A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Friday, April 30, 2004 :::
A question about life answered, and devastating developments in Iraq.

A Mind That Suits cannot recommend highly enough Spin Sisters, by Myrna Blyth, formerly editor of the Lady's Home Journal and one very fine and perceptive writer. It concerns how women's magazines work against women in the interest of profit and spreading ideology.

But Ms. Blyth indirectly answered one question that had been bothering A Mind That Suits: why do women get so nervous when they get older? A user of mass transit, A Mind That Suits is routinely elbowed aside by older women who simply have to rush the door the minute the bus driver slows down, long before they reach the actual stop. They endanger their own fragile bones and the safety of other passengers. One woman was so aggressive that he had to simply stand his ground or seriously risk falling sideways across two other people. She was so unapologetic and determined that he bent down to her face and said quietly, "I have to wait until the bus is fully stopped." Pinned in, she looked sheepish but forgot that apology.

And let us not even linger on the screeching that starts the minute airplanes land and connecting flights must be found. A Mind That Suits, a frequent flier, tries to turn off his ears at that particular moment.

But why does it hapen that way? Being nervous and worried is a useful characteristic for mothers, just as it is a useful characteristic for boys to try and escape it. But boys calm down as they become men and men slow down noticeably over time. A certain pudgy English teacher managed to gain 10 pounds over the last year without changing a single thing in his life, and finding out which things to change to get those pounds to go away has proven deucedly difficult, to use a Wodehousian expression. Moreover, he can remember things that 5 years ago would have set him to dancing in frustration that he now accepts with aplomb.

Women, however, seem to get more and more nervous, such that panic attacks in older ladies are as common as reckless driving among teenage boys. Men of course lose that feisty testasterone as time goes on, and women lose estrogen. Why does that make men calmer, and women more nervous?

It turns out that there is another hormone in women that is released during times of stress. It works in tandem with estrogen to level out women's emotions, and frequently makes an appearance during childbirth and child-induced crises. Ms. Blyth does not go into it, but it makes sense that when women go through the change, that calming hormone finds less estrogen to pair up with, leaving the innate worry-gene free to work its worst.

This seems a little unfair to the ladies, but in fact, if one looks with a sympathetic eye at boys who just cannot control themselves, the power of testasterone seems a little unfair as well.

And maybe becoming pudgy and calm is the price boys have to pay so they can help the women who stayed calm when they were bouncing off the walls.

The complementarity of the sexes, as Catholics call it, is indeed a real thing, but it is not easy.

About Iraq, the only thing to say is that it appears we have capitulated. Yesterday's Washington Post carried the grim news that our military commanders had found no acceptable way to calm Falujah, and now they are withdrawing and handing "control" over to ill-trained militia who were shown to be wholly inadequate just one week ago. Wholly inadequate, that is, when they were not actively colluding with the enemy. It is hard to see how the more peaceably minded Shi'ites and Kurds are going to interpret this as anything other than a sign that they are on their own.

It also tells Osama bin-Ladin that he was right about American resolve.

As this writer told his friends after the capture of Saddam Hussein, now comes the whirlwind.

Which brings us to this.

Within the last two weeks, the major organs of conservatism have delivered themselves of editorials attacking the Administration's war policy.

When one gets what one hopes for, sometimes it is totally depressing.

The Weekly Standard has fought honorably against ideological and idiotic decisions since last August. The news is that they have admitted that these decisions were not just idiotic but also ideological. Specifically, Secretary Rumsfeld's near criminal insistence on a small army did not spring solely from blind commitment to a theory of management utterly alien to the realities of large bureaucracies, especially when they are fighting wars. Mr. Rumsfeld was also committed to making sure we would not engage in nation-building. In this last, this writer thinks Mr. Rumsfeld is right, but horrifically wrong in thinking protecting this country can be done in such a slapdash and irresponsible manner.

This writer also thinks that it is wrong to use rhetoric you have no intention of backing up.

The Weekly Standard, house organ to neo-conservative who believe passionately in nation-building, had assumed that the Administration was on their side long after the evidence should have made them see otherwise. They have been right for a long time now on the slapdash part of it, and one hopes that their anger will only increase their determination to see things done right.

The National Review ran an editorial called "An End To Illusion," in which they commented that 'Since the conclusion of the war, the Bush administration has shown a dismaying capacity to believe its own public relations." What they did not mention--and should own up to--is the way that they repeated that PR uncricitally, and sneered at people who doubted it. They ran opposing pieces, such as an early and perceptive column by Stanley Kurtz asking plaintively whether or not it wouldn't be wise to admit that the war had been prepared badly. But the general thrust of all their editorials and most of the articles has been that Mr. Rumsfeld's critics are wrong. One of their finest reporters, one who commands a lot of attention, was fully capable of putting scare quotes around the word unprepared just a few weeks ago, long after it was painfully obvious that there was virtually no preparation for the war in any form.

And now to the indispensable Journal, conservatism's heavy armored division. This writer's brain kicks in every morning on page A18, but for several months, so has his frustration, at least whenever the Journal's lead editorial decided to take on the critics of Donald Rumsfeld and Ahmed Chalabi. Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard reported some time ago that Mr. Chalabi is the least trusted man in Iraq, having even tried to deal with the Iranian government in his bid for power, so of course it makes sense that the Journal should still support him.

Well, no, it doesn't make sense, just as it doesn't make sense for people who claim to revere Milton Friedman to also hold that running the Pentagon on business lines is either possible or desirable. Mr. Friedman is the one who pointed out that inefficient bureaucracies are the only guarantee of freedom we have in the modern state, after all, and that alone should have given them pause before following Donald Rumsfeld off the cliff. But they followed anyway.

The Journal was in high dudgeon recently over the Administration's decision to bring in the UN to "solve" the political problem. In this, this writer thinks they are entirely correct. Everything they said was dead on, and should have been said.

In September, 2002.

Which is when the Administration announced its intentions to bring the UN in to run Iraq.

Have trouble swallowing that one? 'Tis true, alas. This writer has been digging into how we got into this mess, so wholly inadequate has been ther performance of the conservative press in helping us through it.

Which brings us to the piece that he has been kicking around in his mind all week.

This frustration with the conservative elite is now of long standing, and several weeks ago he decided to do something about it. He has gone back to the beginning and reread Administration statements and comments. It has not been a calming or reassuring trip down memory lane, although the point was not just to tote up opportunities lost or to relive old frustrations. He was hoping that he could find something to help us move forward, though today's news may make that irrelevant.

He has concentrated on the Congressional debate over the Iraq Resolution, and the Administration's PR surrounding that debate. And that was when he discovered the bit about the UN. Donald Rumsfeld said clearly in his testimony that that was the Administration was intending to do.

This writer has not mentioned as much about Allen Drury as he would like to have, his research on his uncle having been interrupted, for which he will apologize to those fans of Allen Drury who check in here periodically. This writer will say that he was wandering around Farragut Square yesterday doing incidental errands when he realized that this desire to sort things out--and find a way forward-- by going back through the whole debate is exactly what one character named Seabright Cooley did at a pivotal moment in Advise and Consent. As he often does, this writer found himself thinking thoughts of profound gratitude for the education he received from that greatest of all American political writers.

But he did not find himself thinking great thoughts about the performance of the conservative press, and to that he will return on Monday.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 11:28 AM



Post a Comment


A Related Website on Christian Spirituality
The Fullness of Him
The Easiest Way to Keep Up With the News:
Best of the Web
Links to Web Friends
One Good Turn
A Dog's Life
Power Line
Rambles and By-ways

What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Powered by Blogger