Marginal Footnotes

Neo[con] Self-Rehabilitation, Step I
November 5, 2006, 12:12 pm
Filed under: International, Politics

“Our ideas were right, but our enablers screwed it up!”  The meek attempt at apology from the guys who gave us Iraq.


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Key Judgments of National Intelligence Estimate
September 27, 2006, 1:03 pm
Filed under: International, Media, Midterm Elections, Politics, Uncategorized

Read it yourself here.


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Books, Belfast and Various Literary Awards
September 27, 2006, 11:15 am
Filed under: Books, International, Literary, Uncategorized

So the “Web Log of the Mercantile Library, Cincinatti, Ohio” is horrified that

This Human Season, Louise Dean’s completely stupendous book about Belfast in 1979 that will make you cry and forsake all other books unless you are completely heartless, is not on the Man Booker short list.

This interests me because it’s a novel about Belfast, and I lived in Belfast for a while. And there are some very good novels about Belfast, such as Robert McLiam Wilson’s Eureka Street or Eoin McNamee’s less good and more problematic novel Resurrection Man, a sardonic take on what is known as “Troubles trash”, a reference to fiction born out of the nearly four-decade long conflict in Northern Ireland (roughly 600 novels by 200 authors). Also Glenn Patterson, Brian Moore and various other very fine and horrifying writers.  Graham Greene once went to Belfast looking for evil, but he apparently didn’t find it and consequently did not publish a novel set there. Anyway, Belfast fiction is tricky because it’s difficult to represent honestly and unexploitatively the history of violence there, difficult to not overdo it, to paint a picture of Belfast which is all spy-thriller intrigue, all murderous psychopathology and religious friction, when in fact Belfast can be quite a nice town.

You can read The Guardian’s review of the novel here. 


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NYT Editorial Page, Tell Us What You Really Think
September 27, 2006, 10:30 am
Filed under: International, Media, Midterm Elections, Politics, Uncategorized

The damn liberal media is being mean to our fearless leader today (again), willfully refusing to accept his perfectly reasonable assertions that he has made America safer.  Apparently the Times did not get the memo about the mothership not having been attacked since 9/11.

three declassified pages from what is certainly a voluminous report told us what any American with a newspaper, television or Internet connection should already know. The invasion of Iraq was a cataclysmic disaster.

Cataclysmic? Let’s not get so excited.

By [Bush’s] logic, the more the United States fights, the longer the war stretches on.

I don’t understand why the damn liberal media never holds the terrorists responsible. They are the terrorists, after all! We didn’t go searching for this war. They attacked us! We were just minding our own, uh, business. The Times has internalized all the form-fitting, vile hatred about America and Americans and is doing the terrorists’ bidding on its editorial pages, sad to say.

Then, Mr. Bush wanted Americans to focus on how dangerous Saddam Hussein was, and not on the obvious consequences of starting a war in the Middle East. Now, he wants voters to focus on how dangerous the world is, and not on his utter lack of ideas for what to do about it.

So The Times is saying it prefers to have Saddam Hussein still in power.  Sheesh! What’s your plan, New York Times Editors, huh? What are your ideas? I can hear the Limbaugh speaking his truth to power now.  


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Bush Pissed at “Political” NIE Leak
September 27, 2006, 2:28 am
Filed under: Elections, International, Midterm Elections, Politics, Uncategorized


The president said the media accounts of the leak of the National Intelligence Estimate were meant to “create confusion in the minds of the American people” and suggested that the report had been leaked for political purposes.

It is impossible not to wonder if Bush has a sense of his own terrific irony, or if all that tired stuff about him being an idiot is actually, you know, true. By now the White House has considerable expertise in selectively releasing portions of classified government documents. What is really interesting about this story is Intelligence Chief John “Death Squad” Negroponte’s mastery of cognitive dissonance:

On Monday evening, Negroponte rejected the argument that the Iraq war had increased the terrorist threat against the United States.

Negroponte conceded that Iraq had become a training ground for a new generation of jihadists. 

The terrorists which are being “bred” and trained in the killing fields of Iraq are, he says, not “really” interested in directing their murderous psychopathology at the U.S. proper. Right.


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Bolton Nomination Dead
September 26, 2006, 7:31 pm
Filed under: International, Politics, Uncategorized

How “big” is “BIG NEWS” when you have to label it as such? Anyway Steve Clemons is hysterical about the Bolton Senate confirmation hearing, which he says is “really, really dead.”  It’s apparently a “wow” moment for him, even though it doesn’t mean that Bolton will be going away.


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Budapest, Violence and Political Honesty
September 26, 2006, 5:07 pm
Filed under: International, Politics, Travel, Uncategorized

A few months ago I traveled to Budapest and found it to be one of the most interesting cities I’ve ever visited. I am not, by any means, an accomplished globetrotter, but I’ve been here and there and I was particularly struck by the Old World beauty of the rundown, economically stuggling two cities divided by the Danube. There is something about the Chain Bridge that approximates aesthetic perfection.

So it’s too bad about the international renown Budapest is attaining for the recent outbreak of violent social protest there due to its president’s highly frank remarks about the state of the national economy and the dispensation of the city’s political leadership (“we lied, morning, noon, and night”). Certainly, the city is not unaccustomed to such unrest, and its tricky history (with the Soviets, with the Nazis) suggests that it has the fortitude to emerge from the current crisis with class and resilience.

Ann Applebaum, one of the best columnists in the nation and who knows a thing or two about this part of the world, takes a fascinating look today in Slate. She uses the occasion of leaked truth-telling in Hungary as an opportunity to circle back to our present crisis in America (and the one we’ve created in Iraq). Applebaum laments, compellingly, the structural dishonesty that defines the modern-day political apparatus, without which no political agent can survive. 

But this argument is ultimately flawed, because it is based on the idealistic principle that if only we allowed our politicians to admit mistakes we would be able to correct and prevent future, eggregiously erroneous courses of action. But this depends on the initial mistake being honest, and the evidence now is overwhelming that the Bush administration pretty much deliberately screwed the pooch on the Iraq war, intentionally cooked the books, hyped the threat, misled at will, cherry picked, etc. ad nauseam. And Applebaum’s argument also rests, at least in part, on the notion that we should not punish politicians for making mistakes, even if those mistakes were made in good faith. But why not. Elections are about responsibility. And I don’t think violence, such as that occuring in Hungary now, would be the immediate reaction of the American public. There would be anger and resentment, and then there would be decisions in ballot boxes.


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