Evil Forces in the World

Reflections on ''Evil Forces in the World,'' as well as occasional remarks concerning ''Good Forces in the World.''

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

What better way to battle evil than with a pulse-pounding album? Released under one of several noms de rap -- Hash Brown, Reginald Original (who is original), Minister Grifferji (who is militant), Rick Fab (who is "fab"), Franklin Sloane (who is a scheming WASP), Skwooples (the rapper with scruples, and a lisp), Chimp Daddy (which I blatantly stole from Hunter College High School's class of 1998), and Johnny Chimpo (the Taliban monkey featured in Super Troopers) -- it would revolutionize the stratosphere, but in a good way. We would not nationalize any industries.

For the past several years, I've been trying to perfect the introduction to the album. Here is but one iteration (for "Strictly, or Strickly, Slammin'")"

Strictly slammin'
That's what we call the album
Though you know it's strickly pabulum,
That's the problem
Got you hobblin'
Chase you like Goblin
What the hell you doin'?
I'm just Lloyd Dobblin'
Yes, my visions
Are clay-animated, been race-baited
And hated, and skated on skateboards
You're untowards
Don't grab my tuchus
Look us
Up in the phonebook under,
"Who crooked us?"
We did, been mining your seabed
Free Ed
Begley junior from his
Electrical car,
My rhymes are subpar
My foes are toast,
Coast is clear
Crushing on fax machines like Sameer
In Office Space, whaaaaat

This is just surreal:

"You won't have Charles Taylor to kick around any more," the government official, Samuel Jackson, Liberia's minister of state for economic and financial affairs, said in a report by Reuters. "We look forward to working out details of an orderly exit of our government."

But was the man wearing furry Kangol?

Taylor is evil, and I hope that 1,000 GIs are enough to bring the reckoning he so richly deserves.
From Security Laws Target of Huge Hong Kong Protest:

Corporate tycoons here were initially wary of the legislation, but soon dropped most objections after the bill was amended to restrict the ability of the police to search and seize financial records, among other changes.

Then consider this:

Sarah Ng, a 67-year-old seamstress, wore a bell-shaped straw hat and energetically cooled herself with a wooden fan at the start of the demonstration. She said she had never before joined a public protest.

"I'm worried about every kind of freedom — the government can arrest you any time they want" if the new legislation is approved, she said.

The venality and narrowness attributed to the corporate titans in the first paragraph is nothing less than staggering. It has often been suggested that Hong Kong's advantage relative to Singapore is that it is a freer, more vibrant place. Surely we can put a considerable dollar value on that. It's not the rapaciousness that's so distasteful (or, if you will, evil). That's to be expected. Rather, it's the myopia.

Then, in the second excerpt, you see an example -- one among several hundred thousand -- that rebuts, nay, smashes to bits, the notion that the Chinese have a docile, retiring temperament that makes them ill-suited to liberal democracy. Oh, I suppose that's a strawman. I mean, who would say such a thing? And Hong Kong is affluent enough to make the modernization types confident that it would have a vibrant civil society and would vigilantly, jealously guard civil liberties, deemed a luxury elsewhere. I guess. Still, I was impressed by Ms Ng's evident pluck. I'm not sure if I'd share it.

One wonders if there were many young people present. How nice it would be if idealistic youngsters in America got worked up over civil liberties and the other rudiments of a decent democratic society instead of cutting class to protest humanitarian interventions.
Insofar as we needed a larger military well before the 9/11 world came to be, the opening sentence of Frederick Kagan's "An Army of Lots More Than One" is a bit fishy. That said, he's absolutely right: we need a considerably larger military in terms of raw personnel. He also wisely avoids specific details as to the composition of an expanded force. Like Robert Perito, among others, I believe that evil will be most effectively conquered through the creation of a stability force focused on constabulary duties and other missions crucial in a post-conflict environment. There's also a very strong case for moving from twelve carriers to fifteen. The bandits must be crushed.

Where will the money come from? Raise taxes if necessary. Accelerating growth is of course the ideal way to go. I also have another idea on this matter, which I'll share with the planet, or rather the meager, infinitesimally small slice of the planet that reads the Reihan, shortly.

Read the Schwarzenegger cover story in Esquire It will knock your socks off. Never has a stronger (implicit) case been made for scrapping the requirement that the President be chosen from the ranks of native-born citizens.

Back to national security matters for a moment. The gap between Wolfowitzian vision and reality is as considerable as it is much-commented upon. One wonders what a coherent, consistent Wolfowitzian worldview would look like were it to be pursued with real dedication. I suspect that it would look not unlike the "unilateral globalism" of the immediate postwar period, which is now celebrated by the likes of John Ikenberry, who've misleadingly characterized itself as a Ulysses-and-the-mast precommitment strategy. (Randall Schweller, who is awesome, has convincingly argued that it was both more and less than that. And, I think it's safe to say, far less "constitutional" an order than Ikenberry would have you believe, but that's another matter.) As an exercise in realizable utopia-building, I'd like to pursue this idea at some length. "Benevolent hegemony" needn't involve pursuing policies solely through armed force (a caricature, but an instructive caricature insofar as perceptions draw on perceptions ad infinitum), as William Wohlforth, who is arguably more awesome than Schweller, has argued on more than one occasion. (His essay in Ikenberry's America Unrivaled is classic and worth the price of the whole damn thing.)

