Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Real Men Want To Go To Moscow

by Jacob Freeze Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 09:09:57 AM EST

In accord with the neo-conservative mantra that "real men want to go to Tehran," speculation in Congress and the press has concentrated on war with Iran as the catastrophe most likely to unfold in the last year of the Bush Presidency. But our delusional President may have bigger plans, and his meddling in Eastern Europe has brought the United States uncomfortably close to conflict with a much more dangerous opponent than Iran.

The Russians feel so threatened by the installation of anti-ballistic missiles and X-band radar in Poland and the Czech Republic that Vladimir Putin equates the current situation with the Cuban missile crisis that pushed the US and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war in 1962.

"Analogous actions by the Soviet Union when it deployed rockets on Cuba provoked the Cuban missile crisis," the Russian president said after an EU-Russia summit in Portugal. "For us, technologically, the situation is very similar. On our borders such threats to our country are being created."

The highest ranking Russian general, Chief of Staff Yuri Baluyevsky, has also gone public with a doomsday scenario straight out of Dr. Strangelove:
"The firing of an anti-missile rocket from Poland could be seen by Russia's automated system as the launch of a ballistic missile, which could provoke an answering strike," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Baluyevsky as telling a news conference.

Since Russia removed its intermediate range missiles from the European theatre under the provisons of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) signed by Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987, the "answering strike" would come in the form of intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the other continent in "intercontinental" is usually North America. (It's also worth noting that no one knows exactly how automatic the "automated system" mentioned by General Baluyevsky may be.)

Of course, Europeans couldn't really expect to sit out a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia, watching missiles fly back and forth over their heads, and Putin issued a stark warning to Europe in an interview with the London Times June 4, 2007:

"It is obvious that if part of the strategic nuclear potential of the US is located in Europe and will be threatening us, we will have to respond. This system of missile defence on one side and the absence of this system on the other ... increases the possibility of unleashing a nuclear conflict."

The commander of Russia's strategic missile forces, General Nikolai Solovtsov, made the threat a little more specific December 17 in another interview with Interfax:

"If the US shield is seen to threaten Russia's nuclear capability, "I do not exclude ... the missile defence shield sites in Poland and the Czech Republic being chosen as targets for some of our intercontinental ballistic missiles,"

In case Europeans still don't get the message, Mr. Putin is repeating it in a stronger form than interviews by threatening to withdraw from the INF and suspend the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), which limits Russia's deployment of tanks, aircraft and heavy conventional weapons across the continent. Most Americans never heard of the CFE, but this thing took ten years to negotiate before it was finally signed in 1992, and it's a very big deal in Germany, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, where some people still remember Russian tanks rumbling down the streets.

Mr. Putin is also pushing a few hot buttons of the Bush administration with his unexpected decision to supply Iran with 80 tons of enriched uranium. This isn't some fantasy load of "yellowcake" from Niger! It's the real thing.

Well-informed readers may wonder why the Russians are painting a picture of the US and Russia on the brink of nuclear war, aligning themselves with Iran, abrogating treaties, and in general making such a fuss about ABM installations, even though virtually every ABM test ends in total failure.

The real nightmare for the Russians isn't some Rube Goldberg ABM installation in Poland, it's the possibility of a first strike by the United States against the Russian nuclear arsenal, and according to a recent article in Foreign Affairs by Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press, this nightmare is getting closer to reality all the time.

The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy is full of very bad news for Russian generals and their old allies in China:

It will probably soon be possible for the United States to destroy the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike. This dramatic shift in the nuclear balance of power stems from a series of improvements in the United States' nuclear systems, the precipitous decline of Russia's arsenal, and the glacial pace of modernization of China's nuclear forces.

Lieber and Press also describe how even the suspicion of first-strike capability destabilizes the delicate balance of mutually assured destruction.

U.S. nuclear primacy could prompt other nuclear powers to adopt strategic postures, such as by giving control of nuclear weapons to lower-level commanders, that would make an unauthorized nuclear strike more likely -- thereby creating what strategic theorists call "crisis instability."

