Friday, December 27, 2002

Someone recently asked in the comments why I dislike Mickey Kaus -- is it because he used to be a Democrat? One reason is that he isn't much of a writer or, at least, he doesn't put any effort into his writing. For example:
Pareles also misses the most important, and highly relevant, geopolitical incident in which The Clash figures: The playing of the band's "Rock the Casbah" as the first song on U.S. Armed Forces radio in Saudi Arabia during the buildup to 1991's Operation Desert Storm -- this despite a lot of talk about the need not to offend delicate Saudi sensibilities. At the time, I remember thinking that the choice of this song --which seems to mock Wahabi repression and features the somewhat provocative line, "Drop your bombs between the minarets/Down the Casbah way" -- represented much of what's good about Americans. It was a big "F--- Y--" to Saudi censors, as in "You want us to defend your country, well you can't tell us what music to listen to, buddy!" Now I'm not so sure if gratuitously irritating strict Islamic moralists -- as if there really was no room for a culture without Britney Spears in a free, democratic world -- was such a brilliant idea.
The premise of the post -- that Kaus gives a shit about the Clash -- is a dubious one to begin with. But look at this mess as a work of writing.

"At the time, I remember thinking..." is wrong. (Are you reminiscing about reminiscing, Mick, or remembering something at the same time you're thinking it? No.) "At the time, I thought" or "I remember thinking at the time" is the proper way to express the concept.

And what's with "F--- Y--"? Even if Kaus had a legitimate reason not to write "fuck," is there any reason to censor "you" as well?

Look at the last sentence. What does it mean? 9/11 was blowback from the decision to broadcast "Rock the Casbah" to U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia? Censorship of pop music you don't like is consistent with freedom and democracy? Saudi Arabia is a free, democratic country? Kaus may think he's making a point, but his sentence is so muddled that it's entirely meaningless.

Update (12/28): Somebody get this fool an editor. Here's his latest effort at sentence construction: "Trying to balancing the budget by cutting Medicare -- aggressive!"

Update II (12/29): Kaus re-writes again! Wee Mickey has again changed a comment without noting the fact. He's modified a second to last paragraph to add a fifth option to his closing query. The added option is option (c); (d) also has been modified. But he doesn't bother to change "Trying to balancing." Another good reason to loathe Mick? You, the reader make the call!

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