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Showing posts from March 23, 2003
Bollettino After the pointless maundering in the pre-war period, the mainstream press is beginning to get what LI, with our lack of knowledge of battlefields and Iraqi culture, has been harping on for months: just because the media has decided that the war will end with the end of Saddam H. doesn't mean the War has decided the same thing. The reports of the first suicide bombing draw us ever nearer to a world in which we Our Palestinians have to be controlled, through increasing use of our soldiers, and to the detriment of our moral character, our economy, and our security. The NYT gets it, almost. Here's a think piece that could of been ripped out of this weblog over the past two months. Well, no, it isn't as stylishly written . Other reports corroborate the direction that the war, as well as its aftermath, promises to take: Iraqi militiamen, in civilian clothes, firing weapons and disappearing inside the anonymity of the local populace. So-called civilians ridin
Bollettino In the buildup to the war, the tipping point, for most Americans, was the idea that Al qaeda and Saddam H. were joined at the hip. In the 48 hour ultimatum speech, Bush must have repeated this charge ten times � or was that in the �your 48 hour ultimatum is pre-approved!� speech? I get them all confused. In any case, whenever Bush insistently repeats a fact, you know that it is spurious. It is almost a 100% proof. Any antiwar activist can tell you that the Al Qaeda link has been laughably tenuous. What hasn�t been asked, however, is why. Why shouldn�t Saddam have supported Al-q.? The usual answer is that Osama bin and Saddam H. have a Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan relationship. In the one corner is the ugly infidel, in the other corner the minion of Saudi irredentism. That doesn�t convince LI. Middle Eastern politics is a patchwork of alliances between people who would like nothing better than to stick the steak knife into each others backs. The most notorious ex
Bollettino "cacerolada" We had a friend who used to get so wrapped up in soap operas that she would write to them, adumbrating her own original views of the ongoing dilemmas agonizing the characters. It was as if she considered these characters real in the sense that they could benefit from her advice. In a way, LI thinks that we are engaged in a similar bout of unfettered fantasy. All we do on this site, lately, is ruminate endlessly about a war we are powerless to change. So -- we recognize we are demented. Okay? Sometimes, common sense dictates that fantasy overwhelm common sense. So let's zip around to interesting stories. The NYT has a small piece about a Spanish protest that seems much more clever than lying down in the streets. Banging pots. We always love pot banging. Pot banging doesn't have an ideology. They banged pots against Allende in Chili. I'm sure there was some pot banging in Venezuala last year. Surely this goes way back. In Pie
Bollettino Are we so obvious? You know, we thought it was a good gag, pretending that Tony Blair was being played by a double. We thought it rather magnificently parodied the misinformation coming out of the Pentagon, and made a little poison point. But alas, our little jest seems to have been independently discovered by loads of other people. For the funniest double joke, read the Guardian article about the Dubya double. We admit, these grafs are good: "Most of those who regularly monitor Mr Bush's speech patterns believe that it was the genuine article who spoke at Central Command HQ in Florida yesterday, pointing to a characteristic tendency toward quasi-biblical phrasing - "There will be a day of reckoning for the Iraqi regime, and that day is drawing in near" - and an almost total absence of words of more than three syllables. Other experts disagree, pointing out that these consistencies originate with speech writers rather then the president himse
