Herodotean Laughter: Snickering Along With Clio Snort.  Snicker.  Guffaw.  Scold.

Herodotean Laughter: Snickering Along With Clio

We Are Not Amused.  Okay, Maybe We Are.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Congratulations to the ChiSox.

They played and won, and they deserved to win through they way in which they played. The Astros did not play as they ought, did not win, and did not deserve to win.

That is an absolute.

That said....

The ALDS and ALCS opponents of the ChiSox have a beef coming. As does every baseball fan in the country, including Braves and Cards fans. Officiating in the post-season has been abysmally bad. All the teams in the post-season derived benefits from this - the Astros included; all (yes, including the White Sox) suffered penalties from this. The teams that faced the ChiSox before the World Series have a legitimate beef, however, in that Chicago benefited far more from poor calls than did their AL postseason opponents. The same could be said of the officiating in the World Series, but is irrelevant: the Astros had innumerable opportunities to win despite miserable umpiring, and failed utterly and embarrassingly. The Astros are not entitled to complain.

Astros fans, by contrast, are entitled to complain. They are entitled to complain of officiating errors that far more often favored the Sox than the Astros. They are entitled to complain that their team faced not only nine opponents in the field, but Blue as well. And they are entitled to sheer fury against the contemptible little used-car salesman who occupies and disgraces the office of Commissioner of Baseball. Either the Commissioner's Office or the home team ought have the absolute authority to open or close the roof at Minute Maid as it sees fit; and if it is to be the Commissioner's Office, there must be absolute, objective, bright-line rules, and those rules must not change between the NLDS and NLCS on the one hand, and the World Series on the other. The invariably disgusting Bud Selig should be lynched, not that that is anything new: the man is beneath contempt, an utterly despicable and abject creature who has done more to hurt the game, and not only this year, than Joe Jackson and Black Sox ever did.

Nonetheless, the Astros as a team had myriad chances even with all of these things working against them, and they failed utterly and noisomely, and the stench of their failure hangs over the city that has put up with them for 43 years like a gas cloud from a Channel refinery explosion.

Mostly, of course, the Astros fans have a beef against their team. It is simply inexcusable for men making millions of dollars for playing a child's game to fail to execute in this fashion. There ought to be a sliding scale next year, based upon the position of the runners and the number of outs, under which substantial club fines are levied against batters who fail to advance baserunners. Alternatively, Messrs Garner, Gaetti, and Hickey ought to be issued cattle prods for use in the dugout.

Chicago can hold its collective head high: they played to win, deserved to win, and did win, and would have won against the Astros, with the Astros playing as they played, had every call gone in Houston's favor and the game been played in a broom-closet. They deserve their victory and the congratulations that go with it.

The fans of the Astros deserve commiseration.

The Astros as a team, or at least the position players and the pen, deserve nothing but execration for the World Series performances, if you can call those performances, they turned in.

Congratulations, ChiSox. Astros ... well, this is a family blog, so, never mind.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Dry As Beaune.

And no breezier than most politicians. No damage.

Spotty ISP here, though, so - the recap will be Sunday or Monday.

But: all well here, save the omnipresence of Sheila Jackson Lee on every channel.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Notes From a Silent City.

Well, even my old Epinions colleague Laurence Simon is bugging on out.

Sensible man.

I expect things will be rough here.

I also expect that, out where we'll be, all will be well, and all manner of thing ... you get the drift.

In the interim, it is an instructive time.

A state in which even Governor Goodhair, although 'dumber'n ary painted post,' can make decisions, in advance of disaster.

A city and a county in which a Republican county executive and a grown-up Democrat as mayor can work together, and do, and don't whine to the Feds to act as the first responders that the Feds by law and custom are not.

A city in which the mayor is not so busy yelling, 'I am the MAYOR!' to, well, go about the business of mayoring. (Question: having not merely evacuated, but having bought a homestead in Dallas and enrolled his kids in DISD schools, is Ol' C. Ray the mayor of Nawlins anymore? Or has he abdicated, constructively resigned?)

A region in which the thin yellow line, bus upon bus, moved, rather than sat and swamped, and took evacuees towards safety.

None of this fits the Legacy Media's narrative, so it will be buried.

So be it. We'll get through, and then we'll go back to upsetting the MSM / Kossack / Moore is Less narrative, curing your cancers, fixing your hearts, defending your way of life, governing your country better than the darlings of the MSM ever did or could, gassing your cars, getting your food to your table and your cotton shirts to your tailors, and running your space program. We don't expect thanks for that, we know not to, so we don't expect sympathy or the MSM's crocodile tears here either.

We'll just see y'all on down the road, and we'll still be us, and if you had any nous, you'd be damned grateful we are.

Monday, September 05, 2005

It’s been quite some time since I’ve taken to this – by now moribund – blog. Blogging, per se, simply takes more time than I generally have available.

However, it is now even more necessary than commonly to speak up, and speak out.

For those of you who are new here, I am impelled to make a few brief introductory remarks. I am a Democrat, albeit a conservative first before I am a party man. I hold my undergraduate degree (double major, Politics [Special Honors] and Philosophy) and my law degree both from Washington & Lee. A native Houstonian, I have lived through hurricanes and tropical storms, and have long had a neighborly interest in the politics of Louisiana, ‘next door’ to us as they are. I served with a total lack of distinction with the current Stonewall Brigade, 3/116 INF, 29th INF DVN (LT), Virginia ARNG. I’m a member of the Society for Military History, the Organization of American Historians, the Southern Historical Association, the Southwestern Social Science Association, the Southwestern Historical Association, the Southwestern Political Science Association, the Virginia Historical Society, and the Texas State Historical Association.

It is from that perspective that I say what I am here saying.

The situation in New Orleans has root causes (as what does not?). Those root causes are peculiar to New Orleans and to Louisiana. They are causes rooted in the political culture and history of Louisiana.

I would like to believe that those who are reading this have so much as heard of James B. Eads, of Ellet and Humphreys, and of the 1927 flood. I wish that at the very least I could expect you to have read John M. Barry’s Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America, Nancy Lemann’s The Ritz of the Bayou, John Maginnis’s The Last Hayride and Cross to Bear, and A. J. Liebling’s immortal and seminal The Earl of Louisiana.

But I cannot expect that.

Thus, I will do my best to explain from the beginning.

A common comment, at home and abroad, to the scenes broadcast from New Orleans, was, ‘My God, it looks like Haiti.’ (I note that in fact, Mississippi was hit harder by the actual hurricane, but the news is skewed – think of it as analogous to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle – by the fact that the news crews chose to go to New Orleans. I also note that the crews were imbedded there before the storm hit, and that moving an anchorman is logistically much easier than moving a division of troops.)

Yes, many of the scenes did look like something from Haiti. The reason is simple. To paraphrase Liebling, Louisiana is the only banana republic in the US.

This was so when Liebling wrote of the Long Machine: and Huey P. Long and ‘Uncle Earl’ Long were called into being, as political forces, by the Old Order’s perceived failures in handling the Flood of 1927 (just as it was the handling of the relief that, added to previous triumphs as a relief administrator during and after the Great War, made Herbert Hoover presidential timber).

It is as true today, because incompetence, inefficiency, and corruption are built into the post-1927 system in Louisiana, and were part of the political culture of Louisiana well before that. The truly Byzantine complexity of responsibilities, for any given levee or any municipal ward or any other political subdivision in the state, the divided responsibilities of boards, parishes, and Baton Rouge, do not truly exist to improve public administration or enhance public safety, and they do not do these things save incidentally, nor do they do them well. What they are designed to do, and have done exquisitely, is to produce, multiply, and augment, and to deliver, one product: patronage.

