Copyright © 2006 Frank Lynch.
Me: Frank Lynch
These are my mundane daily ramblings.
This post is a hand-off. My apologies, but I've just entered into a period at work which is very demanding. And the beautiful part of this vortex is that it's a project I find intrinsically rewarding: it's a few rungs below cancer research, but it's on a topic near and dear to my heart, mass transit. It's the fruition of a project the firm and I embarked on over a year and a half ago, and it's fantastic to be at the point where I can cement it all together. So I hope you'll be patient.
the meantime, I know you want to see the "new": so let me
introduce you to the photos of Pro-Zak: that's
what he calls himself on Flickr, and that's good enough for this
space. His photographic interests and mine intersect in many
ways, and many of the shots you've seen here came out of
photohikes we took together, along with Gail Picket and
Anyway, here is a really wonderful shot of Pro-Zak's from a
Queens ice cream parlor (if I've done the html correctly, you
should be seeing it on the right, approximately, and if I
haven't, I'm completely confident that you'll sue me or him or
Bush or Powell, maybe even the USO. But I love how he captured a
shop which has deliberately chosen to preserve a different era
(you should be thinking the Kinks' "The Kinks Are The Village
Green Preservation Society" at this point). Signing out now...
I think I'd still like to damn George Bush's soul to hell. It was a little less than two weeks ago when I argued that in spite of the fix Bush had stuck us in with respect to Iraq, that we had a moral responsibility as an upstanding nation to put things right, and give it another year or a year and a half. I still think we have a moral burden here, but based on the President's behavior today, I'm highly doubtful this is a debt we can properly repay while he's President. The burden will probably still pass on to future administrations, but it's clear that it won't be solvable under this administration.
If you read this article, your jaw simply has to drop: Bush indicates that he will ask Iraq's Prime Minister for his strategy on how to stop the violence. Translation: it's your fault, figure out how to get us out of it. Have you ever read such irresponsible behavior elsewhere? I mean, even Pete Rose had a better grasp of his failings than Bush has. Never mind the fact that Bush wanted all the glory of tumbling statues, codpiece-filled flight suits, and perpetual applause at State of the Union addresses. We are in a hell of a tar baby here, and if Bush doesn't, can't, won't recognize it, then all the wishful thinking, lofty thoughts, good intentions, Job-like patience, and blank checks in the world are going to enable this United States to make proper amends, not so long as Bush is on the throne. Bush is the problem, a hindrance; he's not a neutral part of the equation, he's a problem.
The news from Anbar province isn't exactly encouraging, either: "The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity there, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report that set off debate in recent months about the military's mission in Anbar province."
I guess I was thinking stupid when I said we needed to stay
another year or so: under a more enlightened administration, that
might make sense. But we are not at a point where the
administration is about to be replaced. We have another two plus
years, and practical thinking about the possible impact of
staying is just unrealistic in the meantime.
"Like a Mafia funeral." That's
Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT) on the fealty of the Senate Judiciary Committee, when controlled
by Republicans, towards Cheney and Rove, in contrast to how LBJ
was received as President, when the Senate was held by Democrats.
And I am the King of Siam. Apparently
it's the editorial policy of the Washington Post that the fracas
in Iraq shall not be called a "civil war" because that's not how the Iraqi government refers to it. Truly, how
can we make progress, one way or another, if a state of denial
It's really all Clinton's fault. I
mean, think about it: he was President, what, eight years?
And Bush has only had us in Iraq for three and a half: failure to train the
Iraqis must really be Clinton's fault. The Decider In Chief
doesn't make mistakes.
Quick on the draw, huh? You're
probably aware of the story of the ex-Soviet spy in London who
was investigating the murder of a Russian journalist, who had
herself been looking into Putin and Chechnya and so on, and how
the ex-Soviet spy had taken ill, claiming to have been poisoned
in a sushi restaurant in London. And if you've been following the
story, you also know he had a heart attack while under care in
the hospital, and died on Thursday. All very suspicious, cause
difficult to identify. Now maybe there's more to the story on the
timing, but it seems as if British authorities decided just today to close
the restaurant, in an effort to protect the public and preserve
evidence. This story has been in the news about a week, and
only now did they make this move. Yeesh.
Post-victory is no time to be complacent,
I guess. That's the gist of the Shrill One's column ($), over the kind of
electoral issues we might have been more shocked about if
the Democrats had failed to take control of Congress. Oh, yes,
sometimes the inner game matters — the neighborhood plays,
the stolen signs — even when you win.
What? Innocent?!? It must be a cover-
the Republicans are in on, I guess. Of course, the wingnuts
at blogs like Powerline will wonder why I'm posting this at all,
because the truth doesn't matter now that the election is over.
Aah, just another Ramadan-before-midterm-elections is all.
