I've linked to Berenice Abbott before. I may have linked to this site before but, if I did, I don't remember the cool maps showing the locations of the photographs. Abbott photographed a changing New York in the late 30s. This is the New York that my dad grew up in.
Berenice Abbott's Changing New York
New York dominates … overwhelms us with its incongruous magnificence, its power and voluptuousness … buildings fifty stories high, covered with marble … straight lines everywhere, horizontal and vertical … a city of rectangles, harsh and brilliant, the center of an intense life which it sends out in all directions … New York is wretched and opulent, with its countless tiny brick houses squatting beneath the marble palaces which house banks and industrial offices. But New York is the only city in the world rich enough in money, vitality, and men to build itself anew … the only city sufficiently wealthy to be modern.
It was this New York, as portrayed by the French historian Bernard Fay in 1929, that greeted the young Berenice Abbott upon her return to the city after an eight-year sojourn in Paris. It was a metropolis of compelling architecture and seemingly boundless energy that became Berenice Abbott’s "Fantastic Passion."
WROUGHT IRON ORNAMENT: 112-114 West 11TH STREET
FEBRUARY 3, 1937. ABBOTT FILE 198
THREE-DECKER HOUSES: WEST 11TH STREET, BETWEEN SIXTH AND SEVENTH AVENUES
FEBRUARY 3, 1937. ABBOTT FILE 200
On the day she photographed Bread Store, Abbott took two views of Rhinelander Gardens, a row of balconied houses on West 112-114 11th Street. Set back on their lots to allow for ample front yards and adorned with neo-Gothic balconies, these houses were designed in 1855 by James Renwick, architect of Grace Church (1845) and St. Patrick's Cathedral (1878-1888). They were built as rental properties for William C. Rhinelander, a powerful Greenwich Village landowner.
In Plate 21, Abbott focused on the decorative ironwork of the balconies at the expense of showing the entire row. In Plate 22, she showed the row, juxtaposed with the Unadilla Apartments (1899). A Sheffield Farms milkwagon, similar to the one she photographed on nearby Grove Street, had stopped mid block, followed by an ice delivery wagon (left).
Although Abbott had a keen eye for unnoticed but distinctive ironwork, the fanciful balconies of Rhinelander Gardens were well known. The Gardens were near other Village landmarks on Abbott's itinerary: Rhinelander Row and Patchin Place. The West 11th Street row survived until 1958, when it was torn down for a much-needed new public school. The Unadilla Apartments still stand.
The blue dots on the map show where Abbott's pictures were taken. The left red dot is, as near as I can tell, the location of my grandfather's studio — 125 West Eleventh Street. Probably across from the Unadilla Apartments. I will find out Saturday. We will be staying at the right red dot — the Larchmont Hotel. I will be taking pictures and keeping a journal. I could promise that I would try and post some comments during the trip but I probably won't. You never know, though. I will return on the 29th. I hope you remember to check back. See you then...*poof*!
the iraqi intifada — vietnam, lebanon, and the west bank on internet time
The US seems to be backing off. This is good. Maybe there are some adults in charge that know when to fold. The next week should be very interesting. Unfortunately, I won't be here. I start my trip to Washington, DC, and New York City today. I fly out tonight. It's going to be interesting relying on newspapers to tell what is going on, which means I won't know what is going on. But you, dear reader, can check out the political blogs in my blogroll for up to date coverage. I wonder what the world will be like when I get back on the 29th? Here are two parting links...
Climbing down in Iraq?
by Helena Cobban
I think the weekend's fighting in Qusaybeh must have come as a shock to the US commanders there. Somehow some of those "sneaky" (or should we just say well organized?) insurgents from Fallujah and Ramadi had managed to spirit themselves 150 miles to the west and launch a fairly large-scale ambush there. Despite Gen. Myers' huffing and puffing about a possible Syrian role in it, it seems there wasn't one-- though Qusaybah is right there near the Syrian border.
In addition, the insurgents' ability to render many vital roads unsafe-- allied of course to the fact that the drivers of many of the U.S. military supply convoys aren't members of the military and therefore can't be forced to drive when they are scared to--means that many U.S. forward units have come close to facing shortages.
Logistics, logistics, logistics. The Brits--as I've mentioned before here, more than once-- should have remembered that this is what can really stymie western military adventures in Iraq.
