Friday, December 15, 2006

gott mit uns

In the First International Dada Fair in 1920, one of the exhibits, a collaboration between John Heartfield and Rudulf Schlichter, was entitled Prussische Erzengel. It was a dummy, dressed in a military uniform, surmounted by a pig’s head. A note on the dummy read: “in order to understand this work of art, go on a daily twelve hour exercise on the Tempelhof Field with full backpack and equipped for maneuvers.”

Alas, the simple and direct attack on the military that characterized the Vietnam war protests and help shrink the American military in the seventies has not materialized, so far, in the Iraq war. The American archangel has yet to be attacked for its brainlessness, its threat to our liberties, and its criminal waste of resources. The good side is that recruitment – which, by relentlessly manipulating numbers, the Bush administration has tried to portray as being excellent – is, in reality, in trouble. While re-enlistment is high (for the same reason that, in the 1890s, the coal companies could find coal miners – temporary bonuses and steady wages in low wage and impoverished areas), in truth, the army is breaking. Slowly but surely:

“Warning that the active-duty Army "will break" under the strain of today's war-zone rotations, the nation's top Army general yesterday called for expanding the force by 7,000 or more soldiers a year and lifting Pentagon restrictions on involuntary call-ups of Army National Guard and Army Reserve troops.

Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, issued his most dire assessment yet of the toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the nation's main ground force. At one point, he banged his hand on a House committee-room table, saying the continuation of today's Pentagon policies is "not right."

In particularly blunt testimony, Schoomaker said the Army began the Iraq war "flat-footed" with a $56 billion equipment shortage and 500,000 fewer soldiers than during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Echoing the warnings from the post-Vietnam War era, when Gen. Edward C. Meyer, then the Army chief of staff, decried the "hollow Army," Schoomaker said it is critical to make changes now to shore up the force for what he called a long and dangerous war.

"The Army is incapable of generating and sustaining the required forces to wage the global war on terror . . . without its components -- active, Guard and reserve -- surging together," Schoomaker said in testimony before the congressionally created Commission on the National Guard and Reserves.”

Since the global war on terror is a farce and a fraud, one can only consider this great news. The army spokesman is saying this after a year in which the U.S. spent approximately a trillion dollars on the Pentagon (mostly, of course, these were vast engineering welfare payments, hundreds of billions spent on useless equipment, technology, and ‘consulting’ that soaks into areas like D.C. and gives them hot hot hot real estate markets and fascist-leaning editorial pages in their local paper, blood in their mouth-ers looking longingly to the Pinochet model of governance). The mock-Cold war that is the phylogenic expression of the mock President’s vanity is starting to bite the American ass. And, gasp, the will of the American public is starting to falter and fumble! Will wonders never cease. The rubes are no longer amused.

So, remember, in the next year, lets all surge together, discourage recruitment, make every effort to break the pseudo-war on terror, encourage defeatism, pacifism, and the dada attitude. Long, long ago, John Kerry was right (although, being a completely cowardly putz, he quickly hid from his own conclusions): terrorism is a police, not a military matter. Making it a military matter has been a complete fiasco, from Bush-Rumsfeld-Cheney idea of letting Osama bin Laden go (the terrorist on tap strategy) to the armies of ignorance unleashed by our peck of peckerwoods on poor Iraq. There is no war on terrorism. There can’t be any war on terrorism. And, of course, the human violence expressed in the stock of nuclear missiles the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K., France and (in bomb form) Israel, India and Pakistan possess is still the greatest terroristic threat to the world.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

the borderline between white and black magic

‘In a sense, it is the market that free-rides on extra-market values that make our market society a bearable place, by tempering the relentless opportunism that the market model commends. Norms of civility are a public good. Without them, the world would degenerate into a society of relentless mutual suspicion.” – Robert Kuttner

LI’s last post breezily went on about the social imposition of money as the supremely cathected object. To understand that, I thought it would be nice to turn to a product that is on the twilight borderline between white and black magic – blood. You know, the substance the wine turns into during mass. That fascinating liquid with the color that serves no evolutionary purpose – pure accident, that red.

