Friday, March 31, 2006

God's, Er, Bush's Plan

Bush and company called it "shock and awe" (or should that be capitalized, as if it were really the official name of an American product, as in Coca-Cola... Shock and Awe? Ugh.)

Anyway, for better or worse - and we have seen plenty of the latter, btw - it was "shock and awe" (I'll stick to the lower case for now). But I think I've belatedly discovered that Bush and Company's real plan was - and you heard it here first - SHAKE AND BAKE.

Just bomb the muslim (lower case) fuckers, and ignore global warming. First, shake the shit out of their "mud huts" (see "Crash" for an in context use of that little phrase). Then, more insidiously, just bake the fuck out of them by pouring on the gas. (More huge SUVs pass me on the highway than do cars. I drive a spritely little BMW that gets a respectable 33 mpg and and can feel pretty good on the highway, but still the humongous SUVs push and shove and pass like crazy.) Cook the planet, starting with the tropics and Africa and the Middle East. That'll bake their brains, and they'll go nuts, just start shooting each other and going Mideval (capitalized) on each other. That'll take care of it, and in the meantime, we (as in Halliburton, Defense Contractors WE) can clean up on the No Bid Contracts Dished Out Left and Especially RIGHT in the Eternal War on Terror.

I don't think anyone was shocked when Bush and company started dropping bombs on Bagdhad three years ago. Heck, some of us saw that coming from the moment W. announced his candidacy for the Kingship. And I don't think anybody was really awed by those dim pictures on cable of the fireworks that followed. Just a billion here, a billion there. pretty soon you're talking a real armed conflict.

No, Bush's Big Plan is a lot closer to Shake and Bake.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

George Clooney Wrote This Post


What was Arianna thinking?

Putting words in George's mouth, even if they were his own words, ok, like, 82 percent of them were his words or like his words or words he'd used in another context, in another medium - as he countered, answers not stand alone declarations.

And speaking of mediums, the medium is certainly part of the message, and the part of the message that the medium is is the message's credibility.

And blogging ain't the most credible of mediums, no matter what the folksy egalitarian, voice-of-the-people proponents of blogland say. No matter what they say, blogging is still mostly a bunch of refutable blather, webby slush for gossip and third hand news and rehashes of rehashed, far from the brick walls resolute journalists strive to build.

Blogging is blather. It's not journalism like religion is not science.

So best to be humble and stick to saying something worth saying - and writing well, no matter whose name goes on the posts.

On the other hand, I'd sure appreciate if George or even Arianna would do a guest post or two right here at A Better Nation.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Patriotic Duty?

We're on the eve of the 3rd anniversary of the Bush administration's war on Iraq, three and a half years into the broader (and everlasting?) war on terror - or is that supposed to be Terror with a capital T?

What, as patriots, should we do?

What is our "patriotic duty"?

It may seem clear to some who over nationalize, and it may seem very unclear to many more who just don't have any clue where the "wide arc of history" is taking us in this new world disorder and disarray and dismay.

But I think the answer, for individuals such as ourselves, is rather (of course) in between. But it can be started off clearly with this mission statement:

To speak up and stand up for what is in the best interest of the most people the world over for the longest period of time.

Yes, we've got to get a grasp on some big elephant issues, the truly global tendrils of our "American values" and actions as a nation and as citizens of that nation. We are, each of us, more responsible for ourselves than we are - even collectively - for our country. Not only in the end but all along, ethics and moral principle depend on the actions of individuals.

If you think war is best, support the war. If you support the troops but not the war, whatever that means, then do that, however that can be done. If you oppose the war, please say so, in terms that are firm yet framed as the statements of a patriot.

I can't draw a line around the tribe, the region, the nation, the species I am patriotic towards. I think we really are all in this together.

I'll be marching this weekend and in the fashion of civility, speaking my mind, taking my stand and conveying my own sense of peace with others and with myself.

I am secure in this conviction.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Thinking GREEN

This year, though I am about to mention it, I am distinctly NOT thinking of St. Patrick's Day. Indeed, for the first time in many years, I may not even be wearing green tomorrow. I'm thinking GREEN as in SPRING, GREEN as in global health... make that caps, Global Health.

