After all, most Democratic activists, whether or not they like Hillary Clinton, don't want to see the party burned down for her sake.I don't doubt that this is true, but from where I sit, a Clinton-led destruction of the Democratic party, whatever its motives, would be a kind of penance rarely, if ever, made in public life in this country.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
BAGHDAD — American military forces for the first time conducted air strikes on targets in Basra late Thursday, joining Iraqi security forces in trying to oust Shiite militias in the southern port city.After five years of this bullshit, it's really remarkable that an artfag living in the slow-flowing provinces of Western PA should be called upon to elucidate martial terminology to people who supposedly dedicate their lives to fighting and reporting on wars, but mine is the land of the Whiskey Rebellion, so, heavy alas though the burden may be, I'll bear it in the spirit of our lost distilleries.
How the hell do you "oust Shiite militias"? They're militias. Citizens. Not. A. Regular. Army. The motherfuckers live there. They're not visiting from Shiitopia, dropping in for some combat before heading home for dinner. They're not bivouacing. The motherfuckers motherfucking live there. I mean, how do you "oust" them unless you kill all the men in . . . oooohhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Mr. President, if I may speak freely, the Russkie talks big, but frankly, we think he's short of know how. I mean, you just can't expect a bunch of ignorant peons to understand a machine like some of our boys.I dare you to read about Hillary Clinton's healthcare proposal and come to her estimation that "We have so much unnecessary cost in our system" without laughing bitterly. The plan is quite plainly nuts, modelled on a Massachusetts plan that is also plainly nuts (not to mention demonstrably ineffectual). She proposes that the federal government will mandate that every citizen purchase health "insurance" from a private company, excepting those who presumably means-test into a Medicare-type subsidy, and the federal government will moderate the mandate by capping out-of-pocket expenditures by individuals and families at a percentage of income, however you define income, and that cost inflation driven by insurers' profit-seeking will be constrained by requiring that they spend 85% of their revenue from premiums on actual "health care," however you define care, wherein there is a huge, infernal devil of details. In other words, as the dauphin likes to say, we are going to have exactly the same system as we currently do, now with 15% more accounting!
-Air Force General Buck Turgidson
WASHINGTON — When officers from the Central Intelligence Agency destroyed hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting harsh interrogations in 2005, they may have believed they were freeing the government and themselves from potentially serious legal trouble.Powder on the toilet seat? Clogged commode?! Officer, I swear I was just powdering my athlete's foot and taking a huge dump! Nothin' to see in there.
But nearly four months after the disclosure that the tapes were destroyed, the list of legal entanglements for the C.I.A., the Defense Department and other agencies is only growing longer. In addition to criminal and Congressional investigations of the tapes’ destruction, the government is fighting off challenges in several major terrorism cases and a raft of prisoners’ legal claims that it may have destroyed evidence.
“They thought they were saving themselves from legal scrutiny, as well as possible danger from Al Qaeda if the tapes became public,” said Frederick P. Hitz, a former C.I.A. officer and the agency’s inspector general from 1990 to 1998, speaking of agency officials who favored eliminating the tapes. “Unknowingly, perhaps, they may have created even more problems for themselves.”
Thursday, March 27, 2008
WIIIAI, the Connie Bailey to our Wagstaff, reminds us to read the London Review of Books for such titillation as it can offer. Here at Who Is IOZ?, our habits are somewhat more base, despite the high-culture pretensions, and the preferred erotic literature is the craigslist personals page, particularly the Missed Connections, where human frailty and physical lonlieness gather to take out their frustrations on the language of Shakespeare, Milton, and Michael Savage. Today's discovery:
Saw you breaking into Tuscany - m4m - 30Tuscany, by the way, was a gay café and bar with all the charm of a Panera bread, a place where no one ever, not once, got laid, or got the prospect of getting laid. It's loss was unlamented except by a certain subset of Neon-driving, near-suburban, mid-twenties queens who found the sub-Ikea fixtures daringly European and the idea of appending a faux Starbucks to a phony Applebees shocking and radical. Presumably that's precisely the demographic to which our adorable crybaby belongs, although to be clear I find the idea that anyone, even a tacky queer with a rainbow deoderizer hanging from his rear-view mirror, would shed a tear over this place the teeniest bit questionable. Well, stranger things have happened.
Hey cutie, I was coming home from an organized public bath house orgy in the South Side when I saw you peeking into Tuscany, which is unfortunately closed down now. I noticed you reading the sign in the window, then you got on your cell phone and started crying. I was across the street the whole time. At first I thought you were just a little cute, but when you put your three-way conference call on speaking and I heard all your friends crying, I couldn't help but get a little turned on... 7 inches of turn on the be exact. Why I cared about you I don't know, but what I do know is that ever since I saw you crying that day, I can't think of anything but forcing you little head onto my crotch and pushing your head into me until those tears can be used to lubricate your pain away.
