Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Iraq=Vietnam=WWII=Lemon Meringue Pie

Let's face it - George W Bush has never cracked a book about modern warfare, nor modern history, in his entire life. Or if he has, he's put them right back down again, because there weren't enough "pitchers."

This morning, he brought up the quagmire that is Iraq, and compared it to the quagmire that was Vietnam, saying something to the effect that though reasonable people might disagree why we got into either conflict, we shouldn't make the same mistakes we made in Vietnam again in Iraq, i.e., pulling out before we've "won."

Actually reasonable people do agree why we got into both conflicts - lies. And reasonable people (i.e., historians and other "liberals") know why neither conflict was/is winnable, in the way that WWII was. If you don't know anything about the country you're "helping" you might end up hurting instead. And in the case of Hitler, we could sorta really see a threat, there.

We were lied into Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incident, where a destroyer was supposedly fired upon by the North Vienamese (commies!). There was no such incident, but the American people were told there was, and a compliant media kept repeating the lie over and over again. Once we were in, our Generals kept talking about "winning" and "victory," against a population that pretty much didn't want us there, North or South, except for the rulers we installed against the people's will. The population of that country was willing to die to the last person to get us out.

Our president at the time (and now we're talking Nixon) bombed other countries without authorization from Congress (i.e., Cambodia), paid locals and mercenaries to do our dirty work, while CIA agents were dropped into places like Laos to harvest the opium crop, for sale in America, and to our GIs fighting in Vietnam.
So where was the mistake - in leaving the country prematurely? Or by going in in the first place?
(this is not a trick question)

The thing we (should have) learned from Vietnam is: don't assume technological superiority can win the war. You have to have moral superiority over whatever you're replacing. The fact that we went in on a pack of lies wasn't lost on the Iraqis, nor the rest of the world (Great Britain notwithstanding). The fact that we took up where Saddam left off in places like Abu Ghraib really didn't help our cause. Then again, we went into Iraq with our commander-in-chief not knowing beforehand that there were three distinct groups who might all want power on their own terms after the fall of Saddam.
Charles Colson (Chief Counsel for Richard Nixon) had a quote on his wall during the Vietnam war (and pardon my french): "When you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow." Problem is, in both Iraq and Vietnam, we never had them by the you-know-whats.

Iraq was a secular dictatorship, not affiliated with any terrorist organization, and not holding any Weapons of Mass Destruction they could use effectively against their neighbors. So we went in to find those WMDs. And to rout the terrorists. And then to impose democracy. In that order. No matter what the facts actually were.

Oh, yeah, and there's all that oil.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Spending more time with his WHAT?!?

Rove Resigns. And there was much rejoicing (all apologies to Monty Python).

Karl Rove, "turd blossom" to George W Bush (and who wouldn't want to be called that by the president?), has finally decide it's time to spend more time with his wife and son (who no longer lives at home). I guess he's going to be spending a lot of time driving between home and his son's college.

Do I care about this? no...

Rove will then be free to be indicted, subpoenaed, annoyed - maybe (if we're lucky) rendered.

All Repugnican stories to the contrary, Rove has been one of the most divisive figures in public office since Richard Nixon. Only difference was, Nixon resigned and was pardoned. If we're lucky, after Rove is back in Texas, he won't be able to provide political cover for his boss anymore. Bush's Brain leaves town? Unthunkable! What will the nukular president do? Rove was the politician's politician. For him, the purpose of political office was to stay in office. Governance was an annoyance, something you did to make it look like you were doing something with the public's money.

Meanwhile, privatize Social Security, Medicare, Veteran's Health, Edumacation, road-building and repair, and half the military.

Karl Rove, and by extension, the Shrub, were not concerned with the government doing anything beyond fighting wars. To Rove the purpose of being in politics had nothing to do with leadership, and everything to do with winning. Winning was all, even to the point of gaming the system. Smearing your opponent was a small fraction of the total effort. It was also important to make sure the fewest number of your opponent's likely voting block made it to the polls. Thus, the US Attorney's scandal was born.

