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Showing posts from September 26, 2004
Bollettino (Sorry in advance to everybody out there who is bored stiff with political posts. LI is, at the moment, swept up in the mad estrus of this campaign) Mining the debate transcript for gold – or, in Bush’s case, fool’s gold – is easy. From what we have read, little attention has been paid, so far, to this incredibly revealing exchange : “LEHRER: New question, Mr. President, two minutes. You have said there was a "miscalculation" of what the conditions would be in postwar Iraq. What was the miscalculation, and how did it happen? BUSH: No, what I said was that, because we achieved such a rapid victory, more of the Saddam loyalists were around. I mean, we thought we'd whip more of them going in. But because [Gen.] Tommy Franks did such a great job in planning the operation, we moved rapidly, and a lot of the Baathists and Saddam loyalists laid down their arms and disappeared. I thought they would stay and fight, but they didn't.” “I though
Bollettino LI, being a superstitious type, takes some credit for Kerry’s victory in the debate yesterday. We’ve noticed that Kerry is better when LI isn’t observing him. Here’s a mystery for quantum political mechanics. We did briefly turn on the radio, and heard Bush extensively hum and then haw. We also heard him actually have to say the name Osama bin Laden, which he characteristically botched – surely Bush’s bad conscience, like Macbeth’s, reveals itself in such telling verbal cues and phantoms: Is this a dagger which I see before me,/ The handle toward my hand? Come , let me clutch thee:/ I have thee not, and yet I see thee still./ Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible/ To feeling as to sight? or art thou but/ a dagger of the mind…/ Ah, the Osama of the mind – is that a beret moustache ensemble he is sporting, or a beard and a long white robe? At least we know one thing: Bush could well say, I have thee not and yet I see thee still. In any case, we are happy.
Bollettino Let others analyse the debates. LI is much too fearful to watch them – or listen on the radio. One reaches a point of saturation with the maunderings of Bush. Lately, Kerry has been on a roll. We hope that he continues to press the attack in this debate. But we are afraid of the timing – it is late to have to press the attack. The time for that was, properly, during and after the convention… Well, no bitching, now. We cross our fingers. And on to … Madame Bovary. There is nothing better than reviewing the translation of an old classic. First, it allows the translator to discretely reveal his or her own incredible erudition. Second, one can pick at the text – curiously, few reviewers of novels really seem to care about close reading the things. Close reading your average novel, admittedly, is like trying to find a plot in the clothes going around in a drier. It isn’t worth it. But when it is worth it, it is worth it all the way – or so we have found. We are neve
Bollettino The wonderful thing about money George Packer’s article about the ethnic discontents in Kirkuk is a study in what happens when justice is conceived of as the restoration of the past. Kirkuk was Arabized under Saddam. The program Saddam followed doesn’t seem too different from the programs by which the Israelis displaced the Palestinians, or the way American city planners, in the fifties, displaced blacks in urban centers. Of course, neither the Israelis nor the Americans, in the end, used poison gas -- one should always remember that the degree of violence, here, makes all the difference. But one should also remember that the degree of violence doesn't transform anything basic about the relation between the exploiters and the exploited. Packer's article is all a tissue of miseries, and of injustice piled on injustice. Kirkuk is now claimed by the Kurds and the Turkomen, while at the same time it is nominally under the control of the Iraqi state. Packer
"No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We -- even we here -- hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free -- honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just -- a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless. – Abraham Lincoln, Message to Congress, 1862 The reference to other nations is by no means incidental to Lincoln's understanding of what was at stake in America's conflict. In history's ongoing struggle between despo
Bollettino Last week we wrote a review of Capote’s Letters for the Chicago Sun-Times. Lately, there’s been a significant dip in the quantity of LI’s review-writing. This is a good thing – writing reviews is generally a stinky business, unappreciated, underpaid, taking up a huge amount of time, in terms of reading and research and getting the first damn paragraph down, for comparatively little payback in terms of even the most miserly of nature’s rewards, the writer’s self satisfaction at a thing finally and forthrightly said. In the course of our research, we read Plimpton’s Capote. It is one of those have recorder, will transcribe kind of books. Like Edie. Norman Mailer told an anecdote about meeting Capote in Brooklyn. Mailer at the time was renting a studio in a working class part of Brooklyn. Capote came over, and the two decided to get a drink, so they went to the neighborhood bar, ‘down on Montague Street near Court – a big Irish bar with a long brass rail at which were
Bollettino Here’s an item that hasn’t gotten much American press. From Jacques Follorou in Le Monde : The Brother of Osama bin Laden issued summons by French court. Yselam Bin Laden, the half brother of Osama, residing in Switzerland, has been issued a warrant to appear as a witness in a court in Paris Monday, September 27, by Prosecuting Judge, Renaud Van Rymbeke, in regard to his financial ties with the leader of the 9/11 attacks. … Yeslam Bin Laden, who has already appeared before a magistrate, has indicated that he has not had contact with his half brother for twenty years. In a letter to Le Monde, he has claimed that the activity of his firm was limited to a pool by subscription of investments recommended by well known, established banks. On September 6, an expert collaborating with Swiss authorities, Jean-Charles Brisard, communicated to Van Rymbeke some facts which seem to contradict this story. According to him, the Swiss authorities have obtained from UB
Bollettino LI has been trying, and failing, to say something with some reach, some truly novelistic depth, about the symbiotic relationship between the fantasies of Bush’s supporters and the essential falsity of Bush’s vision of Iraq – a falsity that can be summed up as the large, enduring and apparently insurmountable incongruity between means and ends in Iraq. We thought we were on to something by thinking about alibis . We thought about how alibis, used by defendants in court, have to be contoured not only to assume the shape of truth, but to assume that shape of truth that one presumes the jury would find truthful. Hence, the overlapping of sometimes contradictory or incompatible accounts. So we rummaged through a bunch of Greek texts from Lysias to Antiphon, looking at defense speeches. Finally, though, we couldn’t make this post cohere. So we dropped it. And wheeling about on the web, we came face to face with Perry Anderson’s second article about French intellect