Were it not for the ability of Sir James of Ocicat to breathe the sulphurous atmosphere of celeb gossip, I wonder if I would ever have had the opportunity to read the phrase, "VALKYRIE WILL OWN YOUR ASS"? Now I have a sweet nothing to whisper to Max Mosley, should I ever find myself on a basement picnic with the gentleman. I doubt I cut a sufficiently Jean Brodie figure, however, so that'll probably never happen.
Now what interests me here is not Tom Cruise so much as Bryan Singer, whose previous Nazi film was a little dab of sunshine called Apt Pupil, based on a Stephen King short story, in which Ian McKellan was evil and Brad Renfro basically dumb and occasionally nude. You may recall that it was the lockerroom scene from that very movie that got Singer in trouble for a slightly-less-than-legal ephebophilia, and while I am not sure the long arm of the state belongs between the creeper-peepers of thirty-somethings and the boy-butts of their teenaged extras, I think that the whole episode bodes poorly for Valkyrie's filmic prospects. I mean, the joke writes itself: A Nazi, a pedophile, and a scientologist walk into a bar . . .
Friday, April 11, 2008
Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and other powerful men appear likely to get a pass. Less lucky: the 15 terrified women being hauled by prosecutors into court to recount in graphic detail their past work as prostitutes -- and more than 100 other former prostitutes whose names prosecutors are trying to make public."If men had to do their vile work without the assistance of woman and the stimulant of strong drink," wrote Caroline Nichols Churchill, "they would be obliged to be more divine and less brutal."
Wednesday, prosecutors forced a 63-year-old retired PhD -- her name, like those of other witnesses, now a matter of public record -- to testify about inducing orgasms in her client; the government's lawyers had similar questions for a mother of three who worked briefly for the escort service nearly 15 years ago.
Yesterday, it was the turn of a young naval officer to take the stand; the case will almost certainly end her career. The prosecutor, Daniel Butler, had the woman spell her name slowly and clearly, then had her talk about when she was "aggressive" with a client, when she was "more submissive," when she had a difficult client ("he tried to remove the condom") and how often she got "intimate."
"What do you mean by 'intimate'? "
The soon-to-be-former naval officer looked at him in disbelief. "Touching, caressing," she explained.
"What happened" after that? he demanded.
"What type of sex?"
"Sometimes it was oral sex; usually it was normal."
"Normal?" Butler persisted.
"I'm not sure what you're getting at," the stricken witness pleaded.
"What's normal sex?" Butler again demanded.
Judge James Robertson intervened. "He wants to know if you mean intercourse."
Butler pressed on with more humiliating questions until the judge cut him off. "That's enough," Robertson said. Minutes later, the dazed woman was helped out of the room.
-Dana Milbank reporting on the "D.C. Madam" case for the WaPo
Churchill was an unfortunate supporter of Prohibition, but her great battle was against the "Holland Social Evil Bill," which punished "immoral women" but left the men off scott free. And now we see the U.S. Government branding with a scarlet letter women who are no longer prostitutes, forcing them into tawdry recollections for the prurient interest of the one-handed gallery. Let a thousand little Kenneth Starrs twinkle and shine.
Tellingly, the government position here seems to be that these women are the equivalent of both the dealer and the drug, that not only are they the providers of the illicit, but that they themselves are essentially illicit. So they must testify not only to their own participation in an illegal economic exchange, i.e. sex for money, but must also testify to their own dark and addictive allure, as if cocaine itself were on the stand testifying to its induction of euphoria.
God. Men are such dicks.
SOBCHACK: You know, pacifism is nothing to hide behind dude. Take our situation with that camel fucker in Iraq.
THE DUDE: I'm just saying he's got emotional problems, man.
SOBCHAK: You mean . . . other than pacifism?
