To be clear, Bond has used this line several times, and when he says "equality," he isn't talking about the right to vote, the right to eat at a public restaurant, the right to attend an integrated school or the right to a fair trial. He is talking about the right to change the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.Proposition: from Brown through Loving, the Civil Rights movement changed the definition of equality.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Sure, Iran sees Evin as the mirror image of Guantánamo. But undoing that U.S. aberration was central to Obama’s message. Speaking out against the abuse of Iranian political prisoners must be equally so. Obama should continue to seek engagement — it’s the only way forward — while denouncing the outrages.Sure. Except. Guantanamo plainly isn't aberrant. Similar American-run prisons of even greater scale exist in Iraq and Afghanistan. These have been widely reported on. They've been deeply reported in Cohen's own New York Times. They're not "black sites",though, those, too, have been reported in the Times; they're publicly acknowledged. And, you know, one's an aberration, two's a coincidence, but three is a pattern.
Then of course there is the niggling fact that Obama has not undone anything.
Still yet: outrage. Now, it is nearly an article of faith among the US press and much of the political establishment as well that expressions of high dander and loud regret are an integral part of policy arsenal. If it's a day with a name ending in day, you can be sure that someone, somewhere, is aggressively deploring something.
I circle back to the advice that Papa IOZ gave me when I was first entering the working world. "Never," he said, "let them know that they're getting to you." I have carried this all-purpose koan with me ever since, and though I chose a perhaps less remunerative field than dear old dad, I feel that my modicum of professional attainment is more due to the tireless application of this injunction to patient imperturbability than to any particular skill set--in the parlance of our times. To yell, scream, pound the desk, and climb the walls is to admit preemptive defeat; it is to indicate almost without fail that you are bargaining from a position of weakness. Puffed feathers don't really make a bigger bird, ya dig? And as far as I've made it my business to remain impassive in the face of this sort of thing, I've made it pretty well in the Business. It works with one's compeers, and it works with one's bosses as well. A red-faced man is easily manipulated, let us say.
I don't like Barack Obama. He's as much a bloodthirsty reptile as any other top croc in the American empire. You do not attain to the purple by blowing sunshine out of your ass and picking flowers all day. The now-forgotten war in Iraq continues apace, and the evident scuttling of elections there predestines an ever-longer stay for our quote-unquote combat troops. Meanwhile the once-forgotten, now-remembered war in Afghanistan makes a key-change and goes up-tempo, as Obama prepares to go all Lyndon Baines on the place. On the domestic front, well, what can you say? These rich fucks, this whole fucking thing.
And yet. If there's one praiseworthy part of the man, it's his ability to go for a day or two without working himself into a towering rage and issuing Mosaic declarations of denunciatory hoo-ha from the Rose Garden for the benefit of the Washington press corps' tender moral sensibilities.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Among the soi-disant sensibles of foreign policy jawboneration, you often find imponderables like Anne Applebaum's, in which she laments-without-lamenting that other major economic powers in the world refuse to act--that is the operative word, by the way, and it will appear again--like America's little fraternity brothers. Her worries are couched in the transparently false and wholly implausible claim that "America no longer wants to be the sole superpower. The American president no longer wants to be the leader of a sole superpower. Nobody else wants America to be the sole superpower, and, in fact, America cannot even afford to be the sole superpower." Well, perhaps we cannot even afford it, but even that's debatable given the willingness of others to bankroll our misendeavors. Failure to invade is the general diagnosis, and that's understandable. The only empires to earn the 20th-century designation, superpower, were the US and the USSR, and both were fond of blowing shit up and dictating to lesser powers just precisely what it was that they could do with their independence.
But that was then and this is now and water is water and east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. We find Applebaum, in response to the EU naming a couple of apparently compentent but unknown (relatively) technocratic types to major posts, avering:
Europe might have a new phone number, but when Obama calls, the person on the other end of the line will still be unable to act. "Europe" will not be a unified entity capable of coordinating a unified policy in Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, the Middle East, or anywhere else anytime soon. Europe cannot, in short, become America's full partner in foreign policy.There's that pesky word again. But act how, precisely? In what capacity? This is even leaving aside any question of why a sane person or self-interested national entity would ever be anyone's full partner. Exit, Washington's ghost. "Europe" is a partially politically integrated economic union that has yet to quite work out a Supremancy Clause, but even when it does, that is no guarantee that will choose to join us in barelling around the china shop.
