Candide’s Latest: Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Bring Back Andrew and Otis
Pierre Tristam/Candide's Notebooks
Worth a bit more than $20
The Library of America, blessed be its existence, just released a new couple of volumes, American Speeches, gathering, as the title implies, some of the greatest speeches that shaped American identity. It begins with James Otis’s “Argument Against Writs of Assistance,” a 1761 speech against the British authorities’ habit of searching and seizing whatever home or property they pleased—“the worst instrument of arbitrary power,” Otis described it as, “the most destructive of English liberty, and the fundamental principles of the constitution, that ever was found in an English law-book.” Where is Otis when we need him, now that the Senate and an apparent majority of the American public have decapitated the Fourth Amendment in the name of domestic spying by the NSA and who knows how many others of the 16 “intelligence” agencies of the federal government? But it’s Andrew Jackson’s second inaugural address that should make you weep:
The foreign policy adopted by our Government soon after the formation of our present Constitution, and very generally pursued by successive Administrations, has been crowned with almost complete success, and has elevated our character among the nations of the earth. To do justice to all and to submit to wrong from none has been during my Administration its governing maxim, and so happy have been its results that we are not only at peace with all the world, but have few causes of controversy, and those of minor importance, remaining unadjusted.
Reverse just about every single one of Jackson’s statement, and you get the Bush foreign policy legacy.
650,000 Iraqi Deaths
“A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimates that 655,000 more people have died in Iraq since coalition forces arrived in March 2003 than would have died if the invasion had not occurred,” the Post reports. “The estimate, produced by interviewing residents during a random sampling of households throughout the country, is far higher than ones produced by other groups, including Iraq's government. It is more than 20 times the estimate of 30,000 civilian deaths that President Bush gave in a speech in December. It is more than 10 times the estimate of roughly 50,000 civilian deaths made by the British-based Iraq Body Count research group. […]Of the total 655,000 estimated "excess deaths," 601,000 resulted from violence and the rest from disease and other causes, according to the study. This is about 500 unexpected violent deaths per day throughout the country.”
And Tommy Franks, the general who planned it all? He skidded out of the war theater with a $5 million book contract, a cushy corporate job and the promise of millions on America’s talk circuit. “A less flattering view of Franks has emerged in several new books about Iraq, including Bob Woodward's State of Denial,” the St. Pete Times writes. “They portray the former head of the Central Command in Tampa as an arrogant, profane and sometimes detached figure whose failure to adequately plan for postinvasion Iraq is at least partly to blame for a war that has cost more than 2,700 American lives and more than $300-billion.” Actually, closing in on $500 billion.
Jimmy Carter on what to do with North Korea: “One option, the most likely one, is to try to force Pyongyang’s leaders to abandon their nuclear program with military threats and a further tightening of the embargoes, increasing the suffering of its already starving people. Two important facts must be faced: Kim Jong-il and his military leaders have proven themselves almost impervious to outside pressure, and both China and South Korea have shown that they are reluctant to destabilize the regime. This approach is also more likely to stimulate further nuclear weapons activity. The other option is to make an effort to put into effect the September denuclearization agreement, which the North Koreans still maintain is feasible. The simple framework for a step-by-step agreement exists, with the United States giving a firm and direct statement of no hostile intent, and moving toward normal relations if North Korea forgoes any further nuclear weapons program and remains at peace with its neighbors. Each element would have to be confirmed by mutual actions combined with unimpeded international inspections.” See the full column in the Times.
Eurabia’s Islam Worries: “ Europe appears to be crossing an invisible line regarding its Muslim minorities: more people in the political mainstream are arguing that Islam cannot be reconciled with European values. “You saw what happened with the pope,” said Patrick Gonman, 43, the owner of Raga, a funky wine bar in downtown Antwerp, 25 miles from here. “He said Islam is an aggressive religion. And the next day they kill a nun somewhere and make his point. “Rationality is gone.” Mr. Gonman is hardly an extremist. In fact, he organized a protest last week in which 20 bars and restaurants closed on the night when a far-right party with an anti-Muslim message held a rally nearby. His worry is shared by centrists across Europe angry at terror attacks in the name of religion on a continent that has largely abandoned it, and disturbed that any criticism of Islam or Muslim immigration provokes threats of violence. For years those who raised their voices were mostly on the far right. Now those normally seen as moderates — ordinary people as well as politicians — are asking whether once unquestioned values of tolerance and multiculturalism should have limits.” The full piece in the Times…
Salman Rushdie: "Veils Suck"
"The author," The Independent reports, "backed Jack Straw, the Commons Leader, who described veils as a "visible statement of separation" that impeded community relations and disclosed that he asks constitiuents to take them off in meetings. Mr Rushdie said: "He was expressing an important opinion, which is that veils suck - which they do. Speaking as somebody with three sisters and a very largely female Muslim family, there is not a single woman I know in my family, or in their friends, who would have accepted the wearing of a veil." [Rushdie made his comments on BBC Radio 4's Today show on Tuesday; the 5-minute chat was about an exhibit on Sheherazade and the veil; the complete audio clip is available for a week here (look for the item at 7:37) ]
In Other Worlds
Tom Engelhardt on the Language of the Bush: “You know a person by the company he or she keeps -- so the saying goes. You could also say that you know an administration by the linguistic company it keeps; and though George Bush is usually presented as an inarticulate stumbler of a speech and news-conference giver, it's nothing short of remarkable how many new words and phrases (or redefined old ones) this President and his administration have managed to lodge in our lives and our heads.” The rest at TomDispatch…
Kiran Desai wins Booker Prize
Tens of millions of people in Britain have no interest at all in football. So, amid fresh allegations about bungs, international corporate crime and sexual excess, should we call time on our obsession with the once beautiful game? Emma John answers in The New Statesman…
The Rude Pundit/October 10, 2006
The Rude Pundit has often wondered, especially as the cost of the Iraq war approaches the half-trillion mark, how much it would have cost to just buy Saddam Hussein out of power. Really. If Saddam had said, "Okay, you know what? Howzabout $10 billion for me and $1 billion each for my two sons and here's a list of about 100 people who get ten million each," would it have been so wrong to write the checks, maybe even have spread it out over time, like some lottery winnings, so that the vicious bastard couldn't back out? At the time it would have seemed outrageous, but history is a cruel bitch, and it now seems like a fuckin' bargain. Sure, sure, you could argue, it sets a bad precedent, others will blackmail the United States , we shouldn't be in the business of "rewarding" dictators, and blah, blah, fuckin' blah. 'Cause you could also argue, perhaps more effectively, that it sets a bad precedent to start a war based on a lie that's on the fast track to 3000 Americans and untold tens of thousands of Iraqis, with no plan to secure the peace. If you'd bought Hussein out of office, all you'd've had to worry about was keeping the peace. Hell, Bush would have fucked it up anyways. Read the rest at The Rude Pundit…