It's official: I now have the ugliest, most depressing-looking balcony in the world.
On the bright side, it only took them one week and two days to get around to making it that way.
And I can clean the grill and set that up just in time for the Memorial Day weekend. So there's that.
As for this blog's current shabby condition . . . I have several disjointed, but soon-to-be-wedded-in-unholy-polygamous-matrimony, ideas simmering around for posts at the moment.
And no time in which to stir them together. With any luck, maybe I'll find some. Probably about the same day someone else writes just what I wanted to write only, you know, coherently.
September 2001, The Onion: "A Shattered Nation Longs to Care About Stupid Bullshit Again." (No link available since they went premium, the bastards.)
May 2004, The Washington Post: "The Hill's Sex Diarist Reveals All (Well, Some)."
Mission accomplished, wouldn't you say?
I really don't have anything to say that hasn't been said already (and better) about this thing. I care about as much as I cared about Monica Lewinsky: It kinda sucks for her, but, well, that's what you get for thinking with your genitalia.
One overwhelming difference between Monica and Jessica: At least Monica humiliated herself for love. Jessica just did it for the money.
I hope she saved some of it, because if that book deal doesn't pan out (or, more likely, if it does pan out and then winds up overflowing the discount racks like . . . like . . . why, like Monica's book!), she'll find out what all whores learn eventually: Age happens. That's really my primary objection to prostitution--it's such bad strategy. No art to it at all. No long-range planning. Just bend over and take it while you can.
If you think about it, it's enough to make you envy the greeters at Wal-mart. Sure, they're stuck in that grisly polyester all day long, but at least they don't need to stock up on K-Y Jelly.
"Looking to get lucky?" I offered with a wink.As he says himself, read at your own risk.
"What you want?" she snapped, the necklace-chains of her bifocals jangling seductively, even wantonly.
"It's not what I want," I cooed. "It's what you want."
I let my raincoat fall open, revealing the fact that I was wearing a halter-style cut t-shirt that exposed my abdomen. I'd craftily drawn "cut lines" on my stomach with brown magic marker, giving the appearance of a nice six-pack. At least giving that appearance to a nearsighted elderly Korean woman.
"All this can be yours. For a price." I traced a line down the middle of my belly with a finger, making that "sssssss" hot-stuff noise.
"No sandwich after nine o'clock," she said. "Deli closed."
"I've got all the meat I could want right here," I whispered, trying to sound like Mickey Rourke before he got weird-looking. "Beef," I informed her, as I flexed a bicep and pointed to it. "It's what's for dinner."
"No sandwich after nine," she said. What a delightfully coquettish little minx Mrs. Kim was turning out to be.
And so the tango of desire continued.
This was such a Caillou-watching morning. But no, I had to get caught up reading blogs when I coulda been watching the bald-headed kid we all love to hate.
Damn you, blog authors. Just damn you.
Have you ever noticed the surprising number of people in the world who'll take a reaction of disgust on your part, and turn it into proof positive that they're brave, unflinching soldiers speaking truth to power on their part? Even though, really, it's just that they're assholes? What is that--some misguided self-defense mechanism that nature provides to jerks to prevent them killing themselves from despair at their own jerkiness, or what?
*Paranoiacs are welcome to speculate that it's really about themselves if it makes them happy to do so, though. I don't want to deprive anyone of a little fun on the weekend. That would be mean.
If you leave me an insulting comment and don't have the balls to post your real email address, obviously I'm going to edit it to amuse myself.
But at one point I walked through the room just as the camera had zoomed in for a closeup of the former defense secretary.
"Uccch," I remarked.
"What's the matter?" the boyfriend jeered, "this movie wasn't Instapundit-approved?"
Now that was low, people. He knows I don't like Instapundit. I read him maybe twice a month at the most, and then only when I've been directed there by bloggers I like better.
"It's not that," I said. "Don't bring politics into this. It's that face. It's threatening to consume the entire screen."
"Well, see, he just made a startling point and the director wanted to emphasize it," he explained. "He just said that if we had lost World War II, we would be considered the war criminals. Kind of gives you something to think about, huh?"
I looked at my boyfriend for several seconds.
"Duh," I managed finally.
"Well, but it's so rare to hear someone admit that. I mean we made some really indiscriminate and unwarranted attacks even before Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We wiped out entire villages, thousands of innocent civilians--"
"Dear," I interrupted, "that is the sort of pseudo-profundity I expect to hear from a stoned undergraduate. 'Dude, check it: The whole notion of war crimes is like, subjective, you know? I mean . . . I mean, what if we hadn't won World War II? We'd be the war criminals then, man. Like Dresden, right, that was some indiscriminate bullshit.'"
It was his turn to pause.
"Okay," he replied eventually. "That doesn't make what we did right."
"No, but how about maybe Japan shouldn't have brought the shit in the first place."
Pause again. "True."
But you know something, I don't think that really convinced him. I think there are a lot of people who believe it's always down to us to be beyond reproach, no matter what. I think there are a lot of people who believe war is bad, period, without having formulated an adequate solution to the problem of what to do when war barges in uninvited.
It's the equivalent of trying to tell the school bully that you forgive him, that you understand him, that you're ready to reach out to him in the spirit of brotherhood--while he's slamming your head into a mud puddle and demanding you cry uncle.
It's exhausting me. It's wearing me out--the "No, but . . . ." Because that's the nature of the answers I get when I ask questions about what our response to September 11 should have been instead. "Do you think we should have sought instead to try Osama bin Laden in the International Criminal Court?" "No, but . . . ." "Do you think it would have made more sense for us to invade Saudi Arabia, the country that houses the most holy sites in Islam?" "No, but . . . ." "Do you have any suggestions for what we could have done instead?" "No, but . . . ."
What I'm seeing is, there is no "instead." No one has any practical solutions--just criticisms of the solutions we're pursuing now.
I don't mind hearing the criticisms. But damnit, I have just enough engineer in me to expect that along with the criticisms, you better suggest an alternative. Otherwise those criticisms aren't worth the air you breathed to voice them.
Michele is right: This country's split deep, and it's rapidly gettng personal:
The last two weeks have cemented whatever line there was between the left and the right. Abu Ghraib has become the definitive dividing point and the break is irreparable. I had my first political fight with my best friend this morning. We've been friends for fourteen years and have had differing politics since day one, but we've debated, talked, and discussed and never fought. Today, we fought. We raised our voices. We had an angry edge to our words.Maybe it started with the 2000 election and September 11 only widened the chasm. Maybe it started even before that. But right now, I'd sum up the split this way: It's between the people who think this is Vietnam all over again, and the people who think this is World War II all over again. No wonder we can't get any common ground under our feet--we can't even figure out which war this is.
Trying to decide which war it is merely divides us and wastes our time--and that sucks, because we know who the enemy is. Those who still weren't quite sure in the wake of September 11 had it spelled out for them:
This is a conflict without battlefields or beachheads, a conflict with opponents who believe they are invisible. Yet, they are mistaken. They will be exposed, and they will discover what others in the past have learned: Those who make war against the United States have chosen their own destruction. Victory against terrorism will not take place in a single battle, but in a series of decisive actions against terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them.But no, let's complain that it was only one sarin gas container (that Dick Cheney planted there anyway). Let's complain that containment was "working," where by "working" we mean "killing Kurds and Iraqis by the thousands." Let's complain that Bush didn't take al Qaeda seriously enough before September 11, even though the hard truth of the matter is that no one took al Qaeda seriously enough before September 11. Let's complain, let's complain, let's complain. Because everyone knows that complaining gets things done.
The worst thing is that's all I'm doing here--complaining. Complaining about the complainers.
Of course, note that no actual blogger is linked or referenced in the piece. Al Jazeera: Your Source for Unattributed Sources!
Furthermore, I do think Al Jazeera would have raised these questions themselves had no one else helpfully stepped up to do so.
But as it happens, plenty of bloggers did step up--some with what can only be termed unbridled enthusiasm--thus earning a generic tip of the hat from Al Jazeera.
