Atomized junior- The Web log

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Atomized junior- The Web log

Friday, 29 October, 2004
All Wrong

The other day the President in a speech took another stab at what I call the flypaper argument for the war. Usually it contains an effusive and upbeat declaration that we have the insurgents or terrorists (the preferred term) right were we want them. Busy engaged with the US military in Iraq, far and safely away from American shores. At the time he was trying to cast the slaughter of 49 new recruits for the Iraqi Army as proof that his policies were working, and as planned. If Zarqawi and his ilk weren't down in the bunker in besieged Fallujah, they would clearly be here, and they would still be they: armed, active, hostile and aggressive, mounting waves of terror attacks across these United States. In the course of watching the reaction to our attempts to press democratic elections on Iraq and Afghanistan, I note an observation I've heard made. Democracy is the revolution in these parts, not the insurgency, not "rebel" leaders like Sadr. In the middle east the conventional, or at least familiar path to power is violence -- strategic and tactical violence, assassinations and demonstrations. The greater the vacuum the greater the demonstration of violence. A considerable vacuum was created in Iraq and a considerable opportunity for opportunists was born in the chaos.

I always believed that George W. Bush intended to preside over his presidency with a minimum of fuss and drama. He seemed to have worked out a personna for this; a sort of genial Will Rogers. Warm personable and endlessly likable. More Reagan than Reagan, a sure shouldered Atlas. Architect of the New world Order. In the Fall of 2001 that had to change. So he exchanged it for the Red Cross of Saint George, and turned to those advisors who stepped forward with confidence and bold plans. I believe in giving the President the benefit of doubt in foreign policy matters - particular military. This is tradition and to enjoy a degree of it, a president's prerogative. This is not a free pass though and no one should interpret it as such. That is the difference between a democracy and big brother. Almost from the start the judgment of the advisors seemed suspect. I knew the administration was bear-baiting Saddam Hussein, I knew their opinion on sanctions. I felt they had a reason and a plan. After Secretary of State Powell went before the UN I knew that they didn't know whether Iraq had Weapons of Mass destruction or not, or anything definite about his relations with terror networks. I began to wonder about their hell-bent drive for a war in Iraq. A war that has been wrongly conceived of, and enacted upon at every juncture. 200 billion dollars and nearly 1200 American lives, untold civilian lives ('War raised Iraqi death rate by 100,000') have been spent to create an anarchic wilderness. This can only be possible when the first principles of your entire world view have error.

The central policy document of the administration is their Doctrine of Pre-emption. Its virtue, being insight into the relative disparity of preparation time and operational personnel, needed to carry out attacks of massive destruction. Proportional to prior eras this has changed, while the outlay of resources needed has not. For a non-state entity to become truly dangerous it wants a state patron - maybe several. So the administration choose to focus on the bad actors of international governance. The message was "our hand has been tipped, if you are playing this game, we will take you out." The problem with crafting policy out of this message is that is that it is invalid to assume the fundamentals of right and wrong have changed. That 11 September 2001 was the boundary to a new era with different rules of conduct. Pre-emption has problems distinguishing between the necessary and sufficient conditions for war. Beyond causality, the notion that until you've been attacked, you haven't been attacked, there is condition. Thunder implies lightening, one might even say thunder necessarily implies lightening. Lightening sufficiently explains the thunder. To bring death and destruction to a people, unseat their leaders, hold their sovereignty in abeyance. These leaders must be necessarily and sufficiently responsible for harm to you. This must exist as a fact, it can not be done on distant presumption. Attempting to create a uniformity between the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and the 'war' on terror in general, the latter which can never be a war in more that a metaphoric sense, breaks these bonds of condition. The struggle against those who attack us and oppose our legitimate interests will always be a practical affair consisting of particular fights against particular foes on particular justifications. In use of force in may resemble the former program of renditions and police actions more often than not. By diplomacy it will proceed against states, more often than not.

