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Showing posts from September 7, 2003
Bollettino Readers should go to Business Week for several articles that gingerly sift through the budget debacle. Trying to be fair to the White House, the writers put in some mush mouth disclaimers about how the US could "carry" a deficit equivalent to 5% of the GDP indefinitely. Yes, we could, but if the experience of the 90s showed us anything, it is that we are better off not. It is true that a smoker can still do two packs even after they yank out one of his lungs, but it isn't, I hear, recommended. Of course, these kinds of things are always wrapped around comparisons with long term corporate debts. The argument -- the sound argument -- is that any large organization needs to borrow to maintain and expand its infrastructure. That seems right to me. But there really is no corporate parallel that fits what Bush has done. The production of this debt load is not derived from any sane project -- it is actually coming on top of the refusal to finance forseeable future
Bollettino This week the arts and letters website has been highlighting articles about the extinct art of book reviewing. This Poets and Writers article treads the same ground Clive James covered in the Sunday NYT. Same references - the Believer, Heidi J., Dale Peck - and the same dull stirring about the non-question: should reviewers diss the books they don't like? Books, here, means solely fiction. Myself, I have been a valiant reviewer of fiction for five years now. I am trying to end my association with that game - I haven't reviewed more than three books in the past two months. I am willing to do almost anything other than continue working as a freelance reviewer. Yesterday, in fact, yours truly went to Pacesetters, an employment agency that is geared towards the mentally disturbed and the perpetual on the move. It consists of a cavernous building located next to the downtown police station, and the joint is peppered with helpful signs advising that drug takers w
Bollettino I must, I must stop writing about the War. One last post -- and then, no mas. Not for this week. Sanity, I crave sanity... All right. Let's do a review. The war was supposed to bring some benefits. There would be costs, there would be benefits. Now we have a better picture of both, and we have a sense of how -- from the American perspective -- they are defined. One of the great benefits of the war was the bringing down of Saddam H. The cost, in human lives and in dollars, hasn't yet been toted up -- on the Iraqi side it may never be -- but as of today we have some feel for it. So, the Bush administration has defined the ultimate benefit in Iraq in terms of several abstractions and one pre-war claim. The pre-war claim is that Iraqi oil will pay for the war and the American contribution to Iraq. In other words, we are spending about 150-200 billion dollars on Iraq, but we will receive that money back. The abstractions can be boiled down to: a democratic, A
Bollettino Here's what we said before the war, on March 14th. It seems relevant, in the light of W.'s speech. "Given this, here is the primer for the upcoming catastrophe: 1. Occupation is not peace. The media has defined the war as having a beginning -- when Bush declares it -- and an end -- when Saddam Hussein is dissolved. Now, the beginning, as we all know by now, has not been clear. In fact, it is unclear what Bush will declare, if we are actually engaged in warlike hostilities now, and who will be responsible for the war -- as in, you know, the marquis. Is it the UN vs. Saddam, the U.S. vs Saddam, or the Coalition of the Willing vs. Saddam? Similarily, the dissolution of Saddam ends only one phase of the war. The next phase, if the post-Saddam history of Northern Iraq is relevant, begins with squabbling between hostile factions that soon escalates into shooting. Plus, of course, with a soldiery strung out in Iraq and no central authority besides that army, the
Bollettino We were going to do a little thoughtful post about reviewing  -- which, the god of coincidence being a faithful reader of this stream of fluff, is made easier by a hook: Clive James' op ed in the Sunday NYT . "Over the course of literary history some legitimately destructive reviews have been altogether too enjoyable for both writer and reader. Attacking bad books, these reviews were useful acts in defense of civilization. They also left the authors of the books in the position of prisoners buried to the neck in a Roman arena as the champion charioteer, with swords mounted on his hubcaps, demonstrated his mastery of the giant slalom. How civilized is it to tee off on the exposed ineptitude of the helpless? "Back in the early 19th century, the dim but industrious poet Robert Montgomery had grown dangerously used to extravagant praise, until a new book of his poems was given to the great historian and mighty reviewer Lord Macaulay. The results set al
Bollettino Ah, pity the poor right wing draft dodgers. Deprived of their share of military glory, and forced to take on domestic tasks, such as bringing down a 100 grand on that first job, and fighting real hard, and successfully, at the office, to be promoted over the deadwood, they have longed, longed for their own war -- not one, mind you, where they would have to be consigned to those yucky barracks at the airport and made to eat that yucky army food (puh-leeeze), but an in and out kind of thing -- sort of like an extreme vacation. The newest status symbol isn't climbing Mount Everest any more (with the natives bearing your lap top so you can hook it up and email your friends) -- no, it is going to Iraq and reporting on the "amazing progress" we are making there. Following in the footsteps of Donny Rumsfeld in Iraq is Max Boot, WSJ author and general authority on all things military . He's at his best telling us how we are in the midst of being stabbed in t