“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Pathos of the Mundane

The broken galley of the Air France disaster, found mostly intact, floating in the Atlantic.

Tragedy and pathos walk the same path; it leads to pity, but it takes the mundane objects of daily living to enhance the tragedy of a loss. We all experience the soft sorrow and sentiment of the little silly things you cannot bear to discard after the loss of a loved one. They remind us of the soft pleasures of the more mundane parts of a life. That is part of the power of this photo. It makes the tragedy personal. It somehow draws us into the terrible ending of that broken flight.

Enlightenment can be the compensation for sorrow and loss. A broken galley floating in the sea personalizes the terror of those lost and their terrible last moments.


  1. One more cup of coffee perfect, special organic beans, grown on a two acre farm in Rio Azul,
    and I wait for my driver and another flight.

    Nice sunrise.


  2. Musee des Beaux Arts

    About suffering they were never wrong,

    The Old Masters: how well they understood

    Its human position; how it takes place

    While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;

    How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting

    For the miraculous birth, there always must be

    Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating

    On a pond at the edge of the wood:

    They never forgot

    That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course

    Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot

    Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse

    Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

    In Brueghel's Icarus for instance: how everything turns away

    Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may

    Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,

    But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone

    As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green

    Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen

    Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,

    Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

    W H Auden

    Take care, deuce

  3. Local kid (Filipino) always wanted to be a Marine.
    Just got back from Iraq, only to take his own life.
    Impossible to imagine the parent's pain.

  4. Rachel Maddow Show Just the Beginning in Iran
    I don't know what usually goes on on the Maddow Show, but I'm certainly surprised to see her approvingly link Ledeen and Roger Simon!
    Video there that I have yet to watch.
    Now comes something even more informative from the same show last nite!
    A must read.

    Rachel Maddow interviews Reza Aslan.
    Joining us now is Reza Aslan. He's a senior fellow at the Orfalea Center on Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He's also author of a new book, "How to Win a Cosmic War:

    God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror."
    ASLAN: Well, just the very fact that the meeting is being convened is significant. The Assembly of Experts, as you said, gets to decide who the next supreme leader will be, and they also get to decide whether the current supreme leader is still qualified for his position. The head of the Assembly of Experts, of course, is Ayatollah Rafsanjani.

    Now, Rafsanjani is probably the second most powerful man in Iran after the supreme leader. He's certainly the richest man in Iran. He was also Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's main opponent four years ago. And Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, this year, really went after Rafsanjani hard, accused him of corruption, of graft. And Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad really went at it in a very public way that you don't normally see in Iran.

    And once the elections were called for Ahmadinejad, Rafsanjani has been working behind the scenes to try to get those elections annulled. And this goes back to an earlier point that you made, is that this isn't about, you know, the mullahs versus the people, or even, you know, the clerical regime versus the reformers. This is something that goes to the very heart of the legitimacy of the Islamic republic. It's the government, itself, that's beginning to crack apart.

  5. I don't know what usually goes on on the Maddow Show

    I usually dont watch HIS show...

    He really bugs me...

  6. Just looked up Rachel, don't watch him either. But, he's the kind of guy my uncle would have drawn a moustache on.

  7. Do I detect HOMOPHOBIA @ the Bar???

  8. Kenneth Starr Endorses Sotomayor
    Another "brilliant" "conservative" dumbass.

  9. The BLT The Blog of Legal Times Jefferson Defense He Never Intended to Follow Through with Bribe
    How the Hell did I find this?
    In court papers made public Wednesday, defense lawyers for former Rep. William Jefferson provided the most detailed picture yet of how they intended to defend their client against charges that he sought to bribe to a foreign official.

    The upshot: He was trying to save the government’s key witness from a mental meltdown.

    Prosecutors claim that Jefferson intended to pay the vice president of Nigeria a $100,000 cash bribe in order to curry favor for a telecommunications deal involving Louisville-based iGate. After discussing the plan with iGate investor Lori Mody, who at the time was secretly cooperating with the FBI, Jefferson retrieved a briefcase with the money from a Virginia parking lot. Most of the marked bills were later discovered in the congressman’s freezer, wrapped in tin foil and stuffed into pie crust and Boca Burger boxes.

