Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Forever (and probably beyond) 

It's one thing to forgive mistakes in life. Mistakes happen. Even in politics, and even of the highest order. I can forgive Hillary Clinton, for instance, for her vote on the Iraq resolution, provided that she makes me believe that it WAS a mistake, and not the sort of thing she'd continue to back forever. (Footnote: She hasn't convinced me, to be honest. But she has plenty of time in which to try.)

It is entirely another to forgive mendacity ... which is the nice, upper-middle-class way of saying "a big fat liar." Lying isn't supposed to get you anywhere in life. Then again, neither was being crazy, and you can turn on CNN to see just how much Anna Nicole Smith was a giant of our times.

Yesterday morning, the Wall Street Journal's opinion page -- no stranger to mendacity or even flights of complete fancy -- had a piece from noted "Democratic" warmonger Joe Lieberman. Joe, who's been making the case that victory is important since 2002, that victory is coming soon since 2004 and that victory is just around the corner since '05, is effusive as always in his praise of George W. Bush. Our troops are JUST that close to polishing off a little training and boom -- boom as in suddeness, not an IED -- we'll be out of Iraq and democracy will flourish like bermuda grass.

Joe (who I respect so little at this point, he's lost his last name on this blog) is wholly bought and sold on Israeli concerns, so I can at least understand his desire for a more stable Middle East. I can. And if his blinkered support for our War of Terror in Iraq was a mistake because of that belief, I could both forgive and -- maybe -- forget. Joe's done some pretty OK stuff in his Senate career. And it's not entirely his fault Al Gore picked his nutty ass for VP in 2000. (OK, I lied. That one still hurts.) But Joe has made the amazing leap from "I support this war" to "I support everything the President does as part of this war." It's like a recoving alcoholic making a mistake by succumbing to the temptation of a drink ... and then burning down the bar 'cause it sounded like a good idea, too.

Joe loves the war, but he also loves the way it is going, apparently. And that's just incredible to me. We would not consider the United States stable if even 1 person was dying per day from terror attacks. So how is Iraq "stable" when 100 people die a day? Oh, and by the way, the military is stretched out like a hooker's you-know-what and our soldiers have to keep cycling back to Iraq in what must seem like a horrifying joke. And that's not even going into the monetary cost, which a conservative estimate recently put at "ginormous."

So, when does Joe get the honor of not being taken seriously? And this, by no means, is just a question about him; there's a lot of people who are wrong about everything who continually have their voices singled out in the media choir. But Joe is wrong about the biggest issue in our times, an issue where his side has become both unpopular AND somewhat embarassing. Poor Joe even got ambushed by blogger Glenn Greenwald, who used the cruelest liberal tactic of all ... quoting his own words back at him:

The leaders of America's military and diplomatic forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey and Ambassador Zal Khalilzad, have a clear vision of our mission there. It is to create the environment in which Iraqi democracy, security, and prosperity can take hold and the Iraqis themselves can defend their political progress against those ten thousand terrorists who would take it from them.

Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do. . . Mistakes, some of them big, were made after Saddam was removed, and no one who supports the war should hesitate to admit that; but we have learned from those mistakes and, in characteristic American fashion, from what has worked and not worked on the ground in Iraq. The administration's recent use of the banner "clear, hold, and build" accurately describes the strategy as I saw it being implemented last week.

That was Joe's last foray onto the Journal's Op-Ed page -- in November of 2005. So, seriously, doesn't he have to hand over the keys or something? I mean, if a baseball writer for ESPN continually picked the Yankees to finish last in the AL East and lose 100 games, wouldn't he or she eventually stop being allowed to write in public? And can this principle apply in all cases?

If this is America -- land of the free, home of the brave, and the place where you CAN go from rags to riches -- then why do we allow a virtual aristocracy in our country's punditry? If you're a face or a name, you can say or do anything and you can NEVER lose your position. (Well, short of being a closet Democrat or boffing an intern -- and even then, 60% of the country will still love you.) We hold up media reporters to impossible levels of perfection. By this I mean the right shrieks about how badly the media treat them and their causes, and the left howls as the media bends over backwards to make sure it isn't so. But people like Joe can just go sling any old garbage and it's all fine and dandy. Dick Cheney could write an Op-Ed discussing how the Iranians will greet us with cotton candy and $100 bills, and I'm sure SOMEONE would publish it. And, by 2008, when we're being greated with chemical or nuclear weapons instead, nobody will fault poor old Dick for publishing a piece a few months later about how the Syrians will greet us with caramel apples and glasses of ice water.

