“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, June 24, 2006

the best of times

Let’s review the week’s news, shall we?

On the one hand, we learn that the president was amply warned about Al Qaeda’s planned attack. He did nothing. As a result, 3,000 people died.

On the other hand, a band of poor young black men in Miami were cozened by a secret policemen into planning an attack on the Sears building in Chicago. They only lacked equipment, weapons, a plan, any connection to al Qaeda, and, most likely, the foggiest idea of where Chicago is, not to speak of the Sears building. Testimony from neighbors has shown conclusively that they wore things on their heads like turbans.

Two stories. Which story does the media go with?

There is a psychological problem in preserving the level of contempt the governing class, the press, and the culture that is perfectly content with the two, deserves. As my commentor, Mr. Nyp, has pointed out, as this and other information scrolls before our eyes for years and years, there is a contempt burn out. There only so many levels of disgust one can go through. There is such a thing as spectator paralysis. It is like the situation of the boy in Clockwork Orange – eyes forced open with little wire brackets, secured in a seat so that we can’t move, the movie unrolls before us. And such are the truths of Pavlovian conditioning that after a time, they can remove the wire clamps and the seat restraints, and they can do whatever the hell they want to do. Foist another Clinton or Bush upon us. Raise another ignorant crop of privileged white men and women to wink and blink at us on tv, babbling on, swollen mindless egos knowing nothing and filling the gaping intellectual hole by repeating endless versions of childhood taunts, heads filled with straw. The kind of people who consider themselves the crown of the meritocracy – and who are. Meritocracy, American version, circa 2006. We even see stories that clearly indicate that the next terrorist action in the U.S. will likely be the result of a botched sting operation -- and nobody questions it. LI is laughing so hard that blood is bubbling out of his mouth.

The angels weep. Better I were distract/So should my thought be sever’d from my griefs/And woes by wrong imagination lose/The knowledge of themselves – as Gloucester says in Lear, prophetically envisioning the cable news networks of the future.

And then there is this from the Washington Post:

“Jon Stewart, Enemy of Democracy?
By Richard Morin
Friday, June 23, 2006

This is not funny: Jon Stewart and his hit Comedy Central cable show may be poisoning democracy.

Two political scientists found that young people who watch Stewart's faux news program, "The Daily Show," develop cynical views about politics and politicians that could lead them to just say no to voting.”
Morin, who in the past has shown himself entirely clueless about sieving social science studies, reports this story with an earnestness that could earn him a place on the show itself. I have to give him credit for producing the best grafs of the week, however:

“To test for a "Daily Effect," Baumgartner and Morris showed video clips of coverage of the 2004 presidential candidates to one group of college students and campaign coverage from "The CBS Evening News" to another group. Then they measured the students' attitudes toward politics, President Bush and the Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.).

The results showed that the participants rated both candidates more negatively after watching Stewart's program. Participants also expressed less trust in the electoral system and more cynical views of the news media, according to the researchers' article, in the latest issue of American Politics Research.”

Friday, June 23, 2006

where did you go, Rambo? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you

The War on Terrorism and the War on Drugs are, of course, not wars at all. They are declared illegally, pursued intermittently to both scourge a potentially rebellious population and to score public relations points, and tend inevitably to the government’s oldest trick: inducing citizens to commit crimes, then clapping them in irons.

So, the Bush administration, in its infinite wisdom, has said, let a thousand little Reichstag fires burn – and it has come up with sad things like the arrest of those boys in Miami, yesterday. Clearly, this was a case of talking shit. Even the Washington Post, ever willing to the administration’s cat’s paw, can’t turn this ridiculous administration concoction into the kind of threat to leave us householder’s trembling in our beds.

In reality, these young men were enacting one of the perennial phenomena of urban streetlife, from Jerusalem in 1 A.D. to James Baldwin’s Harlem in the 40s – the incubation of a religious cult:

“Residents living near the warehouse said the men taken into custody described themselves as Muslims and had tried to recruit young people to join their group. Tashawn Rose, 29, said they tried to recruit her younger brother and nephew for a karate class.

She said she talked to one of the men about a month ago. "They seemed brainwashed," she said. "They said they had given their lives to Allah."
Residents said FBI agents spent several hours in the neighborhood showing photos of the suspects and seeking information. They said the men had lived in the area for about a year.