As a matter of fact, blood and its sale was the object of one of the most cited books in defense of the welfare state by Richard Titmuss, who correctly saw that white magic depends on inverting a fundamental human fact – that the gift relationship logically and historically precedes the money relationship. But Titmuss is not nostalgic for the highly hierarchized society overthrown by the white magic. This is why the donation of blood is such an exemplary act for him:

“Unlike gift-exchange in traditional societies, there is in the free gift of blood to unnamed strangers no contract of custom, no legal bond, no functional determinism, no situations of discriminatory power, domination, constraint or compulsion, no sensed of shame or guilt, no gratitude imperative and no need for the penitence of a Chrysostom.”

Blood, like air, love, a fuck, a wank, everyday speech, etc., is one of those seemingly unmonetized things, the things outside the white magic mesh. The task of making money a super-cathectic object entails the double task of either monetizing these things or devaluing them. Those functions are, of course, related. So, for instance, that air is free means that there is no cost to polluting air, no individual hurt. There is no stealing, here. In the white magic world, stealing is a fundamental negative principle, defining what is valuable. Prometheus stealing fire, or Jahweh commanding his people not to steal, are just as founding, in their way, as any incest tabu.

To which subject I will return in another post.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

strength through joylessness

“When it happens that a person has to give up a sexual object, there quite often ensues an alteration of his ego which can only be described as a setting up of the object inside the ego, as it occurs in melancholia; the exact nature of this substitution is as yet unknown to us. It may be that [by] this introjection, which is a kind of regression to the mechanism of the oral phase, the ego makes it easier for the object to be given up or renders that process possible. It may be that this identification is the sole condition under which the id can give up its objects. At any rate the process, especially in the early phases of development, is a very frequent one, and it makes it possible to suppose that the character of the ego is a precipitate of abandoned object-cathexes and that it contains the history of those object-choices.” – Freud, the Id and the Ego.

LI did not plan to write anything about Pinochet. But the astonishingly fascist Washington Post editorial, which bears all the hallmarks of a Fred Hiatt special (you can use the same rule of thumb on it as you use to spot rabies in a dog – check for foam around the muzzle) has made LI think again.

The celebration of Pinochet and his apologist, Jean Kirkpatrick, starts out with the patented cigars and whiskey tone that they used to like down at Signatures, the neo-con’s favorite Georgetown restaurant:

“AUGUSTO PINOCHET, who died Sunday at the age of 91, has been vilified for three decades in and outside of Chile, the South American country he ruled for 17 years. For some he was the epitome of an evil dictator. That was partly because he helped to overthrow, with U.S. support, an elected president considered saintly by the international left: socialist Salvador Allende, whose responsibility for creating the conditions for the 1973 coup is usually overlooked. Mr. Pinochet was brutal: More than 3,000 people were killed by his government and tens of thousands tortured, mostly in his first three years. Thousands of others spent years in exile.”

Creating conditions for the coup, that Allende. Hiatt does feel he has to tiptoe around the bodies a bit, but he comes back for the strong finish:

“Like it or not, Mr. Pinochet had something to do with this success. To the dismay of every economic minister in Latin America, he introduced the free-market policies that produced the Chilean economic miracle -- and that not even Allende's socialist successors have dared reverse. He also accepted a transition to democracy, stepping down peacefully in 1990 after losing a referendum.

By way of contrast, Fidel Castro -- Mr. Pinochet's nemesis and a hero to many in Latin America and beyond -- will leave behind an economically ruined and freedomless country with his approaching death. Mr. Castro also killed and exiled thousands. But even when it became obvious that his communist economic system had impoverished his country, he refused to abandon that system: He spent the last years of his rule reversing a partial liberalization. To the end he also imprisoned or persecuted anyone who suggested Cubans could benefit from freedom of speech or the right to vote.

The contrast between Cuba and Chile more than 30 years after Mr. Pinochet's coup is a reminder of a famous essay written by Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, the provocative and energetic scholar and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who died Thursday. In "Dictatorships and Double Standards," a work that caught the eye of President Ronald Reagan, Ms. Kirkpatrick argued that right-wing dictators such as Mr. Pinochet were ultimately less malign than communist rulers, in part because their regimes were more likely to pave the way for liberal democracies. She, too, was vilified by the left. Yet by now it should be obvious: She was right.”

