Monthly Archives: April 2004

Bush Admin Pays Attention to Global Warming

When the Bush Administration sees a problem it can recognize, it leaps into action. Take global warming, for example. Faced with the prospect of potential catastrophe arising from oceans rising and swamping whole coasts as the polar ice caps melt, Junior wants to “study” it some more (what he should have been doing in college when he was busy chugging and snorting instead). BUT–when Dan Bartlett, WH Communications Director, discovered that a movie about global warming was about to be released, he swung into high gear, immediately ordering the top Press Officer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, to tell everybody there to keep shut.

“No one from NASA is to do interviews or otherwise comment on anything having to do with” the film, said the April 1 message, which was sent by Goddard’s top press officer. “Any news media wanting to discuss science fiction vs. science fact about climate change will need to seek comment from individuals or organizations not associated with NASA.”Copies of the message, and the one from NASA headquarters to which it referred, were provided to The New York Times by a senior NASA scientist who said he resented attempts to muzzle climate researchers.

Not to mention the dastardly attempt to keep lowly climate researchers from meeting movie stars promoting the film.

The movie in question, The Day After Tomorrow, depicts an “instant ice age” that occurs over the course of 48 hrs. Guess who made it?

“The Day After Tomorrow,” from 20th Century Fox, is directed by Roland Emmerich, whose “Independence Day” in 1996 depicted an alien invasion of earth and included such memorable special effects as the White House exploding in flames. The new movie’s script contains a host of politically uncomfortable situations: the president’s motorcade is flash frozen; the vice president, who scoffs at warnings even as chaos erupts, resembles Dick Cheney; the humbled United States has to plead with Mexico to allow masses of American refugees fleeing the ice to cross the border.

Oops. Well, as you can plainly see for yourself, this movie clearly represents a greater danger than any old real threat from global warming–it suggests it could happen NOW, during the reign of Emperor George, not at some safe, distant remove like, say, a century or so when, as Bush said to Bob Woodward, “We’ll all be dead.”

Global warming is only important enough to pay attention to when it threatens Junior’s re-election. Actually, everything is only important if it threatens Junior’s re-election. If only the specter of starving kids and civil war in Iraq and a failing economy threatened Junior’s re-election, he might do something about them, too.

Is the Kerry Campaign On Vacation, Or What?

I’m not the first one to say this but Junior has had a helluva a month. Virtually NO good news for the Admin has surfaced for three weeks at least: the televised 9/11 hearings, between Clarke’s clarity and professionalism and Condi’s waffling defense and patent Newspeak, were a disaster; Bremer closed al-Sadr’s newspaper and precipitated a firestorm in Fallujah; the extensive use Rumsfeld’s Defense Dept is making of professional mercs came to light in a grisly way; his own party is balking at his insistence on keeping PATRIOT ACT I intact and renewing it as-is; a steady stream of defectors and whistle-blowers has made it clear that the atmosphere inside the WH is closer to a grade school playground than a govt; his first prime-time press conference had even the Kool-Aid Kids shaking their heads; and to cap it off, Bob Woodward’s new book, in spite of Bob’s taking every opportunity he could find to soften the blows and spin the catastrophes of this Admin Junior’s way, has all but eliminated any lingering doubts that Junior and His Band of Neocon Wonder Boys have been lying their heads off from the git-go.

The latest polls, reflecting this onslaught of fact on BushCo Fantasy Land, have plummeted, showing less favorable ratings for every single member of the BA.

* President Bush’s job ratings are down to 48% positive, 51% negative,
the worst ratings of his presidency and the first time his negative
rating is greater (albeit insignificantly) than his positive rating. * Vice President Dick Cheney’s ratings have fallen to 36% positive, 52%
negative, compared to 41% positive, 48% negative in February.

* Secretary of State Colin Powell’s ratings have fallen to 63% positive,
31% negative, also his worst ratings since he took office. However, he
remains by far the most popular member of the cabinet.

* Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s ratings have fallen to 45%
positive, 47% negative from 50% positive, 43% negative in February.

* Attorney General John Ashcroft’s ratings have fallen to 40% positive,
45% negative compared to 44% positive, 42% negative in February.

All of these are their lowest ratings since they took office.

Junior is doing worse than any modern president in the April before an election except for Jimmy Carter, Jerry Ford, and, of course, Poppy Bush–all of whom then lost their re-election bids.

Yet despite all this, Kerry’s numbers haven’t moved an inch, probably because he and his campaign have done nothing to exploit them. Why not, for heaven’s sake? What are they waiting for? And how can Junior’s ratings continue to fall without Kerry’s rising? Who do voters think they’re going to pick if they dislike Bush but aren’t very comfortable with Kerry? Ralph Nader (up to 8%)? Come on.

Not that anybody in Kerry’s campaign reads this blog or would pay the slightest bit of attention if they did, but GET OFF THE STICK, GUYS! Of all the times for you to be taking a nap, this isn’t exactly the one I’d pick. Junior is vul-ner-a-ble. Know what that means? It means, GO GET ‘IM, YOU PEABRAINS! You clowns aren’t going to let this moron walk back into the WH for four more years of desperate ruination, rampant corruption, and environmental destruction, are you?

Hit ‘im High,
Hit ‘im Low,
Hit’im Where
His Walnuts Grow.

Damn, do I have to do everything for you? WAKE UP!

(Hope that does it….)

Via The Raw Story

The Ahmad Chalabi Method for Multi-Millionaires

Introducing–The Ahmad Chalabi Method for Multi-Millionaires!
Get the government to do anything you want!

