March 5th, 2003

flavored with age

This machine kills interest

It's Wednesday, and you know what that means: a full day of cranky, infuriating political bullshit from your jolly old pal Leonard! Please feel free to read "Love Is" comics until tomorrow rather than subject yourself to all this.

First, we cast our nets out and about the ocean of horseshit and see what we can trawl back.

First off: Suicide bombing kills ten in Israel. This will come as a big surprise to anyone who hasn't been paying attention, and will no doubt receive the obligatory round of condemnation from the people who feel it's their moral duty to condemn terrorism but not to condemn murderous oppression. This is the first terror attack in Israel in two months, says the article in the acceptable language of the day, which does not consider the murder of civilians by the government to be terrorism. In fact, in that same period of time, 49 Palestinians -- many of them civilians and some of them children -- have been killed by Israeli occupation forces -- but we reserve the word 'terrorism' for the stateless.

Here's what Abdel-Aziz Rantisi, a Hamas spokesman, had to say:

"We will not stop our resistance. We are not going to give up in the face of the daily killing."

He means the daily killing of Palestinians, of course. Which sounds like sky-high rhetoric until you look at the numbers: in fact, over the last few years of the current intifada, it comes out to around one Palestinian killed a day. This number will certainly increase now that Israel has elected a new right-wing government, who thinks the way to deal with terrorism sparked by the rage of an oppressed people is to oppress them even more.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and Israel are demanding that Yassir Arafat appoint a new Prime Minister. (Well you might ask, where does the U.S. get off demanding that Arafat do anything? The answer: shut up.) And it's probably going to happen. Oddly enough, Palestinians are demanding a state of their own, the return of refugees, the release of their relatives from prison camps, reparations for the Sabra and Shatilah massacres, the right to vote, the ability to educate their children and travel freely, an end to state-sponsored assassination, basic human rights, and the freedom to be tried in civil courts, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.
flavored with age

Now THIS is how supervillains are SUPPOSED to talk!

"Shut up, you minion, you agent, you monkey. You are addressing Iraq. You are insolent. You are a traitor to the Islamic nation."

-- Iraqi official Izzat Ibrahim, to Kuwaiti foreign minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah at the Organization of the Islamic Conference meeting yesterday

reconsidering the Arab unity tattoo
flavored with age

Will the real Ron Jeremy please stand up?

Well, anyway, you can carp about the war, and about Israel, and all that, but one thing is for sure: what with the recent capture of 9/11 mastermind and Osama bin-Laden's right-hand man, Sheikh Khalid Muhammed, at least the war on terror is going great guns, right?

Um…maybe not. A Pakistani journalist suggests that maybe we've got the wrong guy, since the data we've been fed about the capture of the currently-being-tortured Hedgehog-look-alike is confused and contradictory. Oh, and also, the U.S. reported that they had, er, um, killed Sheikh Khalid Muhammed six months ago. Ahem.

Well, hey, look, we don't know for SURE yet. We may have the right guy. Maybe the confusion is just bad reporting, and maybe the reports of his death were, as they say, greatly exaggerated. If he IS the guy, then it's a major victory for the war on terror, right? Because, after all, he was the 9/11 mastermind, right?

Um…maybe not. Robert Fisk reports that not only is the evidence that Muhammed is affiliated with 9/11 still extremely nebulous (consisting largely of claims by American intelligence, backed up by no evidence), but that elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan (remember them? Yes, they're still there) claim that Muhammed is alive and well and still under their protection.

As predicted by a very wise man a while back, the war on terror is gonna be a total success!
flavored with age

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

What's the hottest song in country music? Why, it's Darryl Worley’s “Have You Forgotten”, of course.

Ever since the attacks on September 11th, country music -- an artform for which I have much love -- has prided itself on producing hideous, reactionary, neanderthal patriotic anthems that range from the willfully ignorant (Alan Jackson's "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?", in which he seems proud to not know the difference between Iran and Iraq) to the moronically belligerent (Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue", with its jingoist ass-kicking sentiment) to the nakedly racist (cro-Magnon fagbasher Charlie Daniels' subtly titled "This Ain't No Rag It's a Flag"). However, this new single heads to new height by taking a step backward -- to the 1960s. It recalls nothing so much as the anti-hippie anthems produced by bewildered patriots when those damn longhairs started making a lot of noice about Viet Nam.

Especially entertaining is the song's suggestion that those who oppose war with Iraq have forgotten the 9/11 attacks, rather than thinking that the two things are unrelated, and the odd line "Don't you tell me not to worry about bin-Laden", when in fact it's the government that seems to have forgotten about him.

I suppose it's naive to get all worked up about this song; that's exactly its writer's intention, no doubt. He cynically crafted song that was almost guaranteed to become a huge hit by its controversial nature. But I can't help thinking about the fact that Steve Earle's stunning, elegant "John Walker's Blues" made him into a pariah; about the war songs we remember from the past -- like "The White Cliffs of Dover" and "We'll Meet Again" -- that had a very different focus; about the tradition of country music that once reflected a love for the proletariat and a distrust of authority and government, before it became nothing more than a wholly owned subsidiary of the music industry. Have you forgotten?