Wednesday, March 26, 2003
VICE IS BACK
posted by Eric |
After falling into kind of a lame period with a lot of shock for shock’s shake and being an asshole for being an asshole’s sake, getting too swept up in electroclash, running an un-ironic Scott Ritter piece after he’d talked to every other media outlet on the planet etc., VICE magazine is making something of a return to its former brilliance. This piece, “The Merits of War: Two Intellectuals and a Drunk Give the Final Word” is great. Its hilarious and it brings up real, substantive ideas in a quirky, original way, which used to be the point of the publication. It manages also to meaningfully and deservedly insult vast segments of its likely readership. Here’s the lead:
At Brooklyn’s GreenPoint Tavern, the conversations range from Polish rants about the problems “viss de niggers” to giggling college-girl arguments about cherry Chapstick. There is a perfect 50/50 split between pathetic old drunks with huge birth defects (remember that article we did called “What the Fuck Is Up With Goiter Guy’s Piss Plate?”) and moronic twentysomethings with no money. What better location, we thought, to bring together the two smartest political scientists in America for a debate about the future of the Western world? Bill McGowan is the author of Coloring the News: How Crusading for Diversity Has Corrupted American Journalism (which earned him the National Press Club Award) and Only Man Is Vile: The Tragedy of Sri Lanka, two books that have solidified his position as one of America’s top intellectuals and caused total outrage in the dumb community. Scott McConnell is the executive editor of Pat Buchanan’s magazine, The American Conservative. You may know him as the guy who got fired from the New York Post for daring to imply that merging with Puerto Rico might not be a good thing, but his political essays have lent much-needed genius to publications from Fortune to National Review. We don’t really know anything about the third guy, Throatie. He was at the bar when we got there and had been drinking for seven hours, so we gave him the tape recorder and told him to mediate the debate.
Of course most of the magazine’s readership is composed of “moronic twentysomethings with no money,” who are often drunk at Greenpoint Tavern or someplace similar (Isn’t Greenpoint Tavern the place where they filmed that so-cute-you-want-to-punch- everyone-involved video where The Strokes play Parcheesi with Guided by Voices or whatever) trying to talk about world events in a haze of misapplied labels and misunderstood ideas. Its nice of them to use this piece to point that out so succinctly, though the “dumb community” probably won’t get it anyway. The conversation between McGowan and McConnel lays out the neocon versus paleocon debate quite nicely too, again not that most people who read VICE probably . . .well, you get the idea.
This is also good . An Iraqi American lays out just how exactly fucked up and evil Saddam Hussein is in really direct terms. She’s anti-US intervention, but at least maybe some people will realize what exactly we’re dealing with here, now that this story is being spread through these channels.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
READ JAMES LILEKS
posted by Eric |
I almost forgot to post the best response yet to the liberal spinning of the casualties and of the war in general, this laugh out loud hilarious rant by Lileks. It's truly the must read of the week: funny, passionate, and an actual cogent, rational analysis at the same time.
TODAY’S NYT COVERAGE
posted by Eric |
Was over-the-top even by Raines and company’s hysterical standards. The spinning and propagandizing of the headlines was quite the “shock and awe” campaign. It did a good job staying on message with Saddam Hussein. For his part, he produced a strong set of talking points. He hasn’t maintained absolute power for so long by being stupid. He made sure to use the word “quagmire,” at least according to the Times. I found this a bit peculiar. For Howell Raines and his apparatus to decide to use for the translation this very specific word with the very specific association it conjures (Vietnam) and to put the word in a sub-headline would be a very deliberate choice wouldn’t it?
