Crap! Goof off for a while and the whole damn' world goes bonkers. I mean, where do you start? Lou Dobbs and the "birthers"? The shameful Democrat surrender over health care "reform"? Our increasing involvment in Afghanistan? Whatever happened to closing Guantanamo?
There is no longer any way of approaching the current world events with a straight face. We have sunk into total and complete satire—except it isn't satire any more, it's real life. It's a good thing we're only one planet in the universe: if we were more than that we'd be dangerous to everything including ourselves. As it is, the universe will little note nor long remember the little third planet from the sun...Except maybe as an object lesson.
America seems to have sunk back into middle 19th Century racism, along with the vast international empire we've maintained. The current furor over Obama's birth certificate is utterly nuts. So is our cancerous military budget—more than all the other countries on earth put together (and we've been fighting a rag-tag band of mountain guerillas in Afghanistan for eight years and can't defeat them...). We cannot get decent health care for all our citizens, not just the rich ones. If you're rich or middle-class you can live quite well, but if you're poor you might as well slit your wrists because the country doesn't want you around—except to mow lawns and clean up trash. What in the hell went on?
Nothing "went on." It's just the very careful and very thick make-up we put on over America's withered face finally started cracking and peeling. The lines, the scabs, the running sores, there they are for everyone to see. Just drive down the street and see the beggars. See the emotional crips stumbling along. Look over there, there's some gang-bangers out to find trouble. See the gold-plated rich folks pretending not to notice.
Yeah, I'm feeling kind of cynical about it all. Disappointed again, sigh. If we have real change makers, we kill them; the ones who promise change but don't deliver, well, they're OK. Shit.
I was just checking Ten Bears' blog, Homeless on the High Desert, and wanted to comment on a couple of his postings. Couldn't figure out how to do it. One was on the Bend Bulletin's editorial today about how the stimulus was a failure. Yeah.
The Bulletin is doing a remarkable job of trying to return to the thrilling days of the administration of Herbert Hoover. It's as though somebody fed the paper regression/reaction pills. They consistently come out against taxes on the rich, any sort of government action, and manage to editorialize their front page... It has become as informative as a Republican newsletter. I guess, on second thought, it is a Republican newsletter. Not a very big one, either. If it wasn't for foreclosure notices they could probably print their classified section on one 8 X 10 sheet of paper. The front section isn't much larger. The business section is simply a fold-over.
The other item I wanted to comment on was something about some pastor praying for Obama's death. That's really frightening. We know the right wing has a vast collection of guns and we know many of them are convinced they know god's will and it's for them to save this this country from Satan. I didn't expect, over the years, such a self-righteous wave of rage to sweep the country. I actually thought we were winning, slowly but surely. We being the forces of progressive politics, compassion, mediation not violence, and so on and so forth. I was wrong, yeah. The hyper-right has gone totally bat-shit.
Now, the problem is, that we don't go bat-shit trying to keep up with them.
According to a report on the Huffington Post, MSNBC anchors apologized because someone actually told the truth (god forbid):
Marcy Wheeler of FireDogLake, appeared on MSNBC Monday to argue for an investigation of secret C.I.A. operations under President Bush. But all of the post-segment discussion focused on her use of the word "blow job", which drew an apology from the anchors.
Wheeler was responding to Townhall's Matt Lewis, who argued that looking backwards and "investigating policies and activities that happened in a previous administration" would set a bad precedent.
"[Y]our idea is that after investigating Bill Clinton for a blow job for like five years, we shouldn't investigate the huge, grossly illegal things that were done under the past administration, only because Alberto Gonzales was too much in the back pocket of Dick Cheney to do it while he was still in office," Wheeler said. "That's ridiculous."
Yeah. One of the famous lines of abusers is "Now see what you made me do!" Like, it's all your fault I hit/fucked/molested/killed/insulted you—I'm really innocent. I'm the real victim. You put your face in the way of my fist.
So...the reporter from the Vancouver Sun has an account on Kos. Whoop-de-doo. That means, I guess, that he is therefore untrustworthy. So...did he make the Freepers write those absolutely foul comments about Malia Obama? This seems unclear. Maybe he wrote them all himself? Or, did he pay those corrupt lib-symps to write them? Or, what? The point is, the Free Republic is a web site for armed conservative paranoids—or, if their records prohibit them from owning weapons, the wannabe-be-armed conservatives. And, anymore, it seems like it's the waaay out in right field folks who love to blame others for their own aggressions.