Speaking of China, it equally befuddles Anne:
Europe, when counted as a single entity, is still the world's largest economy. China, whatever else it might be, is still the world's fastest-growing economy. Sooner or later, the simple need to defend their economic interests might persuade one or both to start taking the outside world more seriously.If you're not killing them, deposing their governments, or occupying their countries, you're not taking them seriously. In defense of its economic interests, China has made economic partnerships. This is evidently working out in China's favor. (Incidentally, it also seems to be working out in Africa's favor, far more so than the more pious, less remunerative lectures from the so-called West.) Applebaum finds that "China appears uninterested in joining an international campaign against terrorism, nuclear proliferation, or anything else." Yeah, and it won't sign our petition to expand casual Fridays to the Thursday prior when the Friday is a Federal holiday that the office has off either! It won't invest in this promising swampland with me! It said that this thin and poorly-documented prospectus promising 20% annual returns looked too good to be true! It seemed like it hesitated when I asked if this dress makes my ass look fat!
Monday, November 23, 2009
You know. I do not grant Christ Hitchens' premise that the US Army doesn't deliberately kill civilians. The "deliberately" is pure casuistry. It's a semantic backdoor through which a hugely spurious assumption squeezes its fat, ugly ass: namely, that if an act (i.e. aerial bombardment) with a known end (i.e. the death of civilian bystanders) is undertaken for a purpose (i.e. killing the #3 man in Terror!) that is distinct but not separable from that end, then the morally dubious outcome (civilian death) is defensible because we did not mean for it to happen even though we knew it was going to happen. But you know what, I am a generous man. Let us grant the premise, for argumentation. The US Military does not "deliberately murder Muslim civilians and brag on video about the fact[.]"
Well, even thus granted, it remains an immense non sequitur! Radical Muslims are more incensed by America killing Muslims than by other Radical Muslims killing Muslims. Stop. The. Fucking. Presses. What is the argument here? That a religious radical should be more upset by suicide bombings? And then . . . what, precisely? What the fuck are we still doing in Afghanistan, Christopher?
It seems to me that Terror War hawks are desperate to pin Islamoradicalism or what have you on Nidal Hasan in order to prove a point about the necessity of their war, when it seems to me that no matter how you slice it (and for the record, I believe that Hasan's crimes were "religiously motivated", insofar as the phrase has any meaning), you circle back to the same question. What the fuck are we still doing in Afghanistan? Or Iraq? Fuck it: grant that Islam is itself a deranged form of religious psychopathy. How the fuck do you defeat a terrorism with a billion adherents? What on earth are any of these people talking about?
Major Hasan is an object lesson not in the failures of some fictitious multicultural boondoggle, but in the fallacious premises underlying the whole notion of a War on Terrorism. It demonstrates the elaborately retarded fraud at the heart of it. It shows not that we court problems by tolerating Islam, but simply that it is not possible to prevent those bent on committing violent acts from committing them 100% of the time. It demonstrates that you cannot eliminate the application of violent tactics at home or abroad through the application of military force in other countries. It shows the fallacy of absolute security. Men exist and guns are real. In the absence of time machines or mass extinction events, these genies are out of their fucking lamps. I mean, I am all for turning the Hasan rampage into a mock parable about the inscrutable nature of evil in the world, but for once can we get a grip? If the acts of the army in Afghanistan can be permitted no bearing on the acts of Major Hasan in Texas, then is not the inverse true? And if so, then what? What?
Light posting this week due to the celebration of the successful genocide of the aboriginal population of North America. Every time an American says "this is what it would be like if the Nazis had won the war," a Native American chuckles mordantly. Preparations this year include:
Mustard and peppercorn rolled rare leg of lamb with roasted root vegetables
Potato gratin with Gruyère and Brenta, dusted with nutmeg
Warm potato salad with toasted cumin seeds
Farro with braised leeks and citrus-coriander dressing
Raw, sweetened cranberry and tangerine chutney with cayenne
Two savory fritatti, one with pancetta, one with sweet red pepper
Celery salad with shallot-cardomom vinaigrette
Green lentils simmered with prosciutto butt, with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
Fresh, small rustic cross loaves
Cheeses, meats, and olives n shit
Sweets via potluck
But I will still try top pop in here from time to time.
