Sunday, April 30, 2006
Pimpin' the Rebate
The White House and Congress joined forces today to award a no-bid contract to Clyde the Oil Pimp, a wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton.
Clyde's function will be to put a human face on the recent $100 rebate authorized by Congress to offset record-high fuel prices across the nation.
"Yo, I know what it like to go for the Good Life and see mah dream not come true when the prices go up, yo," said Clyde in his first press conference. "I can relate to this shit fo sho."
Clyde will travel from community to community on just where $100 of gas put in his tank will take him. Once there, he will hand out "Ben Homie's" bills, keeping careful track of the names of the recipients of the rebate.
The White House had no comment when asked about the rumor that Karl Rove would be stuffed in the trunk.
Waiting It Out
"We were driving around in the Hummer," said Virgil. "We figured that we were safe from the terrorists as long as we were on the go. It's harder to hit a moving target. But dang it, we ran out of gas, so we decided to go under, literally."
The shelter, built in the 50s, came with the house that they bought in Topeka last year.
"This is a sensible solution," said Virgil as he climbed in for what he imagined could be a "fair number of years."
"I'm hopin' that by the time we get out, Virgil Jr. here will be through adolescence, and America will have returned to its unquestioned supremacy in the world."
"In the meantime the cost of livin' is through the roof, and we're probably better off down here."
Saturday, April 29, 2006
We Are Not Amused
No wonder they hate us. Put aside that dumb excuse for analysis from Dubya on Middle East distaste for America, "They hate our freedom."
What they hate is our greed, our sheer sense of entitlement to help ourselves to whatever natural resources will enable us to enrich ourselves at their expense.
In Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy, we learn that unlike the rest of the globe (and in particular, America), much of Iraq's oil remains in the ground. What Saddam was waiting to do was to barter new deals with distinctly non-Anglo-American oil firms,(China, France, Russia, India, Japan, Indonesia, Canada, and Germany had projects either agreed upon or under discussion with Saddam) once U.N. sanctions were lifted. That's why it was so important to U.S. and British interests to kick up the dust around Saddam's possession of WMDs, and then to invade Iraq on that pretext, thereby setting up the occupation and military bases that would perpetuate that occupation while the U.S. forced itself upon the Iraqi people.
As Phillips tells us, "Old-fashioned colonialists, regal and unembarrassed, took physical control of territories, sent in ostrich-plumed governors, minted coins, and printed local postage stamps on which kings or queens gazed proudly over scenes of natives cutting cocoa pods or harvesting tea. By contrast, petro-imperialism--the key aspect of which is the U.S. militrary's transformation into a global oil-protection force--puts up a democratic facade, emphasizes freedom of the seas (or pipleline routes), and seeks to secure, protect, drill, and ship oil, not administer everyday affairs. Still, the way in which the United States has begun to organize its national security and military posture around oil is hardly new in spirit, albeit unprecedented in scope."
No wonder the Bush Administration didn't have a plan for the governance of Iraq after the war. It's not part of the drill.
These shenanigans are nothing new. Phillips refers to the west's attempts to divvy up Middle Eastern oil resources as the modern era's "Hundred Year War." After the first world war had ended, Britain's Lord Curzon described the optimum oil scenario as an "Arab facade ruled and administered under British guidance and controlled by a native Mohammedan and, as far as possible, by an Arab staff. . . There should be no actual incorporation of the conquered territory in the dominions of the conquerer, but the absorption may be veiled by such constitutional fictions as a protectorate, a sphere of influence, a buffer state and so on."
The importance of Phillips' book can't be overstated. Neither can the growing feeling that we are going to have to come to terms with, and to a plan of action based on the fact that our way of life has been carved out at the expense of a lot of less fortunate people who justifiably think we're scum.
We may not be scum. We may be simply people who like our creature comforts and don't want to know at what cost they come.
Damn, but that's a state of mind that quickly turns to scum in the gloppy little pond that is the American mind.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
The Drill Is Gone
As I indicated the other day, Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy is my current big read. I have actually been layering in James Risen's shorter but also compelling State of War: George W. Bush and the CIA. (More about which soon.)
Phillips begins Theocracy with an interesting thesis: hegemony in the modern world can best be linked to mastery of a fuel source that, when coupled with technology, leads the way to the Next Big Thing. Therefore the Dutch, with their mastery of wind and water, were responsible for significant innovations (and their own tulip-crowned version of exploration and imperialism), followed by the British combination of coal, iron, and the railroad, which led became 19th century industrial revolution. America's star turn has been the 20th century exploitation of petroleum, its own and other nations', and therein lies the tale.
An important historical lesson has been the inability of whatever dominant nation to adjust to changes in the technology and its accompanying fuel requirement. Notice that the Dutch and the British just aren't what they used to be as world powers. (Somehow, I think that must be something of a relief. I am world power-weary, if only vicariously.)
