The Fish
for 26 June 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
 
Suck Staff
 

Joey Anuff
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[the fixin' pixie... ]
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Production Manager
and Vice President
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Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor

 

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Suck Alumni Text
 

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Co-Founder

 

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Executive Editor

 

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Sean Welch
Suckgineer

 

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Owen Thomas
Copy Editor

 


T. Jay Fowler

Production Manager

& Ass Kicker

 

[yes, it's a plunger. i'll l
eave the rest up to your imagination ... ]
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Production Manager

 

Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager

Brown Bag

I said it once, and I'll say
it again : Wow! What a great
article about Jerry Brown. I
wonder if you could do the
same for Willie Brown, so
that maybe I might like our
mayor of San Francisco? But
that would be a tall order.
And you would probably have
to lie. On second thought,
maybe I should write to Joe
Klein to do a Brown-East type
article about Brown-West.
Anyway, I'm usually very
disillusioned by politicians,
but your soap box rampage
gave me a little hope.

Thanks,

Dana Dowell
<dddowell@bechtel.com>

Willie Brown? Uh ... sorry.
Snappy dresser, though. And
some really nice cars. And
he's, well, unashamed. That
counts for something.

I apologize for giving you
hope. But, you know, don't
come crying to Suck when you
get it taken away again.
You've been warned.
("President Jeb Bush."
"President Gray Davis." Fun
game, yes?)

Ambrose Beers

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

One problem with living in a
peaceful place such as
America is that hardly
anybody understands how to go
about being violent.
Sucksters, for example.

God knows what went on in
Indochina, but from the
alleged evidence, it would
have been ridiculous to have
gassed the renegades (if
that's what they were) when
it would have been so much
easier to have shot them.
(Since the supposed witnesses
could see them, they could
have shot them.) It is not so
easy to gas people in the
open. The Aumists nailed only
about a dozen people, though
they had thousands trapped in
tunnels.

It is not enough to have a
dislike for warfare and
organized political violence
to qualify to discuss it. As
a craft, it has its secrets,
and those who don't know what
they are tend to make awful
jackasses out of themselves.

You may perhaps wish to delve
into the news releases from
early in Reagan's first term.
He was anxious to present
someone a Medal of Honor to
show his disdain for those
dirty peaceniks, so an
exploit was invented.
Supposedly, the hero was
attacked by swarms of Cong
who, just like in Tarzan
movies, kept standing up in
front of his gun. Though he
offed a dozen or two of these
bravos, instead of simply
shooting him (as in the final
scene of Bakshi's Wizards)
they kept trying to club him
into submission. And he kept
killing them.

In pinning on the medal,
Ronnie said, "You're not
going to believe this." It
was the only sensible thing
he ever said, but you know
what? He was wrong anyhow.

In the future, confine your
remarks to topics about which
you know something. Spice
Girls, maybe.

Harry Eagar
<heagar@aloha.net>

Yes, it's crushing that
America's not more violent.
Just think how much wiser we
would all be. Note to Suck
readers: Go disembowel the
neighbors right away. It'll
help you understand things.

I love the notion that
violence is some kind of
club, and members are
accountable only to members.
Where does that leave us with,
say, Pearl Harbor or the
road to Bataan or Stalin's
pogroms? Whoops, I've never
conducted show trials and
killed 10 million people -
guess I better not judge
until I've been in Josef's
shoes. Here, I wrote a short
play just for you:

Didi: You know, I've been
thinking ...

Gogo: Yes?

Didi: It was wrong for the
Hutus to kill all those
Tutsis.

Gogo: Oh yeah? You ever chop
a man to pieces with a
machete?

Didi: (Thinks for a moment)
No, I can't say that I have.

Gogo: Then what the hell
would you know about it?

Didi: Hmm. I guess you're
right.

Gogo: Not your place to say,
is it?

Didi: No, I guess not.