So I'm hoping, hoping, that having gone right up to the precipice of a broad collapse of its military positions inside Iraq, the Bush administration will now sensibly climb down considerably further. The main focus now should be on a new and workable Security Council resolution that truly puts the U.N. in the driver's seat and gives it the tools to succeed. For that to happen, the Bushies would have to eat some serious crow (from the point of view of the neocon hardliners). But the rest of us shouldn't gloat and start screeching "I told you so!" If they do the right thing, we should support that.
This evening, on the BBC t.v. newsfeed we get, no less a figure than Harlan Ullmann-- the author of "Shock and Awe" himself--was on, saying that the administration had been needlessly escalatory and needed to quickly find a way to de-escalate. Amazing. Let's hope he represents something big and meaningful there...
Meanwhile, it is already quite clear that after the Intifada Wataniya in Fallujah, Ramadi, and the Shi-ite areas, nothing in Iraq will ever again be remotely the same as Bremer and Co. had planned it to be>/u>. All those ultra-expensive "reconstruction" plans... all those intricate political plans... none of them are at all feasible between now and June 30. What will June 30 be? The day of handover to the U.N., if anything. It'll be interesting to see what else will happen between now and then.
Road Perils in Iraq Add to Chaos, Shortages
At a sprawling desert camp in southern Iraq, U.S. soldiers sleep in trucks and Humvees because Iraqi merchants are afraid to deliver tents to them.
On a key road through the Sunni Triangle, masked men with Kalashnikov assault rifles occupy the concrete-block checkpoints the U.S. military once used.
And at Baghdad's airport, goods are piling up because Iraqi truckers refuse to brave the main highway to the capital or transport the material to other U.S. bases.
In Baghdad's central market, Iraqi shippers and merchants fret that business is drying up.
Of all the sudden changes in Iraq during the last month, control of the roads is among the most striking. The U.S.-led coalition has been unable to hold on to all of its supply and communication lines on vital routes leading from the capital. Insurgents have blown up key bridges, rocketed fuel convoys and seized hostages. Though there are no serious shortages, the perilous state of Iraq's roads adds to a sense of chaos in much of the country.
Over the weekend, the military announced it would close two of the country's biggest arteries to civilian traffic in an effort to get the fighting under control, cutting into Iraqi commercial life and raising fears of an economic slowdown.
"It's a good measure of how the coalition is doing when you can get in a car and drive to the Jordanian border and down to Najaf without worrying about it," said Charles Heyman, a senior analyst at Jane's Consulting Group, citing two of the routes that are occasionally under insurgent control. The fact that one cannot take those roads, he said, "is not a good sign."
thanks to Conscientious
iraq — the death spiral
Nothing is happening at Najaf and Fallujah. Negotiations have broken down, but the Army and Marines are just sitting there. It seems that, if they were going to attack, they would have done that days ago. It's like the US is paralyzed. They know they can't move forward and they can't admit to moving back. I wonder what is going on with the Generals when they are behind closed doors. Are they planning their retreat? The supply lines are cut off or, at best, severly hampered. Is this the lull before the storm or are the rats going to desert the sinking ship?
Spain's New Government Orders Iraq Withdrawal
Spain's new Socialist prime minister, moving swiftly to fulfill a campaign pledge, today ordered the withdrawal of Spanish troops from a U.S.-led coalition in Iraq as soon as possible. His predecessor denounced the action as a victory for terrorists who bombed trains in Madrid three days before last month's elections.
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose Socialist Party scored a surprising win in the March 14 elections, announced the pullout order in a televised speech hours after his new government was sworn in.
The new prime minister said he had directed his defense minister, Jose Bono, "to do what is necessary for the Spanish troops in Iraq to come home in the shortest time and in the greatest safety possible."
thanks to Eschaton
Revolts in Iraq Deepen Crisis In Occupation
In the space of two weeks, a fierce insurgency in Iraq has isolated the U.S.-appointed civilian government and stopped the American-financed reconstruction effort, as contractors hunker down against waves of ambushes and kidnappings, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.
The events have also pressured U.S. forces to vastly expand their area of operations within Iraq, while triggering a partial collapse of the new Iraqi security services designed to gradually replace them.
