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'Callimachus' Archives

Haunting the Senate

By 'Callimachus' at 03:11

This is an abbreviated version of this, a relic from a time when some Senators took their jobs seriously in setting American policies in the world, including specific military policies, and not just launching balloons full of partisan hot air.

You can read it merely in terms of "there is no new thing under the sun," or you can think about it in practical terms (always demand a Declaration of War if you're going to go to war).

Or you can ponder the nature of opposition in legislature, and the ease with which even a moderately accomplished speaker such as Calhoun was judged to be was able to vigorously oppose the war and support the troops at the same time with perfectly patriotic rhetoric. It's a difficult trick, but it's not brain surgery. The ability to talk of liberty and freedom and virtue without rolling eyes and giggles and scare quotes certainly helps him, doesn't it?

But do read it:


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  • Njorl: Calhoun was in the Senate, which at the time was read more
  • Ian Coull: Calhoun comes across as a fairly bright guy, I suspect read more
  • Jim Rockford: This was all about the struggle between slave and free read more

February 6, 2007

When Chickenhawks Attack

By 'Callimachus' at 23:27

Armed Liberal here has been all over William M. Arkin, who wrote That Column (which I also execrated, here) and who now has written That Response. I have a slightly different take on it.

Arkin got a lot of negative feedback. Some of it, predictably, was bilious and crude. The typical newspaper columnist response would be to pick out two or three of the crudest responses and hold them up as examples of everyone who disagrees with him and say, "See? See?"

Arkin, to his credit, goes to the edge of that precipice but doesn't jump. Oh, I am sure he was tempted: he goes so far as saying his strident critics "represent the worst of polarized and hate-filled America" and he talks about "the campaign to annihilate me." But he's a blogger first, not a journalist. So mostly he takes it.

What's amusing to me is to see an anti-war left-sider confront the chickenhawk meme, which apparently was dumped on him in industrial quantities. I've said all along that that beast, though now the left's pet, was going to bite more asses on the left than the right.


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  • Armed Liberal: hypo - OK, looking at your post #26 - is read more
  • Armed Liberal: hypo - Sorry, I'm not getting it. Maybe I'm just read more
  • hypocrisyrules: Callimachus, The Glenn Greenwald article is a good link - read more

Denazification of America

By 'Callimachus' at 23:20
In response to the recent George Soros quip and the debate over it (here) I went through the Wikipedia entry on Denazification in the American sector of Germany and simply changed the names and dates and a few other details to make it the future, not the past. So this is what these people approve of for America, eh?
The Joint Chiefs of Staff Directive 1067 directed President John Edwards’ policy of deNeoconization.

The United States initially pursued deNeoconization in a committed though bureaucratic fashion. For this process five categories of responsibility for anyone over the age of 18 residing in the U.S. were identified: major offenders, offenders, lesser offenders, followers, and exonerated persons. Ultimately, the intention was the "re-education" of the American people.

In early 2009, 90,000 Neocons were being held in concentration camps, another 1,900,000 were forbidden to work as anything but manual labourers.

A report of the Institute on re-education of the Red States in June 2008 recommended: "Only an inflexible longterm occupation authority will be able to lead the Americans to a fundamental revision of their recent political philosophy." On 15 January 2009, however, a report of the Democratic National Committee (classified as restricted) stated: "The present procedure fails in practice to reach a substantial number of persons who supported or assisted the Neocons." On 1 April a special law therefore transferred the responsibility for the deNeoconization process to the White House chief of staff, who established 545 civilian courts to oversee 900,000 cases.

The deNeoconization was now supervised by special ministers like Dennis Kucinich in Ohio. By 2010, however, with the Islamist War now clearly in progress, American attentions were directed increasingly to the threat of jihad; the remaining cases were tried through summary proceedings that left insufficient time to thoroughly investigate the accused, so that many of the judgments of this period have questionable judicial value. For example, by 2012 members of the Republican Party like Rudy Giuliani could be declared formally deNeoconized in absentia by a government arbitration board and without any proof that this was true.

