“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Bollettino

Alexander Stille (who wrote a very good book about the mafia in Sicily, Excellent Cadavers), writes about Elias' Civilizing Process in the NYT, and how Elias' theory that it was the civilizing process -- small changes in such things as the visibility one showed in managing one's own dirt, one's mucus, excrement, spit - signaled a larger, invisible change in the fabric of behavioral expectations that spread out over Western civilization tout court -- has been taken up by crime historians. The article is interesting, but it is also symptomatic of a discipline that, at least in the United States, consistently confuses crime and violence.

"Although there were no national statistics centuries ago, some historians discovered that the archives of some English counties were intact back to the 13th century. So in the 1970's they began diligently counting indictments and comparing them with estimated population levels to get a rough idea of medieval and early modern crime rates. Historians in Continental Europe followed suit and came up with findings that yielded the same surprising result: that murder was much more common in the Middle Ages than it is now and that it dropped precipitately in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

"Something very important changed in Western behavior and attitudes, and it stood much prevailing social theory on its head. "It was very surprising because social theory told us that the opposite was supposed to happen: that crime was supposed to go up as family and community bonds in rural society broke up and industrialization and urbanization took hold," said Eric H. Monkkonen, a professor of history at the University of California at Los Angeles and the author of several works on the history of criminality. "The notion that crime and cities go together made emotional sense, particularly in America, where at least recently crime is higher in cities."

Murder should be distinguished from war -- but it should not be allowed to engross violence to the exclusion of war. This was a mistake made by Francis Fukuyama in his book on the Great Instauration, in which he produced bogus statistics indicating a violence spike from 1945 to 1990 in the West. The statistics of course ignored war entirely. Crime went down under Hitler; violence didn't. In fact, the peacefulness of the post-war period is the most salient characteristic of the era, not a spike in violence.
Yet, this elementary mistake is repeated in the article:

"The theory that crime is determined by deterrence and law enforcement, by income inequality, by a high proportion of young men in a population, by the availability of weapons, by cities, most of those theories end up being wrong."Historians have offered various explanations for the unexpected fall in the crime rate. Initially some wondered whether the decline in early modern crime might be a result of industrialization and urbanization themselves. But James A. Sharpe, a historian at the University of York in England, said the big statistical dip in violence preceded industrialization and urbanization by more than a century."

Hmm. As I remember the 17th century, it was the era of one of the bigger spikes in violence: the Thirty years war. Significantly, the stats quoted by Stille come from British sources. Here's an idea: when two or more armies have been sweeping through an area for two or more years, the record of the "crimes" committed by individuals might not be an exact match with the level of violence in the area. Here's the way one historian, Ronald Asch, in German History, a scholarly journal, summed up the losses attendent on a war which took place as violence, supposedly, was collapsing:

"There is little doubt that the Holy Roman Empire suffered demographic losses of at least 30 per cent of its pre-war population, and that the worst affected areas, such as Pomerania or Wurttemberg, were depopulated to an even greater extent."

Asch quotes a contemporary about the way the war was waged:

"Later, in the midst of the war, a treatise on the art of war was published in Straubing by another military expert, Franciscus Bonbra, who considered it self-evident that soldiers would treat their own prince's or his allies' subjects just as badly as those who owed allegiance to the enemy. They would rape any woman who seemed halfway attractive, plunder the houses, destroy the crops and beat and torture the peasants to extort money. In the end they would set the entire village on fire."

Of course, these wouldn't be considered crimes to such as James A. Sharpe -- they were, after all, allowed by law.
Bollettino

A nice report on the Bush administration's plans for getting the fiercely independent Iraqi government, currently subcontracted out to SAIC, to agree to sell Iraqi assets at bargain basement prices to Bush cronies is featured on the Petroleum World site, culled from the WSJ. We are sure that Smilin' Jay Garner will cast a fiery glance with his eagle eye over any plan that he doesn't think is in the best interest of the Spirit of the Iraqi people. Fortunately for American Corporations, Smilin' Jay just might be pursuaded that what is good for Shell Oil is good for Iraq. Whew! So that wondrous privitization just might go through, benefiting the Iraqi people mightily, as it has done in Argentina, the Ukraine, the Soviet Union, and other places around the world!


