I urge you, gentle readers, to click on this grotesquerie. So laughable it almost makes you weep, until you click "next" below, for what is either the most or least uncanny photographic juxtaposition since my best buddy, a filmmaker by trade, discovered the startling aesthetic similarities--actually, not so startling--between Matthew Barney's famous-infamous Cremaster 3 and the Jurrasic Park flick of the same sequel-signifier, depending, of course, on your point of view and your capacity for what we used to call irony before it came to mean whatever it means to the kids today.
Friday, June 23, 2006
"To abandon the fledgling Iraqi army and police to the insurgents, the militias, and the terrorists would risk chaos in Iraq. And chaos in Iraq would mean disaster."Once again, I'm reminded of a moment in the Coen brothers' The Big Leboski:
-Senator John McCain(R-Maverickia)
THE DUDE: Look, nothing is fucked, here, man.
THE BIG LEBOWSKI: Nothing is fucked? [shouting] The god damn plane has crashed into the mountain!
I thought some kind of retaliation against al Qaeda after the atrocities of September 2001 was prudent self-defense, and the Taliban were between us and them. I never did condemn Afghanistan doves out of hand, though, because I thought they had a reasonable case on pragmatic grounds. Events may yet bear them out. Most liberal critics of the Bush administration argue that “incompetence” explains the gradual erosion of our position there, plus lack of focus once shiny Iraq caught its eye. But I'm sure "incompetence" insufficiently explains our failures in Iraq and suspect there may be more to it in Afghanistan as well.Curiously, most liberal critics of the Bush administration, even those who lament daily the attempts of certain factions within the Democratic Party to "get to the right" of Republicans "on national defense," feel a simultaneous necessity to prove some modicum of militarist gumption by declaring their ante-antebellum support for the invasion of Afghanistan. Failure to declare puts you in guilt-by-association league with Noam and International ANSWER.
I was an Afghanistan dove. I remember arguing about this with my dad, a solidly Rockefellerian Republican who's lately taken to voting for Ralph Nader as a politico-cosmic joke that, judging by everyone else's reaction, only he and I find funny. "I'll never forgive him for the Corvair," Dad says, "But that corporate duopoly stuff is basically true. I should know." Anyway . . .
Dad is no fan of military adventurism. But he felt as Jim and plenty of others did: that Afghanistan was the clearest locus of al Qaeda activity; that the Taliban regime was providing unambiguous support; that some kind of retaliation was necessary. And there we were. Could we really do nothing?
The problem, I told Dad then, is that we're going to lose.
How do you know?
Because death and taxes aside, the one thing certain in this life and world is that no one wins in Afghanistan. Ever. If the cosmic secretariat in fact exists, it put Afghanistan on this earth as an end to empires.
William Lind points this out with admirable clarity: "You need closure, but your guerilla enemy doesn’t. He not only can fight until Doomsday, he intends to do just that—if not you, then someone else."
And therein lies the dilemma. No matter the force we apply, no matter how "steely" our "resolve," no matter how enduring our "will," no matter our gained or lost "credibility," we'll find ourselves pushed, shoved, or shuffled out of Afghanistan, inevitably, ineluctably, unavoidably, and sure as shit.
The Afghans have been kicking out Westerners since Alexander departed Bactria for the Indus . . .
Thursday, June 22, 2006
If I ever see William Lind out-and-about, then I'm-a-gonna kiss him right on the mouth.
So, Republicanish blogs are all a-snicker about this post at Daily Kos, most ably described by Henry Hutton as a "[t]edious website about American politics."
Sure, The New Republic isn't such a big fan of ragheads or niggers, but that hardly makes its "defection to the right . . . complete." It sounds right about in line with most of the Democratic party to me, even if they'd never say it at a dinner party. This Kos fellow is apparently of some sort of Latin ethnolinguaphenotypical origin, and thus unlikely to have a Bubbe or Zayde to warn him that he's "moving to a bad neighborhood" or to ask him why he keeps visiting France but has never once gone to Israel.
"You might meet a nice girl there. A nice Jewish girl."
"But Papa, I'm gay."
"Well, you probably just haven't met the right girl yet."
"No, Papa. I'm gay. I live with my boyfriend."
"But is he Jewish?"
I never link to Radley Balko at The Agitator, but I should, and I'm quickly coming around to Jim Henley's view that he's the most important blogger on the internet, which is to say that he's the most important blogger.
In a recent post, he lists a few incidents of terrible, violent crimes by police officers (usually off-duty) who were later acquitted, or were never even charged in the first place.
