In the Intelligence Committee, we're sworn to secrecy. We can't walk outside the door and say, "The statement made yesterday by the White House is in direct contradiction to classified information that's being given to this congress." We can't do that. We couldn't make those statements.Of course you can; of course you could. How might I express this eloquently: You didn't, because you're a pussy-ass faggot coward cocksucker pipsqueak with pea balls. You're a contemptible, miserable goddamn excuse for a human motherfucking being. 3,000 dead Americans; more than 25,000 wounded Americans; SIX FUCKING HUNDRED FUCKING THOUSAND DEAD-ASS MOTHERFUCKING IRAQIS, motherfucker, and each and every one of them is as much your fault as anyone's.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Michael Ware says two interesting things in this brief interview. He says that Nuri al-Maliki is a lame duck with no constituency and no sway even among his own people, and he says that political reconciliation is in no one's interest. Now the White House says it will extend the escalation, but that phrasing is deceptive, because it presumes that the original, public non-timeline for the not-escalation was anything other than an arbitrary expiration date chosen to assure the public of the essential temporaneity of the "surge." In other words, it assumes that the original projected duration, if fudged a bit around the edges, was the truth, when it was in truth a lie. The government understood that it was never possible to pacify the whole of Iraq by sending one division into one city for a period of six months. They understood, however, that the exigencies of circumstances "on the ground" once those troops were in place would provide a more palatable, if not more popular, justification for a significantly longer deployment, which had of course been the plan all along. It had the added advantage of allowing the debate to be cast around those soldiers now "in harm's way," whose sacrosanctity constricts even further the already narrow range of acceptable discussion. But the Iraqis currently fighting for supremacy in their own country understand, as Ware also points out in his interview, that the United States doesn't have the capacity to do across the country what it's done in Baghdad, and it equally understands that the United States can't indefinitely sustain its presence in Iraq. Their internal conflict will flare and fade across the country so long as America remains in force, but as soon as that force begins its inevitable retreat to its megabase redoubts and offshore carrier groups, the real "fight for Iraq" will commence, until someone wins. That is why there won't be reconciliation: because everyone feels that the opportunity for victory is near at hand. Of course, like the warmongers in our own country, the missing aspect here is a definition of victory. One of the things that the American invasion has ensured is that no single group will be able to consolidate control over territorial Iraq anytime in the near future.
Had lunch with Dad today. Got to discussing Mormonism. He'd just read Under the Banner of Heaven. Suggested maybe they got their calculations off on the whole polygamy thing. "So if one guy has ten wives," Dad said, "What happens to the other nine guys, assuming basic gender parity?" Sips his Dogfish Head. "A subtle ploy to promote homosexuality?"
Friday, April 27, 2007
For Iraq to remain a unified state, a different type of strongman is required, one who has the interests of the whole country at heart, not merely narrow sectarian concerns.Con Coughlin in The Telegraph. Yes. A sturdy leader. Like Cromwell, say, but with an ecumenical streak.
The first thing that struck me, watching Saturday Night Fever again after a lapse of years, was the richness of it. There is so much going on. How did they get it all into 118 minutes?John Derbyshire writing in the National Review, ladies and gentlemen.
It reminds me of a passage in Norman Mailer's new novel, The Castle in the Forest:
The first thing that struck Adolph, watching Götterdämmerung again after a lapse of years, was the richness of it. There is so much going on. How did they get it all into 312 minutes? Then he masturbated.
My response to the Donkle's presidential confab is basically, "Eh." Everyone but two made glorious noises about killin' up good on the next motherfucker who puts an airplane up our grille, about what a degenerate fuck-up is the current dauphin, about how up is better than down, forward better than backward, richer better than poorer, gooder better than badder. Dennis Kucinich did his part from the wings to once again legitimate the silly idea that the Big Top Party contains within its menageries a place for the bearded woman and the world's strongest man and the Siamese twins and legitimate anti-imperial leftism, while Mike Gravel, the only man on that platform who ever actually did something to end a war, heckled like a hero, at one point turning to Barack Obama and saying, "Tell me, Barack, who do you want to nuke?"
But look, the basic message here is Kennedy Lives! A Republican has screwed up a war, and now the Donkle gazes backwards to the martial virility of Porno Jack, Ruler of Men and Son of the Distillery, who felt like a little boy next to all the dour grimacing coming out of the Kremlin and so thrust his cock in the direction of Cuba and then, even more tragically, in the direction of Vietnam, where a prior decade of American muckery soon escalated into one of the bloodiest monstrosities in a century of bloody monstrosities. This is your Democratic Party: Tough, Nuclear, Nice to Poor People, Willing to Invade.
I think I like this guy.
MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Gravel, same question: other than Iraq, three most important enemies to the United States.
MR. GRAVEL: We have no important enemies.
Arthur Silber remains our most vital and important writer. He had been on a brief hiatus after the sad death of his sister and because of some personal health issues, but he has, in the last few days, emerged to produce some extraordinary essays. Read them.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
a fundamental tenet of conservative/libertarian thinking: engaging in risky behavior with serious social costs is an entitlement.I would've said, "a right," but that word carries little weight in categorically risk-averse America. Adler explains that Some Things Are For Our Own Good:
People who are injured by metal bats, or fall ill from smoking or fatty food, cost the rest of us money. We pay their emergency room bill, their Medicare bills or their Social Security disablity insurance. Only someone willing to forgo those benefits should have the right to also opt out of public health laws like those passed by the New York City Council, or pre-existing ones requiring that motorcyclists wear helmets and drivers wear seat belts.We'd forgo if we could, old boy! Now some people, including dear Jim, noted that there are plenty of human behaviors that one could categorize as "risky," and certainly plenty whose eventual consequences could potentially "cost the rest of us money." Like butt sex, for instance. (Let's pause to note that this is precisely the rationale that prevents "practicing" gay men from giving blood openly--that the downhill costs of screeing this risky group for The AIDS are too high.) Adler replies with a monumental liberal Humbug!
While [Philip Klein of The American Spectator] doesn't subscribe to the homophobic policy position, his comparison suggests an awfully backwards view of homosexuality. Since sexual orientation is part of one's intrinsic identity, banning sodomy is more analogous to banning a religious ritual than smoking in bars or swinging metal baseball bats. But apparently to the conservative way of thinking they are equally deserving of protection, at best.It will be difficult to argue with a man who thinks that biological desire and social ritual are commensurately "intrinsic," but we shall try, dear readers. Here is something interesting about the smoking ban: It is "totally unenforceable because of the infinite number of locations where the act can take place." Have you any idea how many bars there are in the five boroughs? Many people, likewise, drive without seatbelts, talk on cell phones in the car, and will go right on using aluminum bats, if not at the school ballfield, then at the park. If not at the park, then in the backyard. Should the city attempt to enforce the bat ban universally, to take just one example, the "costs" of enforencement will exceed the costs of the occasional emergency room visit by a pitcher with a broken nose.
Klein makes his criticism sound like a serious statement of consistent principle, but one would hope he's smart enough to realize the silliness of this comparison and is really just being facetious. First of all, a sodomy ban, unlike bans on smoking in bars and metal bats in high school baseball, is totally unenforceable because of the infinite number of locations where the act can take place. Secondarily, to enforce it would require invasions of people's personal homes, which none of the New York laws in question do, so the infraction on liberty is clearly an order of magnitude greater. I would not support a ban on smoking or consuming transfats in one's home for this reason.
That's the silly part of the argument. The specious part is the distinction between "one's home" and everywhere else when it comes to freedoms of personal choice. Eating in a restaurant is a private transaction. Playing on a ball team is a personal decision. Athletes risk injury voluntarily. People who eat donuts or, hell, corn bread and biscuits and comfort food of all types, at home or in restaurants, are not operating under the illusion that these foods are good for their arteries. Motorcyclists, helmets or no, get terrible injuries when they wreck. The argument in favor of public health and safety is that a society at a certain level of collective affluence can certainly afford the relatively minor costs of clearing wrecks from the highway and setting broken bones--hell, even giving heart transplants. Curiously, many "conservative/liberatians," from Uncle Milton to Johnny Rawls to Anarcho-IOZ, are basically sympathetic to this view, at least where the truly poor and indigent are concerned (though the gainfully employed ought to pay their own way, fer sher). To take that argument, though, and flip it as an excuse to regulate private behavior, to establish a nation rubric of risks and say that any behavior that may result in public expenditure can be outlawed as a cost-saving measure is positively Hellerian in the grandiosity of its absurdity.
It's sort of like if Anatoly Dobrynin had told Bobby Kennedy that the arms build-up in Cuba was entirely defensive and of absolutely no significance to the security of the United States.
Attendez! You mean Anatoly Dobrynin did tell Bobby Kennedy that the arms build-up in Cuba was entirely defensive and of absolutely no significance to the security of the United States?
Joe Lieberman's Joe Strummer moment on Iraq ends with the plangent cry, "To me, there is only one choice that protects America's security--and that is to stand, and fight, and win." Yet in the preceding lyrics, one finds no logical connection--no attempt to make a logical connection--between suicide attacks in Baghdad and "America's security." I suppose that's to be expected. The longer version:
Al-Qaeda, after all, isn't carrying out mass murder against civilians in the streets of Baghdad because it wants a more equitable distribution of oil revenue. Its aim in Iraq isn't to get a seat at the political table; it wants to blow up the table--along with everyone seated at it.And once it blows up the table, Joe, and everyone at it, then what?