Photographer–and Her Husband–Fired by Maytag

Seattle started out his intermittent relationship with us by doing a piece on an article in his hometown paper, the Seattle Times (scroll down two posts) about some seemingly innocuous pictures of dead soldiers being returned home from Iraq. The pictures show the bodies being treated with grave military respect–carried by the traditional six pallbearers in full uniform and saluted as each is placed into a waiting hearse, a far cry from the sometimes unceremonious and even clinical handling of bodies returning home from Nam in plastic bags (they were “cost-effective”) rather than coffins.

The woman who took the pictures, Tami Salicio, worked as the official photographer for a Brown&Root subsidiary in Kuwait called Maytag Aircraft (CorpHQ are right here in Mass), like the washing machine. She didn’t send them to the Times but to a friend of hers, Amy Katz, who wrote back to her that the photos ought to be released. Silicio agreed to the release on one condition:

If they ran a story with it, it would have to focus on the respectful and sensitive way in which the deceased are being handled in Kuwait.”She thought the families would want to see that she and others were doing everything they could. She thinks of herself as the representative mother there,” Katz says.

Seattle noted in his post that “An employee of the military contractor Maytag Aircraft was fired for releasing” the photos. He was being generous. In fact, Maytag Aircraft, in a gratuitous and inexcusable genuflection to the Bush Admin’s aversion to pictures of dead soldiers in the media, fired two people–Salicio and her husband, David Landry.

Yes, that’s what I said–her husband, who had had nothing whatever to do with either the taking of the pictures or their release to the press. Both had worked for Maytag–in fact, that’s where they met–and they’ve only been married a month. That was apparently all Maytag needed to know. In the firmly 19th century view of Maytag and the BA, David was responsible for his wife’s behaviour, so he had to go, too.

What you can say about Maytag Aircraft (other than the epithets that come screaming immediately to mind) is that they obviously know which side of their bread the butter is on, as my mother used to say. Maytag belongs to Brown&Root which belongs to Halliburton which is the House Organ of the Bush/Cheney Crime Family. If they wanted to maintain that very lucrative arrangement, it behooved them to set the heads of the two offenders up on pikes outside the moated walls of the Corporate Compound as evidence of their loyalty. So they did.

Freedom of the press? Faugh! The people’s right to know? Piffle! The rights of the families of slain soldiers to know how their sons and daughters are being treated (very well from all appearances)? A danger to the Reich Nation! Forget all that traitorous, left-wing propaganda and remember Cardinal Rule #1:

Keep the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ flowing.

What’s the difference between Mike Spann and Leroy Harris-Kelly?

by Seattle

As many of you probably remember, Mike Spann was the first American – a CIA officer – to be killed in the US invasion of Afghanistan. Spann’s death was all over the news (scroll about two thirds of the way down for typical photos), CIA director George Tenet shed a tear on TV at Spann’s funeral, Bush pointed out Spann’s widow in the audience of his State of the Union address, Spann’s funeral and flag-draped coffin were all over the nightly news, and …. well let’s just say that we got a hefty dose of images and stories about Mike Spann and his death.

Leroy Harris-Kelly is a different story. I’m willing to bet that noone reading this has ever heard of Leroy Harris-Kelly. He’s the latest American military fatality (number 706?) in the US invasion of Iraq. He was twenty years old.

So what’s the difference between Mike and Leroy? The answer is that it was politically valuable to broadcast images of Mike Spann’s death back then and it’s politically harmful to broadcast images of Leroy’s death now.

Two recent events relevant to this issue are interesting. An employee of the military contractor Maytag Aircraft was fired for releasing an image of flag-draped coffins coming back from Iraq and there is a battle going on between a press freedom activist and the Department of Defense over the release of these images.

The administration knows that a picture is worth a thousand words, and there are many thousands of words that they don’t want Americans to hear.

Protecting the Carlyle Group

Some hopes were raised recently when the Bush Admin–led by Junior himself–allowed as how UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s plan for a caretaker govt was a dang good one. It seemed that Georgie’s desperation to get the Occupation off his campaign calendar had finally pushed him into a semi-reasonable position. But, as usual with the BA, it turns out that it was just another bait-and-switch tactic. The NY Times reports today that the BA is already backing away from their support.

The Bush administration’s plans for a new caretaker government in Iraq would place severe limits on its sovereignty, including only partial command over its armed forces and no authority to enact new laws, administration officials said Thursday. (emphasis added)

Um, legitimate govts pass laws, people. And so the character and quality of the word “caretaker” in the eyes of the BA becomes a mite clearer. They’re defining that word strictly and literally–the “caretaker govt” is to “take care” to enforce the laws the US has put in place and it dast not make for itself any news ones. See that Army base with all the soldiers and bombs and tanks over there? Now, you guys behave. There are, however, some doubts that the UN, already used like a tissue by the BA (“We made the mess but you have to clean it up”), are ready to let the same thing happen again.

The administration’s plans seem likely to face objections on several fronts. Several European and United Nations diplomats have said in interviews that they do not think the United Nations will approve a Security Council resolution sought by Washington that handcuffs the new Iraq government in its authority over its own armed forces, let alone foreign forces on its soil.These diplomats, and some American officials, said that if the American military command ordered a siege of an Iraqi city, for example, and there was no language calling for an Iraqi government to participate in the decision, the government might not be able to survive protests that could follow.