Benjamin Williams, 17, said the group sometimes had young children with them. At times, he added, the men "would cover their faces. Sometimes they would wear things on their heads, like turbans.”

Things on their heads like turbans… Wow. The problem with the current Bush culture is that it is a scary clown culture. It is both funny and terrifying at the same time – as though the S.S. had been issued rubber red noses to wear before they went out and did their raiding. Although these cornpone authoritarians have made up this terrorist shit before – in Detroit, in Ohio, etc., etc. - this time out the fraudulent nature of the enterprise is hard to disguise even in the first flush of the scoop. The oldest gesture encoded in the genes of the secret police is to protect us from crimes that it first makes up. But when the secret police are so contemptuous of the public that they deliver shoddy goods like this for our consumption, you know something has gone awry, culturally. Is it that the U.S. population will put up with anything? Is it that, unlike the heroic culture that resisted the invading Soviets in many a Reagan era film, in reality, we are composed of surrenderers, dickerers, halfwits and dupes? Will no Rambo arise among us, muscular and oiled, to save us from the Bushist beast?

“The person they believed to be an al-Qaida representative gave Batiste a digital video camera, which Batiste said he would use to record pictures of the North Miami Beach FBI building, the indictment said. At a March 26 meeting, it went on, Batiste and Burson Augustin provided the "al-Qaida representative" with photographs of the FBI building, as well as video footage of other Miami government buildings, and discussed the plot to bomb the FBI building.

But on May 24, the indictment said, Batiste told the "al-Qaida representative" that he was experiencing delays "because of various problems within his organization." Batiste said he wanted to continue his mission and his relationship with al-Qaida nonetheless, the document said.”

Discussed his plot to bomb the FBI building? What kind of comic book language is that?

Oh well. This is proof, once again, that Conrad’s The Secret Agent should be made part of the high school curriculum, in order to inoculate Americans from a disease that has been carefully nurtured in them by fifty some years of tv: their love for a man in a uniform.

PS – there is another wapo article readers should check out. I still heard it said, all of the time, that the U.S. has a moral obligation to stay in Iraq. I hear this said even by anti-war people. While that sounds fine, in reality, as long as the U.S. is in Iraq, there will be no serious negotiation between the government and the various insurgents. Of course there should be amnesty for insurgents who have fought Americans – otherwise, we are talking about a decade long war to the death. But that can’t happen as long as Americans are holding the strings and making the puppets dance. Except that old fusty metaphor isn't exactly right -- the Americans can pull strings, but they don't really know what the puppets are doing. They didn't in South Vietnam, and they don't here.

Americans – this is the point – are prolonging the war in Iraq. Not limiting it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

american crisis 2: cheney's moral blackmail

Dear President Bush,

Yesterday you said, "I vowed to the American people I would do everything I could to defend our people, and will. I fully understood that the longer we got away from September the 11th, more people would forget the lessons of September the 11th. But I'm not going to forget them.”

Good for you. I’m not going to forget September 11th, either.

In my last letter I discussed your aversion to reading. Well, my topic seems to have coincided by happy chance with Ron Suskind’s new book. The book reveals, among other things, your less than stellar habits in the matter of information retrieval. According to Suskind, you have created a political tactic out of your feigned illiteracy: plausibly claiming ignorance, for instance, about the brummagem nature of your assertions about Saddam Hussein’s weaponry. After all, you just didn't read that piece of paper when it came across your desk. You trusted what Dick told you.

However, let's remember the lessons of 9/11. Suskind's book, according to reports of it in the press – see the section in the ps to this letter that I am citing from Brad Delong’s site – throws even more light on what happened between 8/6/01 and 9/11. The more light that is cast, the more disturbing your actions appear. Much more disturbing than they appeared even in Michael Moore's movie, or in any number of conspiratorial accounts of 9/11. In all of those accounts, you are assumed to be more than competent. Your mission accomplished persona is simply morally reversed -- from superhero to supervillain.