Bollettino There's a funny article in Slate today going after Johnny Apple, the NYT's instant theory man. Apple's had the black mark on his forehead ever since Bush called him an asshole in a public forum, and was overheard, and was embarrassed. It's an indirect form of lese majeste, but Apple must suffer for it. Jack Shafer, who is doing his duty to guard his country, makes the point that Apple was exaggeratedly negative about our great adventure in Afghanistan -- which is turning, in the light of our current war, into the pundit's golden age. Weren't we the boys back then! Apple apparently once wrote a piece saying we risked getting into a quagmire in Afghanistan. Look what happened: we toppled the Taliban toute suite! Now Apple writes a piece that we risk getting into a quagmire in Iraq; thus, by the rule of substitution, Saddam Hussein must be in the bag. This is an excellent example of the reasoning power of those journalists who are embedded in
Belligeranti There is a tic to which the belligeranti have become much addicted. A rhetorical tic. To illustrate, take this rather typical piece from Christopher Hitchens . He is in full regalia, bucking us up in a Daily Mirror piece called (hats off to Kipling) We must keep our nerve. Hitchens goes through the drill -- the so called peace marchers are hypocrites. Saddam Hussein is the bloodiest thing since heart surgery sans anaesthetic. Peace marchers love Saddam Hussein. The coalition forces are brave boys. The coalition forces are making fine progress. The Iraqi soldiers are terrorists. The Iraqi people would really be strewing flowers in the streets if they weren't so fearful about the above mentioned tyrant -- did I mention that Saddam Hussein is a bloody tyrant? The peace marchers protested against the Afghanistan war, didn't they, the peace, or so called peace, or really friends of totalitarianism, marchers. They are weak headed or sinister. Etc. That about cov
Bollettino Ceasefire and the intellectuals In Edward Lascelles Life of Charles James Fox, there�s a passage that describes the formation of the peace cabinet. The Whig opposition, at this point, had been guided both philosophically and strategically by Edmund Burke. The great unifying issue was peace with the North American colonies. In 1782, to negotiate the peace, a government formed under Lord Shelburne, but no cabinet post was found for Burke. This has always been a bit of a puzzle for historians. This is Lascelles explanation: The exalted spirit of Burke might have upheld Whig principles in the Cabinet, but no place was found for him. His omission was probably due less to the aristocratic exclusiveness of a Whig administration than to the fact that the Whigs doubted whether Burke, with all his inspiring genius, possessed either the self-control or the judgment necessary for a cabinet minister. Now, that is the kind of thing that drives Burke�s fans crazy. Whether it w
bollettino A wonderful reader, Ms. B. Bush from Houston Texas, writes: "We often say that God has blessed America, but we really don't pay attention to the daily miracles proving that this is indeed so. We are so richly blessed as a nation! But I'm especially heartened by the the way God multiplies our enemies when we kill them. We first noticed this in Vietnam. We would kill 40 Vietcong, and overnight they would multiply to 80, and be reported as 90.. God was working along lines he'd first laid down in the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, except that this time he was working with the U.S. Military; which is, frankly, a more prepared force than the itinerant preacher he favored in times of yore. The miracle is happening again. Yesterday, the U.S. Military was engaged by the terrorist Iraqis. At first it looked like 150 fell -- but lo and behold! God multiplied those dead. Here's the AP Story: "Defense officials also revised to 350 the number
Bollettino I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps. -- Ken Adelman, WP Someone left the cake out in the rain I don't think that I can take it 'cause it took so long to bake it And I'll never have that recipe again Oh, no! -- Donna Summer For the latest cake and casualties from Iraq , here's a link to abtv's shots of civilian casualties. Luckily, we are being protected from this kind of shocking image thing in the States. It might make us reconsider dessert, and it will certainly only help the terrorists. Now back to our regularly scheduled program, Pastries and Politics with President Bush.
