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Showing posts from April 25, 2004
Bollettino In the nineties, under Clinton, the left Keynsians and the right Keynsians – the liberals and the supply siders – staged a quiet revolution. They revolutionized the standard by which the CPI – the cost of living – was measured. No longer would inflation be considered, as it was by primitive man, an increase in price. Primitive man has a broken club, and he trades 5 clams for it. 3 months before, he traded 2 clams for it. Primitive man scatches his head and makes up a big word: inflation. Today’s economists have to sniff at such foolishness. Why? Primitive man is forgetting that the shape of the club is getting more pleasing all the time! Yes, one must calculate the relationship between price and quality. As Bill Fleckenstein at MSNBC puts it : “… you buy a PC with twice as much power, so the government concludes that you really paid only half as much money for it. Hedonics is also the government's way of taking quality improvements and converting them into pri
Bollettino Two things to read today. One is Krugman’s editorial in the NYT. Krugman actually understands what a timeline is. Kerry apparently doesn’t – and don’t ask about the Bush hawks. To advocate one or another ‘fix’ in Iraq – for instance, internationalizing the conflict – at one time, and consider that one now has the answer to the ‘problem’ of Iraq, is to commit the central sin of central planning. A year of mission accomplished has passed in Iraq. It has passed through Iraqi minds and bodies. And those minds and bodies live there. They can feel in their minds and bodies one thing: they aren’t items at the Pottery Barn. They aren’t broken. They aren’t bought. They aren’t ‘fixable.’ This arrogant and stupid rhetoric points to everything that is wrong with the occupation. Being humans, instead of figurines, events, over time, actually have acquired meaning for these people. Gosh. Hard as it is to believe that the Iraqis could be as fully human as Americans, some of them
Bollettino According to the media, in the build up to the war on Iraq, D.C. was a regular little hive of the best and the most hawkish, with every little cell planning – wrongly, as it turned out – for “post-conflict” Iraq. Powell’s minions in the press like to point fingers at Rumsfeld for the overwhelming failure to plan the occupation; Rumsfeld’s minions talk of Powell as a softy and – for his work for Dad Bush – pretty much a traitor. However, it wasn’t that the occupation wasn’t planned well – the problem was that it wasn’t imagined well. Or even at all. Its planners had not only never served in uniform – for all of their constant analogizing to Japan and Germany, they apparently never asked a WWII vet what it was really like. If somebody in the Wolfowitz circle had put down Richard Perle’s latest scorcher in Foreign Policy and taken up Norman Lewis’ diary of serving as an Intelligence Officer in occupied Southern Italy, “Naples, ‘44”, here is what they would have found: loo
Bollettino A spate of stories in the media have been proclaiming the end of Chalabi – rather like chasing the Lord of Misrule from the scene at the end of a Tudor play. Shall we all get up and get married? Is there a God in Heaven? Certainly this would falsify parts of LI’s predictions about Iraq in the coming months, which we just prognostically emitted the other day. Were we so out of the loop? While we believe that Chalabi himself is a stand-in for a policy default position of the hawks – that Iraq should be, in effect, an American colony – character does count. There is nobody around who has been groomed to quite such perfection as Chalabi – the man is from the Agency dream book of the 50s. A crook, an opportunist, a liar, and a blackmailer – you don’t get that Somoza combination at your nearest convenience food store. It is much harder to produce a tinhorn dictator than people think. So many of them think only of stealing the silverware. The real thing, the real defender of
Bollettino We went to see the Omar Faruk Tekbilek ensemble last night at the University of Texas. Listening to Turkish music is one of those odd habits of our middle age. There is something about it that is very Paul Bowles-ish. Bowles’ typical Westerners, nervous, intellectual, self-absorbed, and (all unknown to themselves) wrapped in such layers of babyfat egotism that they are permanently distanced from experience, usually gain experience in a sudden and fatal shock, all at once. It comes out of nowhere. It leaps at them as they become curious – for these people are always curious. In fact, they have made a virtue out of curiosity. They come from a culture in which curiosity has merged with entertainment. And experience does come to them. It comes from a sandstone landscape for which they are absolutely unprepared. It comes from a kidnapping, it comes from the collapse of all of their presumptions. It comes as a great slap from some archaic strata of being that they are unawa