"On the economic side, the AID plan serves as a detailed road map for achieving that end. The proposals for possible mass privatization of Iraqi industry are likely to be the most controversial. The document -- first drafted in February and circulated among financial consultants -- calls for liquidating some insolvent Iraqi companies, while assessing others for possible sale. Some state companies might be sold through "a broad-based Mass Privatization Program," which could distribute ownership vouchers to ordinary Iraqi citizens, similar to a program used in Russia in the mid-1990s. The document says that the contractors would help support "private sector involvement in strategic sectors, including privatization, asset sales, concessions, leases and management contracts, especially in the oil and supporting industries" that dominate Iraq's business activity.

Any attempt at privatizing Iraq's oil industry, which controls the world's second-
largest petroleum reserves after Saudi Arabia, would be a gargantuan business deal. It could be contentious, especially if assets wind up in the hands of foreign oil companies. In the Mideast and Europe, there is a widespread belief -- despite White House denials -- that the U.S. invaded Iraq to get control of its oil.

According to the timetable in the documents, officials would spend a year building a
consensus for industry privatization, and then transfer assets over the following three years."

Building consensus -- hmm, now that is the sweetest little term we've heard for mass repression, enforced by bayonet and tank, in a long time. Just as the Russians "built consensus" in post-68 Czechoslovakia. Of course, they were following their 'roadmap" there. You will notice that the Middle East is starting to drown in roadmaps.

LI also recommends the NYT article on Baghdad -- a place name that we can now, with superb confidence, drop into the vast pool of our national amnesia now that our flying ace of a President has declared the war over. It remains only to unleash massacre on a few demonstrations in a few unimportant outposts, set up a puppet regime, and steal the Iraqi oil infrastructure. In any case, the NYT account has a nice quote about Chalabi:

"The scion of a wealthy Shiite family, Mr. Chalabi left Iraq in 1958. In 1992, he was convicted in absentia of embezzlement and fraud in Jordan over the operations of bank he founded there; he denies those charges, saying they were fostered by the Iraqi government. Since his return to Iraq last month, the behavior of his entourage has outraged many Iraqis, and even some Americans.

"What we have done is import mafias into Baghdad," said one American official, who insisted on anonymity.

We've been reading the Gus Russo's encyclopedic account of the Chicago mob, The Outfit. At one point Russo describes the way two freelance hoods, George Browne and Willie Morris Bioff, shook down movie houses in Chicago. A movie house would open, and eventually Bioff would show up in the office of the owner and ask, "how are we doing?" Then it would start -- the stream of cash towards Bioff and Browne. In return for which, the movie house owner got to retain entrepreneurial control over his vitals, as well as a working pair of legs and arms. This theory generates spontaneously in the heads of the incurably crooked. So it has generated in Chalabi's head. The Times article continues:

"The official was referring to the takeover of many of Baghdad's best houses by groups of men claiming to have formed new political parties. Kurdish parties have taken over a Baath Party headquarters and the engineering building of Mr. Hussein's office. Some have set up roadblocks and established militias, sometimes saying they are operating with the authority of the American military.

An early expropriator was Mr. Chalabi, whose supporters seized the elite Hunting Club, apparently with the permission of American soldiers. Various groups associated with him took over other expensive houses in the same area.Last weekend, General Garner appeared to give tacit approval by dining with Mr. Chalabi at the club. All that, critics here say, has only encouraged other groups to go house-taking."

Smilin' Jay is just obeying the time sanctioned instincts of politicians through the past century. As Bioff, who started out as a pimp, put it: "I never saw a whore who wasn't hungry; and I never saw a politician who wasn't a whore."

And so Bioff articulates the typical businessman's disdain for his work force. Whores have contributed infinitely more to civilization than politicians.


Friday, May 02, 2003

Bollettino

LI has already written one post on Dyncorps. You remember Dyncorps -- the private company America has contracted for policing work in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Dyncorps (unsurprisingly) has its little connection to Enron, as does most of Bush's administration's important cadres. The man who was Dyncorps chairman, "Pug" Winokur, was the head of Enron's board's financial committee -- and approved the setting up of the partnerships for which Andrew Fastow, Enron's CFO, is now undergoing the ritual judicial bastinado -- although we are wise enough to know that the bastinado is mostly mock, and that no man who has a few million dollars stuffed into the mattress is ever going to suffer excessively from Bush's Justice Department. Dyncorps has apparently spread its tentacles far and wide, so that the SEC itself depends on its computer expertise. This makes for an interesting, mobius like situation if the SEC ever decided to investigate these corporate cops.

