation to the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. (Word to the wise: It is foolish to concoct an acronym that rhymes with "Darth" if you wish you avoid Faustian-Luciferian connotations.)
Her post is delightfully entitled: "If You're Gay--You'd Better Stay that Way." And yes, it pains me to see a presumably literate person substitute an em dash for a comma in what ought to be an if/then construction. But that, children, is blood under the bridge.
Dr. Helen climbs and dives around a thesis like a scene straight out of Hell's Angels. She accuses the APA of the dread practice of activism for not offering its professional imprimateur to some new process of degayification, though I'm hard-pressed to determine how inaction constitutes activism while positive endoresement would not. The APA--and, needless to say, the "militant gays and lesbians"--are involved in some kind of crypto-activist conspiracy to prevent NARTH from spreading the good news that, while faggotry is, like, totally OK, if, you know, that's what you're into, if you're not totally satisfied with your gay purchase you can, like, totally get your money back.
This retail model of human sexuality is based on the (admittedly!) clever notion that if there are plenty of unhappy heteros who find psychological peace when they finally realize/admit/accept that they are, in fact, gay, then there must likewise be plenty of unhappy homos who will find psychological peace when they finally realize/admit/accept that they are, in fact, straight!
Once again needless to say, I envision an entire psychotherapeutic cottage industry growing up around what I shall hereby refer to as Evelyn Waugh Syndrome, appropriately acronymed EWS, as in, "He's got the EWS!"
Tilda Swinton was in Pittsburgh last night to give a University-of-Pittsburgh-sponsored talk. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend. I haven’t enjoyed most of her recent films--The Deep End and Thumbsucker for their skittering irrelevance and phony quietude and Narnia for its unintentionally hilarious moral pretensions. But I always enjoy Tilda Swinton, who is one of the finest actors of her generation. Who else could wrest dignity from the godawful film adaptation of Orlando?
But her presence in town got me thinking about Narnia and the predictable (and predictably self-assured) pronouncement that Narnia is a Christian story, thinly veiled. Which is true . . . in the same sense that the New Testament is a Buddhist story, thinly veiled.
Religious adherence necessitates an ahistorical understanding of religious texts and traditions, sometimes at the exclusion of true lineage, and sometimes with a sort of separate-spheres on-one-hand-on-the-other-hand-ism. Many Christians I know are perfectly willing to acknowledge that Christian metaphysics and the Christian mythos owe to tribal sun worship, Mithraism, Manicheism, Osirianism, Zoroastrianism, and a whole host of other -isms that propagated throughout the Mediterranean world from well before even the Old Kingdom in Egypt. Many Christians I know are perfectly willing to accept that the Christ figure is himself a recycled Buddha, right down to the time in the wilderness and the apostles, just as Buddha is a recycled image of Eastern guru figures with an immensely ancient religio-spiritual history in South and Southeast Asia.
Simultaneously, they propose that Jesus was nonetheless the son of God, and was God, and did redeem Fallen Man by dying on the cross, and was resurrected, and so forth and so on.
Liberal Christians in particular are guilty of this sort of impossible dualism, and it infects their every political interaction in a secular state. Although believing Christians (at least, self-professed believing Christians) compose an undisputed majority of the Democratic Party and of the nation in general, they’re constantly, pathetically whining that their goofy, eschatological messiah cult must be accorded even greater deference by that small minority of non-believers and agnostics who ask simply that religion not intrude on governance and public policy-making. Republicans, they say, have convinced God-fearing America that Democrats are the party of Gidean amoralists intent on razing the houses of God and erecting, what, abortion clinics or something in their place. The remedy, therefore, is to talk more Jesus-talk, since Jesus, you see, was really a liberal. (He was also really black, according to a former weed dealer of mine, but I suppose that’s another conversation for another day.)
You might recall that Article VI of the US Constitution prohibits any “religious test” as a requirement for office, but what do we have in this country right now if not a de facto religious test for virtually every position of influence in the land? I’m sure there are some very nice atheists serving in city council somewhere, or sitting on some godless Northern school board. But from state houses to the US Senate to the Oval Office, political candidates are required by these very Christians just as much as by their conservative counterparts to avow beliefs in invisible powers operating outside the bounds of the natural universe. They must acknowledge that our species has a “Creator”; they must speak of their own habits of prayer.
