Cernig has the rundown of the current state of play In Re: Let's Get Iran. Since we're all now free to compare Iraq and Vietnam, given the President's evident affection for everyone's favorite Catholic pessimist, we might as well note that no act of imperial aggression is complete without a little regional expansion. Democrats have spent the last six months or so creating an entirely propitious atmosphere for aggression against Iran, and I've no doubt that the reliably nervous American people can be moved to tepid acceptance of another war, despite their disapproval of the present one. Since we lack the manpower to launch a ground invasion, it will begin as an air campaign anyway, which should provide a modest opportunity for Wolf Blitzer too pull one off on the public in front of all those big screens. By the time we all get around to wiping the white strings of Shock & Awe, part II from our lips, we'll have no choice but to count ourselves as well and thoroughly fucked. Think how the Iranians are going to feel. Maybe someone can blame the subprime crisis on Iran, too. The subversion of the debtor economy must not continue. In the name of John Maynard Keynes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Citigroup, attack! This aggression will not stand, man.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Hey. It appears that not only is Iran cooperating with inspectors, but it has been lagging significantly in developing nuclear technology.
How. Very. Interesting.
I had some garden tomatoes, and when I went to the store I found the cutest fresh baby squid you ever did see. Serendipity.
1 lb. baby squid
1 1/2 lbs. fresh garden tomatoes
1-2 fresh chilis
1 medium yellow onion
1 large shallot
extra virgin olive oil
The 30 seconds refer to Mario Batali's adage, "30 seconds or 30 minutes," which is a neat way of saying that squid should be cooked either very quickly or for a long time. Otherwise, they turn into rubber. This is a great, spicy summer dish. With fresh garden tomatoes--I like the firm Roma variety for this recipe, but whatever you have will do--and fresh chilis, it's about as perfect a patio meal as any.
First make your tomato sauce. It's the simplest of sauces. Peel your tomatoes. The easiest way to get the skins off is to cut out the stem on top and score a cross in the bottom. Drop them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. As soon as the skins begin to curl up, dunk them in an ice-water bath. I'm not fanatical about coring and seeding tomatoes. I don't mind seeds, and I think that the process mostly wastes good tomato juices. But you can certainly remove them if you like--just remember that you'll need more tomatoes.
Dice a medium onion. Dice a shallot. Cut some thyme from the garden. Sweat out the onion and shallot in extra virgin olive oil. Be patient. You don't want them to caremalize. When they're nice and translucent and the bottom of the pan is covered in milky onion juice, throw in the tomatoes and the thyme. Salt generously with sea salt. Cover and simmer for about an hour.
Meanwhile, prepare your squids. Remove the little beak from the head. Cut off the tentacles and reserve. Grasp the head firmly at the eyes and give it a quick tug. Most of the internal organs will come out. Use your finger to pull out the rest. Rinse out the inside to get rid of the ink. Pull out the pin bone--a piece of translucent cartilege that runs down the back. Peel off the skin. You'll be left with a little pocket of pure white squid meat that looks, lord strike me dead if I'm lyin', like a little flaccid uncircumcised dick. Cut it into rings.
Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in the squid. Count slowly to twenty, and then start pulling them out and tossing them into ice water.
Now heat some extra virgin olive oil in a pan. When it gets hot, toss in a small handful of chopped chilis. When they start to pop, toss in the squid and quickly cover with a few ladle-fuls of tomato sauce. Do this all very quickly over very high heat. Squeeze in the juice of a quarter of a fresh lemon. Remove from heat. Give one last shot of raw oil. Serve with whole parseley leaves, rough-ground black peppercorns, and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
And, by the way, can someone please explain to me why Clinton and Levin jumped on the dump Maliki bandwagon? This campaign is clearly being orchestrated by the White House. It strikes me as a either a major error in judgment or something much more nefarious--a signal that the Dems are backing this coup. Am I missing something?Dear Digby,
The Dems are backing this coup.