I think I finally understand Jeremy Waldron's "cosmopolitan right" jag. It's embarrassing that it's taken me as long as it has. More raps soon.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Say whaaaaat?
Pa-plow, pa-plow, da-blow, buh-blaow
Say whoooooooo?
It's me (true)
I had to go the loo
I've been gone for a while
Crocodile smile, tears
For fears, got furs
Listened to Murs in Jers-
ey, Not Guernsey
Who earns the
Bread, Cinnamon Toast Crunch
For lunch
He's reckless
Yes, I am, Sam, I am
Salam, I am, slam again
And "slam harder"
Don't be a martyr
In a Starter jacket
If it's flack, you catch it
Unprincipled, profoundly vincible
Switchable, stitch 'em ya'll
Like it's piecework,
I circle these fools, so please,
Just take the bus
Your automobile is a hulking pile of rust
After the first tentative steps back into the fray, it is now undeniable: those of us who've gathered to battle against Evil Forces, this doughty band of hustlers and layabouts turned heroes for hire, have made the long and arduous trek to Thunderdome, where, taunted by a cackling miniskirted post-apocalyptic Tina Turner, we're playing offense, not defense, against the doomdoers who've poisoned our rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds with hate and ham-fisted, tomfoolish, ham-sandwich rhyme science, which is less "science" than it is warmed-over Dianetics-style pap for the rabble.

We stand for real science, for weird science, and for Real Genius. (Whatever happened to Michelle Meyrink? She apparently dated Crispin Glover, who is, for any number of blindingly obvious reasons, a force of good. Mitch played young swain to her charmingly hyperkinetic Jordan in a performance that will not soon be forgotten.)

Now for the bad news: there's no getting around the fact that we've failed miserably. Evil's been having a field day. There have been a few very positive developments -- Lawrence v. Texas comes to mind -- but Iraq is in flames and, on an unrelated and vastly less important note, Carly Pope, the Pope, goddess of the North, has nothing scheduled for 2004 movie-wise. With regard to Iraq, I realize that I have no influence. None. I am a gnat. (This reminds me of the song: "Ooooooh, I think I smell a gnat.")

But might we do something to create a minor boomlet for the loveliest ethnic starlet in movies? The blondes have come roaring back, and I for one am tired of it. This isn't bloody Norway. It is a republic of blacks and Slavs and Latins, plus the First Nations, a handful of Asians, and, I'll concede, an enduring Anglo-Celtic architecture. We must fight for our raven-haired beauties.

You see, the never-ending war against evil is a war on all fronts, the most important of which is the battle "for hearts and minds." Only a comprehensive war against evil has any hope of success. To deny the crucial importance of Orange County's Tanya, greatest of all the movie cheerleaders (Torrance and co. included, though Natasha Lyonne's Megan, featured in Jamie Babbit's incredibly good But I'm a Cheerleader, is stiffer competition), is short-sighted.

The long and short of it is that the Pope isn't getting the props she so richly deserves. Keira Knightley, on the other hand, is anything but evil and she's doing exceptionally well, which perhaps mitigates matters.

Next year, she'll be appearing in a fancy-shmancy King Arthur directed by Antoine Fuqua. Everyone loves Fuqua now (if you didn't love Training Day and, believe it or not, the surprisingly good Tears of the Sun, you're plain evil), but I saw The Replacement Killers three times on three different continents. The third time, admittedly, was to beat the heat in New Delhi. Let me tell you, the bandwagon was distinctly uncrowded at the time.

Back to Knightley. I trust you've seen Bend It Like Beckham. Despite the fact that Gurinder Chadha is a blowhard, it was excellent. It was a little cringe-worthy at times, this is true. Still, worth watching. And it was worth watching at least in part because both female leads were, let's not mince words, stunningly gorgeous. That said, I really hope the kids are less flirtatious while dancing around half-nude in Hamburg. I was scandalized, and I'm no prude. I suppose I am a prude.

Do any fetching female starlets represent evil? I thought you'd never ask. The Hilton sisters, of course. I gather they're parents are that much worse, though this seems needlessly "judgmental."

Of the raven-haired beauties, we'd be remiss in not mentioning Rachel Weisz and Shannyn Sossamon, who seems to have hit a snag in her career. This is disappointing, as she did a splendid, and convincing, job as a sharp and cynical hat-wearing upper middle class co-ed in Roger Avary's underrated The Rules of Attraction. (Really, Ian Somerhalder, who played a vicious louche, was the best thing about that movie -- particularly the dance sequence, which was comedy gold.)

I'm sorry to say that Kate Bosworth is going to Princeton in the fall, where she will join forces with fellow WASP Lauren Bush to dominate the globe for the next thousand years. This is just too much to take in. Our work is never done.