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Showing posts from September 30, 2007

review envy

“A policeman, Maurice Marullas, has blown out his brains. Let’s save the name of this honest man from being forgotten.” LI recommends that you run at link speed to Julian Barnes’ LRB essay/review of Novels in Three Lines by Félix Fénéon, translated by Luc Santé. This is such a good review that I turned several colors while reading it – green, from envy, white, from the painful thought that I would never write a review this good, and blue – well, because that is my normal color. I am, after all, Krishna. Luckily, you will notice that at least the first sentence doesn't quite work. This single blot has saved me the bother of following M. Maraullas. Anyway, if you don’t read it, you are a stinking pig.

we don't know it

… jede Stunde mit dem letzten Schlag von tausend unschuldigen Herzen durch die Welt dröhnen müsste – “every hour must roar throughout the world with the last beats of a thousand innocent hearts.” Optimist: But all wars have ended with peace. Faultfinder: Not this one. This one has not taken place on the surface of life… no, it has raged inside life itself. The front has been extended to the whole country. And there it will stay. And this changed life, if there still is life, will be accompanied by the old spiritual condition. The world is perishing and we won’t know it. Everything was yesterday and will be forgotten; no one will see today or be afraid of tomorrow. They will forget that the war was lost, forget they began it, foret they fought it. That is why the war won’t end. - Karl Kraus, taken from Calasso’s essay, The Perpetual War. LI just had a nice chat with Amy Chua, the woman who wrote World on Fire, about her new book, Day of Empire. We did the interview for the Austin States

Representative Chris Shays: a venomous blot

Representative Chris Shays from Connecticut had this to say, today, about the passage of a bill that would mildly curb the corrupt and odious mercenaries Americans have unloosed in Iraq: “Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., accused Democrats of rushing the bill through Congress in a partisan bid to criticize the Bush administration's handling of the war. "It is amazing to me the number of men in Blackwater that have lost their lives and we never hear it on the other side of the aisle," Shays said. "Blackwater is evil. That's the way it appears in all the dialogue." Of course, he is defending the company that did, among other things, this: “On that day, the Blackwater convoy was responding to a bombing near a State Department convoy about a mile away. As the Blackwater armored vehicles entered the square, a heavily guarded area near Baghdad's affluent Mansour neighborhood, Iraqi police officers moved to stop traffic. Kadhum, the doctor, and her son Haitham, who we

a stray thesis

One of my stray theses about happiness is that the discourse of happiness suffers from a variant of the pathetic fallacy, as Ruskin called the attempt to instill a mood into a landscape, or to project human feelings, in general, on the inanimate. The variant of this is to project happiness upon fortunate circumstances, as though the circumstances themselves were happy. Since, of course, happiness derives from the experience of those circumstances, we are dealing with a sort of mass hallucination, a doubling of the hedonic focus. Or perhaps I should say a hedonic neurosis. And from this we get an unending and dreary succession of complaints on the same theme: I'm not happy! To explain what I mean, let me quote history’s eternal dirty old man, Voltaire. Voltaire, as is well known, found the abstract constructions of the doctors of the church ultimately laughable. But he was also wary of the abstract constructions of the materialists, the more radical group of philosophes that came

the always awesome media cogito

There are two news stories I’d recommend to LI readers today – one is by James Glanz, of all people, in the NYT. Emboldened by the Waxman committee’s timid display of intransigence – there’s even a threat that the Democrats might try to regulate the mercenaries in Iraq, heavens! the Dems play so rough! – the establishment American press has actually gone out and collected information, instead of letting information, in the form of faxes from the State department composed by Blackwater, come to them – and of course, in the latter case, be distributed by them to the public at large, which must be cretinized every day if the system is to roll lustily forward. So, after persistently reporting on the death toll settled on by the State department at 11, the NYT story raises the stakes a bit – to 17 dead, 24 wounded. In a nice ass covering move, this is attributed to Iraqi officials and called a ‘higher toll than previously thought.’ You will notice the function of thought, here. ‘Thought’ is

Blackwater getting paid to monitor blackwater exonerates Blackwater

LI has been thinking more about CNN’s Blackwater report. To refresh your memory, here’s the salient quote “ Blackwater said its employees responded properly to an insurgent attack on a convoy, and the State Department "spot report" written by the Blackwater contractor underscores that and doesn't mention civilian casualties. However, the contractor's account is at odds with Iraqis' version of the incident. A senior Iraqi National Police official participating in the Iraqi governmental probe of the shooting said the Blackwater gunfire was unprovoked and random, killing and wounding several civilians. Blackwater contractor Darren Hanner drafted the two-page spot report on the letterhead of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security for the embassy's Tactical Operations Center, said a source involved in diplomatic security at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Hanner, listed on the report as the center's watch officer, was working for Blackwater at the time the report was

Lo-ammi: a son is born

Sometimes LI wonders why we bother with commentary. Collage is the mightier instrument. So, this is from the latest NYT Blackwater piece, reporting on one of Blackwater’s murders [called ‘incidents’ as a figleaf] “The incident involving “a drunken Blackwater contractor ” arose when the employee killed a bodyguard for the Iraqi vice president, Adil Abd-al-Mahdi, in December 2006. State Department officials allowed Blackwater to take the shooter out of Iraq less than 36 hours later. Then the State Department charge d’affaires recommended that Blackwater make “a sizable payment” and an “apology” in an effort to “avoid this whole thing becoming even worse,” the report went on. The State Department official suggested a $250,000 payment to the guard’s family, but the department’s Diplomatic Security Service said that was too much and could cause Iraqis to “try to get killed.” In the end, $15,000 was agreed upon. The report adds credence to complaints from Iraqi officials, American military o

on the way down to the bottom

LI heartily recommends this article for the hilarious sidelight it throws on our funniest, most corrupt administration. It seems that the White House, with the compassion of twenty Buddhas, realizes that its nomination of wacko rightwingers to various posts can do said rightwingers some financial harm – because sometimes Congress doesn’t kiss ass fast enough. It’s a training problem. But it is no problem for the clever Bushies! Not when you have a whole goldbricking pseudo-charity around to which the Gov can shovel tax free dollars! Invention, as Joseph Schumpeter pointed out long ago, is the dynamic of capitalism, and what is more inventive than Commonwealth Research Institute? It’s a charity. It’s a faith based organization. It’s a way to pay Republicans $13,400 a month for doing zip work. And it’s a Merchant of Death – all in one! “Commonwealth Research and its parent company, Concurrent Technologies, are registered with the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt charities, even th

the Sunday sickness unto death rant

LI was looking up info on Blackwater, yesterday, and we came across the Virginian-Pilot profile of the company. That profile included little bios of the guys at the top of America’s Funniest Mercenary Company. It was the bio of the COO that stuck with me. Isn’t this man a posterboy of the Bush culture. I can see my face, I can see the face of 350 million of my fellow Americans, slug-like somnambulists heading towards the cliffs but with the finest of accessories … contributing another sweet 300 million dollars today, as on all days, to the mass murder of Iraqis (it is always Christmas in Iraq) … reflected in this man’s record, from the Virginian-Pilot : “JOSEPH SCHMITZ, 49, became chief operating officer and general counsel of the Prince Group in September 2005 after a stint as inspector general at the Defense Department. Schmitz was the senior Pentagon official responsible for investigating waste, fraud and abuse. Now he faces a congressional inquiry into accusations that he quashed t