That may be the understatement of the week. Either that or this one is:

The diplomats added that it might be unrealistic to expect the new Iraqi government not to demand the right to change Iraqi laws put in place by the American occupation under L. Paul Bremer III, including provisions limiting the influence of Islamic religious law.

“Might be unrealistic.” That’s a good one. Might also be a sham, a scam, or an imperial trick that sets loose the fires of Armageddon, huh? Let’s face it, the Emperor has no intention of turning his newest and richest-in-OIL colony over to a democratic governing body if there’s a chance it could disagree with his decisions for its future. He’ll rubber-stamp a puppet but actual “democracy” is off the table. Unacceptable. No effin’ way.

Everybody understands that the security situation–thanks to Bremer’s bonehead play in closing al-Sadr’s newspaper–is rapidly deteriorating and that the Iraqi police and military forces are, at this point, so ill-trained and inexperienced as to be all but useless. So nobody expects–or wants–the US military to abruptly abandon its role as the nascent society’s guardian (once it figures out that’s what its role is, of course) and turn security over to forces that can’t secure themselves, let alone anyone else. And wouldn’t you think the fact that our presence will remain dominant, even overwhelming, for the foreseeable future would be enough? But no. We have to handcuff any new governing “authority” because otherwise it might do something we don’t want it to do, like pass a law that says native Iraqi companies can bid for contracts currently marked “American Only” by the BA.

Let’s not be naive. There are really only two developments in the story of Iraqi sovereignty that the BA fears: 1) a democratically-elected Islamist govt, and 2) a democratically-elected nationalist govt that might reverse the field and place limits on or even expel American corporations like Halliburton and Bechtel in order to hand the work and the money to other Iraqis. The BA has handed out $$$Billions$$$ in lucrative contracts to corporations afilliated with the Carlyle Group, and there’s no way they’re going to let any damn Iraqis stop that flow of cash. The oilfields will remain under American control, chiefly Chevron and Shell control, and the rape of the Iraqi people and the American taxpayer will remain the job of American corporations.

Any Iraqi “government” that dares to think otherwise for as long as a millisecond is already history.

The Buck Stops…Where?

The Buck Stops…Where?

Haverhill v. Hartford Correspondence

Recently, someone sent the following paper to me, though I don’t have the faintest idea why, or who sent it. It’s really not my kind of thing, but on the off-chance that it might actually be important, I am posting it for whatever and whoever may be interested.

Note: I have no idea who these people are–or were–and I don’t know what “duel” they’re talking about, so don’t ask

Recently, scientists with the Crypto-Orphea-Cyberarcheology Squad unearthed fragments from several letters which they believe to be remnants of a lost conversation between Samson Haverhill, the eminent art critic and social historian who once said of Winston Churchill, “There goes a man who knows a good cigar when he see one”, and Marcus Hartford, Dean of the Paleo-socioculturists and Haverhill’s arch-rival, who once said of William Clinton, “There goes a man who knows what to do with a good cigar when he sees one.”

The fragments were retrieved from a half-burnt hard-drive found behind the coffee-maker (a Braun, naturally) in Haverhill’s personal library by Vladimir MacClane, Haverhill’s household accountant, maid, appointments secretary, and “masseur”. McClane was cleaning out the whiskey nips Haverhill used to lovingly stuff down behind the filing cabinet (on which the Braun was kept) in, as McClane put it to me when I interviewed him, “the naive belief that he was putting one over on me. As if I didn’t know the little lush was chugging them like candy whenever my back was turned.”

Hartford and Haverhill were, as all the world knows now in the wake of their astonishing and tragic duel, the deadliest of enemies. It was said that when Hartford once saw Haverhill walking on the same side of the street, he crossed it, took the No9 bus to Jersey City, and moved his entire menagerie to the far slope of Mount Tanganyika rather than run the risk of it happening again. Now that’s aversion, if you like.

And yet the fragments that the COCS were able after many months of labor to piece together show, in fact, an almost collegial relationship between the men. Nary a harsh word is spoken, or so it seems to me, and while it’s obvious that they disagree somewhat on the merits and appropriate level of recognition that should be assigned to the object of their discussion–the quasi-artist Botero–and even on the meaning of the bulk of the work of this most elephantine member of the German/Columbian PMS (Pachydermics & Modern Sycophants) Movement and its relationship to his reputed worship of hot chocolate, there is almost no animosity expressed in these letters. Indeed, to the contrary, they appear to reveal a surprising familiarity, even intimacy, with each other that seems to belie later events. The tone is informal–at least, informal for those two–and, I might say, approaches a level of good-natured joshing in spots that positively reeks of a species of humor hitherto unsuspected in either of them.

As to the final meaning of these crucial sociological documents, who can say? Cultural anthropologists will be dissecting and writing dissertations on them for years to come as it is, and the partial nature of the find can only serve to fuel ever more arthritic conspiracy theories jack-knifing with a deteriorating series of bonehead academic drivel that between them may very well manage to bury the gargantuan achievements of these two Prometheus-like figures under an avalanche of the kind of syllogistic piffle and disingenuous Ivory-Tower parasitic twaddle of which the best graduate theses are composed.

Rather than allow that to happen without putting up a fight, the COCS has allowed me to release these precious contributions to the history of two of the most enigmatic if not esoteric minds of the 20th Century in the hope that they might attract the attention of legitimate scholars before the grad students get their crummy little mitts all over them.

The fragments in question comprise only three short letters of what was obviously, judging the letters in context, a much longer correspondence on the subject, and one that involved several more participants (reference is made to a “Mark” and a certain “Ms Field” [Dorothy? Betty? WC? Marshall?] along with others in replying to their commentary) as yet unknown to COCS researchers.