The crisis, which has stirred support for the insurgents across both Sunni and Shiite communities, has also inflamed tensions between Arabs and Kurds.
U.S. officials said they are reconsidering initial assessments that the uprisings might be contained as essentially military confrontations in Fallujah, where Marines continue their siege of a chronically volatile city, and Najaf, where the militant Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr has taken refuge in the shadow of a shrine.
"The Fallujah problem and the Sadr problem are having a wider impact than we expected," a senior U.S. official involved in Iraq policy said. In Baghdad and Washington, officials had initially concluded that addressing those problems would not engender much anger among ordinary Iraqis. "Sadr's people and the people of Fallujah were seen as isolated and lacking broad support among Iraqis," the official added.
Instead, the official said, "The effect has been profound."
No shit, Sherlock.
An Attack on Najaf "Will be Zero Hour of a Massive Popular Uprising": al-Khaz'ali
by Juan Cole
The Board of Muslim Clergymen (a Sunni group) announced its support for Muqtada and asked all Iraqis "to the expel the Occupation," on a day of relative calm in Fallujah. (The Board of Clergymen, led by Abdul Salam al-Kubaisi, has played an important role in negotiations between the city leaders of Fallujah and the US, but it has been consistently opposed to the US presence in the country). Muhammad Ayyash al-Kubaisi, the Board's representative outside Iraq, told al-Arabiya satellite television that all Iraqis who oppose the forces of Occupation, including Muqtada al-Sadr, are working for the same goal. He said that the Board had issued fatwas requiring an end to US occupation. He said Iraqis would not allow themselves to be divided along religious lines and ruled, and that the Shiite resistance has stiffened the resolve of the Board.
The Scotsman also reported on the breakdown of negotiations with some pessimism, and noted that ' The pressures appeared to be taking their toll on US Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, who appeared to briefly lose consciousness during a press conference yesterday. Kimmitt left the podium, apparently feeling unwell, but returned a short time later. '
Najaf Crisis and International Implications
Iran: US Will Pay a 'Heavy Price'
by Juan Cole
Meanwhile, the British military is extremely concerned about the possibility of a general Shiite uprising in Basra, according to the Telegraph:
' the commander of British troops in southern Iraq, Brig Nick Carter, admitted that he would be powerless to prevent the overthrow of Coalition forces if the Shia majority in Basra rose up in rebellion. Brig Carter, of the 20 Armoured Brigade, who has been in Iraq for four months, said British forces would stay in Basra with the consent of local Shia leaders, or not at all. Last month, 14 British soldiers were injured in Basra, at least three seriously, when they came under attack from demonstrators armed with petrol bombs, rocks and a grenade. "A crowd of 150,000 people at the gates of this barracks would be the end of this, as far as I'm concerned," Brig Carter said. "There would be absolutely nothing I could do about that . . ." During an interview in Basra last week Brig Carter acknowledged that the Coalition's presence in southern Iraq was entirely dependent on the goodwill of the local Shia Muslim leader, Sayid Ali al-Safi al-Musawi. He represents Ayatollah Sistani, Iraq's leading Shia cleric. "The moment that Sayid Ali says, 'We don't want the Coalition here', we might as well go home," Brig Carter said. '
Rantisi and Najaf
by Juan Cole
The Sunday Herald correctly points out that the Israeli murder of Abdul Aziz Rantisi, the head of the political wing of the Hamas party, on Saturday, will cause further trouble in Iraq.
With al-Anbar province tense and US troops surrounding Najaf, one could not imagine a worse time for Bush to give a green light to Sharon for further provocations. One can only conclude that neither Ariel Sharon nor Bush and his Neocon advisers give a fig about the lives of US and Coalition servicemen in Iraq. Otherwise, they'd stop with the theatrics. If the Israelis had wanted to arrest Rantisi, they could have. They pulled off Entebbe. This extra-judicial murder of political opponents is just showing off, and it is of course ethically despicable and a war crime for which one only wishes Sharon could be made to stand trial in the Hague. If Rantisi could have been proved to have committed an act of terrorism, he should have been arrested and tried in Gaza for murder. I condemn violence by Palestinian leaders just as I do that done by Israeli ones, and do not have a problem with terrorists being punished for killing innocent people. I do have a problem with political rivals whacking one another unnecessarily, especially when it is likely to get some of my friends killed.