We're already seeing a similar destabilization in Putin's saber-rattling at Europe, and the conclusion of The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy is even more alarming.

Is the United States intentionally pursuing nuclear primacy? Or is primacy an unintended byproduct of intra-Pentagon competition for budget share or of programs designed to counter new threats from terrorists and so-called rogue states? Motivations are always hard to pin down, but the weight of the evidence suggests that Washington is, in fact, deliberately seeking nuclear primacy.

In this context, "nuclear primacy" means the ability to destroy Russia with a first strike before the Russians can retaliate.

After the article appeared in Foreign Affairs, the Pentagon immediately dispatched one of its stooges, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, Peter C. W. Flory, to deny such a scandalous allegation against our peaceful and benevolent military-industrial complex:

Lieber and Press assert that current U.S. nuclear policy looks "like a coordinated set of programs to enhance the United States' nuclear first-strike capabilities," an erroneous inference that has already prompted harsh reactions in Russia and other countries.
But the harshest reactions from well-informed Russian sources were aimed at the Pentagon, Mr. Bush, and the pitiful Mr. Flory himself. Alexei G. Arbatov, formerly Deputy Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee of the State Duma in the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, with responsibility for Russia's defense budget, arms control treaties, and defense industries, wrote in support of Lieber and Press:
The strategic balance between the United States and Russia is becoming less stable, and the objective, technical possibility of a first strike by the United States is increasing. At a time of crisis, this instability could lead to an accidental nuclear war. For instance, if Russia feared a U.S. first strike, Moscow might make rash moves (such as putting its forces on alert) that would provoke a U.S. attack. Lieber and Press are rightly concerned about that risk.

Mr. Arbatov continues with a discussion of recent developments in the Russian nuclear arsenal that's scarily reminiscent of General Baluyevsky's caution about an "automated" response by Russian nuclear defenses:
These forces will still be enough to serve as a minimal deterrent, but it will rely heavily on a hair-trigger alert, which is very dangerous in the age of nuclear weapons proliferation and catastrophic terrorism.

Russia's on-going concern about American first-strike capability has been severely exacerbated by plans to install the latest generation of X-band radar in the Czech Republic. In a recent article in Aviation Week & Space Technology, David A. Fulghum describes the jamming abilities of active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars:

The new radar, made of up of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of transmitter/receiver modules, can scan for targets, keep a continuous track of dozens of them, guide missiles and communicate. Perhaps most interestingly, all the power of the radar's TR modules can be focused to jam enemy radars in a narrow frequency band.

So the installation of a huge radar array in the Czech Republic radically increases the possibility of a first strike by threatening to blind Russia's early warning radar system for the very few minutes required to launch and land the latest generation of American missiles.

It's analogous to the sort of stun grenade that SWAT teams use to incapacitate hijackers for a couple of seconds while they kick in the doors.

Mr. Putin is facing a delusional President who has already launched a "pre-emptive" war based on nothing but malarkey, with an administration full of Cold War hold-overs like Dick Cheney and Elliot Abrams, and a peanut-gallery of crazy advisers like Donald Kagan and Norman Podhoretz, all of them still cherishing dreams of a New American Century. Now this gang of lunatics is installing a huge radar array on Russia's eastern border under the flimsy pretext of protecting Europe from Iranian nuclear weapons that don't exist.

Let us plant this stun grenade on your windowsill to chase away mosquitoes!

If Mr. Putin and the generals behind him are convinced now or in the near future that nothing stands between Russia and nuclear annihilation except the tender mercy of a neo-conservative cabal in Washington, it isn't hard to imagine how a very minor incident could push Russia's "hair-trigger" nuclear arsenal over the tripping point, and erase you and me as absolutely as if we had never existed.