When I saw this article, the only response I could make was "Whaaat?" Just think what the Free Republic folks would have come up with Malia was Jewish... This is what the "conservatives" are about, these days. They don't care what they say or how racist they sound: they have permission to be blind and vicious and they got permission from folks like Bill-O, Rush, Michelle Malkin, and Hal Turner. I'm disgusted and embarrassed.
Conservative Free Republic blog in free speech flap after racial slurs directed at Obama children
By Chris Parry, Vancouver SunJuly 11, 2009
This photo of U.S. President Barrack Obama's daughter Malia, wearing a peace-symbol t-shirt touched off a storm of epithet-laced comments on the conservative 'Free Republic' blog
Photograph by: Remo Casilli , Reuters
"A typical street whore." "A bunch of ghetto thugs." "Ghetto street trash." "Wonder when she will get her first abortion."
These are a small selection of some of the racially-charged comments posted to the conservative 'Free Republic' blog Thursday, aimed at U.S. President Barack Obama's 11-year-old daughter Malia after she was photographed wearing a t-shirt with a peace sign on the front.
The thread was accompanied by a photo of Michelle Obama speaking to Malia that featured the caption, "To entertain her daughter, Michelle Obama loves to make monkey sounds."
Though this may sound like the sort of thing one might read on an Aryan Nation or white power website, they actually appeared on what is commonly considered one of the prime online locations for U.S. Conservative grassroots political discussion and organizing - and for a short time, the comments seemed to have the okay of site administrators.
Moderators of the blog left the comments - and commenters - in place until a complaint was lodged by a writer doing research on the conservative movement, almost a full day later.
"Could you imagine what world leaders must be thinking seeing this kind of street trash and that we paid for this kind of street ghetto trash to go over there?" wrote one commenter.
"They make me sick .... The whole family... mammy, pappy, the free loadin' mammy-in-law, the misguided chillin', and especially 'lil cuz... This is not the America I want representin' my peeps," wrote another.
Such was the onslaught of derision on the site that the person who originally complained about the slurs, a Kristin N., claims only one comment in the first hundred posted actually criticized the remarks as inappropriate.
A note on the front of the blog reads, "Free Republic does not advocate or condone racism, violence, rebellion, secession, or an overthrow of the government," but one comment on the thread read, "This disgusting display makes me more and more eager for the revolution," while another read, "I never actually wnated [sic] to be a pistol before but..."
After attention from other blogs, the thread was suppressed and placed under review, but before long it was returned to the site intact, and attracted a new series of racial slurs when the original complaint email was posted publicly to the site, with the sender's email address intact.
"The writer has a point," wrote site owner Jim Thompson sarcastically. "We should steer clear of Obama's children. They can't help it if their old man is an American-hating Marxist pig."
"I agree Jim," wrote commenter, by the nickname NoobRep. "The kids didn't pick their commie pinko pansy of a father. Nor did they choose to be put into the spotlight. But Obama/Soetoro is fair game and so is his witch of a wife."
"Poor kids. I hope they're not 'punished with a baby'," wrote another. "Hopefully they won't deal cocaine like the Kenyan."
"DIRTBAGS! All of them. Our [White House] is now a joke to the rest of the world. We have no respect and this is not going to turn out well, mark my words. We will be hit, and much worse than last time. We are now seen as weak and vulnerable. Ghetto and Chicago thugs have taken over."
Only after significant negative attention from a host of left wing political blogs did the maintainers of the Free Republic site place the thread under review for a second time, before finally pulling it.
In the wake of the controversy, some Free Republic posters complained about the vitriol.
One poster by the name of "fullchroma" wrote, "To Jim Thompson: The recent uptick here in racist vitriol, aimed at Barrack, Michelle and their children has made me wonder if I belong. My objection to Obama has nothing to do with skin tone. Is the ugly stereotype of Conservative racism true?"
Another, going by the name of TChris, wrote, "Free Republic is a political discussion forum. It SHOULD be beneath us as a group to stoop to such juvenile tactics as I see increasing here lately. Do we REALLY have to insult Mrs. Obama's appearance like a clique of nasty 14-year-old girls?"