The decline of major oil discoveries (like that of Spindletop, a former major gusher on the Gulf Coast, pictured above), provides us with our next major challenge. Simply put, the big oil areas have been pumped down; further extraction requires more pressure and is more expensive. Newer discoveries around the globe do not replace the earlier finds. The supply is past peak. The future lies in other sources, other technologies.
Will we move past the hollow rhetoric of an oilman lecturing us on our oil addiction, to significant innovation, or is Brazil the next world power? Can we develop a vision for the good life that doesn't depend on the military seizure of the resources of others? Can we move past the stupidity of entitlement to a vision that justifies our world leadership?
Note to Al Gore: Thanks for the good movie, articles, speeches. Now, what are you doing for the next 6-8 years?
Monday, April 24, 2006
Earth Day, Ought-Six
President: Thank yew, thank yew. It's great to be here in the Great State of Californey, pissing away more jet fuel and wearin' my First Fleece with the swell Presidential Seal on it an' lecturin' y'all about your addiction to oil and bike ridin' and carin' like I give a big rat's ass about the future of the planet.
When I refused to sign on to the Kyoto accords, I want you to know that the Lord and I talked about it for some time. "Lord?" I recall asking Him, "Whatest wouldest thoust havest me doest?"
Well, there was kind of a pause, and then the Lord replied, "Behold, I have given every living thing for yer use, George. It says so right in my unerring Book which you read only little pamphlet summaries of."
One thing about the Lord: he's a card!
Well then, I realized that this all was true. That's what the Lord told Adam in the Garden, and if America isn't today's Garden, I don't know what is! And every living thing has been given for my use--soldiers, natural resources, the dumb American public--even all those little black and yella and brown people all over the world, although I haven't been able to make maximum use o' them yet. I'm still working on that one. What with the Dick overstretched on executive privilege, we're running a little behind there. If it weren't for all those sweat shops, we'd be in deep dooey.
But I'm gettin' off the subject here. What I want to say here is a big ol' thank yew note to the Lord for givin' me an entire planet to play with. I intend to share it with my friends from the Lord's corporations, just as I learned to share my toys in the sandbox. We're hoping to use every living thing to make ourselves richer and more militarily dominant in the days to come.
Thanks, Lord. You've done a heckuva job with Your planet, and I intend to do ya proud.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
All I can say right now is Yikes. The Christian Right has long been assembling itself from its radical religious beginnings, which are like ever increasing tributaries derived from other streams. (Or, for us older folks, ever branching varicose veins on the big nasty leg of society).
Phillips' research goes in a variety of directions: historical, social, theological, economic, political. These disillusioned Republicans have lots of energy to place into study once the thrill is gone. I remember being similarly amazed with John Dean's Worse Than Watergate a couple of months back.
More soon. Gotta get back to the book.
Monday, April 17, 2006
His Will Be Done
"If you stand up today and acknowledge God, they will try to destroy you," he said, referring to his legal troubles. DeLay suggests that his legal salvation is linked to the salvation of the Republican Party and of Christianity itself.
We shouldn't be surprised. DeLay won't be the first right-winger to get lots of donations from true believers to help him fulfill his mission, which according to his pastor Rick Scarborough is "to represent righteousness in government." What better gig could there be than to run from pulpit to pulpit with the"message" that he is being persecuted for his beliefs? The collection plates can be dumped right into his defense fund.
DeLay understands our skepticism. "When faced with the truth, the truth hurts. It is human nature not to face that. People hate the messenger. That's why they killed Christ."
Maybe he can intern with Fred Phelps.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any --lifted from the no
of all nothing-- human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
Friday, April 14, 2006
Take a Friend... or Serve It with Tea
This new incarnation is a moving if disturbing one. Jarecki begins the film with Eisenhower's 1961 farewell address, the one in which he first used his newly coined phrase, themilitary-industrial complex. He warns his fellow citizens of its creation and cautions them that only an informed citizenry will be able to keep it in its place.
It's always amazed me that the phrase was Eisenhower's. I guess I underestimated the impact of war on that five-star general. He wished that the atomic bomb hadn't been invented and was opposed to its use.
The film's focus extends in several directions: to a retired cop who lost his son in the world trade tower, a young man who feels that his only shot at a future lies in the military, a retired Pentagon officer who witnessed the build-up of the selling of the Iraq war and can describe, from the inside, the role that think tanks and defense contractors play in perpetuating America's continuing compulsion to take military action.
In the unfolding of this last dynamic Jarecki does a good job of distinguishing between democracy and capitalism, a distinction that we in the so-called free world have difficulty making.