Think I'm being too harsh? See if you recognize any of these Al Jazeera talking points from your blog reading on the subject:
Even at first glance, internet bloggers were asking on Thursday why Nick Berg was wearing an orange jumpsuit – just like US prisoners wear.And let me address that last one particularly, because it seemed to me that for many of the bloggers and commenters I read, this seemed the hardest notion to swallow: That a man would choose to go to such an unstable country as Iraq both to do some good and to make some money.
. . .
There are plenty of questions raised concerning the video too. The body is completely motionless even as the knife is brought to bear – not so much as an instinctive wriggle.
. . .
More graphically, some claim that cutting the throat's artery would cause a significant amount of blood to gush out. But little emerges and when the head was raised – not a drop of blood is seen to fall.
. . .
Other questions presented by bloggers are Berg's peculiar circumstances in the weeks before his death. Why would a private Jewish American citizen choose to wander around Iraq by himself?
Here's what I will always wonder, a question to which I will probably never have the answer: What if Nick Berg had not been a Jew? What if he had been an evangelical Christian who felt "called" to apply his talents to rebuilding Iraq? Would his motives have been questioned and scrutinized as eagerly?
Or would such questions and scrutiny have been decried by the religious right portion of the blogosphere (note: I am not using "religious right" pejoratively) as scurrilous attacks by the left-wing media against a noble martyr?
Like I said, I'll never know. But it disturbs me to think that we may still be more willing to attribute the virtue of charity to Christians than we are to Jews.
(By the way, the first person who comments that if he'd been Christian, he'd never have been beheaded in the first place, gets the coveted Thanks for Missing the Point, Asshole Award. Besides, we don't know that. God knows what might have happened to these girls, for example, if not for the efforts of the Northern Alliance.)
American Digest links an interview at CNN with Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, in which it is revealed that Brown could have included even more speculative material regarding the life of Jesus than he did.
Here's what I'm waiting for: I'm waiting for someone to reveal that Dan Brown writes like ass and couldn't get even a "has potential" rating from The Fiction Bitch.
Can we just admit that much? What, you haven't read it? Or you've read it and you don't believe me? Look: This book actually contains the phrase, "He waved quietly." Now I want you to try something. I want you to try to wave loudly.
It's writing my fifth-grade teacher would have called a parent-teacher conference to lament. Never mind Jesus and Mary Magdalene; Brown's clumsy, half-assed approach to sentence construction is the heresy I can get righteously indignant about.
Intelligence suggested that Chalabi's security chief, Arras Habib, had what one top official called "contacts with the more nefarious creatures in Iran." Other U.S. officials said Habib might have given Iran information about U.S. operations in Iraq. A lawyer for Chalabi denied the accusation.Except that I'm inclined to give it more weight in light of the suspicions some bloggers have voiced recently. For example:
It is becoming increasingly evident from all the violence we have witnessed over the last year, that a proxy war is being waged against the US on Iraqi soil by several countries and powers with Iraqis as the fuel and the fire, just like Lebanon was during the late seventies and eighties. The majority of Arab regimes have a huge interest in this situation continuing, not to mention Iran, and Al-Qaeda.And:
What surprises me is the almost professional coordination of the uprisings in all of these areas. I'm assuming, of course, that the money and equipment supplied by our dear Mullahs in Iran is being put to use good enough, not to mention the hundreds of Pasderan and Iranian intelligence officers.. sorry I mean Iranian Shia pilgrims that have been pouring into Iraq for months now.It's not just bloggers:
Reports from inside Iraq continue to suggest that Iran's conservative Islamic government is meddling in the affairs of its neighbor, according to U.S. officials and lawmakers with access to information about the instability there.Then again, the article linked at the top of this post is from the Detroit Free Press, the paper that can't run a spell-check:
All agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity because Bush dislikes public reports of dissension in his administration.That dissension, it'll get you every time.
I'm afraid this post is essentially an executive summary of a blogfeud. If you're not into that sort of thing . . . [nods at blogroll on left].
Once upon a time in blogland, Jeff Goldstein gave a thumbs-up to an article by Cathy Young in Reason--a review of the book Insult to Injury: Rethinking Our Responses to Intimate Abuse, by Linda G. Mills.
Then all hell broke loose.
Well, not really. Jim and Jeff remained civil to each other throughout the discussion--but you know how when you were a teenager and your parents went out of town, you'd tell just a couple of friends to stop by Friday night for a kegger? And then, the next thing you knew, the police were banging on your door and announcing you had two minutes to get those 500+ people out of the house before they started busting all of you for minors-in-possession?
It was kind of like that.
A'fore long, up come one Mrs. du Toit to Jim's comment section, to offer her take on the matter, which I think can be fairly summed up as "if you stay, you pay." End the abuse by getting out of the relationship, or don't--but don't leave it to the cops to rescue you. I'll grant her remarks points for being relative to the subject under discussion: Should we reevaluate the effectiveness of mandatory arrest laws in incidences of what the government's now taken to calling "intimate partner violence?"
(Incidentally, if I have mischaracterized Mrs. du Toit's position on the matter, I will welcome a correction from her. Any mischaracterization on my part is inadvertent. And as is always sound practice on the internet, readers are invited to read the whole thing for themselves.)
Would that some other commenters had stayed with that topic, instead of heading off into the gnarled woods of the California Penal Code. Tree thinkers. It's always the bloody tree thinkers.
And then along came Helen, who made this remark:
And Dean? Yeah, I don't read you, and I really don't feel the need to, either. You've been there on the man's side? Well, I've been there on the woman's side. And you and Mrs. Du Toit (again, let me state thus: I find it revolting to be referred to by my spouse's name. I have my own name, thank you) should understand this: if you haven't walked the woman's side, then you just don't understand.[Emphasis mine.] Well, the way I see it, you address people the way they prefer to be addressed. That is called politeness. That is called courtesy. Mrs. du Toit prefers to be addressed using her husband's name. That is her choice to make, and that is how she should be addressed by those who respect her decision and practice basic manners.
And Helen finds it revolting. That, also, is all right. That is her choice to make, and that is how she should not be addressed by those who respect her decision and practice basic manners.
Unfortunately, that is not how Mrs. du Toit sees Helen's decision. Mrs. du Toit sees it as evidence that Helen is a . . . wait for it . . . FEMINAZI!
But Mrs. du Toit did not say this to Helen directly. She merely made an example of her weeks after the fact on her own blog, in her introduction to this essay:
In a comment thread regarding domestic violence I was taken to task for referring to myself as "Mrs du Toit" by (what I would refer to as) a Femi-Nazi. She made some comment that she had a name and was proud to use it, and she'd never refer to herself the way I do.Note the subtle inversion; now Helen's remarks are stated to be about Mrs. du Toit, instead of an expression of distaste for the practice of using one's husband's name. Again:
I find it revolting to be referred to by my spouse's name. I have my own name, thank youYes, it was written in response to Mrs. du Toit. Yes, it expresses dislike of a practice which Mrs. du Toit finds wholly agreeable. But I am not seeing where Mrs. du Toit was "taken to task."
And that's the lovely thing about not challenging your adversaries directly: You simply wait a week or two, then say what you thought they said, and say it in such a way as to paint yourself the victim. Voila! Victory by default!
Oh, and by no means should you link the original discussion. Heavens, no. We don't want people reading and judging for themselves, now, do we?
So if you've read this far--well, if you've read this far, you really ought to talk to your boss about maybe giving you more work to do.
But you may be wondering what my point is. My point is that conservatives cannot effectively argue in favor of personal responsibility, personal accountability, if they themselves refuse to take any. If, for example, they respond to being called on the carpet for their errors with such fabulous Micah Wrightesque lameosity as this:
So, the choice of attack on the Bogey Men series [the series of essays of which the first part is linked above--ed.] is my use of the term Femi-Nazi in my composite opening, in the preface. People cannot "get past" that or they are "offended" by name calling, describing it "another form of abuse" thus infering that I am practicing abuse (shoot the messenger).[Emphasis mine.] "It denotes a bastardization of Feminism"--except that no, it doesn't; not as Mrs. du Toit has used it. Mrs. du Toit has called a specific individual a feminazi, and she has not had even the figurative cojones to do so directly.
