Hey, you know, maybe the reason that GM is in such trouble is that it made such shitty cars for so long, that it kept adding features to a signature line of vehicles that consisted of an inefficient engine and a big heavy box on a cheap-ass pick-up chassis. Maybe if the central operating assumption of their entire business hadn't been that things were going to remain exactly as they were forever, only better, they wouldn't be in such a fix. This is really the central and unaddressed issue in the whole economic clusterfuck--not that no one saw it coming, but that no one thought it prudent to plan in general for contingencies. None of the finance firms thought it wise to have some backup just in case there was a downturn. No one at the American automakers thought it smart to have a rainy-day plan just in case there was a tightening in the energy market or a rise in commodity prices. "No one could have predicted" is a red herring. The issue isn't prescience; it's basic foresight.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Bob Herbert: Everything sucks, but at least there's no more racism. I mean, maybe if America had voted for the exhumed body of Tupac. I've been hearing a lot of talk lately about how only in America could a racial minority blah blah blah. The melanin content of Obama's epidermis continues to be euphemized as "the historic nature of his candidacy."
Meanwhile, all indicators point to a Clinton Restoration more complete than even La Hillary could have contemplated. She, at least, would've been constrained by Public Relations necessity to differentiate her administration from that of her husband. Obama, on the other hand, calls a press conference, and it's all like, hail, hail, the gang's all here. I understand that the Bill Clinton administration was the apotheosis of democratic self-government in the modern world, and all, forever and whatever, amen, but for realz? Larry Fucking Summers?
Shit, I'll admit it straight up: I did not expect Obama to start crushing the hopetastical dreams of his dreamy-eyed supporters so quickly, so thoroughly, so soon. I kind of admire him for it.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Dear Waiters in Pittsburgh,
Item 1: The s in the final syllable of Niçoise is
annunciated enunciated. You aren't subtly correcting me when you repeat it back to me incorrectly.
Item 2: Please stop saying Steak au "poave". It sounds like you're offering me "Poor Man's Steak."
Item 3: The second syllable in bruschetta is pronounced as a hard c. Seriously. I swear to god.
PS Evidently my own spelling is religious.
TBILISI, Georgia — Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the longstanding Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression.Folks, shelling is never a precise operation. Yes, artillery has advanced somewhat from cannonballs, but nevertheless, what you have is an explosion in a tube hurling a hunk of metal waaay into the air, where wind and gravity and air density and moisture and temperature take over.
Instead, the accounts suggest that Georgia’s inexperienced military attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm.
The accounts are neither fully conclusive nor broad enough to settle the many lingering disputes over blame in a war that hardened relations between the Kremlin and the West. But they raise questions about the accuracy and honesty of Georgia’s insistence that its shelling of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, was a precise operation.
Anyway, look. Saakashvili is a corrupt thug as much as Bad Vlad. The difference is that Bad Vlad had the Russian Army. You ain't got shit, Saakashvili. The West, in the glowering saturnine form of Dick Cheney, kept telling him go ahead, come on baby, just touch it a little, just hold it, that's all, that's all, you can stop if you want to, come on baby. And like every other freshman, Mikheil got fucked.
The notion of the little democratic Georgian David struggling to overcome the autocratic Russian Goliath plays well in the McCain compound, but in the real world, there are no innocent state actors. All sides involved in the Georgian War were lousy bastards, but one of them had a real army. Whaddareyagonnadoaboutit? Don't poke the bear.
Ever since Wonkette noted it lo these many . . . uh, couple of days ago, I have been burning to see queerhouse erotic art thriller Eden's Curve, featuring Congresscreature Virgil Goode. Fortunately, my buddy D. is double-plus awesome and had it at The Dreaming Ant. This movie, let me tell you, is fagtastic. It is definitely the best arthouse bisexual all-male-college 1970s teacher-student romance heroin Thoreauan poetical drama I have ever seen. Also the only, but who cares? I mean, I went to Oberlin, where everyone was gay, from the real gays to the aptly termed four-year queers, who spent their 4-year idyll in Ohio getting fucked in the ass before going to Columbia and marrying some nice Jewish girl in the cultural studies graduate program, and not once in four years did any of my poetry professors give me a sponge bath in a coal-heated bathtub in the middle of the woods. Not once. Forty fucking grand a year, and all I ever got was this lousy diploma.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
As a caveat, I'll reiterate for the billionth time my opposition to civil marriage in general, whether between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man, a porpoise and a Komodo dragon, a turtle and a senator . . . whatever. Why assumed regular fuckery should confer additional civil rights and civic protections escapes me entirely.