For now, although we cannot fill in the many gaps in order to divine what the great men were trying to get at, we can at least enjoy the circumlocutions of their gigantic brainpans and revel in their joy of artifactual semi-coherence.

The first letter in the series is from Mr Haverhill and is evidently a–rather polite–reply to a letter from Mr Hartford in which Mr Hartford seems to have made a reference to the quasi-artist Botero’s love of hot chocolate with which Mr Haverhill takes umbrage.

Note: One of the most interesting discoveries for scholars of the future may be the somewhat surprising one that Mr Hartford was, at best, an indifferent speller and of no use at all when it came to punctuation. His skill with metaphors is shown to be equally dubious.

Marcus:Having read with great interest the erudite circumlocutions absent manifestational indignities inherent in the discussion and discovery of banesworthy motivational techniques and loquacious perambulations concerning both the terminal casuistry of the quasi-artiste Botero and the camouflaged pertinacity of the Holy Bean, I can only say, I beg to differ.

Samson Haverhill

Samson:”Obtusity [sic] of the self”, that old cannard, has made its home in me yet again.

But what is missing here is the fact that one finds pleasure in the eating/tasting/making/melting/double boiling of chocolate for many reasons and certain expressions are best put into words that are perhaps not so commonly or easily ascertained in general.

For example, the word “surfeit” was used. (Then, of course, “parfait” comes immediately to mind when discussing chocolate for it is my fervent supposition that there is no greater surfeit but “pudding as parfait”.) The use, inclination, predisposition, or substantiation of such words leaves one without circumstance and without the proper affiliation to supercede.

As the character Hooper Brant put it in the Canterbury Saga:

“Bring forth your haste from every rafter and leave thine brigand pellmell to his lot. For Neptune’s devil sends no kind favor at play in the sheltering lee! Carry on then, Oh, Whistler of verve, sauce of shadows, distaff of Godiva, for the break-neck of Godspeed be his ended bough!”

Here would be such. Godiva, in this instance, is none but the thought that leaves the great compatriot and furthers the end of the protagonist into inseperable [sic] and indecipherable conclusions. Godiva (as chocolatier to come later), though not one of these ends, is certainly the principal “endomorphin of choice” when one “breaches the barrier of transmorgraphication” [sic] and begins “anew” as in “Tertiary singularity.”

Through these revelations, and arguably only through these revelations, does one define a certain “raison d’etre” that may explicate the afformentioned [sic] “mystic of the effervescence”. And so it is good.

Reasons to search for other verbiage notwithstanding there are suppositions yet to discover in the search for quantum mechanics “round and round as the crow flies.” It must not be relegated to a lesser extreme unction. Superfluous magnanimity and post-affectation linguistical pyrotechnics are a primary respite of the maternal/cryogenic/hermetological/ metamorphic/ Thesauranistic impulsives/compulsives of history.

“Thingularity” vs “Singularity”. It’s an important distinction.

Marcus Hartford

Marcus:Ah. In that case, I withdraw my objection, though not without wishing to have it noted that double-boiling in itself represents both the canonical variations mentioned by Lupone and the theocrastic dichotomy of the sequence, “pallet, pallette, palate”, that is found in Socrates (who committed suicide at the order of the Greek Senate by drinking hemlock; that is well-known; what is less well-known is that the hemlock was placed in a cup not of the fruit of the grape but of “cakoyu”, or, as we would call it, “hot chocolate”, because Socrates felt that no wine could compare with the metaphorical avoirdupois of this southern delicacy–a direct slap at Porpopolous, the usual provider of execution wines, who had not long before attempted to charge Socrates nearly ten latte [about 40 cents US] for a half-jug of indifferent ouzo; an act of such ardent rapacity that Socrates never forgave him. Exactly why a Greek wine merchant was demanding to be paid in Burmese currency has never been satisfactorily explained, although speculation centers around a fiduciary irregularity in one of his interest-bearing money-market accounts).

Gaby said, “I certainly think we should just let them be elephants but my big concern is their survival in the wild.’

This is clearly off-topic and irrelevant. The “survival” of elephants “in the wild” is of no interest compared to their impact on our collective psyche (look at the popularity of Babar) and imagination since they have no contradistinctive reality apart from it, as Ms. Field so cleverly suggests. The real issues have been, once again, clearly delineated by S. Morgenstern (even if he can’t spell “Expedition”), and these are the grounds in which speculation and commentary may prove most fertile.

For example, here:

‘Largeness’ being a universal trait of “The Universe” (big U) and (not unlike the recently ‘bandied about’ artist Botero’s own awareness/expression of such) brings one to the creature which most expresses the deeper meaning of ‘Universality’ itself by merely ‘being’. Size then is important for this discourse.

This brilliant juxtaposition of the work of the pseudo-quasi-artiste Botero with the massive implications of social destructuring suggested in the “largeness” (or again, the “largesse”) of the representational anagram points clearly to the dichometrical pusillanimity of a colonial configuration. This has even reached the “street”, where such phrases as “elePHAT” (something really good) and “going elephantal” (maintaining the highest possible level of expectations for oneself) are in common usage everywhere.

