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Showing posts from June 18, 2006

the best of times

Let’s review the week’s news, shall we? On the one hand, we learn that the president was amply warned about Al Qaeda’s planned attack. He did nothing. As a result, 3,000 people died. On the other hand, a band of poor young black men in Miami were cozened by a secret policemen into planning an attack on the Sears building in Chicago. They only lacked equipment, weapons, a plan, any connection to al Qaeda, and, most likely, the foggiest idea of where Chicago is, not to speak of the Sears building. Testimony from neighbors has shown conclusively that they wore things on their heads like turbans. Two stories. Which story does the media go with? There is a psychological problem in preserving the level of contempt the governing class, the press, and the culture that is perfectly content with the two, deserves. As my commentor, Mr. Nyp, has pointed out, as this and other information scrolls before our eyes for years and years, there is a contempt burn out. There only so many levels of disgust

where did you go, Rambo? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you

The War on Terrorism and the War on Drugs are, of course, not wars at all. They are declared illegally, pursued intermittently to both scourge a potentially rebellious population and to score public relations points, and tend inevitably to the government’s oldest trick: inducing citizens to commit crimes, then clapping them in irons. So, the Bush administration, in its infinite wisdom, has said, let a thousand little Reichstag fires burn – and it has come up with sad things like the arrest of those boys in Miami, yesterday. Clearly, this was a case of talking shit. Even the Washington Post, ever willing to the administration’s cat’s paw, can’t turn this ridiculous administration concoction into the kind of threat to leave us householder’s trembling in our beds. In reality, these young men were enacting one of the perennial phenomena of urban streetlife, from Jerusalem in 1 A.D. to James Baldwin’s Harlem in the 40s – the incubation of a religious cult: “Residents living near the war

american crisis 2: cheney's moral blackmail

Dear President Bush, Yesterday you said, "I vowed to the American people I would do everything I could to defend our people, and will. I fully understood that the longer we got away from September the 11th, more people would forget the lessons of September the 11th. But I'm not going to forget them.” Good for you. I’m not going to forget September 11th, either. In my last letter I discussed your aversion to reading. Well, my topic seems to have coincided by happy chance with Ron Suskind’s new book. The book reveals, among other things, your less than stellar habits in the matter of information retrieval. According to Suskind, you have created a political tactic out of your feigned illiteracy: plausibly claiming ignorance, for instance, about the brummagem nature of your assertions about Saddam Hussein’s weaponry. After all, you just didn't read that piece of paper when it came across your desk. You trusted what Dick told you. However, let's remember the lessons of 9/1

the 18th brumaire

One of the more discouraging things about Marx’s 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon is how much its famous opening lines, about tragedy and farce, have absorbed interest in the entire work. (Hegel observed somewhere that all great world historical facts and persons occur, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce). Those lines weren’t meant as toss offs, any more than the individual witticisms in Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest are written to be relished solely outside of their place in the play. Rather, the tragedy/farce duality initiates a series of complex and beautiful inversions which operate, on the literary level, to make this account of the long ago doings of half forgotten Frenchmen still a fast paced read, and on the political level, to give us perhaps the first analysis of the kind of reactionary politics that, it turns out, is the ever-recurring counterpart, in modernity, to modernization itself. The convergence of a lit

the American crisis

Dear President Bush, In 1776, at a time when American forces were being pushed back by the British, Tom Paine took up his pen and wrote a series of letters to various British officials, and even to the people of England. These letters were published as a pamphlet entitled, The American Crisis. While Paine likely did not believe that his letters would actually persuade their addressees to cease and desist from the various depredations that he deplored, his letters gave them a moral chance. In fact, the commander of the British forces in America, Lord Howe, might well have read the letters Paine addressed to him. After all, Paine was a wildly popular author, and Howe might have felt it was his duty to read a writer whose words would have an immediate effect on the morale of the population he had come to subdue. Times have, of course, changed. In 2002, you often hinted that you did not even read newspapers. The image of you, barely able to pull yourself away from ESPN 1 to watch some paen

Wayne Morse day

LI is busy, busy -- hey, yesterday we put the finishing touches on the first draft of our translation of Silja Graupe's "Der Ort √∂konomischen Denkens. Die Methodologie der Wirtschafts-wissenschaften im Licht japanischer Philosophie." More on the publication of that book as it developes. Anyway, here are some choice morsels from Wayne Morse, the Oregon Senator who was one of the two senators to vote against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Morse foresaw the age of the executive vanity war. Such as the war in Iraq that Americans are suffering from (a bit here, a bit there -- an invisible sector with its amputated limbs and its freaked out minds) and that the Iraqis are really suffering from -- you know, from the policy of war crimes with which the U.S. military has chosen to pursue this 'low intensity warfare,' from Fallujah to Haditha. “Likewise, there are many Congressional politicians who would evade their responsibilities as to American foreign policy in Asia by