 

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Images of the Insurgency

by Jacob Freeze Sat Dec 15th, 2007 at 03:43:55 AM EST

 I think Mr. Bush and his friends imagine insurgents as silly looking targets like this:  

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But most of the reality of the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan is manifest in one great photograph by James Nachtwey:

Saturday mornings are slow, let's just have some food for thought - Diary rescue by Migeru

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Sandbox

by Jacob Freeze Thu Dec 13th, 2007 at 03:06:47 AM EST

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Greenhouse Theatre

by Jacob Freeze Thu Dec 6th, 2007 at 06:33:39 AM EST

As wonderful as it is to see Al Gore beaming with contentment, after taking in $100 million and a Nobel Prize for a celebrity endorsement of environmentalism, I have also noticed that this little revolving theatre of ours is quickly filling up with smoke. Will eating greener popcorn really save us?

The pesky little voice of reason says it's time to draft everybody into one big fire brigade, but "trading caps" has a lot more corporate appeal, and if we add a few decoder rings and beanies to our happyface environmentalism, Al Gore could be bigger than Jesus!

What we really want is a comfortable way to save the planet, along with a comfortable everything else, and isn't it lucky that all of us statistically obese bourgeois slobs have found an appropriately big fat hero to worship, even if he isn't exactly a savior?

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The Invisible Hand Is Jerking Off the Bosses!

by Jacob Freeze Wed Nov 28th, 2007 at 12:11:38 PM EST

If you think capitalism lacks the sort of supernatural mystery that distinguishes religions from other human constructs, you probably never heard of the the invisible hand, which Adam Smith postulated to explain how "every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can."

Without quibbling about the exact meaning of "annual revenue," we can take it to mean the sum of all payments, and observe that more and more is bought and sold in the United States in almost every succeeding year, and likewise with our capitalistic brethren in other countries.

So our economic demiurge is easier to detect than its supernatural counterparts in other religions, even when it slips into deeper obscurity under the grand table where all the CEO's of our booming economy are gathered.  I can't see exactly what goes on under that table, but it's easy to deduce from the rapture on so many faces that the invisible hand is jerking off the bosses.

They do not sow, neither do they reap, and yet Solomon in all his glory never had a retirement package like the CEO of Exxon. $400,000,000! No wonder Lee R. Raymond is grinning like an idiot!

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And it doesn't take much more than an idiot to make a mountain of money for Exxon, in a world where the price of oil has quadrupled in the last six years. But economics has a logic of its own, and the invisible hand is obviously giving Lee R. Raymond a heck of a handjob!

Those same semi-divine fingers are also busy with Edward Lampert, who made $1,020,000,000 last year at the hedge-fund ESL Investments. That's a salary of 1.02 billion dollars!

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A little credit for Lampert's gratification should also be reserved for the tax code, which taxes hedge-fund managers at the delightful rate of 15%.

For some lucky CEO's, the invisible hand never stops diddling, and all that non-stop action has apparently frozen a permanent smile on the face of Jeffrey C. Barbakow.

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USA Today calculated that even if Mr. Barbakow worked 14 hours per day 365 days per year, he would still be making $22,785 per hour at Tenet Healthcare. It takes balls as big as watermelons to grab a $116,000,000 slice of the healthcare pie, especially when 47,000,000 Americans have no pie at all!

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Primaries of the Apocalypse!

by Jacob Freeze Fri Nov 23rd, 2007 at 03:27:11 PM EST

Suppose Atlanta actually goes dry, and 4,000,000 people have to be relocated. Is there anything in the biographies of the leading Democratic contenders to suggest that any of them could get the job done? Hillary Clinton has made a lot of speeches, and Barack Obama has made a lot of speeches, and John Edwards has made a lot of speeches, and none of them has ever done anything except make speeches!

How does making an infinite number of speeches that promise the most and offend the fewest add up to any sort of qualification to run the largest government in the history of the world?

For comic relief, the Republicans are running Rudy the human weasel, Tancredo the torture-monkey, Mitt the money-pig, and Huckabee the Taliban Man from Bible Land. This isn't a roster of candidates, it's an insane clown posse!