The post is of great interest to me. Yesterday I was walking up the street to a buddy's house for an impromptu cookout. A police car followed by a phalanx of three motorcycle cops passed me going up the hill. No sirens. No lights. They were probably headed back to the station, or hell, just to grab a slice of pizza at Graziano's.
But damned if it didn't make me nervous. And that had nothing to do with the fatty in the old Altoids box in my pocket.
I don't like cops.
Or, I do like cops, a few of them, but I don't like the cops.
The constant, visile presence of armed, uniformed police in our cities and towns discomforts me. I want the police to be modest, self-effacing, available when necessary, invisible when not. I don't like a bunch of clean-shaven young'uns who've never gotten over being jocks in the high school cafeteria. Or, worse, who've never gotten over not being jocks in the high school cafeteria.
It occured to me yesterday as the police drove by that my first reaction had been to catalogue where I'd been, where I was going, and why . . . in case I was stopped. It's happened before. For no particular reason.
Fear of interdiction is an odd attribute for a "free society."
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
At a place called Shakespeare's Sister--not, I note, for the quality of the prosody; there isn't any prosody to be seen, only prose of the eminently prosaic variety--there's an incoherent letter from "one of the soldiers that these proposals are dishonoring." "These people" being Republicans. "Dishonoring" by suggesting that amnesty of some sort for Iraqi insurgents might not be such a bad idea.
Not only isn't it a bad idea, it's an affirmitive good.
Having suffered the slings and arrows of not sucking sufficiently at the flowing teat of troop-love, Democrats are now eager to turn the tables on their Republican counterparts by hauling out venal canards about not supporting "the troops," whom Democrats inexplicably reify as exemplars of all that is good about America, even as they pursue to their utmost professional capacity a disastrous war of aggression against a now-occupied, long-brutalized people who posed no threat until such time as "the troops" descended en masse to bust up the china shop and shoot up the proprieter and his family.
The soldier says, "Every IED that injures or kills an American soldier exacerbates the normal soldiers' attitude toward those who he is sent to help and protect. Every sniper shot hardens our hearts." In other words, it's their fault that we're killin' 'em.
On one hand, this soldier says the war is a terrible mistake, a crime, a blunder, a tragic error. We must "extricate" ourselves. We should never have gone. We have no right to be there. It was all lies, damned lies, and statistics. Get out!
On the other hand, this soldier says that those who resist the lie, the error, the crime, the blunder . . . they must be punished, not "honored."
Instead of resolutions that honor those who are trying to kill us, these senators, these congressmen should devote their efforts, their words, their very lives to try and figure out how we can extricate ourselves from this war."Our enemies' rage?" If Iraq was a mistake, then aren't "our enemies" in the right to resist? If the instrument of our error is the American military, doesn't it make sense that that military will be the target of their resistance? Is amnesty an "honor" to "those who are trying to kill us," or is it an obligatory concession made to facilitate "extricat[ing] ourselves from this war?"
Perhaps then they can look themselves in the eye and admit Iraq was a mistake and commit all our energies to saving American lives, instead of worrying about mollifying our enemies' rage.
The soldier who wrote this letter is stuck in a war zone and can be forgiven for inconsistency of thought. He's terrified and living on the edge of death every day. So far as I can tell, this Shakespeare's Sister character seeks, like most Democrats these days and just like their Republican counterparts in this, ahem, polarized country, to tether the confused terror of soldiers to the cause of electoral victory.
They should be very proud of themselves.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
The same old bullshit from both sides. The same people who speak of "collateral damage," who dismiss torture as the work of "a few bad apples," who embrace militarism as national policy, and who accede to or openly embrace aggressive war as a tool of state now wish to wave the bloody bodies of two tortured-to-death soldiers around the tawdry environs of Capitol Hill like a couple of cheap blazons for the Beckett-like "debate." It makes me pukey.
In any event, one line jumps out:
Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona declared, "The strategy there needs to be to win, not withdraw. Withdrawal follows victory."Forget the missing conjugation of "to be." There's the martial absurdity of the statement. The guy could've been talking to Yossarian: Victory is our strategy and our strategy is for victory. And what is victory? Well, it's certainly something other than withdrawal, as that pseudo-crypto closing remark seems to hint. But what precisely . . . qui sait!