FADE OUT

Those of us who've never been
in combat - who are very
fortunate - can never have
any idea at all what the
experience is like. But the
idea that we somehow can't
hold the military accountable
until we've had our ticket
punched is (first time I've
ever used this word wholly
without some irony) wholly
un-American. After the coup,
when the military junta runs
the country, the armed forces
may do as they please without
being in any way accountable
to civilians. Hey, it's
worked so well in the Third
World, right? Let's give it a
swing, what the hell.

You might go back to the Suck
piece that you're talking
about and follow the link to
the story that CNN actually
broke. It's a whole lot less
simple than you've taken it,
and a whole lot more
plausible than US troops
"gassing the renegades." In
fact, the CNN account fits
very nicely the reality
you've described, the fact
that it's "not so easy to gas
people in the open." (And it
was reported by someone with
three decades of combat
experience, not that I have
any illusions about how
people who describe
"organized political
violence" as a "craft" feel
about Peter Arnett or about
reporters in general.)

Incidentally, if it's so
incredibly hard to gas people
in the open, why are we so
concerned about Iraq having
nerve gas? One or the other,
folks, one or the other. The
most interesting thing about
people who practice the craft
of organized political
violence is that they seem to
have a whole lot more
interest in the violence part
than the politics part.

Ambrose Beers

You have made a lot of
assumptions, A. B., all of
them wrong. I have no
personal experience of
warfare; but since organized
political violence on an
industrial scale is one of
the defining characteristics
of our time, it seems prudent
to try to understand it.

Do I admire Arnett? Yes. I am
a newspaper reporter; he did
a good job in Vietnam. I
don't know if he knows
anything about gas warfare.

In Vietnam, the United States used
"non-lethal" gases to kill
people. The technique is to
disable someone (with a tear
gas, for example), then shoot
him while he's down. It's a
technique, a craft. I didn't
say I admire it, though when
the cause is proper, you want
your warriors to be
competent. When they are not,
when the general is Douglas
MacArthur, you tend to get a
lot of people killed
unnecessarily, even on your
own side. (I have the
impression you don't know
much about war history. Would
you be surprised to learn
that 100,000 Filipinos were
killed in order to liberate
Manila, an action of no
military value?) As for why I am worried about
Iraq having nerve gas, I
personally am not. On behalf
of Iranians, Kurds, Marsh
Arabs, Kuwaitis, and sailors
on tankers in the Persian
Gulf, I am unhappy to see
Iraqis with any weapons at
all, even flint knives.

It seems to me that quite
enough people have been
murdered; the method is not
of much consequence, at least
not to the murderees. The
Iraqis have, apparently, used
gas on Kurds. Whether it is
the most efficient way to
murder peasants is doubtful.
Most people who have studied
the matter think not. The
psychological effects,
however, are hard to match by
other means.

I did NOT say that the
military can't be criticized
or can be criticized only by
other militarists. I said the
critics should know what they
are talking about. I will add
that it's a big subject, not
one that can be comprehended
in less than several years of
hard mental work. I don't
advocate that America become
more violent - I have written
admiringly several times in
my newspaper about the fact
(which few realize) that a
man is more likely to die
peacefully in bed in the USA
than in any other large
society in history - but as
long as the rest of the world
remains violent, it seems a
matter of intense
self-interest to understand
how it's done.

Harry Eagar
<heagar@aloha.net>

So, OK, let's try to
understand how it's done.

From a column by Robert
Scheer in the Los Angeles
Times,
27 May 1997, on newly
declassified audio tapes of
discussions between Lyndon
Johnson and his key advisors
on Vietnam:

"In another conversation,
Johnson tells his national
security advisor, McGeorge
Bundy, 'It looks to me like
we're getting into another
Korea. I don't see what we
can ever hope to get out of
there with once we're
committed .... I don't think
it's worth fighting for, and I
don't think we can get out,
and it's just the biggest
damn mess.' But instead of
owning up to a failed policy,
Johnson lied to the public
about the necessity of a war
that never made sense to him
or his key advisors. He was
convinced he would lose the
1964 election if he appeared
soft on communism in Vietnam.
'Well, they'd impeach a
president that would run out,
wouldn't they?' he asked
Russell.