Caveat lector. Don't say I didn't warn you:
I’ve been excoriated on a number of occasions by anti-war types for pointing out what, to me, at least, is simply an empirical truism: that oftentimes the rhetorical aims of the anti-war camp reveal themselves in such a way that they overlap, intentionally or not, with the rhetorical strategies used by al Qaeda in its propaganda war against western hawks.Has ever the homophonous comedy of sic and sick been so clearly on display? Oh, Jeff. You had me at "empirical truism."
Unfortunately, such an observation lends itself to easy cartooning, and is often dismissed with the requisite blend of bemusement and outrage by the garden variety leftist troll: “Nice. Compare us to terrorists because we’re brave enough to dissent, and because we refuse to swallow the lies of the most corrupt administration since Caligula. How typical, you warmongering chickenhawk hausfrau. Who wants to slap me with his COCK because he fears my independent critical thinking!”
The passage is the tiresome introduction to a tiresome essay followed again by a tiresome summation. The gist--you'll never guess!--is that war is a staring contest. The word of choice is "will." The mode of address is parenthetical. The tone is Strident Graduate Student. The implication is that Waziristan and war-torn Iraq are to a large extent coterminous with Madison Avenue, or at very least the Times building. The point, stripped of Goldstein's fussified prose, is that this is all a geopolitical cultcrit seminar, and if only our narrative were as big and hard and throbbing as their narrative, we would
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Fred Thompson is in the race!
George W. Bush claimed Jesus as his favorite philosopher. Fair enough. I'm more of an Ecclesiastes man myself. The Preacher is privileged, something of a fatalist, bitter with a tinge of humor or funny with bitterness, easy on the God business, and long on the cyclical nature of all things. The futility bits remind me of the Buddha. The poetry reminds me of The Dream Songs. Or The Dream Songs remind me of the poetry of Ecclesiastes. But let's not get too hung up on the direction of time's arrows. Whatever we come up with will surely be wrong.
Anyway, what better sums up Fred Dalton's life and career than this greatest of religious misanthropes:
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.Time and chance happen to them all. Ain't that the truth, now, as Fred hisself might say?
The field of Democratic Presidential aspirants gets the revolutionary treatment because it includes a colored fellow and a Vagina-American, but in the contours of its opinions it is absolutely typical. Meanwhile, the Republican slate really is as manly a collection of barking loons as ever I did lay eyes upon. Remember, back in double-aught all we were talking about were taxes and the Lock Box (a reference to Social Security, ye miserable pervs, and not to Madam Clinton). Even the dauphin was at the time little more than a genial jackass with a phony accent, and he sertinly dihn tawk bout vaydin no furrin kuntrees. Now they're all positively slavering to kill something. Jesus, anything. Give me a bunny rabbit and I will stomp it to death on this very stage. Then nuke it! Yee-haw. Benito Giuliani is so confused by the syntactical goofieness of his Terrorists' War Against Us that he's ready to nuke White Plains on account of Scarsdale. Mitt Romney will bomb every men's room in America to make certain we don't think about them anymore. John McCain--good lord, is he still alive, even? He talks like Alvin Chimpunk in the Fuhrerbunker. The rest of them--who knows what they want. An end to faggots. An end to Mexicans. Oh, and Ron Paul, the good guy, but he's clearly a little crazy himself, being yet a Republican and all.
Into this mix strides--or rather, moseys--FDT, and I'm most put in mind of the most universally applicable of all American films:
. . . even if he's a lazy man--and the Dude was most certainly that. Quite possibly the laziest in all of Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the runnin' for laziest worldwide.Fred, we don't deserve you. And you don't deserve us. When Candidate Cthulhu comes to devour us all, he'd better pass on Thompson, who, like the turkey that he is, will only make The Evil One sleepy.
The President was positive in July; the GAO is negative now; "General Petraeus" will be cautiously optimistic in September. Fortunately or unfortunately, none of it means anything.