If Foreign Policy is made and realized through the Department of Defense; then it is not the Department of Defense. It is the department of external affairs. You have no real foreign policy, only guns. This is the true meaning of the Cheney/Rumsfeld military, which they have been shaping now for more than 25 years. A light mobile mechanized force, with significant components of large bore firepower mostly from air platforms. It has been specifically crafted to be an active instrument of foreign policy. Easy to use because it was created to use, to be the first choice for underscoring American intention. Behind it a contingent of service providers much of it taken up duties stripped away from the traditional military, and mercenary supernumary forces that can do an armies job for a sub contractor's pay. The Instrument of the new world order, a flame for moths of action and desire. For all the rhetoric on evil, this policy is beyond good and evil it recognizes only force and seeks after it's monopoly. The question they ask: "isn't the world better off Saddam Hussein ...?" Is the wrong question, its answer moot. The leaders of men invariable ill-serve their followers, often beyond the level of general mischief. If they make clandestine war, the choice is to meet it clandestinely, or to make it apparent to meet it openly

That last contains an implicit question - make it apparent - to whom? It's a pop quiz for your friends, other nations, NGO's. Can they see it? You won't know unless you ask. Are they cheerleading, are they silent, their support in the breech, or are they letting friends drive drunk? If a war can have a quiz it can have a grade. Taking care to distinguish the rational for a war from its prosecution. Distinguishing the the effects of the opinions and judgments of the professional military from the civilian leadership; micro-managing , and ideologically harnessed. This leads onto the litany of smaller errors that have plagued this affair. The non occurrence of an Iraqi Force Stand down at the outset. the indeterminacy of shock and awe, limits of air power to do more than break a certain layer of material objects. Force planning that was caught up in muddled thinking of on-ramps and off-ramps but not boots on the ground. There was an inability or unwillingness to concede the difference between mechanized warfare and peacekeeping. A nearly blind refusal to see the forming insurgency. To mess with their wry catch-phrase: you cant't lose the peace after winning the war, if the other side understands itself still at war. They are under no obligations to fight on our terms, or make themselves visible to high-tech intelligence. The waves of carpet-bagging small worlders we threw at them did little to turn the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people one way or the other. Through it all we stuck to the pre-planned scenario, not making friends outside it, we had our friend: Chalabi. Making enemies, and then not dealing with them. What we regarded was always too apparent: the oil (markets/contracts), permanent bases. Anything else culture, security, weapons, any weapons, of mass, or merely conventional destruction, were of obvious lesser importance.

Over year ago Michael Schrage wrote an insightful piece for a Washington Post Sunday outlook section (now a pdf from his website No Weapons no matter, we called Saddam's bluff) He argues that one thing the Intelligence community seems to never have done is look at WMD's from the Iraqi perspective, unable to work on large scale programs if not openly at least with the degree's of freedom enjoyed by Pakistan, India, Iran, and North Korea, (Brazil, Argentina, Israel, etc.) They choose to place it all in stasis, but behave like they might have something, leaving their opponents guessing. For all their iconoclasm those often called the Neo-conservatives within the administration who came from a background of defense community anti-establishmentism couldn't see this. Their vision ran only one way: the number and depravity of our adversaries, and the size of their arsenals was always held to be under-estimated. Schrage wrote another piece two weeks ago on the likelihood of significant disinformation being in play currently and the possible roles the internet is playing in that: In Wartime, Deceit Can Be the Better Part of Valor (

A central point perhaps is Abu Ghraib, as a symbol for what happens whenever we confront the enemy and the enemy is a man. A mirror showing what we are willing to do. It tells us about ourselves. The war on terror treads on the border of paranoia where enemies, dark, lurking, and evil, abound. Any opposition becomes or befriends the terror and meaning dissolves into fearfulness, action into reaction. For Wolfowitz et al the architects of this war their pride rescues them from the comparison, they will never look in the mirror or learn from it.

Post script: Usually I try to work any links into a text in a webbish bastardized MLA like way. This time most are just appearing in a short list here. Mainly it was this three part New York Times series by Michael Gordon that prodded me to the conclusion that the war terror is too loosely defined to exist even for those who champion it, its just a grab bag of separate rationalizations incapable of coordination.
'Catastrophic Success': The Strategy to Secure Iraq Did Not Foresee a 2nd War, Poor Intelligence, Misled Troops About Risk of Drawn-Out War, and Early Analyses: 'A Long, Difficult and Probably Turbulent Process'. Also a pair of first person accounts from within the green zone earlier this year: WSJ reporter Farnaz Fassihi's email and the memo of the AEI member working with Coalition Provisional authority reported on in the Village Voice earlier this year. Also good is Naomi Klein's Baghdad in Year the Zero in Harpers. Additionally the CS Monitor has kept up a steady and consistently edited stories in a series called Iraq in Transition.