Democrats routinely tell me that their party represents a lesser evil which I must support, even tacitly, in order to forstall the further dismantling of American Values, whatever those are, at the hands of Republicans, who are corrupt, blood-drinking monarchist stooges. Although there was no discernible difference between John Kerry's "position" and George W. Bush's "position" on Iraq, it was argued that Kerry was better insofar as he might fuck up less, which is sort of like saying you're throwing your support behind the guy who won't just commit the murder, but get away with it, goddamn. Although there is no appreciable difference between Bob Casey, Jr. and Rick Santorum, who both subscribe to the same, idolatrous, neo-pagan set of poorly repackaged mystery beliefs commonly called Catholicism, or in the IOZ household, Fucking Catholicism, Casey will be a better Senator for some ineluctable reason. He is, after all, a Democrat.
In any case, here is a Democratic Senator, one Diane Feinstein, opining that free speech should be curtailed because, after all, Senator Diane Feinstein has fond childhood memories of flags, puppies, and VJ day, and she's just certain that everyone else feels the same. And if they don't, well, fuck 'em. Their seditious thoughts can be better expressed in some other forum. Let's leave aside the possibility that the flag burning amendment might therefore send our high-school-fulls of inchoate flag-burners and WTO protestors back to the books for a little Aristotlean rhetoric, or some such, and bring the whole nation down with their Demosthenisian anti-globalism.
Granted, Diane Feinstein elle-même didn't write that op-ed; some polisci intern did between checking his Myspace profile for new comments and trying to find a hook-up on D.C. craigslist. But still, it carries her name. Does the Senatrix really wish to make the argument that so long as the optimal manner of expression is preserved, free speech lives? Which is to say, is it acceptable to curtail my right to title this blog post "Department of Fuck You, Democrats, Fuck All Y'all" simply because it is "an idea or thought" that can be "expressed equally well in another manner." In the immortal words of Walter Sobchak, "Excuse me, dear, the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint."
"Come on, dude. These are our basic freedoms."
Elsewhere, our Girl Detective notes that the flag is our "monument in cloth," citing Justice Byron White: "(T)here would seem to be little question about the power of Congress to forbid the mutilation of the Lincoln Memorial or to prevent overlaying it with words or other objects. The flag is itself a monument, subject to similar protection." Indeed. I commend to Diane a little essay by a gentleman named Walter Benjamin on art in the age of mechanical reproduction. I note that while sure, Congress can say we oughtn't fuck around with the Lincoln Memorial, Congress has fuck-none right to tell me what I can and cannot do with the Lincoln Memorial snow-globe, commemorative pin, tee-shirt, boxers, or other swag I picked up in the Smithsonian gift shop. I might note that it is already illegal to yank a flag from a building or a flagpole in a park and burn it for the same reason it's illegal to carve your initials into Washington's Phallic Monument: not because of its metaphorical monumentalism, but because that's vandalism and destruction of property. But should the insolvent US Government decide to sell off its stock of national monuments, and should IOZ decide to purchase a nice bit of neoclassical bric-a-brac at below-market, and should IOZ decide to deface the fucker and then tear her down, well, more power to IOZ.
The flag in all its old glory lives on underwear, tee-shirts, candy, grill covers, country albums, and all manner of other less-than-sanctified locations. So please. Desecration?
More fundamentally, this is the party that's supposed to save the Republic!
As the war grows worse daily, I continue to see jingos referring to their antiwar opponents as "rabidly antiwar." I know it's a throwaway phrase, but still . . . shouldn't it be "fervently" antiwar, or something. Rabidity (rabidness? the quality of being rabid) hardly evokes the image of pacifism, does it?
Speaking of which, I've had it with the apparent requirement that a person preface his opposition to our national decision to smash the rusty iron fist holding Iraq together and catalyze a civil war with the caveat, "I'm not a pacifist." First: because the implied disdain is unnecessary and ridiculous. Pacifism is a legitimate belief, whether you share it or not. The condescension is unecessary, as is the transparent distancing. "I'm not gay, but . . ." should never precede a statement about tolerance, love, acceptance, etc. regarding the fags. Thus likewise the Quakers, or whomever . . .
Besides which, the presumption of pacifism because of opposition to any particular military action is one of the most galling and idiotic bits of nonsense to drift into "the discourse" [scary quotation marks added at request of commendator la_rana]. I don't presume a man rejects all seafood because he finds gefilte fish a little rank.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Apologies for the light posting. Lots going on this past weekend. Should be back in form Tuesday morning.
Meantime--man, Iraq's really in the shitter, isn't it. Troops kidnapped. Green Zone breaking down. "Full-scale civil war," as the saying goes. Good thing we killed . . . what was his name again?