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Desperado

The blog incarnation of the Desperado mailing list, the voice of the apocryphalypse since 1978.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Still a civil war after all these years 


Oh goody, CBS thinks Iraq has "turned into" a civil war . . . just this week.

Not everyone agrees:
"We're clearly in a new phase, characterised by this increasing sectarian violence that requires us obviously to adapt to that new phase and these two leaders need to be talking about how to do that," Stephen Hadley, White House national security adviser, told reporters
The remainder of the national media are staking out positions somewhere between Hadley's reassuring "new phase" and CBS's scary "civil war".

Here's one bold assertion, from the Washington Post, which is just waiting for somebody important to tell them what to say:
Well, I think one of the reasons the President resists that label is because it equates almost with a failure of U.S. policy. I will say for the Washington Post, we have not labeled it a civil war. I have asked around to see why not or see what’s the thinking on that -- and really our reporters have not filed that. We try to avoid the labels, particularly when the elected government itself does not call its situation a civil war. I certainly — and I would agree with General McCaffrey on this — absolutely the level of violence equals a civil war."

And, The New York Times has their back with an impressive blockade of smoke, mirrors, flash powder, and loud distracting noises:
"We expect to use the phrase sparingly and carefully, not to the exclusion of other formulations, not for dramatic effect. The main shortcoming of "civil war" is that, like other labels, it fails to capture the complexity of what is happening on the ground. The war in Iraq is, in addition to being a civil war, an occupation, a Baathist insurgency, a sectarian conflict, a front in a war against terrorists, a scene of criminal gangsterism and a cycle of vengeance. We believe 'civil war' should not become reductionist shorthand for a war that is colossally complicated."
Notice how politely, among their seven other things the war might be, they do include the one the Bush administration favors, along with six other things that a lot of people would call civil war, and, they also call it a civil war. The technical term for this approach, by the way, is persiflage.

The fact is, every one of these news outlets, including CBS, seems to think that that if they call the war something different from what the government calls it, that must be a big deal.

I had it as a civil war April 13, 2004. It was a big deal then. The only big deal now is the propaganda dance they're all doing.
posted by Tom  # 11/28/2006 12:39:00 PM
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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Blood, twang and blunder, signifying less than meets the eye 


I'm sure the movies I didn't see were just wonderful, but I still cringe at the sadistic humiliation of Hot Lips and the football game was just plain stupid.

I stood about all I could stand of the so-called country-music movie, that is to say, ten minutes of sneering at white high-school bandsmen, followed by three minutes of horrendous horribly sharp screeching by Lily Tomlin as an alleged gospel singer followed by me making for the exit to the accompaniment of the opening titles. The twin foundations of the film were the notion that any actor could write and sing a country song (disproven by the universally unsuccessful soundtrack) matched with the contradictory notion that the movie could have been about opera (although I'm pretty sure most actors couldn't write and sing an opera song either).

And then, having actually lived through one of the greatest stories in American music, the escape of jazz in Kansas City from the confines of a tolerated branch of popular music and out into the world of free improvisation and widely distributed individual artistry, with jam sessions featuring titanic battles between players who are still legendary more than sixty years later, not to mention naked waitresses, to choose to do a film about kidnapping a white politician's drug-addicted wife to a background of anonymous musicians noodling away in a half-baked and anachronistic mainstream jazz, was just not worth the trouble. Mine or his, although this time I watched the whole thing hoping for one simulated Ben Webster solo or one simulated Big Joe Turner stepping out from behind the bar to belt the blues.

Ed's note: There's no purgative for the first two movies, but for the latter, The Last of the Blue Devils will do the job.
posted by Tom  # 11/22/2006 12:53:00 PM
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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

National Review Online takes the sober view 


Brother Dave passes along a couple of urine samples from National Review Online:
My greatest fear is that this Republican loss will be seen by our adversaries as a great victory.
And from Jonah Goldberg, these brave, if insane, words:
How Bush Should Handle Loss [Jonah Goldberg]
I think James Baker and Dick Cheney should take Bush out to the woods around Camp David. After 24 hours in a sweat lodge, he should be given only a loin cloth, a hunting knife and a canteen of water. Bush should then set out to track and kill a black bear, after which he should eat its still beating heart so he can absorb its spirit. He should then fly back to Washington in Marine 1. His torso still scratched from the bear's claws, his face bloodied and steaming in the November chill, he should immediately give a press conference at which he throws the bearskin on the front row of the press corps, completely enveloping Helen Thomas, declaring, "I'm not going anywhere."

This will send important messages to Democrats and well as to our enemies overseas, who are no doubt high-fiving as we speak.
OK, OK, it wasn't a victory, but please don't hit me with that bloody bearskin.
posted by Tom  # 11/08/2006 12:44:00 PM
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