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Showing posts from February 12, 2006

JIF GTMO Op Enduring Freedom

We were recently attracted to an article in the Omaha World-Herald about a small businessman, Tom Hogan. Hogan, according to the paper, designed “a sort of wheelchair, … that people can be strapped into to keep them from harming themselves or others.” Hogan, a sheriff, was inspired to do this by an incident involving an intoxicated man at a jail. He now makes these chairs and sells them for $1,200 apiece. He doesn’t have a large factory. His clients are institutions, usually. But he did ship 25 of the chairs recently to a client in Norfolk, Virginia – “the orders were marked "JIF GTMO Op Enduring Freedom." Hogan seems like a decent kind of man: “Under most situations, Hogan said, he doesn't consider it abuse to force-feed someone. "If my chair is being used to save somebody's life . . . that's fine by me," he said. What concerns him, he said, is whether the feeding is done in an abusive way. "I don't want my chairs to be used to torture people.&

Rouze up o young men of the new age!

Lovely. The NYT doesn’t even put the condemnation of the U.S. for torture by the U.N. on the front page. It isn’t as big a deal, apparently, as the non-breakup of Times Warner. No, that the United Nations condemns the torture of the young men who, from every study done of them – the latest by the National Journal – are largely innocents sold to the Americans by villagers with a grudge in Afghanistan and kept in appalling Pit and the Pendulum conditions because the leadership of this country has fallen into the hands of a unique combination of moral idiots and feeble intellects – no, that is not news. For heavens sake, let’s not hear about reality in this world until reality drops on our heads. Well, as Blake put it: “Rouze up O Young Men of the New Age! set your foreheads against the ignorant Hirelings! For we have Hirelings in the Camp, the Court, & the University: who would if they could, for ever depress Mental & prolong Corporeal War.” That about sums up the syncophantic pr

the historians against the war

I’m definitely planning to attend the Empire, Resistance and War in Iraq symposium sponsored by the Historians against War at U.T. – Austin this weekend. Here’s the schedule. I’m not sure I necessarily want to see the Friday opening talk with Howard Zinn – a fine fellow, but my eye is more on the Saturday panels, especially the one on the U.S. in the Middle East. According to the site, “As of Wednesday afternoon, February 15, on-line registration is no longer possible. To register for the conference, please come to the registration table in Sid Richardson Hall before the Friday evening event, preferably by 6:30 or earlier. If you aren’t coming to the Friday evening event but want to register for the conference, a registration table will be up in the Thompson Conference Center starting around 7:30 am Saturday. (The first Saturday panel starts at 8:30, and there will be coffee and bagels.) On-site registration is is $45 (or $30 for students or low-income/unemployed), and includes adm

the nyt ... behind LI by merely a year

The NYT reluctantly recognizes reality. Since the pre-election reporting from Iraq was almost wholly misleading, telling its readers that basically Allawi, Chalabi and Mahdi were the three big contenders for the prime ministerial post, the paper has slowly assumed a more realistic position. In fact, today it is catching up with LI – from January of last year. Before the election in January, 2005, this is what we said: “The post election situation is going to show how good a games player Muqtada al- Sadr is. Sadr has staked out a position that is both anti-exile (meaning Iranian exiles, as well as American ones) and anti-occupation. If, as seems likely, the crew that comes into power after the election is distinguished by the amount of real estate they own in Southern France or the United States, and if those politicians continue to follow a compliant line with the Americans, we expect that Sadr will have a great window of opportunity. What he does with it is the question. The appeal to

be... all that you can be... in the army!