The historic, entrenched climate of political corruption in Louisiana generally and in New Orleans and the metropolitan parishes specifically is the most salient, proximate, causal factor in the loss of lives we are now mourning.

When Liebling was writing, the New York Times and The New Yorker – as constituent elements of, and as synecdoches for, the ‘mainstream’ or ‘legacy’ national press and media – reveled in what they saw as their duty of pointing out these manifold corruptions.

The mechanisms of corruption have not materially changed.

What has changed, and what seems to be the only real and plausible explanation for the change in the legacy media’s narrative, its unwillingness to mark these corruptions, is that the hands on the levers of this unmodified mechanism are no longer those of white Southern men unidentified with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. It no longer fits the chosen narrative of the legacy media to call attention to these things.

Governor Blanco is mendacious, but not personally corrupt. She is however woefully incompetent, and desperate to shift blame: in which effort she has found a sufficiency of purely partisan allies.

Mayor Nagin is perhaps the most personally honest man to lead New Orleans in decades, and one of the most honest since, say, Miro and Carondelet. He is, however, woefully incompetent, and desperate to shift blame: in which effort he has found a sufficiency of purely partisan allies.

His point man for managing disasters – a disastrous manager – may well not be personally corrupt, but his abject incompetence is nakedly obvious. Terry Ebbert is, understandably, desperate to shift blame: in which effort he has found a sufficiency of purely partisan allies.

In the weeks prior to Katrina, the news stories out of Louisiana spoke eloquently to the failure of governance. A two and a half year federal corruption probe continued and continues at the Jefferson Parish courthouses, targeting judges and law enforcement. The New Orleans school system did not know how many students and employees it had in the system, what resources it had, or how to balance its budget, which is a deficit-ridden shambles.

Such things were portents.

It is only within the past five to ten years that the NOPD has finally ceased accepting convicted felons as police officers.

The murder rate and crime rate in NO are off the charts. No other Southern city has remained thus crippled. Then again, no other Southern city is as infested by corruption, mafiosi, and graft. Nagin’s predecessor’s family spent most of the past summer getting indicted, and that’s commonplace in Louisiana and NO politics. Chicago at its worst was less corrupt.

Let me pause, here, to remind or enlighten you: the ‘Posse Comitatus’ Act constrains any Administration from use of the Army and Air Force to execute the laws, save in cases of insurrection (there are certain exceptions for the Navy and the Coast Guard). When there is not a police presence to support and the governor, for reasons of turf, won’t mobilize the Guard, it stymies the DoD and the White House. Guess what has happened in this very instance….

So. Let us look. Let us look at what has happened.

There was a disaster plan for New Orleans. It required mandatory evacuations. It required the use of designated shelters – of which the Superdome was not one. It was the responsibility of Blanco, Nagin, and Ebberts to execute.

They didn’t.

In fact, the mandatory evacuation order – too little and far too late – was issued by Blanco only after she was begged by the President to order it. No wonder she’s trying to shift blame.

Nagin and Ebbert did not execute. Nor did they provide for those without the ability to evacuate on their own: they left between 400 and 500 city and metro buses standing empty in parking lots, that could have materially assisted the evacuation of those without access to private transportation. Of course, we now have reason to suspect that the NO school system may not have known it had buses, or drivers, or how to reach them. Those buses, now ruined, are still sitting in rows, like planes at Pearl Harbor and Manila on 7 and 8 DEC 1941: sitting, ruined, and leaking toxic sludge into the floodwaters. No wonder they’re trying to shift blame.

New Orleans had a scare last year – Hurricane Ivan – that provided these same officials with a dry run. They made the exact same mistakes. Like the city’s founding French Bourbons, they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. No wonder they’re trying to shift blame.

Let’s be clear here. In the first place, New Orleans received neither a direct hit from Katrina nor did it catch the ‘dirty quarter’ of the storm. Mississippi did. Do you see these problems where Haley Barbour is showing leadership? No.

What happened, instead, was the Pontchartrain levee failed. The newest and strongest and most recently upgraded one. Which is to standard: a standard set under LBJ, in 1965, and not changed since by any Congress or any Administration. The levees are engineered for a Cat 3 hurricane. Katrina was a Cat 4.

Everyone knew that was the danger. George W. Bush could have started the Corps in on upgrading the levees the day he first took office and they wouldn’t be done. In fact, the idea to study the possibility of doing so was adopted in 1999, under Clinton, and set to result in a completed study and the possible start of work only in 2006.

That is why the plans have always been to evacuate, on a mandatory basis, 72 hours prior to landfall. Blanco and Nagin didn’t. Only pressure from GWB got them to order an evac at all. No wonder they’re trying to shift blame.

Prior to the disaster, the Bush White House – which, we know now, was also having to deal with the imminent death of the Chief Justice of the United States, in addition to all the other business of government – tried to federalize and streamline the emergency management and the evac. Blanco resisted, in a turf war. No wonder she’s trying to shift blame.

Blanco did not mobilize her own National Guard – the disaster relief elements of which, including its civil engineers BDE, are not in Iraq, by the way – beforehand. No wonder she’s trying to shift blame.

Blanco did not, until well after the disaster was already unmanageable, make any, much less any valid, request for ANG units from other states, under the compact, to assist. No wonder she’s trying to shift blame.

Two thirds of the NOPD have deserted, quit, vanished, or joined the looting since the storm and the subsequent levee failure. Contrast this with the NYPD on 9/11. Contrast the Giuliani culture of leadership to Nagin’s and Ebbert’s. No wonder they’re trying to shift blame.

Blanco, when she did move, prompted primarily, it seems, only by the threat of losing turf wars with an Administration trying to take charge and save lives, delegated command to the Louisiana State Department of Homeland Security. I see bloggers and such small deer on the left trying to conflate the Louisiana State Department of Homeland Security with the US – i.e., Bush – Department of Homeland Security, as when they misrepresent the Red Cross’s press release that says the Louisiana State Department of Homeland Security (and Blanco’s still-non-federalized National Guard) has kept the ARC out of the metro NO area. This means that the Lefties are either mendacious, illiterate, or both: common conditions on the Left, to be sure. No wonder they’re trying to shift blame.

By her actions and inactions, her paralysis in crises and her mendacity and playing partisan politics, Blanco rendered it effectively impossible under the Posse Comitatus Act for the Feds to assist timely and effectively. No wonder she’s trying to shift blame.

The systemic failure in New Orleans is explicable. So too is the fact that the systemic failure is centered on the NO metro parishes. A legacy of complacency and of complaisance with corruption; political infighting; partisan politics even as disaster loomed; and incompetence and paralysis compounded by lying post-facto attempts at shifting blame to the United States Government, are the material and proximate causes of what happened. The US Government – and let’s stop talking about ‘Bush this’ and ‘Bush that’: the Government of the United States – has responded to this natural disaster faster and more comprehensively than in any prior comparable situation. It was the first responders, it was specifically and individually Nagin, Ebberts, Blanco, and such subordinates as top cops Riley and Compass, who failed their citizens, with fatal consequences. And I’m sick of the Left lying about it, no matter that that is what they do first and do best.

By way of endnotes, here is a link-dump. It averages to about one link for each 9 or so buses Mayor Nagin failed to use to evacuate his constituents as called for in the emergency management plan he failed to follow. Those who fail first to read and absorb it, in toto, forfeit the right to be reasoned with or responded to.

