Running smart or running scared

From Debka: The surprise move [to hand over sovereignty] prompted a rush of explanations by various informed sources who presented it as:

1. An attempt to pre-empt the spectacular Iraqi guerrilla-al Qaeda terrorist strikes that intelligence experts judged were scheduled for June 30. It was hoped that the secretly-planned fait accompli of the transition would catch the enemy off-balance.

2. A demonstration to the assembled NATO leaders that Washington and London, in asking for alliance assistance for the Iraqi army, seriously meant what they said about handing power over to an indigenous regime in Baghdad. The formal act was supposed to finally win round any waverers.

However, DEBKAfile political and military analysts believe these arguments which may sit well in the diplomatic arena are unlikely to stand the test of reality inside Iraq, where the precipitate handover looks less like a coolly reasoned move and more like a counsel of desperation, or even the loss of control by coalition leaders…. Iraq’s interim foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari, in Istanbul for the NATO summit, explained the move in a nutshell. He said power was transferred ahead of time in view of “the deteriorating security situation.” In other words, the Americans and British passed a hot potato to Baghdad before the brew heated up still further.

I wonder if the administration’s defenders will insist this is all part of a grand secret strategy to win… something. Then again, perhaps the Fallujah debacle has finally convinced them that this administration has less strategic competence than the average thirteen year-old wargamer. Don’t get me wrong; I’ll be very pleased if they pull the troops out and start actually dealing with the war declared on America instead of playing at nation-building. But nothing they have said or done leads me to conclude that they have any heart for taking on the twin centers of the global jihad.

Right from the beginning, when the administration showed that they would rather strip rights from American cititzens than do anything to offend illegal aliens, I had serious doubts about whether the administration was actually serious about its undeclared war on method. In fact, in my very first political column, I warned about how the response to 9/11 would likely be used to America’s detriment. You can look it up in the archive at if you like.

It’s always interesting to see how we must divulge the contents of our bank account and allow the FBI and NSA to scan all of our personal communications because if we don’t a terrorist might possibly do something bad somewhere. And yet, the borders remain wide open. It amazes me that the American people – conservatives, no less – continue to buy into this.

Kerry’s divorce papers

I don’t see how Democrats will be able to argue that a Senate candidate’s divorce records must be unsealed, but a presidential candidate’s are private. I’m sure they’ll find a way, though, since they proudly spit on the concept of intellectual consistency – then wonder why no one respects their intellects.

I find it interesting that so many politicians are divorced; I don’t think it’s so much that the job is demanding as it is the fact that the profession attracts the very worst sort of neurotic control freaks. Unsealed or not, however, I don’t believe the papers will tell us anything new. We already know that Kerry is a complete arruso who has to be kept hidden away from the public in order to maintain any level of support.

Of course, if he wins, it could make for an even more amusing presidency than Slick Willie’s. It will be entertaining to see his supporters turn on him like rabid dogs once they realize what a thoroughly dislikeable man he is.

Jack took Jeri to the club

To swing out in the open

Jack fell down at Jeri’s frown

And John slipped down the slope then

Eco on Political Correctness

It’s probably bordering on insane to use Umberto Eco, who is considered notoriously difficult reading in Italy, as translation practice, but the upside is that it makes reading everything else pretty easy by comparison. The downside is that he enjoys creating plays on words and idiomatic turns of phrase that are completely incomprehensible to me. Still, the challenge is intriguing. The article appeared in L’espresso on June 11; as always, I can guarantee several glaring mistakes and blame for all infelicities should be laid at my door, not that of the Great One himself.

La Pistola dell’Ostrega(1)

Political Correctness is a true and proper movement born in the American universities of liberal and radical inspiration, therefore of the Left, with an eye towards acknowledging multiculturalism and reducing some of the ingrained linguistic vices that established lines of discrimination confronting various minorities. And therefore they began to say “blacks” and later “Afro Americans” instead of “negroes”, and “gay” instead of the thousands of other notorious appellations reserved for disparaging homosexuals.

Naturally, this campaign for the purification of the language has produced a true fundamentalism, which has led to the notable case in which some feminists proposed to no longer say “history” since it begins with the pronoun “his”, as they thought this meant that the story was “his”, but instead to say “herstory” – her story – obviously ignoring the Greco-Latin etymology which has no gender implications.

However, the tendency has assumed also neoconservative, or frankly, reactionary aspects. If you decide to no longer call people in wheelchairs handicapped or even disabled, but “differently abled” and after do not construct access ramps in public places, it is evident that you have hypocritically removed the word but not the problem. And the same is true if you substitute saying “indefinitely unoccupied” for fired or “in a program of transition to change careers” for dismissed. Who knows why a banker isn’t ashamed of his title and doesn’t insist on being called an operator in the field of savings. If it’s not working, changing the name won’t fix it.