Certainly al-Qaeda can be weakened by isolating it politically. But even after the overwhelming majority of Iraqis agree on a shared political vision, there will remain a hardened core of extremists who are dedicated to destroying that vision through horrific violence. These forces cannot be negotiated or reasoned out of existence. They must be defeated.
The challenge before us, then, is whether we respond to al-Qaeda's barbarism by running away, as it hopes we do--abandoning the future of Iraq, the Middle East and ultimately our own security to the very people responsible for last week's atrocities--or whether we stand and fight.
That is to say: Let's assume against all evidence that the Senator from Connecticut is right. Al-Qaeda is a unitary organization; it has a unified leadership; it functions as a singular entity; it is the principle opponent of the American plan for Iraq, here called "a shared political vision." Take all these dubious assumptions as a given, and what remains is a question that Joe Lieberman, George Bush, the editorial board of the Washington Post, General Patraeus, and the Lord Baby Jesus will not pose and cannot answer: What does al-Qaeda want? I know that in the popular idiom this violence is "nihilism," which in the industriously illettré yappers of our political class is just a classy, latinate cognate for evil. But in its actual meaning it loses all sense in this context. People are not motivated to acts of horrific political violence by a belief in nothing. Perhaps in some parallel, oddly Brechtian universe, the absolute absence of motivation is motivation enough, but around here, actors need a reason to play their parts properly.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Ah, yes. The "crisis of young males in a feminized America." Alternately responsible for the Va. Tech shootings, Islmaic terrorism, and Camille Paglia. Madame Paglia and Frank Fukuyama both conclude that it is the insufficient respect and inadequate outlets for the natural sexual aggression of the male of the species that drives our little pussycats to Kill, Kill, Kill! And yet, they also conclude that the "hook-up culture" is driving our little daisies and butterflies to open their tenderparts to all manner of young menfolk. But some of the boys are left out. Look out!
I will admit that I never had a terribly difficult time getting laid in the years of my education, but then again, it is the experience of many young fags that college life is something of a fractal series of orgasms, superficially self-same, but flowering eventually into a lovely pattern. That said, I knew plenty of yutes left to the borders of the bordello, gay and straight alike, some because they were plain, some because they were lame, and some, lord knows, because they simply had to concentrate on jobs or schoolwork or had a regular girlfriend or had a real hobby. None of these people ever went on a shooting spree, nor strapped dynamite to himself and wandered off to a busy intersection.
The sex, Paglia argues, “is everywhere but it is not erotic”…“It’s not even titillating. It’s banal and debasing.”Oh. Shut. Up!
First of all, it's obviously titillating for someone, since geriatric peeping Toms like Tom Wolfe can't stop panegyricizing the love mounds and throbbing erections of coeds under a tissue-scrim of moral outrage just as transparent as the "Medical Film" disclaimers on classic porno. You can barely open a book review without finding some thin-lipped schoolmarm peering in judgment up the collective twat of our young ladies, diagnosing every possible ailment except the need to get off. And now it's the fact that les nouvelles Roxannes won't let every scrawny geek in Christendom have his five-seconds-to-heaven that compels them to murder?
Conservatives, for as long as they've claimed the mantle of conservativism, have engaged many hypocrisies, but it's still true that for a long time they resisted too-clever social-science contextualizations of heinous crimes, pointing out that while yes, it's true that some mommies and daddies are abusive, and some of us were molested, and persistent poverty drives desperation, and some people really are so mentally ill that they cannot appreciate their actions, at the heart of most crimes is a criminal, a man or woman responsible for his or her own actions, an autonomous being who must bear moral and legal consequences, who has no right to shift blame to society or the lack of a loving home. But now we're to take it all as mere evidence of some vaster, societal sickness, this "feminization," that presumably must be corrected by a government program, some affirmative authority for the development of testes? Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one who gives a fuck about the rules?
"I am older," said John McCain, officially announcing his candidacy in Arizona, "And wiser. Also older. I have worked on things and worked with things, and so I know how they work, and how to work with them. I am not the youngest, but I am the oldest, not just in years, but in years of experience, and in years experienced as well. I know who I am and what my own name is, and I am willing to say it aloud. John McCain.
"I know that we have a military, and I'm sure I'll use it. I was in it. Vietnam. That turned out well, and I'm sure we can do it again. There's good and evil in the world, and I'm sure of that. Some people agree with me, and some people don't, but one thing is certain: there are solutions. We can all agree on that. If we all just compromise and go to be early, things will be fine."