Nothing to see here, folks, move along. November's excuse may be
more arcane (hmmm, has the Florida-Georgia game already happened?
oh, I know, this month's violence will be explained away as an
effort to disrupt the U.S. economy by making people think twice
about Christmas shopping. Sure, that's the ticket...).
Have a happy Thanksgiving! This is my
last post before a lot of you leave work on Wednesday, so for
those of you in the US heading off to celebrate the beneficence
which the pilgrims encountered when they landed here, celebrated
their safe arrival, and gave thanks to God, enjoy the holiday,
and if you can, find a way to reach out to those who have fewer
blessings than you. Maybe not this weekend, but in the coming
weeks. Enjoy the weekend, but make a plan to give back: it's part
of the sharing.
Against the Day. Okay, the new Thomas Pynchon book is officially out, and I can talk about it. (I acquired my copy in advance of the release date, and will not say when, from where, nor how. That may, of course, do me or my supplier no good, seeing as how the Bush Administration believes it doesn't need warrants to tap our phones any longer. Just perfect segue for a discussion of Pynchon...) Because I have been considerate of my source, I haven't been reading it in public on the subway, so I haven't made as much progress as I would with some other book I'd owned for a similar period or anticipated so long, but that having been said, I can tell you it's a hoot so far. All sorts of potential plot lines being thrown out, and characters who we may never encounter for more than a mere moment. (I still love that turn in Gravity's Rainbow where Pynchon made an early allusion to the comic book motif, describing a British orderly: "his batman, a Corporal Wayne.") Doubtless there are going to be all sorts of throwaway details here, just as there were in Gravity's Rainbow (still his finest, in my book, but I haven't finished this baby...) And now, pardon the Joycean moment, students of Ulysses all understand "Throwaway." Say no more, nudge nudge wink wink.
Yesterday's New York Times review of the book complained that
this was a regression for Pynchon, that it didn't have the same
character warmth which was there in Mason and Dixon. Maybe it
will, maybe it won't. And maybe that won't be the chief criterion
by which "Against the Day" will be judged. But I can tell you so
far that it's an exciting, kaleidoscopic novel, it's like Monk,
Ellington, Sun Ra: it comes at you from all angles. And I am
having a hoot of a time with it. (If you're thinking of reading
it, you could do worse than throw me the odd bit of change and
order it through this link. Or something else through that link,
Christmas is coming. Otherwise, the Amazon wish list is here.)
God doesn't play with dice. Why should George Bush? (There's this apocryphal quotation attributed to Samuel Johnson, not found — believe me — which goes something like "God doesn't judge a man before his life is through; why should you or I?" Kind of pitiful, I know, to take your lede from something so flimsy as something Johnson never said, but we're dealing with a flimsy President. I have thus skirted my inaccountability. Sue me, or buy something from my wish list.)
You know, there's this idea that one of the reasons Bush invaded Iraq was out of an optimism that upsetting the apple cart would provide enough chaotic change in the region that more benign forces would spontaneously assert themselves, and as the cartoon explained the process, "Then, a miracle occurs," and the two families of incredibly complex equations would mate into a wonderful new world.
There were people on the right who saw the rise of democracy in Ukraine as a spontaneous, unanticipated, we can't claim this in advance but won't hesitate to do so retroactively as a projected outgrowth of the invasion, the kind of ephemeral result which could only have been foreshadowed as in the corniest serial novel. Similarly with Lebanon: an assassination was not seen as the catalyst for an uprising against Syrian influence, but George Bush was. With today's assassination of the Lebanese Industry Minister, doubtless there will be all sorts of retro-fitted tea-leaf readings by the people at sites like Power Line, ever anxious to divine a grand plan.
Admitting the mistake. Understandably, there was some disagreement when I posted that we needed to spend a year to a year and a half more in Iraq out of what I saw as a moral obligation to try harder about the screw-up which the Decider in Chief launched. There's a lot to be said for the argument for leaving now, and a lot of intelligent people have said that the concept of "winning" is out of reach, Kissinger among them. One of the hurdles to that kind of exit becoming reality, unfortunately, is that in order to do so the present Administration would have to come to grips and accept an error. That message will not be tolerated by the Pharaoh: he's of course said we only lose if we leave, and that the exit will be up to some future president. Clearly, he'd like to go to bed at night saying that he'd never lost Iraq, it was some schmuck who came after him: woulda shoulda coulda. It's like that Nixonian line: "I will not become the first American President to lose a war," or whatever the hell it was he said.
There are of course times when it takes a special kind of maturity to say, yeah, I lost, I'll learn from this. Bush isn't that kind of guy. It's additionally sad that whether or not it really is meritorious to stick it out in Iraq (I think it is), Bush's behavior undermines the argument. He doesn't talk in visionary terms, he doesn't convey or persuade us that there is a way to turn this into success. People like General Abizaid, who I'm convinced are decent, clear-headed people, are left holding the bag: they're not able to speak of opportunities to be seized because that's the language of politicians. Abizaid is only authorized to go so far in what he says.