The Darkness of This House Has Got the Best of Us
I'm thinking old Mike Ahmadinejad may not be such a bad guy. I call him Mike (which he might not appreciate, either in its overfamiliarity or because his name is actually Mahmoud), because Mahmoud is hard for me to pronounce well, and because it seems reasonable to me that Michael just might be its English equivalent. And I wouldn't mind if he were to call me some Iranian homophonic near-equivalent of my name, especially considering its obvious son-of-God derivation. I'd just hope it didn't have any of those raspy, back-of-the-throat components they seem to like over there.
We do share a contempt for George W. Bush, which should be a good foundation for a relationship. And he always seems to wear a nice button-front shirt with a collar -- no baggy sweatshirts, Arizona real estate developer golf shirts, or shapeless, unisex Middle-Eastern sack dresses. I like that. He seems neat and clean -- casually collegiate; maybe an instructor or low-level assistant professor at a middling-quality state school. I could also see him reading beat poetry to a mostly empty coffeehouse on a weekday night. Nothing extreme about his haircut. And the man knows how to manage a beard: not for him or me either the nasty stubble of modern youth or a rat's bed of an unreconstructed mountain man.
Really, what's not to like about M. Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran? (Look! The Islamic Republic of Iran and The United States of America have precisely the same number of letters -- we could be "Sister Nations" or some such liberal feel-good designation, except his country is governed by a "radical Islamist" [some say], while ours is run by a "complete moron" [I boldly assert]). Yes, you say, but isn't Iran a member of the "Axis Of Evil"? So said Geo. W. Bush, son of G.H.W. Bush, and personal sock-puppet to Grand Imperial Inquisitor Richard B. Cheney. But we invaded, destroyed, looted, freed and democratized one of that dread trio (Iraq) and made a vague, incomplete, unverifiable deal with the mental cripple leader (son, himself, of another nut -- we're not, apparently, the only nation that can't get its business off the treadmill of inbrededness) of the second (North Korea). No more axis.
But! He has nookyoolur weapons! Or will have them someday. Maybe soon. Or in five years. Or ten. We're pretty sure he wants neutricular weapons. He's working on it. Secretly. It's too bad he's not doing this slippery scientific underground investigation in the United States, because in the Land Of The Free, Dick could just call up the phone company and have his every breathy syllable and evil keystroke monitored, recorded and analyzed.
But in Iran there are factories and laboratories and probably or maybe even centrifuges. Somebody must have a pile of centrifuges. They're not in Iraq. Israel, of course, has centrifuges and missiles and bombs most newkulur, but only for defensive purposes. And the inventor and first and so far only actual user of the blistering power of the atom unleashed has warehouses and bunkers and launchpads and submarines and bombers and undisclosed locations just chock full of the things. Except for the ones we've lost, or sold or given to various other nations, some of them our former enemies, some our future enemies, some now officially evil but secretly on our payroll, others our putative friends, but we wouldn't trust them behind us in a strange alley on a dark evening.
Dick Cheney owns a Remington 12-gauge over-and-under that fires depleted uranium and glass shard shot which he himself loads on a nice little bench the CIA built for him in the basement of the Naval Observatory. It's pure hell on quail and partridge and can bring an errant judge into line quite quickly as well.
So I say let Iran have the bomb. They won't build many of them, and they'll soon enough find out there's nothing useful you can do with an atomic bomb. See, for all the tens of thousands of the things racked here and there (mostly here) around the world, nobody ever uses any of them. (Well, not in sixty or so years. Except for a couple. Once.) You build a few; you feel big and proud; after a while you start looking for face-saving agreements to sign so you can ease out of the business. Unless you're India or Pakistan. Or the United States. We've been jacking our jaws a lot these last few years about "all options" being "on the table." We have a line of "battlefield nuclear weapons" some of us are itching to try out. (See, George, how easy it is? Say it with me: Ã‹Ë†nü-klÃ„â€œ-Ã‰â„¢r. Didn't that feel good?)
But now I read The New Yorker [liberal, America-hating press] and Seymour Hersh [radical, biased traitor] tells me that last fall President Bush told a select group of Senators and Congressmen from both parties that he needed four hundred million dollars so he could run (all right, he couldn't run a fire department auxiliary bake sale, but he knows some people who know some people who can get dirty deeds done) a clandestine operation designed to destabilize Iran. We might have to kidnap some people; we might want to kill some of them. The President is required to consult with the so-called Gang of Eight leaders of the House and Senate and their respective Defense Appropriations Committees in order to secure authorization and funding for such extreme incursions into the affairs of a sovereign nation.
You might think, with seven years of lies and foolish, ruinous, outlaw behavior in our wake and the public no longer slapping new yellow ribbons and flag stickers on the ass-end of every petroleum-swilling conveyance in Christendom, that these august overseers of the public trust would be cautious, reflective, even skeptical. But not so. With little objection or fuss, according to Mr. Hersh, they signed off on the deal. This sort of plan presentation is called (who knows why?) A "Presidential Finding." (I know, I know -- G.W. couldn't, to slightly paraphrase the inimitable and statesmanlike and noble and decent -- by comparison -- Lyndon Johnson, find the ability to pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were printed on the heel.)
