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I’ve been sitting here over the last week basically tearing my hair out and having a cold.  I’ll admit, if this is my traditional start of term catch something from students, it’s very mild, and I’ll take it.

My book still isn’t finished, although it’s preceding better than it was, and I’ve got a stack of papers to correct–the first real ones this semester–waiting for me when I give in and go to get lunch.

On the whole, I find this a not very cheerful day, but there are some things of note, some of them even positive.

First, it seems like Anthony Wiener will not be the Democratic candidate for mayor of New York, and therefore will not be the actual mayor of New York, which is something of a win for the dignity of the American political process.

Assuming it has any.

I’ll admit that after years and years of Michael Bloomberg’s prissy soft totalitarianism, the idea of a mayor with a looser style had its advantages.

 But the bottom line is that whoever told Wiener he could pull this off, or even that he should try, was an idiot.

Second, we’re not going into Syria as far as I can tell.

My hesitation derives from the fact that I’m not really sure what is going on, and I’m not sure anybody else is either.

A friend of mine described all this to me as Obama practicing the multilateralism everybody wanted out of Bush on Iraq, but if it is, I don’t think we should do it any more.

I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but it just looks bad, less like measured reason and more like bumbling around without a clue.

And I’m not sure what it is all supposed to be in aid of. 

The explanations I heard Obama give–okay, I didn’t listen to yesterday’s speech–didn’t make much sense, and to the extent they would have made any sense at all would have served as a justification for the Iraq war at least as much as it would have served as a justification of this one.

A lot of the people who post here don’t much like Obama, but I don’t care who it was who had made this particular pitch, it just didn’t–cohere, somehow. 

And if you’re going to justify a war, you do have to put together a narrative that coheres.  Somewhere.

Third, it’s the anniversary of 9/11, and as with all the other anniversaries of 9/11 so far, that doesn’t cohere all that well, either.

I sometimes think we haven’t really figured out what we think about all that yet.

This anniversary is eerily like the day itself, at least as far as weather goes out here.

But I think 9/11 is hard for most Americans to read.

And it gets harder for me to read the more I know about the world at large.

On that note, I’d like to suggest a book.  It’s called Reading Lolita in Teheran, by Azan Nafisi, and Irani woman trained as a professor of literature in the US (Oklahoma/Norman) who went back to Iran to participate in the revolution against the Shah and ended up–

Well, eventually she ended up back here as a professor at Johns Hopkins, but what got to me was her realization that even if her Leftist allies had won that revolution, they would still have imposed not only a repressive state, but the same kind of repressive state.

She is, as far as I can tell, a more enthusiastic American than a lot of born Americans these days.

As for the successful revolutionaries, all I can say is that these people are obsessed with sex.

They’re more obsessed with sex than any Western porn addict could be if he worked on it for decades. 

And, along with the bizarre mania for “purity” in men as well as women, the age of marriage for a girl in Iran is now 9, and the routine sexual abuse practiced by the authorized “morality police” is just stunning.

Dr. Nafisi is much more concerned with the fact that such ideological rigidness, of the left as well as of the right, renders the ideologue incapable of understanding fiction.

I think she may actually have a point.

I, however, have a stack of papers to correct.


Written by janeh

September 11th, 2013 at 9:09 am

Posted in Uncategorized

9 Responses to 'Dipsydoodle'

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  1. I refuse to rejoice over someone losing a primary until I see who wins the general election and how he behaves in power.

    9-11. It’s tricky. You remember the deceased, but with every year fewer people do. The remembered dead of Memorial Day (Civil War) and Armistice Day (WWI) would all be dead now anyway. You can remember the lesson. The lesson of Pearl Harbor was that the oceans would not keep us safe. Perhaps the lesson of 9-11 was that no one is too weak or too crazy to strike at us. If so, it’s a useful lesson when our politicians decide that it’s not really a war when the people we bomb can’t hit back.

    READING LOLITA. I have been not reading that book with the same determination with which I don’t read modern Literature, but I will now make an exception. Modern Lit and revolutionary politics continue without end, but reading every book by a political activist who has concluded he or she was fundamentally wrong would be quite a modest investment in time and money.

    Syria. No general comment on Obama, here and now, but I think one can go too far in avoiding false choices. Not all choices are false. In driving, one may keep to the left or keep to the right, but one ought not to convert from one to the other gradually nor to seek a middle ground. Here, I think, there was a case for humanitarian intervention, and a case for declining to intervene in a war not our own. But a strike powerful enough to disarm Bashir Assad and/or to discourage the next tyrant is bound to be a serious intervention in the Syrian Civil War. To do less is simply to kill people to maintain prestige–an immoral act and arguably an impossible one.
    War is not pork barrel politics. Half the effort does not produce half the result. But they don’t seem to teach that to Political Science majors, nor at Harvard Law.