Femi-Nazi is especially meaningful in that context. It denotes a bastardization of Feminism, in which women (most especially women), generally in packs or swarms, will attack another woman because she hasn't conformed to the approved standard—lots of rolled eyes and looking down the nose.
Why's that "directly" part so important? Well, let's ask Mrs. du Toit herself. Here she is in response to a (rather sleazy) attack on her husband in the SBD comment thread:
You could always e-mail your rebuttals to Kim's essay to him, rather than arguing behind his wife's skirts, if you wanted to discuss his essay, but I take it from your snarky comment here that you're not interested in discussing the writing--you seem interested only in character assasination.Ding ding ding!
You could always have told Helen you thought she was a feminazi directly, Mrs. du Toit.
You could always have responded to Jim's post about your failure to do so directly, Mrs. du Toit.
Instead, we get this lengthy help-me-up-onna-this-cross,-O-Jesus,-and-forgive them,-Father,-for-they-know-not-what-they-do-style rationalization:
Kim and I knew it would happen. We knew the attacks would eventually come, but I had thought carefully about what I was including the series, my pure intentions for writing it, and was ready for it. The ad hominem attacks begin. Enter the Brown Skirts.Note the quick slip-in of a Way Out there at the end: Mrs. du Toit was not referring to Helen, the Individual, but rather to "a composite person." You may be more familiar with composite persons under another moniker commonly given them.
. . .
I would ask my friends, despite any desires they may have to "stand up" or protect me, please do not play. I knew it would happen. I do not want to empower the battle by fueling it (which is why there are NO LINKS in this post to what anyone else has posted elsewhere in the 'sphere. In some cases, as I did in the Bogey Men series, I drew a composite person to demonstrate a common complaint).
Helen's no "feminazi," Mrs. du Toit. And really, you shouldn't be surprised people are disgusted with you for calling her one. If personal accountability is as central to your philosophy as you claim, start acting like it.
Or, y'know, "bite me."
It was childish, irrelevant to the discussion, and rude. For that, Mrs. du Toit, I apologize.
(As for why I never e-mailed Kim a rebuttal to his essay, that's simple: It's been done better by others.)
So they were supposed to paint my balcony yesterday, which meant I had to haul everything off it lest it be terra-cotta'd permanently. Fine, great; despite my clutterific habits, I've always managed to keep a tidy balcony. Two chairs, a table, a wastebasket . . . in the summertime, a fan and a barbecue grill . . . .
The barbecue grill.
This is Texas. Grilling season starts at Easter here.
Now do you think they painted the patio yesterday? Bonus question: Predict whether they'll paint the patio today. Bonus bonus question: Predict whether they'll paint the patio any time this week.
And now I swear the grill is starting to talk to me from the storage closet.
Doesn't some tandoori chicken sound good?
So then maybe you should take me out of here and get everything set up, huh?
Can't. They're fixin' to paint the patio.
Apparently this place wasn't ugly enough.
I don't see any painters.
Yeah, me neither.
So you know what you could do? You could take me out and set me up and just take me for a test run real quick--maybe just throw on some brats or something--and then once those are done and I've had a chance to cool down you could put me back and they'd never know!
Bratwursts give me heartburn.
Okay so some steaks! You have steaks in the freezer! I know you do!
How'd you know that?
Steaks are what derailed you from the path of vegetarianism. You always have a package of steaks in the freezer.
Don't tell PETA.
So let's grill some! Right now now now now now!
I told you, I can't. They're supposed to paint the patio. I gotta keep everything off it so they can paint it.
But when are they going to paint the patio?
That is a mystery, impenetrable to the minds of mortal men.
You're a girl.
Figure of speech.
It's dark in here.
Listen, I know it sucks, okay? How d'ya think I feel? You think I wouldn't love some tandoori chicken? Or some Jamaican jerk pork?
I know you would love those things. So take me out.
It doesn't work that way.
I hate you!
Yeah? Well, I guess that means you don't want to see the nice new scrub brush I bought to clean you with last month. And I guess since you don't want to be clean, you might as well stay in that closet all summer long so I don't have to be ashamed of you.
You bought a new grill brush?
I did indeed.
Let me see!
You'll see it when you get out.
No no no I want to see it NOW, see it NOW, see it--
You throwing a temper tantrum in there? I'll bet if I'd bought a nice stand-up Weber instead . . . I'll bet that grill wouldn't be throwing a tantrum right now. Those Weber grills have too much class for that.
But I come from Germany.
And do you know of anything more annoying than a whiny German? Because I don't.
That's okay. Listen, I'm going in now. You hang tight in there, okay?
Okay, there is something more annoying than a whiny German. A crying German is definitely more annoying.
Make them come paint the patio.
Buddy, last year I couldn't make them replace the air conditioner. Six weeks of "well, we topped it up with some more freon, see if that helps," before they finally got it through their heads that the whole unit needed replacing. Six weeks covering part of June, all of July, and part of August.
I see that you have issues with your apartment complex.
You should move.
End of the year, buddy. End of the year when the lease is up.
And then we will have tandoori chicken whenever we want to.
Well, no. Then it'll be winter. But the summer after that--
This complex will paint the patio before then, though, right?
I hope so. I really, really hope so.
It's like crack with the days off for me. I just wind up wanting more, more, more. Meanwhile, have some links:
. . . Where by "place," we mean "competency."
. . . Besides, it's time we looked after our own backyard for a change--ha! Ha! Now where's that cheese course?
. . . Suggested E.U. Motto: Know Thyself, Know Thy Limitations.
. . . But if we were going to get into the global policing business--hey, why are you laughing?
. . . U.S. to E.U.: We'll take it from here, thanks.
". . . if that's abuse, I'm going to suffer abuse tonight when I go clubbing." You know something? I think I've had that suffering myself already. Yeah, okay, so my clubbing days are over. Do we need to harp on that aspect of it?
I don't mean to minimize the chaos at Abu Ghraib--nor do I think Dr. DNA intends that. Certainly, what we did there was no fraternity hazing. (And when exactly IS the Right in America going to figure out that Limbaugh is doing them no favors? He's a liability, not an asset.)
But as I said in a comment section somewhere, could we have a little perspective?
I was going to take yet another day off from blogging, both to read some books I picked up over the weekend, and to wonder what on earth my apartment managers were thinking when they chose terra cotta as the new shade of paint around here--because it goes so well with the red-and-slate brick, don't you know--but this was irrestible: "IRA Does Not Fund Sinn Fein, Says Adams."
Sure, Gerry. Sure. Oh, and that stuff about the kneecapping?--Pure malarkey!
(Unrelated, except that it's another Telegraph link: And you thought American artists were nutty.)
Done. Done with blogs for a couple days. Bleah. Dumb, silly, pretentious, asinine blogs.
Including this one?--Honey, this one sets the standard for dumb, silly, pretentious, asinine blogging.
Please feel free to throw random thoughts into the comments. And I write that knowing that asking people to please leave a comment is the number-one, surefire way not to get any comments.
If you're topically challenged, here are five words, in no particular order, that I never want to read, nor write, again:
(3) Required (especially when followed by "reading")
(4) Poll (especially when preceded by "internet")
Share your own, or instead, just tell me something good. Anything good.
UPDATE: Okay, this definitely qualifies as good.
Please stop it. It's making me sick. And it's proving that the left has no monopoly on tinfoil hat conspiracy theories.
And this sorry excuse . . . ? Tell me something: Would any of you blog readers out there accept that explanation (rationalization) from someone at the New York Times?
I know you wouldn't.
"I have more information! I just can't share it with you yet!"
Oh God, oh Lord, would this man please fuck OFF.
You were all outraged when Daily Kos painted the security contractors as "merceneries," weren't you? Suggested that their deaths meant nothing? Suggested that they deserved it? Oh, so indignant. So disgusted. So righteously outraged.
Well, passing around the kind of speculation you're passing around about Berg is no better. Oh, I know: No one's actually come out and suggested Berg deserved to die yet. You know better than to do that. You're just "raising questions," knowing that the questions you're raising are likely to lead to one very ugly set of answers.