The Gray Lady opens the front page with a screaming two line full banner Headline saying ALLIES CONFRONT BAGHDAD DEFENDERS; ( Who are the Baghdad Defenders? The local soccer team? Apparently they are referring to whatever combination of Republican guard units, Baath Party loyalists, Saddam Hussein’s personal security forces, and despicable Fedayeen thugs who are deciding to fight. Would it be asking too much to simply say ALLIES CONFRONT IRAQI FORCES NEAR BAGHDAD? Defenders has decidedly positive connotations for American readers, thinking of our own troops, or of “self-defense” or of militias defending their homes during the American revolution. Of course they’re not actually defending Baghdad itself anyway, not its people, but only the Baath party’s brutal regime)
The next parts of the headline reads IRAQIS REPEL COPTERS; ONE GOES DOWN (Fair enough). Below it is a photo (from Agence France-Presse naturally) of a group of whatever Fedayeen or foreign terrorists Saddam Hussein is using, grouped around the downed Apache, all but one in civilian clothes, clutching Kalishnakovs and celebrating. Another headline headline plangently aks The Goal is Baghdad, but at What Cost? Another intones The Loss of Apache is Evidence of Copters Vulnberability to Ground Fire. (Low-flying helicopters are vulnerable to ground fire? Whodathunk?) Like most journalists, never hesitant to make himself the story, David Carr writes a piece entitled Reporting Reflects Anxiety, which uses the phrase “significant casualties.” And finally an unsigned editorial tells us of “diminished expectations” in Iraq, not bothering to say that the expectations of a painless war were encouraged by the media. There the Saddam Hussein/Howell Raines spin machine achieves a newly impressive synergy. When Saddam Hussein’s state TV interrogator attempted to humiliate our POW for the pleasure of the Al Jazeera viewing public, he asked him “if the Iraqis were greeting him with roses or with bullets.” The “dimished expectations” editorial states that the Bush Administration told us that “the Iraqi people would welcome the invasion force with cheers and flowers.” Way to stay on message guys!
I won’t go into armchair generalship, but its pretty obvious to anyone that the reason that the coalition forces have suffered any losses whatsoever (other than those due to friendly fire, equipment crashes or the fifth columnist incident in Kuwait) is because of the incredible moral and ethical strictures under which we’ve waged this war due to Donald Rumsfeld’s supremely moral stewardship of it. The enemy, on the other hand, has waged the most barbarous campaign imaginable. These points are welled laid out here
AND WHAT PARENTS OF SERVICEMEN AND SERVICEWOMEN THINK
posted by Eric |
This NYT piece details intimately the effects of the media’s relentless coverage of antiwar protests on the parents of our soldiers. It profiles Michael and Martha Gardner, whose son Michael is a Marine scout in Southern Iraq. Some excerpts:
They bristle at antiwar protesters, saying they do not show enough support for those fighting in the conflict . . .
She turned the television off when CNN promoted a piece on the American reaction at home to the war.
"I don't want to listen to it," Ms. Gardner said, noting that she feels that the antiwar protesters have no respect for the servicemen and servicewomen in combat and are not reacting appropriately to the horrible things that Saddam Hussein has done to his own countrymen. "I don't want this to turn into another Vietnam."
Turning this into another Vietnam is of course exactly what the protesters would like to do, as that is last time they were in any way relevant. The media is quick to join them and has invoked the Vietnam analogy in every post Vietnam conflict. Witness the robotic repetition of the phrase “quagmire” the moment the US military runs into the slightest difficulty anywhere. The analogy has been mostly or in this case completely inaccurate in each instance, but that doesn’t stop the same graying, paunchy, pony-tailed protesters from trying to relive their glory days every time.
WHAT IRAQIS, IRAQI-AMERICANS REALLY THINK
posted by Eric |
Its amazing that “mainstream” media has so readily taken images and opinions from Iraqi state-run media, or at best Iraqi state-run media via Al Jazeera as having any bearing on reality. This wonderful piece in the LA Times via Instapundit actually bothers to dig deeper. It reports that Iraqis are excitedly making phone calls to relatives in the US (via a communications infrastructure deliberately left in place due to the coalition’s humane persecution of the war mind you) in which they are speaking freely and denouncing the brutal Baathist regime for the first time in years, maybe ever. This is all due of course to the fact that the United States and our allies are finally finishing the project of their liberation, which we were forced to ignominiously abandon 12 years ago due to the straitjacket thrown on us by working through the United Nations.
Iraqi Americans, for their part, are “upset with antiwar protesters they believe have been duped by Iraqi propaganda.”
The story of 30-year-old Tamara Darweesh, is particularly powerful:
A few days ago, Darweesh went to the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, where antiwar protesters were gathered. She asked to talk to them about why it is important to topple Hussein. The protesters thanked her, turned and walked away.
"I'm so disappointed with the left," said Darweesh, who considers herself a liberal. "They are in complete denial because it doesn't fit into their equation of the Mideast. But Saddam is an Arab leader who has killed more Arabs than Israel ever has."
The antiwar protesters, she added, are "very condescending. They are supposed to be for human rights, but the suffering of the Iraqi people just doesn't exist for them. They deny us our stories."