Friday, March 28, 2008

Normalcy

Mr. Bush informs us today that "Normalcy is returning back to Iraq."

On the same page in my newspaper, articles describe Basra and Baghdad both in flames, open warfare between the Mahdi Army and the Iraqi army, and the Green Zone in Baghdad, supposedly our "secure" headquarters, under continual rocket and mortar attack. Green Zone residents have been advised to sleep only in fortified buildings, not in trailers.

This is beyond Orwellian. In what alternate universe can a state like this be described as "normal?"

The trouble is, of course, since we invaded Iraq in 2003 and overthrew Saddam Hussein, this condition has been normalcy for Iraqis. The state of relative calm which followed the troop surge last year is abnormal.

What is it about the word "normalcy" that makes only the worst presidents use it? The last president to call for a "return to normalcy" was Warren Harding...

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:13 PM

    Bizarre doesn't even capture this exercise in abject absurdism by our bubble boy commander-in-chief without a clue, or any desire for one.

    We used to have a motto in the theater at my my place of employ which we thought of as a joke: there is no job so simple that we can't fuck it up, and no problem so great that we can't ignore it. When applied to this administration, it is not a joke.
    Only Ben Bernanke's and Henry Paulson's panic in the face of a looming second Great Depression moved those bastards out of their generally ability to ignore reality, although they were really late to the table, and with a not-all-that-good answer, at least not for anyone besides the Wall Street wheeler dealers. John McCain, like Bush, still hasn't a clue, calling it a "bubble." No, John, it's an aneurism.

    I'm reminded once again why I consider FDR the greatest president of the 20th century, by a wide margin, and possibly the greatest, period.

    Anonymous David

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  2. Anonymous7:16 PM

    Please ignore those damned typos. I do generally have a command of the English language.

    Anonymous David

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  3. Orwellian. Well, yes. If you accept my premise that this war of "choice" was instigated precisely to fulfill the demands of the war profiteers and the petroleum industry, by a team of so-called "Neo-Cons" bought and paid for by partisan interests willing to spend lives and unlimited dollars to bring it about.

    The big mistake the media keeps making over and over, is that the Republicans just lack competency. That's nonsense. We're doing exactly what was intended. Iraq could be in a state of peace and quiet, but you can bet your bulging mortgage that if that had happened, we'd be fighting in Iran now. Because the point of the conflict is to engage the American military in a stalemated foreign conflict exactly like Vietnam, to perpetuate it indefinitely, at whatever cost. For so-called Conservatives, this serves the dual purpose of feeding their friends, while starving the domestic agenda(s). "Staying the course" means we don't get health care, environmental protections, a thriving home economy, better infrastructure, disability and old age and welfare benefits, and all the other "wasteful" things the delicate rich just can't afford.

    Even Warren Buffett recently spoke on the rapidly expanding gulf between the rich (and super rich), and the shrinking middle-class.

    The Neo-Cons saw, beginning in the late 1970's a potential opening to sweep aside the gains of the 1930's and 1940's for social justice and economic equality, and they've gone right for the throat. The American political and economic structure is resembling more and more a sprawling Third World landscape in which the vast majority of the population scratches and scrapes along at subsistence levels, while large corporate structures monopolize and leverage production, playing "emerging" (read vulnerable) societies against established ones. The rich and secure hide behind gaited and walled communities, while the balance of the population is trapped in vast tracts of slums and homeless encampments. If that seems like a weirdly unreal vision, go to the barrios of Los Angeles and tell me that's not Blade Runner in the making. Philip K. Dick is our Orwell. He got it right.

    Trying to make sense of our Iraq policy in common sense terms, you see, is fruitless. If Americans elect McCain, we'll get four more years of it, and by the end we'll have another Alzheimer's case bumbling along in a fog. On the other hand, if we get Obama, we'll leave Iraq only to send the boys to Africa, in other lost causes and endless civil conflicts.* The lobbyists are running the show--that much is clear. In the meantime, hunker down with your squeeze and wait for Armageddon.

    __________

    *Or, go back to Afghanistan "in force" and "finish the job" we left undone. That should take another five years or so. Then we can throw in the towel just like the Russians did. At that point, we could just sell Louisiana to the Chinese and call it macaroni.** What a bargain!

    __________

    **Actually, the Chinese already own it. All they need to do is call in the debt.

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  4. Curtis, every time I remark on something stupid the current administration has done, you turn it into the impending end of civilization. I see some of the points you've made, but I will counter with one of my favorite sayings:

    Never attribute anything to malice that can be explained by ordinary incompetence. Incompetence is much more common.

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  5. I'm not the sandwich man with an "end is near" sign under my chin. All I'm trying to point out is that there's an agenda behind the social, political and economic trends of the last 40 years. How could anyone reasonably argue otherwise?