But such opinions were not shared by all. Said Roses of Sharon, "Poor libs .... Too late, the battle has been joined."
Bend Bi-Mart: wheelchair semi-accessible, if you have friends
We just got back from a trip to Bi-Mart. Bi-Mart, as far as I'm concerned, is part of the Oregon Experience. No yuppies, usually, lots of old farts and fartettes, shopping for necessities, like plumbing stuff or house-wares, lots of people always in the sporting goods section.
I've been shopping at Bi-Mart for thirty or so years. It's like a small regional K-Mart. I love it. However.
You remember, a couple of months ago I took a bad fall and got broken up. I spent about six weeks in a wheelchair. A month or so back, when I was in the wheelchair, we went to Bi-Mart here in Bend. No automatic door. A sign on the door about how if you needed assistance, to stop by the service desk and they'd be happy to help. The service desk is inside, sure. So one friend opened the door and Beth wheeled me inside. The clerk at the service desk looked surprised that I was unhappy about the door. After a while, an assistant manager came and told me that many people in wheelchairs went to the exit door and waited until someone came out—the exit door, of course, is automatic. From the inside. He said there was a button on the outside of the door that would open it. No sign anywhere about that being the handicapped accessible door. The button was a reach for someone of average height, let alone sitting in a wheelchair. I complained in my polite way and sent a "customer satisfaction" form off to corporate HQ. That was about a month ago.
Today, the same scene. Nothing has changed. The clerk at the service desk told me a sign on the front door said where the accessible door was. I read it to her. It didn't mention an accessible door anywhere. She said, well you know where it is. I said, yes, and I know that Bend doesn't really care about disabled access but that doesn't mean Bi-Mart doesn't have to care either. She was nice, but clueless. I think that's the problem: people who aren't disabled have so much privilege they don't realize how many people there are they don't have those privileges—nor how much those of us who are disabled feel about being ignored. The ADA laws have been around for a generation now, and they still, at least here in Bend, are considered a problem more than a solution.
...which is going to take longer to recover: our economy or my shoulder. No causation here, just a little correlation, I hope. There sure aren't any big public works projects going on, or even in the talk-about stage.
Public works projects don't have to be on the scale of Grand Coulee or Hoover Dam. It's the P.R. that goes with them, I believe. Stuff like, "Renovating America's Cities, One Block at a Time!" or "Mile by Mile, We're Repaving American Roads!" A lot of economic recovery involves altering how people think and feel. They need to feel—we all need to feel—that change is happening, not that it's more of the same, a bunch of old white guys in thousand dollar suits making deals and calling it Government.
I'm big on positive thinking these days because it's what's keeping me on with exercising my new shoulder and not getting discouraged that eight weeks have gone by and I still can't walk and swing my arm like a normie can. Eight weeks isn't a long time, I know, but there's a part of me that's cynical and says, Jesus, this isn't ever going to get better. I want instant gratification. I want it now! So the prayer is always, Creator, I want to have patience and I want to have it right now...
Here're some wise words from a columnist I have great respect for, Bob Scheer, about the death (at least the bodily death—his soul died decades back) of Robert McNamara.
I go into this because McNamara was an Everyman: technologically advanced but morally delayed, sincerely shallow, and in love with his own perceived power. He could be any of us, except for the half-understood Mystery that makes us one person and not another. And he did, the son-of-a-bitch, cause the deaths of millions of people.
The trouble is, there are thousands more Bob McNamaras out there, awaiting their chances.
Robert McNamara, who died this week, was a complex man--charming even, in a blustery way, and someone I found quite thoughtful when I interviewed him. In the third act of his life he was often an advocate for enlightened positions on world poverty and the dangers of the nuclear arms race. But whatever his better nature, it was the stark evil he perpetrated as secretary of defense that must indelibly frame our memory of him.
To not speak out fully because of respect for the deceased would be to mock the memory of the millions of innocent people McNamara caused to be maimed and killed in a war that he later freely admitted never made any sense. Much has been made of the fact that he recanted his support for the war, but that came 20 years after the holocaust he visited upon Vietnam was over.
Is holocaust too emotionally charged a word? How many millions of dead innocent civilians does it take to qualify labels like holocaust, genocide or terrorism? How many of the limbless victims of his fragmentation bombs and land mines whom I saw in Vietnam during and after the war? Or are America's leaders always to be exempted from such questions? Perhaps if McNamara had been held legally accountable for his actions, the architects of the Iraq debacle might have paused.