That said, I am so fucking tired of black preachers denigrating the clear parallel between their own past civil rights struggles, in particular the effort to overturn miscegenation laws, and the current same-sex marriage brouhaha. When I hear an African-American divine explain that the Bible lays out a clear "definition of marriage," I am so like, curse you, child of Ham.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
I swear to the baby Jesus gazing peacefully upon the world from his crèche that if the election of Barack Obama makes America "socialist," then this blog makes me Tom fucking Clancy. I mean, here you have a dude who basically says he's going to tinker a little bit with the marginal tax rate and try to close some corporate loopholes (yeah, uh, bon chance, yo), but who otherwise promises to invade Syria and Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iran and the Moon and Kupier Belt, to expand the death penalty to include absentee fatherism, and to have the NSA eavesdrop on everyone in the universe. Ohmigod, America has been taken over by a dude who believes in American primacy and hegemony, who calls Israel our double-super-BFF-forever, who embraces a narrative of National Greatness that should give Canadian bagman David Frum the
biggest only hard-on he's ever had. Is "socialist" the new "urban," i.e. a mere euphemism for "black guy." Are we really in for four years of the chest-puffing closet cases of the putative right trying to convince us that a Wilsonian (but black, which would've bothered Wilson, too) is some kind of crypto-Leninist?
Glenn Beck just told me that the Constitution hangs by a thread in the balance. He was mixing metaphors like a bartender. All our freedoms are about to be destroyed. Half of America still believes in freedom. Extrapolate: that means half of America believes in Marxism. Communism. Socialism. Now is the time to home school your children. America has abandoned God, but Providence still guards America. It is time to stand up, now that we've been knocked down.
When they called it for Obama last night, the bar where I watched results went absolutely wild. Hugging, dancing, throwing shit in the air, glass breaking, kissing strangers, horns honking outside. One of my friends grabbed me, kissed me, and told me that she doesn't care that I don't care. I admit to a degree of envy in failing to share the euphoria.
Even prior to the actual voting, chinks appeared in the hopeferchange:
Iraq will remain a tactical mistake, instead of a grossly immoral abuse of national power. We'll still have "debates" about what sorts of torture we should and shouldn't be subjecting people to. Needless to say an Obama administration isn't going to be interested in giving back expanded executive powers to spy on Americans without judicial oversight, or to otherwise ignore the law when it considers doing so convenient (after all, it will be doing so for good purposes).To which I'll just add that "the rampant political criminality of the last eight years" will go uninvestigated not because jerkoff editorial boards declare it a necessary tonic, but because it's so intimately linked to the "expanded executive powers" that the new administration will be so disinclined to discuss, let alone declaim.
There will still be 2.5 million Americans in prison, we'll still be fighting a ferociously idiotic and immoral "war" on drugs . . . and there will be 10,000 editorials about how Obama must take this opportunity to "heal" the "partisan divide" in the nation (translation: Allow the rampant political criminality of the last eight years to go completely uninvestigated).
At least we'll have someone new to jeer. Don't get me wrong. It's impossible to work up a good head of disconsolation in the face of a general reversion to the mean. Although I expect the coming régime to provide less fodder for high-kick comedy than the current, I expect it to be a much more interesting study in the operation of the modern executive-imperial American state. The ham-handed execution of executive expansion and foreign imperialism under George Dubya will now yield to subtler application of the same policies and prerogatives. Liberals and Progressives are already primed to accept this. More so. They're actively revising their opposition into support.
Conservatives will rediscover their commitments to so-called limited government, fiscal restraint, etc. But since they cannot repudiate their ideological commitment to aggressive policies abroad, interment, torture, and the Terror War, they may yet find themselves drawn inexorably into some significant doctrinal agreements with the new administration. While the goofball talk-radio right works itself into conniptions over the descent of a centrally planned economy (unlike the . . . current economy), I find myself wondering: will President Barack Obama successfully forge the sort of pro-imperial popular national consensus that emerged briefly before dissipating immediately after September 11, 2001?