But the truth is otherwise, isn't it? In fact, you have no idea what to do in an emergency. I have often why nobody has ever pressed you about what you did in that month. We knew, before Suskind, that you had been told about Al Qaeda intentions to attack the U.S. We still don't know if, for instance, you pressed the FBI director, alerted the Secretary of Transportation, etc. Now we do know a bit more, and that glimpse looks bad. Just as happened before Katerina, you took it to be your role to play observer -- and a disinterested, dumb observer at that. According to Suskind, your almost incomprehensible indolence during that summer was interrupted not by reports you had asked for, but by the CIA thrusting an assessment upon you, disturbing the great work of brush clearing on your ranch. You were clearly more interested in the brush clearing. At that time, apparently, you considered the presidency a part time job – much like being the Governor of Texas, or being a teenage liquor mixer at your Dad’s country club.

Suskind’s discovery has given us another piece of the mystery that has long troubled LI – namely, Cheney’s role in your administration. It has become a given among the press that Cheney’s power is due to your inexperience. This, I think, is incorrect. There is nothing in your character that would indicate that you are capable of the kind of cool self-assessment this story implies – to wit, deciding that you are inexperienced, and handing power to Cheney. Nothing in your actions pre-9/11 make this plausible. Cheney, in those halcyon days, was given the task of mind melding with his fellow extraterrestrial energy company CEOs. He was not the man behind the throne.

Instead, I have an alternative narrative. Please tell me if this is correct. In the weeks following 9/11, you had a big secret – your neglect of all warnings that this was about to happen. At the time that you were most conscious of this secret, your VP began to press his own agenda, and his own desire to take over foreign policymaking from you. Or at least operate as the chief shaper of that policy. I have always suspected that the timing of those two things is not a coincidence. In effect, the person who knew about your negligence, who made it his duty to know, was your Vice President. And this Vice President is extraordinarily unscrupulous. If we turned to the pseudo-science of criminal profiling, I think we could show, pretty easily, that he is a socio-path.

LI thinks that this period was a time of moral blackmail. My hypothesis depends on two things: your guilt and your secret. There are those who think that you, like Cheney, are a socio-path – I don’t think so, however, I think you are prey to two polar moods – one of supreme vanity, and the other of guilt. The latter, of course, being the product of your mother’s upbringing. As a good Freudian, I consider that your Jesus Christ obsession is not just for political show, but a way of mediating between these two contradictory traits. As a reward for your abasement, you are made a son of God yourself. This is almost perfect as a solution to your little psychic woes. But surely on 9/11, a day you spent flying around, as though looking for another country to be president of, all the past failures must have come bubbling up – that pre-spree feeling. The failure to be a fighter pilot, like Daddy. The failure to be an oil company founder, like Daddy. The need for Daddy to get you on Harkin, and your eagerness to profit to the point where Daddy’s friends had to squelch an embarrassing investigation. You were vulnerable as you had never been, since past fuck ups were, after all, country club affairs. So you stole from Harkin and dropped out of the National Guard. Really, these weren’t big deals. But this time, it was a big deal.

The presidential bios of dead presidents often fill us in on things that we didn’t know at the time – notably, who the president was fucking. In your case, we will find out something different – who was fucking the president.

It was during this period that an inexplicable grant of authority was given to your Vice President. I am not saying that the Vice President went into your office and laid all his cards out on the table – although he might have. This is a crude man. I am saying that the emotional pre-requisites for emotional and political blackmail were there; that out of your consciousness of failure, you ceded power you would not otherwise have ceded to Cheney; and that your inability to free yourself from him stems from these crucial weeks.

Any other president would, at the very least, have been angry that his vice president went to see his mistress on a Texas ranch and ended up shooting a friend (a friend of your family) in the face and leaving your people to clean up the P.R. mess. But you weren’t. This blackmail has now become not just a single thread in your administration – it is the whole spider web.

Of course, my story shouldn’t be taken to suggest that you aren’t on board for such crimes as the invasion of Iraq – it is just that, on your own, I don’t think you would have had the courage or the interest to drive that enterprise. When, on your own, you do attempt to drive an enterprise – cast your mind back to ‘reforming’ social security – the enterprise peters out. You are not what I’d call a transformational leader, to use management speak. You are rather a rare case of transformational/patsy leadership.