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Thursday, 28 October, 2004
Greg Shaw

Its doubly sad that so soon after learning of the passing of BBC John Peel , we also learn of the death of Greg Shaw founder of one of the first underground music Zines. Before Option, before OP, before Sniffing Glue. even before Max rnr and Flipside. Bomp! (and the label of the same name. Shaw was a friend to the Flamin' Groovies, the Stooges and many others. Garage Rock as a catagory was pretty much the result of his personal aesthetic.

The New York Times Music > Greg Shaw, 55, Rock Enthusiast Who Loved Underground Music, Dies, Cleaveland plain dealer  Greg Shaw, 55, was pioneer in spirited rock music.

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#FF0000 Sox

1918,  2004 : Boston Red Sox. World Champions. Thank you Johnny , nice hit.
One of my formr supervisors (Charles Wright) once called Carl Yaztremski "the poor man's Ted Williams" heck I'd take a complement like that any day.

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Wednesday, 27 October, 2004
John Peel

As a reformed former college radio DJ (one can reform just so much from that - it's chronic). I am saddened and feel a great loss at the passing of John Peel

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Legendary radio DJ John Peel dies. I read a number of obits for him in a number of News outlets, but since he was with the Beeb I linked to the BBC article. Another nice feature offered in a side bar is a small slide show of some of the acts he was influntial in the careers of: In pictures: The John Peel hit list including the Fall, Joy Division, Smiths and the White Stripes.

  His own web page over at the  BBC  Radio 1 - John Peel is full of information on his influence on the course of anglo american rock. I primarily know of his work through the Peel Sessions collection - live recordings he would invite bands to perform at the BBC's studio's. There is a link to full list of these from that page each giving the full details of that session.

Sign this one - For whom the bell Peels.

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Tuesday, 26 October, 2004
Franchise Player

There has been a certain martial quality to some of the terminology being used in the run-up to the election. On NPR this morning I heard John Kerry promise the people of some Baptist Church in Florida an "Army of Lawyers" - to protect their right to vote. An Army of Lawyers, has it really come to that? Do we have enough lawyers to fight this war or will there be a draft? Kerry's statement had a finger-in-the-eye quality to it as just on Friday the RNC had annouced that they were filing a complaint with the FEC over DNC Voter registration drives in Florida. The Washington Post article on this: GOP Accuses Democrats of Violating Campaign Law in Fla. notes that the Democrats responded to that by providing a web link to minutes of some county-level republican committee indicating that the republicans were engaged in the same type of activity. The Post reports a Bush campaign spokesman calling that a "desperate and hypocritical attempt to divert attention". Let those French Surrender Monkeys have irony, true Americans don't need it

  Far be it for me to invoke the people who live in glass houses rule on anyone's head. It seems that a perception has taken hold among some of us that the electoral process is wrought with fraud.  True or not, it is already a reality to the character of this election. So I try to set my mind back and recall: is this sort of thing cyclic, or result of a particular set of causes and effects. Does does it represent a bifurcation of the electorate  divided electorate an unprecedented bipolarity, or...  Does it represents the effects of expansion of electorate brought about by motor-voter laws, and other simpler registration processes especially in association. voter reg drives.  Role of Soft money (and rules of use) in modern mass voter registration efforts. When all this is over I think a measurable expansion of the franchise will associated with these changes in the laws and regulations. As well a lot of what is being seen now as fraud, perfidy - FUD [Fear Uncertainty Doubt] is simply the structural adjustments associated with this expansion.

I did a simple Google News search on the phrase --Voter registration Irregularities-- establishing my own node on this topic, which I will check from time to time, (saving the list of the top twenty returns each time). You could almost cook meals on the level of overheated rhetoric thats showing up: the GOP's war on voting. Still I think it safe to say there will be an appreciable amount of ligation to this before the final gavel comes down. This is one election where it's worth taking the time to make sure you show up at the right polling place.

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Sunday, 24 October, 2004
Escape from Mudville?

My sister, Ellen, was at the world series opener the other night. It's a beautiful thing. My niece and nephew are conflicted, their mother, my sister Ann, is a Red Sox fan. Their father, who is from Utica, is a Yankee's fan. They are trying very hard to be noncommital. My father lived in St. Louis until he was 12 then moved to Boston. He's good either way (even if in his day ball players always hit the cut off man and never threw balls into the dug out). I have no conflicts. At the same time a squad of millionaires doesn't really carry the aspirations of the common man on its back. I got Ring Lardner for that.

