Sunday, January 5, 2020

Sunday Reading

Hornet’s Nest — Charles P. Pierce.

I confess that all I know about Soleimani I learned from this long 2013 profile by Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker. As nearly as I can tell from Friday morning’s reactions, that’s the source material for a great deal of them. Soleimani is reckoned to have been a combination of Machiavelli, General Giap, Suleiman the Magnificent, and Lex Luthor. Which raises the question, so far unanswered, as to why a man with so many enemies other than the United States, operating with impunity in a volatile part of the world, survived as long as he did. The only logical answer is that these people carefully took the risk-reward calculations to heart and decided that killing Soleimani wasn’t worth what would ensue in the aftermath. If these calculations were made by the current U.S. administration*, they are not yet obvious.

Instead, the president* tweeted out the image of an American flag. An official Pentagon briefing pointedly said that the action had been taken at the order of the president*. The State Department warned Americans to get the hell out of Iraq, but not to come to the massive American embassy. Americans are urged to leave by airplane if possible but, if necessary, to escape by land, although where the hell they’re supposed to go—Syria?—was left unexplained. But the Americans should get out of Iraq, a place that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN on Friday morning is safer now that Soleimani is dead.

(Pompeo also told CNN that the strike was undertaken to preempt an “imminent threat” to U.S. assets, a threat that Pompeo declined to identify, and, yes, we’ve all seen this movie before.)

So no, I have no confidence that anyone there can play this game. The president* is an ignoramus with little or no credibility on any issue, let alone war and peace. His Secretary of State doesn’t seem to have any plan beyond sycophancy. We are hearing the echoes of 2002 and 2003 rising again, except this time on the part of an inferior breed of con artist.

(I suspect that the action taken by the administration* may well finally be the thing that splits the more militaristic of the Never Trumpers from their newfound Democratic allies.)

The stated policy of this administration* is the utter disruption of the Iranian government as a prelude to regime change. We tried this in the 1950s and Iran got 20 years of a police state. Does anyone seriously believe that an Iranian regime that rises from American policy will have the faintest credibility with most Iranians? We tried that in Iraq, which is why Qasem Soleiman found such a target-rich environment there. And any split in the current Iranian regime over the now-abandoned nuclear deal likely has been smoothed over. And god only knows what will happen in Iraq as a result of this. This policy is kick-over-the-hornet’s-nest at its worst. Maybe it’s all just to keep John Bolton from testifying to the Senate. That’s as good an explanation as any.

Hi, Tech! — Lucas Gardner in The New Yorker leaves a note for the person who’s fixing his laptop.

Hello and welcome! Thank you in advance for fixing my computer. I expect that you’re probably going to be tempted to snoop around my laptop to see if I have anything embarrassing on there. I have no way to stop you from doing this, so I’ve decided to get out ahead of it and write you this comprehensive guide.

I keep all my pornography in the folder “C: > Program Files (x86) > Internet Explorer > en-Us > files > real folder”—but I’ve gone ahead and moved it all to the desktop for you, for ease of access. Normally, I don’t really organize it, but I took the liberty of separating it into different folders, labelled by category, for you. I also have some old-fashioned print pornography that I have gone ahead and enclosed in the laptop case.

In my Documents folder, you will find some of my writing. Much of it is bad and sure to give you and the gang over there a good laugh. I would recommend checking out “A Mirthless Summer at the Château Beverly,” an unfinished novel I tried to write about a forbidden romance between a wealthy socialite and—I don’t even remember, a gardener or some shit. I went ahead and bolded all the worst parts, so you can just skim it for the greatest hits. But, if you have time to read the whole thing, it’s all bad.

Other than the writing, you’ll find spreadsheets of my finances and some old tax documents. Nothing interesting there, unless you actually dive in and crunch the numbers, in which case you’ll uncover an absolutely earth-shattering case of unemployment fraud. Please do not tell!!!

I’ll save you some time and let you know that there’s nothing embarrassing in the Pictures folder. No nudes or anything like that. I have some of those on a separate hard drive though, so I’ll swing by and drop that off tomorrow after my doctor’s appointment, which is regarding sex problems.

You’ll find that I cleared my Google search history before bringing the laptop in. Sorry about that, it was an accident. Here are some searches that you would have found:

•“How to make friends as an adult”

•“Pro-bono fraud defense attorney New York”

•“Could Alf really happen”

•“Donnie Darko ending explained”

I’ll let you know if I remember other ones.

I didn’t log out of any of my social-media accounts, so I guess you’re free to dive in. You’ll see that I’ve sent some messages that are pretty humiliating. For the record, I would just like to state that when I wrote them I was a hundred-per-cent, stone-cold sober. Also, don’t forget to check the time stamps, which will show that they were written in broad daylight.

You probably wouldn’t even think to check my calendar for anything shameful. Do not make this mistake! There’s some stuff on there that really sucks for me—I don’t even want to spoil it for you. Feel free to call me afterward and let me know what you think.

Doonesbury — What’s in a name?