Monday, May 26, 2008

When Every Day is Memorial Day

I've been turning over and over in my head the myriad of thoughts I have about this day that is supposed to be set aside for remembering those who died serving their country, and those who serve today and (hopefully) will come home so that we can honor them on Veterans Day.

I have no special post for today in memory of the troops -- the ones that are waiting to come home and the ones who never will. The reason is because I do that every day. Every day, I bring up the Chron and, half-wincing, check to see that the death tally is holding steady at the previous day's numbers. When it is, I say a little "thanks." When it hasn't, I say a little "ohjesusgod."

But more than any war I've ever lived through, the awareness of the troops and their trevails are more in the forefront than ever before. Maybe it's because we have treated them so shabbily. Perhaps it's because more people are becoming more vocal about their opposition to the war. It might even be because, these days, with 24-hour news coverage and internet death tallies, we know exactly where the numbers stand.

So, while it's nice that today has been set aside to remember our war dead, how about if we just enjoy the BBQ today, and spend every day remembering the troops.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Quick Note to Hillary Clinton

Dear Senator:

Please don't listen to your advisors.

Nobody is ever "bouyed by Kentucky."


At least, not on purpose.

Just sayin'.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Euphemistically Speaking

"Hard-working, non-college, white voters."

I've been reading and hearing that phrase a lot since the West Virginia primary -- mostly from Hillary Clinton's own mouth -- and I know this puts me in the minuscule minority, but.... do we really think she meant "racist?" I'm not sure she did. I'm pretty sure she wasn't intending to imply that the people of West Virginia were racist. I wasn't really sure how to take it.

So, I turned to a friend of mine for a translation. Having been born and reared just outside of Wheeling, he actually speaks "hard-working, non-college, white" as his first language, so I knew I could count on him to help me. He asked not to be identified by name, since his family still lives there, and he has no wish to hurt their feelings, should they be Googling him one day and run across this blog post. And, believe it or not, I actually have more than one male acquaintance who was born and reared in West Virginia*, so even if you know me and you think you know who it is, you have a one in three chance of being utterly wrong.

Did she mean "racist"? I asked him. Probably not, was his response. It was probably, he speculated, an innocent slip on her part, as she tried to tie in with the lower-middle class working poor of "non-color". Then he added after a brief hesitation, "But just because she didn't mean to imply it doesn't mean they're not racist." As in, I suppose, the speculation that, just because you're suffering from paranoia, it doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Are they racist? I asked him. His answer came in two quick words.

"Hell, yeah." And he said it as if he knew, as if I should know, that it was just a universally accepted truth.

Here's my worst case scenario with the nomination of Barack Obama. That white guys will start telling tales of how oppressed they've been, what with all this freeing of the slaves and women's suffrage and civil rights and separation of Church and State crap, and "how come y'all don't believe what ah believe," and "from mah cold, dead fingers." I don't want to have the argument anymore that Christian white guys just can't get a steady break in this country, thanks to all the preferential treatment that affirmative action gives to "them coloreds and spics and gooks and such, and why can't we just line our borders with landmines and blow the wetbacks up when they try and get in, instead of letting them come over here and give birth and steal our services and our jobs scrubbing toilets and all?"

If this is in argument that media is trying to dust up, then I really don't think I'll survive until November, no matter who the ultimate winner is.


* More than a coincidence, the sheer number of ex-West Virginians in my acquaintance can be accounted for by what more than one of them has indicated was a deeply held and strongly embraced desire to leave there and go live somewhere else as soon as possible. Sorry, WVa, but it's what I'm told. My artist/musician/actor friends were kind of not particularly welcomed with open arms in WVa, and so they left to go live someplace they wouldn't have to get the snot kicked out of them by redneck bar patrons on a regular basis.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What He Said

I can't say any of it better than Keith Olbermann did last night. For nearly 12 minutes. At top volume. With spit.

In case you missed it, let me pass it on.

Yeah.... what he said....


(Printed transcript appears here.)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Please, Suh... May I Have $70 billion More?

Bush sent his appropriations budget into Congress today, asking for $70 billion to continue to fund the war in Iraq and Afghanistan through the spring of '09. This is how the Associated Press began their article on the topic:

"President Bush sent lawmakers a $70 billion request Friday to fund U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan into next spring, which would give the next president breathing room to make his or her own war policy."

Two things struck me about this. The first, of course, is "his or her own war policy." Weird, man. Seriously weird. And yet, at the same time... not. It's just about time, that's all.

And the second is how much it sounds like an offer we can't refuse. If we approve his $70 billion budget, will he go away and quit talking until January 19, 2009? Because if so, we should think about it. It could be worth it, just to get him to shut the hell up.

Hmm... Let us take a bit of time to consider this.


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Nelson Mandela, You Terrorist Bastard! We're On To You!

According to this USA Today article, Nobel Peace prize laureate Nelson Mandela, along with several other member of the African National Conference, the South African organization that put an end to apartheid, have been flagged on United States watch lists as being terrorists. This means that they can't fly into the United States without special permission from the State Department. Condoleezza Rice called this "embarrassing." I'll say, particularly since South Africa's foreign relations minister, Rice's South African counterpart, is a long-standing member of the ANC, can't get a visa to enter the United States without intensive questioning first.

Representative Howard Berman (D-CA) (who's on my Congressional shit list right now for an entirely unrelated reason) called it "an indignity," while Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) called it a "bureaucratic snafu."

But, was it? A snafu, I mean. The reason that ANC members, both past and present, are even on the list in the first place is that back in the 70s and 80s, when South Africans thought apartheid was just a fine and dandy thing, the ruling white minority labeled the ANC a "terrorist group." But the watch lists didn't start being used to cull out prospective terrorists until after 2001, long after apartheit had been abolished and well after Nelson Mandela's installation as the first post-apartheid, black president of South Africa. So why has the ANC been flagged at all? I'll tell you why. Because a bunch of fat, white guys called them terrorists. And this country loves nothing better than to listen to a bunch of fat, white guys in charge of stuff.

This isn't new. The former South African ambassador to the United States, Barbara Masekela, who began serving in her post in 2002, was denied an emergency visa to visit her dying her cousin, and couldn't get permission to fly until after the cousin's death. This was in 2002.

Considering that the United States of America was created by "terrorists" (at least if you look at it from King George III's perspective), I would think that the US would be a little more careful about just who does and doesn't get flagged. I think the thing that bothers me about Homeland Security isn't that HSD is hard-core. It's that they're hard-core, lazy and pretty damn stupid, too. And when you put that all together, it's a pretty potent cocktail for a grand cock-up.

But I am glad they finally nabbed that terrorist Nelson Mandela, though. He is one scary dude.