Now if you will excuse me, I have more contributions to make and cast-off clothing to collect for the refugees in my city, as an act of practical charity and corporal mercy.
________________________________________
UPDATE, 0924, 6 SEP 2005: What was I saying about corruption? State DHS Indictments and FEMA Monies; the Governor Shown Incompetent.

And this may clarify matters as well: Katrina Response Timeline/.
________________________________________
http://michellemalkin.com/archives/003463.htm

http://michellemalkin.com/archives/003468.htm

http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/091904ccktWWLIvanFlaws.132602486.html

Ben Stein: http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=8693

http://moltenthought.blogspot.com/2005/09/katrina-aftermath-choke-lwm-moment-749.html on logistics

Don Luskin observes as the GAO and the NY Times take a, well, spin: http://www.poorandstupid.com/2005_08_28_chronArchive.asp#112566608136084148

http://donsingleton.blogspot.com/2005/09/who-is-responsible.html

http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/005375.php

http://corner.nationalreview.com/05_09_04_corner-archive.asp#075515

http://iraqnow.blogspot.com/

http://www.democracy-project.com/

http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/005372.php#comments

http://www.punditguy.com/2005/09/the_locals_verses_the_fed.html

http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050903-3850.html

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050827-1.html

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/011560.php

http://gaypatriot.net/2005/09/03/us-military-saves-the-day-now-what-do-liberals-say

http://www.homocon.com/archives/2005/09/those_who_cant.html

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9178815/site/newsweek/

http://donsingleton.blogspot.com/2005/09/criticism-of-bush-mounts.html

http://junkyardblog.net/archives/week_2005_08_28.html#004752

http://americansforfreedom.blogspot.com/2005/09/ive-had-it-with-people-blaming-this.html

http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2005/09/president-bushs-actions-saved.html

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=17362_The_Ray_Nagin_Memorial_Motor_Pool&only

http://theanchoressonline.com/2005/09/04/sitting-back-in-stunned-awe/

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=17361_Blanco_Refused_to_Act&only

http://chrenkoff.blogspot.com/2005/09/mississippi-versus-louisiana.html

http://instapundit.com/archives/025328.php

http://eurota.blogspot.com/2005/09/us-left-all-straws-clutched-every.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/30/national/30cycle.html

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_2997225

http://www.mudvillegazette.com/archives/003491.html

http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon_09_01_05ng.html

http://www.professorbainbridge.com/2005/09/combat_in_nola.html

http://www.postchronicle.com/commentary/article_212499.shtml

http://www.redstate.org/story/2005/9/1/221441/6933

http://www.redstate.org/story/2005/9/1/125948/7993

http://www.techcentralstation.com/090105A.html

http://www.techcentralstation.com/083105JKG.html

http://www.snopes.com/photos/katrina/looters.asp

http://www.radioblogger.com/#000957

http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110007203

http://instapundit.com/archives/025335.php

28 August: Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding: http://www.nola.com/newsflash/louisiana/index.ssf?/base/news-18/1125239940201382.xml&storylist=louisiana
and
http://www.freewillblog.com/index.php/weblog/comments/6027/
– and,
http://bushinatree.blogspot.com/2005/09/more-on-mayor.html

http://billhobbs.com/hobbsonline/007188.html

http://billhobbs.com/hobbsonline/007196.html

http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/005368.php

http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/005367.php

http://www.mudvillegazette.com/archives/003488.html

http://michellemalkin.com/archives/003447.htm

Bill Clinton defends the current administration, quite rightly: http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/005360.php

http://www.rogerlsimon.com/mt-archives/2005/09/cnn_masochism.php

http://theanchoressonline.com/2005/09/01/100-hrs-after-stormfall/

http://www.patrickruffini.com/archives/2005/09/hurricane_of_ha.php

http://vodkapundit.com/archives/008082.php

http://betsyspage.blogspot.com/2005/09/are-people-so-filled-with-hatred-for.html

http://polipundit.com/index.php?p=9806

http://www.proteinwisdom.com/index.php/weblog/entry/18940/

http://volokh.com/posts/1125665798.shtml

http://www.mattszabo.com/archives/2005/09/kanye_west_ageo.html

http://malcontent.typepad.com/malcontent/2005/09/kanye_west_deco.html

http://eurota.blogspot.com/2005/09/msm-blamestorming-under-radar.html

http://frum.nationalreview.com/archives/09022005.asp#075132

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Well. Here we are. I warned y’all when this began that I was not likely to update all that often, time being a luxury to me. But if I cannot match my fellow bloggers in frequency of output, perhaps I can try to match them in quality, and to deal with the Big Picture.

This seems as good a time as any to step back and look at a few things.

The Moral Equivalencies of Michael Moron

Shortly before docking and exploding at Lakehurst, NJ, totalitarian gasbag Michael Moore, accepting the Oscar for Best Faked Documentary, castigated the US government for liberating Iraq.

Clasping the podium with both trotters, Napoleon – I’m sorry, that was Orwell, wasn’t it. Ahem. Moore had had this
to say earlier at the, snort, Independent Spirit Awards (where all the indies independently just happened to goosestep to the same drummer):

‘The lesson for the children of Columbine this week is that violence is an accepted means by which to solve a conflict.’


Right. Snipers are rampaging through your school’s hallways, the SWAT Team and TacOps are coming, and Comrade Moore, the Oinker in Chief, tells the cops not to rescue you because their doing so would teach you and your fellow survivors, huddling under a library table, that ‘violence is an accepted means by which to solve a conflict.’

The real lesson for The Children – and isn’t it typically vicious of the Stupidest of All White Men, Michael Moore, to use this tragedy as freakin’ prop? – is in fact twofold. One, that there are no consequences to being a morally verminous gasbag as long as you mouth the approved pieties of the Left. And, two, that as long as you do so, you can lie and cheat and fake a ‘documentary,’ and be honored for it.

Thanks for the lesson there, Slim.

The Moral Authority of the UN

I see that some people, intelligent people, people not wholly disposed to regard this conflict as ‘unjust and evil,’ still have a hang-up over proceeding ‘without the UN.’ There is a sense that moral and political legitimacy derive, somehow, from the United Nations. This is inane as well as dangerous.

A little logic should clear things up. If the current operations – I’ll explain later why I use that phrase – are in fact just and ‘lawful,’ legitimate, they would not become more so simply because they had the imprimatur of Jacques Chiraq. If they were not just and legitimate, the UN could not, obviously, legitimate them.

Let us be clear. No principle of international law, no treaty obligations, no conventions, operate to transfer US or UK or Polish or Qatari or Spanish or Albanian or Kuwaiti or Australian or anybody else’s sovereignty to the UN. Each member state retains its sovereignty, and is entitled to act accordingly.

Yet there remains a notion in some quarters that diplomacy failed, that the current operations are illegitimate, that only the UN could baptize our arms with moral and political legitimacy….

Rubbish.

In the first place, had ‘diplomacy succeeded,’ it would not have called off the current operations, it would have hastened them, and we’d have a few more Coalition members.

In the second place, I will demonstrate below the legality and justice of the current operations.

And in the third place, would someone care to explain to me the alchemy by which a war its opponents think ‘base’ could be transmuted into ‘noble’ by the approval of Russia, France, or Communist China?

Let’s look at Our Gallant Allies the French, shall we?

They continue to try to play the part of a quasi-colonial power in what was briefly ‘French’ Africa while condemning the Coalition as imperialists: at this moment, without even the pretense of UN sanction, they are meddling – and meddling uselessly, and making things worse – in the Ivory Coast.

