Old Oligarch's Painted Stoa

Past Posts of Note
Substantative, in chronological order
The Sunday obligation and illness: question, research & my answer

Denial of personhood: Dei Filius & Terri Schiavo

On Modesty 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Differing with Dulles 1 & 2 on pro-abort politicians

Mad About Manuals 1 & 2

Absinthe recherches early, required reading, 2, 3, 4.

First time at an abortuary

The Maundy

TPOTC impact & analysis and more

Contraception reflections 1, 2

Meiwes, propheta, übermensch

Headship Loggerheads 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

Matrix: Revolutions

Matrix: Reloaded
1, 2 & 3

Terrorist Attack Preparations, and follow-ups 1 & 2 & 3


Casuistry of Drinking

Review of Auto Focus

Parish Review 1

The Power of Shame

Biblical Hermeneutics

Ayoob on Guns

Against the Ordination of Women

Two Cents on Braveheart


Thematic Meditations

E-mail Me
oldoligarch @yahoo.com

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E-mail Policy
Any e-mail I receive is fair game for publication, with comments, unless you explicitly say so beforehand.

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This could have come straight out of The Onion, but it is real: NW Parents Decry Lack Of Walls In School. Via Zorak.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/30/2004 04:53:00 PM | link

A concerned reader writes: "I dunno if you drink too much, but you sure write like someone who drinks too much!!"

I am puzzled about the best way to respond. The sincerest way is probably: "I can see how I might produce that impression, but I really don't drink all that much. I just write about it when I do, because it is easy and I enjoy it."

Other possible responses include:

Drinking is my political act of non-violent resistance to modernity.

Drinking is the sole remaining Dionysian act in which I can indulge when my Apollonian side needs counterbalancing.

I have to be a consummate aesthete about something. Perhaps this is a personal fault. I am too busy / too lazy to be an aesthete about music or the visual arts, although I admire men like Cacciaguida or Otto Hiss for their comprehension of opera and classical music. Failing that, I'd love to have the aesthetic sense of Eve or The Rat when it comes to literature, but I excuse myself again by saying that I am saddled with far too much prose reading to complete before I move on to fiction. These objets d'art aside, it is a dangerous game suitable only to bachelors to muse about the aesthetic merits of women. That leaves booze. So I write about great booze.

It's cheaper than Prozac, and I don't need a prescription.

If I don't drink regularly, how will I ever stay apace with the expansion of my bar? I have a small apartment, after all.

My drinking is actually not recreational, but part of a strict Shaolin training regimen undertaken to prepare me to assassinate the last remaining pandas in U.S. captivity before they can breed.

Our humorlessly rationalist, health-obsessed culture of abstemiousness requires conservatives to rise up and resist by quaffing more than their share. Or at least a decent fraction of what a man like Chesterton or Belloc might drink on a good day.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/30/2004 03:42:00 PM | link

The Green Faery paid me an unexpected visit last evening, accompanying a friend who also brought 10 lbs. of chorizo from a border town, two Glocks, a S&W .38 snubnose, and a pile of fun tech gadgets. So I guess you could call it our "play with computers and guns while drinking absinthe" evening. Yes, he's an interesting friend. Guests are always welcome at chez Oligarch if they bring guns and absinthe. And pass Zorak's stringent admissions criteria, if she's here.

The spirit in question -- the absinthe, not the friend -- was "King of Spirits," a czech absinthe online at La Boheme

I was eager to compare it with my two other experiences, the first of which was with Staroplzenecky (unrefined, lot of bite, strong, unblended flavors, needs lots of sugar) and a phenomenal Belgian-bought variety whose name unfortunately eludes me.

King of Spirits has the best color, IMHO, being a true herbal olivy-green, rather than the flourescent, adultered shades one sees in some other brands. King of Spirits opts to leave a pile of herbs, including wormwood, in the bottom of the bottle in order to further enrich the herbal character of the drink. This works. If you've ever had a Scandanavian Akvavit bottled in this fashion, it's the same idea. (The linked website also records a useful folk legend: "if a man be bereft of speech in death, give him akvavit on his lips, and he shall at once regain his tongue.")

We opted to drink the absinthe French-style, since that brings out flavor better, IMHO, than the Prague style. (The French way is: slotted spoon, sugar cubes, ice-cold water. Prague involves the flaming sugar cube.)