As is the habit of much of the Democratic-Party-aligned antiwar set, great import, if not great credence, is given to these various reports and plans and programs and studies. Every month or so, a new one provides an Aha! moment. Details are parsed; obfuscations are untangled; doublespeak is singly spoken. The idea is that through close reading, the details of these reports will substantiate factional claims about the nature of the Occupation. I can understand war supporters desperately seeking good news, but for the supposed antiwar set to waste its time on all this is folly.
Let's be conscious: The government that produces these reports--whether they're upbeat or downbeat in specific tone--is the same government whose military is currently an occupying power. That makes the reports useful as guides into the internal disputes in the Grand Court of Washington, but reveals nothing about Iraq itself. The GAO report finds "little progress" because the Iraqi government has "failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress." How this can be considered a meaningful metric of "success" or "failure" is beyond me. The benchmarks are arbitrary; the mandates are non-binding; and all of it is occurring in the halls of Washington. Good governance benchmarks dreamed up by our own dysfunctional legislature for application by a powerless government garrisoned and gaurded in an island fortress in the middle of a war zone aren't worth the newsprint they're repeated on. Reports on the "military success" of Escalation, meanwhile, are inevitably Archimedian: they relate only to displacement.
Opposing the war meaningfully requires a committment not to the premise that the war cannot succeed, but rather to the premise that the war itself is a grave wrong. Set aside complaints about "shifting definitions of success in Iraq." Why not be frank? Success in Iraq means the conquest and pacification of a foreign nation. Our opposition can't be grounded in the impracticability of this task. It must be grounded in the wrongness of the project itself, success be damned.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Anyway, Larry Craig and the Gay Old Party have got me to thinking that perhaps my growing feeling that America is more Soviet than Roman is bit off the mark, and perhaps what we need is not a Solzhenitsyn but a Suetonius to lay out the more personal peccadilloes of our imperators. One need only look at Bush to peg him as a hard-core fetishist. Needless to say, the affections of his predecessors has been well-documented. No wonder Laura always looks like it's five in the morning and she's just been unstrapped from the bathhouse sling. I don't even want to think about the dog. For your personal edification, the proof!
SilentPatriot, a poster at C&L, wants us to understand that "President Bush simply has no credibility left." I'm not really sure what that means or why it matters, since every single US Senator and a solid majority of our Reps have already signed up for the Slim Picken's Iran tour. Thank God for La Nan and Harry Reid. If not for them, we might all be toiling as serfs for Ralph Nader and Iran would have already recreated the caliphate from al-Andalus to the steppes of Asia and the forests of China.
"Republicans think the governing class in Washington are a bunch of buffoons who have total disregard for the principles of the party, the law of the land and the future of the country.”How about that? Because it's so manifestly true of both parties, I'm still occasionally suprised when some beltway robot notes with "exasperation" that this or that scandal has led wayward America into believing it. Slice it with a razor. Turns out that the governing class in Washington are a bunch of buffoons who have total disregard for principle, law, and the future of the country. You read it here last, boys and girls.
-Scott Reed, Republican Strategist
The more pertinent question, I think, is just how it happened that the Grand Old Party came to resemble a house party on fire island, but without tans or abs. I haven't seen so many badly-dressed and out-of-shape middle-aged homos in one place since Elton John and Billy Joel last played together at the old Three Rivers Stadium. What sort of wincingly pathetic closet case gets pinched in a restroom, pleads guilty to a misdemeanor, and then comes out swinging with the old "I am not gay. I have never been gay." Well smell you, miss thing. It is true that they all seem to be married. Someone light a scented candle and turn the lights down low. Can't you just hear Dennis Hastert whispering, "It's not the gender. It's the person." Whoever thought that the Party of Lincoln would turn out to be the Party of Bisexuality. Paging Joshua Speed. Your table is waiting.