    But in the new filing — a motion asking the court to allow extra evidence at trial — Jefferson’s legal team argues that the congressman was only placating Mody. He feared that she might otherwise suffer an emotional collapse, which could have endangered the telecom venture. Jefferson, they said, had no plans to actually follow through with the bribe.

    “Mr. Jefferson’s actions were motivated by a desire to assuage Mody’s concerns and to keep the deal moving forward so that she and the other investors could achieve financial success,” the filing states. “[H]e told her that he would do what she wanted in order to avoid an emotional collapse that could also have destroyed the business, not because he intended to do it.”

  10. wrapped in tin foil and stuffed into pie crust and Boca Burger boxes.--

    O Lord

    And, that's one hell of a creative defense, if you ask me.

    Pulled right out of a Boca Burger box. Cool.

    Uncle would have moustached Jefferson too.

  11. Conservatives Launch Full Court Press On IG Firing

    But the news out of Sacramento today may have a bigger ultimate effect in stoking the story. The Acting US Attorney there, Lawrence Brown, confirmed to the Sacramento Bee that the FBI is probing obstruction of justice allegations made by a former executive of St. HOPE, the local non-profit, formerly led by Johnson, that Walpin had been looking into.

    Rick Maya, who officially quit last week as St. HOPE's executive director, claimed in a resignation letter written in April that a member of the St. HOPE's board deleted Johnson's emails during Walpin's investigation into the misuse of funds at the non-profit.
    Brown's office now says it has asked the FBI to look into that allegation.

    And even Brown's own role in the saga is now being called into question. The Bee separately reports that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the ranking Republican on the House Oversight committee, today released a statement asking Brown to explain the legal basis for the complaint he filed in April, against Walpin, to a federal oversight body for inspectors general. Brown's complaint -- which came after the US Attorney's office had declined to bring charges against Johnson -- accused Walpin of withholding key information from his findings, and of acting "as the investigator, advocate, judge, jury and town crier" in the case. The complaint was cited by the White House as having contributed to its decision fire Walpin.

    Issa wrote:

    "The allegations that form the basis for your complaint seem very ordinary, which makes the fact that you pursued sanctions against Mr. Walpin seem extraordinary by contrast. This begs certain questions about the reasons the complaint was filed."

    Like we've said, this one isn't going away any time soon.

  12. I didn't have sex with her because I wanted to.
    I did it to forestall her eminent nervous breakdown/case of the vapors.

  13. heh :)

    Cracks Begin To Show In The Iranian Regime---/

    They may win. Maybe Ahmadinejad will stay in Russia.

  14. And here, Doug--

    Domino Theory In The IG Scandal--

    And there are three more firings, right?

    gotta run

  15. Doug asked if he's been to the Philippines post-9/11.

    No, he hasn't. Though I heartily approve of locating parts of the WoT in bucolic locales.

    This last deployment made me realize something I wish I had realized earlier: For all of the barking and biting and wailing and rending of garments (some of it mine) that have marked the US engagement in the Long War...for all that, we are never going back to the way things were. And for the Army, anyway, the way things were is further back in time than 9/11. Since about '94 it's been deployment after deployment after deployment after deployment. One operation after another after another after another. A radical change from my father's years and those of an entire generation of soldiers.

    We're never going back. It's never again going to be the way it was in the latter half of the Cold War.

  16. You've sure been through alot, Trish.

    The ayatollah told the opposition to obey, or be damned, this morning.

    There seem to be so many factors involved in this.

    New generation has grown up, for one thing.

    They are heading into the unknown.

  17. US House of Representatives passed a statement condemning the protest crackdown.

  18. I just had call from Iran, tonight people in streets and the roof of their houses were shouting "Allah Akbar", "Down with Khamenei", "Down with Dictator".--

    Sermon From Supremo--\


  19. Bob, your link at 11:25 isn't working.

  20. The tail end of today's Timothy Garton Ash op/ed:

    "For those Iranians who want significant change, the challenge now is to maintain the peaceful popular pressure and to keep it strategically focused on challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi's demand for a fresh election. A crucial moment will come if the Guardian Council decides over the next week or two that Mr. Ahmadinejad did win, albeit by a smaller margin. What then? Is there sufficient energy, somewhere between a self-mobilized, networked youth, the Mousavi camp and disaffected factions within the regime, to sustain the demand for a new election? Or will it all fizzle out, defeated by a combination of repression, censorship, exhaustion and disunity?