Praising Pinochet’s economic policy is sheer fantasy, but this editorial does point us backwards and forwards – backwards to the primal beginnings of the neo-liberal world order, emerging as the Bretton Woods structure fell apart, and forwards to our recent, noble attempt to grant the ungrateful Iraqis the same wonderful shock treatments that Pinochet was good enough to visit upon his own people.

All of which makes me think of another event that happened in 1973: the publication of Joachim Fest’s biography of Hitler. In that biography, Fest wrote, at one point, that if Hitler had died in 1938, he would have been regarded as one of Germany’s greatest statesmen.

By coincidence, in 1973, that statement could jump out of the book and be incarnated in a real venue: Chile. In 1933, Hitler had set up seventy some concentration camps, had processed 45,000 people through them, and had effectually terrorized the opposition, unions, the socialists, the communists, and the cultural Bolsheviks, so that by 1938 many of the concentration camps could be closed down. Some of the guards in the more notorious concentration camp were even tried for their excesses – torture and murder. The racial laws in place were moving towards Kristalnacht, but hadn’t got there yet. Hitler had reinflated the economy, was pouring money into the military, was very soundly against the Bolsheviks. He was, of course, laying the foundation for the kind of guns and consumerism economy that West Germany adopted, with some major Social Democratic modifications later on.

I’m less concerned with all of the parallels here (although it would be interesting to see the response if Hiatt wrote an editorial praising the first part of Hitler’s rule, granting that there were certain human rights excesses of it, although one can’t really sympathize with the “saintly” Social Democrats, and surely they deserved blame for the social chaos that necessitated the Nazi seizure of power) than with one of them, which looms larger for me: the persecution of the “cultural Bolsheviks”. Why do these regimes spend so much time imprisoning singers, gays, poets, cabaret female impersonators, beggers, and the lot? Why do they rail against degenerate art, drugs, and the collapse of morality? I think there is an explanation beyond the personal peculiarities of Hitler or Pinochet. The reason, I think, is that authoritarian rightwing regimes aim, ultimately, at instituting a regime of seriousness. Seriousness is a political category. It has to be defended from the attempts of the Cultural Bolsheviks to undermine it because, in so doing, the C.B.s undermine something more important – the psychological underpinnings of the political economy as a whole. For seriousness is, in the end, about the id and its unstable objects of affection. It is about disciplining a nation to adopt one and only one overriding cathectic object.

Now, this psychological structure is somewhat disguised by the use of the slogans of the 19th century about hard work and thrift. That is not what is really happening. A Germany that was drifting towards slave labor was not a Germany that really wanted its population to be particularly industrious. Granted, the break up of the unions is about the greater exploitation of labor to the profit of capital. But in the dawning era of neo-liberalism, the psychological path that is being blazed is to impose a new cathectic object – money – upon the population as a whole. To paraphrase Freud’s famous phrase about the id and the ego, the psychological structure of the authoritarian states created by D.C. involve setting up the leader as an Id proxy, in order to replace him, as the chief sanctioned cathectic object, with money itself. There is, as Freud might put it, a mystery here: why does the fuhrer precede the dollar? I have some ideas about that, but... I will devote another of my lectures in the series, Confessions of an ectoplasm, to that fascinating subject.

But to return to matters at hand: this mass introjection of money is the whole point of the fascist regime. In Hitler’s case, the leader who bore this role was blind to it, but the pattern was set: first a leader who creates a disaster, then the leap into a money centered value system – first the Third Reich, then the West German miracle. Similarly, first Pinochet, then the Washington Consensus. First the Brazilian generals, then the Washington consensus. First the Argentinian generals, then the Washington consensus. First Suharto, phase I - the 800000 dead Indonesian communists - then the Washington consensus.

