Saturday, April 14, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
The confidence in the significance of the bombing of parliament in the so-called Green Zone is misplaced. It seems predicated on two false notions: first, that "heavily fortified," or "ringed by concertina wire and barricades," or "a wellspring of American military power," or any of the other descriptors of the Zone in any way signify "security"; and second, that an attack on government attains an increased significance because it's The Government. What I mean to say is that you have to swallow a lot of hooey about the legtimacy and efficacy of the Iraqi government, and about the legitimacy and centraility of any governemnt, to understand an attack on the Iraqi pseudo-government as somehow more damaging, either actually or symbolically, than the daily carange among the "civilian population." You have to swallow the line attached to the idea that the truest expression of Iraqi statehood and peoplehood is its government, which is sad and silly given the clear impotence and irrelevance of that particular government as an instution. But even were it not the case that the Iraqi parliament is little more than a dangerous supper club for scheming wannabe elites, even were it a truly functional governing apparatus, then there would remain the fallacy that suggests government as the adherent force in a country, a society, or a people.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
If you think, as Edwards and I do, that it's a good idea for there to be forces in the region capable of responding to contingencies, then there's still a question of how you respond to actual contingencies.That's Matthew Yglesias on John Edwards on leaving Iraq without really leaving it. What are these contingencies of which we speak?
I know that Matt and the PR flaks for the Edwards campaign would respond--as the PR flaks for the Edwards campaign did respond--that contingencies are things like "genocide" and protecting "humanitatian" efforts, the latter of which still means killing people in support of American policy aims. There's a contradiction at the heart of the whole formulation. The Edwards position statement begins with, "No combat troops in the country. Period," and yet, "Finally, it's also Senator Edwards' position that we will have troops in the region to prevent the sectarian violence in Iraq from spilling over into other countries, for counter-terrorism, or to prevent a genocide." Now I ask you: with what sort of troops do you accomplish these goals other than combat troops? So Edwards' position, and Yglesias' by extension and confession, is not in fact to leave, but to keep the American military garissoned in "the region," but a few steps removed from the most restive areas of occupied Iraq.
Yglesias engages the classic liberal fallacy. "What one needs, at the end of the day, is a president who'll bring in a good team and demonstrate good judgment, not a president who'll make good campaign promises." Because if FDR and George Marshall were running things in Iraq, everything'd be A-OK. The belief is that the imperial project can be pursued--but better and with marginally less bloodshed and with greater decorum--by smart, reasonable, responsible, worldly, literate, numerate people. Why, people very much like Matthew Yglesias, who just know they'd never invade Iraq in the manner of George Bush, but who still won't confront the underlying, enabling assumption of his and their worldview: that the United States has a right to "respond to contingencies," actual or otherwise, "in the region," or, in fact, anywhere in the world.
Operating from that premise, "a good team and . . . good judgment" make no difference at all. No good judgment can proceed from such flawed assumptions. War is what proceeds from those assumptions. It may be more limited war, Democrat-favored air war, "humanitarian" war, but it is nevertheless, at it's root, if you call the motherfucker just what the fuck it is, no more or less than Americans with guns in other peoples' countries whether they like it or not.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Let the poor chumps sell their stories! The prime minister is a poodle, his cabinet is stuffed with New Age thugs, the opposition is in a constant sexual panic and the Lib Dems are simply silly. They’re all neck deep in batshit. There cannot possibly be bigger laughingstocks. Their concerns over propriety are ludicrous. The fiasco is their existence. There is no possible harm coming from any of the sailors’ stories. Even the bloated vanity of the politicos is safe.We'll place this under the category: Dr. Capitalist: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Decline of the West. It's a continuing series, really, on the common derangement among the most loquacious defenders of Western Civ, who haven't found a ruin of a value-edifice that they wouldn't raze. Every hostage is endowed by his creator with certain inalienable rights among which are the right to read cue cards into a camera and to profit mightily from his ordeal. His character-shaping ordeal. His life-changing experience. His harrowing encounter, through which he rediscovered the values of family and faith. Yes. Cut. Print.