Global Health, good. Global ills, bad. Peace, good. War, bad. Plunder, bad. Nurturing, good. You get the idea.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ides of March Post

Even though every month has an "ides" (a middle day of the month), it's because of Ceasar and Shakespeare that we give the Ides of March a rather foreboding and even sinister spin. It's right up there with Fridays the 13th.

So, for this Ides de March, I'm proposing something with plenty of siniter connotations: a conspiracy theory. I'm not one for conspiracy theories, primarily because so many such theories seem unreasonable and unsupportable even after a shit load of earnest investigative sleuthing and reporting. (I agree that the MSM - MainStreamMediaCorpInc - are in cahoots with the multi-MUNDO Corps, but hey, some theories are just that, theories.)

So here's mine, and it may not be new, but it is befitting this Ides so close to the 3rd anniversary of the Bush-Iraq War and in the midst of the primary season leading up to the midterms.

OK, the theory: Somehow, I'm betting the fix is in. The fix on the midterms, that is, and even the fix on the 2008 presidential, if you catch my drift.

Yes, it's not just my opinion, it's a fact: Republican and Ruthless both start with R, it's a FACT. And it's a fact that Republican and Reprehensible both start with R, too.

And I'm thinking that, yes, the Dems are WAY NAIVE on the whole deal/slash/pickle they've gotten themselves and us/all of us into. They're just not even rhetorically strong, much less "a force to be reconded with", as they say.

So the Republicans figured that in 2004 Florida would be closely watched, so they chose another populous swing state to spin their way, and they went to Ohio, and you see how that went.

So now they're thinking, hey, we can do this. We can keep our cash-filled hands on the reigns of this nation for plenty more terms to come, so long the people forget what a "term" is. They'll think we've just got ONE REAL PARTY in this country - and some ineffectual, weenie, has-been party remnants on the side, wagging their tails like lap dogs.

So what states are/will be in the fix this time and next time?

Surely these guys are willing to get this early of a start on the whole antiquated election thing. Elections: they're so JFK, so FDR, so Founding Fathers. Time for the new, the Neocon Theocracy.

So, yes, I'm thinking somehow, somewhere OFF the radar, the fix is in.

And it's up to us to see if we want to call 'em on it, much less stop it - if we CAN stop it.

Who's the fixer?

Calling all Karls on this, the Ides of March....

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Vote Early, Vote Often

I got to vote in Texas' primary yesterday, and what a special treat it was, too, but no, I'm not in Tom Delay's district, so no special relish or secret sauce there.

Now, I DO live in Kinky Friedman Country. He's just down the road near Medina, and I'm just up the road in Kerrville. I see him once in a while, usually at an eating place, sometimes with one of his rescued dogs on a leash. Look for him at the Cowboy Steak House or Bill's Bar-B-Que sometime.

By voting in the primary, I passed up the opportunity to be one of the almost 50,000 signatures Kinky will need to get on the ballot for the general election this fall. I encourage all of my fellow Texans who are registered to vote and who didn't vote yesterday to sign the petitions for both Kinky and Carole Keeton Rylander Strayhorn New Last Name Goes Here, the clutzy Liz Taylor of Texas politics, married so many times she's got about five last names. Strayhorn'd be a lot better than Mr. Goodhair Perry, but she's not as funny (or sly) as Kinky. And he smokes a cigar and has a beard, which puts him closer to fidel Castro than to the voters in Casroville, Texas (just west of San Antonio, a bit further down the Medina River from Kinky's house).

Bumper sticker: "He ain't Kinky, he's my governor."

I did get to vote for some Democratic hopefuls who will most likely remain just that - hopefuls. I'd even met about a half dozen of the people I got to vote for, but aren't Texas Democratic candidates just footnotes from the get go these days?

The majority of this 'too big for its britches' state has sold its soul to the company store -- even if its Enron, even if there's jail time. Too bad that majority is loosing out: the Democrats have a lot more colorful characters than does that other so-called party. Thing is, Democrats know how to party, they just don't know how to run one, as in one for all and all for "won".

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

"Letters to a Young Contrarian"

In answer to the question, what am I reading these days... Well, I've picked up the pace as of late, trying to read at least two books a week, and I've finished three in the last two days.

Most recently, an hour ago: Christopher Hitchens' little tome "Letters to a Young Contrarian," inspired by Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet" of yore.