Or here:

Pachederms [sic]/elephants indeed bring one to ‘knees of worship’ (AJ Farnsworth of the National Geographic) . To find in the elephant a treasure trove (or ‘trunk’, if you will) of import is not uncommon in Africa also. In fact breaking with tradition the Hampa tribe of the Skeleton Coast brings about the deepest appreciation and though it has been recorded through history to be a fossilized sub species the prehistoric Mammoth is no different on its effect to early developmental mankind/womankind/childhood hunter gatherers of the plains. The ferocity of elephantine coalescence and indigenous cultural integrity of prior generations of bushmen bring forth a panoply of mismatching hectares on the African geographic ‘inter- exetero- aspersion’.

This exegesis could hardly be clearer, and his use of the monochromatic metaphor of the “trunk” linked to man’s early creation of the word “mammoth” to describe it show that without doubt the image and meaning of “elephant” is deep in the collective unconscious, and, indeed, may properly be considered to be one of the founding formatives in the tangential psychometry of the development of the id.

Or yet again, here:

Stone wielding aboriginis which never saw elephants on their native soil found ghost-like apparitions of elephant-like ‘sublimations’ (as the primordial ‘walkabout’ sayings go) near the ‘red rocks’ of central Australia. The visions are confirmed and fire the imaginations only because the inherent mystery leaves the storied tales to the wayward gurus who without pretense dispense as traditionally required the ramifications of this ‘animalian spirituality’ so confirmed.

This single paragraph contains within it the fruit of endless speculative primordial ahistorical analysis that might be expected to provide enriching material for a hundred post-doctoral- graduate theses.

But let us have no more of the interruptions of a Gaby, who so misunderstands or misintuits the significance of the topic question, the effect of which is to belittle its relevance and the cutting-edge nature of its psycho-social penetration, that doubt is cast on its ultimate importance.

From Mark: “I think we are facing a serious ecological challenge and what we need are serious discussions.”

While the first half of this syllogistic paradigm is obviously true, I’m afraid I must respectfully disagree with the second. Serious discussions of physical issues such as ecology are, as the television producers obviously understand (and as is shown in their consistent choice of so- called “inconsequential” topics) no longer of any lasting isometric value. In this, the first decade of a brand-new millennium, psycho-social issues are far more important and of more lasting interest, and these are nearly always discovered lurking close under the skin of the kind of trivial, often unnoticed phenomena which these producers have quite rightly dedicated themselves to unearthing.

Marcus undoubtedly understands this, as Mark, Gaby and Don do not, and consequently aims the thread of his remarks toward deepening our understanding of the underground role of nonentitious and entropic co-prosities in social functioning. And, of course, the shows in question were chosen using the very same criterium: their ability to illuminate and “enlarge” our comprehension of the heretofore unknown role of triviality in modern psychometric profiling.

Look around you, Mark–is the burgeoning ecological disaster of, say, “global warming” receiving significant attention in the mass media? No–lip service only. Why? Because it isn’t important any more. In the new era, again, as the producers clearly understand, the new society values bits of small, seemingly unimportant and irrelevant data, attitudes, and personal responses to vicarious and virtual realities over the antiquated concerns of the old century (viz., “ecology”, “democracy”, “ethics”, etc.), replacing them in toto with our modern concerns (viz., virtual-reality architecture, self-responsive impulses, “looking out for No. 1”, etc.).

It is a new day with new sociopathological endives, and The Media is simply responding to them, it seems to me, with characteristic opportunism. Carpe diem, as they say. I think it would behoove you to leave your old-fashioned, and may I say, anachronistic attitudes behind and attempt to join in the spirit of the new eon. Marcus will continue, I am sure, to provide us with trustworthy guidance through this minefield of trivia, finding gold where you may see only pyrite.

I say this with all due respect, of course.

Samson Haverhill

ps. As both you and Don seem so concerned, I have kept the language of this missive as simple as possible so as not to impede your comprehension.

In that last letter, it would seem that Mr Haverhill was responding to some concern (hardly creditable to us) that the quasi-artist Botero was not a fit subject for a serious documentary, and Mr Haverhill was replying that of course he wasn’t, that was the whole point. Unfortunately, neither the COCS nor I myself have been able to find any record that such a documentary was ever produced by anyone anywhere at any time, leaving us mystified as to why–and how–these correspondents would have–or could have–carried on such a lengthy and determinedly passionate argument over something which apparently didn’t exist. But of course, they were academics of extraordinary intelligence and language skills, the kind of people who, a few hundred years ago, would have argued for a couple of decades over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin, so anything is possible.Given that several letters in the chain are clearly missing, it is at this point impossible to know for certain if Mr Haverhill was in fact, as he appears to be, graciously admitting his misunderstanding of Mr Hartford’s previous point at the beginning of the last letter, or if his benediction was actually intended for another of the correspondents. The latter seems the more likely option because of what we know of the poisonous atmosphere that existed between these two superstars of scholarship, but one of the irritating weaknesses of this remarkable find is that the dates of this correspondence have entirely vanished (or at least have remained hidden thus far from the eager beavers at COCS). It is therefore impossible to tell exactly where in the chronology of their rivalry these incendiary letters fall. Do they belong to the earlier “Blue” period when the two bitter opponents were still known to be speaking to each other, if coldly? Or to the later “Red” period that led up to the duel, a period during which Mr Haverhill, when he discovered that Mr Hartford favored the same brand of rare Brazilian cold cream that Mr Haverhill used, tore out huge chunks of his thinning hair and mailed them to Simon Haverford, Prefect of Ocho University in Madrid, Ohio, with a note that said, “Look what that bastard has done to me!”?