This is why, actually, LI believes that the U.S. is relatively immune to fascism – the leadership principle, here, would be archaic, a perversion. There is no need for it. Money as the great national cathectic object already rules. Thus, the short lived surge of Bush as the Rebel in Chief was doomed to parody from the beginning.

tilting towards SCIRI

When the obvious becomes obvious, it becomes news. The headlines in the NYT and the scuttlebutt on the political blogs is that the U.S. is trying to create an anti-Sadr coalition, centering around SCIRI, to replace the coalition that currently supports Maliki. Two months ago, on October 08, LI pointed out that the U.S. was leaning heavily towards SCIRI, and explained why:

“The last couple of weeks have seen the reintroduction of a push to ‘federalize’ Iraq – which is a long way to say, SCIRI wants to break off Southern Iraq and use its Badr brigade militia to create a state as autonomous as the Kurdish state, under SCIRI rule. Really, that means under the rule of Mohamad Baqir Al Hakim. This, it might seem at first glance, is counter to the Bush junta’s interests. After all, Hakim is notoriously close to Iran.

But in the dirty war, nothing is what it seems. From the start of the war, the idea of breaking off Southern Iraq and creating a neo-liberal slave state has been floated around as a project. The NYT’s group of reporter/propagandists were particularly dreamy about that prospect in 2003 and 2004, writing thumbsucker pieces about a Chalabi-headed Iraq ‘Singapore.’ To have a notorious thief in charge of territory right above Kuwait, this was an irresistible wet dream to the Bungalow Bill set. James Glanz, one of the worst reporters of the war so far, wrote a story on 2/27/05 with the grotesque title, “Iraq's Serene South Asks, Who Needs Baghdad?” Glanz, in wet dream mode, wrote:

“Several different versions of a southern Iraqi republic have been proposed. One would include only the three or four southernmost provinces -- Basra, Muthanna, Dhi Gar and Maysan; and another would stretch as far north as the holy city of Karbala, 50 miles from Baghdad.

The one that sparks the most interest here, though, is a Singapore-style Republic of Basra alone. Comparable in area to neighboring Kuwait, such a republic could be equally rich. With foreign investment, Ramzi asserted, its economy could overtake that of the tiny but sparkling Gulf emirate of Qatar within three years.”

With the saliva coming out of the corner of his mouth, Glanz conjured up a gentle, business friendly, Brown and Root friendly entity. One of the great things about Glanz as a reporter is that he is so invariably wrong that the article was a sign in itself – surely the war was coming South when a reporter as blind as Glanz couldn’t see it. And so it went, as into the trash went the gentle Singapore south, and out came the new, Taliban version South, envisioned by SCIRI.

Yet, SCIRI’s scheme has annexed the American military, who are presently campaigning to destroy Muqtada al-Sadr’s forces. Sadr is, of course, the enemy of SCIRI. He is also an advocate of Iraqi nationalism. And his party is as popular as or more popular than the proxy party of SCIRI’s.

Why would the Americans have become part of the scheme to break up Iraq and hand a considerable amount of territory to a Islamacist group? Well, the key is still the dreamy dream of Singapore. The South would, to this view, be a smaller, and much more easily dominated entity. And whatever SCIRI’s ties to Iran, they are a group very much interested in the money to be grafted off of privatizing oil resources – under one cover or another. The Dirty intentions of the Bush junta and the dirty intentions of the Badr brigades shake hands over their mutual interest in money money money. And the price is cheap – a few hundred American soldiers, white trash lives the president, and this country, could give a shit about. Being a bold Rebel in Chief, the president is willing to risk American flesh here if the price is right. It will cost him a pang – he’s not an unfeeling brute. Out there, toking up among the Crawford Ranch brush, he might think of the losses suffered by his guys and remind himself how tough he is, to take them. For their wounds are, metaphorically, his wounds. It is the third awakening, and we should count our blessings in getting a sub-messiah like our Bush, but as an even bigger man once said, you gotta take up your cross. And Bush’s cross is made of American and Iraqi bodies.”

LI was happy to see this kind of thinking explained, today, by Josh Marshall, who back in 2003 was a liberal half-a-hawk and thus privy to the important shit going down in the important D.C. circles.