Hitchens' overcoat and cigarette tell some of the story. He's a genuine gum shoe/shoe-leather journalist -- on the plane, on the ground, in the bush, down the alley, all over the map. He's been there, done that, and few come close to what he's seen and heard. But he's also an edgy chap, jet lag and nicotine inspired, as he says, hoping "to live long enough to graduate from being a 'bad boy' ... to becoming a 'curmudgeon'."

His brand of contrarianism is pretty thoroughly political, though to be fair, down in the trenches political. He's a name-dropper and full of jungle stories - and a bit of himself, perhaps for good reason, just as a fighter pilot must be somewhat full of himself. Though, unlike most fighter pilots, man o' man does this ash and ink-stained bloke have a vocabulary!

I sometimes say I read Henry Thoreau at the wrong time, at an impressionable age, and I took Thoreau seriously and to heart. He was MY hero. Hitchins doesn't mention Thoreau in 'Young Contrian', a missed opportunity, I think. His shades of gray heroes seem to be Zola and Havel, the progenitors of science and scurilous scoop-diggers like himself.

COMING SOON: more on this and four choice quotations from Hitchins' book...

Monday, March 06, 2006

March of the Oscars

I mean they marched right through the Oscars last night - no slobbering, no sloppy overtime, no mating rituals, no feeding frenzies and not much slipping on the ice. It was all done pronto, in three and a half hours exactly. John Stewart got in some of his own signature humor, clever, sly and adultish, but it often seemed too sarcastic for the fawning, sentimental guild members in the Kodak Theater. So the host proved a rather hapless bird swimming upstream against the gowns and glitter. But with all this Academy efficiency, where was the heart and soul of the star fest? Where were our Brando moments? Our Sally Field acceptance speeches?

OK, Reese Witherspoon came close. Indeed, hers was the best acceptance speech of the night, BY FAR. Only George Clooney's acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor even came close, and he was done within a few minutes of Stewart's itroductory send up. So even at that rapid clip, it seemed we waited through a lot of uninspired and notably UNcharismatic thank you blah blahs before we got to Reese's charming sixty seconds of girlish yet beguiling uberfame.

There'd been talk about the movies being "smaller" this year, though all "worthy." And it seems the Oscars got smaller, too, even in that improbably tall/vertical space of the Kodak. It seemed the cameras kept scanning the first few rows of famous faces, but were there really more than a few dozen real stars there?

After all the hype and hoopla and red carpet this and that (the males reduced to wallpaper in their penguin suits, the actresses' accomplishments and skills reduced to plugging designer dresses), and after so many commercial breaks, we got more anticlimax than drama. By the end, it seems we rushed right up to Jack's perfunctorily announcing "Crash" the Best Picture, and the whole thing went out with a whimper, not a bang.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spoke at San Antonio College last night on "our environmental future." I was there, in the fifth row, right behind the VIPs. The irony, environmentally speaking, is that I drove 70 miles (each way) to attend RFK Jr.'s talk.

Kennedy is more than a chip off his father's shoulders. He's in some ways the father reincarnate - in looks, especially in the eyes, but also so exquisitely charismatic, passionate, even audibly reminiscent of the Kennedy clan of yore, saying "khant" for can't and "yahd" for yard.

Kennedy's talk was just that, a talk, often hovering around the speed limit, loosely and almost breathlessly delivered, yet assuredly woven around his central passions and themes:

We depend on nature for our physical and psychological well-being. It's in our nature and in our best interests to make sure the environment is a top priority for governments at the federal and state levels. The Bush administration is the worst in history for the environment and the health and security of the nation's citizens.

To fix the mess that is America currently, we need revolutionary campaign finance reform (and an end to corporate lobbying) as well as a revolutionary return to getting real news to the majority of voters. Kennedy blames our dour forecasts for health, safety and democracy itself on a whitewashing of the public mind.

Kennedy got a big laugh and cheering applause when he said, "Eighty percent of Republicans are actually Democrats who just don't know what's going on."

In person, he's the kind of speaker who still has the kind of passion that seems rather old-fashioned these days, yet who is also so well informed that no one for a second would think him ill-informed or far off the mark. He is a ruddy-faced salmon swimming upstream, and the audience knew it and was on his side, hoping he'd live to achieve what other Kennedys have not.

The standing ovation was not only quick but uproarious, to which Kennedy responded with a beaming smile and the appreciative waves of a truly beloved presidential candidate.