If the latter, we apparently have startling new evidence that these two prickly prima-donna pedants were capable of putting aside their mutual loathing in order to profitably discuss an area of mutual interest, a development that will undoubtedly give quasi-artistic socioculturists and historians Excedrin headaches for the next twenty years, for it throws a Montana-sized monkey wrench into the well-developed sub-discipline of Haverhill-Hartford scholarship that is bound to reverberate globally, casting pearls of doubt over the core of discipline’s foundational dogmas. If the former, who cares?

Timing, they say, is everything, and in this case that’s certainly true. Work continues apace at COCS and we can only hope that some undreamed-of stroke of good fortune will lead the hunters to the lair of the beast where hide the Dates of Truth. Perhaps one or more of the other correspondents in the chain will step forward with the critical information and maybe even some of the missing letters. Until then, we can only speculate as to their ultimate meaning, which, if it does nothing else, will provide useful employment for a bevy of otherwise idle and unemployable academics who, without it, would be wandering the streets, homeless, sadly clutching their dog-eared copies of Haverhill’s mythically seminal tome, Fiduciary Responsibilities in Avro-Markensian Sinecures During the Reign of Paliser IV, to their chests and lecturing themselves at the top of their lungs.

It’s a small price to pay.

Rice Pudding–The Sequel

In case you were wondering, here’s the post I had just finished Monday when the computer went phzzzzt, szzl, crinch! (I wouldn’t want you to miss anything):

We aren’t often lucky enough to get a peek at what kind of thinking is going on deep underground at GOP HQ, but today Condi Rice may have given us one.

Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday that the administration was worried that terrorist groups could find the approaching presidential election “too good to pass up” and that Washington was already considering measures to deter an attack seeking to influence the election’s outcome.Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Ms. Rice acknowledged that the March 11 train attacks in Spain, for which groups linked to Al Qaeda have been blamed, could send what she called “the wrong message.”

Is this sloppy writing or does Minute Rice actually think the message of the Spanish attack is confusing? Who does she think she’s dealing with, graffitti-writing teen-agers who aren’t sure what they want? If there are any doubts left of her incompetence after her sad performance in front of the 9/11 Commission, she’s erasing them every time she opens her mouth.

“[W]e are actively looking at that possibility, actively trying to make certain that we are responding appropriately.”

Uh-huh. I’ll let Tim Dunlop at The Road to Surfdom take this one; I couldn’t say it any better.

We are “trying to see” if we’re doing the right thing? She “thinks” they have to take the chance of attack seriously? If this is any indication of how prepared they are now, two years after 9/11, after the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, after Bali, after Madrid, then I submit they simply didn’t have a clue prior to 9/11. I would expect her to be able to give chapter and verse on how prepared they are, or at least some confident indication that they have it under control. Instead we get this drivel.

Yup. “Drivel” is a good word. But her most interesting statement is this little tidbit that I think escaped her subconscious without her noticing:

“I think we also have to take seriously that they might try during the cycle leading up to the election to do something,” she said. “In some ways, it seems like it would be too good to pass up for them….” She added: “The hard thing about terrorism is that they only have to be right once, and we have to be right 100 percent of the time. And nobody can be certain there won’t be another attack. But, of course, we are concerned about the election cycle.”

Where that’s coming from are the sub rosa dialogues going on in the deepest, darkest caves where radcon strategy sessions are held. In the same way that the radcons speculated before 9/11 about what they’d need to justify an invasion of Iraq (remember “We’d need another Pearl Harbor”?), they’re speculating NOW about how to maintain their hold on power at the end of Junior’s second term. The discussions are running in two directions:

1) Repeal the 2-term limit that Publicans passed to keep Roosevelt from a possible fourth term so Junior can run in perpetuity. This was their favorite until the public began to catch on to his weaknesses; they thought that, like Reagan, Bush’s eternal popularity combined with the Personality Cult they’d built up around him so carefully would ensure endless popularly-elected BA’s for as long as they could prop him up. When that whole facade began to crumble, they went to Option #2:

2) “We’d need another Pearl Harbor.” What possible excuse could they come up with to justify cancelling elections altogether? Answer: Another 9/11, or, failing that, the threat of another 9/11.

So here’s how the meme will go in the Mighty Wurlitzer: We have received a dire threat from the terrorists to use every possible means to disrupt our democracy by disrupting the election process. It’s too dangerous to hold elections at a moment like this because it puts our democracy in jeopardy. We are at war and cannot afford the luxury of an election, especially when the opposition are traitors who will sell out the country to the terrorists if they win. It’s a risk we can’t afford to take. We must postpone the elections until our victory over the enemy makes it once again feasible for our democracy to flourish without danger to voters. And it’s only temporary. Really. Honest. We mean that. (Heh-heh. Nitwits.)

Sound far-fetched? Not to the radcons, it doesn’t. And the beauty of this is that it rewards their almost total incompetence by arguing that the worse they make things, the more we need to keep them in power.

Their desperation to maintain their grip on govt on behalf of right-wing loonies and greedy corporations who like the way things are going is almost palpable. They have always been capable, as we now know, of entertaining the worst, loopiest, most un-democratic notions without so much as a twinge of doubt or a soupcon of conscience. A little thing like cancelling a national election “for the greater good of the country” wouldn’t cause them to lose so much as 30 seconds’ sleep.

Remember: You heard it here first.

Who Am I?

Perhaps I’ve already been infected by Lenny’s sick sense of honor and honesty. Or maybe I’m just screwing around. In any case, I have decided to come out–or pretend to come out–from under a layer of deceit, though not perhaps from under all of them, ay? The more eagle-eyed of you will notice that my post signature has changed from “maja” to “Mick”. That’s because it seemed to me time to dispense with anonymity–maybe–and ‘fess up. Or not. It could be that I got tired of one identity and manufactured/stole/copied from an 18th century tombstone a new one.