"The folks who brought you the Iraq War have always been weak in the knees for a really whacked-out vision of a Shi'a-US alliance in the Middle East. I used to talk to a lot of these folks before I became persona non grata. So here's basically how the theory went and, I don't doubt, still goes ... We hate the Saudis and the Egyptians and all the rest of the standing Arab governments. But the Iraqi Shi'a were oppressed by Saddam. So they'll like us. So we'll set them up in control of Iraq. You might think that would empower the Iranians. But not really. The mullahs aren't very powerful. And once the Iraqi Shi'a have a good thing going with us. The Iranians are going to want to get in on that too. So you'll see a new government in Tehran. Plus, big parts of northern Saudi Arabia are Shi'a too. And that's where a lot of the oil is. So they'll probably want to break off and set up their own pro-US Shi'a state with tons of oil. So before you know it, we'll have Iraq, Iran, and a big chunk of Saudi Arabia that is friendly to the
US and has a ton of oil. And once that happens we can tell the Saudis to f$#% themselves once and for all.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

random notes - completely weimar free!

IT is now a Doctor. (I think.)Congratulations from all of us here at Limited Inc!

Someone asked LI if we were going to say something about the death of Pinochet. No, we have nothing much to add. Pinochet was not only a dirty murderer, but he has also become a ritual object for abuse by lefties who long ago took the don’t-look-back rightist turn – the Jorge Castenedas and Christopher Hitchens. Kicking that corpse gives this group the illusion that they are still fighting the good fight of their youth – when of course they long ago joined the side of the Chicago Boyz and the ‘third way.’ Kicking Kissinger is another thing this group likes to do. It is rather like the boss airguitaring to “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World.’ You really, really don’t want to see it, be in the room with it, or have to talk to the boss about the rock n roll giants of his youth later.

Give me the fascists of yore, who didn’t wrap the iron fist in the Winnie the Pooh language of the winds, the winds of freedom – and wasn’t that 68 something?

I’m reading a book by Geoffrey Hosking, Rulers and Victims: the Russians in the Soviet Union. Hosking’s thesis about communism is, from the beginning, a non-starter – it is a reprise of the tiresome communism-is-a-religion. And there is an astonishing underestimate of the effect of World War I on Russia – Hosking doesn’t even consider it as a major shaping factor in the end of the Czarist system. This is the usual – historians do seem to have problems with the sociological effects of war, and would much prefer to talk about communism-is-a-religion. However, I found this an astonishing fact:

‘During the course of the war, 17.6 million men passed through the barracks, trenches, naval bases, and hospitals of the armed services. Of those, 11.4 million (60.4 percent) never returned…”

But, of course, you will never read a historian include Czar Nicholas II as one of the 20th centuries great mass murderers. It was war, you see. Whereas Lenin, in spite of the fact that Lenin’s prison system was no different than, say, France’s, is a mass murderer. The architect of the Gulag. And all the rest of that total shit.

Monday, December 11, 2006

an instinct has always told me: it is senseless to be a martyr without effect

Mir hat das mein Instinkt immer gesagt: Märtyrer ohne Wirkung, das ist etwas Sinnloses. – Tucholsky

Eric Kastner said that Tucholsky was a “fat little berliner who wanted to stave off a catastrophe with a typewriter.” Although Karl Kraus’ name has penetrated beyond the Germano-sphere, so that even people who have never read him have read about him, Tucholsky hasn’t been as fortunate.

So here are a few things I like about Kurt Tucholsky.
- He was eminently modern. There was not a shred of false nostalgia in his makeup. In an essay in which he talked about a French essayists phrase that, in Europe, they waste people and spare things, and in America they waste things and spare people, Tucholsky writes about the peasant that spends hours trying to bang out some crookedness in a metal flange and says that it isn’t exactly the height of civilization that we can brag about this banging peasant against the American response – to throw the flange away and get a new one. The elevation of the banging peasant, he thought, smelled a bit too much of reaction.
- He told the truth about war – that it was murder, and that the people who wage war are murderers, as well as the people who order it. He was not a support our soldiers kind of anti-war person: he was for a militaristic pacifism.
- He was wholly for: contraception; abortion rights; gay rights; sexual enlightenment. He was wholly against: catholic obscurantism; the stupid idea of women as breeders; the bourgeois hypocrisies of the family.
- He was against the death penalty.
- He found the upper class laughable.