And I'm sure after that, Joe will be writing a nice piece about how Iraq can still definitely be won. All it'll take is a new, secret strategy that only he and President McCain know about... and we'll still be quietly forgiving their lies, and making sure we'll be able to read plenty more in tomorrow's paper.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Indigestion Sunday 

In between all of the nachos, the salsa and dip, the burgers, hot dogs, corn dogs and beer, apparently there's some sort of football game going on today.

So, I'll officially dip my toe into the water. I'm saying Bears, 26-24.

And I'll go further. Not only will I predict the score, I'll predict how it happens. Devin Hester brings a kick-off back for a touchdown. Nathan Vasher brings an INT back to the house. And Robbie Gould kicks 4 field goals -- including a clutch game-winner with a minute left -- for 26. Which leaves Rex Grossman to throw 4 picks and have the worst performance of a Super Bowl-winning QB in history.

And poor Peyton will still be known more for his "Cut that meat" commercial than his postseason glory. He'll have an OK game, but he'll fall just short. Tough break, kid. But this game screams three things to me:

1.) Everyone's picking the Colts. Not a good sign, leading to..

2.) The Bears totally have the disrespect factor going on *because* everyone's picking the Colts.

3.) The Colts, up until last week, were floundering. Remember how they started 9-0 but only finished 12-4? And how they lost to the Houston Texans? This is not an invincible team. They have more talent than the Bears, but I think they're going to fall a little short when it counts.

Either way, I'm mostly rooting for an entertaining game -- and no indigestion.

LATE UPDATE: So I was wrong. The Colts were more talented and showed -- moments after Hester took one to the house. (I feel semi-vindicated.) Good for Peyton. Cut that meat is now just a very weird footnote to history.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Doing it as hard as we can 

Yeah, that's right Boston: The Mooninites are coming atcha.

I fully understand that we, as human beings, are pretty paranoid in general. And we live in one of the most reactionary and paranoid places you can find. Still, the question I couldn't shake was ... how the hell did this happen in the first place? Politicians aren't going to piss off voters by shoveling money toward "securing the homeland," which means that Homeland Security is raking in the cash. Yet somehow, in several major cities, a rinky-dink marketing campaign was able to hang glowing reminders that, hey, nobody's really watching after all!

(Tangent thought: AP kept describing this as a "failed" marketing attempt. If you watched ANY news show on any channel at any point Wednesday or Thursday, you were almost bound to see clips from "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." Doesn't exactly sound like a failed attempt to me!)

While I'm not faulting Boston authorities for reacting (or over-reacting) I definitely question just what we've bought with this whole homeland security craze. OK, we eventually figured out these were harmless. But how did our vaunted security agents let this happen? I mean, we arrested a shabby dreadlocked kid for shutting down the city. The warmongers at home say that Democrats offer aid and comfort to the enemy by saying Iraq is a mistake; what the hell kind of message is one kid shutting down a city with LED lights sending?

I doubt the terrorists have sat down and thought about our national character. Terror is -- sadly -- their only tactic, their only strategy. But terror has obviously worked quite well against us, forcing us into very brutal mistakes (Iraq), paranoia at home (Patriot Act), and my favorite, the re-election of George W. Bush on the "Be scared!" platform.

Meanwhile, on what WAS the actual front of the "War of Terror," we still can't fully beat back the Taliban. And there remain some pretty fair questions about how much Pakistanis are willing to harbor terrorists. And poppy production remains high.

Oh, and Iraq's a dreadful mess and we can't be fully sure of Saudi Arabia's committment to our cause and we're inches away from a shooting war with Iran -- who seems to be awfully cozy to the Russians. You know, the last bunch we were paranoid about.

A kid who chokes a city for a day may not compare in the annals of history with Iraq or what might happen with Iran, but it seems like as good example as any to note, forcefully, that if there really is a war on terror, we're not doing so well. And if this is even remotely like the titanic good versus evil struggle of Homeric proportion that Bush likes to babble on about... maybe we should put forth a better effort? Or try something a little different? I don't know the answer. But I shouldn't be expected to figure it out myself. I watch a show that features a talking milkshake, after all.

And I'll keep doing THAT as hard as I can.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Seven down 

We had a bet going tonight at work about whether or not Bush would say something "glowing" about Speaker Pelosi as he kicked off his speech.

Looks like we won.

"Madame Speaker" aside, tonight was just one more opportunity to prove that our president is a miserable public speaker. Bush always screws the pooch when he's not surrounded by slavish adoration. I don't know if it's mental on his part or just some weird karmic imbalance, but unless the crowd is 100% on his side, Bush stumbles.

