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Showing posts from August 8, 2021

Think tanker alert

  "Afghanistan’s rapid unraveling is already raising grumblings about American credibility, compounding the wounds of the Trump years and reinforcing the idea that America’s backing for its allies is not unlimited." - NYT Apparently, this paragraph has spread panic in think tank world. Thousands of boltons and kagans have climbed out high windows and are threatening to jump. There's a neo-con and humanitarian intervention watch on for these poor figures. In other news, Christopher Hitchens is turning in his grave. His friends are perplexed as to whether this is simple contrarianism, or whether he has decided God is Great.

epidemic terror

  “But though the nation be exempt from real evils, it is not more happy on this account than others. The people are afflicted, it is true, with neither famine nor pestilence; but there is a disorder peculiar to the country, which every season makes strange ravages among them; it spreads with pestilential rapidity, and infects almost every rank of people; what is still more strange, the natives have no name for this peculiar malady, though well known to foreign physicians by the appellation of Epidemic Terror.” -I cull this quotation from Oliver Goldsmith’s essay, which appeared in his zine, the Citizen of the world, as letter LXIX. Commentators have confessed that the rabies panic Goldsmith described has few other witnesses – and Goldsmith was a bit of a fabulist. One of Goldsmith’s most noted poems was entitled Elegy to a Mad Dog, and perhaps in the fervor of composition he projected a panic.   And in that town a dog was found, As many dogs there be, Both mongrel, puppy, wh

The worst president - envelope please

  I’m a structure man, not an agent man. I’m instinctively suspicious of lists – the most overrated movies, the hundred best novels, etc. Of course, I’m a sucker, like any good American, for such lists, and the arguments that result in comparing one’s opinion. But I argue in some bad faith. That said – shoving aside my theoretical objections – I do have an opinion on the perennially sweet topic of bad presidents, as in, was Trump the worst? This summer’s news is more proof that the answer is no. The answer is George W. Bush. There are a heap of bad, criminal, insane things the Bush administration did. The retreat from Afghanistan recognizes, distantly, one of them. But one must judge in a harder category: what didn’t the president do? Negligence is an easy thing to overlook, except when, as in the case of Trump’s response to covid, it is an aggressive negligence. Thus, that Bush neglected to heed the numerous warnings in the summer of 2001 of an upcoming attack has always been pu