The Ironical Chronicle"To be sure, the dog is loyal. But why, on that account, should we take him as an example? He is loyal to man, not to other dogs," Karl Kraus, in Die Fackel [The Torch], Vienna 1899-1936.

April 29, 2004

Short Honeymoon, Zero Insight


On March 7th, Maureen Dowd, the lonely "leftist" at the NY Times, was head-over-heels over John F. Kerry after he gave her a ride from Boston to New Orleans in his leased jet during which he recited Eliot's, "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" to her. Well, it's a little after the infamous morning after and Maureen, rational girl that she is, has made a list of her erstwhile paramour's faults and noticed that he doesn't check out.

But, although she got it half right, what the heroine of this parable isn't up to is to question the credentials of the Democratic escort service that sent us this loser who looks like his face is too heavy for his eyes.

The reality is that our 1.01 party state is faced with a real challenge in their task of managing the upcoming quadrennial Democracy Pageant. Step one was to get someone who couldn't and wouldn't call Bush the war criminal and election stealer that he is and who would instead make the usual inane noises about the environment, jobs, veteran's benefits, health insurance, police protection, abortion, and, this time around, who was the bigger hero in some past war. For this, Kerry, an admitted war criminal and supporter of the invasion of Iraq himself, was the perfect choice. He's even been called "Bush Lite." But with the sound of gunfire, the sight of body bags, and the noiseless thud of $200 billion going up in smoke while the two contenders argue about gay marriage, a few of the bit players, whose role it is to act like voters, might get the idea that the fix is in. The possibility of this happening is even more important to the pageant's producers than losing Iraq, if that's possible.

What's my take on this? I think they should lighten up. Nobody but the media takes this thing seriously any more anyway and the only reason they do is because the campaign dollars contribute significantly and positively to their bottom line. The Cold War is over and so is the need for the Capitalist Dictatorship to distinguish itself from the Communist Dictatorship. The last time out, the Supreme Court picked the president and nobody minded. That should tell you something. Besides, the only guys who are rude enough to spoil the party, the Iraqi Resistance, can't be bought off anyway. So why sweat it?

With the Patriot Law and the Homeland Security budget acting as steer manure, new instances of the polizei apparat are popping up faster than you can say Hermann Goering. That closes the low altitude missile gap while the high altitude gap is closed by the National Missile Defense system. And the privileged, but insecure, elite that needs all this protection gets it for free. So what are they worried about? What more do they want? Deference, admiration, and gratitude, too?

My consoling advice to Ms Dowd is to start thinking outside the box, to give up the J. Alfred Prufrock role described by Eliot in the previously cited poem:

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous--
Almost, at times, the Fool.

1 It is with enormous deference that I use this label for this essay. It was the name of a newsletter published by Mr. M.S. Arnoni in the late 60's and to which I was a subscriber until it became insolvent and Mr. Arnoni moved to the Netherlands. M.S. would have been happy to know that I deducted the loss I experienced from the failure of A Minority of One from my income taxes. As a graduate student in a mild state of penury at the time, it's unlikely the Government, with its lunatic vision of the world as being composed of dominos rather than being inhabited by al Qaeda operatives, as it does in its current state of lunacy, felt the crunch.

Here is his biography:

M. S. Arnoni was born in Lódz, Poland in 1922 and died in Hilversum, the Netherlands, in 1985. He was a philosopher, writer, political activist, and professor of political science. He was also a Jew who had been imprisoned in various concentration camps during the Second World War. He studied at the universities of Munich, New York, Wisconsin, and Virginia, where he specialized in international relations. After being a professor at various American universities, he left the USA in 1969 because of its intervention in Vietnam and his disappointment with the New Left, and moved to Israel, where he advised the government on foreign policy. From 1971 until his death, he lived in The Netherlands. Arnoni published several books and numerous articles on politics and other subjects. He also edited The Minority of One and In Search, in which he agitated against the arms race and displayed his fear of another world war. He participated in numerous extra-diplomatic activities and peace initiatives, cooperating with people like U Thant, Norodom Sihanouk, Ho Chi Minh, and Salvador Allende. He wrote Mother Was Not Home for Burial, an autobiography that dealt with his Holocaust experience and novels.

The New York Times

April 29, 2004

Guns and Peanut Butter



So let's see. What's our swell choice here?

A guy who mimed being a fighter pilot on a carrier versus a guy who mimed throwing his medals over a fence?

An incumbent who sticks with the wrong decisions based on the wrong facts versus a challenger who seems unable to stick to one side of any decision, right or wrong?

A Republican who's a world-class optimist, despite making the world more dangerous and virulently anti-American, versus a Democrat who looks like a world-weary loner, even as he pledges to make the world safer and more pro-American?

A president who can't go anywhere without his vice president to give him the answers versus a candidate who can't go anywhere without his campaign butler/buddy to give him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?

Bush campaign strategists don't seem worried that every positive development the administration predicted would happen if we invaded Iraq has soured into the opposite.

As an article on Monday in The Times noted about the growing ranks of angry Muslims: "The call to jihad is rising in the streets of Europe, and is being answered."

Communing with the Higher Father and the Almighty, President Bush has either stumbled into a Holy War or swaggered into one.

In their new book, "The Bushes," Peter and Rochelle Schweizer, who interviewed many Bushes, including the president's father and his brother Jeb, quote one unnamed relative as saying that W. sees the war on terror "as a religious war": "He doesn't have a P.C. view of this war. His view of this is that they are trying to kill the Christians. And we the Christians will strike back with more force and more ferocity than they will ever know."

Bush strategists seem to believe that the worse Mr. Bush makes things, the better off he is, because nervous Americans will cling to the obstinate president they know over the vacillating challenger they don't know.

Senator Kerry's talent for turning a winning proposition into a losing one is disturbingly reminiscent of Al Gore, who somehow managed to lose an election he won. So is Mr. Kerry's sometimes supercilious manner, and his habit of exacerbating a small thing with an answer that is not quite straight.

When the senator was asked last week whether he owned a gas-scarfing Chevy Suburban S.U.V., he replied, "I don't own an S.U.V.," only to have to admit, when pressed further by reporters, that his wife owns the S.U.V. "The family has it," he said lamely. "I don't have it."

The White House pounds Mr. Kerry for not playing straight on small-bore stuff, even as they don't play straight on huge-bore stuff.

The House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, pronounced the administration "in denial" yesterday, after hearing Condi Rice's briefing for House Democratic lawmakers.

"This is an administration that told us that our troops would be welcomed with roses," Representative Pelosi said. "Instead, it's rocket-propelled grenades. This is an administration that told us that the Iraqi government would be able to pay for its own reconstruction, and soon. And now it's costing nearly $200 billion to the American people."

She added: "And it was expressed by the national security adviser now that yes, there was disappointment — disappointment? — about the Iraqi security forces not being able to secure the region that they were assigned to. And this is the judgment that the American people have placed their confidence in?"

Mr. Kerry errs on the side of giving the answer he thinks people want to hear, even as Mr. Bush errs on the side of giving the answer he expects people to accept as true.

When the president was asked yesterday by a reporter whether it would take an all-out military offensive to put down the violence in Falluja, and whether this would impede the transfer of power on June 30, he was reassuring, despite news of the aerial bombardment of Falluja by U.S. gunships and the 70-ton battle tanks being rushed in to aid marines in the escalating fight.

"Most of Falluja is returning to normal," the president said, presumably defining normal as flattened.

Anyway, is that 10 minutes to normal, as Karen Hughes would say? Or 10 years to normal? And what on earth is normal, when you're talking about Iraq chaos theory?  


Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company