And, of course, your guilt about 9/11 is not enough. If we only had known then, what we know now, surely you would not only have been impeached – you might have been imprisoned. You must be grateful, on some level, to Cheney for his role in creating such an unparalleled atmosphere of bullying that the facts of your non-role, pre 9/11, have never become a real issue. Who has ever asked about it? The same press that went into ecstasy about a sperm stained dress, years ago, has an incredible disinterest in what, exactly, you did, post August 6. I assume that is because the press feels threatened itself, for reasons I am not going to go into, here. However, the success of Cheney’s socio-pathic demeanor, the spread of his combination of guilt free lying and absurd truculence, has spread like a meme through the right wing media-sphere. Joe McCarthy has been normalized in the last six years.

This doesn’t answer all of the questions about 9/11, by any means. The collapse of the Democratic party – the abdication of the oppositional role – is not explained by Cheney-ian moral blackmail. I think there are structural explanations for that. There is a notion, on the part of grassroots Democrats, that the party is supposed to win elections. But the party doesn’t really exist to do any such thing for the party’s leading spirits in D.C. – rather, it exists as a form of entrée into the power structure. If winning elections threatens that power structure, it threatens those leading spirits. Consequently, they will take the knife to any oppositional strategy that leads to threats on their own entrenched positions. It is extremely odd that a party that held the White House for eight years would simply surrender as it did, but it is surely less odd if that party, for a long time, had become a vehicle for self-aggrandizement of a selected group in the Court society of D.C.

Yours sincerely,
Limited Inc.

PS – From Suskind’s book:

Ron Suskind: The "what ifs" can kill you.... [I]n terms of the tragedy of 9/11, a particular regret lingers for those who might have made a difference. The alarming August 6, 2001, memo from the CIA to [Bush]--"Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US"--has been widely noted in the past few years. But also in August CIA analysts flew to Crawford to personally brief the President--to intrude on his vacation with face-to-face alerts.
The analytical arm of CIA was in a kind of panic mode.... They didn't know place or time... but something was coming. The President needed to know.
Verbal briefings of George W. Bush are acts of almost inestimable import... more so than... for other recent presidents. He's not much of a reader... never has been... not a President who sees much value in hearing from a wide array of voices.... But he's a very good listener and an extremely visual listener. He sizes people up swiftly and aptly... and trusts his eyes. It is a gift, this nonverbal acuity.... What does George W. Bush do? He makes it personal.... The expert... has done the hard work... [Bush] tries to gauge how "certain" they are of what they say....
The trap, of course, is that while these tactile, visceral markers can be crucial... they sometimes are not. The thing to focus on, at certain moments, is what someone says, not who is saying it, or how they're saying it.
And, at an eyeball-to-eyeball intelligence briefing during this urgent summer, George W. Bush seems to have made the wrong choice.
He looked hard at the panicked CIA briefer.

"All right," he said. "You've covered your ass, now."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

the 18th brumaire

One of the more discouraging things about Marx’s 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon is how much its famous opening lines, about tragedy and farce, have absorbed interest in the entire work. (Hegel observed somewhere that all great world historical facts and persons occur, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce). Those lines weren’t meant as toss offs, any more than the individual witticisms in Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest are written to be relished solely outside of their place in the play. Rather, the tragedy/farce duality initiates a series of complex and beautiful inversions which operate, on the literary level, to make this account of the long ago doings of half forgotten Frenchmen still a fast paced read, and on the political level, to give us perhaps the first analysis of the kind of reactionary politics that, it turns out, is the ever-recurring counterpart, in modernity, to modernization itself. The convergence of a literary trope and a political truth is quite astonishing – it is like being able to use a poem as a household cleaner. In other words, the literary and the political ought to come from completely separate conceptual domains. That they don’t is one of the surprises of the text. It is a surprise that destabilizes our ideas of genre, journalism, history, politics and philosophy. In this sense, Marx’s work is close to Swift’s Drapier Letters, Burke’s Reflections, and Paine’s The Rights of Man.