It’s entirely plausible that my real name is Marc Arran; possible, even. Though I’m not saying it is, I’m also not saying it isn’t. And it may be that at some time in the distant past, having gained a local reputation for playing drunken Irishmen in Shakespearean plays (you didn’t know there were any drunken Irishmen in Shakespeare? you should have been paying more attention in high school; see what you missed?), I managed to gather unto myself the nick of Mick because, as I prefer to believe, my Irish accent was flawless, NOT because I was such a good drunk.

And it’s not beyond the realm of all potential possibilities that I originally chose “maja” as a handle because, so I was told (though thinking back on it, it may have been a joke), that in Roumanian “maja” means “omniscient, all-seeing”, and I instinctively gravitated toward it as an apt and accurate description of the way I thought of myself. Or perhaps I picked it out of a hat which included handles such as tearjerker_seaweed, mishkoshVminot, and morallyrepugnantandproudofit, and considered that I had got off easy.

It may be true that I have been (select all that seem to apply):

# A taxi-driver
# A CIA contract agent’s go-fer
# A spot-welder
# A rich woman’s boy-toy
# A factory worker and day-laborer
# 3 sheets to the wind
# All of the above…and more
# None of the above…and less

(Warning: I may have led a very strange life and as a result the things you may believe to be true aren’t and the ones you think can’t possibly be true are. Then again, maybe I’m an accountant and consequently too boring to be of interest. Choose. The correct answer will win a coffee-date with Adnan Khoshoggi and Madonna.)

Naturally, this whole post may be an outright invention–Fantasy, LIE, Rip-Off. Maybe my name is actually Gertruden Hofftschtinkler and I mine pyrite in the Bavarian Alfs (a group of identical aliens whose musculature is loaded with the stuff and who landed in the mountains near Berchtesgarten in 1985, looked around for 10 or 15 seconds and moved immediately to LA where they instantly, of course, got their own tv show in which they took turns pretending to be an ugly Muppet). Either it’s all possible or none of it is.

Welcome to the 21st Century Blogosphere.

PS. And yes, I am male, the “a” at the end of “maja” notwithstanding. So ends that confusion, though it was fun while it lasted.

Quotes of the Day

The earnings potential is so powerful that the patriotism issue may have to take a back seat.–Kate Barton, partner in the corporate accounting firm, Enst&Young, talking about corporations ducking out of their tax obligations by becoming a Bermuda corp on paper

Haven’t we already given money to rich people?–George W Bush

To be clever enough to get all the money, one must be stupid enough to want it. — G. K. Chesterton

My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.–Patricia Graynamore (Meg Ryan, Joe Versus the Volcano)

Patriotism is easy to understand in America. It means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.–Calvin Coolidge

Condi and Junior

What Condi and Junior apparently expected….(Via Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof)

An American Police State In The Making

OK, gut-reaction time. I hope I’m wrong about this:

The White House is weighing whether to pre-empt the Sept. 11 commission’s final report this summer by embracing a proposal to create a powerful new post of director of national intelligence, administration officials said on Thursday.Under the proposal, management of the government’s 15 intelligence agencies, and control of their budgets, would be put under the direction of a single person. That authority is now scattered across a number of departments and agencies.

This plan was developed some time ago by Brent Scowcroft, Poppy’s National Security Advisor (who, while I had many differences with him, at least knew what the phrase “national security” meant) and was ignored by the WH until Karl could find a political use for it. Now, in an attempt to undercut the damage the Commission’s report will apparently do to Junior’s image as Mr Terrorist-Fighter, the BA is going to drag this thing out of the closet and propose it for real.

There are two problems with this approach no matter whose it is. Let’s take the lesser one first: it probably won’t work. Nixon tried the same thing when he reorganized the various agencies or sections of agencies responsible for policing the trade in illegal drugs, folding the BNDD (Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs), part of ATF (Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms), and part of the FBI into the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). The result was, at best, only a marginal improvement over what came before it. Intelligence didn’t get any better, of course, just because they were sharing it, and the cowboy mentality of the new DEA soon had SWAT teams breaking down the doors of elderly couples because DEA “sources” had given their handlers the wrong address (or the wrong town, state, country). The old turf wars were replaced instantly by new turf wars (that exist to this day, albeit in less virulent form than in the early days), co-ordination with street cops–the fundamental intelligence gatherers in the drug war system–was significantly worsened because the new power of the DEA required them to take control of investigations, which street cops resented (they still call the DEA “Glory Hounds”–and worse (“The Drug Enablement Agency” is one I’ve heard)–and Customs, furious that its budget had been cut, developed layers of new management levels to insulate itself from DEA interference.

The IC itself tried to co-ordinate the sharing of international intelligence by creating “intelligence steering committees” like the DID (Defense Intelligence Directorate) and the SISG (State Intelligence Steering Group) in which the heads or deputy heads of the IC–CIA, NSA, NI (Naval Intelligence), G2 (Army Intelligence), DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), SDI (State Dept Intelligence) and so on (there are 15 of them)–would meet regularly to share information and develop strategies. That hasn’t worked all that well, either. Turf battles remain as Directors jealously guard any information that they either want the credit for developing or don’t trust the other agencies to handle, and most meetings turn out to be a lot like playing 7-card stud, with everyone showing a few goodies but keeping their Aces firmly in the hole–and playing them close to the vest.

