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Showing posts from May 28, 2006

historicality and the one armed nun

When Tom Paine came back to the U.S. in 1802, he wrote a series of letters to sorta reintroduce himself. He began by giving his impression of the New New World, as though he were the survivor of a shipwreck – and indeed, the tone and the some of the sentences irresistibly evoke Ishmael: “AFTER an absence of almost fifteen years, I am again returned to the country in whose dangers I bore my share, and to whose greatness I contributed my part. When I sailed for Europe, in the spring of 1787, it was my intention to return to America the next year, and enjoy in retirement the esteem of my friends, and the repose I was entitled to. I had stood out the storm of one revolution, and had no wish to embark in another. But other scenes and other circumstances than those of contemplated ease were allotted to me. The French revolution was beginning to germinate when I arrived in France. The principles of it were good, they were copied from America, and the men who conducted it were honest. But the

bliss it was to be alive...

LI’s faithful reader, Mr. New York Pervert, left a comment a few days ago about the Homeland Security redistribution of Homeland Security money away from NYC and Washington D.C. and towards St. Louis and Kansas City – on the premise that the heartland is threatened with imminent attack, whereas whose ever heard of a hick place like New York City? The woman who headed the “defund the places that we are supposed to secure” project for Homeland Security, Tracy Henke, is a piece of work. I mean, in the sense of a joy forever. The Bush culture has produced its flashes in the pan, but one can only hope that Henke is as immortal as, well, Ponzi. There was a bit about her in the Washington Post that has not, I’m surprised to see, been circulating around the bloggysphere. So, doing my part, here’s the cherry of it: Henke had caused a ruckus last year when she demanded that a Justice Department report on racial disparities in police treatment of blacks in traffic cases be taken out of a news re

The birth of HP out of the spirit of DEFCON

Heidegger’s critique of the subject was aimed at getting metaphysics out of the magic circle of the subject; for this purpose he used the term Dasein. In 1945, according to Eileen Welsome’s Plutonium Files, the medical staff at a Rochester hospital went Heidegger one better. The staff began injecting unwitting patients with plutonium in an experiment conducted in tandem with other doctors across the country, organized by the Department of War – and eventually absorbed by the Atomic Energy Commission. The staff referred to the patients as HP – Human Product. We are all HP now, processed through 60 years of DEFCON [defense condition] culture. One of the truths of the post 9/11 period that LI holds to be self evident is that after 9/11, everything was the same – except more so. The trillion dollars of extra spending on the military has, of course, done everything except capture the 4 or 5 thousand people who attacked on 9/11 – for they now serve the vital function of being the threat on t

putting the jack back in the jack in the box

The Washington Post has done us pikers in the hinterlands a favor by publishing an editorial lavish in its praise of the Administration’s offer to talk to Iran. The praise tells us that the offer is a joke, and the editorial makes it clear that the offer is a joke, cut from much the same comedy routine that was played, in the fall of 2002, as the administration pretended that it wanted the sanction of the U.N. to play cop against Iraq for violating U.N. sanctions. Since the WAPO editorial board speaks in the forked tongue specialized in by Fred Hiattish/Charles Krauthammerish kinds of think tankers, their support for the Bush initiative is a signal from the V.P., Darth Vader, that this is a sop to fools. However, the real fools are the V.P. and our war criminal Department of War guy, Donald Rumsfeld. While they want a war and they want it now, the idea that the U.S. is now going to show it gave an inch and should be rewarded with the landing of troops on the Iranian side of the Persian

jean jacques juge par tout le monde

This week’s philosophical spat is about a spat between philosophers. At least in the U.K., there were reviews in all the major venues of Rousseau’s Dog, a book about Hume and Rousseau by the team that is doing all the quarrels of all the philosophers (Popper vs. Wittgenstein, Bullwinkle vs. Rocky), David Edmonds and John Eidinow. Ophelia Benson, over at Butterflies and Wheels, is naturally taking the Humean side. The review in the Sunday Times is a sad commentary on the currently low wattage of the conservative intelligentsia. The reviewer ropes the book together with one on Voltaire’s mistress, says various astonishing things about how boring and unread Voltaire is (the more astonishing as he seems to think Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas is just the antidote for the tedium of Candide – although one suspects that Rasselas is a distant memory, given the reviewer’s general state of incredible barbarism), and then repents a bit – it turns out Voltaire, like Donald Trump, made money, so he is a


These are the times that try a Painite’s soul – especially with the terrible threat, looming just off the horizon, of a book on Tom Paine coming out from C. Hitchens. Perhaps (oh, thin hope) Hitchens will find some way out of the corner his prose has painted him into – the grafting of Bungalow Bill hectoring upon the petrified mendacities of your average Fred Hiatt editorial. The style of Hitchens premiere jeunesse worked because it infused the sham Augustinianism one usually associates with Tories with a lefty attitude. Contrast, sometimes, is all. Although to be fair, there was also a carefulness in going about making a point, and a distinct negative capability, especially when he was writing about literature. Well, negative C. has been long trashed, and the spiral downwards has been encrusted with a variety of platitudinous insults launched at the left that Hitchens seems to have picked up for a song at some John Birch fire sale. The precipitous descent can be measured by comparing