The beginning is quite nice, relatively smooth, and primarily dominated by herbal notes rather than any attempt at mild sweetness. It has really a good bouquet, perhaps because of the herbs left in. The middle begins with a sudden peak of bitterness to clue you in to what's coming, but then is somewhat weak (but see below) making this an astringent, dry absinthe unless you add a fair amount of sugar, which is fine by me.

The swallow brings a rush of herbals again, and the wormwood comes down like a hammer. In terms of pure absinthe bitterness, King of Spirits takes the cake for punch. (Staroplzenecky is very bitter too, but it's not all absinthe bitterness, rather, there's a good deal of unaged, unfiltered alcohol-bite in this variety, making it inferior IMHO.) When we first mixed our drinks, my friend used about half as much ice water as I. He quickly changed that! Perhaps the middle is somewhat weak because of our moderate levels of water dilution. I did not try King of Spirits straight up.

Despite the thujone content being advertised right on the front of the bottle (10mg/kg), we experienced no hallucinagenic effects. We loosened up with a few martinis before we began on the absinthe, and then I'd say I had at least 5 shots' worth of absinthe over the evening.

I guess one must really put it back to get any of the O. Henry-type experiences. (Since this isn't my ultimate intent in drinking absinthe, I'm not disappointed. I drink it primarily for the complex taste and to bridge the historical gap introduced by its prohibition.) For the daring, there is always King of Spirits GOLD, with ten times more thujone, at 100mg/kg.

I can report, however, that the intoxication seems somewhat more delightful than vodka or whiskey (my usual stand-bys). It tingles the head a little more, but not overwhelmingly like champagne (which I dislike because of this), and either I was in really good spirits (no pun) or else absinthe adds a bit more euphoria or levity to the drinking experience, as I found myself laughing quite a lot.

Note of warning: Absinthe gives you one hell of a hangover. I did not overdrink after my awful afternoon a week ago. Indeed, I was very careful so that I did not to fall into a grave sin again. But even so, I woke up with a headache this morning that followed me into the afternoon, despite Advil. Perhaps this is the wormwood's second bite. In sipping what remains of my last, unfinished glass from last evening while writing this (to help with tasting notes), I notice that the headache perks up again right away, something which "the hair of the dog" doesn't usually do to me. This is not a tannin-related headache, either, because Zorak gets those and I don't, so I'm guessing it is an effect of the herbsaint.

The same bottle is on its way to another friend in the blogosphere, scilicit, The Rat.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/28/2004 03:04:00 PM | link

This week is fix-the-car week.

If anyone has experience pulling error codes from the onboard computer in a 1982 to 1985 GM (i.e., via the ALDL adapter) please e-mail me for my everlasting gratitude if you can help me.

I've already tried the "short pins A&B, wait for check engine light to flash" bit, but mine doesn't flash. I won't bore the general populace, but further details will be provided to the illuminatus who thinks he might be able to help.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/26/2004 02:04:00 AM | link

I found out about this newest saint's life just a few weeks ago, only to learn recently that she was canonized last week.

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, pray for us!

Vatican Bio here.

The BBC news stumbles onto some conclusions here.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/24/2004 05:02:00 AM | link

Today is a day I'll remember for a while. More details much later.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/24/2004 04:49:00 AM | link

An interesting article on the communion controversy, from CruxNews, which already has the recommending feature of Fr. Bruce Sibley and Michael S. Rose writing for it.

Also see mid-way down, a promising advertisement for a piece to be published in 4 days. Apparently the plan for the funky glass greenhouse is being publicly recanted by the chancellor of the nascent Ave Maria University. This development is extremely heartening in establishing that the Naples heat hasn't created mindrot. Can't they hire Duncan Stroik and be done with it?

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/24/2004 04:47:00 AM | link

Newly emerged cicada adult, by Ralph Cohen

The Screamapillars have arrived!

Wow, did the cicadas come out in full force around here! Small flotillas of them, drunkenly buzzing around, and the ubiquitous high-pitched song they make pervade the air. It is no wonder the original colonists of the Washington area thought it was a plague of Biblical proportions. There are zillions of them just cruising around everywhere. And they are loud.

If you have a noisy pipe that whistles when water runs through it, the cicadas basically sounds like that, except the noise is constant, all throughout the day. Yet they seem to have some kind of ascending then descending whistle-like noise too.

Last night, about 40 or 50 of them somehow got into the atrium of our apartment, most of which seemed to have coupled and died judging by the stairwell this morning. Surely there is a better way to design a bug than to immediately expire once they mate? (Save your sardonic metaphor.) They seem perfectly suited otherwise to keep aimlessly flying around.