Maybe the Democrats should re-nominate John Kerry and watch him do his famous imitation of a wooden dummy again. Maybe we should just give the Presidency to Al Gore because he won the Nobel Prize for a celebrity endorsement of environmentalism.

In the meantime, while the ridiculous freak-show of candidates and primaries and debates runs along as if nothing else mattered, the hand of the Lord is poised to smite Atlanta and Los Angeles and many places in between! Among the historical precedents, the only favorable outcome I can find appears in the Book of Jonah:

So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

Maybe after a year of sackcloth and ashes we could find somebody more qualified than whichever clown the blabbermouth primaries are about to vomit into the White House.  

In a parallel Universe somewhere there may be an election between Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, between an honest Progressive and an honest Conservative, but in "reality" we're probably going to get a choice between horse-shit and pig-shit, and I have to agree with all the devoted Democrats on Daily Kos and elsewhere...

Horse-shit is a little better.  

 

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The Ungrateful Dwarf

by Jacob Freeze Wed Nov 21st, 2007 at 09:50:18 AM EST

In the first edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, it's Snow White's mother who abandons the little girl in the forest, and there's something deep about the mother's hatred for an all-too-beautiful daughter. Walt Disney completed the transformation of this dark story into the well-known cutesy puke-fest, where even the stones are nauseatingly cute, and this 90 minute nightmare of cuteness is typical of the mythical tools that Americans think with. All the leading candidates are cuter than Kucinich, and if truth were the criterion for campaign slogans, "cuter than Kucinich" would be the only slogan that any of them could allege.

Unfortunately for Hillary, every time she looks in her mirror and recites "Iowans, Iowans in my poll, who's the cutest of them all," the mirror replies "Barack Obama."

The Democrats have to nominate somebody, I suppose, although the "unnamed Democrat" who sometimes appears in the polls would probably be a stronger candidate than any of the leading contenders. The Democrats have to nominate somebody, and the voters have to elect somebody, however wistfully they may consider the option of none of the above.

For mythical guidance, it might be better to discard the Disney paradigm and follow the wisdom of Snow White and Rose Red, also known as The Ungrateful Dwarf. In this story, two little girls come upon a dwarf whose beard is stuck in a tree, but after they cut him free, the dwarf curses them for ruining his beautiful beard.

Will Americans be grateful to whoever finally cuts them loose from Iraq? Maybe the Congressional Democrats who keep funding the war are deeper than the anti-war crowd gives them credit for being, and they know that however much the dwarf may roar and rumble about his predicament, he will also curse whoever eventually liberates him from his beautiful illusions of revenge and omnipotence.

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The Strange Destiny and Sudden Death of Atlanta, Georgia

by Jacob Freeze Tue Nov 6th, 2007 at 09:14:18 AM EST

After 18 months of drought, a dim environmental awareness is dawning over the Republican states of the Old South. You can see it in a few sad headlines here and there: No plan if water runs out. But the heroic virtues of big business are also celebrated: Business big in fighting water crisis. Coca-Cola has turned off the fountain in front of its Atlanta headquarters!

The Coca-Cola fountain is dry, but the water levels in Lake Lanier continue to fall, and in 90 days Atlanta will be drinking the dregs. Atlanta's second most important source of water, Lake Allatoona, can't even supply the relatively meager requirements of Cobb County, much less the neighboring megalopolis.  

Although some pointy-headed tree-huggers want to pin part of the blame for the impending disaster on the unregulated growth of the fastest growing city in the United States, Republican Governor Sonny Perdue identifies the real villain as over-regulation.  

Perdue blasted what he called the "silly rules" governing the water supplies, noting that even if the state got replenishing rains, it could not by law conserve those, but must release 3.2 billion gallons a day downstream.

"The actions of the Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service are not only irresponsible, I believe they're downright dangerous and Georgia cannot stand for this negligence," Perdue said.


