Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Archive for the ‘news’ Category

A Master of Understatement

Posted by Gerald on August 2, 2007

Robert Gates is “optimistic” about the security situation in Iraq.  This leads me to wonder what reality-altering agents are being administered to the Cabinet on a regular basis and whether they might be used for good rather than evil.

The FUNNY part, though, is that he described the lack of political progress there as “discouraging.”  This is sort of like describing the Second World War as “violent.” 

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Posted in international relations, Iraq War, news, opinion, politics | 1 Comment »

Where the Mighty Are Now

Posted by Gerald on August 2, 2007

According to the Washington Post a member of the board of Chiquita International Brands told a Justice Department official that the company has been violating anti-terrorism laws because it has been paying protection money to Colombian paramilitary groups that are on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

To me, there just seems to be something ironic about this.  Chiquita was, once upon a time, the United Fruit Company.  They had their own fleet.  If they needed their own troops they could generally just whistle and the US Marine Corps was ready to oblige.  These guys overthrew governments in Central and South America – the classic story being their role in getting the Eisenhower administration to overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemala.  Now they are paying protection money to terrorists.

Posted in History, news | Leave a Comment »

Damned if They Do…

Posted by Gerald on August 2, 2007

The Democrats seem to actually be sticking by their promises to make sure that all proposed new spending is off-set by new taxes or with spending cuts elsewhere.  In other words, they seem to be – on this issue – trying to be responsible in their role as guardians of the public trust.

So, of course, the Republicans are making sure they pay for it.

Posted in news, politics | Leave a Comment »

A Moment Worth Noting

Posted by Gerald on August 1, 2007

This isn’t a top headline here in the US – certainly nothing as noteworthy as what is up with Lindsay and Brittney – but here is a news story worth considering.

The British Army is formally closing its security operations in Northern Ireland.  This is ending an operation that has been going on for 38 years.

I’m caught between a feeling of hope at this most recent piece of evidence that what had seemed to be an intractable conflict is finally coming to an end and despair at the timeline involved.  I’m going with the hope.

Posted in Britain, news, Northern Ireland | Leave a Comment »

Ignoreland

Posted by Gerald on July 28, 2007

(I’m writing this bit after having finished the rest of the post.  This is a little warning before you continue reading.  What started as a bit of sarcastic fun about a news item quickly blossomed into my venting over the weeks activities in Washington – and things beyond.  I actually get something out of these moments of unedited stream-of-consciousness externalization, but I’m not sure any of my small band of readers do.  Hence, be warned!  This is one of those posts, and I had no idea how depressed I was when I started writing this thing.)

It turns out that our shadow overlord, His Serene Darkness Dick Cheney has a heart.  At least that is the cover story for his surgery.  The official story is that he had to have the batteries in his pacemaker replaced.

Sure.

My guess is that either the cloned body that was created for him by Kang and Kodos has started to deteriorate and had to be replaced or that it was time for him to complete his centennial sacrifice of one thousand babies to Nyarlathotep so he can maintain his immortality and his membership in the Illuminati. 

Just as seriously though, last weekend Dubya had to cede power to Darth Cheney for the period of his two-hour rectal probe.  Now under the OLD Constitution, the VP didn’t have to do that if he was going into surgery.  However, today we live under the Bush Constitution – the one where he, his advisers, and the spin master he chose as Attorney General (I never would have believed I could miss john Ashcroft) are all above the law and the VP is also a power unto himself.  Do you suppose Cheney had to cede his authority as Chancellor of the Undisclosed Fourth Branch of Government during his unholy rites, er, I mean “surgery”?  If so, who do you suppose took over for him?  I’m sure it wasn’t Nancy Pelosi…

It would be easier for all of us if Bush and Gonzalez would go ahead and release the text of the new Constitution instead of just letting us know what it is bit-by-bit.  I guess we don’t need to know the details, and they are probably covered by executive privilege in any case.

Here comes a rant – hold on! 

I am so fucking tired of that whole gang of mealy-mouthed, smiley, logic-chopping, back-stabbing, spin-doctoring traitors that I could simply weep.  I’d jump on board the “let’s impeach Bush” bandwagon if I thought anybody in Congress had any nerve at all, but it is clear they do not.  George Bush could order the Secret Service to arrest every one of his political opponents and so long as he claimed they were linked to the Big Islamic Bogeyman the only response would be some complaints (and applause from Fox News.)

I am confident, however.

I’m confident in the ability of the Democratic Party to so rip itself apart in the fight over Clinton vs. Obama that they will hand the election to the Republicans.

I’m confident that whoever the Republicans put into the White House will curse Bush publicly while continuing to extend the powers of the executive as much as possible.

I’m confident that the future in Washington is going to include a legislative branch that has forgotten how to do anything but posture when not rubber-stamping and a judiciary that is so opposed to “activism” that it might as well be an arm of the executive.

I’m confident that Americans will complain and will disapprove in opinion polls, but as long as they can convince themselves that one day they’ll win the lottery they are going to just tune out the problems and tune in to the next season of American Idol.

I’m confident that those who do care are going to be so consumed in regarding the mote in their neighbor’s eye that they will regardest not the beam in their own.

And every minute, one more kid decides it is too hard to care, so she stops; one more person stops thinking; one more kid gets killed in a pointless war; one more family slips out of the middle class; one more American shoots another American and no one takes the guns away; and one more person is made to feel worthless by a culture that values nothing except wealth.

Meanwhile, the ice caps are melting, and we are having rock concerts.

Whew!!!

To quote lyrics – as best I can remember – from an R.E.M. song (“Ignoreland”):

I know that this is vitriol
No solutions, spleen-venting
But I feel better, having screamed
Don’t
 you?