The dauphin, as you know, requested another $50 billion for the occupation of Iraq, and it's inconceivable that he won't get it. I suspect that the Donk will kick up a minor ruckus, insisting on increasing toaster strudel rations or committing the military to an in-theater anti-smoking campaign or some such. Then, without getting any of it, they'll nevertheless acquiesce entirely and the flowing funds will once again have flown. As it is, was and shall be. Où sont les neiges d'antan. And so forth. Washington, meanwhile, awaits with breath that is bated for something called General Petraeus' report, although everyone understands that this report will be a series of anecdotes and cautiously sunny obfuscations drafted by the third assistant best boy to the undergrip of the Gaffer of State. In two months, no one will care nor recall. Remember the Iraq Study Group report? Yeah, neither do I.
As a bonus, it really does appear that a shooting war with Iran is in the offing. The rhetoric is certainly established. The twining and twinning of the destinies of Iran and Iraq bear uncanny resemblance to the old elisions of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, and as noted above, the chances of congressional Democrats actually doing anything about it, other than standing aside and waving the convoy on through with a thumbs up and a smart salute, are less than zero. (For me, it raises an interesting philosophical dilemma. Republicans tend toward a sort of fascistic millennarianism, which I obviously abhor. But Democrats have been trending toward a sort of casual nihilism lately, and that, I think, is an absence of ethos we can all get behind.) Last week, for instance, I'm pretty sure that this guy I know from the Maldives was giving me a funny look. It could be because I was kicking the vending machine, but just to be on the safe side, we might want to consider the military option.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
In this article, Christopher "The Dude" Hitchens explains that we're not privy to all the new shit.
Seriously. This is a guy who could walk away from a twenty-car freeway pile-up content that he'd salvaged the pine-fresh undamaged from his rearview.
Okay. Dennis Perrin sort of beat me to it, but I henceforth promise to go easier on Digby because she pointed me to this.
Of course, my colleagues now think I'm crazier than before (no small feat, believe me), because I just spent the last half-hour weeping with laughter over the outraged comments on a parody website whose hitcount went way, way up after, get this, MSNBC picked it up as "Al Sharpton's Personal Blog."
I love America.
A topic I've harped on from time to time is the misperception that American conservatives seek a free markets or that free marketism as practiced and preached has anything to do with the truly free movement and exchange of goods, services, labor, and capital. Not without reason have I called this the Soviet States of America.
Matt Taibbi's recent article on "The Great Iraq Swindle" is worth reading as a primer. The case of Iraq is remarkable for the scope of its fiscal malfeasance, but what's notable is how every scam, every sweetheart deal, every exception signed off on, every profit-guaranteed contract signed, is simply a grander, more audacious version of the sorts of market interventions that our government makes every day under the phony rubric of "privatization" or "deregulation."
Here's a nut:
What the Bush administration has created in Iraq is a sort of paradise of perverted capitalism, where revenues are forcibly extracted from the customer by the state, and obscene profits are handed out not by the market but by an unaccountable government bureaucracy. This is the triumphant culmination of two centuries of flawed white-people thinking, a preposterous mix of authoritarian socialism and laissez-faire profiteering, with all the worst aspects of both ideologies rolled up into one pointless, supremely idiotic military adventure -- American men and women dying by the thousands, so that Karl Marx and Adam Smith can blow each other in a Middle Eastern glory hole.Funny stuff, but descriptive of phenomena far beyond the borders of Iraq. I like the phrasing revenues forcibly extracted from the customer by the state.
It's easy to forget that in the heady stock-bubble days, and even into the duaphin's first term, the CNBC nation was high as a kite on the fumes of a smoking "investor class." George W. Bush expressed a desire that all of us, men and women, boys and girls, would be judged not by the color of our skin but by the contents of our portfolios. Notionally this was just retarded Keynsianism: an economy propelled through deficit, but with the brunt born by a borrowing class who'd simply leverage their debt into investment in vain hopes of beating the market, while the government and its corporate partners hoovered up not only their own increases in valuation, but also the financed and refinanced and refinanced again debt-wealth of America. Talk about making one dollar pay two. Consider this poor figure: the guy with fifty grand in consumer debt refinancing his house to pay down the service on his credit card while buying stock in or through the same damned financial octopus that holds him by the balls.
