Monday, January 29

Why Must Everybody Laugh At My Mighty Sword?

Sabrina Tavernise, "It Has Unraveled So Quickly" New York Times January 28

Sens. Joseph Biden and Richard Lugar, interview on This Week with George Stephanopoulos plus other Sunday morning gabfests

No shit I pranged my back Thursday opening the clothes dryer door, and not by moving awkwardly or doing something stupid; I just reached for the door and felt a twinge I immediately recognized as Not Good, one of those no real immediate pain but you know it's going to be awful later deals. And it was.

So Sunday morning I was still avoiding chores while alternately sitting for some heat treatment and standing and walking around to keep from stiffening up too much from sitting while reading the Times and watching the Sundays, respectively. First there's this from Tavernise's inexplicably-titled piece:
For those eager to write off Iraq as lost, one fact bears remembering. A great many Shiites and Kurds, who together make up 80 percent of the population, will tell you that in spite of all the mistakes the Americans have made here, the single act of removing Saddam Hussein was worth it. And the new American plan, despite all the obstacles, may have a chance to work.

It's a fact that a great many people who benefited greatly from the removal of Saddam Hussein will tell you it was worth the lives of the people who aren't around to voice an opinion. Okey-dokey. It is also a fact (and in this instance fact means "reasonably defensible observation about the physical universe" instead of "meaningless commonplace asserted as enlightening reportorial discovery") that the relative political autonomy of those groups has not been a big positive for minorities living within their reach, and that oppression, terror, and murder have occurred in those regions at a pace which likely rivals if not exceeds Saddam Hussein's own. For those eager to see just what shit will stick to the wall, it bears remembering that facts frequently come with at least two sides, even if New York Times' reporting does not.

Not that Ms Tavernise has missed the implication:
But the odds are stacked against the corps of bright young officers charged with making the plan work, particularly because their Iraqi partner — the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki — seems to be on an entirely different page. When American officials were debating whether to send more troops in December, I went to see an Iraqi government official. The prospect of more troops infuriated him. More Americans would simply prolong the war, he said.

“If you don’t allow the minority to lose, you will carry on forever,” he said.

The remarks struck me as a powerful insight into the Shiites’ thinking.

If it's not too presumptuous of me, speaking for the readership of the Sunday New York Times, I'd like to say how grateful I am that 22 months in Iraq has led Ms Tavernise to a conclusion that might otherwise have been reached by thinking about the situation for five minutes.

That "quick unraveling" is a trick of perception--or rather misperception. Yes, Baghdad has become much worse in the past twelve months, but it can only be considered rapid or unexpected if at that point one was ignoring the facts of the previous three years, the sort of thing that's required to make pleasant cooing sounds at the thoughts of more bright young officers marching off to get it right, and This Time We Mean It.

At this point I couldn't sit still without pain, but I'm not sure if it was my back or the article, so I stood up and turned on, briefly, the end of the Tim Russert Comedy Hour--a panel discussion where the reliable idiocy of Michael "Mushroom Cloud" Gerson was reliably faux-balanced by Ken "Let's Hope the MIT Ph.Ds Who Handle Plutonium Are Minimally Competent" Pollack. Chuck Schumer, on board, I thought, to discuss how federal banking regulation would affect the surge, was actually there because he's written a book Tim Bob could portray as "critical of Democrats". Louisiana's junior Senator David "New Orleans Is Not Filling Up Like a Bowl" Vittner was on hand to make sure Schumer didn't gang up on the other three.

And even so it is impossible for war critics to lose an argument these days, which was made manifest in the next ten minutes as This Week began with Biden and my senior Senator, and when Joe Biden not only makes you look foolish but you make him look like Fred Astaire while he does it, it's time to do something you haven't done in seven terms in the Senate, namely serve your constituents instead of your own ego and get the fuck off the stage. Lugar, as ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations committee, has been assigned the water-carrying position in opposing the various non-binding, anti-surge resolutions, and it's amazing to note that thirty years of doing this sort of thing hasn't yet turned him into someone who can lie believably. And it sure as hell isn't about to turn him into Chuck Hagel; the last time anything like an honest opinion unvetted by the Republican power structure left his mouth it involved instituting a national sales tax to replace the income tax and resulted in his Presidential campaign sinking faster than Michael Richard's career.

By this time what Democrats there were had been asked six times whether a non-binding resolution that Everyone Knows George W. Bush is a Moron wouldn't "hurt morale and embolden the enemy", which had begun to sound like a wounded lover's plaint. And then I realized the whole matter had become a bad Lifetime domestic abuse movie, where the hyperviolent spouse, pleading for just one more chance (This Time I Mean It!) had somehow become convinced that one last ninety-second lovemaking lesson would rekindle the magic and wipe out years of bad memories. Pathetic, really, if it weren't so serious. The old pols in this country apparently believe that Viagra™ can fix anything.

1 comment:

Heydave said...

Yea, verily, well said sir! *golf clapping heard*



But do something about your back. I had the same hinky twinge type of susceptibilities and started faithfully doing back extensions on a stability ball and got mo' better.