Terell Carver, in a brief intro to the work in Strategies (2003), gives us its publication history:

“Put through the mill of the Selected or Collected Marx and Engels, the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte is just another text, falling at 1852 in the lineup. Compared to its usual neighbors, The Class Struggles in France and The Cologne Communist Trial, it is more famous and more widely read. In Marx’s own time, matters were rather different: The Class Struggles appeared in the Neue Rheinische
Zeitung-Revue with a reasonable circulation in Germany and amongst the e´migre ´s, and The Cologne Communist Trial became a notorious pamphlet smuggled over borders and past censors. The Eighteenth Brumaire was supposed to appear in installments in a functioning periodical (Die Revolution), published in the USA, but the plans for a periodical fell through. The text eventually appeared as a whole in May 1852 in something more like a pamphlet than a periodical (there were no other works in it), though styling itself an “occasional” publication. Excerpts appeared in English in the Chartist People’s Paper from September through December. While the Eighteenth Brumaire was distributed in the US (20¢ wholesale, 25¢ retail), Marx and his associates had little luck getting it re-imported (in any language) back into Europe, and it is safe to assume that its existence was known to but a select few. It was also not the only pamphlet circulating that satirized the deadly funny Louis Bonaparte, nor the only one that recalled the original 18th Brumaire of Year VIII of the revolution. In Prussia Marx’s brother-in-law the Interior Minister Friedrich von Westphalen was informed by his police that an embarrassing relation had published a work entitled Revolution, but there is no evidence that many others of any political persuasion were taking such a keen interest. In short, its contemporary impact was disproportionate to its later fame, even as one of Marx’s second-rank texts.”

Carver has an anachronistic suggestion as to the pamphlet’s genre:

“I have suggested that the Eighteenth Brumaire was the closest Marx could get to the movies, and that the genre is that of the docu-drama, in which factual reportage merges with political performance.10 While Marx did not have access to the drama as such (stage, screen, television), he did his best through his vivid
characterizations and colorful language. If metaphors could murder, he would have gone to prison or the scaffold, and there is no doubt that he was a master of character assassination. The colorful language of the Eighteenth Brumaire should have made it performative as a pamphlet, if anything could, that is,
rallying democratic forces in several countries against the principle and practice of authoritarianism and gangsterism, as practiced by Louis Bonaparte in his politics of constitutional subversion. Moreover, what Marx says in the Eighteenth Brumaire reflects his view of politics as a performance in an astonishingly subtle and complex way.”

LI has been re-reading the Eighteenth B. with a lot of pleasure, in our off moments – since we are thinking a lot, at the moment, of the political pamphleteering. Marx put his finger on the way the reactionary moment is structured in this pamphlet – with the structure of that moment being in contradiction with the very premise of the modern version of history. That version, codified in the eighteenth century, made history the story of progress. Ranke, in the 19th century, famously objected that all moments are ‘equally distant’ from God – but he didn’t actually believe this, as his treatment of Asian history shows (Asian history, for Ranke, was ‘stagnant’). Progress operates as the Anankê of history – its necessity. That progress happens through people, behind their backs, so to speak, is the condition for the tragic opposition between the hero and the story in which he figures -- at least for the modern hero. While I don’t want to press this too hard, obviously one of the differences between tragedy and farce is the difference between a story in which necessity conditions the general trajectory of discoveries (both by agents in the narrative and by observers outside of it) and a story in which necessity continually dissolves into contingency – into lovers hiding in closets, policemen chasing funny crooks, banana peels getting under the heels of harlequins.

The masterly design into which Marx presses the highly resistible but curiously unresisted rise of the very louche Louis Napoleon is to make all accidents happen under the sign of inversion. Now, it is true that Marx does a little cheating to get his inversions. The French revolution, as he presents it, progresses by moving from a bourgeois revolution to a popular one – from the fall of the Bastille to Robespierre. He makes a little cut there, although we know that isn’t the end of the story. The reactionary sequence of 1848 to 1851 is the inverse of this: it moves from a popular revolution through a bourgeois reaction to a dictatorial conclusion.

“Men and events appear as inverted Schlemihls, as shadows who have mislaid their bodies.”

LI will return to this notion in another post.

Monday, June 19, 2006

the American crisis

Dear President Bush,

In 1776, at a time when American forces were being pushed back by the British, Tom Paine took up his pen and wrote a series of letters to various British officials, and even to the people of England. These letters were published as a pamphlet entitled, The American Crisis. While Paine likely did not believe that his letters would actually persuade their addressees to cease and desist from the various depredations that he deplored, his letters gave them a moral chance.