    11 Sep 13 at 1:23 pm

  2. Australia has just finished a national election. I responded by not turning on TV news for a month and just skimming headlines in the online newspapers. So I am really not up to date on US politics or Syria. But my general impression is that Obama has been trying to “walk loudly and carry a small stick” which strikes me as insanity.

    When I compare Syria with Iraq, I notice

    Irag under Saddam attacked Iran and used poison gas
    with no intervention from the US.

    Iraq under Saddam attacked Kuwait with the intention of destroying it as an independent country and making it part of Iraq

    The Kuwait war ended with a cease fire and Iraq violated the terms for years.

    Saddam used poison gas on the Kurds and people in Southern Iraq with no intervention by the US

    On the other hand, I don’t recall Syria invading any other country since the last Arab-Israel war and the only use of poison gas has been against its own people.

    I really don’t see a reason for the US or anyone else to get involved.


    11 Sep 13 at 6:18 pm

  3. Robert, I remember 9/11 because it was an atrocity on the same scale as Pearl Harbor. Both would have been awful atrocities if not a single innocent life had been lost.

    The latest nonsense is useful if only for demonstrating to the most loyal of loyalists that Obama is, in this as in just about everything else, way out of his depth.

    The world will be a much more dangerous place due to Obama’s abdication of the US’s role of world leadership to Putin and his gang of thugs. Who will ever take America’s word for anything ever again?


    11 Sep 13 at 8:42 pm

  4. “…Obama’s abdication of the US’s role of world leadership to Putin and his gang of thugs.”

    If Putin really wants to play on the world stage, then let him. Syria is, after all, Russia’s nominal ally.

    But Syria is simply not a place we need to play, because almost without exception, our best interests are served if they just keep fighting for, oh, ever and nobody ever wins.

    So if he can connive to get the Russians to, well, actually DO anything constructive on the world stage, that seems useful.

    “Who will ever take America’s word for anything ever again?”

    Oh, I dunno. Park a couple of our 10 nuclear powered Nimitz class aircraft carriers, the smallest weighing in at 100,000 mt in active service with attendant battle groups off a coast, fly a few B2B’s past some airspace with F-22 escorts, and I’d imagine we could focus most any nations leadership’s attention a bit. If they were having doubts.

    And if it came to that.

    The real problem is that we HAVE those 10 super carriers with attendant air wings and battle groups and they make just such a tempting stick for President’s to swing around.

    And really, just how much good has that done us?

  5. “And really, just how much good has that done us?”

    Hard for me as an American to say, Michael. I’ve lived a fairly long life in relative peace, and as much freedom as our domestic left allows. You’d have to ask people in nations who, at crunch time, didn’t have adequate military power. Of, course, that’s a fairly long list.

    I never understood the American left’s obsession with aircraft carriers, which seems to date from at least McGovern in 1972, but I have long treasured WFB’s observation that, if the conservative world view was correct and we implemented liberal policies, we would end the 20th Century subjugated and occupied. If the liberal world view was correct and we implemented conservative policies, we would end the 20th Century with one aircraft carrier too many.

    And the idea, of course, is to get your way without having to drop the bombs. But we could blacken the skies with aircraft to no good purpose if our enemies didn’t think we’d follow through on the implied threat. See Central Europe in the 1930’s–or Clinton’s Balkan policy. Or his Somalia policy. Or his Haiti policy. (I spent some of the Clinton years in the Pentagon. Depressing isn’t the word.)

    But always remember your Machiavelli:

    “Among the other inconveniences of being disarmed, it also causes you to be despised.”


    12 Sep 13 at 8:10 am

  6. “But we could blacken the skies with aircraft to no good purpose if our enemies didn’t think we’d follow through on the implied threat. ”

    On point:


  7. The WAPO isn’t where I go for straight reasoning, let alone information. But yes, the Syria thing was so obviously stupid that backing down won’t make Obama’s reputation any worse.

    However, that has nothing to say to my point–that no amount of armament will aid diplomacy if other people don’t think you’ll use it.


    12 Sep 13 at 6:56 pm

  8. “no amount of armament will aid diplomacy if other people don’t think you’ll use it”

    And armament in the modern world is something of white elephant.

    “Al-Qaida spent about $500,000 executing the 9/11 terror attacks. The U.S. government has spent up to $5 trillion fighting back. One expert estimated we’re spending about $400 million per life saved.

    “In other words, for every dollar the bad guys spent, we lost 10 million. And that’s not even counting the money lost due to the economic slump that followed. That, friends, is one hell of a return on an investment.”
    –and yeah, that’s from a humor site. But humor is best when it’s telling a truth.

  9. A glib and very selective small part of the truth, Mike, is no truth at all.


    15 Sep 13 at 4:42 am

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