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Showing posts from June 26, 2005
Geneology of suicide bombing Usually, the history of suicide bombing draws a straight line between kamikazes and Palestinians with bombs strapped to their belt. What this skips is the defense postures of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R in the pre-intercontinental period. Watching Fail Safe last week, it struck me that the whole posture depended on delivering bombs from aircraft manned by soldiers who accepted the fact that bomb delivery would be equivalent to suicide. In other words, suicide bombers. These were the avant garde. After the development of long range missiles, they were replaced by suicide populations. One assumes that the posture died – but it is amazing what can be carried forward, all unconsciously – history is, after all, in Marx’s image, and Kafka’s, and Bataille’s, the great burrowing mole, operating under our feet. The commitment to suicide was tied by a thousand economic incentives to the commitment to prosperity. Live longer through suicide – the motto of the twent
Why LI is no radical: LI has been pondering a question: when Jack White screams “Take… take … take” in the song of the same name on the latest White Stripes album, why is it that I would trade that moment for the collected works of Jorie Graham and Jonathan S. Foer and a half a dozen other writers? Why is it that that scream seems to me to come from the tumultuous collective parasitic heart – the heart that beats in me – in this epoch of the American decay, in this culture that has ensured that your average Babbit can get through, year after year, using up as much energy as the largest beast ever to stalk the landmasses and leaving behind, as his little value added to the betterment of all nature’s kingdoms, excrement and crushed to-go cups? Oh, and hypocrite lecteur, I’m that beast too, the leech in my heart keeps screaming take… take… take, as if this was the natural order, and I was actually owed. Owed. Nobody believes that it will someday end, that the account will be finished.

another fine mess...

In the preface to Heartbreak House, Shaw wrote: “Only those who have lived through a first-rate war, not in the field, but at home, and kept their heads, can possibly understand the bitterness of Shakespeare and Swift, who both went through this experience. The horror of Peer Gynt in the madhouse, when the lunatics, exalted by illusions of splendid talent and visions of a dawning millennium, crowned him as their emperor, was tame in comparison.” Ah, but if Shaw had lived through a second rate war by a first rate power led by fourth rate con men – then he would have been able to brag. Not the earth opening up to eat the European generations, perhaps (the earth has only opened up to eat the Iraqi generations, after all ): but not all cataclysms come on the same scale. Ford Maddox Ford’s phrase, in the Good Soldier (a mouse dying of cancer is the whole story of the fall of the Roman Empire) is, perhaps, more apposite. It is the small lump that sometimes announces the upcoming death.

old fashioned family values

LI is a pro-drugs site. It is a pro-sex site. It is a pro-hedonism site. We stand upon the principle that you should be able to put whatever chemicals get you high in your bloodstream once you reach the age of maturity; and that you should be able to sell said chemicals, under the kind of regulations common to such commodities, without fear of arrest. No ifs, ands or buts. The history of drug bans goes back to the temperance and progressive movements in the 1900s in the U.S. – the country that drove the whole international prohibition movement. Certainly the Brits and the French, with their lucrative opium businesses, were not enthusiasts for the regime of coercive sobriety that enthused the Yankees. Recently, we’ve been reading a very entertaining history of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (remembered, if at all, for whipping up the reefer madness hysteria). The Strength of the Wolf by Douglas Valentine, is a gold mine of the old weird America – the legendary weave of national securi

be like Bush!

Although LI thinks William Saletan is mostly a (what is the polite word here?)… an idiot, he has written the only sensible article about Bush’s speech. Basically, Saletan gets it: “We're "helping Iraqis rebuild their nation's infrastructure and economy," Bush said tonight. "Rebuilding a country after three decades of tyranny is hard, and rebuilding while at war is even harder. ... We're improving roads and schools and health clinics. We're working to improve basic services like sanitation, electricity, and water. And together with our allies, we'll help the new Iraqi government deliver a better life for its citizens." Deliver a better life for its citizens. Is it any mystery why polls have turned against the occupation? The people being polled are Americans. The people deriving a "better life" are Iraqis. Bush spent half the speech obscuring this gap. He equated Iraqi terrorists with the 9/11 hijackers and kept insisting that we'

the just say no resistance

If you want to know why the Democrats will most likely blow the best chance they’ve had in a decade in 2006, read the Kerry op ed in the NYT. It is of his special “I voted for it before I voted against it” brand of politics – one that so delights the D.C. power pointers. Basically, Kerry is taking the position of supporting everything Bush stands for, in Iraq, behind pseudo-tough talk about the Bush mistakes. As for a timetable to leave the country – like in the next six months – forget it. The Kerry plan is an infinite process plan, a perpetual filibuster filled with Iraqi and American corpses. However, much more interesting is the op ed by Lucian Truscott about the coming apart of the military’s middle ranks. Truscott wrote a memoir of his West Point training, which occurred just as Nixon’s ‘secret plan’ for Vietnam was in its Cheney-esque “last throes.” Truscott’s idea is that West Point is special because of the code to which officer trainees must swear: “But the honor code was n

the bush culture version of free enterprise

This Sunday, the Austin Statesman’s A section (which should be called, 'the scrapbook of two day old news from the Washington Post, the NYT, and Knight Rider' section, since there is very little original reporting in it) did have a nice big story about Buda’s new attraction: a Cabela’s. Buda is a country town maybe a fifteen minute drive from Austin, in Hays County. Cabela’s is an outfitter store – but it bills itself as more than a store. It is a store experience, with aquariums, an in the store mini-mountain, and the like. The story is a good example of what the Bush culture means by free enterprise. Enterprise should free itself of costs by putting them on third parties – notably, the state. With admirable lobbying skill, Cabela has received both positive payment from the state – in cash -- and negative inkind benefits from tax breaks. Plus, there are the agreements to extend Loop 4 for access to Cabela. Plus the various complicated clauses having to do with land use ced

Starve the beast

Starve the beast There’s a nice interview with a counter-recruitment activist, Clint Coppernoll, at Counterpunch . LI has been behind the curve – we are adding a link to youthandthemilitary which lists counter-recruitment organizations . We were happy to see two groups in Austin, but ... it is frustrating that there are none in Houston, Dallas, S.A. or El Paso. Texas is a big generator of military personnel, and it would be nice to shut down the tap. Coppernoll is admirably dismissive about the anti-war movement, which has been a vacuum and a comedy, a sort of reductio absurdam of what has been lost as left movements have been institutionalized or annexed by the Democratic party. The results are comparable to what would happen if the Mafia annexed Gamblers Anonymous. Coppernoll makes an interesting point: “Dealing with Delayed Enlistment: Most young people enter the military through the Delayed Enlistment Program (sometimes called the Delayed Entry Program). This program allows yo