I hope you're getting lots of traffic out of being a bunch of lowlife bastards. If only you could all choke on it.
UPDATE 05/15/2004: I have the clarification itch (and the prescription is . . . ?): It is the sensationalist tone and treatment of the subject which enrages me, and the blame for that can be heaped mainly at the feet of one guy: Paul at Wizbang. Thus, the title of this post probably should not have read, "Dear Every Damn Blogger . . . ."
I am aware of at least two other bloggers who gave the subject the dignity it deserves and exercised appropriate restraint: Ace of Spades, and Venomous Kate. If you're seeking followups to this whole affair, you would do well to check back with either of them.
For a thorough roundup of material on Nick Berg, keep checking back to Judith Weiss's post at Kesher Talk. It's updated as new information arrives, and actually contains links to several pieces which flatly contradict some of the wilder speculations out there. A little research is a beautiful thing, no?
Finally: You think this issue bothered me? Fool, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
An apology to anyone who came here looking for an amusing anecdote 'bout a Pizza Hut. I'm no longer in the mood to write a fun happy story. I'm in the mood to hit things. Can I give you a rain check?
Regarding Nick Berg's death, what's it all come down to for the so-called Arab Street? Because that's what matters most, isn't it?
The deed is condemned as much for distracting world attention from the abuse of Iraqi detainees at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison as for its brutality.Come again?
The deed is condemned as much for distracting world attention from the abuse of Iraqi detainees at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison as for its brutality.Except you know something?--I wonder. I wonder if that's the opinion of the peoples of the Middle East, or the opinion of the Washington Post.
It's definitely the opinion of Tehran:
"Following the disgrace suffered by the occupiers for torturing Iraqi prisoners, Western media have broadcast pictures concerning the killing of an American national so as to create news propaganda," the Tehran Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran said Thursday.Right. We're all about beheading people to create propa--oh. Whoops. Seems the report left a little something out:
The Iranian report did not mention that Berg had been beheaded, according to the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, an office of the CIA that monitors media around the world.Propaganda is as much about what details you leave out as what details you leave in, but I guess I don't need to tell that to the Iranian mullahs.
Of course, as is standing policy around here, anyone who resents the distraction of Nick Berg's murder is cordially invited to have a cuppa.
Actually, at least 50% of the time, if I read that so-and-so "displays excellent insight into this issue," I find I can usually substitute that so-and-so "is a good buddy of mine, so I'm giving him a pity link" and have it fit. But I'm cynical that way.
(And now: Would someone with some pull get Ace of Spades an Instalanche already? I think he's a fool to crave it; a spot on the Den Beste blogroll is infinitely more prestigious, particularly as Den Beste isn't running after Wonkette with his tongue hanging out. But I can't say Ace doesn't deserve the spotlight, so please--it's overdue.)
In America, nobody gets to decide what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong without the consent--or at least the tolerance--of a plurality of the American electorate. If the electorate is wrong, only the electorate can remedy its error. Hence, appropriate respect for the people's judgment is a moral imperative as well as a political necessity.[Emphasis mine.] Horowitz is talking about politics, but the same admonishment applies to any free-market enterprise, including the media. Whether they'll heed it any better than most politicians do remains to be seen.
Yeah, it's that lit-ah-raw-chuooah list that's been making the rounds, where you bold all the books on it that you've read, I guess so some guy who has the entire list bolded can go "Ha, ha, ha" as he polishes his pince-nez. I noticed it most recently here, but look around and I'm sure you'll see it other places.
I didn't put this in the extended entry, by the way, because I'm in one of those moods to be a perverse bastard--i.e., because I didn't feel like it and I knew it would irk a few people that I didn't put it there and that thought made me so happy. And before anyone asks, as a matter of fact I am on the rag today. Happy now?
Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart
Agee, James - A Death in the Family
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain
Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March
Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Bronte, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert - The Stranger
Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
Dante - Inferno
de Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote
Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays
Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von - Faust
Golding, William - Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph - Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms
Homer - The Iliad
Homer - The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House
James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis
Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt
London, Jack - The Call of the Wild
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener
Melville, Herman - Moby Dick
Miller, Arthur - The Crucible
Morrison, Toni - Beloved
O'Connor, Flannery - "A Good Man is Hard to Find"
O'Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey into Night
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar
Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales
Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way
Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front
Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac
Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep
Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth
Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles - Antigone
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex
Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David - Walden
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Voltaire - Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five
Walker, Alice - The Color Purple
Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories
Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass
Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard - Native Son
A few notes:
Ah-ha . . . the boyfriend and I were just debating this one last night: He thinks I'm advocating a Watergate-style cover-up; I think you can't cover up something that the Secretary of Defense has already bluntly disclosed in Congressional hearings. What we could do is consider the threat to American lives that releasing further photos might increase, as journalists were advised to do during World War II. (Aside: How many modern-day Democrats have forgotten Roosevelt's Office of Censorship?)
My position is, I think, a simple one:
(1) We already know there are additional photos and videotapes of further abuse in Iraqi prisons. This is not news.
(2) We already know the effects of the initial release of such photos in the region.
(3) Any further disclosures, therefore, will only serve to inflame opinion against Operation Iraqi Freedom, both at home and abroad.
One thing I should add is that I was not, initially, against CBS's decision to publish the first set of photos. I've considered this over and over again, and I guess I can say I come down on the side of CBS here--though just barely. Anyone who's had dealings with the government, or who's worked for them, knows that their natural state is inertia. I'm not against the press sometimes giving bureaucracy a swift kick in the ass. In fact, I'm normally all for it.
But war is not a normal situation.
(Meanwhile, if I've incorrectly characterized my boyfriend's position on this, I'm sure he'll clarify it all on his blog sometime.)
Maybe Jim should send the petition link to Zeyad. (Yes, I know Zeyad no longer considers himself Muslim, my darling detail-obsessed people . . . but, gosh! D'ya suppose he might know a few?) Zeyad has no difficulty staking out a position on this:
So, to distance myself from the shameful hypocritical Arab and Muslim masses. I wish to denounce this barbaric act and the pathetic ideology that fueled it, to disown any person from my part of the world who would justify it, and to offer my sincere condolences and sympathy to the family and countrymen of Nicholas Berg.Incidentally--since apparently it's impossible to consider what happened to Nick Berg as wholly separate from what happened at Abu Ghraib, even though Berg was kidnapped 20 days before the release of the Abu Ghraib photos*, even though Berg is the second American to be decapitated on video and shares one particular trait with the first one, which I am repeatedly told has nothing to do with their deaths, when I am deemed worthy of being told it at all--incidentally, Firas at Iraq & Iraqis has a few questions for the Arab media:
And for Muslims, who are definitely going to say 'this isn't the real Islam':
"When you meet the unbelievers, strike off their heads; then when you have made wide slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives." Surat Mohammed:4
Grow up, and leave the 7th century.
Here in Baghdad any one can see that the media is talking about Abo Ghraib more than the Iraqis themselves. Its not Iraqis they are crying on they are using this case against the Americans. Please try to answer these questions:So let's see: I can't get good reporting over here, they can't get good reporting over there . . . is it 1984 yet? And I don't mean on the damn calendar.
Is there any prison in the world with out humiliation?
Did any one talk about Iraqi human rights before April 2003?
Did any one ask what those people in Abo Ghraib did to be treated like that?
Can any Arab country open its prisons for any committee?
Would any one dare to criticize prisons system in any other Arab country?
Well……Tank you Arabs, we don’t need your voices now, we know how to solve our problems very well, and it’s being solved.
*Via Tim Blair, who commits more real journalism just as a hobby in one week than Reuters does in one month.
So look: How would you like it if your daughter or son were beheaded by militant Islamic freaks who videotaped the atrocity and posted it online . . . AND THE FIRST YOU LEARNED OF IT WAS WHEN SOME REPORTER JUMPED OUT AT YOU TO GET YOUR REACTION?
(See? See? You made me break out the all caps, Associated Press.)
And then do something. Bad enough we have inhumane sons of bitches overseas without tolerating inhumanity at home. (Yes, I know they aren't equal in scale, motivation, or scope, blah blah blah--listen, O Mighty Tree Thinker, I am talking about the forest here. When I want to know how many veins on how many leaves of how many poplars, I will call you.)