In December 2009 U.S. President John Edwards justified his refusal to alleviate the induced famine of the Midwestern population: “though all Red Staters might not be guilty for the war, it would be too difficult to try to single out for better treatment those who had nothing to do with the Neocon regime and its crimes.”

The Information Control Division of the White House had by July 2009 taken control of 37 newspapers, 6 radio stations, 314 theatres, 642 movies, 101 magazines, 237 book publishers, 7,384 book dealers and printers. It’s main mission was democratisation but part of the agenda was also the prohibition on any criticism of the White House.

In addition, on May 13, 2010 the White House council issued a directive for the confiscation on all media that could contribute to Neoconism or militarism. As a consequence a list was drawn up of over 30,000 book titles, ranging from school textbooks to poetry, which were now banned. All copies of books on the list were confiscated and destroyed, the possession of a book on the list was made a punishable offence.
[edited: Typo fixed]
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  • Wolf Pangloss: Which Nazis was Soros talking about anyway? The National Socialist read more

War of the Words

By 'Callimachus' at 02:05

Orwell, thou should'st be living at this hour.

A war and an anti-war driven by a politicized mass media and a media-gaming political class naturally devolves to a place where words and clichés trump realities.

The new SecDef seemingly had to pass only one confirmation test: Use the words "not winning in Iraq" in front of Congress. Anti-war types get all apoplectic over whether Bush calls it a "war" or not. "Stay the course" ... "mission accomplished" ... "cut and run." Everybody knows these; what kind of war is it where everybody on the home front can bicker about slogans and no one can name a hero?

Words like "neo-conservative," "civil war," WMD," "democracy," "treason" inhabit the core of the public discussion about Iraq -- and no two people who use them daily can agree on what they mean. Are 20-year-old Sarin gas artillery shells WMDs? Is Dick Cheney a neo-conservative? Is Iran a democracy?


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  • Chris: You made it to the Language Log site! See here read more
  • Ian Coull: #36 Demosophist: You are quite right I have no expertise read more
  • Demosophist: #29 Ian: The misuse of the term 'war' to describe read more

Revise This

By 'Callimachus' at 02:33

The American Civil War lasted until 1877, and the South won.

While we're in the business of pouring new wars into old bottles, I suggest we re-write history, too, to make it conform with the realities that are claimed for the present.

The statement at the head of this post, for instance, is where you'd come out if you applied the prevailing pessimist's view of Iraq and J. David Singer's "Journal of Peace Research" definition of "civil war" (the one embraced by journalists and anti-administration polemicists).

Shockingly revisionist, but arguably right. The CSA suffered military defeat and government collapse. Its leaders were driven from power. But a relentless insurgency and the dirty work of policing internal ethnic strife wore down the patience of the people of the North. The old U.S. army never had much of a taste or aptitude for peacekeeping. Political tides shifted in the North and eroded any remaining federal commitment to reconstruction, and the U.S. government simply declared victory and went home, leaving race-based slavery wobbly and battered, but essentially intact in everything but name. (Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens, writing after the war, described "slavery - so called -" as what "was with us, or should be, nothing but the proper subordination of the inferior African race to the superior white ....")

Of course it overlooks whole swaths of reality, but so does every ideologically driven paradigm, eh?


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  • Joseph Hertzlinger: In related news, the increasingly-capitalist nature of "Communist" Asia (including read more
  • Andrew J. Lazarus: I guess, looking at Japan's economic dominance of East Asia, read more
  • Ed: If we go back to Lincoln's original "rationale" for war, read more

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

By 'Callimachus' at 01:11

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, one of the braver souls in modern academe, has died at 65.

A prominent and distinguished scholar, feminist, and historian, like her husband Eugene (whose specialty is the ante-bellum South), she moved personally away from the cushy secular platitudes characteristic of faculty lounges in the ivory tower. But the courage was in then bringing that shifted perspective into the same line of inquiry and studies she had been pursuing.


