Saturday, August 16, 2003

The Unholy Trinity of Vulture, Marmot, and Incest
(though not always in that order)

Un parcours des blogs... but first, I need to note that I received sad news: one of my favorite professors from Catholic University passed away last week. Father William Cenkner was a Hinduism expert, but well versed in Asian religion in general. I had three courses with him: Hinduism, Asian Spirituality, and Comparative Theology. Father had lived in India for quite a long time, and there were occasional whispers that he'd "gone native." I thought I saw traces of this in his in-class mannerisms: he'd point at the blackboard with his middle finger, and would often end sentences with a grunt that sounded a bit like the French "hein?". Scant evidence, perhaps, but it gave me cause to wonder.

Father Cenkner and Dr. Charles Jones were my two favorite CUA profs; the sad news came via Dr. Jones. Together, they were the Asian studies wing of the CUA School of Religious Studies. I don't know who's been found to succeed Father Cenkner (he retired only last year; I was in both the classes he taught that final spring semester), but I know that things won't ever be the same. Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest, Father.

The blogs, then.

The Vulture tears out George Bush's eyeballs and munches them slooooooooooowwwwwly. While I agree that Bush is inarticulate and quite likely a sloppy thinker, I also agree that his critics have, as a result, underestimated him because of their relentless focus on his not-so-stellar qualities. Where Bush is scary is his immunity to criticism (and what some speculate is a secret love of being underestimated), which translates into the kind of dogged resolve that made Uday and Qusay go, "Uh... they're serious this time. He's not like Clinton." Whether this means Bush actually has backbone, I don't know. But it does mean that his stubbornness or stupidity might very well be the appropriate Unstoppable Force to grind against Kim Jong-il's Immovable Object and cause premature erosion.

Theories were tossed around about Reagan in a similar vein (and Andrew Sullivan speculated on this long ago re: Bush II). Was Reagan simply nuts to be so provocative with the Soviets, or did he realize that his unpredictability would set them running in exactly the wrong direction? Bush, some say, may be operating (purposely or not) in much the same fashion. He scares leaders who perceive a cheerful-but-stubborn dimwit perched atop the world's most dangerous fuck-your-shit-up-good military. This may work to Bush's advantage, though the more cautious crowd is right to note that literally millions of lives are at stake every time such diplomacy is employed.

I haven't spent much time on this blog describing where I think Bush is wrong. The two main areas where I see Bush as wrong are (1) social conservatism with regard to issues like homosexual marriage, and (2) the economy, stupid.

I haven't ranted much about the economy mainly because I'm not an econ expert-- didn't go through GU SFS like The Marmot, so never did Micro Hell and Macro Hell. All I have is an intuition that Bush could afford to raise taxes to gain revenue, and people won't complain. The "real" conservatives have looked on in horror at Bush's fiscal profligacy and openly wish he'd stop spending the inheritance. I agree. And come to think of it, I agree with the "real" conservatives (paleocons, is it?) that Bush's current efforts to expand governmental powers are Not A Good Thing. I haven't ranted much about Bush's social conservatism because I think I've made it obvious that, while I'm politically fairly neutral, I'm a flaming religious liberal and will probably never agree with the likes of Bush or the religious right. As far as I'm concerned, homosexuals have exactly the same right to marry, to be ordained to the priesthood, and to enjoy the other fruits of liberty enjoyed by heterosexuals. To the people who say I'm just tearing up the Bible and making it up as I go along, I reply: attachment to scripture is precisely what turns the Bible into little more than toilet paper. It's exactly the kind of dogmatic literalism that Jesus is repeatedly portrayed as railing against. I need to go back and revise my essay on sexuality and religion, come to think of it...

The Marmot gives me a shout-out for the nondualism essay-- hapjang. In return, I point you to the Marmot's latest observation: Koreans celebrated Liberation Day without a SINGLE NEWS ARTICLE written in which America's role as liberator is acknowledged! How fucked up is that? But it's a sign of the Noh Mu Hyon times, I think; the Korean public isn't feeling particularly warm or thankful toward us, even less so since we're contemplating things like force redeployment (and, I hope, eventual total withdrawal). All the more reason for us to get outta Dodge.

Marmotic money quote:

Makes it look like the country was magically "liberated," then forcibly occupied by two invaders. Note to the Herald editorial staff: I'd like to remind you that American and Soviet troops entered Korea in order to accept the surrender of Japanese forces on the peninsula. That is to say, the Japanese surrendered not to Korean "liberation fighters," nor to the "Korean government in exile," but to us (and the Soviets). Any guess why that may be?


Look, I know it hurts your all-important national pride, but I think it should be common Liberation Day courtesy to mention, however briefly, which country did the liberating. It's not too much to ask, is it? You don't even have to mention the United States by name - you can just use the term "Allies" if you find an overt show of gratitude to the Americans too galling. Really, it's no wonder why Koreans are raising a whole generation of youth who know nothing of the history of US-ROK ties besides the Taft-Katsura Agreement, Nogun-ri, Apollo Ohno, and the Mi-sun and Hyo-sun...

I agree.

Check out Kevin at IA's meditation on divisions in US policy. I think that Rumsfeld will be spooing gallons if Bush gets reelected: NO COLIN POWELL IN THE SECOND TERM! Yaaaaaaaayyyy!! With the State Department (much like China) under new management, things will be confusing, and Rumsfeld will likely get more of what he wants. So long as Rumsfeld is still preaching the "smaller, sleeker, more flexible and more mobile" doctrine, I can't say I'll mind what he plans for the military. I heard some murmurings that Condoleezza Rice might be primed to replace Powell, but I also heard she's not game.

The thing I've always wondered about is why Rice isn't used more prominently when Washington needs to talk with Putin. The woman speaks fluent Russian, for God's sakes. She should be getting a hell of a lot more face time with ol' Vladimir, maybe challenging him to some judo matches or something. Vlad needs calming: the Anglosphere is encroaching on Russia as ex-bloc countries show more friendliness to America than they do to France and Germany.


Whoops-- and then an update! On the Temporarily Savoring Poetic Justice front: Iraqis offer US blackout victims tips on handling life without power (along with a few hope-you-suffer-too gibes). I found this article... cute.

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