Skip to main content


Showing posts from June 20, 2004
Bollettino My friend T. wants to know why I keep going on and on about Christopher Hitchens, who he thinks is an unworthy Moby Dick to my Ahab. Well -- I happen to think that Hitchens is a writer. As opposed to the usual buffoon. That's about it, for a reason. Reason not the obsession -- if the sun itself reached out a hand and struck me on my face, I would strike back -- to answer in the most Ahab-like way. But also, also ... this isn't heading towards a tit for tat thing about C.H. I'm after an even bigger whale -- how we argue about politics. Now, to continue. Let me take off the Ahab mask and put on the T.A. mask. No moral theory can ground itself absolutely on consequences, since there is nothing intrinsically good or bad about a consequence; no moral theory can entirely ignore consequences, since absolutely separating moral categories from actions is like absolutely separating words from meaning. Kant, who comes closest to the absolute anti-cons
Bollettino The importance of being wrong Christopher Hitchens’ mission, in his article in Slate on the “Lies of Michael Moore”, is as delicate a one as, say, the work of a police snitch. Hitchens shuffled off his leftist convictions and became a firm Bush supporter over the last couple of years, which some might call a conversion, and some might call a flip flop. But while he will allow himself the freedom of gaily adapting his opinions to suit his view of circumstances, he isn’t so tender minded about Moore – hence, the heavy sarcasm about Moore’s changing beliefs about the war in Afghanistan. After demonstrating, to his own satisfaction, that if Moore’s pacifism is over-ridden by an unexpected hostility to Al Qaeda and Bush’s decision not to make a major effort to destroy it in the spring of 2002, then the change of heart must be prompted more by the vicious desire to hit out at Bush rather than any nobler motive, Hitchens gets down to what he takes to be lies in Moore’
Bollettino In order to judge whether Iraq stood out as some heinous partner of Al Qaeda, we need to have some metrics. Let's use money and Logistic support as our measures. Let’s compare what we know about the Iraqi funding of Al Qaeda to the funding it received from other states. Saudi Arabia We have, according to a cache of docs recovered from the Taliban government, a money trail that leads to the Saudis. Newsweek reported that there is documentation, for instance, of a bin Laden associate, Jon Juma Namagani, receiving two million dollars in Saudi “aids” on Nov. 21, 1999. According to testimony before the house by Matthew Epstein and Stephen Kohlman , the flow of funds to Al Qaeda went through many channels that have been associated, in the past, with Saudi Arabia. One should remember that charities, in Saudi Arabia, have traditionally had a strong government direction. It would be unlikely, for instance, that a charity directed at helping Israeli victim
Bollettino The Bush administration’s spin on the absence of any evidence of alliance between Al Qaeda and Iraq has been covered by the word “relationship” in the normal, deceitful way in which the Bush administration has chosen to talk about all foreign policy matters in the last three years. A point amply made by Fred Kaplan in Slate, who is repenting for his support for the war not by engaging in the Newspeak of such as the New York Times, retreating glacially from their record of misreporting while supporting ardently their misreporters, but by acts of real contrition. Making him almost unique in the press. Why, however, don’t reporters uncover the meaning of the word “relationship” by asking simple comparative questions? As for instance – who was closer to al qaeda in 2001 – the government of Pakistan or the government of Iraq? Who supplied al qaeda with more money – Saudi Arabia or Iraq? Who supplied al qaeda with more weapons – the Pakistan Secret Service or Iraq?
Bollettino One of LI’s favorite of all passages in English literature is that ending of Sir Thomas Browne’s Gardens of Cyprus: “Though Somnus in Homer be sent to rouse up Agamemnon, I find no such effects in the drowsy approaches of sleep. To keep our eyes open longer were but to act our Antipodes. The Huntsmen are up in America, and they are already past their first sleep in Persia.” LI found his intellectual antipodes, Matthew Arnold, yesterday. We were mulling another shot at this interminable discussion of elitism. So far, LI had been concerned with elitism from the constructive perspective of the artist. But how about the perspective of the critic? Since Arnold famously thought that ‘all the best that has been thought and said” should be the standard of art, we decided to dip into the Works. Dipping, here, it turns out, should be done with one's bowler hat on. Now, we have always liked Dover Beach. But Arnold’s prose is a rather unpleasant chore. One vibrates from