This particular Finding "was focused on undermining Iran's nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change." Does that alarm you? Has "regime change" been going well for us? Some legislators were "troubled" by the resolution, and there was "discussion." Followed by approval. So now every man, woman and child from sea to shining sea has had a dollar of his or her tax money put into this fund to enable some crazy spooks to sneak around Iran (a country we do not and have not understood and which we may very well turn out to have "misunderestimated") doing some undermining, some destabilizing and here a little, there a little kidnapping and murder. But no torture. Nope. None. "America," President George W. Bush solemnly says, "does not torture." Good enough for me.
And good enough for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, apparently. See, this is what really sickens me about the whole affair. I expect Republicans to fall into line behind any tax cut, foreign war, rape of the Bill of Rights, environmental poisoning or other illegal or immoral act conceived and perpetrated openly or covertly by this worst president and most blatantly illegal administration in the history of our nation. But Americans did not elect great numbers of Democrats in 2006 and stand now poised to elect bunches more (including a president) next November because they like donkeys better than they like pachyderms. They elected Democrats because the candidates told the people they would end the wars, the subterfuges, the lying and spying and torture and murder and gross, blatant illegalities, and begin to restore our dignity and decency and regain the trust and respect of the world.
And I don't know why it is so, but only a trifling few Democrats seem capable of any position except caution, know any inflection other than acquiescence. A friend of mine has written regularly to our own Congressman, Democrat Tom Allen asking, "When are you going to do something about the war?" Comes back the advice from the candidate, from the party, from a desperate populace unable or unwilling to see that we are become a one-party nation, "We must elect more Democrats."
Well, go ahead if you like. We might as well let them use the good linen and silverware for a few terms; they've been awfully good little lap dogs, happily gobbling whatever Findings their master scraped into their bowls. Republicans serve the military-industrial complex; they believe in it and are proud of their association and commitment. Democrats tell us they believe in people, and then they grease the gears of the engines of profit and war. The first act, while loathsome, is at least open and forthright. The second is a fundamental betrayal.
Invest in a copy of The New Yorker dated 7 July. Read it over the Independence Day weekend. Cheer for the Red White And Blue, and be proud we're not a dangerous, out-of-control nation, run by tyrants and despots backed by scared, small-minded, weak-willed, spineless yes-men, like Iran and other misbehaving threats to the New World Order.
We've been taught to revile Fidel Castro, to ridicule Hugo Chavez, to fear Mahmoud ("Mike") Ahmadinejad, to mistrust, and to support the undermining, destabilization, discrediting and assasination of a series of enemies of convenience, by members of both parties. See it for the perversion of reality it has become, for the institutionalization of delusion and deception.
You wouldn't think this sort of negativity would have any place in a nice, small-town newspaper on the Fourth of July. But it has come to this: if not here, where? If not now, when? Enough. It's Independence Day all down the line.
It is, my friends, both later and darker than even I, no cockeyed optimist on the issue of the condition of our collective state, have represented. When I initiated a discussion with my coworkers this afternoon of this sick collaboration between G.W. Bush and Congressional heavyweights, including the Democrats we elected on the basis of their promises to end our wars, not extend them, my liberal friend said, "So?" "Are you surprised? What's the big deal? This is what we do; it's what we've always done." And true, too, of course, but never before in our history has the citizen, the voter, had the opportunity to discover so readily and clearly what terrible, illegal, immoral things are perpetrated in his or her name. We must not, I perhaps somewhat heatedly replied, relinquish our ability to be disgusted and outraged; we must not accept such foul business, such a sellout of our decency as "the way things are." It is our duty to read such articles and commentary as Mr. Hersh and The New Yorker can supply, to disseminate such revelations, to provoke our neighbors and friends and family.
Here in Maine our Congressman, Tom Allen, a do-nothing sad sack who has voted for every dime and dollar Bush has asked for, who has rolled over on virtually every important vote, is running this year for the Senate. It is critically important, he tells us, that we elevate him to that house so he can continue his employment on our behalf. This week the Maine Democratic Party initiated a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Secretary of State's ruling that an Independent candidate for the same office, Herbert Hoffman (a man who boldly, bluntly, forthrightly opposes the wars and domestic abuses that Mr. Allen has allowed and supported and funded during his tenure), can be on the November ballot. Tom Allen is more concerned that a man dare to run against him, one concludes from this action, than he is that our country is unraveling because of his lackadaisical acquiescence in just such sick adventures as Seymour Hersh describes in his article.
Look, I'm not even a political writer. I don't write for a liberal publication. I have no blog. I'm the humor columnist, the local color guy, for an insignificant, generally reactionary, small town newspaper. But my editor mostly leaves me alone and I too frequently feel called to abuse this trust and leeway to batter my few readers with such truths as sometimes seep out of the corruption of our government, our economic system, and the sorry black hole of one-party America. This is not fun. It is necessity; it is duty. Please, read: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/07/080707fa_fact_hersh?currentPage=all .