Yeah, me neither. I have to remind myself that Nick Berg's family is having an excruciating week of torment just to snap myself out of the big pity party I've been throwing myself. What's my week to that? Nothing, that's what.
Tonight, I finished watching the HBO documentary My Flesh And Blood, which tells the story of Susan Tom, a 53-year-old single mother in Fairfield, California. Susan is the mother of 13 children, 11 of whom she has adopted, many of whom suffer from handicaps and diseases. Teenagers Hannah and Xenia were born without legs. Anthony has a degenerative and usually fatal skin disease. Eight-year-old Faith has disfiguring scars and no hair from being badly burned as an infant. Joe, 15, recently passed away from cystic fibrosis. Margaret, 18, helps Susan raise the family.It's a noble idea, one that leaves me wondering how long it's going to take me to overcome my own wicked urges to say, "Christ, just nuke Mecca already;" how much more work I'll have to do on myself, how much more grace of God I'll have to seek, before I can start acting as Alan is acting--in the true spirit of humanity and generosity.
. . .
I turn from that documentary to The Command Post, where I see posted the photographs of Nick Berg’s beheading, and I’m struck bluntly by the complete antithesis of Susan Tom: murder, brutality, and disgusting inhumanity. In moments, I went from having tears in my eyes to having bile in my throat. And I’m left wondering, as I’m sure are most of us are, what exactly to make of it all.
Well, I’ve decided what to make of it all, and what I’m going to make is some good. Susan Tom is a hero … one of millions … waking each day with a commitment to make the lives of others better through love. Hers is an example to which humanity should aspire. So my response to the murder of Nick Berg and the inhumanity it represents is to use it as motivation to give to Susan Tom and the humanity she represents.
If you want to give, please follow the instructions Alan has outlined here.
And may we all have better days ahead.
So I take it we have a few--perhaps more than a few--people in this country who believe acts of terror committed against American civilians are a just punishment for the sins of American foreign policy. And why not?--It is, after all, what Osama bin Laden believes himself:
We believe that this administration represents Israel inside America. Take the sensitive ministries such as the Ministry of Exterior and the Ministry of Defense and the CIA, you will find that the Jews have the upper hand in them. They make use of America to further their plans for the world, especially the Islamic world. American presence in the Gulf provides support to the Jews and protects their rear. And while millions of Americans are homeless and destitute and live in abject poverty, their government is busy occupying our land and building new settlements and helping Israel build new settlements in the point of departure for our Prophet's midnight journey to the seven heavens. America throws her own sons in the land of the two Holy Mosques for the sake of protecting Jewish interests. ...And I take it some people in this country believe that flushing out the current administration will get the terrorists off our backs. That if we just quit antagonizing them, they'll leave us alone.
The American government is leading the country towards hell. ... We say to the Americans as people and to American mothers, if they cherish their lives and if they cherish their sons, they must elect an American patriotic government that caters to their interests not the interests of the Jews. If the present injustice continues with the wave of national consciousness, it will inevitably move the battle to American soil, just as Ramzi Yousef and others have done. This is my message to the American people. I urge them to find a serious administration that acts in their interest and does not attack people and violate their honor and pilfer their wealth.
And I bet these people read the statement above and assume "the American government" that is "leading the country towards hell" is the one we got right now.
There's one thing we could possibly do, as a nation, to appease bin Laden and his followers: Abandon all support for Israel.
There is no appeasement in this war. Don't kid yourselves. Don't equate Abu Ghraib and this. They aren't equal. Our nation will receive no apologies. The perpetrators of this barbarity will receive no punishment. We will see no justice; indeed, we have yet to see any justice, any apology, any attempt to make amends to us, for September 11.
Electing John Kerry will not make the terrorists any happier.
They'll be happier when we're all dead or living in dhimmitude.
Which do you prefer? Because I vote "none of the above."
And today, I really wish our first response to September 11 had been--oh, let's haul out the handwringing journalists' favorite adjective--"disproportionate."
I'll get past that. But I'm not going to be sidetracked anymore, off into all these petty little arguments over whether America acted "unilaterally," whether we should have done more to support the "road map," whether the conditions at Abu Ghraib were generated from the top down or the bottom up, yada yada yada . . . hey, here: Have a big cup of shut the fuck up.
I'm sorry Zeyad's cousin died. I'm sorry we mistreated and tortured the prisoners at Abu Ghraib. I'm sorry some pro-war people go off the deep end from time to time, and holler at the very people we're trying to help. I'm sorry we sometimes stomp on the hearts and minds we're trying to win.
And I'm really sorry that so many in the Middle East fail to understand that we don't have to keep being this nice. We do it because we want to, not because we have to. We do it because we value life enough not to want to take it wantonly.
And I'll be shedding no tears if, or when, we decide it's No More Mr. Nice Guy.
You think Abu Ghraib was not nice? Because we can show you "not nice," boys. In fact, I seem to recall we showed the world "not nice" once already.
UPDATE: Several people have said this better than I did; blogging remains for me a daily exercise in humility. From Little Miss Attila:
We are not the rich spoiled people you see on television. We are not the people of the obesity epidemic, who gorge on McDonald's food and never exercise. We are not the sex addicts, the beer men who go to strip clubs for a cheap thrill on a Saturday night. We're much, much more than that, and each time the jihadists try to prove how weak we are they will be dealt another crippling blow until they have trouble finding a goddamned Western kitten to kidnap and torment.And Serenity:
The issue is, there is a war on. This is a serious war. The war on terror. The war on our very way of life. We aren't taking it seriously. We're acting like a pack of imbecellic brats running around inside a burning building, refusing to let anyone out the door until we've all had a good swing at each other. All the while not realizing we are dooming oursleves in the process.I think the first thing it's going to take is a widespread acknowledgement and acceptance of the existence of evil. Because there remain too many who deny that evil exists. That's "simplistic" thinking. That's "cowboy movie" thinking. That's "black and white" thinking.
What's it going to take? How much must we endure before we go back to a country who respectfully disagrees? How far must we go before we can stand together as a country, as one, as Americans against the...well fuck, the forces of evil?
And to them I say: Every time you sit before a computer, you are looking at a product of black and white logic.
Some things are binary. The war against islamofascist terror is one of them.
It gets harder to do every day, doesn't it?
Enjoy the happy while you got it. Tomorrow I expect to blog up one big unhappy, where "tomorrow" in this usage is understood to mean "whenever I feel good and ready to do it."
I'm sure you understand.
UPDATE: Can I get an amen?
When someone writes a post that describes a friend as wearing "a Jaclyn Smith Charlie's Angels white bikini" and you picture it immediately-- no further description necessary, you know exactly what the suit looks like--even before you get to the helpfully-embedded graphic?
Well, it doesn't make me feel any younger, let's put it that way.
Partly because--maybe wholly because--well, see, I'm not a "dog person." But I don't think you have to be, number one; and number two, I try not to look at it like that. I try to look at it like this: There are people who appreciate animals in their proper context and then . . . well, and then there's PETA, who wants you to have sex with your fully-emancipated "companion animals.".
But factoring out PETA for a minute and concentrating on the rest of us, I figure it's this way: Dogs? Cats? Ferrets? Iguanas? Hamsters?--It don't matter. There are "animal people," and then . . . and then there are nonanimal people. I have both types of people in my life, and we all get along, mostly.
But eventually I read this impassioned comment:
It wasn't just rescue dogs!And now I'm thinking I'd like to grant dog lovers this: I think in general, your pets are superior to mine--and mind you, I love my cats.
I live upstate and medical facilities, doctors, nurses, etc were all being mobilized. My mom, a retired nurse, was called and asked to standby for the expected thousands of injured.
Hospitals from Syracuse, Utica, Rome, etc were all poised to spring into action and when it became clear that NO ONE was coming out of there, the depression here was palpable.
But for empathy? For feeling what you're feeling? For following human beings into whatever moods strike them, suckerpunch them, envelop them?
Nothing beats a dog.