Playing with a half-dead one, I found they have some kind of vibrating, echo-box thorax that really makes one heck of a croak for such a small critter when the bug wants to use it. That, not the wings, seems to be the source of the immense noise.

I have not eaten one of them, but I have every confidence that they do taste like escargot or a "cross between maggots and prawns," since all that shellfish is basically the aquatic version of bug-eating to begin with.

This time, the Brood X revolution is being chronicled by the internet. See Cicadamania for photo-essays and more of this fascinating little creatures.

Report your cicada activity in the VA, DC, or MD region, and make the internet once again an amazing source of instant, free data for scientists.

Excellent photo essays, including the pic at the top by Ralph Cohen, can be found here. You must click through the comments to get the other awesome pictures.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/23/2004 10:51:00 AM | link

Six warning signs that you just might go on the mother of all benders:

1. You are in New York City for two nights with lots of free time.

2. You haven't seen your old college buddy in ages.

3. He's getting married in six weeks.

4. You tended bar for him during college. (Thus, payback.)

5. Now he tends a bar.

6. His parents own the bar.

Our story of late-night indiscretion begins innocently enough, after sharing a magnificent chateaubriand with Zorak at Keen's Chophouse, where our host was the ever-charming Otto Hiss, and we also got an extended visit from MLY, who is always great company.

(Keen's is a fabulous little spot. 42 West 35th Street. Pricey, but worth it.)

For an aperitif, I chose a martini (Tanqueray, heavy on the vermouth, olives, up = the only way!) and some muscat de viennese for a digestif.

Consider the pump primed. The martini was quite large, and because using those queen-size Spanish olives is all the rage now, Keen's serves the olives on the side so as not to displace too much alcohol!

After dinner, everyone else goes home to bed, but yours truly ventures further into the Gotham darkness to go see JCC tend his bar.

I arrive around 10:30pm. The man was truly in his element and a master of the environment. I was delighted just to watch him ply his trade. I tell him: "Don't worry if you can't talk now; we are going to close the house together." He gestures, incredulously, showing me that they close at 4am. I nod.

But as soon as I plunked down at the end of the large, busy, P-shaped bar, I should have known I was in for it.

I was dug in for the duration like a lone V.C. outpost, and my buddy was buzzing around like a B-52 conducting airstrikes on my position all night -- a saturation bombing of all remaining defenses against alcohol.

I didn't order a drink all evening, as far as I can remember. Knowing my love for martinis, my friend opens with his first masterpiece:

Vodka martini, shaken, served up, with a twist, and an intriguing splash of Grand Marnier. Now, mind you, I hate the ubiquitous -tini craze that is taking over restaurant menus where drinks with chocolate or fruit juices in them are being called whatever-tinis. But this variant was good, and certainly still a martini. It has an resemblance to those martinis they make with a splash of pomegranate juice.

For the next seven hours, pretty much whenever the glass at my right hand was empty, JCC filled it with some magical concoction which demonstrated the mixing skills he had acquired over the past few years.

Other antics from the evening include calling Eve multiple times on her cellphone at 3am in the morning (I've already made my apologies in person for that...), meeting two cast members of A Raisin in the Sun, being carried home by angels (I think?), and giving Zorak six or eight new quotes for her blog.

Around 1am, I managed to bang out this instant message to a mutual friend in Arizona:

"Watching JCC at his bar. Like the old man and the sea watching the lions wrestle on the shores."

About an hour later, my condition must have degraded significantly because the next message is thus, with only the first names omitted:

"Ok, b---, j--- i and i have figured out and its not pretty. send help (existentiel)"

This was apparently about another mutual friend, not present at the bar, whose name (as direct object) managed to elude both my attention and the sentence structure.

I think it was then I gave up trying to type into my cell phone with my thumbs, and called Eve, who was en route to NYC by train.

My pledge to remain until closing time was an understatement. At 5:30 in the morning, me, JCC and his assistant are doing our last round of shots by ourselves, afterhours, as the frames of my memory begin to flicker, separate and fade away, like when the movie film flies off the reel at the end of the roll.

Zorak, as always, was the most patient, charming, helpful and tender wife when I staggered into the hotel room shortly after six am. She never says a cross word to me, the sweet gal.