Anyone who doubts that events in various places of the Muslim world are related should consider that the siege of Fallujah even appears to have provoked a firefight between Jordanian and US peacekeepers in the UN contingent at Mitrovica, Kosovo. So much for the UN saving the US in Iraq. Who's going to keep peace among the peace keepers?
How serious is the supply situation. It looks very serious.
U.S. Closes Long Sections of 2 Routes to Baghdad
The United States military command on Saturday closed down long stretches of two strategic highways leading to Baghdad, as American troops labored against insurgent attacks that have severely reduced the flow of food, fuel and other supplies into the capital.
The closings appeared to confirm the effect of two weeks of heightened violence in Iraq. American soldiers, stretched thin, have already been deployed in large numbers to contain serious and unresolved uprisings in the cities of Falluja and Najaf. Now they have been sent to face the growing problem of keeping crucial sections of highway open for the passage of critically needed convoys reaching the Iraqi heartland from Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait.
On Saturday, travelers heading north to Baghdad on the main highway from Kuwait saw at least three highway bridges destroyed in a 60-mile section immediately south of the capital. Munadel Abdul Ellah, 44, a Hilla resident who drove to Baghdad on Saturday, said large numbers of American helicopters flew overhead and hundreds of troops patrolled the roads.
"It's a very bad situation," said Mr. Ellah, who spent nearly eight hours making a round trip that usually takes only two hours. "There were so many troops on the highway. It was like when they first came to occupy the airport last year during the war."
American forces had already effectively lost control of long sections of the 375-mile highway leading west from Baghdad to Jordan. The road runs through the battle zone around Falluja, 35 miles west of the capital. Ambushes near Falluja and the adjacent city of Abu Ghraib have destroyed numerous convoys carrying fuel and other supplies for American troops in the past two weeks.
But a senior American official said Saturday that the cutoff in supplies reaching the American occupation authority's headquarters in Saddam Hussein's former Republican Palace in central Baghdad were approaching a critical point. Canteens feeding 2,000 people, civilians as well as military personnel, may soon be forced to serve combat rations in plastic sleeves, known as meals ready to eat.
American officials said early last week that Kellogg Brown & Root, a private American military contractor and a Halliburton subsidiary, had stopped all convoys running into Iraq after the ambush on a fuel convoy at Abu Ghraib on April 9 of this year.
Steve Gilliard has some observation son the above...
Guerillas block highways, CPA forced to eat MRE's
The guerillas are winning.
They have cut the supply lines and US forces are unable to get what they need. Sure, they can airlift critical supplies, and dodge SAM's, but cutting the highway is a major deal and will limit combat operations.
We are on the verge of a disaster, a Chosin Resevior-like disaster, in Iraq. The US should be able to keep supply lines open with their forces. Now that they can't, we may have to fight our way out. This is a very serious, extremely serious, development.
Logistics is the way armies operate. Forget the tactics, if you can't eat and change uniforms, you can't fight effectively. If the guerillas have blocked the main supply lines from Kuwait, they have achieved a victory which is 200 times more important than their stand in Fallujah.
The generals behind the guerrillas have figured out that we can't do two things: fight the guerillas on their turf and feed ourselves. We're going to have to choose. Which is why going after Sadr was so incredibly bone stupid. Alienating the Shia means every mile of our supply lines could face attack.
Once again, CENTCOM says stupid things, while the facts say something else. The NVA never cut the supply lines to MACV. The insurgents are threatening to starve Baghdad or at least make food resupplies difficult. That's a massive deal, it's probably the most important development of the war to date.
Talking Points Memo
From my friend in Iraq, late in the afternoon of April 16th, local time...
Dear Josh, I would like you to share with your readers that the four abducted Italian bodyguards worked for me. They were people I had brought in to provide close protection for my former company's contractors. Fabrizio, who was executed, was a great guy and it appears he died with honor, knowing what was about to happen. If the rumors are true that he stated "Cosi Morare Un Italiano - Here is how an Italian man dies" well it would be just like him ... all of the others Incusori, Bersagalieri, Alpini and other Italians have such honor filled sayings tattooed on their arms and chests ...