In fact, the commander of the British forces in America, Lord Howe, might well have read the letters Paine addressed to him. After all, Paine was a wildly popular author, and Howe might have felt it was his duty to read a writer whose words would have an immediate effect on the morale of the population he had come to subdue.

Times have, of course, changed. In 2002, you often hinted that you did not even read newspapers. The image of you, barely able to pull yourself away from ESPN 1 to watch some paen to your genius on Fox News, was calculated to anger your enemies. The enemies at that point had, admittedly, dwindled. Here it is important to note – it is always important to note - that you were not really elected as president. You lost the popular vote. You were nevertheless elevated to your office in one of the most singular acts of corruption in U.S. history – since the Supreme Court, however low it has fallen at times, had never before played the role ward boss. If the U.S. were another country – say, Iran, or the Ukraine – the machinations that brought a man of your feeble abilities and family connections to power would have caused the U.S. state department to issue some tut-tuttery about the whole thing. However, solely because the U.S. was attacked on 9/11, you became popular. The rallying round effect erased the shameful memory of your criminal ascent. In addition, the knowledge that your disinterest in newspapers extended to disinterest in memos advising you of imminent Al Qaeda attack was not, in 2002, in the sphere of public knowledge.

What is one to make of the boast of ignorance by a man who is evidently willing to commit any infamy to become president? There is something bullying about the ignorance, something that hints at the kind of hoodlum who actually takes pride in some outrageous act of brutality. But, on balance, I don’t think that you are a hoodlum. Rather, yours is a character in which grudges have long been stored up and ossified. The contradiction between your failure to ever achieve anything by yourself, your reliance on a network of cronies, and the code of the self made man that is your public ideology, is too gross for you to completely ignore. Instead, a man of your type immediately decides that his failures are due to a cabal. In your set, that cabal is usually represented as some vague but powerful one composed of East Coast liberal elites. Without thinking much about it, you have obviously accept this idea. So to shock them by playing the Texas ignoramus proved irresistibly tempting to a man who, evidently, spent his happiest days as the class clown at the private school he went to long ago.

The short era in which playing the Clown Prince reaped applause is now over, however, and you are back to admitting to the habit of reading newspapers. This is progress of a sort – vaunting your ignorance as an electoral ploy is not a thing that even your most fanatic followers can stomach any longer. Even though they can stomach quite a bit.

With the myth of your functional illiteracy exploded, my conceit, that I am writing a letter to a man who might actually read it – however dim the chance – acquires a little more verisimilitude. My idea, then, is to occasionally pen letters to you about Iran, Iraq, your foreign policy, your environmental policy, your economic policy, etc. – and show you the error of your ways. Since your errors are so multitudinous and so fundamental, this task will require a little work. Like Paine, however, I believe that at the very center of the person is a flickering but permanent moment of liberty. By demonstrating, irrefutably, that you have set this nation on the path to ignoble defeat in Iraq; that you are acting the madman with regard to reality in the Middle East, in China, in Europe, and in Latin America; that you have multiplied and augmented the environmental crises that are now upon us; that you have oppressed the poor and the working class; that the money that you have poured into the pockets of the wealthy in the attempt to shift the balance of opportunities in this country, so that the descendents of the poor will always be poor, the descendents of the middle class will be burdened with such intolerable debts that they sink into poverty, and the descendents of the wealthy, like you yourself, will be free to tread across the bodies of their innumerable victims without any fear of retaliation, is blood money and fairy money – money that will be revenged, and money that will vanish; all of these things will, if you receive them into your heart, perhaps change you at the last minute into a tolerable human being and a president who, from being a laughing stock, becomes a leader upon whom we can look back with gratitude. There are those who say that you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, especially if the sow has been hardened in her vices, stewed in her crib, for the whole of her life. But this is too hard on sows, I think, and it might even be too hard on you.

This is what Paine wrote to Howe:

“TO argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of
reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in
contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring
to convert an atheist by scripture. Enjoy, sir, your insensibility of
feeling and reflecting. It is the prerogative of animals. And no man
will envy you these honors, in which a savage only can be your rival
and a bear your master.”