Morning came in waves, with her out for business, and with 11:30 finding me still pretty hammered -- with all the awful effects of alcohol (lack of balance, dehydration) in full effect, and the beauty long gone. It's about that time I realized that I had also been smoking all night, because my head feels like an ashtray and my sinuses have fallen into my esophagus. So I drink two big glasses of water, popped two aspirin and two pseudofed, and collapse again.

I managed to straighten out enough to get showered by 3:30, but I felt like death on a stick until around 8pm that evening.

But another steak dinner, three hairs of the dog, and some socializing got me right back on my feet until 2am rolled around again.

Yes, I was inexcusably decadent this weekend, and, yes, as enjoyable as it was, I know I have to repent for what were unjustifiable excesses of consumption and conduct that evening. After Pentecost, I'll have to do something Lenten.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/22/2004 01:41:00 AM | link

Is there something about Thomas Kinkade I don't know?.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/19/2004 03:34:00 AM | link

So if I had absolute power over Brooks Brothers, I would make the following rule company-wide, effective immediately: NO FEMALE SALES CLERKS.

Whenever I walk into a Brooks Brothers store and see a woman, I shudder the same shudder I shudder whenever I see some barely literate, fresh off the boat nincompoop behind the counter in any other service industry. Women in Brooks = disaster. You might as well drop a Papau New Guinean tribal native into the middle of Intel's microchip fabrication facility and ask him to run the place. It's like walking off a precipice.

I don't go to Brooks Brothers that often, but when I do, here's what I want:

- The clerk has to be male.
- He's gotta be at least in his 40s.
- He has to be better dressed than I am.
- He possesses obscure sartorial vocabulary, like the names of various fabric patterns on sportscoats (houndstooth, glen plaid, etc.)

Generally this is the case. But when I get a woman -- however snappily dressed she might in conservative chic -- she's a distraction at best. (And who wants a woman to help him pick out clothes anyway, compared to a well-versed man with fashion sense?)

Today's example:

I need to go to a formal event tomorrow, in tux. I have the standard pre-tied black bow tie, i.e., you clip it around your neck. Since I regularly wear real bow ties, I figured it was time to ditch the pre-tied black tie, which always look cheesy and prefab IMHO, because the knots are miniscule and they are too perfect-looking to be real.

So I need a plain, black silk bow tie. I am in a hurry. I don't want to hunt for it. Where do I go? Obviously, I call Brooks Brothers.

Phone rings...

A young woman answers: voice is three octaves higher than what I am expecting, chirping like bird, firing off her greeting line in a microsecond:


I'm already pissed off.

I pause, and speak about twice as slow as she does, hoping (in vain) she'll get the point that I am not pleased about her chipper rapidamente:

"Good afternoon. (pause) I am wondering if you sell regular, plain black bow ties. (pause) The kind you tie, like every other bow tie."


I clarify: "Not the pre-fab kind that come with a tux."


Me, happy, but still fundamentally uncertain as to whether or not she has a clue: "Ok. I will see you in a half hour." Because Brooks Brothers usually knows what they are talking about, I give them the benefit of the doubt. Bad move.

The woman has probably never even considered the variation in bow ties, because she doesn't wear them. I'm sure she's thinking -- as bird-brained, rapidamente, and uncritically as she speaks -- that she's got a black bow tie somewhere and that will make me satisfied. She's mentally cramming me into her preconception of utility, rather than actually being useful, because -- as best I can gather -- she's lazy.

Now let me add: Today I'm in a hurry. I've got to go to a long meeting all afternoon and evening, and when I get back at 11pm, all the stores will be closed. It's already 2, and my meeting requires that I hit the road at 3. So I called, because I don't want to waste time and I need to get this tie before tomorrow, when I leave on the train for New York.

I make a bet with Zorak that the woman at Brooks hasn't the foggiest idea what the hell she's talking about.

I go there; I arrive at the store.

There are four idle sales clerks: two men, two women. (Two! One is bad enough!) I gravitate towards the man who is actually straightening something on display because this habit often indicates usefulness when the store is totally empty. (N.B., it indicates laziness when the store has unhelped people.) The man -- well-dressed, in his forties -- pre-empts my approach because he sees me enter the store more quickly and purposefully than someone who is browsing. He asks if he can help. Things are looking up.

I repeat my request for a black bow tie. He brings me to the rack, and shows me the all the black ties. Every last one of them is pre-tied. I clarify that I came solely because I was told they had real black bow ties and not the clip-ons. He, surprised, says: "Oh? Who told you that?"