We are particularly concerned with the role of Dyncorps in providing America's friendly police face in Iraq -- which has now been officially pronounced, by our commander in chief, a place where the lion has laid down once and for all with the lamb so that we can get on with those tax cuts, please -- given Dyncorps role in Bosnia. The sex scandals in Bosnia have, for some reason, not aroused the same American press that was ever vigilant in monitoring the tumescence and detumescence of President Clinton's governing organ. Perhaps it is because enslaving, raping, and stealing from a bunch of underaged girls from Eastern Europe is just too depressing for your average American newspaper reader to handle -- far better to feed them the scraps from some California murder. Well, there's an interesting little article on what went down in Bosnia by Cali Ruchala and Emir Kaganovich.

In the meantime, the contracting out of the Iraq operation continues to benefit from a massive lack of media curiosity.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Bolletino



Not much attention is being paid to the renting out of Iraq to SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation)-- which is apparently the plan hatched by Paul Wolfowitz and Smilin' Jay Garner. Iraq has already been graced with a paramilitary group, flown out at Pentagon expense, to surround the eventual proconsul of Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi. Now the Pentagon is flying out a group of exiles to take over Smilin' Jay's ministries -- including the ever juicy Oil Ministry -- and they are paying them, for reasons unexpressed in the press releases, through SAIC -- an employee owned defense tech company. SAIC is run by one J. R. Beyster, who has worked, in the past, in Los Alamos. SAIC was last in the spotlight for buying the company that has the privilege of deciding who gets domain names on the Internet. At that time, a lot of paranoia was generated among the true net-cognescenti by the composition of the Board of Directors. Yes, here's a bunch of fun facts to know and tell: that board of directors has included former National Security Agency chief Bobby Inman, former Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, and the former head of research and development for the Pentagon, Donald Hicks, ex-CIA Director Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense William Perry, and another ex-CIA Director John Deutch

Business 2.0, to its credit, has an article this month that explores the super-secretive SAIC -- although it is explored in the gung-ho spirit of geek patriotism. As long as they use neat technology to curtail our freedom, it is alright with Business 2.0.



Here are a few excerpts to make you confident that we are in good hands -- xray hands, the hands of Donald Rumsfeld and company:



SAIC is now the country's largest privately held infotech company, with 2002 revenues of $6.1 billion. About a third of SAIC's business is systems integration for other companies, such as Pfizer (PFE) and BP (BP), but its heart and soul is spy tech. Intelligence agencies don't list or rank their contractors. Intelligence sources, however, say SAIC was the NSA's top supplier last year and in the top five at the CIA. In addition to the high-powered data-mining software that helped nail Mohammed, SAIC makes undersea thermal imaging sensors for tracking submarines. It produces software that spy satellites use to map the earth and feed target data to precision munitions, including those that have been pounding Iraq. It's also a leader in the booming homeland security business: It builds gear that uses gamma rays to peer inside cargo containers and truck trailers. Adding to SAIC's covert aura, Beyster has hired an unusual number of former spies, law enforcement chiefs, and secret warriors. Some 5,000 employees -- roughly one-seventh of the workforce -- have security clearances. Beyster himself has one of the highest arrays of top-secret clearances of any civilian in the country. "We are a stealth company," says Keith Nightingale, a former Army special ops officer. "We're everywhere, but almost never seen."



To understand the Iraq war, it is becoming clear, you have to understand other odd aspects of the Bush administration. The energy policy group convened behind closed doors behind Cheney. The tax giveaway to the wealthiest. The using of homeland security to pump ever more money into companies that are not really concerned with defending you and me.

And so, this is the military-crony complex that now has put Iraq in its portfolio. To the betterment, of course, of all Iraqi-kind.