Unfortunately, a big swath of Alabama depends on the outflow from Lake Allatoona, and the selfish Alabamians are successfully resisting Governor Perdue's brilliant plan to save Atlanta by killing Mobile.

Considering the fantastic cloud of ambiguity that the petroleum industry and its friends throw over every environmental issue, it's probably a good idea to be explicit about the sort of thing that you would normally expect any idiot to understand. So...

When Atlanta runs out of water, Atlanta will die.

What to do? Georgia's favorite son Newt Gingrich recommends desalinization of ocean water as part of his Contract with the Earth, which would also cure global warming with... wait for it... tax breaks for auto makers.

How long would it take to build desalinization plants massive enough to supply Atlanta, and the rest of the infrastructure for delivery? What would become of the millions of gallons of poisonous brine that big desalinization plants produce every day? Who would pay to build the plants? Who could afford the much more expensive water, if it ever got to Atlanta? What would Atlanta drink in the meantime?

"I'll think about that tomorrow," as Scarlet O'Hara used to say, and that famous phrase still fits the pitiful, anti-regulatory, tax-break "environmentalism" of the New South, even as it merges irresistibly with the Old South among civilizations Gone with the Wind.

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'Military Humanitarianism' in the Twilight of Empire

by Jacob Freeze Sat Nov 3rd, 2007 at 08:45:03 PM EST

"Military humanitarianism" is a phrase coined by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek in the Guardian to describe the rationale behind the US invasion of Iraq and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

Under this doctrine, military intervention is dressed up as humanitarian salvation, justified according to depoliticised, universal human rights, so that anyone who opposes it is not only taking the enemy's side in an armed conflict but betraying the international community of civilized nations.

The United States is happy to reserve the privilege of "humanitarian war" for itself and Israel, preserving "universal human rights" against the threat of terrorism, but now that Turkey is claiming the same privilege to defend itself against Kurdish terrorists, "the community of civilized nations" has undergone a strange contraction.

For American neo-conservatives, Israel and the United States have always been the only "civilized nations," like a strangely disconnected Dual Empire surrounded by barbarian wilderness, and other nations could only attain a status of semi-civilization by slavishly endorsing every military adventure generated by the exigencies of American and Israeli politics. Tony Blair was the paradigm of a "good barbarian," and Zizek's homeland of Slovenia also enrolled itself under the banner of the "Coalition of the Willing."

Now the "Coalition of the Willing" is just a tattered memory, oil is selling for $96 per barrel, Turkey is about to invade Iraq for a much better reason than the United States ever had, and Russia has aligned itself with Iran against an American attack. The United States has long since run out of money to buy oil from the almost uniformly hostile oil-producing regions of the world, every aspect of the American economy depends on foreign credit, and every trinket in the national treasury has already been pawned to Chinese banks.

Professor Zizek feels the current of history flowing east, and in his role as a good Slovene he is preaching a radical realignment away from the twilight Empire of the United States, Israel, and even the American dependencies in "old Europe."

Only by means of a "sectarian split" from the standard European legacy, by cutting ourselves off the decaying corpse of old Europe, can we keep the renewed European legacy alive.

As the real power of the United States declines, national pride can only be assuaged by inflated rhetoric and exaggerated symbolic displays. In the glory days of American supremacy, General George Marshall wore three rows of decorations, but General David Petraeus is adorned with nine rows of meaningless hash, none of it commemorating anything like valor.  Likewise George W. Bush embellishes his pitiful blunders with grander and grander pretentions, "military humanitarianism" rampant on a field of gold, and the stupefied electorate is only dimly aware of how far its Empire has already fallen.  

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Three Slogans for Democrats

by Jacob Freeze Fri Nov 2nd, 2007 at 07:09:10 PM EST

  1. My other car is a cow.
  2. If elected, I will not serve.
  3. Remember the Amalo!





Notes:


  1. Emphasizes thinking outside the box!
  2. This subtle reference to William Tecumseh Sherman summarizes the Democratic strategy to "take back the South."
  3. Intended to confuse Tim Russert the next time he asks about immigration.