    Only the people of Iran can answer this question, and only they have the right to answer it. For Western governments to come out explicitly in support of Mr. Mousavi and the protesters - as former U.S. president George W. Bush would have done, and Senator John McCain now urges - would only give the regime a stick with which to beat Iranian democrats. This is, after all, a state that for decades has blamed all evil things on the machinations of the great (American) and little (British) satans.

    By contrast, to follow China and Russia in recognizing Mr. Ahmadinejad's victory - misguidedly putting the short-term interest of nuclear negotiations before the longer-term interest of democratization - would be a slap in the face of disenfranchised Iranians.

    There is, however, one thing democratic governments can and should do: maintain and enhance the 21st-century global information infrastructure, which allows Iranians to keep in touch with each other and to find out what is really happening in their own country.

    Recently, I spent some time in the London studio of the BBC Persian TV service, watching them upload and air electrifying video footage, blog posts and messages generated by Iranians from inside Iran. Probably the single most important thing the U.S. State Department has done for Iran recently was to urge Twitter on the weekend to delay a planned upgrade that could have taken down service to Iranians for some crucial hours of people-power protest.

    Welcome to the new politics of the 21st century. "

    The whole thing is worth a read!

  21. Rufus, I can't recall where I got that, been up most of the night. I'll keep trying. The upshot was the protestors form a wide spectrum, not so easily cowed.

    This thing is cracking open. Those articles from JihadWatch are good.

  22. Caroline Glick's article seems good to me. Under Pamela's roundup.

    Obama is, so far, in effect, siding with one of the worst people on earth. Hillary and Joe are getting antsy.

    I wish Sarah Palin would come out and make a good strong statement in favor of the protestors.

  23. These acts are causing the protests and reprisals to grow, not dissipate.--

    Here, Ruf.

    Cracks Begin To Show In Iranian Regime--

  24. ...For Western governments to come out explicitly in support of Mr. Mousavi and the protesters - as former U.S. president George W. Bush would have done...

    Your columnist betrays himself.

    ...Still crazy after all these years.

  25. "You've sure been through alot, Trish."

    Our whole family has. And while there's no gainsaying the opportunities and advantages that life in the military has conveyed, there is no overstating the sacrifices on the part of each of us. Myself, my children, my husband. They have been significant, life-altering, and often enough immiserating.

    But the day we say goodbye to it will be a bittersweet one. A proud, grateful, and sad one.

  26. The upset in Iran is not JUST about Mousavi, that issue left the building days ago...

    It's ago the legitness of the Iranian government by the people & fore the people..

    Women are fed up, students are fed up, merchants are fed up...

    and now that hezbollah and hamas members are IN iran beating and killing PERSIANS it looks even MORE illegit...

    from the outside in, or the inside out...

    change is coming and it looks like Barack is voting PRESENT if not voting against the CHANGE that is happening...

    b hussien looks very weak and spineless, just as I expected...

    he's on the wrong side of history...

  27. heh, we're no longer #1--I wonder why this change of heart--

    Khamenei called Britain “the most evil” Western nation, prompting the British Foreign Office in London to call in the Iranian ambassador to Britain for a formal protest.

    Press TV, whose reports were available online, quoted the top administrator of Tehran province as saying that no permission had been given for Saturday’s protest march.

    The march — dubbed “From Revolution to Freedom” — was called by Mousavi, Mohsen Rezaei, a former Revolutionary Guard commander who officially placed third in the election, and the Association of Combatant Clerics, moderate religious scholars loyal to former presidents Mohammed Khatami and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

    Moreover, the fourth-placed candidate and former parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karroubi today joined the demands by Mousavi and Rezaei for a new election.

    “The absolute majority of Iranians” have objected to the results and anything other than the nullification of the vote would be “a grave mistake,” Press TV quoted Karroubi as saying in a letter posted on his Web site to the 12-member Guardians Council, a body of senior clerics that has agreed to conduct a limited review of the returns.

    Looks like most of society is lining up against the Ayatollah.

    I don't see how folks from Hamas have the time or ability to be in Iran beating up Iranians, locked in the concentration camp of Gaza and the West Bank as we're told they are. How is this possible?

    I'm tempted to make a prediction, but won't. I hope for the best for the people in the streets.