Needless to say, I look down my long, Mediterranean nose at religions of all sorts, and in particular the Western monotheisms (if you can really call Christianity monotheism, which I rather doubt) that have for so many centuries bathed so much of the world, literally and figuratively, in blood. And yet when I read these sorts of bland ecumenical encomiums, chastizing believers for actually believing, I find myself on the side of the dogmatists. Liberal religion, as it's now known, has at its gaping, vacuous heart a black hole of infinite incoherency, for it posits that "belief" as an abstraction, that the capacity "to believe," supercedes all content of belief. Thus do I choke on my yogurt when nice ladies like Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite avers:
The Pope seems to think that he and Mr. Allam had previously been “in opposition to one another,” merely because they were not of the same faith. That “opposition” has disappeared, apparently, simply through the sacrament of baptism into the Catholic faith.One can imagine the hours Thistlethwaite spent chewing on that pig-ear, but I will tell you, faggots and faggettes, that Uncle Ratzinger does happen to be the supreme pontiff of a church whose motto is "the one true faith." Nearly every Christian sect posits itself as the real source of human salvation, and although neither Islam nor Judaism is quite so big on salvation, they both take their respective "no other gods beside me" pretty damned seriously.
This is unexpectedly revealing. At a deep level, the Pope is saying that it is the faiths themselves that are in opposition, not individuals who may be of different faiths.
And shouldn't they? After all, the religions of the book propose themselves as singularly revelatory, and the idea that two distinct divine revelations are not "in opposition is batty. The Pope believes that he is the representative of the true god on Earth. So while on the one hand we may expect him to speak politely of Islam, how do we expect that he would also consider the content of the Muslim faith to be anything other than heresy and heathenism? And vice versa.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
There is nothing more important than keeping alive the American dream to own your home, and priority number one is to keep well-meaning, deserving home owners who are facing foreclosure in their homes.To keep them where?
-The Senator from These Kids Today That Isn't Music Get off My Lawn
The "nothing more important" locution is common enough in politics, and you can be plenty sure that it signifies the opposite of what it says, and the clue from Senator Snaps-a-Lot is that he's keeping "alive" a "dream." Now you will pardon me for my skepticism, but maintaining the unliteral, metaphorical life of an abstraction of a desire seems to me to be largely unrelated to the question of whether or not the government of the United States of America ought to give someone money in order to prevent a lot of poor bastards--excuse me, well-meaning, deserving home owners--from finding their asses in foreclosure.
Of course, my position on the issue is that the government shouldn't, and that all those poor bastards ought to burn the motherfucker down on their way out the door just to make all those bad debts even more motherfucking unrecoverable, thus delivering yet another balpine-hammer-blow to the monstrous cankles of American finance. Creative destruction, my bitches.
So evidently Expelled, Ben Stein's new jeremiad against Charles Darwin, purports that Darwinism caused the Holocaust. Not true! In fact, the Holocaust is almost solely the work of Scandanavian astronomer Tycho Brahe, whose observational acumen led directly to the positive refutation of the Christo-Ptolemaic man-centric universe, which paved the way for the Christ-refuting Germanic neopaganism that undergirded the Reich's racialist ideology.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
And the question thus arises: who picked the little clouds?
How "Armed Unmanned Vehicles" raining from "Intelligence" clouds are going to affect "Popular Support" for "Other Groups" is perhaps beyond my non-martial ken, but fortunately there is "Internet," so you've got that going. My great-grandfather was a lifelong bricoleur who dreamed of creating a perpetual motion machine, and my grandmother, who had something of an aptitude in physics used to say, "But Papa, look in my book from school, it is impossible," although, she admits, Papa's drawings could be quite lovely in a funny sort of way.
Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it's an ethos.I'm not so sure about the pointlessness, though. Pointless in the sense that it isn't meant to elicit real information or punish specific transgressions, perhaps, but on the other hand, a healthy dose of totally arbitrary brutality is generally part and parcel of any imperial project. In fact, if you go back and read many of the bien-pensant writings of the British ruling class during the height of empire, you'll find a startlingly forthright understanding of the fact that a little violence properly applied helps keep the wogs in line. This, recall, was that most civilized of empires, too, no dirty Leopoldian Congo there, thankyouverymuch. Of course, more recently the great empires, especially the US and the Soviets, were fanatically committed to denying that they were (and that we remain) empires, and it is the unwillingness to admit the imperial nature of our international project that underlies the vital necessity of the John Yoos of the world, who must construct vast, obfuscatory architectures in which outcomes not arrived at by practices are held to be the points of each practice. The gossamer arguments about the imperative to, say, lock up and torture random prisoners indefinitely as a kind of global, ongoing, battlefield intelligence operation have at their root not the belief that toture produces "intelligence," but rather an extremely bizarre ideological committment to the idea that it is better to argue in favor of pointless torture than to admit that brutalizing the local population is a method of imperial control as old as civilization itself. And, indeed, such perambulatory pseudothinkery has largely undermined the efficacy of random brutality at cowing the local populace into relative compliance, since the mechanisms of torture are so caught up in the rhetorical demands of not-imperialism.
From the horrors of the Abu Ghraib prison, where Gen. Geoffrey Miller, previously the commandant of Guantanamo Bay, was sent by Donald Rumsfeld and William Haynes to "Gitmoize" the dungeon by enabling atrocities like the torturing to death of Manadel al-Jamadi in a process called "Palestinian Hanging," to the deliberate long-term incarceration of Murat Kurnaz, deprived of his rights by anonymous bureaucrats who found it more expedient to keep an innocent man whom they knew was innocent imprisoned and disappeared than to admit an error, Yoo's handiwork is detectable in an array of war crimes and crimes against humanity breathtaking in their scope, cruelty, and utter pointlessness.
On the other hand, divide-and-conquer seems to be working fairly well, both as a strategy for keeping the Iraqis busier killing each other than killing Americans, as well as a strategy for completely disabling any chance that our domestic political apparatus will end our involvement, given the "instability" and the failure to "achieve political reconciliation"--a sorry state that would obtain even if the domestic opposition were interested in ending the Occupation, which it is not. Now needless to say I am not an advocate for more effective conquest, but rather an advocate for a cessation of conquest, yet insofar as identifying derangements of language is one of the keys to understanding politics, it seems to me that the persistent failure to call American Imperialism by its right name, a failure no less common (perhaps more common) among those putatively opposed to this war, at very least, is a deep, dark root.
Koffler via Frog
The progglesphere is totally delighted that Joe Biden, the regnant Aeolus of an already breezy US Senate, half-got Ryan C. "What A" Crocker to admit that Iraq is not the "central front in the war on terror," which of course leads no one to conclude that we ought to cease our imperial meddling around the globe, but rather that it would somehow be a good idea to put an extra hundred thousand boots just across the border from Pakistan. This in turn has caused some considerable hand-wringing, as no one is certain what to "do about Pakistan." Hey, America, how about nothing?
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Dudes and dudettes, you know I don't care much for Christaboutit Obama, but you gotta love how Richard Cohen's essential point here is that unless Obama tells Richard Cohen that Cohen is right to be afraid of niggers, he will lose the election.
I hereby declare that until Barack blows coke off my dick in a limo, he will lose the PA primary.
Monday, April 07, 2008
Clearly the solution is not to seek legal tools through which executive compensation may be regulated based on some performance metric or blah blah blah, but rather is to make CEOs themselves illegal. My estimation, based on my experience with CEOs of all shapes and sizes and
races and genders, is that we could probably go a full year before anyone noticed, excepting of course the restaurant industry in the Hamptons and the bitching-about-interlopers industry in Big Sky country. Sacrifices, people, sacrifices. Just the other day I was making some yoga all over the floor and that little snitcheroo from NPR's Marketplace, a show so assiduously, chipperly mainstream that it almost daily reinvigorates the essential misanthropy that has brought me to where I am today (uh, blog?), came on interviewing some CEO or other from some industry or other. Frankly the details blur a bit, as I was on the uncomfortably marvelous edge between a hala asana and autofellatio. So this guy, this captain of whatever industry it was, let's call it the kazoo industry, he's essplaining how it is that he runs things. What's, like, his philosophy an shit. And as I'm listening it occurs to me clear as the break of day over a desert in high summer that this guy has got no fucking idea what he's talking about--and not only that he hasn't got a clue, but that he hasn't got a clue that he hasn't got a clue, like the very worst sort of barroom chatterbox, forever holding forth when he oughta be paying his tab and stumbling out. And this, by and large, is true across industries and companies and nations and planets and universes, that competence ceases as soon as they remove the vice- from the title, that your CFO can probably add but your CEO can barely keep the soup off his chin. Consider this: a lottery once a year, eligible to any person with any share in any public company, whose prize is the right to hunt down and shoot the chief executive of any company in which he's currently got a share. Value added.