The worst part of re-organizations like this, though, is that they inevitably give the new agency a whole lot more power to invade privacy and run roughshod over inconvenient laws than they ever had before. The DEA is allowed to do things no police agency before it was empowered to do, and that brings us to the second and far more serious difficulty with this proposal.

Giving a single authority the right to collect, examine and act on whatever it considers to be information “vital to the nation’s security” comes periously close to the creation of a KGB-style secret police. At some point, I want to write a post devoted to an explanation of exactly why our intelligence-gathering capabilities are so poor (the way profiling is used is at the top of the list, followed closely by an unhealthy reliance on technology), but for now suffice it to say that no police or intelligence agency on the planet is ever satisfied; no amount of information is “enough”–there’s always more you want, more you claim you need, and the requirements have no inherent limits.

Last December, John McKay at archy (who has also just redesigned his site, and it looks terrific), reported on a Chicago Sun-Times article (no longer available) about a new FBI counter-terrorism initiative:

The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning.[…]

“The practice of researching potential targets is consistent with known methods of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations that seek to maximize the likelihood of operational success through careful planning,” the FBI wrote.

This is the sort of KGB-like insanity we can expect from an agency with new powers and the rock-ribbed belief that everything they can find out about somebody should be theirs for the taking. (John asked at the time: “I wonder if you can use an almanac to find the White House?”) I’d worry a lot less about this were it not for the new PATRIOT Acts, which are tailor-made to allow a police state to develop in the name of making us “safer”.

The creation of an intelligence agency that destroys the boundaries between international and domestic intelligence-gathering is dangerous enough, but combined with laws that dispense with little things like warrants and probable cause, you’ve got an ideal environment for the radical growth of a police state.

AirAmerica Not Aired

AirAmerica, thanks, perhaps, to Matt Drudge, is already involved in its first flap. Taken off the air in Chicago and LA yesterday Drudge said it was because they bounced a check to Multicultural Broadcasting, which owns the stations.

The CHICAGO TRIBUNE is developing a story, insiders tell DRUDGE, on how the network was pulled off the air this morning in Chicago and Los Angeles, the network’s second- and third-largest markets, because, the owner of both stations said, the network bounced a check and owes him more than $1 million! A charge the network strongly denies.A Chicago source familiar with the situation said a Multicultural representative showed up at WNTD’s offices Wednesday morning, kicked out Air America’s lone staffer overseeing the network’s feed to the station from New York, switched over to a Spanish-language feed, and changed the locks on the doors…

AirAmerica General Counsel David Goodfriend said on the Randi Rhodes Show yesterday that Arthur Liu, Chairman of Multicultural, had “stolen” money from AirAmerica and that AAR, which had in fact written the checks, stopped payment on them until the dispute could be settled. Liu’s response was to shut down the two stations.

According to the suit filed in NY (available at The Smoking Gun), the dispute involved irregularities in the account connected with the Santa Monica station, and that “[r]ather than attempt to resolve the matter by arbitration as required by [their] agreement”, MRA had taken “this drastic action”, forcing AAR off the air in two of its six markets.

Goodfriend said that Liu had sold the same broadcast time both to AAR and to another company, and was attempting to “piggyback” the signal. This was a violation of both MRA’s agreement with AAR–and the law. If these allegations are true, AAR had every right, even an obligation, to with-hold payment until the matter was settled. Liu’s over-reaction and Drudge’s rush to judgment were both ill-advised–SOP for Drudge–and now the rumors are flying that AAR is broke.

I don’t think this was a set-up but the right-wing has jumped all over this in an attempt to exploit the opportunity it gives them to hype their “liberal radio can’t succeed” meme. That alone tells me they’re afraid of its potential. Robert Denton Jr, conservative Prof of Communications at Virginia Tech, explains the right-wing view.

“But if you take NPR, some would argue also ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, the liberal voice is already dominant. The thirst is already being quenched. So, if you’re not unique and you don’t fill a niche, then it does say there may not be at this point a large enough market for a more slanted kind of perspective.”

I don’t think I have to explain why the idea that ABC, NBC, CBS(!), and CNN are “liberal” is laughable and that NPR is debatable at the least, and I’m not going to bother pointing out how “slanted” most of these networks are to the right, or that the right has consistently defined anything to the left of Genghis Khan as “loony, liberal, lalaland”. The meme is nonsense, but perception is everything.

Don’t pay any attention to them. This is a business dispute badly handled by Mr Liu, nothing more. AAR will get its TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) and the argument will get resolved in arbitration as it should have been in the first place. But in the meantime, Liu’s fit of pique (a lock-out, for chrissake!) after getting caught trying to pull a fast one is unconscionable and indefensible. And it may hurt AAR very badly.

The Rittenhouse Poll

Vote in this week’s Rittenhouse Poll:

Question: Who is the most dishonest member of the Bush administration?Possible answers (in alphabetical order): John Ashcroft, George W. Bush, Elaine Chao, Dick Cheney, Scott McClellan, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld.

As Jeanne said, it’s a “tough choice.” I’m at a loss, leaning toward Ashcroft (Rice is a flash-in-the-pan, not a stayer) because he is and always has been such a sleaze, but so have Cheney and Rumsfeld. Junior is out of his league here, I think. He doesn’t lie so much as believe things that aren’t true–most of which he was told by Cheney, Rumsfeld or Ashcroft, so I think they HAVE to be The Big Three.

We got a couple days before Rittenhouse takes down the poll. I’m going to have to think about it. It’s soooooooo close!