Since LI has been pondering the Met’s exhibit of what was weirdly enough call the school of lucidity (or was it lucidists?) on the little notes that were attached to the walls where the pictures were hung (and that the truly snobbish viewer – i.e. me – tries not to read, since the snobbish viewer trusts that no curator or curator’s assistant is going to help his eyes along, and that you can pick up the references in medias res), we’ve been thinking of how Tucholsky threw himself at the reactionary forces he could see and feel gathering in Weimar Germany.

Tucholsky died on Dec. 21, 1935. He died from an overdose of painkillers, a death that many called suicide. This site has an interview with Peter Böthig of the Tucholsky-Museum in Rheinsberg, published last year. Here’s a translation:

Herr Böthig, seventy years ago today, Kurt Tucholsky died at the age of 45. Was it suicide?
Peter Böthig: Even today, that is not 100 percent clear. The one thing we can agree on is that it was a desired death. He had briefly before changed his will, written farewell letters, and sent his political testament to Arnold Zweig. Whether on this particular evening he had it in mind to kill himself or whether there was in it a component of accident, that is something we cannot explicate at this point .
Q:Michael Hepp, his biographer, brings up the possibility that it could have been a suicide ‘by mistake’. He speaks of a pill automatism.
Böthig: That is an answer we can agree on. There was also speculation that it could have been a morder.
Q: A political murder?
Böthig: We have proof that the Gestapo knew where Tucholsky was staying. He had intensively sought to conceal that. He received and sent his letters with a counterfeit address in Switzerland. But they certainly knew. He stood high on the list of those that they wanted to liquidate.
Q: What was the most important element in Tucholsky’s choice of death? the existential, the physical or the political motive?
Böthig: You have to give the existential motive the priority. But he was also sick, and very much in pain. And also, his economic situation was becoming ever more impossible. His accounts were sealed, and he had no income. Tucholsky, also, consciously did not join exile circles, didn’t publish. One shouldn’t undervalue political despair. The years between 1933 and 1935 were triumphant years for the Nazis. They had no opponent in Europe. Tucholsky saw very clearly that his epoch was over.
Q: What kind of person was this Tucholsky anyway?
Böthig: He had an artist’s nature. Highly sensible, highly gifted. At the same time he was a man who very much possessed a strong desire for social engagement. Who was really interested in people. He wanted to understand and be read. He wanted to have an effect.
Q: Where did he stand, politically?
Böthig: He belonged to the little group of intellectuals who believed in the possibility of a democracy and a republic – and that were willing to fight for it. With all their power, their minds, their spirit.
Q; Although the criticism is frequently made that Tucholsky ought to have done more to work with the Weimar Republic rather than criticize it.
Böthig: Yes, this argument keeps reappearing. However, it is an infamous inversion of the facts.
Q: The DDR had a hard time knowing what to do with Tucholsky. Why?
Böthig: Because he was a skeptic, who, of course, even critized the holy of holies, Marxism. He didn’t allow himself to become part of any party or group. He trusted his own powers of judgment. .
Q: He hasn’t been published in Israel for over 45 years.
Böthig: That has to do with his bitter and drastic complaints against the jews, to whom he threw the reproach from exile that they put up no resistance in 1933 through cowardice and opportunism, and that they didn’t leave en masse.
Q: What are the questions that drive Tucholsky research today?
Böthig: The question of his extremely complicated relationship to Judaism. Recently there was a conference on Tucholsky and the media. He was also a music critic, reviewing records, and he wrote about film. One tries to displace him from being the journalist of the Weimar time.
Q: What book would you recommend to Tucholsky beginners?
Böthig: A book I really like is the 1927 Pyrennes Book. It is a journey book in Heine’s tradition, a very beautiful essay about France and a very serious polemic against Catholicism, the cult of the saints and the belief in miracles. But also a wonderful read.
Q: What part of Tucholsky do you seriously miss in the present?
Böthig: I miss the concise satirist who was able to condense problems to such a dense point that they hurt. There is too little of this. Maybe Wiglaf Droste. But really, for this kind of literature we lack an informed culture.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

a message from a reader

Peter Beinart, Nude Model, here.