If you remember a guy standing there laughing at you masturbating in my sparkle sweat pants laughing, that was me. If you want to meat.. I mean meet me, I'll be the guy outside your window masturbating tonight.
And every night.
Until you come out.
Don't forget... your tears = lube.
As for the other fellow, what can you call him but a master of characterization. Not just any bathhouse orgy for our intrepid seducer, no--an organized orgy at a public bathhouse. Somehow, I imagine name tags.
Evidently this exercise in bureaucratic fornication was insufficiently rocks-off-gotting, and there he stood, stiffly at attention, turned on by the histrionic sobs of a bunch of young homos inexplicably on speakerphone on one of Pittsburgh's most popular, pub-crawling streets. How turned on was he? "7 inches of turn on the be exact." Yeah, but how big is your dick?
"If you remember a guy standing there laughing at you masturbating in my sparkle sweat pants laughing, that was me." If someone stole my sparkle sweat pants and started masturbating in them while cackling to himself, I'd probably chuckle too.
"Don't forget . . . your tears = lube." I'd hold out for corn oil myself. Oh, how glad I am to be single in this city once again.
To my knowledge, I had never read Megan McArdle until her latest, flailing attempts to justify just which sorts of past rightness and wrongness can be instructive and just which sorts should drift into our collective forgetting led her to pen some of the most curious paragraphs ever written:
Obviously, there are people who were right about the war for the right reasons, and we should examine what their thought process was--not merely the conclusions they came to, but how they got there. Other peoples' opposition was animated by principles that may be right, but aren't really very helpful: the pacifists, the isolationists, the reflexive opponents of Republicans or the US military. Within the limits on foreign policy in a hegemonic power, these just aren't particularly useful, again, regardless of whether you are metaphysically correct.Of course, you can understand what that first excerpted paragraph is trying to do: it's trying to draw situational limits on valid political thought. There are Republicans; we are a hegemonic power; ergo, we must argue in a world where the somewhat more militant political faction in America eggs the nation on to various aggressive foreign wars in a futile effort to maintain the current alignment of global power as the Washington consensus imagines it to be. Those are narrow straits indeed in which to argue, and since most serious and sincere opponents of the Occupation oppose it as part and parcel of a larger moral, political, and intellectual opposition to the American hegemonic project soi-même, it has the added (dis)advantage of invalidating pretty much all but the tepid, procedural opposition of certain players in Democratic politics. That is the natural goal of those who were wrong and who will not admit contrition or atonement into their universe, who wish to remain "respected" participants in the conversation. Failures of implementation or failures of design don't necessarily undermine principles. If the problem with the invasion and occupation was bad execution, then Megan McArdle and the rest of the wrong-stop train can continue the debased conversation that sees war as one more Six Sigma event, with no more moral import or actual, human toll than the production of cell phones or new processes for the Outside Sales Department.
"It won't work" is the easiest prediction to get right; almost nothing does. The thought process that tells you something probably won't work is not always a good way to figure out what will, even if you were right for the right reasons, as I agree lots of people were. That's why libertarians have a great track record at predicting which government programs will fail (almost all of them) and a lousy track record at designing ones that do work.
The second paragraph then proposes a vast swath of straw men whose argument against butchering hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, destroying their physical nation, sending millions into internal and external exile, and embarking upon the long-term occupation of a nation a half a world away was, in McArdle's goofy estimation, really just a variation on Murphy's Law. That is probably a pleasant fantasy for someone who principally objects to the view that the Iraq "project" was inherently doomed because that view lacks some requisite, Roccoco complexity. "Almost nothing [goes right]." Well, I guess. Doesn't it depend on the meaning of "nothing"? In any case, those like myself who said not simply that the invasion of Iraq would fail to achieve either its stated or its actual goals, but that it must fail to achieve them, were not arguing from some universalist principal of incompetence, but rather from the rich recent history of commensurate projects and their innate tendency to fail. Indeed, one of the most common charges levelled against war opponents by jingoes was that our historical analogizing was irrelevant. "Iraq is not Vietnam." "Iraq is not Algeria." "Iraq is not Afghanistan and the Soviets." Etc. And of course, Iraq turned out to be all of those things, and more--it could no more be otherwise than I could fly by flapping my arms. The people supporting invasion and occupation were the ones proposing that Iraq would be a single, vastly distant historical outlier, totally devoid of precedent or context, and those who thought that the mere incompetence of the administration, or its untrustworthiness, were substantive arguments against invading were almost universally people who wished (and still wish) to hedge their bets just in case it all worked out. McArdle says that only this latter sort are worth talking to because they were right for the right reasons, but the opposite is true.