Fact is, though, Bush has only given one important speech in his entire presidency. His State of the Union in 2002 was the one that set the tone for the madness we're now deeply embroiled in. He created the Axis of Evil out of thin air, started his overly public babbling about how much God was blessing us and the rest of his simpleton creed.

Back then, though, everyone seemed to love it. His approval ratings were 118%, even the left-wing pundits (all none of them) were playing chicken to see who could give Bush the most laudable plaudit. (Thomas Friedman won, saying that Bush made Abraham Lincoln look "like a atheistic child pornographer who clubbed seals for a hobby." Seriously. Look it up.)

Those were hard times if you didn't agree. Now, of course, just about everyone has come around to agreeing that a) Iraq was a big mistake and b) Bush is not impressive in any facet of governing. Democrats loathe him for being stupid, Republicans hate him for expanding the government and over-spending on the war, the world hates him for lying and conservatives hate him for not ordering the Northeast wiped off the map.

But it has been an eerie time to live through. One of my favorite things about learning U.S. and world history was the strange ideas (strange to me, anyway) that people accepted without a second thought at various times in our existence. I was outraged at slavery hundreds of years after it was wiped from the books in this country because I just couldn't imagine where the pro-slavery argument came from.

I suspect, years down the line, that I might be able to speak a little more confidently about the strange times after 9/11, when our little bubble burst and lots of people -- some of whom I even like and respect -- were very cloudy in their thinking. But instead of it being years into a distant past, I actually lived through the time. And while the insane right will probably fight about Iraq long enough that, like Vietnam, it will stop being a mistake in enough people's eyes to make sure it's a gaping wound forever -- I was there to remember what it was like this time.

And, back to Bush, that's why he's such an inevitable disappointment while speaking. We really had a chance after September 11, 2001, to work toward a world that Americans in history had always aimed for. But instead, this grinning skull made sure that the world would only change for the worse. He's never had to take responsibility for a single thing in his life, and so America never owned up to any of the blame that, yes, we deserve, in getting to where we are today.

So, yes, the state of our union is still strong, and God is still apparently full of blessings for us ... and we only have to sit through one more perfunctory and painful effort from George W. Bush before he can truly be consigned to the dustbin of history. I can't wait. And I'll be there for that one, too.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Completely lost 

This is the great leader that, apparently, 33% of our country will back no matter how many of our soldiers or Iraqis or Iranians or Saudis or Brits or Aussies or human being of any stripe he will put into the grave.

A day after giving a terrifyingly subdued speech while looking dramatically out of place (a library ... seriously, they put him in the library?!) American forces committed a terrifying raid on an Iranian consulate, kidnapping five people. The right are already gearing up: It's not really a consulate, Iran aids terrorists, God OK'd the mission, etc.

But the nuts and the bolts of the situation haven't changed: Yet again, we're attacking a sovereign nation. You know, exactly like the terrorists did on September 11, 2001.

I don't know if Bush is a dry drunk or if he's outright insane or if he just thinks -- at the pinnacle of his sad lifetime -- that in the end, Daddy's connections will bail him out one last time. But he oh-so-obviously has his blank little heart set upon putting boots on the ground in Iran and trying it again.

The blogosphere has exploded within the past 24 hours -- on both sides -- with rumors and general contemplation of Iran and a war. So let me, again, offer one little voice: I think George W. Bush is *just* crazy enough to escalate Iraq directly into Iran. And I'm not sure anyone, anywhere can stop him if that's what he and Cheney are planning.

Historians have uncovered the scary truth about what the White House was like during Nixon's final days. I'm glad the country didn't know about it then; I'm equally glad I can't see any further beyond the veil of silence than anyone else can right now. But you don't need to be a foreign-policy expert or historian to know exactly how badly an Iranian invasion would go.

Still, my guitar gently weeps. And, if we're all right, so will my country.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Lather, rinse ... repeat? 

The worst-kept secret of all time was officially announced: Yes, George W. Bush is going to call for 20,000 (actually, 21,500) more troops to go to Iraq. It's a whole new strategy!

Or, quite possibly, he was going to stay the course by slightly changing the course on which he would stay.

Bush, a noted genius of repetition, picked up a new rhetorical flourish for this speech. The war on terror, at least for the moment, isn't the ideological struggle like World War II anymore -- it's the Cold War all over again. And we, of course, love freedom and are fighting for that and anyone who is against us etc etc etc so forth ad nauseum.

Raise your hand if you're tired of hearing about freedom ... yep, thought so.

That said, I'm pretty sure that victory is right around the corner. One more push and we'll rid Southeast Asia of Communi--

I mean, one more push and we'll push the Nazis back fr--

I mean, I love freedom. Yay, freedom!

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