I was relaxing in the hottub the other day with my good friend, Johnny Chait. It had been a hard week, let me tell you. However, the production values on “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you happy to see me, muscular liberal?” have truly been marvelous. Scruggs+Limitedinc+Gulf and Western have really gone all out on this film, which comes in at a cost of 7500 dollars – we even rented a new apartment! I was so getting tired of the couch in producer’s pad that we used in the previous fifty films, let me tell you – I have the polyester burns to prove it. I, of course, play the Pool boy. Well, enough plugging! Chait asked if I had seen the story about the Democrats meeting our President. As my many fans know, I have been trying to avoid D.C., since I made that little booboo in advocating liberating a certain Middle Eastern country. But, as Johnny quickly noticed, every time our President is mentioned, there is something about it that causes Petey to rise to attention. So hard to break old habits!

No, I said. So he gave me the scoop. According to the newspaper:

“… Bush began his talk by comparing himself to President Harry S Truman, who launched the Truman Doctrine to fight communism, got bogged down in the Korean War and left office unpopular.
Bush said that "in years to come they realized he was right and then his doctrine became the standard for America," recalled Senate Majority Whip-elect Richard Durbin, D-Ill.”

Of course, I realized right away what was happening. This was a bi-partisan shout out to me. Besides my new career as a nude model and a much in demand pool boy, I am also, I think I can say immodestly, perhaps the foremost Trumanist in this land of purple mountain’s majesty. In my book, A New Policy to Get America Aggressive Again, I used the example of Truman in a much commented upon way. As we know, in 1947, Soviet aggression was the issue of the hour. In a controversial move, in Christmas of that year, Truman slew and ate a girl scout cookie salesman. There were many in his own party that did not appreciate the message of toughness he was sending. Henry Wallace, already under the sway of the Communists, famously said that, president or not, cannibalism was flat wrong where he came from. We can already see the kind of moral relativism that nearly undid our long twilight struggle against the evil empire. In the first political campaign in which I can vote, Reagan vs. Carter, this of course resurfaced. While JFK had, of course, slain and eaten a girlscout cookie seller to show Khruschev what was what during the Cuban missile crisis (JFK’s greatness was in his willingness to learn), and Johnson had eaten girlscouts ritually every year – barbecuing them, actually, on the ranch in that great old Texas way of his – with Watergate and the failure of our national resolve, the tradition seemed to go into abeyance. In that famous speech to the McGovernite wing in 77, Carter had gone so far as to pledge never to slay and fricassee, fry, poach, or even slowly marinate a girl scout cookie seller. The American people, naturally, had to question a Democratic party that was willing to give up our place in the world as the city on the hill and to slip in decline - and for what? A few buttercreams more? I consider Reagan’s pledge to eat a girl scout cookie seller every Christmas in the second debate to have sent a message of hope with which the Democrats, carping and whining, couldn’t compete.

Of course, when, in 2001, President George Bush and Vice President Cheney roasted a whole troop of girl scouts, I was temporarily bowled over. In retrospect, I should have seen that the crucial element of the will has to be accompanied by an elementary competence. The lack of barbecue sauce, the way they had to order out for skewers at the last moment, and the way Bush ended up with all those buttons in his teeth should have been warning signs for a muscular liberal like me.

However, this isn’t about me, or the frankly hilarious whipped cream scene that my fans will talk about for years, or at least months, or maybe a day or two – no, this is about something even more important: our country, as Johnny and I like to call it. In the long, long, extremely deep, wet oh so wet and did I say long? war gone wild that we are fighting at the present moment, we need to do more than recall Truman: we need, I think, to drop some atom bombs. I don’t know where. I don’t know on who. But I do know that it will should be done, after due deliberation, and in support of democracy. We lose our will at our peril.

Thank you.
I remain,
Peter Beinart
Nude Model

Biden's foreign policy: let's bet everything on authoritarianism!

  And watch it all slip away (Por fin se va acabar) Or leave a garden for your kids to play (Jamás van a alcanzar)  --- The Black Angels, El...