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Showing posts from April 22, 2007

The Rupture will not be Televised

LI has been pondering the slogan of Sarkozy, the Frankenstein candidate for President in France. Sarkozy has been calling for a ‘rupture’. This might sound like an odd thing for a conservative to do, but, since the 80s, there's a ponce conservative fashion for using those leftist terms associated with ‘revolution’ and revamping them in terms of reaction, much like some rich collector buying antique cars and making them road useable. In reality, at this point in the developed economies, there are no longer a lot of unknown models. The last two hundred years have given us an ensemble of economic policies, and it isn’t too hard to put in one’s parameters and predict results. It is hard, on the other hand, to imagine another all encompassing economic policy. LI thinks that this will be the conceptual roadblock to really dealing with the environmental affects of the treadmill of production over the next thirty to fifty years. Sarkozy’s rupture is simply applying as much Thatcherism as h

What they said - the Bush occupation plan, Oct. 10, 2002

Every once in a while, one needs benchmarks. Here's a benchmark. Here is a story from October 11, 2002, about what the Bush administration planned for Iraq. Contrary to the new shiny revisionism of the warmongers (Hitchens, Perle, Ajami, etc.), the Bush administration announced what it was going to do in plenty of time for its war supporters to know what it was going to do. This is the war they supported. Their butter-wouldn't-melt-in-my-mouth stances are actually cynical we-lied-to-cram-the war-down-your-throat-and-they-lied-to-us laments. Notice, also, the con job of pretending that this was about WMD. The idea that there would be a major effort to find WMD was intrinsic to how the war was sold. Of course, after the invasion, the idea of spending a year making a major search for WMD was given the same status as the search for the tooth fairy or for Santa's reindeer. "THREATS AND RESPONSES: A PLAN FOR IRAQ Foreign Desk; Section A U.S. Has a Plan To Occupy Iraq, Offici

one of the great isolatos

She enters history like the protagonist of an 18th century picaresque novel: ‘One evening in the month of September 1731, a girl nine or ten years old, pressed, as it would seem, by thirst, entered about twilight into Songi, a village situated four or five leagues south of Chalons in Champagne. She had nothing on her feet: her body was covered with rags and skins: her hair with a gourd leaf; and her face and hands were black as a Negroe’s. She was armed with a short baton, thicker at one end than the other like a club. Those who first observed her took to their heels, crying out, ‘There is the devil.” And indeed her dress and colour might very well suggest this idea to the country people. Happiest were they who could soonest secure their doors and windows; but one of them, thinking, perhaps, that the devil was afraid of dogs, set loose upon her a bull dog with an iron collar. The little savage seeing him advancing in a fury, kept her ground without flinching, grasping her little cl

Let them eat cake

LI heartily approves of the bill passed in the House today that ties the budget for the War to benchmarks that will never be met. Of course, this is the bill Bush is going to veto, but the bill itself isn’t as important as setting a new benchmark of the permissible. The reaction among the D.C. elite, this morning, is hysterical – read, for instance, Broder’s column. Oh, no, don’t hurt your eyes by actual reading – I’d suggest skimming it. It is a stern call to demote Harry Reid for saying the sky is blue, the earth is round, and the U.S. is losing in Iraq. Reid is the Democrat’s Gonzalez, according to Broder. This is surprising. Here I thought Broder thought he was a secret Al Qaeda agent. A long time ago, in 1988, Joan Didion, covering the presidential election, wrote a series of articles about how the “narrative” was crafted. The narrative is the news story as it is manufactured, vetted, and transmitted by the media panjandrums. It is full of compromises for this interest or that one

The Bear boy from Lithuania

One of the effects of Descartes and Locke on philosophy was to produce a search for more and more deprived figures, automatons who'd undergone major subtraction and didn't dream of electric sheep – the man born blind, the deaf mute, the boy marooned with the tutor. It is the philosophical equivalent of playing can you top this. Or the minimalist tendency that made Beckett explore the smallest sentences, and Perec see if a story could be told without the letter ‘e’. Condillac came up with the wonderful idea of a statue with only one faculty – that of smell – in the Treatise on Sensations, and uses it to build up the sensations, one by one, unconsciously reproducing the Ur-welt of the Vedas – although of course, because we employ a language that arises out of our full set of senses, and because we operate with the senses all operating at once (I see these words on the screen, I have headphones on listening to the Rice University Post-punk show, the pressure of one bare foot is fe

the american world view: drivel yesterday, drivel today, drivel tomorrow

The Washington Post, in its drive to turn its Georgetown party set editorial page into a veritable worldview, hosted two enlightening forums yesterday. One was headlined, Is France Doomed? A bold headline indeed, given the state of these here states, with the zero savings rate, the negative foreign investment - first time since the depression - the dandy Bush war we have lost while floating the cost of it through the friendly services of the Japanese and Chinese central banks, the ace prison population absorbing the unemployed, etc., etc. But, remember, France has the best health system in the world and the French have a 35 hour week – two reasons in themselves to suspect that the country is a sinking ship. The beauteous yawps that were let loose under that headline were amusing to read, but to get the full flavor of WAPO’s worldview, LI also read the discussion of Boris Yeltsin’s death, a Q and A with the foreign correspondent, David Hoffman, who covered Yeltsin in the early ninet


Not a bad day in France. LI was prepared for the worst. We have watched in agony as Segolene Royal seemed to deliberately piss away a win. Our own candidate was probably Buffet the vampire hunter – Marie-George Buffet from the PCF, don’t you know, the woman denounced as a Stalinist by the ever obnoxious Onfray – but in the end, if we lived in France, sheer fear of Sarkozy would have driven us to the Royal side. The second round is going to be different. I hope that Royal concentrates for real on giving a picture of just what Sarkozy is offering. It is a watered down neo-liberalism that will cause the usual type of economic boom and bust – with all the proceeds going to the top, and the usual dissolving rat race by the middle and the bottom to give themselves wage raises through sheer borrowing. We’ve seen this all too often before. It only beckons as a good model because, on the whole, the people who benefit most own own own the media. All of it. Royal ought to speak out for a robust

The birth of the age of reason out of the meditations of a feral child

Hayy ben Yazdhan is a philosophical story, in which the framing devise is a consideration of the relationship between the world, the senses and the mind from a Sufi point of view, leading – as it has lead in many a philosophical text, all the way up to Quine’s Word and Object – to a children’s story. The story in Word and Object gives a rough and ready behavioralist account of a child associating words to things. The story in HBY is a bit more complicated, and combines two themes that were much loved, centuries on, in the Enlightenment. One is of the isolated man – either Robinson Crusoe, physically separated from his fellows, or the man born blind, the aveugle-né, for whom speculation about shape and color was not so much metaphysical as existential, a way, as Ibn Thofail puts it, for the blind man to be able to walk through the city. However, the story of the marooned baby whose cries, heard by a female gazelle, induce her to go over and nurse him, is rather… bizarre. The bizarre par