Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ego-Trippin' at the Gates of Hell? 

Josh Marshall says that you're an emotional infant if you won't, at the end of the day--and, if I understand correctly, pretty much despite whatever happens in the campaign--vote for the Democrat.

He says:

I think most [of my readers] are Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents who ascribe to a series of policies now generally adhered to by members of the Democratic party. People for whom that applies have to decide whether the alleged transgressions of either candidate or their differences in tone, political style and so forth are so grave and substantial that they merit electing John McCain who stands on the other side of basically all of those issues.

Do you agree?

Human Smoke 

From Colm Toibin's review of Nicholson Baker's impressionistic historical anthology of the Great Jihad (a.k.a., the Triumph of the Band of Brothers, a.k.a., when Butt-Fucking was Allowed, a.k.a. the War to Save Civilization in Advance from Palestine, a.k.a., Operation German Freedom, a.k.a., the Very Important Lesson, a.k.a World War II):

Slowly, as you read, because of the variety in the tone and the shocking or tragic nature of the quotation, and because of how well chosen they are, “Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization” becomes riveting and fascinating. It is as though a brilliant film editor, with an urgent argument to make, began to work with gripping newsreels.

The main figures in the book are Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt; members of the pacifist movement including Gandhi; Hitler and his entourage; and diarists like Victor Klemperer in Dresden and Mihail Sebastian in Bucharest. But sometimes it is the simple stark fact that makes you sit up straight for a moment, like this one from early in the book: “The Royal Air Force dropped more than 150 tons of bombs on India. It was 1925.” This, coming soon after an account of the proposed bombing of civilian targets in Iraq in 1920 (with Churchill writing: “I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes”), sets a theme for the book, which Baker will skillfully weave into the fabric of events mainly between 1920 and 1942 — that the bombing of villages and cities from the air represents “the end of civilization.”

Baker is adept at managing the reader’s emotion. His vignettes about the treatment of the Jewish population, the deportations and the planned mass murders, are just as carefully chosen, with the same amount of barely contained anger in them as his pieces about what was done to the civilians of Germany and to the civilians of Britain by bombers. It seems that he wishes to stir up an argument as much as settle one. In his afterword he says of the pacifists: “They failed, but they were right.” It is an aspect of the subtlety of his book that the reader is entitled to wonder if it’s true.

Churchill emerges here as a most fascinating figure — impetuous, childish, bloodthirsty, fearless, insomniac, bookish, bullying, determined, to name just some of his characteristics. Baker writes: “He wasn’t an alcoholic, someone said later — no alcoholic could drink that much.” The prime minister of Australia noted of Churchill: “In every conversation he ultimately reaches a point where he positively enjoys the war.” After the bombing of British cities Baker quotes him: “This ordeal by fire has, in a certain sense, even exhilarated the manhood and the womanhood of Britain.”

“One of our great aims,” Churchill wrote in July 1941, “is the delivery on German towns of the largest possible quantity of bombs per night.” Soon afterward, he said publicly: “It is time that the Germans should be made to suffer in their own homeland and cities something of the torments they have let loose upon their neighbors and upon the world.” Baker quotes large numbers of people who seemed to feel in these years that the entire German population, including women and children, were to blame for the Nazis and should be punished accordingly. For example, the writer Gerald Brenan: “Every German woman and child killed is a contribution to the future safety and happiness of Europe.” Or David Garnett (the author of the novel “Aspects of Love,” on which the musical is based), who wrote in 1941: “By butchering the German population indiscriminately it might be possible to goad them into a desperate rising in which every member of the Nazi Party would have his throat cut.”

The problem, as Baker makes clear, was that the bombing served to kill and maim the civilian population, yet the survivors did not blame the Nazi leaders, who used the bombing as a further excuse to inflict suffering on the Jewish population, claiming, for example, that evictions of Jews were “justified on the grounds that Aryans whose houses were destroyed by bombing needed a place to live.” As early as 1941 a member of Churchill’s cabinet could write: “Bombing does NOT affect German morale: let’s get that into our heads and not waste our bombers on these raids.” Churchill’s rationale for the bombing, Baker writes, arose from his belief that it was “a form of pedagogy — a way of enlightening city dwellers as to the hellishness of remote battlefields by killing them.”

In April 1941 certain German cities were identified as good targets because they were “congested industrial towns, where the psychological effect will be greatest”; the same report recommended the use of delayed-action bombs “so as to prevent or seriously interfere with fire fighting, repair and general traffic organization.” The following month Lord Trenchard, who had been instrumental in establishing the Royal Air Force, admitted that “the percentage of bombs which hit the military target at which they are aimed is not more than 1 percent.” And when Baker turns his attention to Washington, which he does regularly, he offers vignettes to suggest that Roosevelt was busy goading the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor so that America could enter the war.


