Monday, September 30, 2002

George Kennan on our president, his policies and the too loyal opposition. Notice the attentive arm supporting him from just outside the frame of the photograph.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

"A vast Majority" of Britons oppose war without new UN mandate.
"Bullied" Democrats finally pondering war against... Bush.
And is Iran next?

Friday, September 27, 2002

In the New York Times the heading is: "Defend the Country not the Party." But in The Guardian UK the same article by Dick Gephardt has the title: "Bush is Playing Politics With the Lives of the American People" Class, Which do you prefer?

Meanwhile, in Glasgow, meet "The Thugs who Bush Wants to Replace Saddam".
Gore and Daschle, now Gephardt's Op Ed in the Times and Kennedy. The game is on; the doubts about the war are entering the mainstream.
Ashcroft's connection to Iraq based terrorists.
Robert Novak, of all people, on the American export of bioweapons to Iraq.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

"Do you support US-led military action against Iraq?"
The Guardian has a poll on. As of 12:15 this morning it was 82% against.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Courtesy of Eric Alterman: Reagan and Bush Sr. Administrations approved the sale of germ cultures to Iraq

The hearings were interesting today. The players were cautiously trying to find common ground, with each other more than with Bush. This morning Daschle was seething, almost whispering his response to Bush's absurd accusation that the Democrats are indifferent to the safety of the nation. I haven't heard that sort of tone in a Democrat's voice before. He sounded betrayed. The Bushies are attacking the middle, and at the wrong time. Their arrogance is beginning to seem a little desperate, and they're making a lot of mistakes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

The New York Post had Gore's speech in a box on the first page, with the heading "Gore Slams Bush on Iraq" or something similar, proving again how much vulgarity and the popular theater are important for democracy to thrive. The Times, demonstrating what I suppose it would call 'political maturity' put it on page 17. Here is The Guardian's take.
And here's the Times again on the three retired Generals. The General whose name I did not have yesterday, and whose statements so impressed me, is Joseph P.Hoar, former chief of the United States Central Command. From the article you would have no idea how bluntly he spoke.

Monday, September 23, 2002

The Guardian says Al Gore came out swinging tonight, to rousing applause. Let's see what the Times says in the morning.

One of the generals today, whose name I did not get, and who has or once had high ranking in the US middle eastern command, was as brilliant as I described him below. 'Terrorism', he said, in a sentence that would get any democrat skewered on Fox, the editorial page of the WSJ or by William Safire, 'like strategic bombing'[!] was an act perpetrated for 'political ends'. He spoke well on the difference between our view of ourselves, or of what we seem to think the world thinks of us, and the reality, and well also on the frustration of the Palestinians and of Islam. Only a US general could get away with it.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Congressman Tom Lantos of California made a suggestion today at the hearings on Iraq. He proposed that the cost of invasion, which was one of worries of the committee, might be easily made up for in access to oil, since the people of Iraq, in terms of raw materials "one of the wealthiest countries on the planet" could be rightfully asked to pay the cost of their liberation. After he spoke the panelist from the Carnagie seemed shaken, and quietly and respectfully explained, or at least tried to explain, in an unsteady voice, how the rest of the world might not see such a suggestion in a particularly good light. Later in the hearing, someone, I don't remember if it was member of the committee or of the panel, made the comment that our 'friends' Germany and France, should not hold out too long against our plans, or they might find themselves cut off from Iraqi oil once the campaign was successful and we were in the drivers seat.
The phrase "The rest of the world" came up a few times today, almost exclusively used by the two members of the panel who tried to explain to the congressmen what the phrase itself meant.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Saudi Arabia's change of heart makes me more nervous, not less. In siding with the US The House of Saud may have decided that the US, and not their people, will best protect their rule in a crisis. I'm sure the Bushies, who are idiots, are ecstatic and that the Saudis, who are not, are scared.

Friday, September 13, 2002

The adolescent esthetic of 'Neat' or 'Cool;' a taste for things that are slightly off center, but not more; a sensibility limited to issues and ideas considered valuable to those only concerned with the present tense. Everyone knows what's hip one week and is vying for the honor of finding what's next. These phrases all describe a sructuralist's dream. The past -what was hip- is irrelevant.

I was talking to a couple of kids about how much Hip Hop has changed over the past 10 years, and they were blithe in their description of how everyone always has to adapt. If an MC can't do it, he or she is gone quickly. There is nothing new in this; what is new is that these 'kids' were not 13 or 14 years old but 20. They were old enough to remember hits from 1990. They had adapted too.