Excuse me if our victories make me a little sick.
Bollettino

KUT, the station LI listens to, has been gamely interspersing its usual fare of music and news this month with short bursts of poetry reading. This is in honor of national poetry month. They have ranged through at least thirty contemporary American poets, and LI has grown weary of getting up and turning off the radio when the poetry starts.

One thing has been proven conclusively: contemporary American poetry is worse than you can ever imagine.

It is worse than the personal essay, which is bad enough. Mostly, it is the personal essay chopped up into lines that the readers know enough, from grade school, not to linger at the ends of -- which would be pointless, anyway, as the lines are almost uniformly alien to sound. They have abandoned the theater of the voice, these latter day puritans, and they are very righteous about it. They have even abandoned the sound of the American voice, which is a morass, generally, of vocables, a moving pudding of universal stickiness.

We wish that the station had thought to include some, well, real poems. There is, after all, a lot there -- from Chaucer to Yeats. It is interesting how detached the contemporary poems are from memory -- from offering themselves to being memorized -- in comparison to the program of songs into which they are occassionally snuck. Generally, I can sing along, if I want to, to Dylan, or Joni Mitchell, or Radiohead, or whatever, because I know those songs -- I haven't memorized them so much as they have attached themselves to my memory. The same is true for the poems of Eliot -- or for large sections of Pound, or for Wallace Stevens. The same is true for Rimbaud's prose poems. But has any reader ever memorized the lines of, say, Lisel Muller? Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1997, this is the beginning of When I am asked, which was read on KUT:

When I am asked
how I began writing poems,
I talk about the indifference of nature.
It was soon after my mother died,
a brilliant June day,
everything blooming.

And so on. Now, compare these lines to a similar use of the divine 'I" in Yeats, in one of his truly minor poems.

On being asked for a War Poem

I THINK it better that in times like these
A poet keep his mouth shut, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;
He has had enough of meddling who can please
A young girl in the indolence of her youth, 5
Or an old man upon a winter�s night.

That's all. The Yeats is all trickery, and parades a thought I disagree with in terms of a stereotype that has grown stale in the Oeuvre. He does these themes better in other poems, and the lines are not any less essayistic than Van Mussel's. Yet even as a toss off, you can't read them two or three times, just to read them, without the words settling in your mind. Compare "We have no gift to set the statesman right" to "I talk about the indifference of nature." Muller's line is not only unmemorable, it is vaguely reminiscent of some bad essay written by a mediocre student about Emerson .. or something. It has no sovereignity. Poetry that divests itself of its own power to this extent is poetry well on the way to extinction.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Bollettino

Paul Krugman makes the Quaint case that it matters when the goverment lies to get us into a war.

"We were not lying," a Bush administration official told ABC News. "But it was just a matter of emphasis." The official was referring to the way the administration hyped the threat that Saddam Hussein posed to the United States. According to the ABC report, the real reason for the war was that the administration "wanted to make a statement." And why Iraq? "Officials acknowledge that Saddam had all the requirements to make him, from their standpoint, the perfect target."

Krugman is, of course, talking about the missing WMD. Now, LI was anti-war, just as we are now anti-occupation. But we don't really care that much that the WMD haven't been unconvered. In our humble opinion, the distinction between WMD and W not soMD is bogus - a distinction that is designed to be elastic enough to allow the selling of aircraft designed to deliver nuclear missiles, but shrinks virtuously at the missiles themselves, is conceptually suspect. Krugman's major point is, of course, right: we were duped into this war. But we think the duping was self-administered as much as it was prescribed by the Bush-ites. In this country, the populace can get peculiarly roused to aggression, as long as it can convince itself that it isn't aggression. In this case, the argument moved vaguely from nerve gas and anthrax to 9/11. Of course, that's changed since the fall of Saddam. But if the moment closes in Iraq -- and incidents like Fallaju, where 15 protestors were killed by American troops yesterday , hint at the moment closing in the reddest way -- and the second phase of the war starts, the justification will shift, again, to one of 'defense.'










Monday, April 28, 2003

Bollettino

So Creative Associates International landed the big job of shipping American made schoolbooks to the schoolkids of Iraq. Just as they had previously landed the contract with Afghanistan. One wonders if Smilin' Jay Garner will be celebrated in the spirit to which Iraq's previous despots have become accustomed. But NO!!! These will be American style textbooks, so they will presumably induce the instant amnesia on all things historical and geographic so endearingly characteristic of American education.