See, the Iraqi prisoner abuse was all just a "cultural differences" issue.
Apparently there's an event scheduled for Tuesday night, May 11, in Dallas, at the
Adolphus Hotel Omni Hotel: A . . . discussion? Panel? Debate? Topic: "Who Killed Jesus?" They have a rabbi and a guy from some program in Semitic studies speaking.
I think it's free, registration not required. I'd like to go, but that's a work night for me. Could I get the night off?--HAHAHAHA! Oh. Oh, my. You're good.
And no, I don't have more information at the moment, but I'll update this once I get some. It was a commercial spot on this station, and I simply didn't catch all the details.
My point right now is that if someone in Dallas wants to go and provide a summary of the evening, I'd sure welcome it. If you have a blog, I'll link the piece. If you don't, e-mail me and I'll credit you.
Only very very tangentially related: Is it juvenile of me to question the thinking of the person who approved this headline?
UPDATE 05/07/2004: The information:
Date: Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Admission: Free, open to the public
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Director of the L'Chaim Society
Dr. Michael Brown, New York University School of Semitic Studies
Location: Omni Hotel, 1590 Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway
If you're thinking both the speakers sound a little . . . eccentric . . . I'd have to agree. And I still have no idea who's sponsoring this, which I think would answer a few big questions that'd help me decide whether to go.
This might be a big nothing. Then again, I almost never call in sick to work.
John Kerry, speaking at Westminster College, April 30, 2004 (emphasis added):
The coalition should endorse the Brahimi plan for an interim Iraqi government, it should propose an international High Commissioner to work with the Iraqi authorities on the political transition, and it should organize an expanded international security force, preferably with NATO, but clearly under US command.Osama bin Laden, ostensibly, as reported today:
Once these elements are in place, the coalition would then go to the UN for a resolution to ratify the agreement. The UN would provide the necessary legitimacy. The UN is not the total solution but it is a key that opens the door to participation by others.
"The United Nations is nothing but a Zionists' tool, even if it worked under the cover of providing humanitarian aid," the voice said. "... Whoever kills Kofi Annan or the head of his commission in Iraq or a representative like Lakhdar Brahimi, he will be awarded the same prize of 10,000 grams of gold."Such is the price of legitimacy, eh, Kofi?
It's always the lawyers, isn't it? Yeah, sure, blame the lawyer.
Unless you'd be content to have me to blog the Berenstain Bears or the afternoon game shows as a substitute, I'm afraid the Rumblogging is over for a little while. A girl's gotta shower sometime, and sooner is preferable to later.
Sen. Clinton just suggested, by contrasting the administration's handling of the events at Abu Ghraib with the treatment of Chaplain Yee, that there was a deliberate effort to suppress the abuse of prisoners by the Defense Department.
I mean, that's just so unlike her.
Well, another break. I should have made this a drinking game, or better yet a betting pool, because I'd have won on the question, "What's the first Rumsfeld statement Dan and the boys will seize on at the break?
I haven't found it yet. I'll keep looking.
I was in the kitchen and missed who ask this. My boy-is-he-lying-down-on-the-job-today boyfriend thought it was "some guy from Nebraska," and then tried to tell me it was neither Kerrey nor Hagel.
Honey? They only get two.
Anyway, Rumsfeld was emphatic that the release of further photographs would "make things worse." I know what he's trying to say: It'll further hamper our military efforts by inflaming opinion, both overseas and at home.
Unfortunately, he didn't say it well.
I caught two instances, after the statement that the release of new photographs to the news media would make things worse, of "That's just a fact!" and one heated "You're on notice!" The only thing he didn't add was "I'm tryin' to cooperate here," which would have made the second time today someone's reminded me of Jerry Lundegaard.
Could you pitch that softball just a little lower? Thanks, hon.
(Sorry. Old SNL sketch reference. I figure only my brother will get it.)
This was just asked of Rumsfeld by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R - S. Carolina).
"Well, let's see: I already forgot part of my testimony at home. Other than that? Way effective!"
That wasn't his answer, obviously. He said (paraphrase), "If I thought I could not be effective, I'd resign in a minute."
It's an answer in the spirit of the fabled Rumsfeld directness, but I'm not sure it was the most well-considered response.
By the way, I burnt the portabellos. Also, is it just me, or does Sen. Graham look about 12 in that photo on his page?
He doesn't look very much older on television. I wouldn't let him into an R-rated movie.
Some reporter on ABC (you didn't think I was going to watch Dan handle this one, did you?) just opined that in terms of us making nice with the Arab world (which is really the goal of all our operations overseas, right? No?), those protestors at the hearing could be "the best thing" to happen today.
Which they are--if by the "best thing" you mean "the thing most likely to give aid and comfort to the enemy."
Well, it's back on. Boyfriend's switched to CBS. Must hit him.
I'll see if I can contribute anything more to this while I try not to burn the portabellos I'm grilling.
Why. Why could he not have had more Joementum.
Rumsfeld just told McCain he "didn't bring" the necessary materials to answer McCain's question.
Dude, you can't go to Congress and tell them you forgot your homework.
In fairness, McCain's sort of pulling a Geraldo on him, interrupting and repeating that what he's asking is a "simple question." Fine, but can we consider that it may not have simple answers?
I also jotted down a little of the exchange between Sen. Carl Levin (D - Michigan) and Rumsfeld, because it covered something that's been on my mind from the get-go. It's imperfect; I'm a lousy "live" transcriptionist. But I figure my six visitors per hour deserve my best efforts, however crappy, so that's in the extended entry if you like.
Right now I gotta go take an aspirin; yes, Teddy's on. I swear I just caught a hangover headache from him via the television, and I ain't even been drinking this week.
Levin noted to Rumsfeld that one of the photos, I believe the one in which naked prisoners were piled upon each other, showed in the background soldiers going about their regular duties, apparently unconcerned by what was going on in the foreground. This, said Levin, indicated that the activities in the picture were "not aberrant behavior" but part of efforts to "extract intelligence."
Rumsfeld responded that these "issues all being addressed in an investigation that was initiated last month," and punted to one of the military guys. Forgive me for not getting his name. This guy then talked about the Fay inquiry briefly, which didn't satisfy Levin at all. He hit back with:
"Would you agree that the people who authorized or suggested or prompted [the abuse of prisoners] must be held accountable," whether they were of the "intelligence community or otherwise."
"The pictures i have seen depict conduct and behavior that is so brutal and so cruel and so inhumane that anyone engaged in it or involved in it would have to be brought to justice."
Levin asked him then, "How far up the chain of command are you willing to go?" regarding this whole bringing-to-justice thing. He had to restate the question: "Is anyone who suggested it violating our laws and standards?"
This was met with an affirmative from Rumsfeld: "Certainly anyone who recommended the behavior I saw in those photos needs to be brought to justice."
He'll be held to that, I imagine.
When the evening news broadcasts Rumsfeld's testimony to Congress--which I've been watching just now--don't expect to see a whole lot of Rumsfeld.
Expect to see overwhelming coverage of the dozen-or-so-people who started shouting "War crimes! War crimes!" when Rumsfeld paused to deliver the second part of his address.
They weren't hustled out of there nearly fast enough to suit me, though they were probably escorted out within a minute.
It'll look like five.
I abhor the protest ethic. I abhor behavior like that. I don't support pro-lifers who stand outside abortion clinics shouting "baby killers!" and I don't support anti-war people who scream at a man who's trying to acknowledge his failures.
Enough about them. You'll get your fill of them over the next few days, and if they don't make the cover of at least one national news magazine, I'll be stunned.
Right now I'm also stunned at Rumsfeld's revelation that they had uncovered, not just new photos, but videos.
I appreciate Rumsfeld's statement that the aftermath of this scandal will let the world "see how a democracy" deals with "the evil in our midst." But you know what I didn't hear?
An apology to the President.
He did acknowledge that he "failed to elevate" the matter.
But he also said he "only wished [he] could have" shown the photos to the President. Which begs a question:
Why couldn't he have?
I guess that's what we'll find out.
Right after we debate whether the presence of a dozen loudmouths seals the Iraq=Vietnam deal once and for all, of course.