On these and an infinity of other problems, Edoardo Crisafulli amuses in his book “The Politically Correct and Linguistic Liberty”, which strips naked all these contradictions. He takes on both sides, pro and con, and is always very entertaining. Reading it, however, I came to reflect on the curious case of our country. While Political Correctness exploded elsewhere, in our case it was diffused and instead we are always developing more and more Political Incorrectness. If, at one time, one would read a newspaper and a politician would say: “As a politics of convergence is emerging, one would prefer an asymptotic choice that eliminated single points of intersection”; today he prefers to say: “Dialogue? To Hell with that dirty son of a bitch!”

It is true that at one time in old Communist circles they used to label the adversary as “horseflies” and in speaking during a fracas, they might have chosen to use a lexicon more incontinent than that of a longshoreman, but that was in a time when there were no limits to what one could say – it was accepted as an affectation – as was once the case in the gentlemen’s clubs of venerated memory – where the gentlemen were not verbally inhibited. Today, instead, the technique of an insult is televised, a sign of unconcious faith in the valor of democracy.

It probably began with Bossi(2), in which his manly hardness obviously alludes to the softness of other people, and the appellation of “Berluskaz(3)” was unmistakable but the thing spread widely. Stefano Bartezzaghi, writing under the name Venerdi di Repubblica, cites the play of insults today in circulation, but in good fun, all things considered.

Therefore, I too must contribute to the sweetness of Politically Incorrect Italian, and as I have consulted a series of dictionaries and dialects, permit me to suggest some polite and good-natured expressions with which to insult your enemy, graceful words: pistola dell’ostrega, papaciugo, imbolsito, crapapelata, piffero, marocchino, pivellone, ciulandario, morlacco, badalucco, pischimpirola…[long, long list of like insults removed for the sake of brevity].

(1) Ostrega can’t be found in most dictionaries. The title, as near as I can tell, means “the weapon (pistol) of gosh”, although for a while I thought he was playing off the term “strega” witch or “ostrica” oyster. This led me to wonder if there wasn’t some deeper profundity there, but Vittorio emails to explain: “ostrega” is an old exclamation in Venetian dialect.

(2) Vittorio also adds: in the 1980’s the Northern League, led by Umberto Bossi, had a celebrated slogan “The League is the one that is hard” used against PC. That’s where “celodurismo” comes from. I don’t know about “celoflocismo”. My undestanding is that Eco is implying overtones of hardness and softness as they relate to male tumescence. Alessandro also writes to explain: Celodurismo is a neologism in Italian politics derived from the (in)famous phrase by Umberto Bossi: “ce l’ho duro” meaning “I got an hard-on and I can keep it up for hours!”, so that celodurismo means a rough and boasting attitude which is typical of Umberto Bossi and his mates of the Lega Nord political party. Actually, I never heard of celoflocismo, but it surely derives from “ce l’ho floscio” which is quite the contrary of “ce l’ho duro” so that celoflocismo means the contrary of celodurismo.

(3) “Berluskaz” is likely a combination of “Berlusconi” and “catzo”, saying that Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister and owner of AC Milan, is a motherf—–. Well, they won the Scudetto this year, so deal.

Loathesome quasi-literates

Perhaps this doesn’t bother anyone else. But I swear, is there is anything quite so annoying as correspondence from presumably literate people signed: “Best”? Best what? Best wishes? Best of luck? Best watch out because I’m planning to chain you up naked against the wall in my stone-lined pit of sex slaves? From what I’ve seen in my emails, it seems as if started out as a New York thing, so naturally it’s spread as others slavishly ape what they think is ever so spiffy and sophisticated.


On the semifinals

Suprises, surprises and more surprises. No doubt the Eurobookies are hurting, as only a deluded patriot would have gambled on Greece over France, and while the Netherlands are seemingly an eternal contender, who was expecting them to successfully navigate a penalty shoot-out for the first time, especially against a facile and team-oriented Swedish squad?

The Czechs came out flat against Denmark; the game was so slow, dull and poorly officiated that I almost didn’t bother returning to the television after halftime. That would have been a mistake, though, as they clinically executed two assassin-like goals stemming from sharp through passes to Milan Barros. Taken in its totality, the game was like watching a cat toying with a mouse, leisurely dispatching it with ease when it tires of the charade.

It forces me want to rethink my statement on the Northern Alliance show that the winner of the Sweden-Holland game would take all. But if Holland can win on penalties – we got two phone calls from SpaceBunny’s best friend, a Dutch girl who sounded on the very verge of expiring from nervous tension, during the shootout – perhaps it is finally their year. However, I don’t like the managerial matchup between Advocaat and Scolari, as the difference between the Dutchman and the man who doesn’t fear to pull Luis Figo in the biggest match so far is a stark one.

And then, of course, one would be a fool to dismiss the hometown factor in a tournament that has seen the most unusual mix of great – love all the yellow cards being handed out to the divers – and appalling refereeing. So, what to conclude?

The easy game first. The Czechs have not only been dominant, but play an Arsenal-like open attacking style that will have no trouble cracking open the Greek defense. They should win easily, by as many as five goals. Despite the above comments, I don’t trust Portugal. They should have lost to England even though they outplayed them. They’ve choked numerous times in the past and they have a Ewing Theory (see The Sports Guy) thing going with their best player, Luis Figo. I think we’ll see Holland against the Czechs for the whole enchilada.