Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Brokeback Sopranos and other pressing World Matters

I like the Sopranos. I still do. But isn't Tony Soprano the only person in the history of the world to have gained weight after he spent a month in a coma?

Could have done without the Brokeback Sopranos episode.

However, this is my guess ---

Tony fails to take everyone's problem with Vito seriously, and lets him live. Vito shows his gratitude by killing Finn, Meadow's fiance, for ratting him out. Meadow has a nervous breakdown. Maybe commits suicide. Certainly never speaks to Tony again. Tony has a nervous breakdown. In his not so sharp state, he gets himself shot again, by someone with better luck than Junior.


Billy Wagner blew another save tonight. Can he be passive aggressive towards Pedro -- angry that he is not the best pitcher on his team?


My reading at the Telephone Bar went well, and I will have to write this blog less and the rest of my novel more. Thanks Harold for setting this up for me (and Wayne, Tim and Julie) and also my friends for showing up on a Monday night.


A lot of people who supported the war in Iraq are trying to find a way out. Happy for me, I have a built-in excuse. During the run-up to the War, I had a stroke. I can easily plead diminished mental capacity.

I still think the United States has to be in the Middle East. I constantly have said on this blog site that you can't get into the Middle East on less than a 90-year commitment. We're only on Year 3. It is still too soon to tell. I have also said that on any day that we are not willing to make a 90-year commitment, we ought to leave, and let the chips fall where they may.

A few conclusions that I can make:

I knew that W- did not and will never have a fucking original thought in his head. I knew that if he wanted to go into the Middle East, he had to be thinking the same thing Poppy was thinking -- oil. That was fine by me. We lived 30 years, with Administrations liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, knowing there was an energy crisis, and refused to solve it. We The People, all of us raised and educated just the way I was, knowing what we all know, expressly chose to ignore all evidence to the contrary. All evidence that said the oil could not last forever at this rate.

If you cannot produce it yourselves, you have to conquer it. Otherwise, you have no rationale for having your own country.

Where the Bushies had me beat was this --

I thought that we should be in the Middle East because the United States needed an energy supply. Since we are the best country on earth, our use of energy, wherever we find it, and whatever we have to do to get it, is, by definition, its highest and best use.

This Administration, however, had none of that imperialist claptrap in mind. The Administration thought we should be in the Middle East to cut off the energy supply from Iraq in order to drive the price of oil up for Cheney and friends. Essentially, they have hi-jacked the military for a private enterprise.

I'm not getting past this port thing very easily.


I also believe that the attempt to democratize, to "free" the Middle East is one that has to be made. It is going to take decades just to make a good, honest attempt. If they can't solve their problems in the Middle East, if they cannot figure out how to liberalize their minds and their institutions, then all the people who are leading desperate lives in the Middle East are going to come over to the West. Now France. Soon New York. If Senator Tancredo and Congressman Rohrbacher and those who think like they do are upset at the influx of Catholics from Mexico now, what the hell are they going to do with two or three times as many non-Christians from the Mid-East and North Africa?

The way to solve the immigration problem is to make it possible for people to live their lives in the land of their own birth. The United States needs to be involved. It's a form of insurance, and it isn't free. One way to do that is to be in the Middle East, knocking these peoples heads together.


So for those two reasons, oil and freedom, I didn't need to look for any WMDs. I never thought of our engagement in the Middle East as a war of choice. Clearly, the President disagrees with me on that score.

This President does not take the war seriously, as he continues to take regular vacations, and discuss other issues, like Social Security, like taxes, like how Donald Rumsfeld has streamlined the military for the 21st century, like whether or not people have better jobs --- as if they were important under the circumstances.

The only issue that matters is the war. The only way we get out of the war is finding alternative energy supplies, and by making the Middle East a more attractive place for its residents to live. Every other statement on every other topic that is made by an American leader in 2006 is bullshit.


Since I did not consider this a war of choice, I had to sign on to the War despite the fact that I was not happy with the leadership.

My guy had at least three knocks on the door. He passed all three times. The First WTC Bombing. Khobar Towers. The U.S.S. Cole -- smack in the middle of a Presidential election. What would Karl Rove have told a sitting President about that? I will go to my grave believing that if Clinton had taken military action in response to the Cole, Al Gore would be President and the WTC would still be standing. But not to be.

I think it will be Clinton's failure on that score, and not this made-up shit about how he was a Slick Willie with a certain kind of wife, that is going to soil his future reputation.

Clinton kicked the issue into the future. The future turned out to be George Bush. On September 11, 2001, it did not occur to me that we could wait 7 years in the hope that a person with a different temperament might emerge.

It also did not occur to me that 200 million plus Americans would give one man the power to botch things up so badly.

President Bush's attempt to change the democracy to a monarchy is not a necessary by-product of the War in Iraq or of the War on Terror. We can fight this War, and still be free, and still live under our Constitution. I understand that fighting the war as a free people is more time-consuming, and ultimately, more deadly, than fighthing the war under a monarchy. It is worth it, if the point of the war is to spread democracy and freedom. Once again, I find myself in disagreement with this President.

I do agree with something implicit in Bush's conversion towards monarchy, with his insistence on torture, and wire-tapping, and make believe science and economics, and tossing out treaties and laws that are inconvenient ---.

I thought, up until recently, that one of the Big Ideas that unify Americans is the notion that we are equal under law --- dedicated to freedom, dedicated to democracy as the best way to assure freedom. People who immigrate here who believe in those concepts (however imperfectly executed by mortals) can be Americans.

It is the choice to live in this manner, to try to live as free and equal citizens (different things -- as all of Saddam's subjects experienced equality), that makes us Americans.

There are, of course, alternate ideas.

The alternate idea that apppears to guide the current Republican party, the idea that the President appears to endorse implicitly (and people like Pat Robertson state openly) is that there is something genetic about being an American, and that genetically unified Americans should not mind a strong father figure.

You can't take that idea very far down the road without an official, established religion that is considered "more American" than all other religions, that gets the first seat at the table.

I suspect that the established religion will be something other than Judaism.

I guess I'm going to have to stick to my original idea.


Finally, I close with a less original, less eccentric thought.

You can't have all of your military come from one sector of the population. It narrows the culture of the military too much, skews decision making too much, and makes it impossible for alternative voices to be heard and supported.

I don't see how we can continue to fight this war in Iraq, or start a new one in Iran, without a draft.

I expect that there will be a draft. Something will happen soon, something will get bombed somewhere, and we'll use that as an excuse to start a draft. Or we will simply have to pack up and leave the Middle East out of lack of interest in our fate.


It's never too early to talk about the October Surprise.