I hate the news.
I'm not really much of a newsblogger. I suggest you head over to the Command Post if you want more. Not seeing anything up there just at the moment, but there will be.
UPDATE: I told you they'd be all over it.
Yes, it's more of that "inside blogging" blogging I've promised not to do. Hit the blogroll on the left there if you're not interested.
You know what one of my favorite comments was? It was on this post, where someone said:
That article [this one: http://www.rightwingnews.com/archives/week_2004_04_11.PHP#001939 --ed.] pissed me off to no end and made me so angry that I couldn't even write about [it].So maybe I'm getting too puffed up about myself here, but I was sort of happier than ever that I'd written what I had, because I felt like I helped someone out in a sense. See, I'm so grateful when I read something that makes me see red, or reduces me to inarticulate rage and nausea, and then maybe a day or two later . . . someone else handles it. Whew! I think, thank goodness it wasn't just me.
Wait long enough, and some other blogger will say what you wanted to say better than you could ever say it. It's a beautiful thing.
Right now I wish someone else would say it.
Because I can't. Said!
It is to do with this general topic:
But not specifically. For specifics, please email me.
Or don't. I'll spend the next few hours feeling sick regardless. Not that I'm trying to guilt anyone or anything. It's just the fucking way it is.
49.···I can't stress this enough: I hate the telephone. The way you can be my best friend is never to call me on the telephone. I lost a programming job because they wanted me to code up a "soft phone," and I just hated it too much to want to work on it, so I didn't. The ringer on my phone was once turned off for a week because one Saturday, while trying to take a nap, people kept calling me and waking me up, and even though I knew eventually I would have to turn it back on before someone got hostile about not being able to reach me, every time I reached for the ringer switch I thought, "Nah, let 'em wait awhile yet." I tell people that if I had invented the phone, it would only dial out, and it would only dial one number: 911. They think I'm kidding, but I'm not.
50.···You can probably infer from the above that I don't have a cell phone. It's my goal to check out of this world without one, too.
51.···A large part of the reason I'm against fascism in all its forms, under all its labels, is because I know no one's ever going to let me have my kind of fascism, under which the first thing I do is, I confiscate YOUR cell phone. Don't give me that look. Up against the wall!
52.···I don't understand people who can't be quiet. Some people have to talk all the time, no matter where they are, no matter what they're doing. Once, while shopping, I actually started to hyperventilate in the dressing room stall because in the stall next to me were a young woman from Oklahoma and her mother--and they simply would not say anything remotely interesting, but neither would they shut up, and oh, p.s., they were LOUD. Try as I might, I could not tune them out. It's the closest I've ever come to having an anxiety attack. With all due respect to the fine citizens of Oklahoma: Do you people have any idea at all what you sound like?
53.···That said, I can talk your ear off if the mood strikes, and I send out some very burdensome e-mails. I've actually had people write me back saying, essentially, "um, I can't possibly address all this, but I thought I'd tell you I got a new job last week. Hope everything's going well with you. Don't ever e-mail me again."
54.···I think if you mess something up or do something awful, you ought to be aggressive and prompt in trying to correct it, but I hate trying to practice that myself. I pretty much have to spend a few hours wallowing in shame first.
55.···I don't think the logical solution to personal problems is always the solution most likely to work, because I think human beings definitely have some very irrational attributes, and sometimes you're better off working with those attributes, rather than just trying to reason out the most logical solution. However elegant a solution is, first someone has to be motivated to try it, or it's no good. And I'm really sorry that sounds so much like something Anthony Robbins would say, because man, do I hate that guy.
56.···My favorite color is purple, but you won't catch me wearing it, because every time I see a purple article of clothing I'm reminded of Donny Osmond's socks. I wear a lot of black. It goes with anything and it shows off the cat fur spectacularly.
First album: Saturday Night Fever. Pray, do not mock me. I saved up my allowance for weeks to buy that one. Did I mention my allowance at the time was a quarter per week?
Furthermore, I have it on CD. So nyah.
Last album: Acoustic Soul, India.Arie. I'll be honest, I've been meaning to sell it back somewhere. I find it pretty uneven. But I still like "Video."
And yeah, it's been a while since I've purchased any new CDs. A long, long while.
Wait, you know something? I'm wrong about the most recently purchased one. I forgot this recording. If we're counting classical, that's the last one I bought.
UPDATE: Uh, okay, so I guess today isn't Friday. Title changed to reflect the correct day of the week because I am a moron.
"How much does a flight to Atlanta cost?"
"Hey. That's what I said."
"I mean now I have the entire three lines that I know from that song going through my head. I am the maker of rules . . . I mean I went a nice peaceful decade without hearing that song since I quit listening to classic rock and now it's back and I want to kill him."
"If it helps, substitute the Paint Your Wagon version."
"It's not helping."
"I'm serious. Pull up Expedia."
Not here, that's for sure. I'm busy.
But . . . but I thought . . . oh, hell. I thought it was next weekend.
Kelley of Suburban Blight is seeking guest bloggers while she takes a much-needed, much-deserved break. If you can't help out in that regard--and I am a lousy guest-blogger, seeing as how I scarcely keep this one going--at least wish her a speedy recovery, psychically and physically.
(An aside: I can't be the only reader who's totally jealous of that garden.)
It isn't difficult to find examples and quotations of the Palestinian slogan, "Palestine from the river to the sea." Why, look: here's a homegrown example.
(We interrupt this post for a quick phone call from me to my home state.
Hi . . . uh, New Jersey? Yeah, it's me . . . yeah, I know, it's really been awhile, huh? Yeah, look, I'm sorry, I know I don't call enough . . . look, I said I was sorry. Listen, quit crying for a second now. I've got something I want to say . . . no, it's not that . . . see, you know I forgave you for Bon Jovi and all, but this other thing here, this "solidarity" organization you've got--it's just like, enough is enough, okay? Please quit giving me reasons to be ashamed of my birthplace. I'm serious . . . oh, yeah? Is that so . . . well, you know what?--Screw you, too!
And here's the ever-helpful and totally not anti-Semitic Guardian publishing a letter last year from none other, ostensibly, than one Saddam Hussein. And what's one of the phrases the old boy signs off with?
Long live Palestine, free and Arab from the river to the sea.So it's free and Arab, now. Interesting modification. But the Guardian does provide a helpful explanation as a footnote for the terminally clueless [emphasis mine]:
** From the river Jordan to the Mediterranean sea - a phrase commonly used by those who do not recognise Israel."Those who do not recognise Israel" including, I presume, the entire Guardian staff.
"Palestine from the river to the sea," or its variants ("Palestine will be free from the river to the sea," "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," "If Arafat is Tweedledum, then who is Tweedledee?" etc.), is a well-established Palestinian slogan with a long history of use, a slogan which expresses a clear intent to eradicate Israel. Are we all clear on that much? Good. Because if we are, then we're farther ahead than Tehran's Mehr News, which sees things a little differently:
Israel's double standards are yet another obstacle in the way of the road map.[Emphasis mine.]
If the plan was implemented Israel would dominate the Middle East and the Zionist slogan about expanding their territory “from the Nile to Euphrates” would be realized in another way.
The bad news is that this fiction of a "Zionist slogan" isn't at all new, nor is it even a deliberate inversion of the Palestinian slogan. (And I'll give you three guesses who originated the Nile-to-Euphrates story). The good news is that currently, this Daniel Pipes article explaining its history is the first search result returned by Google.
The second result? Oh, that'd be the Mehr News Agency again.
Am I the only one who thinks the hoods were the least of it?
Absinthe & Cookies notes a delightful (in the sense that hemorrhagic diarrhea is "delightful") and bravely anonymous screed in the Scotsman today, in which the point seems to be that the U.K. can't even discuss joining the European Union without obsessing about we Yanks.
Yeah, I don't see what the one has to do with the other really, either. It isn't as though they have an alternative of joining the U.S. Christ, what a 51st state that'd be.
Anyway, I admire Ith's restraint in taking the article on, given her family history. She was far kinder than I would have been.
And how would I have been?
