Friday Musings 09/02/2005

By Lex, on Fri – September 2, 2005


Margarita Recipe:

1 1/2 oz. Tequila

3/4 oz. Triple Sec (or Cointreau)

Splash of Sour Mix & a dash of Rose Lime juice

Shake with ice & serve in a salt rimmed glass on the rocks or strain to serve up

Add more liquid and blend with ice for a frozen variation

Garnish with a lime wedge.

What is that you ask? Is that egg there on my face?

Why, yes. Yes it is.

It isn’t just the French who are offering to help, it’s the whole damned United Nations *. John Bolton or no. All my carefully constructed Mephistophelean archetypes are crumbling! Agh! Universe reordering in front of my astonished, uncomprehending eyes! Must. Seek. Order.

Or not.

Had an interesting discussion with Sim in the comments here *. I think there is something to the idea that our internal political divide is starting to poison our international relationships, even apart from the divisions left over from 2003. I guess the real question is whether it could be any other way – for some folks, the fact that Europe (read: France and Germany) were not on side invalidated the whole effort. For others, it invalidated the opinions of France and Germany. Many Americans tend to hold an almost messianic belief in our own national rectitude – City on a Hill and all that. Even most of those who protest against the international policies of whichever faction happens to be in power at any given time do so out of a sense that they (the protesters) are the ones protecting the real national narrative while the empowered elites are hell-bent for leather on whipping the national stagecoach over the Precipice of Domestic Disaster and International Condemnation. (The fact that many of these protesters are joined and sometimes organized by what can only be described as whack-jobs on the uttermost fringe of the otherwise unemployable left is only because, whatever party happens to be in charge, it’s mostly made up of grownups, and the anarchists can’t stand that. Speaking of which, I wonder how many of these folks are hurrying down to join in the fun down in New Orleans. I mean, this is their utopia, no? The City in a Bowl?)

This messianic strain combines at the popular level with an almost juvenile desire to be “liked” – Sally Fields ain’t in it – vis all the tortured, “Why do they hate us?” hair shirts (Caligula would not have approved). And when you finally contrast all this by the (perceived? Fine, if you say so) necessity to act in ways that no one else can on the world stage (it was Clinton appointee Madeleine Albright, after all, who called the US “the indispensable nation”), these combine in often awkward and unpredictable ways because the exercise of that power inevitably creates enemies – you either pick a side when brokering disagreements and earn the enmity of the other team, or else you push both hotheads face down into the ice bath, and earn the enmity of both of them. And lots of other folks besides, each of whom has their own national axe to grind. And it used to be that we knew that we could count on the camaraderie of the Anglosphere, but then Canada went and took a powder on us, millions of Brits took to the street waving SWP banners and it’s never quite been the same since. It isn’t that the whole world has to fall in line or else be identified as Enemies of the State: Everyone has to act in their own national interest, and hopefully that lines up with “the right” in the way we’ve all come to understand it. But if we’re dealing with intractable problems of great consequence and your answer is “We don’t actually have a plan, but we know we don’t like yours” then you have to expect a certain degree of hurt feelings all the way around.

It’s a trust thing.

We’ve gotten so used to either giving up on the rest of the world, or else waiting until someone else is in power to try to make up to the rest of the world that we get a little shocked when a terrible disaster falls over us and other folks offer their help. There is a certain lamentable tendency to look at the world with hands scored from the blood of the endless domestic political duel and ask, “Who are you, and what are you doing here?”

So, I was thinking: You know. Maybe we should stop it.

And by the way, foreign people? Thanks. We appreciate it your help.

And speaking of Clinton , I have to admit that the man showed a lot of class over here. Which are not, truth be told, clauses that I ever though I would find myself stringing together. But there it is.

Clinton may well be the only two-term president whose legacy is improved by the conduct of his life after leaving office.

Meanwhile, closer to home **:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – An angry San Diego topless dancer pulled out a knife and stabbed a customer after he refused a lap dance, police said on Thursday.

Lawanda Dixon, 24, was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon shortly after the altercation with 33-year-old Melik Jordan at the Dream Girls Cabaret early on Wednesday, San Diego police Det. Gary Hassen said.

“He was in the club with some friends watching the shows when she came up and asked if he wanted a lap dance,” Hassen said. “He said no, she got upset about it, they argued back and forth. She pulled knife out of her bag and stabbed him.”

Dixon was taken into custody and police found methamphetamine in a small metal container in Dixon’s bag, Hassen said, adding that she may face drug charges. Officers also confiscated a small folding knife.

Jordan was treated for his injuries and released by a local hospital.

Man, I hope that guy is single, or else he is so screwed!

Which brings me (don’t ask how) to the idea of the social contract – I got a nice note from one of my readers (the other one being sick) which generated this reply from me:

I’m with you in that I’ve got the sneaking feeling that we’ve been caught by a natural disaster with our drawers down and that it’s taken far too long to get them pulled back up and buckled again. I think it’s ironic that the things we’ve done post-9/11 to attempt to streamline disaster response may in fact have had the opposite effect. The military folks are bumping into the FEMA guys who are tripping all over the local authorities and national guardsmen. I would have hoped for a more coherent response, the feeling of a well-oiled machine leaping into action – instead I think we’ve discovered what we in the Navy call “seams” in the command and control structure.

 I also agree with you that there will be time later for finger-pointing and blame-naming – it’s inevitable I guess, and clearly a favorite sport for a certain kind of muckraker that doesn’t actually have any responsibilities apart from criticizing the “man in the arena,” but takes that particular task very seriously, by God. Especially when the man in the arena represents the “other” political party. Ugh. But this has become an almost reflexive response for some folks, as natural to them as their heartbeats, and probably as little subject to cognitive control.

 The looting thing seems fairly straightforward to me as well: If you couldn’t execute a person for the crime being committed after a coolly dispassionate court process, with time to examine evidence, take testimony and weigh motive, it’s pretty hard to justify taking someone’s life in the heat of the moment for taking a toaster which is probably in any case insured. There is a counter-vailing argument that goes against this notion saying in effect, “we ought to shoot looters so that the social compact might not be broken, and greater crimes commited” which of course means in effect that you should kill people for crimes they may or may not in the future influence or effect – kind of fails the reductio ad absurdum test, or else we’d kill all the people well in advance, to keep any of them from committing any serious crimes, or encouraging others to do so.

 I’ve got no problem killing people who would shoot at rescue helicopters though. Just need to be careful and precise in your targeting, or else the story will be one of the military shooting up pregnant women only trying to find water for their toddlers. Speaking of which, I wonder to what degree the media, conditioned over the last serveral years to find a way to present the bad news as all the news is contributing to the general sense of catastrophe in the making?

 We’ll pull through. It’ll be hard, but we’ll pull through.

This whole thing has been an enormous kick in the jimmy, and there will be plenty of blame to go all the way around. I don’t know that any other place in world history has gone so quickly from First World sybaritic excess to Third World execrable need in so short a period of time. Well, the aid is flowing in now, the country and the government (they are not entirely the same thing) are mobilized and we’ll soon make things better, a little bit at a time. We will all continue to studiously ignore the elephant of race and class that’s squatting in the public square, in the hopes that maybe it will either a) go away, or 2) no one else will notice it.

And someday, maybe, we’ll all grow up enough to have an adult conversation about what all of this meant, and what to do about it.

And now, I go with SNO to the Imperial Valley, in order to do a thing that we do every year, right about this time. Whenever I’m not at sea.


* 07-12-2018 Links Gone; no replacements found – Ed.

** 07-12-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Lex, Neptunus Lex, San Diego

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