Tuesday, May 15, 2007

RIP Hatemonger

Jerry Falwell is dead.

This does not give me any satisfaction. But anyone who could seriously say "...blow them away in the name of the Lord" is a total dufus. Good riddance.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I Hate Heroes

Yes, this "hero" crap is gettin' pretty stale for me.

It's getting kinda watered down, don't ya think? Just about everyone is a hero these days. Every poor schlub that joined the military hoping to escape their soul-crushing middle American existence and subsidize a community college education is a hero. Morons who ride their motorcycles without helmets and then kiss pavement at 90 mph get to be heroes just because their no-longer-needed left kidney ends up in some little girl. The worst are those heroes that qualify by keeping their head down and going to work at the tool and die shop every day for 40 years so they can put lunchables in their trashy kids' backpacks.

I have news. Their misery does not make them heroes. It just makes them miserable. And guess what? They're bringing the rest of us down as well.

Whatever happened to crawling through fifty yards of barbed wire under withering machine gun fire to rescue wounded comrades? THAT qualifies.

I want my hero status served with the following, though not necessarily in this order: glory, fame, money, free food and drinks, and the adoration of very attractive women. In fact, if I can have the last three, I'm willing to be well known as the world's most cowardly asshole.

But what's really bugging me now is the anointing of presidential contenders as heroes. Specifically, we hear about Rudy Giuliani and George Bush as heroes for the way they responded on and after 9-11. It's a storyline that even their enemies grudgingly acknowledge.

But give me a break. Everyone knows that it is never easier to know what to say and do than at a moment of crisis like 9-11. You can pull the script for that "never-say-surrender-all-pull-together" hokum off any shelf in Hollywood. A ten-year-old would have the sense to behave just as they did. It should be the greatest relief to any public figure to be able to operate in a world of black and white like that just for a few minutes before returning to struggle with shades of gray, competing priorities and factions. What else might Giuliani and Bush have said as they stood atop the piles of rubble?

"You people are fucked. If you need me, call me at my beach house."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Yes, We are Doomed. But Look! I Baked Cookies!

In politics, there's always a gap between what you must say, and what you must do. Nowhere is that gap more pronounced than in Iraq, where even the smartest plays are imperfect at best, and too complex for sound bites.

Those who say that no one knows how to solve the Iraq crisis are being partially disingenuous. The world has had plenty of experience with similar situations. We can predict the possible future plot lines, and there are road-tested tactics available to manage them all. The problem is that no one, on the right or the left, can articulate, much less successfully sell, the appropriate policies to the public.

The difficulty is exacerbated by the fact that we don't know, and in fact shouldn't be overly rigid, about the final outcome we want to achieve. The goal is stability, which could come in a variety of forms, and depending on which form becomes attainable in the dynamic unfolding of events, we should be flexible enough to reach for it in the moment of opportunity. It's like we're baking. We know the ingredients: security, pacification, diplomacy, economic aid, and so forth, we just can't predict what will happen when it's in the oven. Will it be popovers or pound cake? I would argue that if it's anything other than an inedible leaden brick, we've got a potential winner.

This puts right-thinking policy makers at a huge disadvantage; even if they could articulate the details of the correct approach, the situation is so fluid that abrupt changes of tactics will be necessary. And that means that our leaders for years to come will be managing not only a mess in Iraq, but a separate mess of public opinion. Progress will come even more slowly than it might otherwise, we will bleed treasure, and the Iraqis will bleed the thing that everyone most hates to bleed: actual blood.

P.S. The last thing we should be doing at a time like this is pointing fingers and playing the blame game. But I would be remiss not to mention that this is ALL George Bush's fault. On the way to Baghdad he destroyed all the political and diplomatic infrastructure needed for escape. He abused the public trust, disdained international consensus, and ignored Iraq's internal political realities. And now the next president will have to knit a parachute while in free fall.

I'm not trying to be a downer--I'm only sayin'.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

George Bush is Roasting Babies Alive!

Well, let's just say for a minute that he is roasting babies alive. Cute, cuddly, innocent little babies!

Would that be bad enough to actually stand out among the many crimes, legal and moral, that he and his forces commit every day? What does it take to make a splash in an already roiling typhoon sea?

If you consider the kinds of trespasses that have brought indictment in past white houses, that have toppled governments, you can only conclude that our present crew have taken the game to a whole new level. They are the Bob Beamon of administrations, shattering all previous records for corruption, both quantitatively and qualitatively. They are the new yardstick of sleaze.

Yet to date, the reaction in terms of public condemnation and legal redress has not been in any way proportional, because we have become acclimated to the volume of badness. Just as a single scream is lost in the roar of a crowd, so, inevitably, no crime or abjuring of the public faith is shocking when such violations occur with the regularity of respiration.

It is because it is human nature to become inured to that which is routine that it is critical that every trespass of this administration be queued up and processed by the legal system. Congressional committees, courts, the GAO, special prosecutors--the overwhelming backlog of misbehavin' must be digested by a system that is immune to becoming acclimated to anything, that knows no way to approach the garbage heap of evidence but to laboriously examine and catalog every rotting item on the pile and then hang each reeking piece of filth around the neck of the Dick Cheney who is responsible for it.

The public may be exhausted by scandal, but let the mindless wheels of justice grind.