Friday, December 22, 2006

Waiting for...the Decider to Decide (thanks and MANY apologies to Samuel Beckett)

ESTRAGON: Charming spot. Inspiring prospects. Let's go.

VLADIMIR: We can't.

ESTRAGON: Why not?

VLADIMIR: We're waiting for Godot.

ESTRAGON: Ah! You're sure it was here?


ESTRAGON: That we were to wait.

VLADIMIR: He said by the tree. Do you see any others?

ESTRAGON: What is it?

VLADIMIR: I don't know. A willow.

ESTRAGON: Where are the leaves?

VLADIMIR: It must be dead.

ESTRAGON: No more weeping.

VLADIMIR: Or perhaps it's not the season.

ESTRAGON: Looks to me more like a bush.

Same Thought, Different Centuries

As riches increase and accumulate in few hands; as luxury prevails in society, virtue will be in a greater degree considered as only a graceful appendage of wealth, and the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard. This is the real disposition of human nature: It is what, neither the honorable member nor myself can correct. It is common misfortune that awaits our state constitution, as well as others.

Alexander Hamilton

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Matthew 19:24

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The "N" word (no, Michael Richards, not that one)

An article in Slate raises the question of references to Hitler and the Nazis in the course of political debate. The piece quotes New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd's advice that politicians should "have little Post-its on their microphones reminding them not to compare anything to the Nazis."

Ah, the Nazi analogy...

Yes, the Nazi image occupies very different positions in our national psyche, from tired conversational cliché to dramatic movie image to video game villain to the tortured memories of those touched by what may be our closest incarnation of true evil. It is also certainly true that our government, even under the grotesque incompetence and criminality of the current administration, does not sink to the level of human baseness that was Adolph Hitler.

Analogies are teaching points, however, and certain similarities must be noted. Many are characteristic of all ambitious power seekers, but others [hopefully should] give us pause. Both Adolph Hitler and George W. Bush exploited national tragedy, patriotism and fear to move nations comprised largely of decent people to wage unnecessary, unlawful and horrific wars of choice. These chosen wars were both sparked by near messianic visions, one of a Third Reich and the other a “New American Century,” and both conscripted the media, the corporate community and much of organized religion to support them.

Both men craved power to conceal their failures in life. One, a failed artist, sought greatness in being "der fuehrer," while the other desired redemption from myriad failings and shortcomings by being a "war president." Late in both conflicts, the two leaders were also reduced to pathetic desperation. One ordered non-existent divisions to face the Russians and cursed those who brought him the grim news of reality, while the other said that November's Democratic election victories were “a call to find new ways to make the mission there succeed” (and I’m assuming he also cursed those who brought him the grim news of reality.)

However, as the article cited above points out, those together do not represent the most telling and frightening similarities. That will remain “the banal ordinariness of the citizens who perpetrated it. The relevance of Third Reich Germany to today's America is not that Bush equals Hitler or that the United States government is a death machine. It's that it provides a rather spectacular example of the insidious process by which decent people come to regard the unthinkable as not only thinkable but doable, justifiable.”

We let it happen. Say that again, we let it happen. Sure, I, and many of you reading this opposed this monstrosity from the beginning, while others came later to see the truth.

But still, despite our best intentions, WE LET IT HAPPEN. Yes, of course, I wrote about how wrong this was, I went to meetings and I corresponded with government officials, but in reality, I did nothing. I let it happen. I went to work, I went to the beach, I ate, I drank, I laughed, and I LET IT HAPPEN. I let it happen in the midst of my "banal ordinariness."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Do you see what I see?

The president said he interpreted the Democratic election victories six weeks ago not as a mandate to bring the U.S. involvement in Iraq to an end but as a call to find new ways to make the mission there succeed. (link)

Mr. President, we have the results of your Rorschach test. We showed you and the rest of America a series of inkblots. More than 80% of America thought they looked like this

and this but you thought they looked like this

and this

With extensive therapy, Mr. President, I MIGHT be able to help you improve your condition to that of delusional sociopathy.

By Mark Silva

By Mark Silva

That’s really all you need to know, isn’t it? Any byline by this shameless hack signals another waste of ink and pulp defending the indefensible.

Try this one:

As he attempts to chart a “new way forward’’ in Iraq, President Bush again is striving to frame the conflict there as central to a broader struggle against world terrorism – despite analysis both from inside and outside the administration that worsening sectarian violence inside Iraq is responsible for a greater share of the increasing casualties there than any acts of terrorism.

Pssst, Mark, the casualties in Iraq have not resulted from “terrorism” as that term is generally used. The violence in Iraq results from sectarian clashes and from resistance to the U.S. invasion and the attempted installation of a stooge government.

You keep on tryin’ though, Lil’ Feller, and maybe someday you and your beloved preznit will find that elusive “way forward.”

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Rhetoric and Reality

Rhetoric and Reality (link)

Words of wisdom from Fearless leader (the Year 2000 beta test module)

"I just don't think it's the role of the United States to walk into a country and say, we do it this way, so should you ....but I think one way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American is for us to go around the world saying, we do it this way, so should you…..I think the United States must be humble and must be proud and confident of our values, but humble in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course."

"If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world and nation building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road, and I'm going to prevent that...."
"Well, if it's in our vital national interest, and that means whether our territory is threatened or people could be harmed, whether or not the alliances are -- our defense alliances are threatened, whether or not our friends in the Middle East are threatened. That would be a time to seriously consider the use of force. Secondly, whether or not the mission was clear. Whether or not it was a clear understanding as to what the mission would be. Thirdly, whether or not we were prepared and trained to win. Whether or not our forces were of high morale and high standing and well-equipped. And finally, whether or not there was an exit strategy. I would take the use of force very seriously. I would be guarded in my approach. I don't think we can be all things to all people in the world. I think we've got to be very careful when we commit our troops. The vice president and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders. I believe the role of the military is to fight and win war and therefore prevent war from happening in the first place."