"Three months later, Johnson
found his main excuse for the
war. American ships had
reported a possible attack by
North Vietnamese PT boats in
the Gulf of Tonkin. Johnson
rushed to announce his
retaliation bombing of North
Vietnam in time for the late
evening news. In fact, there
had been no attack, and
once-secret cables now
clearly reveal that Johnson
was informed of the
likelihood of error well
before he took that drastic
step escalating the war. The
captain of the destroyer
Maddox had cabled that 'it is
supposed that sonar man was
hearing ship's own propeller
beat,' which he had
misinterpreted as torpedo
explosions. But, as Defense
Secretary Robert McNamara
cabled in response to naval
officers who recommended
waiting before retaliating:
'The president wants to go on
the air at 11:15 p.m., that is
the problem.'"

Probably just one of the
things on Robert McNamara's
mind when he wrote, in a 1995
memoir, that "we were wrong,
terribly wrong" about
Vietnam. From an 11 April
1995 account of that memoir,
again in the LA Times:

"'When it came to Vietnam, we
found ourselves setting
policy for a region that was
terra incognita,' McNamara
writes. Thanks to Sen. Joseph
McCarthy's decimation of the
State Department a decade
earlier, there was no
sophistication about China,
either. As a result, McNamara
says, the administration
'badly misread China's
objectives and mistook its
bellicose rhetoric to imply a
drive for regional hegemony.
We also totally
underestimated the
nationalist aspect of Ho Chi
Minh's movement.

"'Such ill-founded judgments
were accepted without debate
by the Kennedy
administration, as they had
been by its Democratic and
Republican predecessors. We
failed to analyze our
assumptions critically, then
or later. The foundations of
our decision-making were
gravely flawed.'"

Then there's the one about
Erwin Griswold, the US
Solicitor General during the
Nixon Administration, telling
the Supreme Court, in 1971,
that publication of the
so-called Pentagon Papers,
the secret Department of Defense
history of the
Vietnam War that was leaked
to the press by Daniel
Ellsberg, would irreparably
harm the national security;
Griswold himself wrote the
Op-Ed piece, a couple of
decades later, acknowledging
that this had been a false
argument designed to prevent
public examination of the US
involvement in Vietnam.

Or let's consider the secret
bombing of Cambodia or the
events in My Lai - neither of
which, in my recollection,
were revealed by press
releases.

Governments sometimes get
their hands dirty and
sometimes lie about it; is it
really entirely implausible
that the United States used nerve gas in
Vietnam, despite the official
denial? I've also worked as a
reporter, covering local
politics - and I suspect,
based on that experience
(which falls a good deal
short of covering this sort
of story, as I'm well aware),
that you've encountered at
least a few official
spokesmen who are capable of
looking you in the eye and
lying to you. Think national
government is more honest
than local government, or
less secretive? Speaking of
Ronald Reagan, remember the
deliberate, calculated
misinformation that the
Reagan administration fed the
press regarding Libya?

With regard to Iraq, I was
greatly interested in Robin
Wright's 16 February story in
the LA Times, quoting
(anonymously, which is
unfortunate but
understandable) US
intelligence and military
officials who acknowledged
that the US government had
provided intelligence support
to Iraq, during the Iran-Iraq
War, knowing that the support
we provided would be used in
attacks involving nerve gas.

I'm not sure the tone of you
first email matches the
information provided in the
second, but email tends to
sound nastier than intended -
or maybe I'm just reading too
much into it. Still, the
"stick to the Spice Girls"
thing was a bit much. To
borrow a line, you have made
a lot of assumptions....

Ambrose Beers

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Dancing Baby Boom

Your Dancing Baby Boom story
completely offended most of
my sensibilities. And I thank
you for that. But you left
some out.

You DID bust on the man who
brought us The Simpsons. THAT
offended me.

You DID bust on Captain James
Tiberius Kirk. THAT offended
me.

You DID bust on South Park
(by implying they like Tori
Spelling). THAT offended me.

You made fun of suicide (a
recurring theme for you guys,
eh?) THAT offended me.