Voter Fraud, the greatest lie of this, the Leastest Generation, is something cooked up by Repugnican operatives to ensure that people of color do not vote. Also helps to keep out those pesky liberal college students. People who read a lot tend to vote democratic. People who watch TV and listen to Rush Limbaugh tend to vote for anything vaguely resembling a patriot, even if the patriot wears a Hitler moustache. "Patriots" by the way, are people who believe that Amurika is the bestest country ever, we do nothing wrong, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a liberal pinko commie surrender-monkey illegal-immigrant-loving terrorist-coddling SOB that should be rendered and then dropped into a country where such awful behaviors would be tolerated.

Like Chechnya, Massachusetts, or maybe Portland, Oregon.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Bridge To New Orleans

I haven't spoken much about Katrina, since I have very little experience with New Orleans specifically, and the South in general. I haven't been there to see the devastation, though I have seen Spike Lee's often completely infuriating documentary on the subject. Leaves you with the feeling that everyone in power was to blame, and that they're idiots to boot.

However, let's not let a complete lack of knowledge stop my mouth from chattering on...

It is my understanding that we're still holding fundraising events for the victims of Katrina. The government (in the shape of FEMA, and all it stands on) gave out trailers that are outgassing formaldehyde (more than usual - love that new car/corpse smell!) and making the occupants sick. Good old government contracts - they pay well, and sometimes you get sued. The levees are currently behind in their refitting, and won't really be ready for the next big storm that hits that region.

Oh, good. More dead people. (but, you know - black and poor, so no one will notice so much)

Oh, whoops, I'm sorry, I forgot, all the folks who lived there pretty much moved away, so that the developers can move in a bunch of "market rate" housing, and New Orleans will gradually become whiter and whiter. Greg Palast, I tell ya, the guy just makes me angry every time I read him. So, this time, when these folks' housing gets washed away in the next flood, the insurance companies won't necessarily be able to not pay them, as they did with so many folks who had lived in their homes for decades, paid them off, paid their premiums, etc. The folks that are going to live there will have more money, access to lawyers, and be the right color in the first place.

And a Democrat will be president, so it'll be her fault, anyway.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


We just don't know anymore. The French can build a bridge across an enormous valley, and it's a thing of beauty. We can't even keep our bridges in place.

And people die.

A friend of mine asked me recently, "how long did it take to span the country with a new railroad? And how long is it taking to build a rail line from Tacoma to Seattle?" A distance of about thirty miles. We spent seven years arguing over the cost of putting in a monorail that everyone but the political leaders in Seattle and King County wanted, had five votes on it (the first four all came out a resounding "yes!"), and the last vote was a no because they were going bankrupt. Probably due to all the political infighting to keep the project from coming to fruition. And now we find out that the Light Rail alternative (which we didn't want, but is what we're getting), will be more expensive than originally planned. Duh.

And now, a bridge over the Mississippi has collapsed, taking something like fifty cars and their occupants with it. A bridge that in 2005 was judged to be substandard (but not a danger, yet). The Democratic legislature in the state of Minnesota had brought an infrastructure spending bill to the governor (a Repugnican), who vetoed the whole thing because of a 5-cent/gallon tax increase. He could have line-itemed that out, but he chose to veto the entire bill.

Shrub was doing his press-confrence thing after the collapse, and immediately went into blaming the newly-elected Democratic Congress for not passing the spending bills that were due (and none of which would have affected whether this particular bridge would have stayed up). He also pointed out that the legislature is going into summer recess without having passed the bill onto him yet. This from a President that has spent more time on vacation than any other President in history.

It seems to me that we, as Americans, have abdicated all responsibility for everything. We don't fix things, we don't build things (unless it's private enterprise, of course). We sit back, hiding behind our hands, and hope that the problems that we think might be coming down the pipeline won't affect us, but maybe the next guy. And we wait. We need a president who is willing to tell us not what we want to hear, but what we need to hear. It's pessimistic and unpleasant, but until someone in a leadership position gives us and the Congress the scolding we so richly deserve, this country will fall apart, one piece at a time, and we'll sit back, and watch it all on CNN.

Until, of course, our own roof caves in. "Gee, how did that happen?"

I'm no better. I work my ass off to make enough money to be pretty comfortable. My job sends me all over hell and gone, so I can't reliably volunteer for anything, unless the folks involved are really understanding. Most people are worse off than I am. But we keep electing people who tell us happy nonsense. I saw a bumper sticker on a guy's car this morning that said, "Proud to be American."

I'm not anymore.