"The young woman," I answer, hoping a word to the wise was sufficient.

"I'm sorry. We don't have any of those."

Mildly fuming, I ask if he knows where I might find a proper tie.

"Try Nordstroms," he replies, and he was right. He knew his competitor's inventory better than the woman knew her own.

Don't bother flaming me about this. I'll go to the grave with it.

And if you hate me for this observation, you should hear the way my father handles women in a car parts store or a mechanic's shop. He doesn't even begin charitably (which is bad, IMHO, as justified as his suspicions may be). He just asks for a man, any man.

For more, you can read my old post about how customer service is turning me into my dad.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/19/2004 01:24:00 AM | link

Sheesh. New Blogger interface is so overhauled it is scary. And the main post window comes up incorrectly in Opera (surprise, surprise), which Blogger Lo Fi managed to avoid, but now I guess that's gone and forever, Bride. (Insert Sapphic reminiscence here...)

I know I haven't been blogging for a while. It's the end of the semester. Deal. Been drinking 4-5 drinks per day in an effort to get the liver refreshened sufficiently for the forthcoming J.C.C. stag party in NYC in June.

Until next week, my dear readers, I leave you with this vital piece of information to chew on while you bemoan my violation of our implicit social contract:

Take the Cicada Test!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/14/2004 11:00:00 PM | link

Chaput weighs in on giving the Eucharist to pro-choice Catholics in How to Tell a Duck from a Fox.

Zorak and I heard the Auxilliary Bishop of Washington Brian Farrell (a Legionary of Christ) give the deacons he was ordaining such a ringing refutation of his superior's cowardice, we almost shouted "Alleluia!" from the pew. But she is so excited about it, I'll let her blog it.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/09/2004 02:09:00 AM | link

Finals and all, so a webwatch / blogwatch is the order of the day:

Modern Drunkard has consistently decided to ignore the massive social stigma around DUI as defined by present laws and to attack M.A.D.D. as a neo-prohibitionist, unreasonable organization. Their latest installment: Good cop, M.A.D.D. cop.

I am sure you libertarian readers would go for this: "MDM: I’ve always favored “tolerance testing” where, if you can drive through an obstacle course with a .25 BAC, you get a special license. Would you vote for it?"

And something for Otto Hiss: Innocence Amok.

This would be a nice way to relax from final exams, but I'm not flying to Las Vegas for it:

Yeah, I have been a good monkey
long enough!

...and a random new blog:

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/08/2004 10:41:00 PM | link

Turns out, Karl Rahner had another interest besides theology.

Oh, how perfect. Just like E. Michael Jones once ferretted out Paul Tillich's habit of attending strip bars, the character of the theologian should help to persuade those who are mesmerized by the insidious, deceitful teaching of his later years.

The biographical stuff is fascinating. The theological critique beginning with "The Radical Rahner" is pointed in the right direction, but somewhat blunt and inaccurate, so you can stop reading there.

And this woman? Man, does she get around. A Benedictine Abbot, Karl Rahner, Karl Orff (!! -- is that why he wrote Carmina Burana?), a gay Nazi, all after her first husband died.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/04/2004 03:27:00 AM | link

Just a brief update on the status of my absorption of TPOTC. Rarely does a day go by when I don't think about some scene from the movie. Thought about seeing it again yesterday, even in Eastertide, but I don't have the time, and besides, I've still got this cold. I haven't read a lot of blogs lately, but someone drop me a line and tell me whether people report this kind of psychological staying power more broadly, or whether it is just me.

Zorak and I missed the 5pm Mass yesterday and ended up going to the Spanish Mass at Our Lady of Bad Council, which is about as close as the Real Presence and its symbolic absence (or if you're feeling Biblical, the "desolating sacrilege") can coincide in a single room. Yeah, the liturgy is that bad. I pray the ordinaries when I know them, and even pitch in in Spanish when I know the words, but most of the time, I just think about the movie, which at least one student now writes as 'The Movie' (i.e., with capitals).

Latest flashback over a minute detail: When Christ stands up after the 32nd flogging, for more, one Roman sees him standing up again and says, "Redire non posse!" It is left untranslated in the film, but basically: "To return is not possible." By omitting from that, it's not only the typical laconic Latin of these brutes, but a beautiful double entendre and anticipation of the Resurrection (which is itself an anastasis from brutality). My questions are: How much time did they spend on that line? and Can all art be this good if every day in production begins with the Mass?