They have ‘some ’splainin’ to do, Lucy,’ as do the Germans, regarding the curious fact that despite a decade of UN sanctions imposed upon Iraq (and boy have those worked: a point to remember when the ‘anti-war’ crowd [they’re not anti-war, they’re pro-Saddam and anti-American] bleats about how to Win Without War, especially when you consider that these same shills and Saddamite lickspittles have spent the past decade decrying those very sanctions) – a decade of UN sanctions imposed upon Iraq pursuant to France’s and Germany’s own votes – they have somehow managed to export some 7 times the amount of, wink, nudge, purely civilian goods to Iraq as have, say, HM Government.

(And then, of course, there are Our Gallant Russian Allies and the GPS jammers, but that’s another story.)

And then there’s the revealing attitudes of M Chiraq and his government regarding ‘common security’ and human rights elsewhere than in his perfidy over Iraq. Take Zimbabwe, whose fascist dictator, Robert ‘Adolf’ Mugabe was supposed not to be allowed into Europe, per the EU. Guess who his best pal is? And when I accuse Mugabe of Hitlerism, that’s not a rhetorical trope: Mugabe is Hitler. Ipse dixit: he not only calls himself that, he boasts of it.

Gee, the French fawning on a self-proclaimed Hitler. Who’d-’a’-thunk-it.

But then, this is Chiraq: a man who has clung limpet-like to office for one reason: as long as he’s in office, he can’t be prosecuted for his notorious personal graft and corruption.

Wherefore, then, would French approval have somehow rendered a blameful war blameless?

And then of course there’s the Germans. Allow me to quote some comments I recently made on Joschka Fischer’s moral authority, and that of any government that would accept him as a ministerial member:

According to such sources as Bettina Rohl – Ulrike Meinhof’s daughter – and Margrit Schiller of the Red Army Faction,

one of the primary accessories (before, during, and after the fact) and supporters of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Red Army Faction, the Revolutionary Cells, and the PLO / Fatah / Black September terrorists:

a man who attended the 1969 PLO Conference that resolved on the annihilation of the State of Israel and as many of its Jewish citizens as possible – that being the year the Saudis began funding the PLO;

a street-fighter, a Strassenkampfer, who assaulted and injured policeman Rainer Marx in April 1973 during a Frankfurt ‘demo;’

who in a 1976 Frankfurt riot over the death of Meinhof in the prison she so richly deserved to rot in, threw Molotov cocktails at the police;

an individual who ran a safe house for the Revolutionary Cells and Red Army Faction during their alliance with the PFLP;

a man who ran in tandem and personal friendship with its Hans-Joachim Klein, who assisted, as a Revolutionary Cells ‘soldier,’ in the Munich Olympics Massacre and personally aided Carlos the Jackal in the 1975 Vienna OPEC meeting raid-cum-assassination-attempt; and

a creature who was the partner and ally of Wilfried Boese, one of the Revolutionary Cells terrorists who carried out the Entebbe hijacking that had as its aim the slaughter of all the Jews aboard that aircraft:

was and is one Joschka Fischer, now the Foreign Minister of a Germany increasingly inimical to the United States. Thus far has the Wahhabi net and the corrosive reach of Saudi gold stretched. And at all times, since 1969, these actions and connections were sponsored by Saudi money – and I mean the money of the regime and of the Saudi princes personally – and Saudi Wahhabi ideology (ditto).

(Why we let that son of a persona non grata bitch Fischer into the country, UN sessions or no UN sessions, is beyond me. Actually, why we don’t – maybe not now, but soon – indict him, Arafat, the PLO, and the entire House of Saud for crimes against US citizens and diplomats stretching back forty years is beyond me, and prudential considerations be damned; but I guess I’m more of a ‘cowboy’ than is President Bush.)


Again, how is it that such a man could by his assent improve the moral position of the Coalition in these current operations?

This is the same UN that sat on its hands when Rwanda bled – for which the UN’s own inquiry blames, among others, Kofi Annan. This is the same UN that dozed through Srebenica and Kosovo, and the same EU that ignored what they could there, fled when confronted, and then tried to hold the US back from the only effective actions taken in the whole mess. And they now presume to be our moral tutors?

What it comes to, really, is this:

It goes without saying that under no circumstances will [this nation] accept that a collection of more or less totalitarian states and past masters of dictatorship and newly invented states . . . should dictate the law to it.


Who said that? Charles de Gaulle.

The Morality of the Current Operations

The current operations are being decried in some quarters as a war of aggression, a preemptive or preventative war, and one without foundation in international law.

This is horse manure.

To begin with, the current operations are not the start of a new war. They are the conclusion of an old one. As of 1991, all that was in place between the Iraqi regime and the Coalition was a suspension of hostilities, a ceasefire upon terms, a conditional armistice. Those conditions were not met. At that point, it was the right of any Coalition member to ‘recommenc[e] hostilities immediately’ (Hague Convention IV, Paragraphs 36 - 40) under the the laws of war. (Please note that as incorporated in, and excepted as amended or superseded by, the Geneva Conventions, the 1907 Hague Convention remains in force.)

Specifically, the Iraqi regime is in violation of, oh, damned near everything. (I am indebted to my colleague ‘McDuff’ for portions of this record: his moral practices and his somewhat rackety life may perturb some conservatives, though doubtless not Andrew Sullivan amongst ’em, but on this issue he is On the Right Side of History.)

The Iraqis are in violation of Paragraphs C.8 10, E.16, F.20 et seq., G.30, and H.32, among others, of Resolution 687, which established the ceasefire terms, adherence to which alone would protect Iraq from a resumption of hostilities.

Accordingly, the terms of Resolution 678, including the right to wage offensive operations (‘all necessary means’) against the regime, continue to apply.

Iraq is also in violation of or has violated with impunity the terms of Resolutions 692, 699, 700, 707, 949, 1060, 1115, 1134, 1137, 1154, 1194, 1205, and probably a few I’ve missed. When it was Bill Clinton – unilaterally – firing the missiles, the UN considered these breaches, without the need for a further resolution, more than sufficient justification.

As ‘McDuff’ laid it out elsewhere,

Iraq is in violation of just about every law of war.

It’s in violation of its obligations biological or chemical agents and weapons.

It’s violating, as to wounded prisoners of war, Geneva I.

It’s violating, as to all prisoners of war, Geneva III.

It’s ‘acting unlawfully in using the civilian population as shields to military targets, in their treatment of that population, and in using hospitals and burial grounds, among other sites, as military areas, depots, caches, or reserves,’ under Geneva IV.

And because ‘the 1929 Geneva Convention incorporates Hague IV, Arts. 1 and 2 of which provide that
Article 1. The laws, rights, and duties of war apply not only to armies, but also to militia and volunteer corps fulfilling the following conditions:
To be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
To have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance;
To carry arms openly; and
To conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
In countries where militia or volunteer corps constitute the army, or form part of it, they are included under the denomination ‘army.’
Art. 2. The inhabitants of a territory which has not been occupied, who, on the approach of the enemy, spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading troops without having had time to organize themselves in accordance with Article 1, shall be regarded as belligerents if they carry arms openly and if they respect the laws and customs of war;


And because [‘McDuff’ continues] … Geneva III, Art. 4, reiterates those qualifications;

Therefore the Iraqi regime and command authority are acting unlawfully in employing fedayeen and other unlawful combatants who do not carry arms openly, report to a chain of command, or wear any indications that distinguish them from the civil population – in addition to which such actions as false flags of truce or surrender, and the like actions taken by the Ba’athists in this conflict, have been forbidden since the signing of Art. 23 of the IVth Hague Convention in October of 1907.’