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  • gabriel: truly came to sincere convictions after playing the devils advocate read more
  • Glen Wishard: liberalhawk: Eugene Genovese was a one-time Marxist, though so far read more
  • liberalhawk: My recollection is that the Genoveses made the jump from read more

Why is there a CIA?

By 'Callimachus' at 04:55
"I had the gravest forebodings about this organization and warned the President that as set up neither he, the National Security Council, nor anyone else would be in a position to know what it was doing or to control it." [Dean Acheson, "Present at the Creation"]
This year is the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Agency is a living relic of the first flush of the Cold War, along with the Department of Defense, the independent Air Force (was that really necessary?), and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And it's time to ask some serious questions.

Such as:

Is there any entity in modern America that has eaten up more money, wasted more lives, and done less good to the American people? Is there any group representative of America in the world that has brought more humiliation to our friends and more delight to our enemies? Is there any federal agency, however necessary, that is more untrue to the spirit of America? Any less accountable for its errors? Any that has brought down more blowback on our heads? Any that has done more to undercut the American people's belief in the essential decency of our public servants and the transparency of our government?

Who enacts U.S. policy in a given Latin American capital? The CIA station or the U.S. ambassador? If you ask the locals, what would they say? If you ask the ambassador, confidentially?

Is there any spy agency in the history of the world more reckless, amateurish, and incompetent? The two most effective Cold War presidents, Reagan and Eisenhower, largely ignored the CIA in dealing with the Soviet Union, and they made their best tough calls based on hunch and common sense. Just as well, since the CIA was consistently and potentially lethally wrong on Russian abilities and intentions throughout the period.

And will there ever be a president or a Congress strong enough to stand up to it? Even a vigorous and ruthless agency director like William Casey could not hack through the bramble of bureaucracy that surrounded the heart of the CIA. The bureaucrats knew they'd be standing after he was gone. As for U.S. presidents, none dared really try. Not even after the calamitous failures of 9/11. And what does the answer to that say about what we have let ourselves become?

[Read the rest at Done With Mirrors]


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  • Robin Roberts: John F. Kennedy the greatest Cold War President? Gee, that's read more
  • ken: Actually the greatest cold war president of all was John read more
  • Dusty: You may be right, Callimachus. The CIA might be the read more

November 25, 2006

Book Review

By 'Callimachus' at 03:47

"The Rise of American Democracy" by Sean Wilentz

Wilentz's book covers the evolution between the revolutions. The War of Independence and the Civil War stand as bookends to his text. His narrative spikes in three political revolutions, so-called: those that put Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln in the White House.

The book opens as the leaders of the young nation test their new American system. Their different notions of how it should work jostle for authority. Wilentz does a good job of pointing out how distant some of those assumptions were -- especially regarding the role of parties and the press -- from where we've ended up.

The Founders as a group never intended us to be a pure democracy in 1787, though a few of them would have supported the idea if the rest did, and a few of them later helped the process along when it became expedient to their political causes.

A key principle of the early republic was that the people should rule, but that the power to vote ought to be the privilege of free men only. One who was bound by debt or loyalty to other men was not free to give himself, or his vote, totally to the good of the public. That accounts for the Founders' general horror of debts, banks, lenders, and mortgages.

It also accounts for why many states required voters or office-holders to be men of a certain income or property. This was at heart a republican, not an aristocratic, principle. The ownership of property, unencumbered by debt, was the rock foundation of republican independence, virtue, and liberty.

And that's my reading of it. But it's not Wilentz's. In his mind, property restrictions on voting seem to have been a rank relic of aristocracy and proof of capitalist mistrust of the lowly orders of society.


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  • Glen Wishard: Grim: ... your assertion that they were evil or motivated read more
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October 28, 2006

In Their Own Words I

By 'Callimachus' at 04:49

Talking about "Islamic fundamentalism" is a dangerous business for one outside the religion. Many Islamic things that to us look alike on the surface (and have the same effect on our lives as non-Muslims) come from different sources.

Is Bin Laden a Wahhabist? How would you know whether he is or is not? Is he a disciple of Sayyid Qutb? Often they write alike. But that is not the same thing. Again, how would you know that?