Please forgive me… or… never mind.

Posted in news, politics, rant | 3 Comments »

An Open Letter to Unca’ Vlad

Posted by Gerald on July 24, 2007

Vladimir Putin – a man whose view of the world is so refreshingly different from anyone else’s that he ought to consider psychiatric help – has characterized Britain’s attitude toward Russia in the recent row over the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi (for murder) as a remnant of a colonial mindset.

First, Vlad, you don’t get to slam someone for having a colonial mindset unless you used to be colonized yourself – it is just bad form.*  Nigeria can say that to Britain during a Commonwealth meeting, but you don’t get to.  Lets remember that Russia was an empire while Britain took colonies everywhere and that the Soviet Union was a superpower while it lost them.  You are also constantly talking about the great power of Russia today.  You do not get to use the rhetoric of a third world state – you haven’t earned it.

Second, the British might have had an empire fifty years ago but you are acting like you’ve got one now.  Cyber attacks on Estonia, blatant interference in the elections of former Soviet Republics, Chechnya, all of this is called… what is the word?  Oh, yeah – imperialism!  While playing dick-swinging imperialist games to such an extent that you are scaring the Poles and Czechs into allowing Dubya to build his missile boondoggle on their soil you do not get to chide Britain for putting some pressure on you to cough up a murder suspect.  After all in Britain – unlike in your country or mine – Lugovoi isn’t in danger of being disappeared or executed by the state. 

 This is just a case of the imperialist calling the kettle colonial.

Where the hell is Edward Said when I need him?

*By the way, we here in the US don’t get to do that either.  Our episode of being a colonized people is a) way too caught up in our being colonial oppressors at the same time, b) beyond the statute of limitations for such complaints, and c) rendered ridiculous by our actions towards, oh the list is too long, since then.  It would be like when white people complain about being victims of racism and when men complain about being victims of gender oppression.  It is kind of whiny and pathetic given the historical context.

Posted in Britain, international relations, news, rant, Russia | 3 Comments »

Partisan Political Diplomats

Posted by Gerald on July 24, 2007

The Washington Post is reporting on political briefings by Rove’s people held for senior diplomats at the State Department.  As with so many other actions by the Bush White House – such as the US Attorney firings – we have here something that isn’t actually illegal, but is very much out of the traditional understanding of previous administrations about what is appropriate.  While launching constant attacks on the “partisanship” of their opponents, this White House has made every aspect of government partisan.

The constant in all of this is Karl Rove.  He seems to have looked at almost every procedure in the life of the administration and asked “How can we wring some political advantage out of this without technically violating the law?”  Repeatedly we have actions that, at least one could argue, are not illegal – just prejudicial to the functioning of government and the remaining shreds of prestige and dignity of the executive.

Of course, a similar game was played by Bill Clinton in his word-parsing defense of his sexual indiscretions and the perjury he committed to cover them up.  The problem is that comparing the effects of these is like comparing a cut on the finger of the executive with having a broadsword slammed into its guts.

Clinton dishonored the White House – no two ways about it.  Bush has compromised the trust between the branches of government and between the executive and the American people.  No one is ever going to view the actions of a US Attorney in a political corruption case without wondering what other motives might be at work.  No one is going to quite trust the intelligence assessments used by the White House and the State Department to explain our foreign policy ever again.  No American administration is ever going to be able to say, “At least we don’t hold people without trial, we don’t hide them in secret prisons, we don’t torture people – that is what our enemies do” and be believed.

The worst part is, that these guys don’t even seem to realize that what they have done has hurt our country – and that most of our country doesn’t seem to care, either.

Posted in Bush administration, Bush Legacy, Karl Rove, news, opinion, politics | Leave a Comment »

A Really Smart Move

Posted by Gerald on July 21, 2007

Israel has released 255 Palestinian prisoners.

If there is anything that might strengthen the appeal of Fatah relative to Hamas among Palestinians, it would be some type of concrete successes in dealing with Israel.  Let us just hope that this is the first of many such gestures.  If the Israeli government were also to address illegal settlements on the West Bank, that would go even further.

Of course, if Fatah were to seriously address issues of corruption in the Palestinian Authority, that wouldn’t hurt either.

Posted in Israel, Middle East, news, opinion, Palestinian, Palestinian Authority | Leave a Comment »

He’s the Decider

Posted by Gerald on July 21, 2007

According to the Washington Post, CIA interrogation of terrorism suspects – unhampered by the restraint imposed on those softies in the US military – will resume under new guidelines.  Read it here.

The “guidelines,” as one could expect from this administration, are remarkably vague and basically tell the American people and the world to simply “trust that what is being done to these folks is legal and necessary – so just go back to watching So You Think You Can Change Houses, or whatever, and leave it all to us.”  Certainly they do not seem in a hurry to provide even Congress with details.

It is all of a piece with the invoking of executive privilege.  George and his advisers believe he was elected as a sort of constitutional dictator for his terms in office and Congress and the Judiciary have no business poking into the details of what he is doing.

Constitutional checks-and-balances?  How quaint!

Posted in Bush administration, Constitution, news, opinion, politics, terrorism | Leave a Comment »

Washington Post Columnist Rips Me Off

Posted by Gerald on July 20, 2007

Eugene Robinson has written an interesting article questioning the sanity of our dear President entitled Bush’s Cognitive Dissonance.

It is an insightful and interesting read.  However I would like to point out that I diagnosed Bush’s cognitive dissonance in this very blog on July 4.

Still, I’m willing to be magnanimous about this whole thing and chalk it up to a simple mistake.  😉

Posted in Bush administration, George W. Bush, my blog, news, opinion, politics, United States | 1 Comment »