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Thursday, 21 October, 2004
Red Sox Win ALCS

Red Sox Win ALCS. Can't resist. It happens so rarely. The Red Sox are going to the world Series .
A picture named sox.gif
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Wednesday, 20 October, 2004
Djinns and Texas PowerPop

Back over the weekend I was over at my sisters, my older sister, who has the older two kids. Nicole and Lucas. I had brought my laptop with me hoping to write some stuff over the weekend. That didn't happen. Even though my Niece has two computers at her disposal, there was a certain attraction to surfing about on my iBook. When I got it out again back at my place I discovered I had a small window into the world of an American seventh grader by tapping the top windows back button.

At the bottom of this pile representing the start the voyage English a forum thread on the longest word in the english language. Nathaniel and his Djinn pal Bartimaeus saving London or what's left of it after the Golem looks about. (a tour through the trivia quiz section of this site - a stack of correct answers). This relates to the second book of the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jon Stroud released this year.

Next a meandering set of searches for the lyrics to the song 1985 by the Texas band Bowing for Soup. (I always go to Mp3 lyrics_org first when I'm trying to find lyrics, I just get lyrics, nobody tries to sell me anything) from there more sites until a link to the song itself off the MTV site for BFS is settled on.

At this point there was input from her father downstairs and the browser switches course: Yahooligans > Yahooligans Science > search results: Science Fair Projects > IPL Kidspace Science Fair project Ideas > Agricultural ideas for Science fair projects > Bill Nye > Science Project ideas (rossarts). About then it was time for dinner.

Lucas was miffed that he has been requested to stay off his favorite online games site. It was choking the light out of the computer he uses faster than you can say "does that look like Kudzu to you". Lucas is still too young to grasp the concept of a bad actor (crank the comments filter to four) and it just seems unfair to him. In three days that machine grew sixteen spyware programs and had its homepage slammed.

It doesn't do any good to suggest that a browser other than Internet explorer be used. These are wintell boxes and IE is the browser that came in the box. (actually Firefox is there too, now) I use Apple OS and don't have always-on broadband, so I don't own the same problem yet. I know Microsoft has a well appointed Internet Control Panel that can be adjusted to eliminate nearly all of this (turn off all of active x, turn off half of Java, slide all levers up!), If a site needs its bells and whistle to work place its URL in 'trusted sites' slide the lever down. Most people; though, expect and frankly want their computers and the internet to behave as conveniently and simply as any other consumer product. The internet isn't really like that - it's more like a hanglider than a bicycle, always will be unless it's turned into something else.

There is plenty of desire from many sectors to do just that. It is an unfortunate validation of Microsoft's view (which made IE, Outlook, XP and 2000 such a insecure group of products) that they make their products as friendly as possible - as open to outside control so the consumer needs do little, that the answer probably lies with future MS products and protocols that are even more black box than the current ones.

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Tuesday, 19 October, 2004
Boston Red Sox Interregnum

I have taken a few evenings off from obsessively collecting  information about the election in order to follow the Red Sox through another October After 4-2 victory, Red Sox Nation dares to dream. It's the native New Englander in me. Like shoveling snow, or riding a sled down a hill into a pond that may (or may not) be suitably frozen over - it just has to be done.  Frankly after the debacle of the ALCS 3rd game, they've played as well as any team I've seen . They've played the game as tenaciously as I've seen it played.
   On NPR's Morning Edition today I believe I heard sound bites from both Presidential candidates saying "That other candidate, he's just trying to scare you." At least we know what these fellows are going out on Halloween as. Each other.  Dick Cheney will go, as he always has, as himself.
  Beyond all that; let the seventh game begin.

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Monday, 18 October, 2004
I think I want my Maypo (Burger king part ii).

Creepy wasn't likely to be the only thing I had to say about that commercial. But for a while over the past few days it seemed hard to come up with anything that would improve on it. It is difficult to put your finger on why you feel something is 'creepy', much less to fathom why someone else would think the same thing an effective merchandising pitch. Slate columnist Seth Stevenson wrote a column on this last week The Return of the King. I set that aside until I could sketch out a version of my own thoughts then compared this with his. His approach is a practical one: to deconstruct the commercial from the standpoint of what Burger King is trying to do. Presumably this is a well thought-out marketing campaign The double croissan'wich what they're selling here is what the food industry calls an indulgent sandwich. Its on the hard sell end of a market category largely owned by a competitor, especially in mental geography. Advertising in such cases often will expand the market but not affect market share. Your ads sell your competitors product. Therefore Burger King needs something to break you out of any TV reverie you've allowed yourself to sink into. Whatever does that, works for them. So comes the marriage of the uncomfortable with the incomprehensible. The iconic big plastic head, accident or deliberate, relates to past branding work. Post nostalgic - begging for distance - to be read as ironic. Offputting, while accomplishing the work of cutting through category clutter and implanting brand information.