People usually become acculturated to the forms of things they know or have grown up with, and may stay with these things as they age and their tastes become old fashioned. On the other hand, newness and change themselves can form the basis of an aesthetic sensibility. The notions of style and taste describe a history of transformation often, as far as those inviolved are concerned, for it's own sake. And though we may claim otherwise the same meaninglessness drives much of our own need for change. Outside of medicine and the interest in prolonging life, there really is no point in progress except that we have a taste for it. One of the most convenient things about drywall, which is otherwise an inferior product, is that while being easy to build with, it is also very easy to demolish.

But in the past, progress as a philosophy had a whole range of other ideas caught up with it. Progress was synonymous with education, with physical and civic health and with ideas of government. It was left to the Salons of the aristocracy to argue over unimportant things such as necklines and hems, as later such things were left to teenagers

What the new esthetics are based on, is not only progress but a philosophy of progress that does not comprehend death, and does not include it in any way complexly as a part of its field of vision. This awareness is the most important between youth and adulthood. At some point in life, as bones begin to ache, you begin to come to terms with your own inevitable death. In the modern period, science begot a culture which tried and still tries to ignore this. My landlady's mother died a few days ago and in the weeks before she described the frustration she had with the doctors who were insisting on using all measures to keep her alive. She was 82. "She's still young" the doctor said. "People can live into their 90's." "Look at her, Doctor" her body's not young." And my landlady she ran down for me a litany of health problems from years of smoking and god knows what else. As long as I knew her mother she had the voice of sullen dock-worker with laryngitis. "Did you think we're going to sue?" was the last thing my landlady said.

Youth culture has the same blindness. Before the age of science, it was only the young who had it, with no justification but ignorance. That's what makes youth worthwhile and age necessary. But science, or pseudoscience, has given the callowness of youth an intellectual defense. Every modern revolution has been led or coopted by such romance, with the thought that the child-leaders aspired to maturity. But now The United States, the country that gave us the teenager, the two-car garage, McDonalds and George W. Bush, has made a claim for the obsolescence of Adulthood.

removed to be re-placed: There is no difference between the value as a chic commodity of a computer chip and a pair of jeans. The inventiveness -as new- is the value.

What is the point of most things if not pleasure, however rarefied?

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Seumas Milne has a good piece in The Guardian concerning the question of who exactly did what to whom during the the last 100 odd years of our planet's history; The New York Times should publish it as an editorial. I might add that more people were killed during the retribution that followed the defeat of the Paris Commune than died at the hands of Robespierre et al. But then again, when I read Anna Akhmatova I'm constantly reminded of the number of deaths that occured during the building of her beloved Saint Petersburg, so I guess I'm just a hard-ass. But Milne knows the history better than I do and he tells it well.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

From The Nation's collection of letters on 9/11.

Stony Brook, NY
September 11 has not changed my life. It has accentuated and invigorated my desire to return home, to Jaffa, Palestine, as soon as possible. I am a graduate student at a US university, and I have not felt as strong a desire to return to my culture, national history and values as in the aftermath of what has become an American right to a moment in time called "9/11."
I came to this country with as little animosity as possible for a Third World colonized citizen, hoping to refute all I had learned as a child. I am about to leave with repugnance, wrath and hopelessness toward an arrogant, brutally hypocritical, mass-destructive autocracy, the United States of America, governed not only by its political head but by its willfully ignorant people.

Mary Geday

Sunday, September 08, 2002

"The United States has begun the massive massive military build-up required for a war against Iraq, ordering the movement of tens of thousands of men and tonnes of matériel to the Gulf region."

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

It pisses me off how many idiots there are who make arguments based on perfect logic that really has no application to the problem they're dealing with. And then they defend themselves by trying to prove how logical they're being.
What was and remains valuable, indeed wonderful, about the brilliant system builders of the 19th century was that to a man, or woman, they loved and understood the art of communication. However much they wanted to organize their thoughts according to an impersonal logic, they couldn't help wanting to write well, realizing that logic itself would not be enough to convince their audience; that they still needed rhetorical style and skill. And such skill has often been enough to keep even mistaken suppositions or ideas from the dustbin of history. And just as importantly, such tricks of the writing trade made it possible for even the most argumentative to admit that what they were in it for was precisely the fight, the struggle as Marx put it, between ideas. But it also gave them wiggle room, to slide around with what they really meant, to save face, to bullshit and defend.
In the 20th century the fight was irrelevant. Victory was all that mattered. If someone could say he was absolutely right he could toss all the faux-scientific rhetoric he wanted around the room and it could be believed. It was science. Regardless of how little useful information was actually dropped into the computing machine, everything was logical. And logic was truth. But it wasn't science it was Kitsch.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

"I do believe, you are what you perceive,
What comes is better, than what came