Surely there should be a word for this. We have kleptocrat. We have mafia. But we need a word honed to the multiple splendors exhibited by a new species of capitalist that has flourished under our Lord the Rebel in chief. These are MBA style go getters who have everything – the networking ability, the ambition, the sense of opportunity. The only thing they don’t have is the ability to contribute a single useful idea or good to the stock of humankind. Even con artists, rightly considered, have an aesthetic status: they are sort of like walking divine judgments, prophetic sarcasms, tropes in Caddies. But no. The Lincoln Group is something different, is generated by another station in the history of consciousness. And so this is how the NYT article begins : “Two years ago, Christian Bailey and Paige Craig were living in a half-renovated Washington group house, with a string of failed startup companies behind them. Mr. Bailey, a boyish-looking Briton, and Mr. Craig, a chain-smoking forme
“A few years ago, a coalition of 60 corporations -- including Pfizer, Hewlett-Packard and Altria -- made an expensive wager. They spent $1.6 million in lobbying fees -- a hefty amount even by recent K Street standards -- to persuade Congress to create a special low tax rate that they could apply to earnings from their foreign operations for one year. The effort faltered at first, but eventually the bet paid off big. In late 2004, President Bush signed into law a bill that reduced the rate to 5 percent, 30 percentage points below the existing levy. More than $300 billion in foreign earnings has since poured into the United States, saving the companies roughly $100 billion in taxes.” -- Client’s Rewards Keep K Street Lobbyists Thriving, Jeff Birnbaum, Washington Post Manners are a political thing. The manners of the Americans in the early part of the nineteenth century were much discussed. Stendhal, in the Red and the Black somewhere, makes a casual remark about the barbarization of the

on the recent snowe

LI received a letter about the great Frosty dump from our correspondent, T., in NYC: "The snow? Well, it was lovely; Sunday morning in particular - just lovely and quiet under a grey sky; everything moving slowly and fluidly; all the sliding rather than the usual striding. Tonight the streets and sidewalks are clear, but there is a nice ambient light through the window: streetlights reflceted in snow. But for me the charming aspects of the atmosphere are lost once the snow falls from the trees - already gone. Tonight is more about the 'hangover' of the snowstorm: crunching salt under foot and street corners deluged with slush and hardpacked billets of once snow now ice (perhaps the Eskimos have a word for that last awkward construct). What is that loveliness that transpires in this city during a strike, a blackout, a snowstorm or the blowing-up of buildings? Well, probaly no such loveliness to a garbage strike, but I've never experienced one, so..... Perhaps i

i fought the war, I fought the war but the war won

First, go here. If you have a slow computer, go elsewhere, and wait fifteen minutes while the Quicktime downloads . this little song and the three minute video with the cheap effects says everything I’ve been trying to say on this blog for a year. Better. 2. This, from the NYT business section: Iraq War’s Virtues May Be Debatable. The Profits Aren’t. In his recent State of the Union address, President Bush called for the nation to back the war in Iraq and to "stand behind the American military in this vital mission." No matter how one feels about this particular conflict, war always has winners and losers — on both sides. There's the human toll, of course, which Mr. Bush acknowledged. Whether democracy and freedom will, over all, be winners, only history will divulge. But some indisputable winners are clear now: military contractors. Suppose an investor were endowed with that golden instinct for spotting bargains and bought 100 shares of each of the top six military cont

Our man Jafari.

Well, with the news that the Shiites are going to re-nominate Ibrahim Jafari as prime minister , the major American media have scored a perfect zero in interpreting the Iraqi elections: first, by telling us that Allawi and Chalabi were major contenders for the office (before the election), then by touting Abdul Mahdi, Sciri’s candidate and incidentally (oh, this flooded love into the hearts of the WAPO and NYT editorialists) a strong advocate of privatizing Iraq’s oil industry. LI is better at interpreting the American media than outcomes in Iraq, but even we saw that the buildup to the elections, as seen through the prism of American journalism-speak, was so full of false premises that it was laughable. One of the things we laughed about then was a poll commissioned from Oxford Research by the BBC and ABC. That poll showed Allawi as one of the most popular politicians in Iraq. At the time, we remarked that the poll seemed so skewed that it had to have heavily sampled the rather sma

surely thou art the great God...

LI has been reading James Mill’s History of India . James Mill is known to most of us as the Gradgrind who brought up his boy, John Stuart, on a migrainous diet of Greek and Bentham. But of course Mill was a high clerk in the headquarters of the East India Company. His History is famous for its systematic contempt for its subject – to Mill, the whole problem with India was to root out any veneration for its civilization expressed during the 18th century Then one could set about the task of Anglicizing the natives, while rationalizing their laws. Mill’s History is one of the classic moments in the history of the imperial effect. It’s an audacious book. Mill’s preface is full throated confession that the author had neither seen India nor is conversant with any of its languages. But, he argues – prefiguring the argument that runs through the whole book – it isn’t as if anything important would be gained by assimilating the native’s knowledge of the place, considering the worth of that kno