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September 14, 2003 Mail

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I do send out some odd email, and receive equally odd email in return.  Here I will print some of it, with, now and then, my responses.   Before I post anyone's writing, I will ask your permission to post your comments and whether I should use your name or not, or use an alias you wish to use.
International Chatter: Britney Spears on patriotism, as seen from London, Paris, Atlanta, New York and Hollywood.

Monday, in Iraq, the Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld made some comments on why things weren't going precisely right.  Yes, the word has gone out from Rumsfeld that this business in Iraq is going badly because people are analyzing it and making critical comments.  Were they to just shut up the post-war stuff would be going just fine. 


Yeah, well - as expected.

To the extent that terrorists are given reason to believe he might, or, if he is not going to, that the opponents might prevail in some way, and they take heart in that, and that leads to more money going into these activities, or that leads to more recruits, or that leads to more encouragement, or that leads to more staying power, obviously that does make our task more difficult.

Then there was Stanley Kurtz in the National Review Online.


Kurtz says that internationalizing the mission in the Middle East isn't an ideal solution, but rather a poor one that has nonetheless been forced upon us by un-American liberalism and the culture war. "The best foreign policy requires not the United Nation, but a united nation. Unfortunately, our nation is not united. The occupation of Iraq is not the occupation of Japan or Germany. This is even more because of the fact that we are different than we were back then than the fact that Iraq is not Japan or Germany."
His conclusion?

A nation where the political opposition stands against our foreign policy, and even secretly (and not so secretly) hopes for its failure, cannot reform a region as recalcitrant as the Middle East. A nation where -even after an event like 9/11 - a draft can be offered as a political tactic against the hawks, is a nation unready to manage social transformation on the other side of the world. Our culture war is real. Now it has taken its toll. In many ways we are strong. Yet disunited we are weak. Our turning to the U.N. is not necessarily a disaster. But it is a sign that our internal divisions have finally exacted a cost.

Ah, the usual stuff.  Criticism of the president and his policies gives aid and comfort to the enemy.  You know, aid and comfort to the enemy, as in "treason."


I asked my email discussion group if any of them had caught the interview on CNN that Tucker Carlson did with the young singer-intellectual Britney Spears, in which she said what we all should consider:


"I think we should just trust our President in every decision that he makes and we should just support that."




It was an amusing interview, set to coincide with the start of the National Football League season.  The opening game was preceded by a concert on the National Mall in DC, just where Martin Luther King Junior gave his speech forty years ago.  This event was sponsored by Pepsi.  The Spears girl was the headliner.  In one of her numbers the dancers around her ripped off her pants to show her little short-shorts and she danced a bit more.  And at the end there was a taped address by George Bush, the president, about football and patriotism and whatever, which he ended with the classic line - "Are you ready for some FOOTBALL?"  At least he didn't shout - "Bring 'em on!'

I think CNN decided to assign Tucker Carlson the interview to extend his "persona" beyond the pretty-boy-of-the-right image he has from the "Crossfire" show.  His career is talking off.

Oh and the Pepsi folks have promised to reseed and repair the mall.  There was a bit of damage.

I added that of course someone might have to explain to our friend in Paris just who this Britney Spears person is.  I was not sure I could do that. 



From Atlanta:

Britney Spears is a girl who, a few years ago was a cast member, along with Christine Aguillera, of either Disneys Mickey Mouse Club or some updated version thereof, who (as Aquillera did) later launched herself into a career as a rollmodel for pre- or recently-pubescent girls who want to pretend to be sexy (which Britney does, and very well), incorporating into her off-stage persona an innocent and shy attitude that is supposed to make everyone wonder something every grownup woman I've ever met who has an opinion about it thinks is true, that maybe she really is the high school slut she seems to be, a look to which I could have sworn Madonna held all international patents.


No, I missed that Tucker Carlson interview. Did he do it for the Inside Politics show?


On the other hand, there may be something to her argument. Maybe we all should just trust the president in all his decisions, and support him in whatever he comes up with to get us out of this huge freaking mess he and his friends have gotten us into.


And if he doesn't fix it by the end of next year? Then I'd guess we should just not extend his contract.  To do otherwise, I think, would only "reward bad behavior."



From Hollywood:

Well, that"s an idea - "Maybe we all should just trust the president in all his decisions, and support him in whatever he comes up with to get us out of this huge freaking mess he and his friends have gotten us into."  Trouble is, would you vote him out of office for doing what he, and most Americans, see as a success.

In a letter to an editor I came across this:

Is it possible that what we think of as Bush failures, he thinks of as successes?  Certainly the enormous budget deficit is deliberate, having been a central Republican tenet since Reaganomics, with the long-term goal being the fiscally forced elimination of Social Security, since the Republicans have conceded political-ideological defeat on this issue.  Given that they count this apparent failure as a success (and I don't see how anybody could argue that the deficit is inadvertent), what other obvious failures could be seen as successes by completely unscrupulous villains?

High unemployment: Forces long term wage and benefit concessions, puts unions on their heels.  Success.


Increase in homelessness: Increases economic insecurity for the lower classes, making them more likely to docilely accept terrible work situations.  Success.


