Wednesday, August 18, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Nader on the Ballot in West Virginia. Boo, West Virgina.

This Sounds Like the Punchline to a Joke At the North American Anarchist Convergence in Ohio this week, the participants agreed (well, not all of them: it was a room full of anarchists, after all) that this year, despite scorning the electoral process as part of their basic creed, the anarchists should suck it up and vote against Bush. This stunning display of political good sense from the extreme left should discomfort no one more than Ralph Nader, who is finding fewer and fewer compatriots on his journey to chart the furthest outreaches of being discredited.

Red Wedge '04 Perhaps the ultimate satire of a previous generation's version of "radical art" was in the early scenes of the film "The Adventures of Barton Fink," where the protagonist is watching his successful proletarian play close its run in New York, silently mouthing the unintentionally (to him, anyway) hilarious final lines of the play: "Come to bed, it's late," "No, ma, it's early!" The joke here was that, despite the essentially well-meaning politics of the Odets-like protagonist, political art is almost always hopelessly smug and ineffective. Don't tell that to the denizens of New York's ultra-hip art scene, though, because they're gearing up to protest against the coronation of King George II next month with a series of short films, puppetry displays, readings of Elektra, and something called "guerrilla comedy."

The Iraqi "Government" Dons the Bad Idea Jeans The Iraqi "Defense Minister" today announced that his "military" might raid the Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf as early as this afternoon in a bid to deliver a knockout blow to the Mahdi Army. This would perform the nifty double trick of deepening the rage against the American occupation among Iraqis while simultaneously totally discrediting the Iraqi "government." Imagine if the Italian government invaded Vatican City, and you're still way off.

It's Time for the Greatest Generation to Perform One Last Mission You've no doubt heard about the IRR's "in" the US military: these are people who have long since left the armed services, are not paid and do not attend training, but who - because of special skills like computers or intelligence work - can theoretically be drafted back into service at any time. With our resources stretched thin because of our desire to rid the world of WMDs, "theoretically" suddenly means "right now." The army is activating reservists UP TO THE AGE OF 60 to go and fight in Iraq, like the gentleman prominently featured in this story; he's 57, deaf, and is suffering from high blood pressure and cancer. Still, he's being called up to go to Iraq, and if he refuses, he goes to jail. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pound two Miller beers with Def Leppard on the can in the name of freedom.

We Must All Emulate the Successors of Pericles Now Leading Afghanistan to a New Golden Age! In our semi-regular "Remember Bush War I?" feature, we present a snapshot of the process of voter registration in Afghanistan, the first benighted Islamic territory liberated by the glorious armies of freedom. Although the voter registration process has been hampered by Taliban atrocities, poll workers have managed to pull off quite a coup: they have so far issued 10 million voter registration cards, despite there being only 9.8 million eligible voters in the country. Perhaps the warlords' practice of paying $150 per registration (in a country where the average income is $2 a day) had something to do with this remarkable success. I'm sure, though, that when the election eventually happens, it will be a model of freedom and fairness that the Western world would do well to emulate.

-Consider Arms