Americans are, apparently, old hands with textbooks. In Afghanistan, in the pre-9/11 days, Americans produced textbooks that even the Taliban approved of. An old Wash Post story about this, on the Emperors-clothes site, begins like this:

"In the twilight of the Cold War, the United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation.

The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system's core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books, though the radical movement scratched out human faces in keeping with its strict fundamentalist code.

As Afghan schools reopen today, the United States is back in the business of providing schoolbooks. But now it is wrestling with the unintended consequences of its successful strategy of stirring Islamic fervor to fight communism. What seemed like a good idea in the context of the Cold War is being criticized by humanitarian workers as a crude tool that steeped a generation in violence."

Being a turn on a dime nation, we have now decided that history is no good. History now has a new, friendlier face, in which we have always, always been opposed to Islamofascism, man. We wonder who contracted to ship the old, jihadist textbooks to Afghanistan. At least we know who created those books -- the University of Nebraska. Here's a description of what the US taxpayer paid for:

"Published in the dominant Afghan languages of Dari and Pashtu, the textbooks were developed in the early 1980s under an AID grant to the University of Nebraska-Omaha and its Center for Afghanistan Studies. The agency spent $51 million on the university's education programs in Afghanistan from 1984 to 1994. During that time of Soviet occupation, regional military leaders in Afghanistan helped the U.S. smuggle books into the country. They demanded that the primers contain anti-Soviet passages. Children were taught to count with illustrations showing tanks, missiles and land mines, agency officials said. They acknowledged that at the time it also suited U.S. interests to stoke hatred of foreign invaders."

Well, let's just forget that, shall we? If we forget it hard enough, we can deny it ever happened. Of course, the same group that produced textbooks that taught six year olds the adorable and enriching arts of planting land mines have moved on, and are now producing the NEW textbooks.

Apparently about four to nine million books have gone off the presses. But we do wonder -- where do those books end up? The Kabul government, by all accounts, has a difficult enough time sending soldiers out into the provinces -- so do they send school teachers? An article about the problems of reconstruction in the The WashPost today indicates that the school teachers are reading the textbooks, whatever their content, to each other in Kabul, if they are being read at all:

"Afghanistan showed the essential need for security and accountability. Administrators of AID programs in Kabul are barred from leaving their compound without high-level approval and a heavily armed military escort, the inspector general's report noted. Even then, bandits, landmines and fractured roads make travel difficult or impossible.

One consultant recently wrote in a private assessment, obtained by The Washington Post, that security issues have made it "almost impossible" for U.S.-backed education officials to work in 24 of the nation's 34 provinces. An International Red Cross worker was stopped along a roadway March 26 and shot 20 times, becoming the first foreign aid worker killed since the Taliban's fall. Continuing attacks have forced some humanitarian groups to withdraw altogether."

However, for those who worry that the printing presses in Omaha will shut down -- don't: from the point of view of ROI, there's no bad news. Since it is the government, and since the American government has every inducement to enrich its subalterns, the textbook makers will get paid, and get their over-runs paid. Everything's still good in Omaha.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Bollettino

Du cote de chez Hitchens

Et sans doute, en se rappelant ainsi leurs entretiens, en pensant ainsi a elle quand il etait seul, il faisait seulement jouer son image entre beaucoup d'autres images de femmes dans des reveries romanesques; mais si, grace a une circonstance quelconque (ou meme peut-etre sans que ce fut grace a elle, la circonstance qui sepresente au moment ou un etat, latent jusque-la, se declare, pouvantn'avoir influe en rien sur lui) l'image d'Odette de Crecy venait a absorber toutes ces reveries, si celles-ci n'etaient plus separables de son souvenir, alors l'imperfection de son corps ne garderait plus aucune importance, ni qu'il eut ete, plus ou moins qu'un autre corps,selon le gout de Swann, puisque devenu le corps de celle qu'il aimait,il serait desormais le seul qui fut capable de lui causer des joies et des tourments. -- Proust

The first volume of Proust's novel tells the story (imperfectly nested, as is Proust's habit, among other stories) of the downfall of Swann. Swann, a man of perfect, even painfully perfect taste, falls in love with an ignorant slut, Odette, and sacrifices to her his supreme things -- his social connections, his taste, and finally his honor. While he does this, he tries to enthuse his friends about Odette -- thus further distancing them from him.