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Redefining "Altruism" in the Global Village

by Jacob Freeze Tue Oct 30th, 2007 at 09:20:25 AM EST

Poverty Inspires Technology Workers to Altruism!

Under this jolly headline, the New York Times is currently featuring a story about the Indian website Babajob, which "seeks to bring the social-networking revolution popularized by Facebook and MySpace to people who do not even have computers -- the world's poor."

"Laborers earning $2 to $3 a day" can come into the Babajob office and post a little CV with a picture on their very own web page, for prospective employers to browse. What makes Babajob special is a list of friends that serves as an informal set of references.

So here we are in Bangalore, where "wealthy software tycoons complain endlessly about a shortage of maids and cooks," but now they have Babajob to help them find those maids and cooks for "$2 to $3 a day," which could add up to as much as $93 a month, if those maids and cooks work every day.

This story not only redefines altruism to include hooking up "tycoons" with dirt cheap servants. It also added an entirely new word to my vocabulary.

Babajob: A job you find on the internet for $0.25 an hour.

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Death-Wish of the Democrats and Republicans

by Jacob Freeze Wed Sep 26th, 2007 at 04:34:32 AM EST

Sigmund Freud's interpretation of dreams was based on the concept of wish-fulfillment, but after World War I this concept was baffled by the dreams of returning veterans, which replayed "past experiences that include no possibility of pleasure, and which can never, even long ago, have brought satisfaction even to instinctual impulses which have since been repressed."  It's hard to find wish-fulfillment in a dream where the dreamer's legs get blown off in a fox-hole.

In 1920 Freud published a highly speculative solution to this apparent paradox in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, matching the pleasure-seeking forces of the unconscious with a complementary death-wish, whose fundamental process is repetition, expressed with equal fluency in either masochistic or sadistic scenarios. In spite of many complications and later qualifications, this theory has retained a modicum of explanatory power.

In particular, it offers some insight into the mystery of how American politics turned into a sado-masochistic hootenanny.

Are the Republicans really sadists? Bwahahaha! Did you miss Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo? Did you miss Bush cackling over executions? "Please," Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "don't kill me."

Are the Democrats really submissive? Bwahahaha! How many rollovers does it take to convince you? Rollover on funding the war, rollover on FISA, rollover on Guantanamo, rollover on the environment... That puppy is on its back!  

Besides all this compulsive power-exchange, the other leading characteristic of the death-wish is repetition, where life freezes into a lifeless routine. The dreams of Freud's WWI veterans recapitulated the same painful scenes over and over in excruciating exactitude, in contrast to the erotic fluidity and developmental inventions of the life-force, and it doesn't take much of a squeeze to fit the main outlines of contemporary American politics into a paradigm as rigid as a recurring nightmare.

Here at least the Democrats have a little advantage. The Republicans are still searching desperately for a reasonably presentable clone of Ronald Reagan, but the Democrats have already found Hillary Clinton. Our repetition is more exact than your repetition. We win!

You can't really blame either party for enlisting under the banner of the death-wish, any more than you could blame Freud's traumatized veterans for the dying civilization in the background of their dreams. After World War I, everything fell apart around them. The political and cultural map of the world was redrawn by whimsical or predatory map-makers, and when the Germans and Austrians finally gave up trying to figure out why a billion Marks wouldn't buy you an egg, they naturally relaxed into the orthodoxy of whoever was shouting with the most self-assurance.

Now our world is dissolving in a global freak-show, and you don't need a lot of cultural perspicuity to see it. We're running out of gas, and we're running out of credit. Your job depends on an incomprehensible interplay of hedge-funds and Chinese banks. In Iraq we look like a dinosaur thrashing around in a tar pit.

There's going to be something here in twenty years, but it probably won't look much like the great nation of liberty and emancipation and social justice and dreams that we inherited from Jefferson and Lincoln and the Roosevelts and Martin Luther King. If we're lucky, it may be a reduced version of the corporate paradise of the Clintons, instead of the blood-and-soil lunacy of the Republicans, and Hillary Clinton already has my vote.