Instead, McNamara was honored with the Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon Johnson, to whom he had written a private memo nine months earlier offering this assessment of their Vietnam carnage: "The picture of the world's greatest superpower killing or seriously injuring 1,000 noncombatants a week, while trying to pound a tiny backward nation into submission on an issue whose merits are hotly disputed, is not a pretty one."
He knew it then, and, give him this, the dimensions of that horror never left him. When I interviewed him for the Los Angeles Times in 1995, after the publication of his confessional memoir, his assessment of the madness he had unleashed was all too clear:
"Look, we dropped three to four times the tonnage on that tiny little area as were dropped by the Allies in all of the theaters in World War II over a period of five years. It was unbelievable. We killed--there were killed--3,200,000 Vietnamese, excluding the South Vietnamese military. My God! The killing, the tonnage--it was fantastic. The problem was that we were trying to do something that was militarily impossible--we were trying to break the will; I don't think we can break the will by bombing short of genocide."
We--no, he--couldn't break their will because their fight was for national independence. They had defeated the French and would defeat the Americans who took over when French colonialists gave up the ghost. The war was a lie from the first. It never had anything to do with the freedom of the Vietnamese (we installed one tyrant after another in power), but instead had to do with our irrational Cold War obsession with "international communism." Irrational, as President Richard Nixon acknowledged when he embraced detente with the Soviet communists, toasted China's fierce communist Mao Tse-tung and then escalated the war against "communist" Vietnam and neutral Cambodia.
It was always a lie and our leaders knew it, but that did not give them pause. Both Johnson and Nixon make it quite clear on their White House tapes that the mindless killing, McNamara's infamous body count, was about domestic politics and never security.
The lies are clearly revealed in the Pentagon Papers study that McNamara commissioned, but they were made public only through the bravery of Daniel Ellsberg. Yet when Ellsberg, a former Marine who had worked for McNamara in the Pentagon, was in the docket facing the full wrath of Nixon's Justice Department, McNamara would lift not a finger in his defense. Worse, as Ellsberg reminded me this week, McNamara threatened that if subpoenaed to testify at the trial by Ellsberg's defense team, "I would hurt your client badly."
Not as badly as those he killed or severely wounded. Not as badly as the almost 59,000 American soldiers killed and the many more horribly hurt. One of them was the writer and activist Ron Kovic, who as a kid from Long Island was seduced by McNamara's lies into volunteering for two tours in Vietnam. Eventually, struggling with his mostly paralyzed body, he spoke out against the war in the hope that others would not have to suffer as he did (and still does). Meanwhile, McNamara maintained his golden silence, even as Richard Nixon managed to kill and maim millions more. What McNamara did was evil--deeply so. _______
Robert McNamara, Lyndon Johnson’s icy-veined, cold-visaged and rigidly intellectual point man for a war that sent thousands upon thousands of people (most of them young) to their utterly pointless deaths, has died at the ripe old age of 93.
Long after the horror of Vietnam was over, McNamara would concede, in remarks that were like salt in the still festering wounds of the loved ones of those who had died, that he had been “wrong, terribly wrong” about the war. I felt nothing but utter contempt for his concession.
I remember getting my draft notice in the mid-1960s as Johnson’s military buildup for the war was in full swing. I’m not sure what I expected. Probably that the other recruits would be a tough bunch, that they would all look like John Wayne. I was staggered on the first day of basic training at Fort Dix, N.J., to be part of a motley gathering of mostly scared and skinny kids who looked like the guys I’d gone to high school with. Who looked, basically, pun intended, like me.
That’s who was shipped off to Vietnam in droves — youngsters 18, 19, 20 and 21. Many, of course, would die there, and many others would come back forever scarred.
Johnson and McNamara should have been looking out for those kids, who knew nothing about geopolitics, or why they were being turned into trained killers who, we were told, could cold-bloodedly smoke the enemy — “Good shot!” — and then kick back and smoke a Marlboro. Many would end up weeping on the battlefield, crying for their moms with their dying breaths. Or trembling uncontrollably as they watched buddies, covered in filth, bleed to death before their eyes — sometimes in their arms.