The story has an irresistable bearing on the recent embrace, by Christopher Hitchens, of the most brutal and the most venal right wing groups in this country. Those groups operate, of course, under the aegis of the Bush administration. They are in direct line of descent from the groups that helped create the cold war, and directed it, in all its bloody splendor, for almost fifty years, in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and whereever a dictator was to be propped up, or a union representative was to be stuffed into the trunk of a black car and unceremoniously dumped on a garbage heap. With that history in mind, it is pretty easy to see what is happening in Iraq, from the multi-year contracts being signed with the usual crew of Republican contributors -- Bechtel, Haliburtan, Fluor -- to the sinister paramilitary group crystallizing around Ahmad Chalabi. The choice narrowed, in the Cold War, between the indigestible petit totalitarianism of kleptocratic generals and the bloodthirsty dreams of Communist party offshoots. The choice is narrowing, in Iraq, to that between the disastrous dream of theocracy, on the one side, and the openly corrupt violence of pro-American groups, on the other side. Comic overtones are supplied by the numerous Americans in Iraq who are warning that third parties -- heavens, imagine third parties -- are subverting the critical path of American-Iraqi amity.

Hitchens, having propagandized for the war from his own peculiar angle -- he simply refused to recognize Bush's war, and replaced it with his own dream of Bush's war -- is now confronted with the fruits of the war that really happened. So he has manfully taken up the task of apologizing for crony capitalists and for Chalabi's Pentagon supported stormtroopers . The defense of crony capitalism is expressed by the usual casuistry of defending the indefensible. First, you break the indefensible down into alternatives -- being careful to exclude the alternative that will upset your case. Next, you invest your analysis with a grave air of necessity -- these are the sides that try men's souls, etc. So those who oppose, for instance, the US contracting with Haliburton in a closed door process that is adjudged by an American agency, pledges an amount of money extending over three years for a project that is supposedly going to be done on foreign soil, and is rewarded to a company that just happens to have gone from a couple of bad years, under Dick Cheney, CEO, to some very good years, with a plethora of fat government contracts, under Dick Cheney, VP -- anyone who criticizes such things is an oleaginous defender of Saddam Hussein. Hitchens arguments seem themselves to be written in polyunsaturated fats, and such other fats as enlarge the liver from the breakdown of alcohol in the bloodstream. However, just when you think he can't top this particular exercize in intellectual corruption, he comes up with a weepy column on Chalabi, in the course of which he gets very mournful over criticisms heaped on Chalabi in the American press. He makes a very big deal out of Chalabi's leadership of a paramilitary group in the nineties in Northern Iraq -- which, according to Hitchens, was the greatest return of a man to his roots since Alex Hailey visited Nigeria. No, this is not a man unconnected with Iraq -- he is a patriot in the line of Napoleon II and, uh, Garibaldi. Hitchens also tells us that his man's paramilitaries were collected in response to the death threats of the Saddamites. Now, we do have to give Chalabi credit for bravery. The man has been tempered, as steel is in the furnace, by the drama of haribreadth escapes -- starting with his unwilling flight from Baghdad at twelve, and going on to the humiliation of being stuffed in the boot of a car to escape being sentenced to prison for embezzlement in Jordan in 1989. The latter incident, Chalabi's partisans have assured us, was all Saddam's fault, too.

We imagine it actually gave him cred with the tough boy D.C. crowd. Imagine, Garibaldi with the soul of a Ken Lay! By that act alone he showed that he was made of the same stuff as the CEOs of Enron, or Halliburton, of General Dynamics -- he was a man willing to go to any length to avoid the penalties attached to peculation. That, of course, is the one consistent theme that unifies our present Bush-ite order. So he does seem peculiarly matched to the hour -- an hour that is marked by the movement of corporate giants into the "humanitarian reconstruction" of Iraq, and an amour of C. Hitchens for the right.

This was not, once, selon le gout de Hitchens -- but now it is indeed capable of causing him the most extreme joys and torments.