Couldn’t have said it better myself. We had the right to resume hostilities, the ceasefire terms having been broken. The enemy is conducting hostilities in an unlawful manner. And in addition to what may be called the ‘legalities’ of the matter, Annan and the UN have heretofore invoked ‘equity,’ saying that mass human rights violations and genocide allow other powers to intervene in guilty regimes’s territories, a ‘developing international norm in favour of intervention to protect civilians from wholesale slaughter’ (note, please, that this played into the Clinton Administration’s and the then-Congress’s previous policy of deposing Saddam by any means necessary: the current Administration is carrying out a bipartisan policy agreed to before it took office). Now, Annan and the UN may wish they had not said that, now that it has come back to haunt them; but they did, and that too has some precatory force in international law.

In short? We’re right. And we shall prevail.

The Strategy of the Current Operations

The duke of Wellington was wont to observe that the most important things in warfare were knowing where you were, where the enemy was, and what was on the ‘other side of the hill.’ After all, as he observed, ‘it’s not every general who, having gotten a thousand troops into the Green Park, could get them out again.’

One of the most profound lessons of the Crimean War, notably in the debacle of the Light Brigade, was that detailed orders, by the time reached the field commanders, had been superseded by events, such that to follow them was positive folly. That may be one reason Wellington frowned upon the idea of picking off Bonaparte at Waterloo: the commander on the tactical offensive, having made his dispositions, really had not a great deal more to do (and in fact, every time Boney intervened that day, he ended up making things worse). R. E. Lee felt the same way: he gave his orders to and outlined his basic plan to his subordinates, and then left matters in their hands, simply because micromanagement in those days would have been not only ineffective, but fatal.

Obviously, much has transpired since then. Aircraft require commanders now to think in an added dimension: up. The rifle revolution presaged technical developments in rate and weight of fire that have had significant impacts upon the ‘battlespace,’ as it is now modishly called. Mechanization has altered much of the way the warfighter conducts his actions. But I think we are seeing in the current operations in Iraq what may be a quantum shift in warmaking, one so far to some extent un- or under-remarked.

There is a sense in which the operations now under way reflect a very Anglo-American way of making war. Some commentators have, inevitably, compared this to the PTO ‘island-hopping’ campaign of the Second World War, but I find better parallels elsewhere. As I write, it appears that elements of the ‘Republican Guard’ (snort) have left their prepared positions to head south, to an area of perceived weakness. This means that they have strung themselves out, inviting air attack, and are flanked by 3d INF DIVN elements able to pivot on their axes and take them in flank. It also means they have left hardened defensive positions. I trust they will pay a fatal price, and I think they are going to.

George Patton referred to the Maginot Line as a testimony to folly, a blind faith in fixed positions in a time of mobile warfare. And there has been a Pattonesque quality to the operations so far. But Patton, as a boy, as the heir of men who commanded troops in Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Army, later II Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, sat at the knee of and absorbed the tales of an old family friend, John Singleton Mosby. If Gulf I was effectively the Battle of Chancellorsville writ large, the current operations bear a striking affinity to Stonewall’s Valley Campaign, and we seem to have ‘flanked the enemy right out of their boots,’ as if the Iraqis were commanded by Banks or Fremont.

The fact is, Jackson and Forrest, Sherman, Grant, and Grierson, and above all Lee, had a predilection for doing just the sort of thing we are doing now. Flanking the enemy. Making him react. Dividing our own forces, even at the (putative) risk of defeat in detail, to ambush and trap, to mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy. Casting off concerns about bases and lines of retreat, and striking deep into the enemy’s heart. People sometimes speak of Grant as a cold, mechanical master of attrition: they should study the Wilderness Campaign, in some ways a mirror image of Lee’s Maryland and Pennsylvania campaigns. These are spearheads, not a steamroller.

And of course, there is now a groundswell of concern: have we enough troops? Are we about – as the Left guiltily half-hopes – to invoke Nemesis, by our ‘hubris’ – or, if you like, for conservative neurotics, is the perfidy of the French and the Turks now to be paid for in blood?

I think not. As I write, massive violations of the laws of war are occurring on the part of Iraqi elements: false surrenders, unlawful combatants, terrorist activities. This is their only available force-multiplier.

But they fail to recognize the far superior force-multiplier possessed of the Coalition: information technology. The old dilemma: discretionary orders to commanders who may blunder or, more to the point, cannot see the Big Picture, versus attempted micromanagement that falls prey to the gap between order and execution: this dilemma has been polled, its horns chopped off. Now the full Grantian, Shermanesque weight of the entire force can be applied when and where and as the commander wishes on a moment’s notice, while subordinates, now possessed of the same real-time information as GHQ has, are freed up to use Jacksonian initiative in the pursuit of plans so audacious as to be worthy of Lee. The two strands of the Anglo-American way of war – for let us not slight the similar developments amongst the British and the Australians, from Wellington through to Slim, Allenby, and Monash – have come together, and braided into a noose for the enemy. Instantaneous communications coupled with real-time information on positions, dispositions, and alignments, may be the most significant change to warmaking since gunpowder, or possibly since the first projectile. We are witnessing, I would submit, the birth and baptism of a profound revolution in warmaking, which will change the balance forever – and in favor, inherently, of free societies, in which alone such information revolutions can flourish, and take hold.

That should cause all of us to watch events in awe.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Call Out the Blog-Troops!

The enemy - the Fifth Columnists, appeasers, and other 'anti-war' mouthbreathers - are planning a 'Virtual March on Washington.'

Well, by God, two can play at that game. The Munzenbergers and Vierecks of this latest batch of Shills-for-Tyrants, Inc, are a prize bunch of Useful Idiots operating under the umbrella name of 'Win Without War.' (Next battlecry: Drink Without Liquid!) NOTE the roster of contemptibles involved in this effort to give aid and comfort to the enemy. Greenpeace: I guess they've forgiven the French for torpedoing their vessel after all. The Sierra Club: just because Saddam caused the worst deliberate environmental outrage in history when he scuttled Kuwait before scuttling out, there's apparently no reason for the tree-huggers not to let bygones be bygones. What's a little vandalism between friends? Oh - here's a beaut: the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Sure, Saddam's secularists and the Islamofascists have at least one area of agreement: the torture and state-sanctioned murder of gays and lesbians: but what the hell, he's better than W, right?

Those fortunate enough to have made the acquaintance of Kenneth Grahames' classic, The Wind in the Willows, will recall that the Weasels of the Wild Wood, in seizing Toad Hall, did not act alone. They were aided by stoats. These are the Stoats. And as my fellow denizens of Riverbank will know, there's only one thing to do with Stoats-and-Weasels: Badger them.

It is the aim of these repugnant accessories to despotism to bury the Congress and the White House in email, shilling for Saddam. Well, what goes around comes around. I have already sent them the following email, duly CC'd to the President and the Vice-President:

'How, pray tell, do you think it possible to 'win without war' - whatever that inane catchphrase means?

No, I don't in fact expect a comprehensible answer.

Please know that I, along with the majority of your fellow citizens, wish you to be aware, simply, that we hold each and every one of you people in the utmost contempt. Yes, you have the right to express your ill-informed, appeasement-minded, half-baked opinions: better men and women than any of you have died to preserve that right. What you do not have is the right to have your asinine, enemy-coddling opinions treated with the respect, deference, and seriousness they so signally fail to deserve. I will extend you this credit: your notion of flooding your opponents with email has its attractions, and I will do all I can to see that your Fifth Column little organization is forced to confront the overwhelming resolution of the majority of Americans - and that, thanks to the CC function, our government understands just how little support your truckling to the enemies of liberty actually enjoys.