It's like the poor guy David Hicks--an Australian kangaroo-skinner for chrissakes, as if it could get any better than that, who got convicted in, wait for it, a kangaroo court--who's now been shipped back to his homeland, a curious irony indeed given its penal-colony origins, and who's been forbidden from profiting from "his story." Well then it's not really his, is it? Rather, the story such as it is belongs to the government, hell, to the community, and that seems to me a strange circumstance in an ostensibly capitalistic society. Australia produces a wannabe terrorist, and Australia gets a monetary reward for it. You can see why I find myself sympathetic to the anarchist argument. Consider that gang-banger, whatsisname, Snoopy Tokes or whatever, who went to jail for killing a bunch of people. He did what every wise felon does: he found Jesus, and he found a literary agent, likely not in that order. Why not a kangaroo skinner? He might have wanted to kill someone, but so far as we know he never actually did. He already flipped from Diamond J to DJ Moho. Send him on some sort of chain gang walkabout, let him discover the aboriginal holiness of Ayer's rock, repent of his terroristic ways, start a youth ministry.
That, friends, is the Western Way.
"Rabbi, is there a prayer for the Tsar?"So "The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar" to take charge of a couple of our more pressing imperial wars. You kids today with your Pokemon and your biometric IDs and your text messaging should have no trouble noting that czar could sound an awful lot like see-zar, and bang-wollop: You mean czar is a russification of Caesar? Holy Gaul, Batman. Give that man some legions, and a river to cross . . .
"A prayer for the Tsar? Of course. [sings] May God bless and keep the Tsar . . . far away from us."
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The New Criterion ably demonstrates the dangers of subjecting aphorism to paraphrasis with this criminal sentence:
Lenin famously predicted that capitalists were so venal that they would sell Communists the rope with which they, the capitalists, were destined to be hanged.The article above it praises the perspicacity of Bernard Lewis, who causes us to understand that it was multiculturalism that led to the limited successes of the Crusades.
Anyway, it seems I've been living under a rock, because The New Criterion has a blog! And quel blog it is! It's called Armavirumque, which is Latin for Harumph. It serves, as far as I can tell, as a sounding board for the kind of cultured philistines who titter audibly at the slobs reading supertitles at the opera, but who cannot look upon a piece of post-1918 artwork without weighing in heartily: "I could do that."
Regard this recent post on the artist, Sol LeWitt, which begins:
"De mortuis," your mother probably told you, "nil nisi bonum dicendum est." "About the dead you should say nothing but good things."Well no, actually, Mère IOZ never yapped at me in the tongue of god and angels, but she did once tell me to stop sneering or my face would stick like that. It is within every man's rights, of course, to despise whatever artwork he despises, and for whatever reason, but if you're going to air your opinion, err on the side of interesting. For instance: before he died, we took my grandfather to the Andy Warhol museum, and afterward an enthusiastic cousin of IOZ asked him what was his favorite part.
"The exit," he said.
Don Imus will not call anyone a nigger while we go to war with Iran.
Monday, April 09, 2007
I was for equal pay for equal work, but after those women went down to Houston and got tangled up with the abortionists and the lesbians, I can tell you ERA will never pass in the Show-Me State.That's an unnamed Missouri governor, presumably Kit Bond, as quoted by Phyllis Schalfly in a recent article in the LA Times. And I know you're thinking the same thing I am: She's still alive?
One of the craziest things about the current crew of the Good Ship Conservatania is just how seventies the whole thing is. It's as if someone wood-panelled the White House rec room; it's as if the Love Boat ran aground in Newport News. Women, im'grants, 'bortions, "the Middle East," gas prices, energy, the evils of Jimmy Carter, Vietnam, the gay agenda, women's rights, Donald Rumsfeld, the failure of Detroit auto manufacturers . . . My god, people: I feel I've wandered into a Rick Moody novel. Malaise! Malaise! Malaise!
Christopher Hitchens comes out against the second person. Listen, if he starts talking about how inspections aren't working to contain the expansionist policy of the Conjunction regime at the Junction, we're all in trouble.