Everyone is on about how that petrified she-Yeti, Cokie Roberts, said something to the effect that Americans would prefer winning in Iraq to withdrawing from Iraq, and the gist of the counterargument, so much as anyone can argue with a cropped yucca nigh unto a thousand years of waterless age, is that Americans have "turned against the war," borne out by the polls, yabbity yabbity yabbity. But while it pleases me in moderate measure to know that my brain-dead countrymen can be moved to change their minds--quite the counterinertial feat when you consider it--by enough blood and gore, I remain unconvinced that these two outcomes, want to withdraw and want to win, are mutually exclusive in that elusive public, ahem, mind. Indeed, I suspect that most Americans would vastly prefer to win, and it has simply taken five years and trillions of dollars and as many gallons of blood to convince them that their preference is simply unattainable. Yet their committment to the idea that it is unattainable feels no more substantial than any other. Perhaps The Senator from Who Are You? What Are You Doing In My House? will find his voice and cajole Ordnayry Mayrka into beliving that all we gotta do is give it the ol' college try.
I am just inherently suspicious of arguments that derive so much of their validity from, well, let's just say it: democracy. That is, the people. That is, the opinions of the people. It isn't that I resent seeing so many come around to my view--that the Occupation of Iraq has been catastrophic, deeply wrong, morally indefensible--but that I don't think they have come around to it. Broad anti-war sentiment feels tepid to me precisely because it is so damned contingent, situational opposition to something that the Good Liberals like Katrina vanden Heuvel persist in calling a "mistake." The prevalence of the notion that it was all just a botched job is fairly astonishing, and the speed with which liberal mouthpieces, supposedly hep to the newly pacifistic national mood, leap on anyone suggesting that their dreams of yanking the army out of Iraq so that it can go Sally Struthers in the Sudan is the most telling feature of their anti-militarism: namely, that they aren't all that opposed to war. Many of them believe their own euphemisms of course, hence the popularity of "humanitarian" as a modifier to "intervention," and at the root of such belief is a vast but very simple category error: the idea that the central purpose of a military is something other than killing people and blowing shit up.
While it's true that we live in a time when the police are becoming ever more like the military and the military ever more like the police, it's false to believe that the accrual of new powers and tactics somehow results in foreswearing the old. In fact th drift is simply towards martialism. Asking the army to walk the global beat doesn't abrogate its core function of killing people and blowing shit up. It simply puts an organization dedicated to such means in the darkly absurd position of helping people by killing them and blowing their shit up. Creative destruction, isn't that the phrase? Killing people and blowing their shit up is a fine proposition when the about-to-be-killed-or-blown-up are invading yer land, killin' yer crops, rapin' an pillagin', and in general I endorse it. But the majoritarian position, which is a liberal position, persists in loving The Troops and holding them to be paradigmatic of all that is right and good about our liberal democracy. Now I am no fan of liberal democracy, but I will at least defend its right to an accurate definition: The Troops are paradigmatic of everything that liberal democracy is not, and that, friends, is one o' the reasons that the ol' founding oligarchs tried to forbid standing armies. They represent a rigid, totalitarian hierarchy dedicated collectively to the singular purpose of death, and that is a fine thing to keep around in case of intruders, but for chrissake, keep it out of the reach of the kids.