A wholly self-indulgent recap of what I think are my best rants, whines and praises about life, strange things I see on the street, cities, books, news and other random flotsam and jetsam.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

White House Projectionist New Most Powerful Man in Washington

When Bush won a second term, I needed to shift my mental construct to rationalize his reelection. I could accept staunch Republicans voting for him in hopes that his presence in the White House would further the Party platform, help raise money for and get other Republicans elected (remember, this was a few years ago). I just couldn't accept all the people who said they voted for him because he was "doing a good job." So...

It was then that I started thinking of Georgie as a character in a musical comedy about Pol Pot, not the man in charge of the "noo-cu-lar" codes. After all, folks just love musical comedy... I know it sounds odd but it I've found it to be a highly effective coping mechanism.

Anyway... today, the LA Times reported that Bush will create the world's largest marine protected area. A total of 140,000 square miles of Pacific Ocean surrounding a string of islands and atolls that stretch from the Hawaiian Islands to the Midway Atoll.

I dive. I feel strongly about the health of our oceans. So, I think it's a good idea and hope that concessions will be developed for the native populations that have always depended on these waters for food. But Bush attempting to preserve the environment? How confusing... I've never heard it speculated that there exist "vast oil reserves" off Hawaii; but an act of real environmental concsiousness... it didn't exactly seem in character.

Evidently, the turning point for this "greener" Bush came in April, when he sat through a 65-minute private White House screening of a PBS documentary that highlighted the beauty and threats facing the archipelago's waters and its nesting seabirds, sea turtles and puppy-dog-eyed monk seals, all threatened by extinction.

According to White House officials and others in attendance, the documentary seemed to really catch Bush's interest. Reportedly, he "popped up from his front-row seat after the screening; congratulated filmmaker Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the late underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau; and urged the White House staff to get moving on protecting these waters."

"He was enthusiastic," Cousteau said. "I think he really made a discovery — a connection between the quality of our lives and the oceans."

Well, maybe this week, the White House projectionist could show "The War Tapes;" the first Iraq War documentary filmed entirely by the soldiers themselves. For good measure and to ensure Bush's attention, they could also show cartoons and serve popcorn and "Sno-Caps." Then, perhaps tomorrow, I can read in the LA Times that Bush is ending his terrorist breeding program; oops, I mean war, in Iraq.

In George Washington's farewell address, he counseled Americans to "avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which under any form are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty." How many more times does America need to demonstrate that we can't micromanage the world and that we just don't understand other cultures? Korea, Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Chile, Guatemala... consider what calamities arose in those places from American intervention and the resulting political vacuums. It's quite clear that there are still those in power that do not fully grasp the prospect for blow-back, at home and abroad, from our policy decisions and military actions.

Woe, the musical comedy...

War as Economic Development

The "weapons of mass destruction" argument has been debunked. No matter how many times Saddam Hussein's name is mentioned in the same sentence as the terror attacks of 9-11, we know that's not where the responsibility lays. Turkey, our ally and the recipient of billions in US economic aid, has been conducting a genocidal campaign, that upstages Iraq's, against its Kurdish population since 1992 - destroying 3,000 plus Kurdish villages; so, we can't claim we care enough about the Kurds to go to war. Hell, you can't even claim it's the oil. All Middle-eastern oil accounts for less than 10% of the US's annual oil consumption. That is just $11 billion in oil compared to the $50 billion we spend annually "protecting" the Middle East, not to mention the $289 billion and growing that we have spent on the war in Iraq.

Perhaps, it's all just a post Cold War, unartfully constructed, economic stimulus package for the US defense industry... After all, Halliburton has done quite well for itself and Lockheed Martin has that government subsidized loan to repay. I wonder how many at home we could educate and what discoveries and technological advances we could make that would reposition our economic base and put our unemployed back to work if the $289 billion was but applied to more peaceful and productive purposes?

Parallels in History: You do the math...

1. In 1773, a financially insolvent but politically influential East India Company appealed to the British Parliament for assistance. It received a monopoly on tea exports to the colonies; an act that precipitated the American Revolution.

2. Popular thinking has it that “evil” governments get overthrown. However it is weak governments such as the English presence in America in the 1770s, not tyrannical ones, that are more likely to be toppled.

3. In the American Revolution, the British had to fight a war across an ocean, on unfamiliar terrain, against an enemy whose concerns were not truly understood and who could be a friend in public and a foe behind their back. Yet England pressed on, confident that the Americans could not stand up to British moral and military superiority and fearful that a loss would trigger a “domino effect."

4. After the French and Indian War, England decided to station an army of about 10,000 soldiers in North America to protect the colonies and "manage" the Indians. This generated tremendous resentment. Americans feared the soldiers would abuse the populous and the army undermine their liberty.

5. In various American cities there were "riots," which included the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party.

6. In 1765, a multi-class alliance of American merchants, intellectuals and workers organized the Sons of Liberty to coordinate resistance.

7. During the American Revolution, there were American propagandists who wrote pamphlets to further the cause of Independence. The most prolific of those writers was Thomas Paine.

8. Both the English and the Americans provided incentives to secure the affiliations of regional peoples and leaders. The Native American tribes that depended most heavily upon colonial trade tended to side with the revolutionaries.

9. England considered American revolutionaries insurgents and criminals.

Were there Americans, as well as those from other nations, that sought to exploit the political upheaval for their own profit or fringe ideology? Sure... but sometimes revolutionaries are just revolutionaries.

"Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it." - George Santayana