Something that ought to have been obvious all along struck me while reading "Basic Principles of the Islamic Worldview" by Sayyid Qutb.


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  • Andy Freeman: > Many Islamic things that to us look alike on read more
  • David Blue: #6 from laocoon: "It is kind of interesting that our read more
  • celebrim: "One wonders why their institutions appear able to consider and read more

October 28, 2006

In Their Own Words II

By 'Callimachus' at 04:47

I often urge people to read the writings of Bin Laden. In fact, I think it would be a valuable exercise to have the whole nation take a day off work and read what the man has said and written about us and what he plans to do to us and why.

But the next question is, where do I get them; and the answer to that is surprisingly difficult. There is one published collection in English that I am aware of, Messages to the World. It's a good collection, but it has problems.


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  • John Burgess: Pretty much the same view I had in my review read more
  • Victor: A good collection of Bin Laden speeches is located at read more
  • Nortius Maximus: I have read that In the Shade of the Qur'an read more

'I Learned to Handle Myself'

By 'Callimachus' at 01:48

Part 2 of 3 of a series written by my friend Kat, who was a contractor's employee in Iraq for almost two years: "You'll Never Know What We Did" | " I Learned to Handle Myself..." | "I Wasn't Chasing Blood"

She refutes the media's excuse for not covering the Iraq reconstruction. The introduction to the series is here. The series hinges on an interview with Dexter Filkins of the "New York Times" in which he says the media can't cover the reconstruction work ongoing around the country because doing so would be too dangerous to the media.

Her post about that drew a faintly hostile comment from "Bob," insinuating she was just pushing "a larger GOP talking point," implying her work in Iraq was less dangerous than that of a New York Times journalist, and challenging her to prove her right to criticize the media.

This is her response. Part one is here.

[by Kat]

You're apparently upset that I come down hard on Dexter and the NYT. That's understandable, but stay with me a little here.

I didn't have lots of guards. I had Iraqi nationals working for me who had to worry about being shot. I had to help them figure out safe lies, figure out safe ways to go home. I had to teach the girls working for me how to do their jobs because they'd never had a really good job before. I also had to try to protect and watch out for them. Girls working for us sometimes also needed support with lies about their jobs, travel information, and occasionally security for travel.

The lying extended to producing false job-related paperwork for their cars and to carry on their persons. From three different offices we "sold" orders for detergents, orders for cell phone batteries, and sandals, and produced an array of paperwork to support those claims.

And that's not about me taking care of myself, Bob. That's about my people, my employees, who half the time couldn't get their jobs done unless I was there to help them.


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  • Kat: For Chew. It's late here in Bangkok and it's been read more
  • chew2: It is clearly dangerous for any western reporter to travel read more
  • Roger: Just a comment about "Bobs" comments. According to a report read more

Thailand - Coup or Countercoup?

By 'Callimachus' at 05:39

I asked my friend Kat, who has lived and worked in Thailand for the past year and a half, to explain what she sees as going on there. Though she's currently visiting in the States, she has her perspective and her contacts. Here's her answer:

Last night -- Thai time -- Thaksin Shinawatra, the Prime Minister of Thailand, apparently attempted to make his third stab at assuring his position as head of the Thai government. Unlike his other attempts, it may be that after this, he will retain no power or chance of assuring it in the future.

Thaksin is the elected prime minister of Thailand. He came into office some four years ago riding high on the rhetoric and promises of the TRT (Thai Rak Thai - meaning literally "Thais love Thais") party. As it was formed, the party represented all that was good about Thailand in traditional terms, but also represented the Thai desire to bring that nation back to the forefront of southeastern Asian development. Thais are particularly nationalistic, and as such are very proud of their culture and accomplishments. In a promising nation with an abundance of talented people, the picture painted in TRT political speeches seemed entirely possible to Thais, and the promises of the party brought Thaksin and TRT into power.


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  • goldy: One questions: Is a coup leader whos has repeatedly denied read more
  • Mark Poling: I worked in Thailand for two months (one month each read more
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