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/03/2004 10:24:00 AM | link

I'm getting tired of fatigue. Oh, no, meta-fatigue!

Insular Majuscule
Insular Majuscule- You are spiritual and well
rounded. People look to you for advice, but
sometimes find you difficult to understand.

What Calligraphy Hand Are You?
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Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/03/2004 03:03:00 AM | link

One reader writes to correct my reading of the disgusting American treatment of Iraqis to note that the four men in the linked pictures aren't being forced to dance naked in front of each other but rather to engage in oral sodomy. Well, that's definitely torture in my book, just so you all aren't scandalized. I misread the Post article to say "simulated sex acts" which I assumed was posing, when it is clear that they were forced to sodomize each other in the actual text of the article.

I strengthen my resolve: I am too busy to keep up with the news. I won't blog about the flying maelstrom of crap that is the news anymore. Indeed, as Oakeshot said, it is probably a neurosis in the first place.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/02/2004 11:47:00 PM | link

I give you: a brief history on the accidental laboratory discovery of high-potency sweeteners, or as I call it: No amount of safety regs in the world will ever prevent scientists from accidentally tasting stuff they whip up in the lab. And occasionally it's good. Really good.

I add my favorite story, which was not included. Apparently vanillin -- artificial vanilla flavoring -- was originally a by-product of the paper industry and discovered in the same way: Some papermill production line worker decided to taste the sweet-smelling stuff. As this website puts it: vanillin is produced from waste sulphite liquor!.

I found this while looking to see if the box of sucralose I bought on sale will posion me as much as nutrasweet. Splenda turns out to be chlorinated sugar. How yummy.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/01/2004 08:38:00 PM | link

bleh. I have been sick for the past several days after my New Haven trip. So not much blogging for another week. Zorak has been quite sick too, but she has been rusticated to West Virginia for the weekend to visit her mother.

Once again, Zorak and I seem to make a good test case for the merits of zinc lozenges, garlic and echinachea. I take them, she doesn't, and my version of the virus has been certainly milder than hers, and it's clear we have the same thing. We both take multi-vitamin and vitamin C when will. I also take cod liver oil. Make of it what you will.

I had the pleasure of meeting The Mansfield Fox last weekend and taking him to Mory's for an enjoyable lunch. Later the next day, he joined Zorak and I again for an inquisition of p.u. candidates and an impromptu debate about the virtues of a Catholic government. Like most bloggers, I'm sure, only a part of the many merits of his personality come through on the blog. Yours truly managed to be dehydrated and a tad hung-over for about half of this, so I'm sure I was less than scintillating.

Ok. That's enough for now. We now resume our regular program of coughing, falling asleep, and coughing again.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/01/2004 08:33:00 PM | link

In recent news, I am disgusted by the recent conduct of some of our military (more photos here).

Forcing them to dance naked and pointing at stripped captives is humiliating, but I would not term it actual abuse. The "human pile" and electrocution "joke," however, are unconscionable and constitute mild psychological abuse in my book. The perps of both should be court-martialed.

Although I will be so bold as to add: We have no evidence of actual physical abuse, and what the Iraqis (or any Asian military) routinely do to their captives still makes this look like a walk in the park. But that is no excuse, and I'm not going to trifle over it -- our military failed here, in a way that will surely lead to a world-wide further loss of confidence. And it holds open to the door to what didn't escape in photographs, which is disconcerting, and there's no way to make a good face of this to our allies.

I am glad they sent the man from camp X-ray over to Baghdad. I know from people on the ground there that X-ray is run honorably.

My favorite commentator, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey (who was in Gulf I and led the battle against the Republican Guard), had some great comments on this debacle on the news last evening, along with the mire in Fallujah. McCaffrey hammered his usual theme: More military and greater training will reduce both of these problems, which are products of the Clinton administration. McCaffrey faulted Bush for not fighting actively for longer before declaring the end of the war, and thoroughly subjugating former Republican Guard enclaves with great numbers of troops. With respect to the prisoners, McCaffrey attributed their frat-boy-style behavior to the fact that many of these men (and women! -- aren't the feminists proud of my inclusivity?) are reservists with little training and little psychological ability to cope with the strains of long term conflict, which is the catalyst for this kind of hazing conduct. I don't think he's ever said a word I disagree with yet.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 5/01/2004 08:06:00 PM | link


Friends Outside the
Prophetes Viatoresque:
(but still worth reading)

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