Friday, September 28, 2007

Buddha and the Beast

When it comes to questions of whether the forces of equality, justice, freedom, peace, and love will prevail over those of brutality, war, exploitation, inequality, fear, hypocrisy, and hate I am at once an unregenerate pessimist and an incorrigible Romantic. I long for the good guys to win; I know in my soul they will not--and shall leave it to the genetic determinists to call it my Germanic soul. Nonetheless, the people of Burma have whatever prayers I can offer to the gods , the fates, the great karmic wheel. I would like to see the day soon when Aung San Suu Kyi walks free of house arrest and at the head of a throng of people receives the surrender of the generals. That would be revolutionary. That would remind the world that revolution must come from the oppressed people themselves. It cannot be imposed from above, no matter the claims of the Bushites. Sadly when moral leadership is sorely needed, the U.S. has none to provide--not that it's had much in Southeast Asia since the end of WW II. But now it has none, less than zer0, thanks the Emperor Boy George, who has squandered it all in Iraq and Afghanistan and his systematic violations of human rights and the Geneva Conventions.

That leaves as the big players--because of their economic investments--China, India, and Russia. China has its own problems with Tibet's Buddhists and so can hardly be expected to desire the monks to prevail in a showdown with corrupt rulers. But China also can't want to be seen as playing even a passive role in the slaughter of monks, nuns, and unarmed people, especially with the Olympics looming on the horizon, especially if conversation turns to boycott. Russia --well, Russia. That leaves India, which by all accounts, has forgotten its own history. Probably the best that can be done--and it is not insubstantial is telling the Burmese generals that their window of opportunity for enjoying their riches in retirement is short--on the order of one day. They leave and the accounts stay open until the new Burmese government comes after them, or they stay, and their accounts are closed, the proceeds placed in escrow against the day the Burmese people need it. Perhaps, the Chinese, knowing their coming out party is at stake, will deliver the message.

Dream on!

The BBC coverage has been riveting, and Seth Mydans for the New York Times has been rock solid as usual. But the journalistic moment belongs to the bloggers, the people taking video with their cell phones, the very "amateur" reporters certain moguls of the mainstream media like to deride, even while they are reliant on them for the same kind of accounts eyewitnesses, for all their [un]reliability have long provided. But today it is clear that the generals have decided to pull the plug on internet and cell phone transmissions. The generals have hunkered down, pretending the world doesn't exist. What abbout those bank accounts?

Friday, September 21, 2007


I can no longer count the ways the Emperor Boy George and his subalterns impress me, nor can I find more enthusiasm for the courage and moral decency of our Congress. The latest installment revolves around an ad placed in the New York Times by Move coincident with the opening on Capitol Hill of the David Petraeus Show. For the Emperor Boy, it was the David Save Us Show; to Move On, the David Betray Us Show. By any name it was a farce in two acts--Act I. The House of Representatives featured a marshmallow toss; Act II. The Senate was slow pitch whiffle ball. Now we''ve got the ironic ending that moves the farce into the absurd---no, absurdity has a point. This farce has become worse than the vilest propaganda, and I will have to find a new name for it, but not now.

"It" is the ability of the Bushbuckers to flip negatives on their head and to make the most antediluvian of policies seem radical and to engage in the most sanctimonious bullshit seen in a long, a very long time. Thus, the Emperor Boy George voiced disgust today over the MoveOn. org ad because it suggested that if Petraeus presented a fictive account of progress in securing Iraq, he would be betraying the public, his office, his troops. Now was doubtless being theatrical or naive or both, because they surely could not honestly have believed that Petraeus could have presented a fair, accurate, independent assessment of his own tactics and command. Far better to refute his message with the facts, such as the BBC's analysis of casualties, civilian and otherwise; what the Iraqis experience as reported by the BBC and this poll conducted for the BBC and ABC, which came out on the eve of Petraeus's fiction and shows that vast majority of Iraqis believe the surge is a failure. As to public health--no such thing.

The ad may have been melodramatic and naive, but it wasn't disgusting. Disgusting is the murderous behavior of the Emperor Boy George; grotesque is his effort to use the ad to distract attention from his total failure as a leader; pathetic is the U.S. Senate, condemning this ad, while people die for the Emperor Boy's Freudian fantasy that he has made the world's nightmare. Thee public didn't buy Petraeus, but the public is far in advance of its "leaders" on many issues these days.

To rephrase Chairman Mao--Tyranny comes from the barrel of a gun.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Surge and Splurge Update

I was intending after this long layoff--no time for blogging--to start off with some soft science or a commentary on Michael Vick and his lust for dog blood, but Monday and Tuesday I listened to as much of the testimony of General David H. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker before the House of Representatives and Senate as I could take, which is until the disconnect between what they were saying and what they weren't saying became great enough to swallow sanity. At least the Senate proved a tougher forum than the peculiarly spineless House where more energy was expended expelling protesters and obsessing about the way Blackberries disrupt the sound system than in asking the two Bush front men questions that would force them to do more than endlessly repeat the same "everything's dandy" assessments. As an Argentine friend says, "When a person repeats a story the same way each time, you know they have memorized a script and are lying."

At the end of two days, all I can say with some certainty is that our sole justification for being in Iraq now is that we are in Iraq and, according to Surge Patraeus and Splurge Crocker getting out could produce a larger blood bath than the one over which we are currently presiding. I love it when people switch to subjunctive, conditional verb forms and then use them as if they describe something that has already happened--'coulda, woulda, shoulda.'

I turned the sound off when I heard Minnesota's Republican Senator, Norm Coleman, who took the deeply mourned Paul Wellstone's Senate seat, utter the magic words "Americans want to see light at the end of the tunnel." I cringed. The only redemption came when someone exlaimed into his open microphone, "Jesus." I can't find that reported, but I'm certain I heard it; indeed, how else could someone respond to a person who without a trace of irony uttered one of the most mindless and disgusting phrases to come out of Vietnam.

I wonder, though, how many people will buy the argument that bringing home the 30,000 troops involved in the "surge," who were scheduled to come home anyway, represents a "drawdown?"