All that only gets you half way there. There is nothing about that kneeling gargoyle king with its odd exaggerated pantomined reactions and autonoman puppet aspect that I would immediately judge as human. Anything you find staring at you silently when you wake up falls into the category of night visitor. The classic nightmares, burdensome and oppressive: incubus and succubus, are what suggest themselves, or something out of Hoffman. In our indulgencey pandering sovereign, a syncubus, on an errand run of malicious and subducted eroticism. Offering friendly temptation, pardon from sanction, at a moment of unguarded tranquility.

I had dreams as a small child that I would wake up to find my self being watched over by a raggedy ann or raggedy andy doll who would slip out of sight after a few moments. I didn't have a raggedy ann or andy doll so this never struck me as being a good thing. Neither does this king. I suspect that Burger Kings Ad agency passed through the psychological spectrum  (spectreum) on their way to delivering this message.

Then there is the Subservient Chicken, but that's a whole other diet of worms.

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Thursday, 14 October, 2004
Burgher King

Man that is one creepy commercial

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Wednesday, 13 October, 2004

For the past few weeks I've been hearing this song I can't get behind that listening to the radio. I'm not sure when I first started hearing it - like television commercials it probably didn't break into my conciouness until it had been on a few times. William Shatner and Henry Rollins, carrying on over frenetic beat drumming supplied - the radio person informed me by Ben Folds. I assumed it was some sort of one off deal, but eventually I heard another, then another and it dawned on me that William Shatner has a new album on the streets. Yes he does WILLIAM SHATNER HAS BEEN. Ben Folds produced it and the web site for it indicates that many people shared in this endeavor. Aimee Mann is listed. Yesterday when I decided I would have hit up the internet to find what this was all about Blogdex which has been down for about a week came back up and this link came from them saving me the trouble. The Flash website has short interviews introducing each song so you can sample the goodness. I thought the title cut was the best.

As David Gedge with the band Wedding Present once sang "you can't say it doesn't really matter this isn't tv, he isn't William Shatner..."

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Big River

When this story came out a few weeks ago: - Discarded or a sign? Jesus statue enthralls. I wanted to write something on it. But I could never think of anything to write. Rather then let it go completely I took a moment this morning to write a poem :

Big River

Christ of the Rio Grande plastic
sunk in a sandbar
for no near reason
without papers
in midstream eddy
not towards either shore
to every side, coming
north or south
along 277,
up route 57
from piedras negras
Lately removed
to the hallways
of the local authorities,
of eagle pass, who
with assigned concern
care for lost objects.

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Tuesday, 12 October, 2004
What else is New(s)

I have to admit I've never really bought the idea that there is massive political bias in the media. In some ways I see it as a case of apples and oranges. Different segments of society each with their own institutions and centers of economic and moral authority launch their forays into and engage in the market place of ideas - which we call the media as though it were one thing rather than many - by myriad ways and means. Surveys can be produced that appear to show that the opinions of journalists correlate with the responses of those who identify with liberal causes and views. Though this also would correlate broadly with those who have received education necessary to write knowledgeably and effectively about public policy, and be explained as well by this. The real culprit might be a liberal education. There are those who feel that if we removed sociology or anthropology, literature, from the curriculum; perhaps removed the humanities altogether, we would be a better people. But we wouldn't be. Even William F. Buckley uses commas occasionally. And at that juncture it is easy enough to identify many journalists of a firm and obvious conservatism.

Journalists are but the foot soldiers of the media army. The companies they work for are corporations, firmly embedded with the other businesses of their region and with them partnered with the prevailing powers of the established regime. It is here, at the level of the enterprise, that newspapers and books are published, that programs are broadcast. Corporations also tend towards being hierarchical organizations, narrowing the the delivered message to the desires and benefit of single individuals.  Sinclair broadcasting has offered an well organized example of how this works : The New York Times TV Group to Show Anti- Kerry Film on 62 Stations. And with no advertisements - as a public service.

