Friday, August 24, 2007

Umm, "Oops?"

With friends like this, who needs enemies?

The Persistence of Memory

I was having lunch on Wednesday when some complete ass of a coworker put on Fox "News." And there was Dear Leader strutting onto a stage in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (who really should know better than to applaud this waste of space and natural resources). After acknowledging the plaudits of the crowd as only a good little Sovereign might do, with a gracious wave of a lily-white paw and that oh-so-condescending faux Texas drawl of his, he began to speak.

I spent the next 20 minutes aghast, my lunch nearly forgotten (it wasn't that memorable anyway).

First, Emperor Empty Suit talked about all the wonderful things he's doing for our veterans (like privatizing the VA hospitals, which precipitated the Walter Reed scandal) and how he's increased health benefits (while at the same time threatening to veto a 3.5% pay increase for active-duty on the grounds that the extra 0.5% is "unnecessary"). The assembled veterans, many of whom seemed to be sliding into dementia, lapped it up like kittens at a creamery exposition.

Then he wandered off into the history books to find just the right analogy to fit the War in Iraq into.

And I almost started choking on my dessert.

An NPR correspondent later that day cited a Shiite proverb that "an analogy is written by the Devil," but in this case it was written by either one of the best gag writers in the business or by El Presidente himself.

He cited World War Two in the Pacific (concentrating on Asian conflicts), as if Iraq had ever attacked us and had the capability to destroy us through its expanding global hegemony. He wanted to point out that there were naysayers regarding the democratization of Japan.

There are ALWAYS naysayers, President Dingbat; dissent is part of the democratic process, a fact that may have escaped your myopia. MacArthur made a deal with the Devil by allowing the Showa Emperor to skate, and to this day many of the authors and perpetrators of Japanese atrocities in that war are honored at the Yasukuni Shrine, a major bone of contention for the rest of Japan's neighbors.

He cited Korea, as if we were fighting an attempt by the Kurdish North to take over the Arab Center and South. That IS the analogy, wasn't it?

Again, holding the line against Communism at South Korea required us to fight only a holding action, especially after Old Asia Hand MacArthur pooh-poohed the idea that China would come to Kim Il-sung's rescue. The ideological struggle of the time was against an expanding wave of Communism fomented by and emanating from two first-rate powers, China and the USSR - and NOT against an ideology that appeals only to alienated and disaffected minorities in impoverished countries (like, say, Iraq now that we've invaded and occupied it).

And he cited Vietnam.

His take on Vietnam was so wrong on so many levels I was very surprised that booing wasn't heard , but then I remembered that the Codpiece only speaks to carefully screened audiences that sign loyalty oaths - oh, and check back to my earlier comment about the vets suffering from dementia. In Vietnam we were fighting Vietnamese - not "insurgents" from Laos, the Phillippines or Japan. The "killing fields" he cited were in Cambodia, and were the result of Pol Pot, whose rise to power was facilitated by our actions in that country.

Also, while there was a level of political violence in Vietnam after the North conquered the South, the dreaded "Domino Theory" never materialized. You DO recall the Domino Theory, Mr. President?

The major problem with El Jefe's oration before the VFW was not that it was transparently flawed, it was that too many people watching it have memories. I grew up during Vietnam, and remember Walter Cronkite on the CBS News talking about the casualties of that war. One of my cousins served there, and wasn't quite right afterward. He's better now, but it took years.

Bush (or his handlers, puppeteers and Cheney) apprently thought that he could rewrite history simply by wishing it so.

It doesn't work that way, Mister "I'll hide out in the National Guard like Dan Quayle."

And it doesn't work that way either, Mister "Five draft deferments."

You can change history books (or burn them, simply by having the Christian al Qaeda declare them "evil" and organize burnings).

But you can't alter or erase people's memories.

Oh, and a good analogy for Iraq, Bushie Baby?

How about Britain's occupation of Iraq in the 1920s? Or don't your books go back that far?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Ignore Religion At Our Peril."

This pearl of ineffable wisdom dropped from the mouth of former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, as part of an interview she had for a special report on CNN. In it, she describes the trouble of hammering out a Mideast peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides, and discusses the problem of Jerusalem in the scheme of things.

Which brings me to the quote that titles this post.

Albright rightly points out that fundamentalism started out as a term used to describe American Christians who were extremely conservative and rigid in their religious views. Tolerance had no place in the fundamentalist viewpoint, either in religion (anti-Semitism), race (Jim Crow), politics (isolationism), or science (the Scopes Trial).

So we ignored it.

And look where we are.

I was watching the local news last night and saw footage of happy students at a local 'charter' school, one where the students get in on a 'voucher' program. Not a single African-American or Hispanic to be seen. Segregation forever, huh guys?

