You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

June 10, 2006

O Wad Some Pow'r The Giftie Gie Us

Both the King of Zembla and I are fans of "To a Louse", the 1785 poem by Robert Burns. It's about how the high and mighty tend to be hilariously oblivious to how ridiculous they appear to everyone else.

For some reason I'm often reminded of it whenever I read the pronouncements of America's foreign policy elite. For instance, here's a Weekly Standard piece by Reuel Marc Gerecht about Zarqawi:

Always looking outward toward the larger Sunni Arab world (and away from the Shiite Arabs and Sunni Kurds, who comprise about 80 percent of Iraq's population), Iraq's Sunni Arabs were playing catch-up with their foreign brethren, who had already downgraded, if not buried, secular Arab nationalism as an inspiring ideology and given birth to bin Ladenism.

Let's see, what's missing from this brief history of the death of secular Arab nationalism? Oh yeah—the sixty years the United States spent doing everything it could to kill it. I'm sure this just slipped Gerecht's mind. It's easy to see how that could happen, since he worked in the Middle East for the CIA for ten years and thus was intimately involved in the killing process. I often forget decades of my life myself.

Also nice is Gerecht's counsel to Iraq's Sunnis to "stop using the specter of violence as a negotiating strategy." Right. I'm sure they'll get right on that just as soon as the U.S. does—i.e., shortly after the sun explodes.

But this is the very best part:

...the surrounding Arab Sunni world seems quite willing to accept that decent men and women should experience frissons whenever bin Laden launches lethal attacks on the United States.

Gerecht then added, "Now if you'll excuse me, me and my friends at Project for a New American Century have to go clean up from having jizzed all over ourselves when the U.S. invaded Iraq."

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An' foolish notion
Posted at June 10, 2006 08:21 AM | TrackBack

You let them off too lightly. By the time of 9/11, the whole "bin Ladenism" thing was dying out, most Muslims having become thoroughly disgusted by all of the violence. They were by and large horrified by 9/11 and it would probably have capped it permanently if we'd had a rational response to it.

But we didn't. Instead, we managed to prove that we were good for even worse violence. Worse, we claimed to be doing it in the name of democracy, freedom, and Christianity, thus tainting all of those things. We were supposed to teach by example. As far as they are concerned, we did.

Posted by: Avedon at June 10, 2006 08:50 AM

bleh.. your site made safari crash twice!

i won't say anything else because macs are apparently big fans of ex-CIA hacks.

Posted by: almostinfamous at June 10, 2006 09:03 AM


Heh. I have rarely been said to let them off too lightly, and I like it. It makes me appear cautious and reasonable.


Really? That's bad news. Has it happened before? What OS are you using? It's working okay for me.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at June 10, 2006 09:13 AM

'Cause I'm lazy. What Avedon said.

Posted by: spiiderweb at June 10, 2006 09:23 AM

What's nice is Raza Pavlavi(?)the son of the late Shah of Iran, is advising the Administration to speed things as Iran is "draging it's feet" with these negotiations.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 10, 2006 09:35 AM

Is this guy serious?

Posted by: Scott at June 10, 2006 03:31 PM

Yes, Burns is serious. Or rather Burns are serious, as they can become infected.

Posted by: hedgehog at June 10, 2006 04:19 PM

Burns is serious and so is George. (Mission from Big Oil) I'm thinking negotiations will fall apart around July. Summer and fall are the best invasion time. YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK. Enjoy.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 10, 2006 04:38 PM

George Burns isn't serious. He's a comedian. And he's dead.

Posted by: hedgehog at June 10, 2006 05:23 PM

It just warms the heart to see Dick Cheney starting the cold war all over again and single handedly too, what a guy, Mr. Freedom his bells are ringing. Got to cut those damn Russians out of the oil profits you know, don't want any undue interference from them.

Ahh, those think tankers, so full of fellows, fellow of this and fellow of that. One of my favorites is the Hoover Institute a right wing nut Institute for all seasons. They are for flat taxes, school vouchers, and they promoted the war in Iraq and are the genius behind Bush's economic policies what ever that is, I think there is one, ...somewhere.

One of their fine feathered fellows says global warming is pseudo-science, he wrote a book about it and he was not the only Hoover ding-a-ling to do so. Here is a quote from Right Web Profile,

HI has also joined a group of other organizations that seek to distort or deny the effects of global warming. In the Hoover Digest, Senior fellow Bruce Berkowitz has published "The Pseudoscience of Global Warming," while Terry Anderson has contributed "Cooling the Global-Warming Debate" to the Hoover Weekly Essays. Thomas Gale Moore, which calls a "skeptic scientist" has written "Global Warming: A Boon to Humans and Other Animals" and "In Sickness or in Health: The Kyoto Protocol versus Global Warming" in the Hoover Essays in Public Policy. (39) (40) (41)


I am sure you all will be jumpin' to buy these books, nothing like pure science to warm the cockles of the heart, can't wait to see these fellows swimming to headquarters at the Hoover Tower, pleasantly referred to as Hoover's last erection among the Stanford alumni, seeing as how Stanford is pretty close to the bay and when those ice caps melt, well...

Among the fine feathered fellows of the Hoobert Heever Institute are Rummy and Condoleezza Rice not to mention Paul Wolfowitz, remember Paul? Paul was one of the guys who really wanted to see those open arms and flowers with hugs and kisses emanating from the Iraqi as we liberated them.

Another quote from Right Web Profile,

The People for the American Way note that "Hoover is well-known for its influential role in developing President Bush's economic policy, the Hoover Institution is ‘the … conservative think tank President Bush looks to for ideas'." (4) (37)


I think tank that about says it all.

Posted by: rob payne at June 10, 2006 08:20 PM

It's a similar story with Latin American liberation theology -- some jackass like Christopher Hitchens can scoff at how that never ended up going anywhere, glossing over the US-funded death squads that it took to keep it from going anywhere.

Sometimes it's hard for me to figure out whether the Monroe Doctrine or the Carter Doctrine was a worse thing for the world. Probably the former, on a per capita basis.

Posted by: Adam Kotsko at June 10, 2006 09:56 PM

John Quincy Adams on the viewpoint of power (a subject he knew a thing or two about):

Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak

Posted by: sk at June 11, 2006 08:18 AM

When one is feeding bullshit to the masses, one is liable to swallow a spoonful or two ones ownself.(This Administration cleans the plate and goes back for seconds.)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 11, 2006 09:21 AM

Sometimes it's hard for me to figure out whether the Monroe Doctrine or the Carter Doctrine was a worse thing for the world.

that totally depends on if you're talking James or Marilyn.

Posted by: almostinfamous at June 11, 2006 09:23 AM