As the mortgage crisis partly reveals, the idea that unfettered consumption would forever drive and expand the economy was just a sales pitch to a lot of gullible marks. The Fed lowered rates like a failing automaker, and everbody bought a house and went into catastrophic debt furnishing it with the latest electronic knicknacks and buying enough cars to fill however many berths in the garage, and then the government turned right around on them and put the squeeze on them on behalf of their creditors by making it harder and harder to declare bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, no one bought auto stock because they thought the company made good cars or energy company stock because the electricity generated in their plants was a valuable, fungible, purchasable commodity. They bought stock because it was stock because it was stock, and now nothing is worth much of anything and who the hell knows what good or service those three-letter combos on the NYSE listing actually provide. The DOW topped 13,000, but no one could explain why. The entire American economy is now like those old dotcom ads that showed a dog with wings flying through a shower of marbles while a cute little girl danced in a field of goldenrod. What were they selling? Who knew? Who cared?
When John Mackey of Whole Foods dared publicly proclaim that he wanted investors who would stay in for the long haul, and that his business was not increasing stock valuation but selling groceries, I breathed an abiding sigh. Whatever his faults may be, these are sentiments I can get behind. I like buying and selling. I certainly don't object to investment. Joint-stock is a fine way to partly democratize business. But let's all stop pretending that what we see in America today has anything to do with a market. The thing about markets is that you can see what they're selling.
It's always seemed to me that the most common argument for so-called sex education--that premarital sex is largely inevitable; better be prepared!--accepts unintentionally the same premise that underlies so-called abstience education, namely, that sex is an ill whose effects must be mitigated. Maybe it's lingering embarrassment over free love and other tacky remnants of the enthusiastic 60s, or maybe it's residual terror and ignorance of AIDS, but there are few if any voices noting the centrality of healthy, pleasurable, and fulfilling sexual expression to fully formed adult life.
The debilitating personal and mental tolls of living a closeted life are clear, and the continuing existence of terrible prejudice, discrimination, hatred, violence, and repression undeniably leads to a vicious cycle of self-hatred and self-mutiliation (psychologically, if not physically), until we witness the tragically common spectacle of gay men and women not only denying themselves their true sexual desires, but working actively to institutionalize, codify, and strengthen the discriminatory regime that already exists.
Yet homophobia is a symptom, not a disease. The disease, I think, is a total lack of sexual candor. The disease is that we consider it tawdry and unmentionable to note that even US Senators, men and women, put cocks in their mouths from time to time. As a society, our thoughts about the human sexual drive are notably prurient without ever being explicit. A thousand Antoninian cocks and vaginas have not the pornographic seeminess of a single American rape-and-revenge, T&A, action-movie fantasy. Our immoral investment in determining who, what, where, when, and how the appropriate sex should be had between any two, three, or five hundred consenting people is the seed of a tree that bears bitter fruit. To deny your own ordinary capacity for pleasure so deeply that you find yourself crusing airports--not to satisfy a fetish, but to satiate a secret compulsion--is to fail to be fully human. That, at last, is a kind of crime.
Monday, August 27, 2007
What in the world is this man blabbering about?
First of all, no one in the academy outside of the bubbling remains of Falwell's Middle High Colonic period believes in or cares about God, no matter what they tell you. Academics care about only two things: getting laid and finding free food at post-lecture receptions. The latter, needless to say, is their forte; the former, not. Campus Jews are only in it for the kosher meal. This is a basic principle for airline passengers and students. The Muslims want you to believe that they care about Palestine, but really they just like to get together and smoke hash. Catholics, meanwhile, are generally the best looking and definitely the easiest to get in the sack. They simply cannot hold their liquor. There isn't a Catholic undergraduate in the Lower 48 who won't let you in the backdoor for a half-bottle of Zima and a few turns to the dulcet strains of Andre 3000 singing Hey Yeah. The Hindus are all rich and have the best cocaine. Etc.