Shiite fundamentalism arose in Iran in 1979, and we made fun of it (I still recall "Shiitehead" jokes made over local radio stations), while at the same time our government and the chattering class spun dark scenarios of the end of the world. A film made back then about the prophecies of Nostradamus (narrated by Orson Welles) portrayed one future leader as a cross between a Turkish Sultan and a figure from The Arabian Nights - every Occidental's worst stereotype of an Islamic leader. So, while we were simultaneously denigrating and wetting our pants over this new fundamentalism, we ignored both our own homegrown extremists and Sunni extremists.

Which came back to haunt us at Oklahoma City.

And at the World Trade Center (twice).

So, do I agree with Maddy Albright?

You betcha. We ignore religion at our peril, because in a technological society, in a state governed by secular laws and reason, religion (particularly fundamentalism) is the greatest enemy we face.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Quote Without Comment

"Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do."

- Don Ridolfo (Rudy) Giuliani
ex-Boss of New York City

Saturday, August 11, 2007

(Early) Candide Moment

Here in Central Florida you can really tell that it's August. The highs are in the nineties, and when you factor in things like the dew point it can feel like 100 degrees or higher. Definitely not what you wnat to work out in, if you can help it.

So when it comes time for yardwork, I try to get started as early as possible (seven in the morning is good) and aim to be finished before 12 noon. Case in point, the garden in the picture below.
This is the sixth of the gardens around my house, and apart from the two plumbago (the bushes with the blue flowers) the other plants in the garden had died slow, agonizing, horrible deaths. So I dug them up, and replaced the two bushes at each end with cordyline 'Red Sister' bushes. Their dark red color will be an excellent contrast to the plumbago, and the center bush was replaced with a flowering hibiscus. I don't know what color the flowers will be, but we'll have to see. I also did some weeding in the other gardens.

And where was my cat Boudicca while all this was going on?
Where indeed?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

It's Not Just In America

Thinking of leaving America as a result of the Bushite Junta's War on Civil Liberties? Well, you may want to stay clear of Australia, under the regime of Bush's other BFF, Prime Minister John Howard:

Law allows coppers to do you over, judge-free

- snip -

On Wednesday the Senate [Australia's Upper House] passed a bill that provides for "delayed notification search warrants". These are warrants to empower the federal police and other agencies to covertly take a look around your home, download the contents of your computer and sniff the bedsheets, and not tell you for up to 18 months after the warrant has been executed, or never, ever, if [Attorney General] Philip Ruddock says so.

- snip -


So much for "Advance, Australia Fair." I'll have to check if New Zealand has the same Hell-bent set of hyenas and assholes running the place. Shit, an igloo in Antarctica's starting to look good right about now (cooler, too).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Thrilling Tale of Survival Against All Odds

And in my very own garden. Imagine that.

I've always said that I have a Black Thumb - whatever I plant seems to die. I'm going to have to amend that statement. Exhibit A: The Plumeria you see in the above picture. This plucky little fellow started out as a cutting about eight inches long that I just stuck in the ground. Over the next few months it was baked by the Florida sun, received little water, got knocked around and even sideswiped by the trimmer.

So I relocated it to another part of the gardens I've set up around my home and started watering it (by this time, it looked like a piece of vegetarian beef jerky). Amazingly, it started to sprout leaves.

It's now about 3 feet high and in full bloom, as you can see.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Craven, Cowardly People With No Morals Shouldn't Be Elected

And I have very little to add to this fine editorial from the Washington Post.

Except to say that I am extremely grateful that no one, not one person, in this unholy government is worthy to wear the Lens of Arisia, so my thoughts at least are still safe from government intrusion.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

This article from the New York Times (via the Huffington Post) turned the contents of my stomach into a lake of boiling acid and bad noise.

It tells the tale of our intrepid Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates' journey to the Middle East to talk to our quondam allies about Iraq, but that wasn't what hit my digestion like a stink-bomb. What caused the acid reflux to wake up was these words:

"...we probably all underestimated..."

Who the fuck are you calling "we," little mister?

You got a godsdamned mouse in your pocket?

When the war drums started to sound in 2002, many people started looking beyond the roseate schemes and Pollyannish projections made by the neocons and their enablers in the White House. What they saw was billions of dollars wasted, years of occupation and many dead American soldiers.

Now, as with all of those doubters (who were realists, and paid for their doubts with epithets and outright threats), I would have much preferred a happy ending to this whole mess - one that didn't cost so much in terms of blood, money, and reputation. But because no one in the Administration or the Defense Department was apparently thinking rationally, we are stuck in Iraq.

When you plan for things, you are supposed to take into account what happens if your plan falls apart. The great military philosopher von Clausewitz said it best: "Plans never survive first contact with the enemy." Hope for the best, of course, but always, always plan for the worst.

This "no one could have anticipated ..." bullshit is exactly that; bullshit, designed to absolve us from all blame and instead put the blame on whoever's handy when the Dolchstosslegende starts up in earnest. Those scapegoats will include the Left, the Dems, the American People, the Troops - everyone but the actual people who supposedly thought long and hard about our wonderful parade through Iraq.