Defeat in the drug war: Gives an excuse to lock up huge percentages of poor people, especially poor people of color, especially poor men of color. Given the historically inarguable "conservative" animus against people of color, especially men of color, I think they'd chalk this up as success too. The addicts not in prison are destroying their lives and severely damaging the lives of people around them.  Success.

War on terror and insufficient homeland security: Since the Bush administration OFFICIALLY stated that an invasion of Iraq would likely result in INCREASED terrorism against Americans, I can only imagine that they count the lack of a terrorist sequel of the September 11 Atrocity as a failure. Karl Rove saw Bush's numbers skyrocket when foreigners murdered thousands of Americans. Given their completely unscrupulous villainy, why should we trust that they don't deliberately want that to happen again, especially since their actions seem to show it?


Americans have a tremendous capacity for denial.


From Paris, regarding the Atlanta email and all this, some bullet points:

  • Shouldn't it be rôlemodel? Or is she roundheeled?
  • Santa-Madonna, patently, of course, Vaticanwise a true model of USA teen-angelhood circa 1990.
  • Who is Christine Aguillera?

And regarding Rumsfeld and Kurtz:

  • Jésu Cristo! 'Degenerated liberal domestico critics' are the REAL enemy?

And regarding the idea that 'if he doesn't fix it by the end of next year? Then I'd guess we should just not extend his contract. To do otherwise, I think, would only 'reward bad behavior.'"

  • Do what Gore suggested - fire W's sorry ass. Send Rumsfeld out with a one-way ticket to stop the Red Commie takeover of Patagonia. But don't dither about 'not extending contracts;' act like you know who needs doing.
  • Wow!  I take my eyes off this list for a minute or two and when I glance at it again all sorts of new bogeymen have climbed on stage. This afternoon, waiting for my socks to finish their weekly twirl in the soapy rotators, I chanced on Time magazine, in its European incarnation.  Means - its readers' letters aren't like yours.  And here's these Saudis, who have been around since 1922 or sometime; but who are these new 'Wahhabis?'  'The deadliest of combinations!'  Zut!  'The fact is the UN simply cannot do anything against the will of the US. The maximum the UN can aspire to is to clean up the empire's mess," says another diplomat.
  • If that's the maximum, what's the minimum? Tricking the Empire into cleaning it up?  "In a startling development, Washington was forced to swallow its own propaganda and start recruiting hundreds of real 'remnants of Saddam's regime' - the feared Mukhabarat - to try to at least to identify the more than 40 different groups that compose the resistance."
  • This is not new. The CIA helped set up the Gehlen Org in Germany after WWII - to fight against the Red Commie menace in the 'zone.' Who else but ex-Gestapo could do it?
  • Wow! The Mukhabarat! Another new bogey gang for today.
  • Does anyone else think this is a video game that can only be understood by 12-year old boys? I mean, these names! The plot twists!  No need to remember what it's about.
  • What is it about?  Is it a pilot for TV or something?



From Hollywood to Atlanta regarding Paris:


You see you cannot explain Britney Spears to our friend in Paris by referring to Christine Aguillera.  That's like explaining Schopenhauer is kind of like Hegel, only different.  Such a reference only makes things worse.  Not that it matters.  And Spears only pretends to be round-heeled, of course.


Seems he does not have your patience regarding Bush.  And Time's European edition is, as I recall, not a publication of depth and probity.  But neither is Le Point, I suppose.


I forgot that the CIA helped set up the Gehlen crew in Germany after WWII - to fight against the Red Commie menace in the 'zone' - as our friend comments.  But I do remember that whilst a callow youth in Pittsburgh, I did have the chance to meet and chat with Warner Von Braun at a science fair.  A charming ex-Nazi if ever there was one, and he was useful to our country.  He got us to the moon.  And I guess that was a good thing.


As for what it's all about?  I don't know. 


But if they tell me asking questions is unpatriotic, well, it must be something big and important.  But yes, my Microsoft spellchecker cannot keep up with the groups of bad guys we align with or shun, depending on the day of the week.


Oh yeah, famous people...  I did attend a movie premier this week.  (I do live in Hollywood, after all.)  Lots of minor stars.  (See September 14, 2003 Reviews middle column.)  The Spears girls was not there.  And where was Christine Aguillera, the woman not known in Paris?




From Canada - in fact, London, the one in Ontario - regarding the Paris comments:


Correct.  Madonna does own all patents on that look, but she granted Brittany and Christina exclusive rights to it on MTV the other night. Maybe not verbally, but orally anyway.


The interview was indeed for "Inside Politics," but the quote alone doesn't do her justice.  Only by actually seeing her bobble her little blonde head around and loudly chew and snap her gum while delivering this precious bit of advice could one realize what an intellectual powerhouse this girl is.  Either that or she's a lemming.




From a second writer in Atlanta:


I don't care for Bush, or for most of Britney Spears, but I don't have anything against Britney Spears' bush, theoretically anyway.  I guess she was trying to show the Dixie Chicks how to voice a political opinion as a music personality.  Keep it shallow girls!  Now is that so hard?




From Hollywood:


Indeed.  This was the antithesis of the Dixie Chicks, if there was a thesis involved, which there wasn't.




From Wall Street to London regarding the lemming coment:

I'll vote for lemming!  Perhaps W is a lemming too.  But then who would he be following?  Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld?




And on and on it went.