I too will confess to you that your right hand will save you. Behold now the Behemoth that I have made with you; he eats grass like cattle. Behold now his strength is in his loins and his power is in the navel of his belly. His tail hardens like a cedar; the sinews of his testicles are knit together. His limbs are as strong as copper, his bones as a load of iron. His is the first of God's ways; [only] his Maker can draw His sword [against him]. For the mountains bear food for him, and all the beasts of the field play there. Does he lie under the shadows, in the covert of the reeds and the swamp? Do the shadows cover him as his shadow? Do the willows of the brook surround him? Behold, he plunders the river, and [he] does not harden; he trusts that he will draw the Jordan into his mouth. With His eyes He will take him; with snares He will puncture his nostrils. Can you pull the leviathan with a harpoon, or press down his tongue with a rope? Can you insert a fishhook into his nose, or pierce his jaw with a barb? Will he offer much supplication to you, or will he speak soft words to you? Will he make a covenant with you? Will you take him as a lifelong slave? Will you play with him like a bird or tie him to your maidens? Will charmers dig pits for him? Will they divide him among the merchants? Will you fulfill [your desire] to make a tent of his skin or a shade of fishes of his head? Put your hand over him; remember the battle, do not stop.The Book of Job may have borne more exegesis and commentary than any other in Tanakh, so it's worth nothing what a fantastical shaggy-dog story it really is. It's tempting to read it as a tale of temptation, although it plays in odd inverse: rather than offering Job the world to renounce God; The Adversary, (that's Satan, sort of, to you goyim) is allowed to strip the worldly goods and comforts away from Job in order that he make his renunciation. Then follows a series of debates in which Jobs friends stop by to offer him earnest but almost wholly useless thoughts and advice on the nature and ultimate resolution of his inscrutable predicament. Then God appears as a whirlwind, doses Job an a heavy sheet of sunshine acid, and describes in amazing technicolor detail what it is like to be the creator of the universe, complete with a couple of extraordinary, beautiful, and deeply weird science-fiction space monsters, the Behemoth and Leviathan. Job is rewarded for his fidelity with increased riches, a new family by his largely off-stage wife, and long life.
-Iyov, 40: 14-32
Now the Coen Brothers have gone and made a kind of pastiche of the Job tale in A Serious Man. When was the last time I so enjoyed such a miserable movie? Likewise a shaggy story, in which a not-quite-prosperous Jewish everyman is afflicted for apparently no reason by a series of inscrutable misfortunes, some of them minor, some of them operatic in their intensity, the film seems to have befuddled even many approving critics, in part, I believe, because they just don't get the capricious and insane Jewish God. The Coens have always enjoyed afflicting their characters in a manner positively redolent of old Hashem, and here, since it is actually (evidently) The Name himself fucking with everyone, they allow themselves wide latitude. The God of the Old Testament, as Christians might put it, is not the dotty old man of popular imagination, nor the loving Jesus, nor even the militant hall monitor of the nouveau Protestant imagination, but an ancient and primitive tribal deity, not even the radical monotheist of later minting, but a being just half-removed from the crowded pantheon of the primordial Near East, a God who doesn't just get angry at the Israelites for the Golden Calf, for instance, but has Moses send the faithful Levites to kill 3,000 of them pour décourager les autres.
Larry Gopnick, the beset professor and Job-manqué, is played with the requisite lack of verve by Michael Stuhlbarb, and Richard Kind plays closeted, overweight, cyst-draining Uncle Arthur, whose "Mentaculus," a madman's kabbalistic diary that turns out to by an Uncertainty-defying gambling prophecy, is one of the great jokes of the movie--plays Arthur with real pathos. There is a moment, though it may only be a dream, when Arthur cries out that God has given Larry (who is at this point well into his own misfortunes and living in a motel) everything and given him, Arthur, "shit," that actually rends the heart. George Wyner plays Rabbi Nachtner, "The Second Rabbi," who tells the best tale, a long and seemingly pointless parable of "The Goy's Teeth," a story so hilariously without a point or direction that it could take its place in Writings. A pot-smoking son, a hair-washing daughter, and Fred Melamed as Sy Abelman, the not-quite cuckolding suitor of Larry's wife, intoning musically, "This is no Manischewitz. This is a wine . . . a Bordeaux, Larry. Open it. Let it breathe" . . .