Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wish You Were Here

The Big Shift: I was talking to a co-worker today who was frustrated with management's seemingly unerring capacity to make the wrong decision at every turn on the project we were both working on. It reminded me of the Bush administration, which has been positively eerie in its sensitivity for the wrong path. Let's face it, and give them credit where it's due: they've got radar for the wrong move. Amazing, really, when you look back and think about it: every time they've faced a fork in the road, they have flawlessly chosen the path of incompetence, destruction, chaos, human misery, and financial loss.

This is an entirely new principle in human affairs: call it "Bush's Law". It goes beyond Murphy, because it involves a negative perfection of such pristine purity as to be Christ-like in its consistency. In all the major and minor decisions of state facing them—hundreds, perhaps even thousands of them—these folks have managed to choose the wrong way every time. An extraordinary accomplishment, if you ask me; and I'm sure history will be just as puzzled and astonished as are we, caught in the midst of it all.

But today may mark the breaking of this remarkable consecutive-errors streak. The Times reports that, in a "big shift," the Pentagon has opted to abide by the Geneva Conventions.

Yet even this is suspect. Tony Snowflake is insisting that nothing has really changed, after all:

The White House spokesman, Tony Snow, said today that the Pentagon memo was “not really a reversal of policy’’ because detainees were already being treated humanely.

Let's see...waterboarding is humane. Female interrogators playing with sex toys and staining prisoners with menstrual blood is humane. Holding a man captive without charge, trial, or knowledge of Miranda rights for three years and more is humane. So now we're just going to be even more humane than we've ever been. Any questions?

Just be careful, boys: you wouldn't want to appear to have that "flowers and chocolate" foreign policy that you charged the Clinton administration with today. (Note: for a reality check on the true history of relations with NK since Bush I, see Tuesday's Progress Report).

Elegy for a Lunatic: I'm hoping I can get our part-time correspondent and Pink Floyd expert Red Hook Red to offer something more substantial on this news, but I'll do the best I can here. Syd Barrett, a bedeviled and vastly talented man and co-founder of Pink Floyd, is dead at 60. The tributes from Gilmour, Mason, Waters, and David Bowie, will tell you enough about the contribution this man made to the musical life of an entire generation. I would add that Barrett's mark on music will be felt decades and probably even centuries on. When Pink Floyd arrived on the scene, everything changed; music was never the same afterward. They combined a classical vision and background (someday I'll write a piece describing exactly how Dark Side of the Moon has nearly the exact kind of symphonic structure as anything by Gustav Mahler) with an often overwhelming gift for the original and the revolutionary. Their concert style, with its visual effects, light shows, and perfect resonance of sensual elements, has been imitated almost ceaselessly since their first tours; but never with quite the same seismic effect to the soul of the listener. Finally, the Floyd's social message about the madness of Power—a message that was led in its spirit largely by Barrett himself—is perhaps more crucial to this moment than it was to the Nixon years in which it was first given voice. Listen to "Us and Them" or watch The Final Cut, and you'll hear what I mean.

Shine on, Syd

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