(Y'all live by the email campaign, y'all can damned well die by a counter email campaign.)

Disdainfully yours,

MARKHAM SHAW PYLE, JD'

I sent that email to the Appeasers at info@winwithoutwarUS.org. I copied the President at president@whitehouse,gov and the Vice-President at vice.president@whitehouse.gov. You should also copy your US Senators and your US Representative.

Please join me in turning their own weapons on these malignant enemies of freedom by emailing some similar letter to them, with copies to the White House and Congress, repudiating their pretensions to speak for the American people.
Good Lord, There's So Much to Catch Up On.

Meanwhile, this from the archives Before Blogging. Just a reminder that the Culture War also matters.
**********************
Halfwits of the World, Untie! (Um, ‘Uniet’? ‘Utein’? Oh. ‘Unite!’ There We Go!)

Journalists traditionally refer to op-ed pieces of high would-be portentousness - not to say pomposity - as ‘thumb-suckers.’

This truly astounding bit of rubbish from a professor of some pseudo-discipline (‘Cultural Studies‘) at a Mancunian redbrick university, published in the regularly contemptible Guardian and posted on the ’Net here, would be better characterized as sucking a less innocent part of the anatomy.

It came to my attention late last year in the course of an ongoing firefight with the lunatics of the Left over at Epinions, where I had recently reviewed David Pryce-Jones’s The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs. For an entertaining – in a dark comedy sense – look at what the Left is up to and the lengths they will go to to shill for tyrants (Yasser the Chinless being the latest poster-boy), you'll want to look at the ravings over at the 'Comments' page.

For my part, I decided to cut Terry Eagleton’s idiocies to shreds first, before then dealing with what new depths the Left had sunkto , back in the comments section to my review.

Comrade Eagleton begins with the headline, ‘History gets the last laugh,’ and goes on to a snarky subhead of ‘Capitalists were triumphant when they saw off socialism. But will they live to regret it?’

Hint: Nope. We won't.

And who is this Terry Eagleton, pray? Well, he is a Cambridge man and he was a don at Oxford. He is also a rather pathetic sycophant of the romanticized ‘wurrrking class ’eroes’ who haunt his dreams, a particularly barbarous (and prolific) writer in that perversion of English that has become the lingua franca of academia, a stunningly incompetent literary critic, an unrepentant Marxist, a largely-wannabe folk-singer-screenwriter-hack-novelist on the ideological, ‘socialist realist’ model, a man impervious to logic and fact (especially historical fact), and, as we shall see, a blithering, bloviating idiot. Think of him as the British version of Cornel ‘Rap’ West.

And so it begins:

‘One of the darker ironies,’ Professor Puerile writes, ‘of the 20th century is that socialism proved to be least possible where it was most necessary. To go socialist, you need material resources, democratic traditions, cooperative neighbours, a flourishing civil society, an educated populace; and it was just these vital ingredients of the project which colonialism had denied to its premodern, poverty-stricken clients. As a result, one bitter irony bred another: the effort to build socialism in these dismal conditions led straight to Stalinism, and a bid for freedom twisted inexorably into its monstrous opposite.’

Amazing. What have we learned already, kids? Why, that the prerequisites of socialism are all the benefits that socialism has inevitably destroyed wherever it has been given power. And we have learned that Comrade Eagleton is incapable of sustained thought.

For example, he proclaims – the man always proclaims: he never argues, because he never produces evidence (largely because there is no evidence) for his conclusory statements, and all his statements are merely conclusory, not being derived from any known, shown, or imaginable premisses – the man Eagleton proclaims that, ‘material resources, democratic traditions, cooperative neighbours, a flourishing civil society, an educated populace ... [were] just [the] vital ingredients … [that] colonialism had denied to its premodern, poverty-stricken clients.’

I hold no brief for colonialism, but it takes a peculiar imperviousness to simple fact for Red Terry to believe, or pretend to believe, that the premodern, poverty-stricken indigenes who found themselves colonized by the Usual Suspects, the ‘white Eurocentric heterosexual phallocracy’ (AKA, the Pale Penis People), thitherto possessed ‘material resources, democratic traditions, cooperative neighbours, a flourishing civil society, [and] an educated populace.’

Had they possessed these resources, of course, they would not have been ‘premodern and poverty-stricken.’ They would also, the military historian in me points out, have been impossible to colonize, since those resources would have afforded them, as possession of such resources always affords their possessor, with sufficient assets for defense and for arms.

So it's not as if Whitey came in and plundered, overthrew, and enslaved pre-existing ‘material resources, democratic traditions, cooperative neighbours, a flourishing civil society, [and] an educated populace.’

As for the condition in which the colonial powers left their former colonies as each in turn achieved independence, the stark, if uncomfortable, fact is that whatever these ex-colonies possess (and, after the vicissitudes of formal independence too often combined with practical tyranny and looting by the native diadochs, whatever they retain) of ‘material resources, democratic traditions, cooperative neighbours, a flourishing civil society, [and] an educated populace,’ is, painful as it may be to admit, the legacy and gift of their former colonial masters. This point has been most recently (and, of course, unpopularly) made by Dinesh D'Souza in The Chronicle of Higher Education, in his article ‘Two Cheers for Colonialism.’

But what really takes the cake is this: ‘… it was just these vital ingredients of the project which colonialism had denied to its premodern, poverty-stricken clients. As a result, one bitter irony bred another: the effort to build socialism in these dismal conditions led straight to Stalinism.’ That’s right, saddle pals. Colonial oppression led to Stalinism.

Now, unless the Sain Khan Batu, grandson of the mighty Temujin Genghis Khan, and his Golden Horde, are to be fingered as the Wicked Colonialists, I for one am damned if I can figure out how colonialism led to the rise of Uncle Joe Stalin, the Vozhd. If the UK or the US or France ever colonized Russia, I’ve apparently missed a major story somewhere.

And do you know, it just gets worse from here. Eagleton is, as an idiot, encapsulated in this first soggy paragraph, but there’s plenty more where that comes from.

‘Indeed, we may yet see the capitalist world glancing nostalgically back at the socialist project it screwed so effectively.’ Eagleton's attempts at hipness and working-bloke authenticity, I note, are right up there with Dick Nixon’s trying to be one of the boys by asking David Frost if he’d ‘done any fornicating lately.’

Anyway: more mush from the wimp. ‘Socialism, after all, is out to expropriate the propertied classes, not to exterminate them.’

Aw, damn it! Which one of you guys failed to get the message to Pol Pot? Now we’re going to look bad….

Seriously, though, let’s bear in mind that this is Eagleton, Marxist True Believer, here. When he says ‘socialism’ he’s not talking about national health care and welfare nets. He’s talking undiluted Marxism, straight from the bottle: he just doesn’t have the balls to frighten off the meeker sisters by saying so outright. Well, junior rangers, let me remind you that ‘socialism,’ that loving philosophy that seeks only to plunder, not to kill – as if plundering people of their property were itself merely a peccadillo: it’s called theft, damn it – ‘socialism’ has exterminated more people than the Nazi Reich ever had a chance to. Ukrainians, Cambodians, ‘kulaks,’ Laotians, Vietnamese, Cuban dissidents, Ethiopians, Chinese students and peasants, Balts, Khazaks … the XXth Century was frankly a vast graveyard, and an inconceivable number of the victims died at the hands of ‘socialism.’