Buchanan on "black-on-white rape" 

Pat Buchanan today on "race":

This time, the Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands heard. And among them are these:

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.

Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.

Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans.

We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude?

OK, and here are some more of Pat's grievances:

Is white America really responsible for the fact that the crime and incarceration rates for African-Americans are seven times those of white America? Is it really white America’s fault that illegitimacy in the African-American community has hit 70 percent and the black dropout rate from high schools in some cities has reached 50 percent?

Is that the fault of white America or, first and foremost, a failure of the black community itself?

As for racism, its ugliest manifestation is in interracial crime, and especially interracial crimes of violence. Is Barack Obama aware that while white criminals choose black victims 3 percent of the time, black criminals choose white victims 45 percent of the time?

Is Barack aware that black-on-white rapes are 100 times more common than the reverse, that black-on-white robberies were 139 times as common in the first three years of this decade as the reverse?

Has Buchanan always been this over the fucking top, or have I just not been listening?

Is MSNBC going to continue to employ him?

Friday, March 21, 2008

get it together people 

I guess its been a hectic week or so, what with Ashley Dupre's tits and The Saint's symbolic lynchifixion and consequent ascendance to sit at the right hand of the Unity Pony. But how did we miss this?

I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind.

As a child of the '60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart.

These cherished precepts had, over the years, become ingrained as increasingly impracticable prejudices. Why do I say impracticable? Because although I still held these beliefs, I no longer applied them in my life. How do I know? My wife informed me. We were riding along and listening to NPR. I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up. "?" she prompted. And her terse, elegant summation, as always, awakened me to a deeper truth: I had been listening to NPR and reading various organs of national opinion for years, wonder and rage contending for pride of place. Further: I found I had been—rather charmingly, I thought—referring to myself for years as "a brain-dead liberal," and to NPR as "National Palestinian Radio."

An essay by David Mamet, perhaps one of our most acclaimed mediocrities, the Daniel Liebeskind of drama, with the title Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'.

Seriously. We just completely dropped the ball here. Not one post about this? Not even a comment?

Granted, having only just finished reading it I must admit I am struck dumb. I have neither jest nor polemic, bloviation nor flatulation, to offer in the face of this monumentally stupid piece of juvenalia. So I'm not exempting myself from criticism here, but if we're going to let turds like this float by unremarked upon I think its tolerably clear that our brand will suffer.

It's not every day that an award-winning artist announces to the world that while he may not be liberal, he remains brain-dead. Do you really want your children to look at you and ask, "Where were you, Daddy, when Mamet wrote the dumbest fucking thing ever penned with an opposable thumb?" What will you tell them? How will you live with yourself?

3am girl off the hook! 

This is pretty awesome.  The sleeping girl in Hillary's 3am red phone ad, who was 8 years old at the time (they used old stock footage in the ad), is now 18, and has released her own campaign ad.  Suffice it to say she's not supporting Hillary:


Of course polls are meaningless when they have bad news and meaningful when they have good news.  But in light of the frenzy of poll-mongering going on in the last few days, pouncing on every shred of "damage" to Obama's "electability" evident in the numbers, it's worth looking at the evidence of a spate of new polls out today from Rasmussen and SurveyUSA:

Minnesota: McCain beats Clinton by 1; Obama beats McCain by 4.

Iowa: McCain beats Clinton by 4; Obama beats McCain by 6,

Kansas: Obama loses to McCain by 7 points fewer than Clinton.

New Mexico: Clinton and Obama both beat McCain by 6 [these numbers came out before the Richardson endorsement of Obama today.]

New York: Obama beats McCain by 5 points fewer than Clinton.

Oregon: Obama beats McCain by 3 points more than Clinton.

Virginia: McCain ties Clinton; Obama beats McCain by 1.

Washington: Obama beats McCain by 6 points more than Clinton.

Alabama: Clinton loses to McCain by 9 points fewer than Obama.

So what do we have here?  Out of 9 states polled, Obama fares better than Clinton in 7 of them.  In the swing-states of Minnesota, Iowa, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington, (and go ahead and throw in New Mexico after Richardson), Obama is doing better than Clinton against McCage.  Obama is winning swing states that Clinton is losing.

The only states in which Hillary does better than Obama are New York (which does Dem), and Alabama (which goes GOP).

Maybe a new conversation about Hillary's electability problems needs to begin now.