But wouldn't it be better to keep today? Isn't it tempting to live only in the moment and forget about the future, where it's all too likely that there will be ever so much less of everything we enjoy? Wouldn't it be better to hold on to your daily routine in the little world of family and work, exactly as it is, and forget about trying to reinvent yourself again and again in the backwash of enormous economic and environmental convulsions, and...

That's the death-wish.

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The Dead by the Numbers

by Jacob Freeze Wed Sep 19th, 2007 at 05:43:45 AM EST

About 3000 people died in the WTC on 9/11, and about 3800 Americans have been killed in action in Iraq, and that's how most of us Americans understand mass murder and the casualties of war.

Iraqis understand mass murder and the casualties of war in a different way. About 500,000 Iraqi children died in consequence of the UN embargo in the 1990s, and about 1,200,000 Iraqis have died under the American invasion and occupation. If we adjust those figures according to the difference in population between the United States and Iraq, it's as if 6,000,000 American children had been killed by an embargo, and 15,000,000 Americans had died in consequence of an invasion and occupation.

Even if we forget about the difference between the population of Iraq and the population of the United States, 1,200,000 is still a very large number. It's as if something like 9/11 has happened to the Iraqis 400 times.

Numbers that need to be highlighted -- Colman

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Petraeus Eats a Booger on National TV

by Jacob Freeze Thu Sep 13th, 2007 at 06:41:27 PM EST

On September 6, 2007, the Washington Post explained all the statistics about Iraq and the Occupation and the Surge in one sentence.

"If a bullet went through the back of the head, it's sectarian," the official said. "If it went through the front, it's criminal."

General Petraeus claims the Surge is reducing sectarian violence because lots and lots of Iraqis have been shot in the face instead of the back of the head.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden were so stupefied by this insane gobbledegook that they calmly continued asking the ass-monkey Petraeus pointless questions while he pulled a booger the size of a small apple out of his nose and began eating it on national television.

Shoot in face, good! Shoot in back of head, bad! This demented gibberish toasted the brain of everyone who heard it! Only the heroic hairdo of Senator John Warner maintained its composure in the raging nightmare, and Senator Warner asked Petraeus the only intelligent question of the day.

"Is the war in Iraq making America safer?"

"It isn't my job to know that," Petraeus replied. "My job is eating boogers on national TV."

At least that's what I think he said, but the last wave of discombobolating baloney about Iraq has apparently fricasséed the only functioning cell in my brain-pan, smoke is pouring out of my ears, and all I want to eat is boogers.

...

(Editor X notes: The diarist apparently intended to justify his booger-eating metaphor in terms of the Lacanian agalma, the precious object in a worthless wrapper, which Žižek sees as "a hole at the center of the symbolic order." The edible (oedipal) booger negates the "thing that thinks" at the point where thinking collapses into the "abject Real." In this interpretation, Iraq is identified as "the Sublime Object of Ideology," and the booger is a desperate re-actualization of vérité-agalma, symbolically consumed by Petraeus under the wrapper of "inverted speech.")

(Editor Y dissents: Petraeus is simply a MacGuffin, a cliché-object introduced to "advance the story," as in Hitchcock's joke about two men on a train. "One man says, 'What's that package up there in the baggage rack?' And the other answers, 'Oh, that's a McGuffin.' The first one asks 'What's a McGuffin?' 'Well' the other man says, 'It's an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.' The first man says, 'But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,' and the other one answers 'Well, then that's no McGuffin!'" In early versions of the diary, one Senator asks another, "What's a Petraeus?" The other Senator says, "It's a genius for preventing sectarian killings in Baghdad." The first Senator says, "There are no sectarian killings in Baghdad," and the second Senator either replies, "Then that's no genius!" or "That's no Petraeus!" or "Gack! Tweet! Hoo hoo!" in the last revision before the final draft.)
 

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 April 2024

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