And, a paragraph later:

“…it would be a pity to pass you from the world in state, and consign you to magnificent oblivion among the tombs, without telling the future beholder why. Judas is as much known as John, yet history ascribes their fame to very different actions.”

Paine is harsh, but then, he was also confident that fate had not bound him up entirely with the fate of Lord Howe. Unfortunately, your actions do have an effect on my fate. For that reason, I lean towards the generous notion that your ignorance is not so ingrained as to make all my scrubbing vain, but that it can be rubbed away with enough friction.

Yours truly,
Limited Inc.

PS -- My next letter may touch on this Washington Post article about Iran, and more specifically, your almost infallible ability to get things wrong, screw things up, and generally leave a ring of scum about the most mundane matters of government. Did you and your cronies actually believe you were going to make the Iranian government fall with a flick of your magic military hand? We must work on that vanity. While you are evidently a slothful man, and not the brightest bulb in the bunch, I don't really think these are the keys to your gross incompetence. No, it is your vanity that is your and, alas, our undoing.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Wayne Morse day

LI is busy, busy -- hey, yesterday we put the finishing touches on the first draft of our translation of Silja Graupe's "Der Ort ökonomischen Denkens. Die Methodologie der Wirtschafts-wissenschaften im Licht japanischer Philosophie." More on the publication of that book as it developes.

Anyway, here are some choice morsels from Wayne Morse, the Oregon Senator who was one of the two senators to vote against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Morse foresaw the age of the executive vanity war. Such as the war in Iraq that Americans are suffering from (a bit here, a bit there -- an invisible sector with its amputated limbs and its freaked out minds) and that the Iraqis are really suffering from -- you know, from the policy of war crimes with which the U.S. military has chosen to pursue this 'low intensity warfare,' from Fallujah to Haditha.


“Likewise, there are many Congressional politicians who would evade their responsibilities as to American foreign policy in Asia by use of the specious argument that “foreign policy is a matter for the Executive branch of the government. that branch has information no Congressman has access to.” Of course, such an alibi for evading Congressional responsibility in the field of foreign policy may be based on lack of understanding, or a convenient forgetting of our system of checks and balances, that exists and should be exercised in the relationships between and Among our co-ordinate and co-equal branches of government.

Granted, there are many in Congress that would prefer to pass the buck to the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon building in respect to our unilateral American military action in Asia. nevertheless, I am satisfied that once the American people come ot understand the facts involved in the ill fated military operations in Asia, they will hold to an accounting those members of Congress who abdicated their responsibilities in the field of foreign policy.

It is an elementary principle of constitutional law that the Executive branch of government cannot spend taxpayer’s money in the field of foreign policy, or for any other purpose except when the appropriation is passed into law.


Under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, the power to declare war is vested in the Congress. No President has the legal authority under the Constitution to send American boys to their death on a battlefield in the absense of a declaration of war. – Wayne Morse, July 17, 1964

What America needs to hear is the tramp, tramp, tramp of marching feet, in community after community, across the length and breadth of this land, in protest against the administration’s unconstitutional and illegal war in South Vietnam. Those protest must be within the law. Those protests must not violate the law. But the administration must also act in keeping with the rights of the protesters under the first amendment.


I wish to make clear once more my views as to why this administration is not declaring war. There are two main reasons… The administration knows that to ask Congress for a declaration of war would start a historic debate at the grassroots of America. The administration would soon come to recognize that the American people want peace, not war.
Second a declaration of war would completely change the international law relationships immediately with every non-combatant country in the world.
- Sen. Morse, October 19, 1965

The United States is on the way toward leading mankind to a third world war. …
The resolution of August, 1964 cites southeast Asia as an area where the United States regards the maintenance of international peace and security as vital to our interests. I submit that the continued intrusion of large-scale American military forces, bases and navies in this area will destroy what little international peace and security is left to the people of Thailand, Laos, Malaysia and eventually Burma and Cambodia, for the war that is lapping at their shores will engulf them, too, if it is allowed to proceed on its present course. – April, 1966

note on Charlotte Street

I received an email today from the former Charlotte Street blog. The new address of the blog is http://www.mark-kaplan.blogspot.com. The old Charlotte Street blog is now inhabited by a spam alien.