In the mostly phony Dutch Muhammad cartoon “controversy,” amidst all the madness, a few commentators sensibly pointed out that tolerance for alien beliefs, including according believers free practice thereof, isn’t the same as acquiescence to the moral or spiritual commandments of those belief systems.
The GOP’s candidates often speak of America as a Christian nation. At least they’re honest about their intent. Religious Democrats, meanwhile, decry such talk while concurrently advocating for precisely the same ends: the de facto elevation of Christianity (and some Jews; we think there are some Jews!) to the status of State Religion.
If anyone can explain to me how it came to pass that Saddam Hussein, whom you may recall in his former role as the mad-dog ruler of Iraq, became the sanest voice in that whole country, I’d be much obliged.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
One of the most irritating (and unfortunately irrepressible) lies spread by pro-war factions in the US is that anti-war sentiment springs at least in part from some kind of affinity for Iraq’s former president, who, as we’re endlessly reminded, was bad. I won’t be the first to point out the certain irony in those pronouncements, given the well-documented, long-standing ties between the deranged cold warriors currently feeding Iraq to the meat-grinder and the now-deposed dictator who, with their aid and approval, fed a million or so of his own men to the last regional meat-grinder, the Iran-Iraq War. I won’t republish the emblematic photograph of Don “Shuffleboard on Tuesdays and Dinner at Five” Rumsfeld putting the squeeze to Saddam, but I trust you’ll carry that image in your mind for at least the duration of this post.
The real problem with the Hussein trial is that the US is trying to have its victor’s justice without first establishing its victory. The men on the risers at Nuremburg may have been able to claim that the proceedings were fixed or unfair, and, god rest ye Hannah Arendt, those claims, if made, may have been correct. But they could hardly claim that they remained the legitimate government of defeated Germany.
In Iraq, on the other hand, we’re faced with the phenomenon of a war that may really, truly have been illegal, at least insofar as the concept of “legal war” has any legitimate meaning. Certainly the steady drip-drip of damning internal documents from Tony Blair’s House of Giggles and Prevarications™ seems to indicate that this war was fomented and is being conducted totally outside the legal frameworks established in the post-World-War II world.
Which is to say that when Saddam Hussein says, “I’m the head of state,” he may have a point.
And when Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti says that the killings for which Hussein is being tried were in response to assassination attempts and were no different from actions in Egypt and Pakistan, which the US tolerates, he too has a point.
And while collective punishment is perhaps the most reprehensible act that a ruler can commit short of genocide, it’s hard to make a moral stand—let alone a legal stand—against it when you’re indiscriminately rounding up men and boys, throwing them in oubliettes, and torturing them with Soviet methods intended to illicit false confessions. It’s doubly hard when you’re also practicing collective punishment of your own through an ongoing air war which the domestic media chooses not to see.
Meanwhile a specter haunts Washington, and its name is withdrawal. Given the peculiar addictions of this bloodthirsty American government, that word cuts deep indeed.
Like many atheists, I subscribe to a few vaguely karmic precepts about the nature of fairness and comeuppance in this universe. So I feel no hesitation in publicly wondering if Russ Feingold isn’t some kind of cosmic counterbalance to his lamentable Wisconsinian political ancestor, Joe McCarthy Himself. Could the state that begat one of the most injudiciously destructive jagoffs in the whole sordid history of American jagoffs finally find itself atoning through the apparently maverick actions of what my grandfather might call “that boy with the nice Jewish name?”
Perhaps. But setting cosmic karma and other such fripperies aside, it’s painfully obvious that the Democratic party will once again slither away from Opportunity like a snake from a mongoose. These are, after all, people with neither dignity nor honor. A coworker asked me what I thought the Democrats were afraid of. I said, “The Democrats are afraid of governing.”