Here is Barack Obama explaining that America once was awesome and will once again be awesome once more again. As a speech, it's an unsurprising collection of vaguely ecclesiastical non sequiturs, hopeful bromides, and broad assurances "that America is the last, best hope of Earth." The last, best hope of Earth to what?
The conviction that the United States of America represents the end state of history, that the final perfection of human nature consists in quadrennnial elections, a bicameral legislature, the two-party system, the cul-de-sac, the National Football League, the dollar, the internal combustion engine, and The Troops™ is not a new one, but never has it seemed so foolish as now. It's like listening to some futsy commissar expounding the eternal virtues of the revolution in permanence while West Berliner punks tear chunks from the wall in 1989. Here we are gazing into the gaping maw of our self-made impermanence and speaking as if at last we hold the true prospect of immortality. I suppose the natural caveat here is to say something like, "I do not object to a little home-team cheerleading to rouse the nodding Rotarians in the audience," but alas, I do object.
Really, why sigh and throw up our hands? This vision of the world is totally fucked. Accepting narratives of national primacy is how nations goad themselves into committing atrocities. "We must lead by building a 21st century military to ensure the security of our people and advance the security of all people," says Obama, who goes on to advocate for adding 90,000 new shock troops to drop here and there in order to arrest "narco-trafficking" or to "prevent wider regional chaos" or, as goes the popular cruise-missile-liberalism, "to respond to contingencies." I'm sure that comforts them in the hovels of Bogota, in the newly-walled neighborhoods of Baghdad. Yanqui go home!
The sobering lesson here is not the depths of Americas self-delusion about its "role in the world," ante-W or post-W, but the sheer tenacity of those delusions in the face of even the most countervailing evidence. Despite the disastrous consequences of the Iraq War, despite its catastrophic human toll, despite its plain demonstration of the absolute limits of any one people's ability to dictate the national fortunes of another, there remains the basic consensus belief in America's preeminent position of "global leadership," the basic shared conviction that we have a right and duty to send men with guns into other countries to kill people whenever we deem it politically necessary and expedient, the millennial belief in the ultimate disposition of the symbolic human heart to constitutional governance and the four Rooseveltian freedoms, après The New Deal, le déluge--these have budged not one iota in the political mind.
"America is the last, best hope of Earth," isn't a political philosophy; it's a goddamn eschatology. It's the sort of thing spoken out of a whirlwind by a patriarchal god. It deserves thunder and lightning. It deserves a rain of frogs, a staff cast on the ground that becomes a snake, tablets cast upon the earth and golden idols melting in a fire. Needless to say I am not a religious man, but the sheer impiety of the suggestion, the staggering vanity of it, the Babelian audacity of the claim make me wonder if I oughtn't hop a ship and hope for a whale. This man, understand, is the antiwar candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. The new thing. The big hope. The next wave. The last, best hope of the Donkle. Over to you, Max Sawicky:
Evidently we are to believe the fairy tale that before 2001, the U.S. played a benign role around the world, a role the world is aching for us to return to. I submit that there is no daylight between dominating the world militarily and "leader of the free world" (sic).
In other words, Obama is saying what he has to say to be president, which means doing what he has to do if he is president. Clinton was a McGovernik, and Obama was a community organizer. Either could have been the editor of Trotskyism Monthly and I fear the results would be the same.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
At Jim's Place, Thoreau notes the predictable result of the so-called surge, which was to suppress modestly some degree of a particular type of violence in a roughly circumscribed area, while everywhere else things continued to blow up apace, or to blow up even faster and more furiously. Then I find, via Pat Lang, that a major part of the current US tactics in Iraq is, in Lang's apt term, to remedievalize cities by quartering them off into homogeneous enclaves with 12-foot barrier walls.
Now if any of you are still disposed to believing that the plan is to garrison American troops in Iraq for . . . forever, in order "to respond" to what our cruise-missile liberal friends refer to as "contingencies in the region" and what our soi disant conservative friends call variably but interchangeably "terrorists" or "Al Qaeda" or "Iran" or "Islamofascism," let Defense Secretary Robert Gates disabuse you of that disposition:
"Our commitment to Iraq is long-term, but it its not a commitment to having our young men and women patrolling Iraq's streets open-endedly."Gates is an interesting character in this drama. Even though he's obliged by his high rank in the current government to use words contrariwise to their meaning--what is a commitment with no fixed and final date if not "open-ended"?--he's nevertheless shown himself refreshingly, if not admirably, willing to speak much closer to the truth about our Middle-Eastern adventures than anyone else in the government. "Our commitment to Iraq is long-term" means that our commitment to Iraq is long-term.