I was lucky. The Army sent me to Korea, which was no walk in the park, but it wasn’t Vietnam. I served in the intelligence office of an engineer battalion. But no one could truly escape the war. I would get letters from home that would make my heart sink, letters telling me that this buddy had been killed, that that buddy had been killed, that a kid that I had played football or softball with — or had gone to the rifle range with — had been killed.
McNamara didn’t know. My sister’s boyfriend got shot. A very close friend of mine came back from Vietnam so messed up psychologically that he killed his wife and himself.
The hardest lesson for people in power to accept is that wars are unrelentingly hideous enterprises, that they butcher people without mercy and therefore should be undertaken only when absolutely necessary.
Kids who are sent off to war are forced to grow up too fast. They soon learn what real toughness is, and it has nothing to do with lousy bureaucrats and armchair warriors sacrificing the lives of the young for political considerations and hollow, flag-waving, risk-free expressions of patriotic fervor.
McNamara, it turns out, had realized early on that Vietnam was a lost cause, but he kept that crucial information close to his chest, like a gambler trying to bluff his way through a bad hand, as America continued to send tens of thousands to their doom. How in God’s name did he ever look at himself in a mirror?
Lessons learned from Vietnam? None.
As The Times’s Tim Weiner pointed out in McNamara’s obituary, Congress authorized the war after President Johnson contended that American warships had been attacked by North Vietnamese patrol boats in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964. The attack never happened. As Mr. Weiner wrote, “The American ships had been firing at their own sonar shadows on a dark night.”
But McNamara, relying on intelligence reports, told Johnson that evidence of the attack was ironclad. Does this remind anyone of the “slam dunk” evidence of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction?
More than 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam and some 2 million to 3 million Vietnamese. More than 4,000 Americans have died in Iraq, and no one knows how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Even as I was writing this, reports were coming in of seven more American G.I.’s killed in Afghanistan — a war that made sense in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, but makes very little sense now.
None of these wars had clearly articulated goals or endgames. None were pursued with the kind of intensity and sense of common purpose and shared sacrifice that marked World War II. Wars are now mostly background noise, distant events overshadowed by celebrity deaths and the antics of Sarah Palin, Mark Sanford and the like.
The obscenity of war is lost on most Americans, and that drains the death of Robert McNamara of any real significance.
A followup on that excerpt yesterday (from The Huffington Post)—a news story today out of Seattle reported a large of number of arrests of a meth smuggling and distribution ring operating out of Jalisco, Mexico. Aye, Jalisco, as the song goes... As the US cracked down on the marketing of ingredients for manufacturing meth here in the States, the Mexican drug cartels saw an opportunity to expand their product line. The result has been that the distribution of meth has become an international opportunity.
I would think that any free market-worshipping Rethugnican would have foreseen this. I mean, Jesus, you actually think shutting down the domestic supply will eliminate the demand? No, obviously it didn't, any more than Prohibition kept people from drinking. There seems to be an inability to learn from history involved in all this. Tobacco, coffee, opiates—just because you rearrange the marketing pattern doesn't mean you suppress the demand.
A few years ago I went to "Meth Summit" here in Bend. This was when the big push against domestic meth was on. Easy to remember: daily news stories about the horrors of the drug, how easy it was to make, bust after bust of small meth labs. Don't get me completely wrong, I think it is a bad drug; I've used it on occasion over the years, and the price of the high seemed way out of proportion to the quality of the euphoria. The quality deteriorated as well: the last time I took any, twenty-plus years ago, it tasted like something you might consider using to clear out a septic tank. Anyhow, the drug-of-the-year-hype rolled on, and here in Bend we got a "Meth Summit." The big push was to have all employees, in all businesses, randomly tested for drug use. I had the impression that all right-thinking Americans would go volunteer to be tested, too. That way, we were told, drug abusers would be forced out of employment. What a swell idea!
Except...that would raise the crime rate, since people need money to buy drugs. Hmm. Well, maybe if they all got busted and put in prison they'd get clean? Hmm. I guess it would improve the job market, at least for people who wanted to be prison guards... And, of course, we need to consider the number of deaths from meth overdoses vs. the number of deaths from tobacco use.
The NAFTA debate was difficult enough without having to talk about the sprawling Mexican drug trade and its attendant corruption. And how NAFTA would also end up benefiting the cartels. So President Clinton ordered his people not to talk about it.