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Showing posts from May 20, 2007

Michael Gordon, war pig* reporter for the Times - another day, another lie

Michael Gordon, the man who tried to float clueless propaganda from the Bush administration about Iranian supplied weapons in Iraq, is back again with another clueless propaganda story from the Bush administration – this one is about the ardent desire of the Iraqis for the Americans to occupy their country. It is a necessary piece. As he notes in like the 17th graf, the Iraqi parliament recently voted for the U.S. to set a timetable for leaving. This is unfortunate, as Gordon only seems to find Iraqi politicians who want the U.S. to stay, or do the bloodbath is coming shuffle. Apparently, instead of the 100 bodies a day, the Baghdad norm, it will really get serious! Michael Gordon will always be remembered for the brilliant reporting on the Aluminum tubes. Here is the beginning of that story: “WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2002 -- More than a decade after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a wor

dance dance dance listen to the radio

Heroism running on empty - Kurt Tucholsky The Leipzig trial for high treason has unveiled the mental situation of the German military for those who did not know it. We don’t take the trial very seriously. The official court has long disappointed the trust of all observers with its political judgments – what is inscribed in its judgments is resentment and politics, which are served up as a form of justicery. That communists would never be treated like these three officers doesn’t surprise us. “I have”, said one of the government attornies, “not wanted to offend the accused, and I would regret it if they had been offended (gekraenkt habe). Well, that’s all righty then…. The important and implication heavy thing is not the attitudes of the court, but instead, the the pattern of military thought, which is less known. It is grim. That voluntary soldiers are voluntary opponents of pacifism ought not to astonish us, and is understandable. That has always been the case. Although it is rarely

"war suits me like a dip in a medicinal bath"

In pursuit of our futile anti-war shrieking and babbling, LI is going to translate a famous article of Tucholsky’s entitled the “Der Leerlauf eines Heroismus” – “One Heroism’s hollow trajectory” – but before we do it in the next post, a little background is necessary. Luckily, Time Magazine put up an article, “Handsome Adolf”, all about the treason trial in Leipzig that ‘uncovered the mental situation of the military for those who didn’t know it,” as Tucholsky puts it. Here’s the salient first grafs, displaying Time’s truly annoying journalistic style – this is the kind of writing that Robert Coover parodied in The Public Burning: “Not in Berlin, not even in Prussia, but in Saxony, in Leipzig sits the German Supreme Court: das Reichsgericht. Justice is done beneath a mighty dome topped by a big bronze statue of Truth. Through tall casement windows Saxon sunbeams glint upon carved oak. In such a setting presiding Judge Baumgarten (except when fiddling with one of his ears) is a sight aw

captain sword

One of the first explicit antiwar poems – by which I mean it was subtitled an antiwar poem – is Leigh Hunt’s Captain Sword and Captain Pen. Here’s a bit from the battle: Down go bodies, snap burst eyes; Trod on the ground are tender cries: Brains are dash’d against plashing ears; Hah! no time has battle for tears; Cursing helps better – crusing, that goes Slipping through friends’ blood, athirst for foes’. What have soldiers with tears to do? We, who this mad-house must now go through, This twenty-fold Bedlam, let loose with knives – To murder, and stab, and grow liquid with lives – Gasping, staring, treading red mud, Till the drunkenness’ self makes us stead of blood [ O! shrink not thou, reader! Thy part’s in it, too; Has not thye praise made the thing they go through, Shocking to read of, but noble to do?]” It is a long poem. In the remarks on war in prose that prefaced it, Hunt puts this sensible judgment, against which there is no appeal, in his first paragraph: “The object of t

Dear Baal: please take this framer back to hell's workshop and bring us a new one. This one is broken.

Because LI has the sickness unto death this morning, we have been looking around the liberal blogs, trying to find some outrage about the Democratic Party’s embrace of the surge. Or trying to find some bland spinning, something tasty - oh, you know the taste - old jism and pesticide - that consultant's breath perfume, that body odor that's built right into the suit, the hardened partisan hireling suit with the matching enviro-boots - good for climbing up to the confabs to really really really think about America's problems with some of Hilary's closest friends! O, you know the type of text I'm talking about, all down from the mountain and shit. Looking for a niche. Looking for a steal. Since, like the Underground Man, we think nothing is more refreshing than a tooth ache, we scoured the net. Really! Because we wanted to quality produce. But we never expected to hit fool’s gold like this piece by a Jeffrey Feldman – a … wait for it… expert on… o wait for it … “fra