Bollettino We are all anti-monarchists around here. But we've been deeply affected by the NYT article on old peers who are seeking their old seats again in Tony Blair's New-n-improved House of Lords. Politics is one thing -- but seeing the spiritual descendents of Bertie Wooster in a fix is quite another . "LONDON, March 25 � "Quite obviously, I haven't got a hope of getting elected, or of getting any votes at all," said Viscount Massereene, describing his curiously languid attempt to win back (or not) his former seat in the House of Lords. "I thought I would put my name down as a bit of a statement." One's heart rather goes out, in a hail fellow well met way, not a get the hankies out way, nothing like that, to Viscount Massereene. Especially when you compare his idea that he would rather like, all things considered, to be as it were warming the old seat up again to the barking of the young, buff shark, obviously some New Labor su
Bollettino Our Palestinians Andrew Sullivan is not often quoted in these pages, because we think it is the height of pointlessness to quote Andrew Sullivan. But he does represent a golden mean of Bush-ism, and for that reason we find one of his posts for Monday extremely interesting. Here it is: "THE TACTICS OF FAILURE: The setbacks the allies have suffered these last couple of days are all due to one thing: some Saddam units acting as terrorists. By pretending to surrender and then opening fire, by relocating in civilian neighborhoods, by shooting prisoners of war in the head, the soldiers apparently still loyal to Saddam are not reversing the allied advance. What they're doing is trying to inflict sufficient damage to improve their morale and increase the costs of the invasion. They want us to fire into civilian areas; they want us to panic at a few atrocities (as in Somalia); they are counting on an American unwillingness to persevere through serious casualties
Bollettino Note to readers: we are retiring "remora." The Vatican issues daily bulletins of the doings of the pope, and all his little munchkins in Emerald City, and we've decided to borrow that as our name for our own daily bulletins. Dope will continue to be dope. Thanks. War and language Tony Blair -- or a man claiming to be Tony Blair -- readers will recall, I hope, that the real Tony Blair, according to some reports, might be struggling with his bonds in a remote castle in Scotland -- calls the upcoming battle for Baghdad crucial. U.S. commanders, including General Franks, our liberator in chief, a man whose press conferences have quickly devolved into those exercises in denial the military specialized in in Vietnam, claim that the speed Americans are making is success in itself. War, according to this scenario, is a kind of motor-race, and we are simply leaving behind, with superb disdain, those "pockets of resistance" that might exist behind the
Remora This weekend LI talked with a friend who, incautiously, quoted us when talking with another friend about the war. The latter friend said, where does he get his information?! The implication being that we pulled it out of ... the bowels of our imagination. Well, fantasy is something we love to indulge in. But middle age has rather put the kebosh on day dreaming. So we usually look around for info in the usual places. Information is proving to be a difficulty in this war. The American and British press seem determined to do their patriotic best, whether it is questioning whether Saddam the nefarious is using a body double to do his rousing work (a question that should be directed, we think, at Tony Blair -- surely the real Blair is even now struggling with a duct tape over his mouth and a rope around his wrists in some isolated Scottish castle, much like the kidnapped wife in that Danny DeVito flick, while the Blair substitute, created by Richard Perle out of primitive prote
Remora "...they have a large exposed rear and exposed flanks..." -- NPR War correspondent. Ah, those large exposed rears! For a second, I was thinking that NPR had finally gotten around to reviewing one of my favorite movies, Kelly the Coed: part 5 -- in which the exposure of the rear is an essential, uh, plot element. I mean, isn't it about time Fresh Air took on Vivid Videos? But Alas, the war goes on...
LI has redounded a bit too much lately, about Iraq. Let's turn to the toast economy, shall we? HealthSouth's collapse, last week, was masked by the war -- as, for that matter, were the tax shenanigans of the D.C. Bush-ites, the busy troops bringing us the Great Giveaway. HealthSouth is serious business. These great structures, with their CEO Humpty Dumpties sitting on them, redefining the language of profit and loss, cause a lot of collateral damage when they have their great falls. One of our best friends here, S., is a physical therapist working at a Health South Hospital. She is pregnant, she is a recent homeowner, and she is just the kind of person who is put at risk by the likes of the CEO of Health South, Richard Scrushy. To rehash the story: Last year, Health South made one of those surprising earnings announcement that almost invariably indicate the midnight scuttling of rats in the accounting department.  At the beginning of last year, as the death bell
Remora The US government, and the British government, in their wisdom, have decided that it is all right for US photographers to show Iraqi troops surrendering, and it is all right for US journalists to interview Iraqi POWs, but that it is a war crime for Iraqis to do the same thing. The broadcast of Iraqis interviewing -- or rather mistreating -- obviously scared prisoners has been shown through out the Arab world by Al Jazeera,and you can see it here, from the Netherlands RTL4 . It is not pleasant watching. However, censorship, in this case, is merely feeding the Beast -- a point deliberately misunderstoon by our patriot censors who are bravely manning the media, feeding us figures that don't match the images. When the NYT asked ABC news about the Al Jazeera broadcast, here was the reply -- supply your own satire : David Westin, the ABC News president, said he decided ABC News should not show those pictures. "I don't think there's any news value in it," he