It's hardly surprising. Robbery on that scale – and Eagleton admits that its purpose is robbery at best – generally does lead to capital murders committed in the course of those robberies.

‘[Socialism’s] weapons [anyone suddenly hear echoes of the Python troupe’s ‘Spanish Inquisition’ routine?] are general strikes and mass struggle, not anthrax and dirty nuclear bombs. Its aim is for people to live in plenty, not for them to scavenge their scanty grub from war-scarred urban deserts.’

Every time socialism’s been put seriously and fully into practice, its weapons have been concentration camps, secret police, and mass executions in its killing fields. It has invariably resulted in famine and dearth, not in plenty, and it has created more ‘war-scarred urban deserts’ than the combined efforts of Tamerlane, William Tecumseh Sherman, and the 8th US Army Air Force fire-bombing Germany in the Second World War.

‘Socialism was the last chance we had of defeating terrorism by transforming the conditions which give birth to it; and those who helped to send it packing – not least those among them whose offices are rather high off the ground – ought to be licking their lips for the taste of ashes.’

There’s a taste of ash here, all right. I hadn’t thought that anyone this side of Tom Paulin could be this contemptible. That’s Eagleton’s kindly, loving, creating-peace-and-plenty-for-all socialism, is it, dancing rhetorically upon the site of the World Trade Center massacre? Utterly, inhumanly disgusting.

Less overtly sickening, but just as vicious in the long run, is his previous unsupported – and insupportable – claim: that ‘[s]ocialism was the last chance we had of defeating terrorism by transforming the conditions which [sic; silly bugger means ‘that’] give birth to it.’ Bear in mind that in his next paragraph, Old Dimwit here natters on about how ‘the wretched of the earth have not of course retired; they have simply changed address. Whereas Marx looked for them in the slums of Bradford and the Bronx, they are now to be found in the souks of Tripoli and Damascus.’ Well, it's not the ‘wretched of the earth’ in that twit Frantz Fanon’s sense who were involved in the terrorist attacks on the United States. Far from being drawn from the ‘oppressed proletariat,’ the goons, thugs, and psychotics involved were a mad billionaire and a bunch of middle- and upper-class college graduates from professional-class families (Mohammed Atta, for example), who in their privileged boredom turned to murderous religious fanaticism.

The ‘conditions [that] give birth to’ terrorism were never contemplated by that oh-so-historicist-scholar Karl Marx, and the motive force behind terrorism cannot be addressed by analyses captive to Marxist claptrap. Sodding Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, and Syria are not, after all, capitalist states; not a few of the places that breed terror are at least putatively or partially socialist (the Ba’ath party, which is formally the ‘Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party’ in Iraq and Syria, claims socialist lineage, for that matter; then again, so did the NSDAP in Germany: ‘Nazi,’ after all, derives from its formal designation as National Socialism).

Eagleton – perforce – does not, as he cannot possibly, say why and how ‘socialism [could] … transform the conditions that give birth to’ terrorism, and in fact there is no way in which socialism has or could address its root causes, which are wholly unrelated to any economic-deterministic mechanism apprehensible to Marxists. I can suggest only two ways in which socialism could root out terror. It might do so by its being adopted in the West at sufficient levels to prevent Western action or degrade Western ability to project power (the inherent inefficiencies and industrial incompetence of socialism constitute a negative force multiplier, which is how Ronald Reagan encompassed the implosion of the Soviet Empire through luring them into an unwinnable arms race): thus allowing the destruction of the State of Israel and all the Jews therein. Or socialism might choke off terror by being adopted on its usual secret police / mass liquidation model, bleeding off part of the terrorist manpower pool into its security apparat, and then having them machine-gun the rest and toss their corpses into one of socialism’s numerous mass graves.

Somehow, I don’t think this is what Comrade Terry has in mind, though God knows I wouldn’t put it past him.

In any event, Marxist analysis is almost ludicrously incompetent to address the terror problem, given that the terrorist wretches are precisely not ‘the wretched of the earth … now to be found in the souks of Tripoli and Damascus,’ but are rather the amoral, well-to-do, coddled assassins in the service of the latest ‘Old Man of the Mountains,’ the rich capitalist Osama bin Laden.

But those uncomfortable facts, of course, do not fit The Good Professor’s thesis or the iron categorizations of Marxism, and must therefore be ignored. If you're looking for intellectual honesty from T. Karl Eagleton, folks, you’re expecting romantic fidelity from a an intellectual street whore.

Merrily impervious to these facts and blithely ignorant, Our Boy Terry maunders on. ‘The fact that capitalism,’ quoth the Raving, ‘now has no real rivals in the official political arena is precisely what causes the unofficial rancour that can blow enormous holes in it, including nuclear ones.’

In case anyone else is this ignorant, let me point out that the State of Israel has been the primary target par excellence of systematic terrorism since before its birth in 1948, and ever after, unto this day. And in its early years, Israel attempted to operate as a social-democratic state on the Western European model. Kibbutzim are not capitalist entities, people. Did that stop the terror?

The United States, similarly, could (theoretically, though God forbid) become a socialist state tomorrow, without losing its distinction as the terrorists’s Enemy Number One. If anything, they would be emboldened by the systemic weakness that would inevitably accrue to the United States were this nation to attempt a socialist rather than a free economy. The only thing that would get the current crop of murderous thugs off our six would be for us to abandon Israel to her fate. Anyone who can cheer that prospect – not that it will ever happen – should be closely monitored indeed.

Finally, the contention that ‘capitalism now has no real rivals in the official political arena’ is facially false. The Tories are not in power in London, and the Bavarians and the Christian Democrats are not drinking their lager in the seats of power in Berlin, for example.

Then Terry-boy really kicks in the afterburners: ‘Socialism may have seemed a dark threat to those with most to lose from it –’

– namely, anyone with a regular income, fee simple title to a dirt farm, or a habit of speaking his mind freely –

‘– but at least it is a secular, historically-minded, thoroughly modern creed, a bastard offspring of liberal enlightenment.’

‘Bastard’ I will not dispute.

‘It has a deep-rooted contempt for political terrorism, whether it denounces it as immoral or just petty-bourgeois.’

What? You mean we also didn’t get the memo out to Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Fidel, and Uncle Ho? Damn it, Friedrich, that is it – you’re fired!

‘Unlike fundamentalism, whether of the Texan or Taliban variety, it doesn’t dismiss alternative life-styles or symbolist poetry or a cellarful of chianti….’

I thought that was the job of socialist realism? And while we do have our share of Baptists and such small deer in Texas, I know plenty of gays and lesbians here who aren’t living in dread of the midnight knock on the door and the irruption of the Cheka. I admit I don’t associate with people whose taste is so poor as to find worth in symbolist poetry or Chianti, but nobody here is forced to circulate George Herbert or Thomas Hardy or Dryden or Milton in samizdat editions, and Burgundy and Bordeaux have contributed their kindly product quite nicely to my cellar over the years.

‘Unlike fundamentalism, too, it is earth-bound and iconoclastic, sceptical of high-minded ideals and absolutes.’

That’s why it trades exclusively in ‘high-minded ideals and absolutes,’ which are the ends and goals that are always said to excuse such means as collectivization, secret police bureaux, and the liquidation of ‘class enemies.’

‘The same might be said of American pragmatism, which always preferred turning a fast buck to brooding on the infinite. But the more terrorism occupies the space vacated by socialism, the less pragmatic America is bound to become.’

Why? Or is this yet another ipse dixit, an infallible ex cathedra pronouncement from the Red Pope? (Apologies to my RC pals.)