Marvin Kalb was on NPR this morning The Right-Left Struggle of Media News, arguing that American News organizations are skirting the limits of objectivity under pressure from audiences looking only for confirming messages. I had already written most of what's here by this point and I listened to him particularly to see where he located the discussion, at the level of the individual reporter commentator, their integrity. That is their dedication to the professional prescripts of American journalism: to at least attempt objectivity. Or at the level of their organization. Web loggers also came up in this segment. It seemed clear enough that web logging is plugged into feedback loops of amplifying partisanship. Also that this is the only role they are most likely to play. I didn't hear it from him, but I am gaining the sense from the amount of discussion of politically colored web logs that there will be a backlash against web logging on this account after the election. I don't pretend to be Republican or assign a fixed neutrality to myself. All the same I see a shadow requirement extending from belonging to a civil society to be open minded and assess all ideas on their particular and general merits. Not to be caught up in discourse as an exercise in slogan hoisting.

Josh Marshall of TPM had an item which he wrote on for several days after the first debate. A Fox news reporter (Carl Cameron) covering that debate, wrote up a parody, a scurrilous and defamatory parody of a speech represented as being given by Sen. Kerry the next day. No one with a genuine acquaintance with this election and candidates would have taken it seriously. Fox News put it up on their Web site. Until questions about its authenticity poured in - then they took it down. Questioned by Marshall on this they put it over to an overeager staffer's poor attempt at humor. This is the network that drove hard on CBS and Dan Rather for weeks. Fox News - A Poor Attempt At Journalism.

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Saturday, 9 October, 2004
Michelle's War

In in keeping with my current desire to aim well behind the current newscycle I want to write something that deals with last Tuesdays debate rather than last nights. I did watch last nights debate; was it just me or did those boys, Bush and Kerry, seem kinda edgy.

One of the things I came across in mid-week was on Michelle Malkin's web space. ANNOYING AP BIAS  So, what is her point? She is annoyed that Associated Press used phrase Cold efficiency to describe Cheney. But decides she likes it well enough in the course of writing about it: In any case, all four candidates claim they have what it takes to kill the terrorists wherever they are. I prefer it be done with "cold efficiency," don't you? So it couldn't have been that bad, pejorative or off base as it stood. Still she feels it necessary to see bias by the non fact, the non occurence, of an AP story beginning with With gooey unctuousness, Sen. John Edwards etc... Which she invents to demonstrate. What if the reporter had led with that phrase, but used it to describe Cheney? What would Michelle have thought of that?

Maybe the writer was just just doing his or her job, reporting what they saw. Bringing and leaving no baggage at the scene. Maybe that, or anything - anything at all, would leave her feeling personally injured, seeing bias, seeking damages, and seething, at a world set against her.

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Tuesday, 5 October, 2004
Army Navy Games

Micheal O'Hanlan wrote an Op Ed in the post last Friday I had been waiting for. I wasn't waiting for his piece A Matter of Force -- and Fairness ( necessarily, or in particular. I just wanted a front section analysis piece on the state of the Army. If not from the Washington Post then from one or another of the dreadnaughts of the 4th estate. O'Hanlan has a gig over at the Brookings Inst. Iraq Index

I want to return to a moment in the debate last Thursday. President Bush was trying to lambast Sen. Kerry for his glib slogan 'Wrong war Wrong time Wrong country'. Which he repeated a number of times, then followed with his own canned retort that this was no way to lead, that it wasn't something that a commander in chief should say. First of all this doesn't make the neccesary distinction that at the moment Sen. Kerry is not commander in chief, he is engaged in seeking the presidency which requires that he speak to differences in policy and approach. To critisize.  Moreover, I don't recall ever falling to the ground and curling up catotonic into a fetal position based on what anybody in "higher" places thought felt or said. To the degree I felt the need to be served by them, when I was a serviceman in the U S Navy, I liked it best when I thought they had a clue. Occaisionaly that happened. I don't want to suggest the President or anyone is in severe delusional state concerning the service man's or woman's need for his input. Looming far larger to the service man is the transcendant grounding you have in the military: you have the work. you have a sense of duty that extends far beyond the job description of a given billet. An ideal of professionalism. A pragmatic centering on attacking the problem at hand.

