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Showing posts from March 2, 2003
Dope Party Pooper Saddam We do not live in the best of times -- Dicken's dichotomy should definitely be pitched into the can with yesterday's spaghetti. It is a worst of times moment. I know this by a simple glance at my checking account -- althought the truth is I never engage in that pointless exercise in scare-mongering, since I don't appreciate being trailed about during the day by the various ghosts of penury, ill-health, and homelessness. Let's see. To add up other reasons that I'm jumping on Dicken's right-hand choice, there is the shocking state of one of my back teeth -- which incessantly radios S.O.S-es to me; the headlines; and the moody weather, which was trying out various shades of gray last week, and then suddenly got all giggly and put on an 80 degree bikini yesterday. Adjustment, you know. So the war has inched so close to us that, according to the NY Observer , it has intruded upon fashionable Manhattan parties. The quote from
Remora Intelligence and its discontents LI comes from a long line of cop Pyrrhonists. In our family, the announcement on tv or in the newspapers that the police have come to the conclusion that X is guilty is usually provoked the comment that X was probably being railroaded. This attitude was re-enforced by my brothers' experience of the policeman's art. Both of my brothers worked, at one time, in the apartment game, as maintenance supervisors. Now apartment complexes sometimes acquire security on the cheap by letting a cop have an apartment free. In return, the moonlighting gendarme was supposed to keep an eye on things. In this way, my brothers got an anthropologists eyeful of cops. For instance, they learned the phrase, "patroling the residence." This meant going home and watching tv of a lazy week day afternoon. Another thing they learned was detection. Robberies and the occasional suicide liven up apartment life. In the case of robberies, the policeman'
Dope The enemy that I see wears a cloak of decency -- Bob Dylan Is Bob Dylan the Very Jones of our time or what? LI has just finished to the funeste tones of our President. The poor man is being forced, dragged, pulled into a war that he wishes and prays he could avoid. Yeah, right. That and a nickel won't get you a pack of bubble gum. Press conferences have become embarrassing exercises in kissing the imperial behind anyway. After Nixon, the wolfish aspect of the press corps was pretty much brought to heel. We can take only so much lese majeste, as they say in the newsrooms. Bush rambled on about intelligence reports that trumped anything mere arms inspectors from the U.N. could hope to accomplish. His enunciation, which seemed set, by some advisor, on the very slow and the very repetitive, reminded me of nothing so much as a Sunday School teacher denying a dangerous liason with some likely student. It radiated the ersatz dignity of the provincial. No questions
Remora Fifty years ago, Stalin died. LI woke up to an NPR piece about a museum exhibit dedicated to Stalin's reign in Moscow. The exhibit has attracted elderly, nostalgic Russians who say things like he beat my grandma systematically with iron rods for ten years -- he was a truly great man! He shot my dog, ate my baby, and made Russia strong! Then a reasonable elderly man was interviewed who said that he was neither for nor against Stalin. Sure, he killed 10 million people -- but just think of the alternative! Finally the announcer gives the results of a poll also referred to by this NYT story about Stalin being poisoned : "Yet modern Russians are torn about his memory. The latest poll of 1,600 adults by the All-Russian Public Opinion Center, released today on the eve of the 50th anniversary of his death, shows that more than half of all respondents believe Stalin's role in Russian history was positive, while only a third disagreed." This matches an Am
Remora Democracy, American amnesia The great moral claim of the belligerent propagandists has been that the War will be fought to bring democracy to Iraq. It is, in fact, their only moral claim - otherwise, the war looks like an attack by an imperial power on a much smaller, and greatly weakened power that invaded a country on which it had a longstanding claim twelve years ago; was duly repulsed; and has since confined its attacks to the kind of factional squabbles that had consumed its separated, northern provinces for eight years. Furthermore, in the eighties, the imperial power in question actively encouraged the weaker power to invade a country on which it had no claim, Iran, and fight it with such weapons as were supplied by a network generously overseen by that imperial power. So a moral claim, here, is evidently needed in order to counter the history of moral bankruptcy and sheer venality displayed by the imperial power. Nick Cohen, who is the most coherent of th
Remora The Exile's Temptation C'est une chose infiniment plus dangereuse de r�volutionner pour la vertu que de r�volutionner pour le crime. Lorsque des sc�l�rats violent les formes contre les hommes honn�tes, on sait que c'est un d�lit de plus. On s'attache aux formes, par leur violation m�me ; on apprend en silence, et par le malheur, � les regarder comme des choses sacr�es, protectrices et conservatrices de l'ordre social. Mais lorsque des hommes honn�tes violent les formes contre des sc�l�rats, le peuple ne sait plus o� il en est ; les formes et les lois se pr�sentent � lui comme des obstacles � la justice" -- Benjamin Constant, quoted in Lucien Jaume, Droit, Etat et obligation selon Benjamin Constant What would I see the War like if I were an Iraqi exile? LI has been reading Benjamin Constant's essay on the "Spirit of Conquest" thinking of that question this weekend. Constant wrote the essay in 1813, in Germany. He'd been in