There are other reasons, which I’ll write about in the future. Principle among them is the obvious support of the institutional Democratic party for the general project of expanding the government’s police and surveillance powers. But deep at its root, the party’s fear is no more or less than the ineluctable outcome of its intellectual bankruptcy and moral cowardice. The Democratic Party has no project. “If we get rid of George Bush, what will we do?!”
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Judge Leonie Brinkema declined to prevent the prosecution from seeking the death penalty, although she dealt their case for it a blow by barring a number of witnesses' testimonies.
I must say, I'm struck by this quote from the prosecution filing:
"Dismissal of the death notice is simply too extreme a sanction and the public should not be deprived of its right to see this trial proceed to verdict."Consider that for a moment:
Dismissal of the death notice is simply too extreme a sanction.When I read that line, I inexplicably hear the voice of Wallace Shawn as Vizinni in The Princess Bride.
If it were a white dude, they'd report that he was just foraging for his family.
According to this table, Claude Allen was in the top cohort of White House staff salaries, at the $161,000/year level. I'm guessing he also got dental . . .
I know D.C. is an expensive town. But seriously. A man in the upper echelons of power ought to be bilking Indian tribes for millions or running interference on lucrative ports deals for oil-rich emirates. $5,000 worth of Target swag is hardly the sort of figure an important GOP operative should be cutting.
With full awareness of the cheap double-entendre: Bush league, Allen, bush league . . .
See if you can follow:
None of this should be construed to suggest that IOZ expects a congressional remedy to the mess we're in, but the next time I tell a Democratic friend that his party is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, I'm not going to take any back-talk. Honestly, if the party puts its ankles any farther over its head, it's going to start looking like this:
The Washington Times, which is owned by a crazy, self-professed Korean messiah whom I like to refer to as Not-Kim-Jong-Il, is now reporting--a term of art with that rag to be sure--that there's some kind of speculation on the guesstimate of the possibility of the chance that Iran is now playing Wimpy to Venezuala's hamburger stand. Arthur Silber, the smartest man on the internet, has observed ad infinitum that the propoganda and lies about Iran are identical to the propoganda and lies that herded the stupid public and the useless legislature into groveling acquiescence to the necessity of the American invasion of Iraq. He laments: How many times will we fall for the same trick?
"A lot" seems an appropriate reply. The less intelligent anti-war liberals can now eat crow as their constant refrain of "The President is ignoring the grave threat from Iran in order to invade Iraq" leaves them precisely no credible foundation on which to mount any meaningful protest of the latest enemy-of-the-month, the dauphin's memorably pronounced moolaahs. As a nation, we appear intent on courting disaster with the intensity of a virgin seeking out an easy prom date.
In other news, Evo Morales pledges to send Bolivia's surpluss coca leaf production to Iran, care of the Office of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who, to be fair, probably ought to lay off for a night or two and get some shut-eye.
That scent is the smell of disappointment, and it's wafting from the court of U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, who's had the misfortune of presiding over the contract scene from A Night at the Opera. By the standards of American jurisprudence--admittedly the juxtaposition of those terms is an exercise in rhetorical overreach--Judge Brinkema is an admirable character with a relatively healthy appreciation for the rules. The defense, likewise, appears intent on conducting itself with a modicum of dignity, no easy task when the prosecution is even crazier than your own dubiously sane client.
On one hand we should probably react fearfully. If this is how our government behaves in the sentencing trial of a guy who's already plead guilty to a capital offense, then just imagine the Heap-O-Fairness™ they're according to the poor sons-of-bitches locked away in Camp What-Constitution? down in Coo-ba. On the other hand, this sort of cosmic ineptitude, contra Sandra Day, indicates pretty clearly that the US isn't headed for the sort of neo-fascistic totalitarianism that some liberals and libertarians fear. More likely we're headed for some kind of parliamentary monarchy, in which a genetically dessicated clan of hopeless and preposterous bluebloods holds symbolic sway over a reactionary governing apparatus that seems more concerned with placing closed circuit cameras at every intersection and rattling its saber in a vaguely easterly direction than with the relatively time-consuming task of actually repressing anyone.
We are the new Victorians, readying ourselves to drown in a self-filled sea of moral absurdities and fancy dress.