You can see this in the recent turn around towards engaging the insurgents in cities like Sammarra, Fallujah, and Etcetera US, Iraq Weigh major new offensives | csmonitor. The political interest may have been not to have a spike in fighting or american casualties in the run up to our election. The U S military in Iraq understands it cannot cede cities for any legnth of time to the insurgency. Certainly not and have any hope for a valid Iraqi national election, which increasingly everything hangs on. It is also notable that this fighting when it occurs has achieved considerable local success which speaks to the quality and training of American service personnel.

Along with this though there is the steady undercurrent of stories of how stressfull and difficult this fight is. There is the bleak fact that this war has cost the lives of over a thousand soldiers, marines and sailors. The army is paying attention to this: Army May Reduce Length of Tours in Combat Zones | NY Times. One of the very real questions in all this: is the U S military over-extended. The Army has 10 active and 8 reserve divisions around 485,000 personnel, the Marine corps another 175,000 in a further 3 divisions (paired with a marine airwing). It used to be thought this force level was adequate to fight one major war and an additional regional war simultaniously. I recall being concerned when I was in the 7th fleet that the Chinese launching an assualt across the straits of Taiwan was considered a regional war scenario. With 140,000 troops still in Iraq at a time when the plan was to have this number down to 40 or 50 thousand, its clear that force planning is strained. Within a month the major units involved in Iraq will all have been there twice. Much of this pressured rotation is simply a effect of a more careful rotation being thrown into the shredder. It has neccesitated a temporary inflation of the military by 25,000. This is accomplished through stop-loss orders and activating portions of the reserve not normally activated, but also through some fairly agressive tactics on the Military's part towards its own personnal: see Soldiers say they are being threatened with Iraq duty | metafilter. It may or may, not point towards raising the baseline force size .

As O'Hanlon's piece notes the critical measures are the rates of retention and new enlistments. it is seen that as long as these numbers. stay firm the all volunteer military can remain - volunteer (House Crushes Military Draft Bill (Reuters)). I wonder further; though,  who it is that is committing and re-committing. This is a juncture point where if some constitute portion of the American population demonstrates a preference towards military service at a time of great strain, the make up and nature of the US Military can change in a very small time frame. Todays military seems better educated - outside of my rating and a few others the number of people with high school degrees fell off rapidly. It also is getting to be a decidedly southern enterprise. though in regard to the American population of the South and West well balanced. The question is to what degree does the military need to bear a resemblance to the nation at whole, before it becomes more of an internal mercenary force rather than a national military.

11:56:32 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Friday, 1 October, 2004

A couple of weeks ago I wrote some posts defending wikipaedia. A thing that probably doesn't need defending as much as it needs pay pals. I didn't like the idea that information gatekeepers might be going on disparaging it, working themselves up to bald statements that it was just not real information at all. The general line I took was that handbooks, factbooks, almanacs, and annual reports, and the libraries and archives that collect them are all well and good. They tend to collect information from the integer disciplines very well: engineering, chemistry, etc. From the realm of culture society, politics, art; they catch varying sublties of established culture, respected and endowed. And sports - when bats hit balls, this is noted.

In the course of that I tried to come up with a decent working definition of highbrow and lowbrow culture. On this wheel of culture I suspected a lot of this collection management turned. Except for occasional facets of ordinary manufacture somehow deemed worthy of academic examination and classification, the common world lies low unexplored and undescribed, in the hands of its immediate audience only. The Web log Psuedopodium has turned out just such a defination.

[A]n institutional distinction. The lowbrow is subject to cultural and economic pressure en masse; the highbrow is sustained largely by individuals' nostalgia for roles which are (now) free of such pressure.No one talks about a painting or a poem outside the brand of its creator, whereas comics and science fiction packaging may barely register the authors' names. ...It's all business, of course, but the rhetoric of the businesses differ. On the Internet, No One Knows You're an Ex-Abstract-Expressionist

High art being glamorized pre-industrial, hand crafted of a personal touch has some appeal (and explanatory power). Turning to low art, lowbrow culture openly depend[ing] on mass reproduction, and as ephemeral as poster paper, where is the unique object, what is the center, the source, of fascination in the phenomonen, what is being contemplated responded to? Where does one need to stand, and with what detachment in order to see it? There is enough residual Fugazi in me to take some comfort in the knowledge that largely no one who is not responding knows or cares.

[even as I write this, i admit I have not followed all the links in psuedpd.'s piece ]

11:41:04 PM    comment [];trackback [];

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2004 Paul Bushmiller.
Last update: 11/03/04; 02:47:15.