"..... if we don't stop extending our troops all around the world and nation building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road, and I'm going to prevent that."
It really depends upon how our nation conducts itself in foreign policy. If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us."

"I'm going to be judicious as to how to use the military. It needs to be in our vital interest, the mission needs to be clear, and the exit strategy obvious."

Maybe the Iraqi government is becoming more like ours...

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Thirteen men convicted of murder, kidnapping and other crimes were hanged in a Baghdad jail on Tuesday, lining up shortly before their execution in hoods and green jumpsuits, their hands bound behind their backs.
Elsewhere in the Iraqi capital, gunmen in military uniforms robbed government accountants as they left a bank with bags of cash, in the second major bank robbery in Baghdad in eight days.

Has anyone seen my (lap)dog?

(London) "We need to recognise that a central element of foreign policy - the intervention in Iraq--has failed in its objectives so badly that the threat to this country is actually greater than it was before it began." (Conservative MP David Cameron)

The article further notes that, according to Mr. Cameron, "the threat to Britain was bigger now than prior to the war, was a statement of fact."

Nice work, guys.

One interesting sidebar in the piece is that the British politicos are becoming a might peeved as being seen as Bush's lapdogs. A Conservative party policy group reported that
"British interests would `always be best served in partnership with America,' but the relationship must be put on a `proper footing'. We should recognise that we will find it difficult to serve our interests, or those of America, if we are regarded as their mute partner in every foreign undertaking."

Good luck with that.

Who should I listen to?

Washington The Bush administration is split over the idea of a surge in troops to Iraq, with White House officials aggressively promoting the concept over the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to U.S. officials familiar with the intense debate. Sending 15,000 to 30,000 more troops for a mission of possibly six to eight months is one of the central proposals on the table of the White House policy review to reverse the steady deterioration in Iraq. The option is being discussed as an element in a range of bigger packages, the officials said. But the Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks, still does not have a defined mission [editor's note--Duh!] and is latching on to the surge idea in part because of limited alternatives, despite warnings about the potential disadvantages for the military, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House review is not public.

Definitely go with the White House. They've been spot on so far, and what do those military guys know?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Workin' hard, makin' progress....

WASHINGTON - Attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops and Iraqi civilians jumped sharply in recent months to the highest level since Iraq regained its sovereignty in June 2004, the Pentagon told Congress on Monday in the latest indication of that country’s spiraling violence. In a report issued the same day Robert Gates took over as defense secretary, the Pentagon said that from mid-August to mid-November, the weekly average number of attacks increased 22 percent from the previous three months.

The story is bad enough as it is, but yet--the spin continues even amidst this tale of woe. Note the reference to "since Iraq regained its sovereignty." Sovereign, huh? Well, it certainly seems to be a particularly explode-y kind of sovereignty!

It's lovely weather for a dumbass together with you

This one is remarkable. Every time I see Bush's plummeting approval ratings, I always ask myself who these dwindling few supporters are. Well, this is one rather pathetic follower [editor's note--look for how the historical reference he makes supports the exact opposite conclusion from what he draws].
Steve Chapman’s assertion ("Iraq report actually fuels hawks," Commentary, Dec. 14) that the liberation of Iraq from the butchery and tyranny of Saddam Hussein "was a doomed enterprise from the start" and that "we could do worse" than talking to Syria and Iran as the Iraq Surrender, uh, Study Group, shows that it is he, not the Bush administration who have "learned nothing" from history.

He says we should "look at…the Americans in Vietnam." Okay, let’s look. We were never defeated on the battlefield. Tet [Offensive] was a military disaster for the Vietcong and North Vietnamese, not an American defeat. And South Vietnam fell two years after we left, not to a popular uprising, but to a conventional armored invasion from the North after the Democratic "Watergate babies" of 1974 cut off the South Vietnamese at the knees.

Now another Democratic Congress, and Steve Chapman, wants to ignore the millions of Iraqis who risked their lives to vote for their leaders and a constitution, proudly displaying their purple fingers. They risk and lose their lives daily, publishing newspapers, joining the police, just going to work.

What do Syria and Iran want? Certainly not stability in Iraq or Lebanon as both have aided the private armies of Muqtada al-Sadr and Hassan Nasrallah, respectively. They want an American defeat in Iraq. Neither want democracy to gain a foothold and spread.

Chapman must have missed the recent revelations of U.S. intelligence officials regarding the ongoing attempts by Syria and Iran to wreak havoc from Beirut to Baghdad. Officials described how Iranian Revolutionary Guards worked in tandem with Syrian military intelligence to facilitate the travel and training of radical Shiite Iraqi militants.

The New York Times reported that "a senior American intelligence official" says that between 1,000 to 2,000 fighters in Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army had been trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon. A number of Hezbollah operatives are also said to have entered Iraq to do training on-site.

Chapman’s and the ISG’s naiveté is exceeded perhaps only by the late Sen. William Borah who, upon hearing of the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, opined, "Lord, if only I could have talked with Hitler, all this might have been avoided."

Daniel John Sobieski

Just one suggestion, Danny Boy---

Quote of the Day

"I had a sense, for the first time, that the Iraqi political leadership realized that this thing was slipping away"

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Now there's one quick study!

One bad bet...

Jonah Goldberg wrote this in early February 2005 (in a wager with Juan Cole, with whom is he WAAAY out of his league). He still has six weeks for his happy place to become a reality. I'm confident, aren't you?:

I predict that Iraq won't have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A pop culture observation

Take it out in the back yard and shoot it. It's not--what's the word I'm looking for--oh, funny.