"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Saturday, April 17, 2004

"Would-be Martyr's" Wish Granted
Abdel Aziz Rantisi killed.
During the mourning period for [Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed] Yassin, Rantisi was defiant about Israel's threats against him. "We will all die one day. Nothing will change. If by Apache or by cardiac arrest, I prefer Apache," he said.
Divide and conquer
The always informative Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo (which won a Bloggie recently) is exasperated at the media's highlighting of Bin Laden's attempt to further divide America and Europe.

Marshall wonders:
"Why are we giving this al Qaida PR stunt so much credence?

Why does CNN report the news like the public is made up of a bunch of circus idiots?

And will Emmanuel Goldstein also be in on the negotiations?"

As polls and elections show, a majority of Europeans are against greater involvement by the West in the Muslim world. They want to back off. (No doubt some of the voters in Spain's recent election felt that way.) Given Europe's bloody colonial history and large Muslim population, it's understandable.

Bin Laden and al-Qaida are just playing upon that fact. My guess is that Marshall is irritated that this news highlights the fact that one of Bin Laden's goals is the same as the Democrats': a less aggressive U.S. and Western foreign policy. Let the Muslim and Arab regions be. Argue for pulling the troops out more quickly than the Republicans would (although Bush did give in to Bin Laden, with good reason in my opinion, by pulling all of the troops out of Saudi Arabia).

His frustration is demonstrated by the mention of Emmanuel Goldstein. In George Orwell's 1984, Goldstein was a fictitious saboteur employed by the state to keep the citizenry fear-stricken and thereby distracted and more accepting of repressive laws.

I doubt Marshall is being literal here - al Qaida exists of course - but his view that Bin Laden is being employed like a Goldstein is common for some (most?) of the Left. They view 911 as an aberration, a one in a million incident that is unlikely to be repeated (like, say, the assassination of JFK). After the next catastrophic attack, fairly likely given the National Security Apparatus's dysfunction, I wonder if Goldstein's name will be bandied about as much.

Democrats on the 911 Commission damn the Bush administration for not taking the pre-911 Emmanuel Goldstein threat seriously, which it in fact did not. But Democrats like Marshall then go on to argue that Republicans are playing up the threat of al-Qaida for political advantage. Republicans, they argue, were too complacent then and are too aggressive now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

"He gave me a look, a kind of wide-eyed, reproachful look, such as a dying newt might have given me, if I had forgotten to change its water regularly." P.G.Wodehouse.

What's your favorite sentence(s) from a novel? (that's not my favorite but it's pretty good. Via Maud Newton)

Que Sera Sera lists a couple of the Universal Laws of Nature.
those hang-overs where it feels like you've been through chemo
He manages to get up to his bedroom, where he has a final cigarette before turning in.Then comes the next morning.

Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.

He feels worse when he discovers that a cigarette had burned 1) a large part of a bed sheet; 2) a smaller but still large part of a blanket; 3) a not inconsiderable bit of a “valuable-looking rug”; and 4) part of the top of his bedside table. It took a few moments for the full horror to sink in: “had a wayfarer, a burglar camped out in his room? Or was he the victim of some Horla fond of tobacco? He thought on the whole he must have done it himself, and wished he hadn’t.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Tax and Spend
Rabbit blog is, metaphorically speaking, throwing gasoline on the fire raging in Blogistan. So, here it goes.

After years in the big city, living beyond my means and spending like a drunken sailor on impulse-purchased books and rounds for the bar, I've finally found religion, like the Democrats, and have given in to fiscal discipline. I've forced a Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) upon myself, like what the IMF does to hapless third world countries whose treasuries have been looted by corrupt Western-backed dictators.

What's the first thing I do? I join the 21st century by purchasing a cell phone and offset the increase in my telecommunications bill by getting rid of my Caller-ID and telemarketer blocking service on my old-timey phone line.

Now, when people call at 2:30 on a Tuesday morning I don't know whether it was a wrong number or what. I get to lie in bed and stew about who could have possibly woken me up. And then I get to free associate ... but now I can write my free-associations down and post it on the Internet ...
"Soak the fat boys" was Robert Penn Warren's advice in All the King's Men. And if you think about, when travel writers and "hot spot" correspondents constantly relate how embarrassingly friendly and overly-generous folks often are in poverty stricken parts of the world and how often - but not always - the stinking rich people you come across, say, like Leona Helmsly or the Enron gang, are complete assholes, why not tax the shit out of them and redistribute a la Robin Hood? Yes, the rub lies in the redistributors and the pork and corruption which is why "good government" is essential. When Republicans and some Democrats demagogue the issue by saying "they want to raise YOUR taxes" the YOU they're addressing is 1% of the population, but that's not immediately apparent, is it?
Rabbit Blog says "sanity is overrated." I have to disagree, but I guess it depends on your definition of sanity. For instance, she's so sane and articulate, it's crazy. (By the way, the four most overrated things of all time? Champaign, lobster, anal sex, and picnics.)