    You could itemize the "incompetencies" of Reputlican administrations forever, but eventually you begin to see how it all works. During Reagan I, James Watt, a slick lawyer who founded the Mountain States Legal Foundation, was hired to head the EPA. He set about literally to undermine the office, and the agency he was hired to lead. That's inside-out. If you want to kill an institution, corrupt it from within, then use its "failure" as an argument against it. That's what Cheney and the Wolf did with the CIA. George Tenet wouldn't play ball at first, so they made him (and his agency) take the fall for "false intelligence" on Iraq, despite the fact that that fake "intelligence" had been engineered by the Bushies in the first place.

    The missile parts scandal was probably the result of incompetence, I'll grant you that. But trying to argue that the Iraq war is just a vast field of FUBAR's begs the question. The whole campaign was designed by the Neo-Cons in Texas, BEFORE the Supreme Court handed Bush II the election. They were PLANNING TO INVADE IRAQ before 9/11. Everything else is window-dressing. "Mistakes"? "Incompetence"? Naturally. As Rumsfeld pertinently remarked, war is messy, shit happens. But from a larger perspective, we had no business going there in the first place, and there is no long-term justification for our staying there now. There won't be "peace" in Iraq, no matter what we do. There won't be "stability" anywhere in the MIddle East. There won't be "democracy" anywhere outside of Israel, and Islam isn't shrinking, it's spreading rapidly.

    It's all too much for Chicken Little. She's running in circles trying to find out who stole her eggs.

    Rant on, hedera. What else can we do as our nation crumbles about us?

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  6. Boggart9:01 AM

    Yes, religion, fundamentalisn, is spreading, and being outside the flow, I've often wondered at the attraction. A desire to be told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, so you aren't responsible for directing your life? A deep seated need to believe in certainty? That is, the certainty that you belong to the "right" group? A basic need to belong in a world that has become bigger and whose diversity is more apparent to the ordinary person despite blinders?

    Several weeks ago on campus, I walked past a small group discussing the path to heaven. A young lady was busy telling a young man that if he didn't do something they'd obviously discussed before I strolled by, he wouldn't go to heaven. Two thoughts came to mind. Who died and made the young lady the fount of all relgious wisdom, and why the great concern at age 20 or so for going to heaven? The group of young people is very likely to live into their 80's or so, unless they go to the Middle East with the military.

    I am obviously out of it. My dayplanner has no time marked out to worry about the existance of a heaven much less the possibility or lack thereof of my arriving in such a place. I'm more concerned with the fact that by the time I can retire, Hedera will have written a blog on retirement dos and don'ts based on her lengthy years of accrued retirement experience, and I'll have read it.

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  7. How we get from "Normalcy" to getting to heaven is a mystery. But it's a short step from understanding why Bush claims to worship Jesus, to his advocacy of religious "tolerance" in the Middle East. Neither Christianity nor Islam is by its nature tolerant. Nationalism is new to the Middle East, as are concepts of representative government. Less than 100 years ago, the Arabian Peninsula and the Caucasus was nomadic, fragmented and unorganized (this is also true of most of Africa). The Colonial paradigm--the White Man's Burden--was designed to exploit these regions economically, while "civilizing" them through a religious mission. Political colonialism may be dead, but economic colonialism isn't.

    What's new is the growing influence of Xtian religion in American politics, advocated openly and unashamedly. The clear divide between religion and politics is breaking down. From the Islamic position, Xtianity is as much a threat, as Islam now seems to many Westerners. Clearly, the danger is in allowing a religious dogma to dictate policy and structure in the political sphere. We know from history how divisive and violent theocracies can be.

    The Neo-Cons have cynically used Xtianity as a prop to garner support amongst lower-middle class whites and Hispanics in America. That paradigm had previously existed at the class level, with Northern White Protestant sects serving as platforms for business and political advancement. But getting votes makes for strange bedfellows. While it is quite true that Islam poses a threat to Western Democracy as we know it, the Neo-Cons' portrait of a world in religious conflict is extremist and inflammatory. There is no reason why the United States cannot have peaceful relations with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Syria and the Emirates--as long as we don't make an issue of our respective vastly differing views of life and liberty. As much as we dislike the Chinese government, they are quite justified in claiming that we have no inherent right to dictate to them how their country should be run. If we followed the Bush doctrine down the line, China, North Korea and Saharan Africa would all be candidates for pre-emptive military invasions. That's a cautionary observation for anyone who buys into the Bush Administration's justifications for Iraq. If this is a theocratic mission, the whole world's our stage. Obviously, that isn't true.

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  8. Anonymous1:57 PM

    Russia apparently expects the bombing to start in about a week. Fallon was the last hurdle.

    Anonymous Hoping-the-Russkies-Are-Wrong David

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  9. Anonymous6:51 PM

    Still hoping they are wrong, along with a lot of people who follow these things pretty closely. Applying a favorite phrase I heard growing up in the South to our severly intellectually challenged president, "He ain't right." And his handler, Cheney, will carry out John McCain's little ditty if there is any way he can get the Mental Midget from Midland to authorize it, namely "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" (to the tune of "Bar, Bar, Bar, Bar, Barbra Ann," which can apparently now be seen on YouTube?

    Bush, Cheney, Kristol, and the rest of the neocon warmongers belong in a home for the criminally insane.

    Anonymous David

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