This is why I endorse Candidate-for-Life Benito Giuliani, by the way. He treats his Church of Rome the way the Romans do: with the total disdain of utter familiarity. You can imagine him asking his latest secretary if she minds that he likes to wear a goat mask when he fucks her. Is any other candidate for office so likely to have cloven feet? Even Cthulhu has the mere body of a man, although with longer fingernails. If ever a fellow were going to settle into the oval office with a cocaine atomizer, an old stack of Hustlers, and a cortège of overly-busty, not-entirely-attractive Jersey girls, Giuliani is it. He even looks like a cock.
Here is a Kos diarist explaining that the Democratic Party is not a party but a brand, and Hillary Clinton is like a giant recall of lead-paint-painted toys, while here, par contre, is a Kos diarist explaining that the former "explicitly endorses something that is unacceptable: namely, not voting for a potential presidential nominee for the Democratic Party." The first link is a glory of mixed metaphors, and the second painfully reminds its readers to "remember 2000," a year in which, as you all might recall, eighteen eldery Floridians and one Connecticuter named Ralph Nader hijaked two Boeing 737s and flew them into the USS Cole, which was en route to ending the genocide in Darfur on Vice-Presidential order by environmental activist and Wilhelm Reich enthusiast Albert Dumblegore.
Understandably, hoi pollloi under the notorious two-party system--a misuse, if ever there were one, of the words two, party, and system--feel their legitimate and practicable expressions of political will to be constrained. Despite my cavorting and pimping for some kind of gun-toting minarchical end-times homotopia, I am not entirely unsympathetic to such feelings. I feel much the same way about dining out in Pittsburgh. And yet one discovers that when restaurants let you down, there is always a farmer and a grocer willing to lift you up, and the pleasure of a dinner party in the garden on a beautiful summer day is almost infinitely greater than trying to get the waitress to understand that you do indeed pronounce the final s in niçoise, that the ch in bruschetta is hard, not soft, and that rare means rare means rare.
If bloggery has any enduring rewards, it's that it provides an endless opportunity to indulge in personal idiosyncracy. The notion that all this electronic effluvia provides some sort of cyberspatial equivalent of the VFW and the New Hampshire diner and the actual, physical expression of $1,000-a-plate fundraising strikes me--has always struck me--as fanciful in the extreme. Of course, that's just one of my many idiosyncracies. Crowds get to me. Uniformity makes me feel like i'm at Nuremburg. When we were growing up, our grandmother used to tell my brother and I that we shouldn't laugh so much because it made my grandfather think the war was going to start again. What did it mean? I still haven't the foggiest, but it impressed on me early on that there is nothing so frightening as a group of people doing any similar thing at precisely the same time. What I find so awful about the concept of the so-called Netroots is not the heedless self-regard, nor the polisci quackery of pocket-sized machiavels like Markos Massimus, but the organizing spirit that undergirds it all. Remember, citizens: Cooperation breeds compliance.
"The new law says that it is not a crime to have been in the Baath Party," an adviser to Hashimi said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. "De-Baathification is canceled."Awesome! One demand down, ten to go!
Having spent the weekend entirely lacking internet access--lacking, in most instances, a computer even--I am pleased to report to all y'all that nothing has occurred. Alberto Gonzales gone is the same as Alberto Gonzales present: either mute or foolish, but in no instance useful. The wars still drag on, and for the first time in the history of the internet, I agree almost entirely with something that Kevin Drum has written:
Consider two other big counterinsurgency wars that were going badly after a few years: Vietnam in 1964 and Afghanistan in 1984. In both cases, the entangled superpower had the option of either pulling out and taking its lumps or extending the conflict, and in both cases it made the choice to extend the conflict. And both times that was the wrong decision. Staying in Vietnam did immense long-term damage to the national security of both Southeast Asia and the United States, and staying in Afghanistan was a leading cause of the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. For both countries, staying involved in a long and deadly counterinsurgency almost certainly did far more harm than pulling out would have.It's notable that our government speaks of and our press covers Iraq as if it's a restive overseas colony, although they eschew the word occupation.
How did we become such an eager empire while convincing ourselves so thoroughly of our own reluctance?