Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The World Series begins in Boston, and the weather out my window is bleak. Time for some sports propaganda:
Let's hope he can still play first base on that gimpy knee...
In our times of trouble, Dick Cheney draws lessons and inspiration from the past. As here, from a speech a few days ago to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy:
Dr. Bernard Lewis explained the terrorists' reasoning this way: "During the Cold War," Dr. Lewis wrote, "two things came to be known and generally recognized in the Middle East concerning the two rival superpowers. If you did anything to annoy the Russians, punishment would be swift and dire. If you said or did anything against the Americans, not only would there be no punishment; there might even be some possibility of reward, as the usual anxious procession of diplomats and politicians, journalists and scholars and miscellaneous others came with their usual pleading inquiries: 'What have we done to offend you? What can we do to put it right?'" End quote.
As others have noted, it might be that Cheney (and Lewis) have forgotten that the Communists lost the Cold War. But then again, maybe victory, per se, isn't the goal. To drag back a post from back in 2002:
When I was learning about the evils of communism in school, I didn't hear so much about the massacres, or even the gulag. It was instead the conditions of daily life that got to you --- people subject to search and arrest without any review, the informants, the restrictions on mass media, the inefficient, government-connected industries despoiling the environment (with a few apparatchiks at the top skimming off cash for a sumptuous lifestyle), the government agencies stocked only by the politically reliable, and the goons in the politburo able to impose whatever half-baked policy they liked, justify it with whatever lies they liked, enforced by a government apparatus stocked high with only those chosen to be politically reliable, and never be subject to any meaningful review. I'm starting to get the feeling that someone got the same lessons I did --- and thought to themselves, "Wow, what a neat idea!"
I thought I was joking.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A brief note on the basic fraudulence of American political discourse. You'll recall that Dubya's "surge" was designed to pacify the major cities, particularly Baghdad --- so it was only natural that when the time came to evaluate it, and nothing much had changed in Baghdad, they trumpeted success in the hinterlands of Anbar province. That success was the "Anbar awakening", in which locals were cooperating with our troops to root out foreign fighters.

So, they like us now, right?

Funny how you never heard much about what the locals were telling us on the joint patrols of our troops and the "1920 brigade", named for the year that an earlier generation took up arms against the Brits. Stuff that was presumably known to the Pentagon, at some level. Stuff like this:

For now, our relationship with 1920 is one of mutual distrust and hatred, a sign of the times. A conversation between a member of my platoon and a 1920 source is ripe with foreboding on the future of this partnership, and of the war to come.
“Do you want to kill me?” asked the soldier.
“Yes,” replied the source, coldly and without emotion. “But not today.”

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Red Sox fans have endured a lot over the years. But now that the Olde Towne Team has won two straight elimination games against the Indians, it seems their misery has company --- one Indians fan yesterday, watching yesterday's game on the Jacobs Field jumbotron, said she saw her team slipping into a "vortex of doom".

"The Cleveland Indians and the Vortex of Doom." Crikey. It sounds like a rejected title for a Harry Potter spinoff.

Take heart, Cleveland. If there's one thing we've learned in Boston, it's not over until the fat lady's gargling while the stagehands are striking the set...