The guys were returning home to Italy from Baghdad via route 10 to Amman. I don't know why they thought they could make it and I am racked with guilt for not having been there to weigh in on such a simple decision ... it would have been NO! Fly royal Jordanian! Everyone would have gone home happy and safe. They and the other Italians who worked for us were/are consummate professionals and our staff loved them. I can only hope the others make it home in safety and this madness of abduction ends. I am headed back to Baghdad now and my family is terrified. If I am not there things will swiftly fall apart as our Iraqi staff are loyal and have offered to protect us with their families and their lives. However I need to give them much more training. So for now I am too grief stricken to assess whether this was worth the adventure that is Fallujah but all I ask is ... how can we assault a city of 300,000 and not have the largest east-west highway secure for logistics and commerce by Military Police?? Allah only knows how many people were killed by ignoring a basic military principle ... secure your lines of communications and supply!
what could have been
Here is a little history and a little history being repeated. In the 60s, MacNamara had a classified study done on the history of our involvement in Vietnam. He wanted to know how we got into this mess. That study became know as The Pentagon Papers. it was leaked by Daniel Ellsberg in 1971. That's another story. Here is a paragraph from The Pentagon Papers:
The Pentagon Papers
Chapter I, "Background to the Crisis, 1940-50," pp. 1-52.
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1971)
With British cooperation, French military forces were reestablished in South Vietnam in September, 1945. The U.S. expressed dismay at the outbreak of guerrilla warfare which followed, and pointed out that while it had no intention of opposing the reestablishment of French control, "it is not the policy of this government to assist the French to reestablish their control over Indochina by force, and the willingness of the U.S. to see French control reestablished assumes that [the] French claim to have the support of the population in Indochina is borne out by future events." Through the fall and winter of 1945-1946, the U.S. received a series of requests from Ho Chi Minh for intervention in Vietnam; these were, on the record, unanswered. However, the U.S. steadfastly refused to assist the French military effort, e.g., forbidding American flag vessels to carry troops or war materiel to Vietnam. On March 6, 1946, the French and Ho signed an Accord in which Ho acceded to French reentry into North Vietnam in return for recognition of the DRV as a "Free State," part of the French Union. As of April 1946, allied occupation of Indochina was officially terminated, and the U.S. acknowledged to France that all of Indochina had reverted to French control. Thereafter, the problems of U.S. policy toward Vietnam were dealt with in the context of the U.S. relationship with France.
"Through the fall and winter of 1945-1946, the U.S. received a series of requests from Ho Chi Minh for intervention in Vietnam; these were, on the record, unanswered." Ho Chi Minh was asking for US help. Ho Chi Minh was willing to make Vietnam a protectorate of the US, much like the Phillipines. But Truman sided with his white buddies, the French. And millions died because of that decision.
History repeats itself. Osama bin Laden just offered Europe a truce. Move your military out and we will stop killing you.
As everyone has probably heard by now, last week a tape from bin Laden offered reconciliation with Europe. The condition was simple, any government that agrees to not attack Muslims and to not interfere in Muslim affairs will, in turn, not be attacked.E
It was rejected out of hand...
... and bin Laden is smart enough to know that the offer would be rejected. Moreover it's clear that this tape wasn't directed primarily at Westerners. It is directed at Muslims and its' effect, in the West, is probably to strengthen those who want to continue to keep boots on the ground in the Middle East - after all many will believe that if bin Laden suggests anything - we should do the opposite. It should be obvious, that if that is so, then he can make us do anything he wants just by suggesting the reverse.
Leaving that aside, it's worth going through the tape in some detail because in many ways there's nothing new here - it's a tape that hits most of the standard points that bin Laden covers in his statements.
We return your terror to you
The greatest rule of safety is justice, and stopping injustice and aggression. It was said: Oppression kills the oppressors and the hotbed of injustice is evil. The situation in occupied Palestine is an example. What happened on 11 September  and 11 March [the Madrid train bombings] is your commodity that was returned to you.
Having said this, we would like to inform you that labeling us and our acts as terrorism is also a description of you and of your acts. Reaction comes at the same level as the original action. Our acts are reaction to your own acts, which are represented by the destruction and killing of our kinfolk in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine.
