Friday, March 12, 2004

Random Thoughts

This is a bit wierd, but guess how many days it has been since 9-11 and the attack yesterday in Spain (up to but not including March 11th itself). Yeah, you guessed it.... 911. Isn't that just lovely.

Every now and then, you see something written that just gets it right, and that is the case, as usual with Mr. Lileks, who makes the right observation on how this stuff is perceived.
"I’m somewhat annoyed by the assertion that this act was “sophisticated,” and hence the work of those brilliant stratgerists of Al Qaeda. My definition of sophistication is somewhat different: it’s an unmanned drone flying over Pakistan, piloted by a guy in Florida, dropping a laser-guided bomb into the passenger cab of a truck full of Taliban. That’s sophistication. Synchronizing watches on detenators is not exactly all that tough. I’ll tell you what’s difficult: a dozen nervous sweating Swedes pulling off 13 simultaneous detonations in Saudi Arabia, where they might stick out. Spain of course is most Spanish; hence the name. But I assume there are enough immigrants living in Madrid, or native-born people of Arab origin, so that a guy walking through a train station with a backpack is about as unusual as a tourist in a loud shirt peering at a map."

And sometimes, I am truly uplifted by observations from unlikely places. Olavo de Carvalho, a Brazilian writer, explained why he came to the conclusion that Bush is right:
"In the last days of the war, though, when the clandestine cemeteries in Iraqi prisons were opened and the corpses started to be counted, I could not avoid noticing - and writing - that the decision taken by George W. Bush had been morally correct and even obligatory: any country that kills 300 thousand political prisoners must be invaded and immediately subdued, even if it does not constitute any danger to neighboring nations or to the supposed "international order".

National sovereignties must be respected, but not beyond the point where they arrogate to themselves the right to genocide.
The intrinsic moral correct[ness] of the American action is so evident and undeniable that every discussion that followed, in the international and Brazilian media, had to systematically eschew this aspect of the question, so that public attention could be focused at the problem of knowing whether Saddam Hussein did or did not have weapons of mass destruction, and therefore whether George W. Bush was right or not by invoking that reason in particular, among many others."

His readers had pressed him for his opinions; my gut tells me they were dissappointed. (Hat-tip, Norm).

And then, you read something and I just get scared. The New Republic did a review of Tim Robbins new play, Embedded. I know Robbins' politics are way out there, so I shouldn't be surprised. But when he writes and directs a play about an evil cabal with characters called Woof and Pearly White, who plot the invasion of a country called Gomorrah and who repeatedly shout "hail Leo Strauss" (a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany), you have to wonder how deep this disease is spreading. Does he think this is funny, or clever or simply the "truth exposed"? Is he a true believer, evil, or just an idiot? TNR's Lawrence Kaplan has some thoughts:
"Embedded, moreover, is not only dumb. It is poisonous, a production-length conspiracy theory guilty of the very sins it attributes to the "cabal" that it claims to expose. "
It's a very good article and worthy of a read. Whatever Robbins is, he is ultimately quite dangerous. Poison is the right word.


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