No to Funding Bush's war - No in thunder, No in lightning, No in the hurricano

LI has taken a wait and see attitude towards Pelosi and the Dems. The first couple of months looked promising. Pelosi seemed pretty unbothered by the storm about going to Syria, and though she did nothing there but convey the usual pap, symbols are important. We loved the emphasis on decriminalizing union activity. But the last few weeks, and now this – surrendering to a president who has nothing, who is down to his few last pet peeves– makes me wonder if we are in some eternal return of the Pit and the Pendulum. Did they really not know, do they really not know, how to rally this country? Legislators, it is true, are constitutionally more prone to inside deals and endless process than to the kind of ceremonial politik necessary to stand in the face of the Crowned Garbage Fly and his unutterably Lovecraftian sidekick, Dick Cheney, and spit – but the time had come to spit. A big gob, with tobacco juice mixed in with the snot, right between the eyes of that mass murderer. Unfortunately

viagra: don't leave home without it

They’ve finally found a purpose for viagra. So far, viagra seems to have been devised solely to coddle the American male watercooler belief that 50 is really just a breath away from 15 – for proof, look at the GOP presidential lineup. Eventually, they will be embalming us with boners intact. This is definitely no country for old men... But it turns out viagra is really about helping ... jetsetting rodents! I knew it! “It's a safe bet that most people who take sildenafil — better known under its commercial name, Viagra — aren't looking for a good night's rest. But it turns out that the 'little blue pill' commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction is also good for relieving some forms of jetlag. Well, at least in hamsters. Diego Golombek and his colleagues at the National University of Quilmes in Buenos Aires, Argentina, injected hamsters with sildenafil and then pushed the animals' light/dark schedule ahead by six hours, roughly the equivalent of putting the

Happiness vs. sagacity: 1

In the seventeenth century, the rehabilitation of Epicurus became a kind of code behind which was assembled the program of the enlightenment – which, as I have remarked in a post last week, can be looked at, using Fred Hirsch’s terms, as the accompaniment to the loosening of the positional economy as old feudal ties and customs waned. Interestingly, one of the loosened ties had to do with the role of women. Mostly this loosening was about women in the periphery around either the court or the aristocratic salons. For LI, Epicurus marks an important moment in that covert struggle, that dialectic, between the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of sagacity. Here seemed to be a counter-sage to the ascetic Socrates, just as Socrates seemed to counter Jesus for the humanists. The game is to find an emblem to trump an emblem. Gassendi was the major sponsor of the new Epicurus in the 17th century. He was also the godfather of the line that challenged the Cartesians from what I suppose you cou

and another thing we won't get to...

LI is on a grueling editing schedule this week, so we can’t unroll the usual red carpet of delusional associations and retarded insights we do so like to give our readers. We are going to try to write a couple of posts about the sage and the divide between the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of sagacity, zeroing in on the seventeen century libertines, the rehabilitation of Epicurus, and that woman lost to French poetry and philosophy, Madame Deshoulieres, a seventeenth century French poet who translated Lucretius, ran a salon for neo-Epicurians, and fell back into the arms of the church as she was dying of breast cancer. And have you heard of Deshoulieres, reader of mine? I hadn’t until a couple of days ago, researching these posts. The lady was buried, and I suspect she was buried because she was a lady. She was still known to the 18th century philosophes, however. In her day, she was aggrieved by being ignored, and wrote this poem “To M. Bouhours on his book entitled The art of

the sage enters, wearing a scholar's mask...

“I knew in my time one of many arts, a Grecian, a Latinist, a mathematician, a philosopher, a physician, a man master of them all, and sixty years of age, who, laying by all the rest, perplexed and tormented himself for above twenty years in the study of grammar, fully reckoning himself a prince if he might but live so long till he could certainly determine how the eight parts of speech were to be distinguished, which none of the Greeks or Latins had yet fully cleared: as if it were a matter to be decided by the sword if a man made an adverb of a conjunction.” – Erasmus, In praise of folly. LI has always wanted to be that man – a man who took the smallest matters of wordplay as a duelist takes a challenge to his honor. Literature at swordpoint. Not that LI can really manipulate a sword, but we do have a ready steady tongue. At the same time, we realize that the grammarian who throws himself into the vast matter of the eight parts of speech, the man who searches for the key to the my