Why We Fight shows a drive that isn't exclusive to the Bush Administration, although no neocon was ever better served by 9/11 and the pretext for aggression that it has provided. It's a worthy film, and one that should be viewed by more than those of us already singing in the choir. It probably won't be coming soon to a multiplex near you, but keep an eye on your local university's film series. Perhaps it'll show up there.
Go. Go. Go.
Having burnt out on enabling a ninny
Called upon Rumsfeld to resign.
Said, "Don’t you be silly! Feel the toe of my boot!
The Donald protects me, brings me pretzels and cake
And tells me cool stories when I lie too awake.
His counsel assures me, is always benign.
He thinks I’m hot stuff! He should never resign!"
Said Don to the brass, "It’s a mighty good thing
You all are retired, or you’d feel the sting
of all of the power that's vested in me:
I’d say where you’d go, whom you’d fight, when you’d pee,
You’d lose MRE’s, you’d subsist but on weeds
In the army we’d have, not the army you’d need.
I’d kick in your privates, and I don’t mean First Class,
I’d yank off your stars and batter your ass!"
Said George-the-Inept, "I wish I were smarmy,
But in matters of war, who heeds the Army?
With the Lord by my side, Dick and Don at my back,
We can’t help but win, even if I’m a hack!
The daily statistics, Iraq and Iran
are manifestations of my Jesus’ plan!
Just as He has chose me, just as I am His dude,
You’re all my toy soldiers, if I’m not being rude."
Replied the six four-stars with fire in their eyes,
(Swannick and Griggs had expanded their size)
"We’ve had quite enough, you’re no more than a thief,
Certainly not our Commander in Chief!
When you were young, you were rich, hawkish wimps,
And now you’ve morphed into such corporate pimps!
We’ve had quite enough, we’ll stay silent no more,
You chicken hawk dipshits, you corporate whores!"
"That’s enough," replied Dubya, "You should know by now,
That it makes no difference, no way and no how.
I only require that my intimate staff
should shield me from news, refrain from a laugh
at my mispronounci-ations, my confusions of fact,
replace truth with illusion, bring in toady for tact.
Even if I removed the Donald from rule
I’d replace him, no doubt, with a neo-con fool."
The light broke, clouds parted, they knew it was true,
With the Dubya there would always be more of this crew,
Conceited, smug morons, t'is hopeless,for sooth,
Let’s all terminate them in ‘08’s voting booths!
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Jesus Christ issued a blanket pardon to George W. Bush today for his errors of the last three years, saying, "Whatever he does is A-okay with me."
Jesus, who has shied away from politics in recent years, decided to come forth and support the one he referred to as "My main man on the geopolitical scene."
"George is right. The Constitution is just a goddam piece of paper," declared the Prince of Peace in a press release distributed by Scott
Mc Clellan. "I asked him to invade Iraq, and he did. Instead of just offering up one son, as Abraham did Isaac, George has forked over 2,000 sons and daughters. I couldn't be more flattered."
With the Supreme Court newly packed with pious justices, Jesus indicated that just one more appointment would turn the U.S. into the New Jerusalem that it was always intended to be.
"Perhaps a nice avian flu will do the trick by summer," he mused.
According to the release, the Lord is especially interested in Justice David Souter going to his just reward.
He declined to comment on the fate of Tom DeLay. "I am moving in mysterious ways there."
Friday, April 07, 2006
Republican Poetry Slam
Sure, it seems like a contradiction in terms, but visit Dusty's It's My Right to Be Left of Center, and you can't help but be inspired by her ode to Tom "Bug-Man" Delay. There is such a thing as Republican poetry.
On top of that, April is National Poetry Month, and as a retired English teacher, it's probably my duty to take a cue from Dusty and get off my duff, poetically speaking.
I'll stick in the limerick I wrote in response to Dusty's poem and encourage her to add hers here... along with any that you may be inspired to add. (Karen Zipdrive, queen of the political haiku, which I guess makes it actually a senryu, this especially means you.)
From time to time I'll attempt other forms all through April... God help us all.
Okay, here goes.
They used to call Tom the Hammer
For making his enemies stammer
and then he went daft
with greed and with graft
Now Hammer is bound for the slammer.
Et tu, Brute?
Reminding the pair, "You don't have to have bad manners to swim in Lake Jackass," Dr. Phil strapped the two into his therapeutic couch in an effort to save the administration he supports.
"Remember, in this administration nobody has gone to war, so it only makes sense that Condi hasn't," he said, wagging a bejeweled finger at Rumsfeld. "It should be a uniter among you, not a divider. You don't need sergeant's stripes to pull rank."
To Rice he offered, "It's important to stand by all your men. Don't slice into those tender testicles. You don't need a course in astrophysics to poop on a cracker."
The pair have planned a trip to each other's home towns in order to kick up a little Jack Straw magic.