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Insofar as I wish to see civilization destroyed and the great cities of the world covered in vines, I guess you could call me a fan of smaller government, but on the other hand, conservative invocations of Martin Niemoller In Re: the matter of the progressive income tax is pretty fucking . . . fucked. "First they came for the super-rich, and I did nothing . . ." As a Homosexual-American, let me assure you that not all 8 hot cut inches on Manhunt manifest in those precise proportions in real life. Likewise the belligerents in the class war now crawling out of the wirework to inform Glenn Reynolds of the impending danger to their two-fiddy a year on top of a million in payroll are not to be fully trusted. I mean, can you give it to me in cash? My concern, and I'll have to check with my accountant on this, is that it might bump me up into a higher . . .
Anyway, Reynold's army of John Galts (pray: come, let us snicker together), a gang of pencil-neck Sharper-Image shoppers with dreams of mountain redoubts and rough sex with heiresses, petulantly proclaim that they will . . . well, they do not seem to be proclaiming that they will stop the engine of the world. Rather, they will consider slowing it marginally, like union slugs caging an extra five minutes on every smoke break in order to stick it to Management. The irony. Oh.
In an era when Alan Greenspan goes apostate on the hoary Randian doxologies, invoking her, uh, economics is a move akin to threatening that you will stop the flow of the Spice. Fine and well, but a fiction. The idea that the willpower of Chief Exec alone, his lonely, Olympian struggle to master the means of production, impelled industry along was already outmoded by the time she transferred all those scratchings on the prison wall of her mind to the page. Rand's heroes and heroines are never seen conducting real business because Rand had no idea how a business works. The business of business is mundane, not heroic. Steel doesn't roll by pronouncement.
My favorite correspondent over at Reynolds' is the doctor who swears he will stop curing the ill if Obama is elected. He and his family will go out into the woods and live like wild dogs, foraging for food and hunting in packs, rather than allow that Socialist Obama to, uh, lower their standard of living. I mean, I laughed at liberal avowals to move to Canada back in aught-four, but this is just ridiculous.
Via Roy Edroso
With the Steelers killbot übervictory over the hapless Skins last night, the Donk Restoration seems cosmically assured. As if it were in doubt, Dan Rooney, the last remaining human being to command respect in Western Pennsylvania, publicly endorsed Obama. The stars are aligned, the fat lady is singing, and the grounds crew is still trying to pound the imprint of Jason Campbell's ass out of the turf at FedEx. Bob Barr, you ran a noble campaign.
The whole thing exhausts me anymore. I'm sure I'll have something to say tomorrow.
Monday, November 03, 2008
One detainee is said to have been schooled in making detonators out of Sega game cartridges.Tremble in horror at these monsters of Guantanmo. Sega cartridges? How about Betamax tapes? The dastardly skills purportedly possessed by these imprisoned avatars of anti-American aggression are largely skills that I picked up reading The Hardy Boys Detective Handbook.
One man caught with Abu Zubaydah insisted on his innocence but described a training camp outside Kabul, Afghanistan, where, according to information he gave to interrogators, men were given “lessons on how to make poisons that could be inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin.”Imagine the disappointment of some would-be jihadi who travelled thousands of miles from his home for lessons in combining Drano and bleach.
It is unnerving to consider that still, after six years of revelations about the Kafkaesque absurdity of our Guantanamo concentration camp, there remain even greater depths of vicious insanity to be plumbed and revealed.
The records include many of the murky cases that typify the image of Guantánamo, where detainees take issue with their own supposed confessions and, sometimes, their identities. And those doubts too are to be part of a new administration’s inheritance.We imprison people that we are unable to positively identiy.
“I was forced to say all these things,” an Algerian detainee, Adil Hadi al Jazairi bin Hamlili, said at his hearing when confronted with his confession to murder and knowledge of a plot to sell uranium to Al Qaeda. “I was abused mentally and psychologically, by threatening to be raped,” he said, adding, “You would say anything.”
Abdul Hafiz, an Afghan accused of killing a Red Cross worker at a Taliban roadblock in 2003, told a military officer that he had the perfect alibi. “The detainee states again that he is not Abdul Hafiz,” the officer reported to a military tribunal.