‘Indeed, it may well end up defending itself from Islamic fundamentalists by becoming every bit as fearful of freedom as they are….’

Any evidence for that twaddle? (Wait. I’m asking Eagleton for evidence? I must have forgotten with whom I’m dealing.) Still, you know those Americans. Remember how ‘fearful of freedom’ they waxed whilst liberating Europe in a couple of world wars. Remember how they put Susan Sontag in the salt mines and had a show trial of Norman Mailer during the Cold War. Americans, sheesh.

‘If you really want to unmask liberal freedoms as hollow, the best way is to attack them with suicide bombers rather than sociological essays –’

Thanks for the advice, pal. But you’re doing just fine with essays.

‘– since such attacks, by provoking authoritarian measures, bring about the bogusness the bombers perceive….’

‘Bogusness’? Like, totally, dood. And if this sounds familiar, it is. It’s the same lie Stalin used to string the German Communists along into allowing the Nazis to seize power in the Thirties – during all of which time, as Dyakov has shown, they and he were hand-in-glove, long before the overt bargain sealed by Molotov and Ribbentrop.

And what authoritarian measures are we talking about here? Hell, even now the US is so afraid of ‘giving in to the Dark Side, Luke,’ that we strip-search elderly nuns while letting twenty-something males with Saudi passports through security with a wave, just so no one accuses us of bigotry.

‘And since Americans, as the most conformist bunch of individualists on the planet –’

Yep, there’s an irrefutable view of American history and the American character. Boone, Crockett, Sublette, Bridger; Patrick Henry, John Adams, Jefferson, Old Hickory, Sam Houston, Lincoln, and Lee; Debs, Wilson, and TR; Patton and Nimitz; Dr King and Rosa Parks; Eliot, Copland, Eakins, Twombly … man, what a bunch of conformist sheep those Americans are.

‘– [since Americans …] have a tradition of safeguarding their freedom by authoritarian means, they are particularly vulnerable to being discredited in this way.’

Oh, yeah. How could I forget? The show trials, the Gulag, the death camps, the suspension of the Bill of Rights, the KGB, the Designated Hitter rule in the AL … yep, that’s the USA in a nutshell. (Okay, I admit the DH.)

‘Liberal values are not, in fact, bogus; it is just that they cannot escape the taint of hypocrisy. The fatal flaw of liberal capitalist states is that they are by nature opposed to fundamentalism, yet cannot survive without it. Only a state with a few absolute values up its sleeve can finally contain the anarchy of the marketplace and the human unhappiness it breeds.’

And if those ‘absolute values’ are the Jeffersonian bundle of natural and unalienable rights, and a commitment to free elections and the Bill of Rights and the rule of law, that is ‘fundamentalism’? As we ignorant hayseed Americans say, give me a freaking break.

Here’s a classic statement of the ‘absolute values up our sleeve’ - from, no doubt, an ignorant, conformist, authoritarian American ‘fundamentalist,’ George Mason of Gunston Hall: The Virginia Declaration of Rights, 12 June, 1776.

And what’s this business about ‘the anarchy of the marketplace and the human unhappiness it breeds’? The marketplace is not anarchic, but governed by highly complex economic laws: one of the few points on which Marx (though he misapprehended the nature of those laws) agreed with Smith and Ricardo.

‘But what such states get up to makes a mockery of those values all the time.

‘George Bush really does believe in religion, and believes in nothing of the kind.’

Either Eagleton is being more unintelligible even than usual, or the Guardian still slips into its old Mancunian tradition of odd misprints.

‘Bin Laden’s thugs may be morally obscene fanatics –’

Uh, yeah. They just might.

‘but … [t]hey simply want a brutally benighted state, not a state which is continually forced to defend its enlightened values by brutally benighted means.’

Yessirreebob, that’s us, always defending our ‘enlightened values’ (thanks for that concession, Cheetoh) ‘by brutally benighted means.’ You remember all those times we’ve indulged in benighted brutality, of course. The Western Front in 1918. Operation Torch, Sicily, the Italian Campaign, and D-Day. Liberating the death camps and feeding the DPs. The Berlin Airlift. Containment, and the eventual destruction of the USSR. The Korean War. Viet Nam, for that matter (go ahead, take a shot at that one. Please throw me in that briar patch). Somalia and Haiti and all the times we’ve fed people who curse us to our faces, despite the curses, because it was the right thing to do and we are Americans. Liberating Kuwait (yeah, the al-Sabah bunch are no prizes, but compared to the Iraqi Army…).

That Eagleton is a piece of work.

‘And it may,’ he concludes, trying and failing to pull out all the stops on his rhetorical pipe-organ, vox humana and all, ‘[it may] be that in detonating that built-in contradiction in the west, they will score their most signal victory. Unless, of course, the left stages a comeback in the meantime.’

Because they’ve done so well up to now. If that’s what it takes to save the West, pal, the West ain’t worth saving. But of course, that’s not what it takes, and the sharper-eyed amongst y’all will have noted that – as always – this conclusion hangs there in the air, suspended only by a willing suspension of disbelief and a voluntary renunciation of all critical faculties: there is not a lick of argument to support it – as of course, in the very nature of things, there could not be.

And there we have it. A tour de force of illogic, logical fallacy, historical ignorance, mangled English, and hostility to freedom and free institutions. Yep: Eagleton does speak with the authentic voice of the Left. I can think of few greater condemnations than that.
______________________________
Terry Eagleton, the Guardian concludes on its website, in tones of reverent awe, is professor of cultural theory (whatever the hell that’s meant to be) at the University of Manchester. That ain’t the half of it. For further reading about the abject stupidity to which one academic can descend, I recommend Roger Kimball’s ‘The Contradictions of Terry Eagleton’ in The New Criterion.
Would You Buy a Used Policy From This Man?

M. Ch'IRAQ Begs You: Give Appeasement A Chance!
In Other News....

(Now that my own pretentiousness has had its just deserts....)

The Raelian cult announced today that in fact, there have been prior successful human clonings in France. The cult's leader claims that these were performed by the extraterrestrials who taught the Raelians their 'secrets,' and were performed in fact some years ago. Specifically, he asserted that Jacques Chirac had been cloned from the DNA of the late Pierre Laval.

Reactions in Washington and London were mixed. The Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, diplomatically downplayed the suggestion, though sources close to the Secretary say he seemed unsurprised. The Prime Minister had no official comment. Dr Condoleeza Rice, the US National Security Advisor, dismissed the report, though again, sources close to Dr Rice reported her as saying, 'Well, that certainly explains a lot.' Only the Secretary of Defense, Mr Donald Rumsfeld, would give a statement for the record: 'Oh, that's horse manure,' he said. 'Let's move on. No one can believe that.' A Pentagon source speaking on condition of anonymity, however, amplified Secretary Rumsfeld's remarks. 'SecDef doesn't buy that. Chirac as a clone of Laval's? Nonsense. Petain, now, that would be plausible. But Laval?'
And We're Back. With a Maxima Culpa.

The preferred form is of course Herodotean. What's more, I'm supposed to know that, and no, we can't blame the Sudafed. Just sloppiness and cut and paste and lack of checking. Prode goeth before a fall and All That. It being a point of honor in blogdom to leave one's screwups, bonehead plays, errors, and dropping of infield fly balls out there for all to see and mock, I mention this. On the other hand, anyone who has been kind enough to link should probably fix their links to reflect the correct URL and form.

I'll be over here castigating myself.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Oh, Great. Now We're in TheraFlu(TM) Country.

Don't expect much from me for a day or two.

As if you were.