Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Robert Fisk: The self delusion that plagues both sides in this bloody conflict
One common feature of Middle East wars is the ability of all the antagonists to suffer from massive self-delusion. Israel's promise to "root out terror" – be it of the PLO, Hizbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Iranian or any other kind – has always turned out to be false. "War to the bitter end," the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, has promised in Gaza. Nonsense. Just like the PLO's boast – and Hamas' boast and Hizbollah's boast – to "liberate" Jerusalem. Eyewash. But the Israelis have usually shown a dangerous propensity to believe their own propaganda. Calling up more than 6,000 reservists and sitting them round the Gaza fence is one thing; sending them into the hovels of Gaza will be quite another. In 2006, Israel claimed it was sending 30,000 troops into Lebanon. In reality, it sent about 3,000 – and the moment they crossed the border, they were faced down by the Hizbollah. In some cases, Israeli soldiers actually ran back to their own frontier.

These are realities. The chances of war, however, may be less easier to calculate. If Israel indefinitely continues its billion dollar blitz on Gaza – and we all know who is paying for that – there will, at some stage, be an individual massacre; a school will be hit, a hospital or a pre-natal clinic or just an apartment packed with civilians. In other words, another Qana. At which point, a familiar story will be told; that Hamas destroyed the school/hospital/pre-natal clinic, that the journalists who report on the slaughter are anti-Semitic, that Israel is under threat, etc. We may even get the same disingenuous parallel with a disastrous RAF raid in the Second World War which both Menachem Begin and Benjamin Netanayahu have used over the past quarter century to justify the killing of civilians.

And Hamas – which never had the courage to admit it killed two Palestinian girls with one of its own rockets last week – will cynically make profit from the grief with announcements of war crimes and "genocide".

At which point, the deeply despised and lame old UN donkey will be clip-clopped onto the scene to rescue the Israeli army and Hamas from this disgusting little war. Of course, saner minds may call all this off before the inevitable disaster. But I doubt it...

Charlie here wishing y'all a happy & safe 2009, & if you have any money left please buy at least one of my grampy's new books--if you like either dogs, photography or pointless anecdotes about Nanaimo in the eighties try To the Dogs; if you would like those same anecdotes told less intelligibly, with added references to Judee Sill & Captain Beefheart, try
The Age of Briggs and Stratton---

some trees from a 2000 trip to Finland & Estonia

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Nervous About Nixon?
In this curious blend of confessional and closing argument, Nixon is his own defense attorney, and he is as gifted as Clarence Darrow, which is all the more impressive because it is quite clear as the interview grinds on that he has absolutely no case. Watching this in 2008, after eight years of George W. Bush, a president who can barely put a sentence together, there is nostalgic pleasure to be had in following Nixon's agile use of language and the elaborate architecture of his thought process. Still, his guilt is clear; as he presses the unconvincing argument that he didn't obstruct justice, he is essentially throwing himself on the mercy of the public court. And the price he must pay to win this mercy is perfectly clear. He must consummate the deal with a cathartic moment and let his guard down long enough for the camera lens to slowly zoom in and scoop up a glistening teardrop...
It appears that Israeli political leaders and military planners labor under the illusion that there is a military “solution” to Hamas. The extended military operation in Gaza is expected to serve as a pedagogical tool for moderating or eliminating Hamas. But this will not work, and the idea that a ground invasion of Gaza could actually eliminate Hamas as a force in Palestinian politics is delusional. The Israeli approach is every bit as driven by militarism as Hamas’ strategy is. Beyond a certain point, it can serve no realistic political goals. In fact, I would offer a concise definition for militarism as not knowing when to stop. Israel is in danger of recapitulating in Gaza the last few weeks of the war against Hezbollah, which increasingly turned into a war against Lebanon...

Monday, December 29, 2008

farewell too Freddie Hubbard--

w/ Art Blakey - Moanin'
"Red Clay"

farewell to Winnipeg's Ann Savage, co-star of Detour--

My first scene was in the car, when she tells Haskell he’s not who he pretends to be. I read the lines and he corrected the tempo, and that was the last bit of coaching he gave me. He had given me the key, which was the tempo. It was difficult to speak that quickly, but it helped give the character her craziness–it was just right. I didn’t see the rushes, so I had no idea I was coming over as hard as I was...