But what about your having
killed Bart and Apu, but NOT
Beavis and Butt-head?! They
merely passed out from
drinking too much cheap beer!
Do you have some special DEAL
with Beavis and Butt-head? You
can offend me with regard to
Bart and Apu, but not with
regard to Beavis and
Butt-head?

And what about that friendly
innocuous reference to
Michael Jackson, when Dancing
Baby says, "Michael taught me
that [dance move]"??!! I
want you at Suck to know that
I was NOT offended by that! I
feel as though you shied away
from a golden opportunity
there to intensely offend me
and many others.

I am VERY disappointed in
you.

Scoldingly, Dr. Spivey
<mjs41@ cornell.edu>

Rest assured, Beavis and
Butt-head are dead. Don't you
know a Jim Jones/Heaven's
Gate cult reference when you
see one?

Huck

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Re: Brad has fear? A thousand
times no!

Hi, uh, what the hell was
that? What was strangest
about today's Suck was that I
read it all. You know what?
Fuck the Dancing Baby, that
spooky ass little monster has
now surpassed
Denver-area-used-
car-salesman-motherfucker
Dealin' Doug as the creepiest
shit on the TV and is now a
close second to Tori
Spelling. Please, please,
please, just ignore the
Dancing Baby, and it will go
away, please.

<Bgzw18d@aol.com>

How can the Dancing Baby be
"the creepiest shit on the
TV," and yet still be a
"close second to Tori
Spelling"? Are you saying
Spelling is so creepy she's
in her own special category
or what?

Puzzled,

A Tori Spelling Fan

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Suck,

I have never supported
infanticide in any way!
However the Dancing
hydrocephalic imbecile of a
neonate that was birthed from
the mind-fucked puny hips of
thick-lipped Ally would be
my first victim. What next? A
dancing turd for Charmin
squeezed out of some hunky TV
"hero's" ass because he has
an anal compulsive
personality? Someone from
Ally should have forked over
some cash for intense
choreography lessons. The
emaciated, horsey-toothed
Ally would have at best
looked uneasy and awkward
frenetically gyrating her
pointy pelvis. The Baby and
Ally should perish in an
episode. Perhaps the
O-mouthed Seinfeld would
knock them both off because
of jealous mammary tensions
over Ally's withered,
inadequate cones.

Ron Anguiano
Lakewood, CO

Most Commonly Asked Question
By Suck Readers:

"What next?"

Love,

Withered, Inadequate
Cones

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Brown Bag

Dear Mr. Beers,

I liked your piece on Jerry
Brown. The one thing that
confuses me is that the Dead
Kennedys would write a song
("California Über
Alles," right?) attacking the
ex-governor. I would think
the two parties would be on
the same side. Could you
please clarify? Thank you.

Respect,

Arijit Das
<jit@squid.umd.edu>

Dear Sir,

It would be my pleasure to
clarify.

While it is true that Mr.
Biafra and his colleagues
sung of a world patrolled by
"the suede/denim secret
police" under a "Führer"
named "Jerry Brown" ("Zen
fascists will control you/100
percent natural/You will jog
for the master race/And
always wear the happy face"),
please note that, during the
same year, they also offered
the following musical
narrative:



"I kill children/I love to
see them die/I kill
children/And make their
mamas cry/Crush 'em under my
car/I wanna hear them
scream/Feed 'em poison
candy/To spoil their
Halloween"



... yet they did not, to my
knowledge, actually kill any
real children. Although you
might want to contact the FBI
for a second opinion.

Further, please note that Mr.
Biafra did not, during 1980
or to my knowledge in any
year prior to 1980, actually
vacation in Cambodia.

Hope this helps.

Ambrose Beers

P.S. Plus Jello lives right across
the bay from Jerry;
maybe they
could get together over
coffee, talk through things.

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

excellent suck today. joe
klein is establishment-
insider political reporting
at its most offensive. i
didn't recall how close '92
was, and had no idea about
the editorials running in
california papers (didn't
live here then). good
information.

nader in '00

<mattr@cnet.com>

And the worst part of it is
The New Yorker pays more than
Suck. Where's mine, is all
I'm saying.

Ambrose Beers

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

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