Plan Jericho 

If Clinton somehow miraculously pulls off a delegate win, fine--I'll sit back and watch her lose to McCage and the country continue its handbasket ride hellward.

But if Obama gets fucked by the superdelegates, I'm for Al Giordano's Plan Jericho: go to Denver en masse to demonstrate clearly to the Democratic Suicide Machine that it has successfully suicided itself, and help the party understand that it no longer exists.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Yellowcake Whore 

Joe Wilson now whoring for Hillary.  Actually, what he mainly does in the piece is tout his own foreign policy accomplishments and those of Bill Clinton.  As to Hillary herself, Wilson notes:

In the Senate, she has aggressively exercised her oversight responsibility and held the Pentagon's feet to the fire on plans related to withdrawal from Iraq, shaped legislation requiring reports to Congress, and cosponsored legislation with Senator Byrd to deauthorize the war with Iraq. She has exercised the levers of power because she knows how to do so.

Not so much about the "levers" she "exercised" in voting to authorize the fucking war she's now evidently done so much to "deauthorize."

It's interesting how in his "analysis" of Obama's "shallow foreign policy credentials" he manages to work in references to Rev. Wright and Tony Rezko--key figures in any discussion of foreign policy experience.

Good going, Joe!

Money where mouf is 

I just got an email from the Obama campaign asking for $25.  So I gave them $47.

If you, like me, continue to support Obama's candidacy, I encourage you to do likewise:


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama's Speech 

Here's the speech, all 37:02 of it. Must watch.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's "A More Perfect Union" Speech 

I listened to a rebroadcast of the speech earlier on public radio.  Here's the text.  It's worth reading, or better yet listening to.

It's astonishing to see Obama responding to the Death/Noise Machine, not in its terms, but in his.  In doing so--in speaking back to inhuman Noise in a human voice--he is demonstrating and embodying the central message of his campaign.  But he's doing it in a more sophisticated manner.  

It's almost as though the Hillary campaign--and I mean "Hillary campaign" in the broadest, most accurate sense, which has plenty of overlap with the Death/Noise machine--has forced Obama to produce the magical "substance" deemed to be missing from his standard campaign speeches--to make the subtext of those speeches explicit and vivid.  The result is brilliance.  Therefore, sadly, I assume the candidacy is doomed.

Some words from James Baldwin's 1955 essay "Stranger in the Village":

The black man insists, by whatever means he finds at his disposal, that the white man cease to regard him as an exotic rarity and recognize him as a human being. This is a very charged and difficult moment, for there is a great deal of will power involved in the white man's naiveté. Most people are not naturally reflective any more than they are naturally malicious, and the white man prefers to keep the black man at a certain human remove because it is easier for him thus to preserve his simplicity and avoid being called to account for crimes committed by his forefathers, or his neighbors. He is inescapably aware, nevertheless, that he is in a better position in the world than black men are, nor can he quite put to death the suspicion that he is hated by black men therefore. He does not wish to be hated, neither does he wish to change places, and at this point in his uneasiness he can scarcely avoid having recourse to those legends which white men have created about black men, the most usual effect of which is that the white man finds himself enmeshed, so to speak, in his own language which describes hell, as well as the attributes which lead one to hell, as being as black as night.

Every legend, moreover, contains its residuum of truth, and the root function of language is to control the universe by describing it. It is of quite considerable significance that black men remain, in the imagination, and in overwhelming numbers in fact, beyond the disciplines of salvation; and this despite the fact that the West has been "buying" African natives for centuries. There is, I should hazard, an instantaneous necessity to be divorced from this so visibly unsaved stranger, in whose heart, moreover, one cannot guess what dreams of vengeance are being nourished; and, at the same time, there are few things on earth more attractive than the idea of the unspeakable liberty which is allowed the unredeemed. When, beneath the black mask, a human being begins to make himself felt one cannot escape a certain awful wonder as to what kind of human being it is. What one's imagination makes of other people is dictated, of course, by the Master race laws of one's own personality and it’s one of the ironies of black-white relations that, by means of what the white man imagines the black man to be, the black man is enabled to know who the white man is.

Also this:

People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Apropos of nothing... 

...I have been watching this clip incessantly for the past week and a half.

I wish I was a troop, they get so much support 

To our guns in Afghanistan:

"I must say, I'm a little envious," Bush said. "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."

"It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks," Bush said.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

AmCop Index 

Minimum age of Americans who were able to vote in a Presidential contest that did not have a Bush or a Clinton on the ticket: 49

Minimum age of Cubans who were alive when the chief executive of their country was not a Castro: 50


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