"It is directed at Muslims and its' effect, in the West, is probably to strengthen those who want to continue to keep boots on the ground in the Middle East - after all many will believe that if bin Laden suggests anything - we should do the opposite. It should be obvious, that if that is so, then he can make us do anything he wants just by suggesting the reverse." And this is from a liberal website. Reading this shit is like listening to Vizzini in The Princess Bride.
The Princess Bride
CUT TO: VIZZINI, watching excitedly as the Man In Black takes the goblets, turns his back. A moment later, he turns again, faces Vizzini, drops the iocane packet. It is now empty. The Man In Black rotates the goblets in a little shell game maneuver then puts one glass in front of Vizzini, the other in front of himself.
MAN IN BLACK: All right: where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right and who is dead.
VIZZINI: But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you. Are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet, or his enemy's?
He studies the Man In Black now.
VIZZINI: Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I'm not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool; you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
MAN IN BLACK (And now there's a trace of nervousness beginning): You've made your decision then?
VIZZINI: Not remotely. Because iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows. And Australia is entirely peopled with criminals. And criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me. So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.
MAN IN BLACK: Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.
Why can't anyone see that maybe, just maybe, bin Laden is saying exactly what he means: "Stop killing us and we'll stop killing you."? Oh, by the way, Vizzini drinks the poison and dies.
Charlie Reese gets it.
Bush Blows It Again
As much as you might hate bin Laden, he is telling the truth about the cause of the conflict, and Bush is lying.
Bush ought to come clean and tell the American people the truth about why we are in this war instead of spreading the lie that we were just innocent bystanders picked on by madmen. Even terrorists have rational reasons for what they do.
Bush is following the Israeli example. Rather than address the cause of the problem, he just tries to kill his way out of it. That policy has failed the Israelis, and it will fail us.
How many have to die before we start listening?
This a must read.
Is there a future for secular Palestinian nationalism?
by Helena Cobban
Of course, the "concentration" and encirclement that the Palestinians are currently experiencing in no way presages that the next step taken against them will be as horrendous as the steps with which the Nazis followed up their "concentration" of the Jews of Poland. But "concentration"—whether in east European ghettos, Bantustans, or strategic hamlets—is itself a highly inhumane thing to have to suffer; and it has not, historically, been shown to foster much political flexibility in those on whom it has been inflicted.
Abdallah, like most of my other Palestinian friends, has few illusions that the next years will be easy for his people. In February, one of these friends described the Palestinian nationalists as having suffered "a generational defeat." In late March Abdel-Aziz Rantissi, who had just been chosen to succeed Ahmed Yassin as head of Hamas in Gaza, expressed a determined but noticeably more upbeat view. [Abdel-Aziz Rantissi was just assassinated by the Israelis — Gordy]
Without a doubt, Yassin's killing has set in motion currents of violence and counter-violence whose final outcome is still quite unpredictable. But what does seem clear as of late March is that the 50-year era in which Arafat and the predominantly secular activists dominated the Palestinian movement has now come to an end. A sad old man sits in a ruin in Ramallah waiting for anyone to take notice of him while in Gaza a new generation of more disciplined, tougher men are preparing for their moment in history.
In Ziad Abu Amr's 1994 book on Palestine's Islamic fundamentalists he drew on much original researchand many Arabic sources. He drew on other sources too. At a couple of points, he cited Ze'ev Schiff and Schiff's long-time co-author Ehud Yaari with apparent approval. One of their observations that he cited is this: "The fundamentalist groups offered a special kind of activism that combined patriotism with moral purity and social action with the promise of divine grace. Sheikh [Ahmed] Yasin offered the young Palestinian something far beyond Arafat's ken: not just the redemption of the homeland, but the salvation of his own troubled soul.
pinky, are you pondering what i'm pondering?
I just can't get up any enthusiasm for eye candy today. But there is one image that has been stuck in my head. Do you ever get an image or song stuck in you head? I have one stuck in my head now and I'm going to pass it on to you. In the late 90s there was a cartoon about two lab rats (or mice) — Pinky and The Brain.
The premise of the show was that The Brain was trying to take over the world. If you never saw this series, then this will be lost on you. If you have seen the series, then you will realize that this country is now being run by Pinky and The Brain.
Welcome to Tom & Matthew's Pinky and the Brain page
The Brain: It must be inordinately taxing to be such a boob.
Pinky: You have no idea.