Look: I like the British well enough, but I admit lately, when I hear tourism commercials inviting me to travel to London this summer, part of me's thinking, "No, fuck off. I'll spend my dollars at home, thank you. " Then I remember I don't really have any vacation dollars to spend anyway, but that's a whole other story.
And that's not fair, perhaps, but you know something? This little habit of trying to "take the piss" out of America is getting staler than week-old crumpets.
And when you reach the point of stating, in all seriousness, that Russia did more for you in WWII than the U.S. did*, I'm pretty much over considering any further arguments you care to make.
*Free registration required.
This policy of not linking Lileks is just not working out. I have been wanting to write about this dorky show for months now but I haven't done it and now Lileks sort of has and now if I were to write an entry about it I'd just be hopping on the bandwagon, and how come I always put off writing about my lame interests on account of, well, they're lame, but then someone else does it and does it really well and then I wind up feeling ripped off somehow?
Ahem. Anyway, he's right: Caillou is a total wuss. And the theme song! The teeth-grindingly irritating theme song!
I'm! only four years old
Each! day I grow some more
Blah! blah blah blah blah,
If you've seen it you'll know why I put the damn exclamation marks in such a goofy place.
The thing is, I don't see the show very often--I normally sleep right through it, on account of my odd working hours. Maybe once a month I'll catch an episode, and for some reason it's usually when I have a hangover.
You know how some people will get all liquored up and then, once they crash in the pre-dawn hours, they'll sleep for the next 10-12? That isn't me, which is why I am not a huge fan of alcohol. For some reason, if I have a night out at a bar, I'll wake up after only four or five hours of sleep--every time. And when I say "wake up," I mean I bolt out of the bed like it's made of nails and I am not just up and about, I am UP and ABOUT and SO FULL OF NERVOUS ENERGY you'd think it was lines of coke I'd had the night before instead of shots of Jagermeister.
Oh, and also I usually feel like hell. This, I find, is as good a time as any to watch Caillou: Right after a brisk walk down to the Deli News for a $3.99 plate of scrambled eggs, pan-fried potatoes, and bagel with cream cheese. (A proper bagel, too.) It helps work off the nervous energy and alleviates that awful hangover guilt. The walk, I mean. Not the Caillou-watching.
Of all the habits I have that irk my boyfriend--and those habits are many--I'd have to say the Caillou-watching tops the list.
"Why are you watching this crap."
"Because there's nothing else on. You could get cable, you know. Or the dish. People tell me dish is better."
"You're watching children's programming."
"No, I am watching Canadian children's programming. Ooh, hey!--The dad just said 'aboot' again!"
"Why's the kid bald?"
"I don't know but you totally missed it--they went to the beach and I swear the mother pulled off his ball cap and rubbed what looked like zinc paste all over his dumb head--for sunscreen, eh? And then she put the cap back on. It was easily the stupidest moment in television programming ever. It was classic."
"Is that his grandfather?"
"He looks like a child molester."
"Personally I'm a little suspicious about his motives for always wanting to take Caillou on overnight camping trips."
"What the hell kind of name is Caillou anyway?" (Notice that he's starting to get fascinated with the show himself now--not that he'll ever admit it.)
"You're the Francophile, you tell me."
The only way I could get my boyfriend to quit ragging me about watching Caillou was to introduce him to Jay Jay the Jet Plane. I've never taken a hit of acid in my life but the best argument against my ever doing so is that I'm seriously worried I'd start seeing those freaky jet heads on everyone around me.
(NOTE: We do not, under any circumstances [save once to see if it was really as bad as people told me and, oh, you betcha it was], watch Boobah. I have my limits.)
So, okay, I think I just took over 10 paragraphs to get to my point, which is that Lileks is right: Caillou blows. The kid is a wuss (but hey, he's only four years old! Each day he grows some more! Just not hair, eh?) and the parents really are sexually indistinct and if you want to see what our neighbors to the north think constitutes an ideal society with fairness and blandness for all, well, Caillou's probably as good an example as you're going to get. And on days when you're hungover and convinced the world is going to hell in a handbasket anyway, it's good for a bitter laugh or two. In fact, if you do what I do--which is make up your own sick, deviant Caillou plots "loosely based" on the actual one you're watching ("Caillou Gets Hepatitis," for example), it's good for a lot more laughs than that.
And whatever you come up with, I guarantee your alternative Caillou episode is going to be better than your actual Caillou episode. I say that because I just found the episode guide. A wuss, Mr. Lileks? "Wuss" doesn't begin to cover it. Selected titles:
Caillou Visits the Doctor
Caillou is Sick
Caillou Plays Baby (and why not? He's hairless enough.)
Caillou Forgets His Toys
Caillou Is Scared of Dogs
Caillou Develops Gender-Identity Issues
Okay, so I made the last one up.
Want to find out when it's on in your area?
UPDATE: Parents! Still stumped for ideas to improve your Caillou-watching time? See the comments to this post for further alternative episode suggestions, via--who else?--Jim Peacock of Snooze Button Dreams.
And go hurl.
Why do I do it? I know Wonkette is the Carrot Top of the blogosphere. I know this. And yet I go, and I read a line like this:
Heard on the Hill: Slogan of new Bush-friendly ketchup: "Making Sure Kerry Doesn’t Ketchup to Dubya!"Because . . . why? Because it's quicker and cleaner than sticking my finger down my throat? Because nothing else really gives me that "please carve out my eyeballs with a melon-baller now" feeling Wonkette delivers? Is there some void in my existence that demands I fill it with irritating shallow crap? Would that void be better filled by subscribing to US Weekly?
You know, I think it would. At least US has the fashion police.
Did she actually come up with that line, or just borrow it from Roll Call?--Who bloody cares? It's like finding a corner of the World Wide Web smeared with feces: At the moment of discovery, is your primary concern finding out whose shit it is? Or are you more concerned with finding out who smeared it all over the walls?
UPDATE 05/04/2004: For all you fine people who want to play jokes on the Instantman with a Wonkette parody--too late. Wonkette is officially "so five minutes ago." You see, papa's got a brand new bag!
So you know what would be a great way to get our military out of Iraq and stop this illegitimate war by Bu$hCo?--We should e-mail
those dumb jocks our brave men and women currently getting their rocks off killing brown people serving in Iraq and persuade them to kill their own officers explain to them what this war is really about, because certainly these bovine idiots these innocent pawns in Dubya's evil game have a right to know what we really think of them what they're really fighting for, and how they're being used to torture women and children fight a war most of us here at home don't support.
I found this organization Soldiers Angels maybe there are others. Outreach to soldiers is the best way to persuade them to stop killing civilians. Maybe they will even begin fragging (killing their officers) like in Vietnam. It's worth a try. At least send your newly adopted soldier some real news instead of the Stars and Stripes propaganda they hear 24/7.Sing it with me now:
Lots of dead sergeants at their feet,
Lots of Vietnam analogies,
No life, no liberty
Oh wouldn't it be loverly?
The short answer is "No." The long answer is, "Well, no, not lately." For one thing, it's a real motivation-killer for me to realize that the worst 10% of what someone else writes is still better than 90% of everything I write, and that brings me to Phil Dennison. A weekly raid of his archives could launch a whole new feature around here: "Wish-I'd-Said-It Sundays," or something. Take it away, Phil:
I don't do this often--it's bad form to just drop a link on ya and give you no added two cents--but I'll do it this time:
And publish that list, pronto. I'm especially curious to see who shows up in the "journalists" section.
Credit to Greatest Jeneration for the link.
Amid all the crowing from the left and the dry-heaving from the right, one man had his thinking cap on about the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib:
Military prison officials and guards do not do this kind of thing on their own. Torture is not a punishment, but a method of extracting intelligence.Today, from the New York Times:
And that's CIA.
The suggestion by Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski that the reservists acted at the behest of military intelligence officers could be supported in a still-classified Army report on prison conditions in Iraq that documented many of the worst abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad, including the sexual humiliation of prisoners.That doesn't make what happened any more excusable, but it does make me more convinced than ever that Laurence has the right idea:
Fire George Tenet.Of course, some of us have wondered why he still has a job for a long, long time.