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Showing posts from May 14, 2006

kammist hijinks

Oliver Kamm is a joke, but I like to read him to find out what bad faith is doing today . His post about Chavez, however, is beyond his usual stunning work. The disinformation conveyed by every lovely sentence (this is a man who loves the plummy sound of his own pomposity) is a work of neo-con kitsch that even Hitchens would have a hard time matching. I'm talking about golden age Hitchens, the one defending Chalabi, not the bare ruined choirs of the unreadable recent screeds in Slate. For instance, here is what Kamm says about Venezuela at the time that Chavez instigated a coup attempt, in 1992. This is in response to Johann Hari’s positive Independence interview with Chavez: "Another point undermining Johann's morality tale is that the structural reforms, so far from being the acts of a despised regime, steadily gained support. Javier Corrales, in Presidents Without Parties: The Politics of Economic Reform in Argentina and Venezuela in the 1990s (2002, p. 55) notes that f


O, my America, my Newfoundland, My kingdom, safest when with one man mann'd, My mine of precious stones, my empery ; How am I blest in thus discovering thee ! And the news about the one man manning our America is that he has appointed a court spy jester who, we are told in tones of syncophant’s awe, will – well, like the WAPO headline say it all: “Nominee Has Ability To Bear Bad News”. In the town of the wealthy think tanker, where Kissing Ass is the major growth industry, this is like a major thing. The WAPO knew to headline it, since as we all know, it is rare to find a really good babysitter. So often the babysitters just sit around playing poker with pimps! Which, to tell the truth, is what I would like my CIA head to be doing. But no – Hayden, this marvel, we are told, while changing the royal diapers and rubbing vaseline onto the royal bottom, will be able to say things like, this excellent war that you, destroyer of worlds, most Christian of all Christians, the only anointed

low toppers, anyone?

The political talking heads may be right – it might be that this year’s elections will be all about Iraq and Iran. LI, however, thinks this discounts what might well be on the minds of voters in November – the series of storms that are going to be rolling across the Gulf like huge bowling balls this hurricane season. Of course, there are always variables that could kick in. There is no certainty that we have so fucked with the Gulf and the weather that the one two combination is going to be hammering at our door this year. There is a certainty that, if it isn’t this year, it will be next, or next. For five years we have done nothing but pour more shit into the ocean and more CO2 into the atmosphere, and in between driving the forty miles daily in the SUV, watched scintillating specials on PBS entitled Cheating Housewives on Shrinking Glaciers, or whatever. It is funny how the news item that beeped a few weeks ago – the one about the extent of damage to the Gulf oil extraction biz from

dear ayatollah k, we both like sweets...

LI has read many commentaries on the loopy letter sent by Iran’s president, Ahmadinejad. But oddly enough, the last exchange of letters, this time from the American side, is hardly referred to at all. I am talking, of course, of the incomparable mission, undertaken by Bud McFarlane and Oliver North, in May, 1986, to Teheran. Our oh so sane president at the time, Reagan, sent a signed copy of the Bible (sometimes, as we know, Reagan suffered from hallucinations – the Bible signing resulted from the hallucination that he was really Charleton Heston, who, as we know, wrote the Bible) and a cake. I don’t know if Nancy baked the cake. I have a feeling that is one of the things that Nancy didn’t do. Before the trip, North had been advised by Casey to take along some poison pills. You never know, they might not like German Chocolate. Actually, according to the times, it was a kosher cake: “On May 25, Mr. McFarlane and his group brought a kosher chocolate cake from Israel for the Iranians in T

hot air and circumstances

Harper’s has a review of some recent Churchill books. Churchill has become the bloated Macy’s balloon of the neo-con legions. In some ways that is appropriate: the neo-cons are invariably attracted to frauds and swindlers (re the Chalabi romance) and Churchill was often fraudulent. The funniest thing about the review is the raking over of Churchill’s sham Augustan prose – as Evelyn Waugh labeled it. In the fifties, Churchill’s history of the Second World War was received with awe – one reviewer speaks of the hush of greatness – but in actuality, this was committee work on a scale that would have embarrassed Dumas: “In fact, Churchill had long used ghostwriters. He was paid enormous sums by newspapers and there was nothing he wouldn't stoop to if the money was right, in a way that a professional journalist must find endearing. At one point in the 1930s, he wrote a series of "Great Stories of the World Retold," potted versions of everything from The Count of Monte Cristo to

Louisiana is us

Looking back over LI’s life (smoking opium and sitting in my cork lined room), there is one political book that stands out for us, still. A book that forever changed the way we thought about politics. The book is Cadillac Desert. Marc Reisner abjured parts of the book before he died, but this piece in 2000 drastically condenses the case against the way in which the treadmill of production has changed the environmental interaction between water and the land in the last century. It includes this passage: “The socio-economic benefits of water development are undeniable. Even environmentalists acknowledge them. The problems created by water development are still under-valued, and they will get worse. Here, in a nutshell, are some of the big ones: • the sedimentation of reservoirs on which millions of people have come to depend; • the ruin, through salt build-up, of millions of acres of once-fertile soil; • the creation of cities in deserts where they arguably shouldn't exist, and then

Arthurs and entertainers

Due to the frequent allusions of Le Colonel Chabert to Dumas, I have become curious enough to finally penetrate Dumas (and Co.)’s Comte de Monte Cristo. At the same time, I thought I’d read his biography. I was startled to see a parallel between Dumas’ financial difficulties and those of Michael Jackson, as they are outlined in the business section of the NYT. Like Dumas, Michael Jackson’s life is as big as his income. This is rarely ever true of the wealthy. Extravagance can only bring you down so far when you are the beneficiary of some obscene stock option deal – the distant prospect of immiseration really only threatens when investments go bad. Supposedly Ken Lay is down to his last million (although that might just be a lawyerly smoke-screen), but Ken Lay is, of course, a rare idiot. The more usual fate assigned to criminal millionaires (or allegedly criminal) after the slammer is to face the cruel, cold world with merely forty, sixty, one hundred million tucked away. Milikan, wh