People who supported the invasion of Iraq were fatuous, bloodthirsty, ahistorical, immoral, politically naive, callous, unthinking, reprehensible morons--to the man. The proper attitude is contrition, silence, and contemplation. Making a gaudy spectacle of having "supported" something so awful, even if only to show how smart you were to change your mind when you noticed things going south, is disgusting.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Well, since I am on about faith, love, devotion, and all that, I'll point you to this reply to a fairly miserable Slate column (is there another kind?) on "single parents," which is of course a euphemism for sluts who got knocked up, or bitches who couldn't keep their mans, or whatever. What's really quite remarkable to me is just how little discussion of the welfare of children in families discusses, you know, children. This, I suspect, is largely due to our reluctance to confer either autonomy or agency on children, to treat them as unrealized human beings and palimpsests on which to write and erase the errors and triumphs of surrounding adulthood.
It seems plain to me that the common arguments for the nearly universal preferability of "two-parent" households, and married heterosexual households above all others, all rest upon a fundamental belief that the greatest benefit we can offer children is to lie to them. This belief in turn rests on a conviction, never articulated, that kids are something other than people, that the value of candor, forthrightness, and basic honest must be distilled lest these creatures that so resemble our larger selves be irrevocably damaged by the truth of human experience. I for one find it entirely baffling, and depressingly common.
One of the sad realities of transit is that streetcars are, in general, much more cost-efficient than subways, but are also far less cool.Not true! Strasbourg, for instance, has an awfully cool tram system, although there is a brief (.5K or so) subway portion under the main train station. Milan has a similar system.
The dauphin says that the results of the Iraq war will be "worth the sacrifice." Be still my still-beating heart as the priest removes it from my chest. They really do seem to believe down there in the Potomac basin that they can effectuate distant events through ritual magic. Actually, it is something of an article of belief in the conspiratorial circles in which I occasionally travel that that is precisely what they are doing, and although I remain a vigorous defender of the essential mundanity of the world, a doubter and debunker of signs and portents, I am beginning to come around to the notion.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Last week, after four years nearly to the day, my boyfriend and I split up. We were living together in the home that we bought last year. There was almost no aspect in which our lives were not intertwined: we worked together on projects and events, gave our time to the same causes, had the same circles of intimates, hell, wore each other's clothes. I think he treated me horribly and inhumanly, with a callous and wanton cruelty that only barely covered his own fear, sadness, and ambivalence. I am sure he feels similarly about me. I am not sure that we're not still in love; I think, probably, that we are.
It's one thing to go to sleep alone after being used to have a body beside you. You can read until your eyes shut and the book falls from your hands, or you can count your breath backwards out of consciousness, or you can go to a friend's house and have one extra, soporific glass of wine with dinner. It's quite another to wake up alone, with no body beside you, with no tricks or techniques but to swing your legs over the side of the bed and walk to the bathroom through a closet still full of the detritus of your shared life. Like every other life, mine has had its share of hurts and disappointments, but I've never felt so utterly defeated, weak, and directionless, nor ever felt that the air was just too thick to breathe, nor that I might as well just stay in bed forever, until my stomach shrinks into itself and my heart shuts up in my ears. I nearly wept on the bus--the bus! I can't concentrate. I hurt palpably, as if deep water were crushing me. I feel utterly bereft, without worth or hope.
Now if this is how I feel after something so quotidian as a break-up; if I feel my frankly comfortable, untroubled life to be exploding into a thousand sorrows just because my lover and I reached an impasse that we couldn't negotiate together; if such bleakness, helplessness, and desperation as I've never felt in my life can come from something so insubstantial as having to buy new furniture or a new jacket because he's taking my favorites; if I am wracked by fear--real, true fear as I haven't felt since I was a child--about being alone for a while; then just how the fuck must it feel to be an Iraqi or an Afghani or a Palestinian? If it's bad to lose a lover in Pittsburgh, what must it be like to see your family killed, or your husband kidnapped, or your home destroyed in Baghdad?
I think this is an experiment too many of us shy away from totally, to consider the very worst hurts in our lives, the deepest gulfs of grief and despair, and to try to imagine them magnified a hundred-fold and then repeated daily, accompanied by daily humiliations and by a truer helplessness. That, you know, is why something like the Occupation of Iraq is such an unforgiveable crime--not because it violates the ethical obligations of nations, if such exist, or because it contravenes international law, or because it violates some ephemeral original spirit of America, truth, justice democracy. I am sick to death of justice and democracy. I am tired beyond words of the euphemisms that surround the treatment of war as a political phenomenon. Consider the most terrible thing that has ever happened to you and your family, and then look at a picture of a woman wailing over a husband killed by a bomb, or a man tearing his hair out over the body of his brother with a bullet in the head, and consider that for them the reoccurence of such tragedy is inevitable, and the closeness to it daily and inescapable. How must they hurt, those people caught between nations, armies, insurgencies? And how is it that I am crying on a bus for myself, and not for them?