Just Above Sunset
November 21, 2004 - Running On Empty

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David Appell over at the science blog Quark Soup said this in the middle of last week -


I'm not really in the mood to post today, except maybe for this. Sometimes I just have a difficult time caring. American soldiers in Iraq are murdering the wounded, and coming up with excuses for why it's justified. Newspapers are still publishing the likes of John Lott, regardless of how many times he's been proven wrong or has written fraudulent material. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that smog is directly linked to deaths from heart and lung ailments in major U.S. metropolitan areas. We have the day's one or two stories on global warming, and yet nobody gives a shit, and just plans to go along as usual. I don't really have the strength today to fight it all, and I might not in the future either. I'm really not that much of a fighter.


Ah, me too. 


I was up well before dawn Monday for my early flight – that would be 7:00 – from Burbank to Oakland.  The cab driver on the ride into Oakland had NPR on the radio, but I didn’t catch much of it.  The meetings were senior executives musing about future directions while we middle managers in the trenches fidgeted – as stuff was happening back at our sites and we knew the crises were mounting down in the trenches.  My area was implementing, that day, a hospital billing application in the harbor area of Los Angeles and if it didn’t work the company would lose a tad over a million a day.  The company bought the software package from a vendor last year and it is a sorry mess, and the vendor not good at fixing the bugs, and our bolt-on work-around code is iffy.  Drat.  A second vendor application keeps failing in Colorado and Oregon – and the Ohio folks won’t use it until we, or the vendor, fix it, the Georgia folks aren’t ready to try it, and the folks in Hawaii keep asking embarrassing questions about why we even bought it.  Oh well - it’s work.  The meetings were high in a tall building with a great view across the Bay Bridge – the Transamerica tower way off there, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge too – when the sky cleared in late afternoon.  Very pretty, and the lunch they brought in was good.  Meetings over just after five – cab to the airport for the flight at seven back to Burbank, then get to the car, drive home over Laurel Canyon and, at nine, chat with Harriet-the-Cat, who had been bored of course.  The next day at work was catching up on everything I missed.  The new software is working – badly – but working.


While I was doing all this Colin Powell resigned – much to say about that I suppose – and the press started to pick up on our latest way to win hearts and minds in Iraq, shot an unarmed, wounded prisoner in the head, on videotape for all the media to distribute, worldwide.  I wonder whether it was planned – to show the world you don’t mess with us, or something like that.  You know, an alpha-male dominance thing….


And Condoleezza Rice will now run the State Department?  The woman who lied under oath – see this and this for details.  Fred Kaplan in SLATE.COM –


In her four years as national security adviser, Rice has displayed no imagination as a foreign-policy thinker. She was terrible—one of the worst national security advisers ever—as a coordinator of policy advice. And to the extent she found herself engaged in bureaucratic warfare, she was almost always outgunned by Vice President Dick Cheney or Rumsfeld. Last year, for instance, the White House issued a directive putting her in charge of policy on Iraqi reconstruction; the directive was ignored. If Rumsfeld and his E-Ring gang survive the Cabinet shake-up, Rice may wind up every bit as flummoxed as her predecessor. 


What to make of this?  Who knows?  Loyalty means more than competence, of course.  Many have written about that this week.  No need for me to add more.  I’d guess her mandate is to insult our allies and seem outraged at their anger.  Whatever.


The CIA?  The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers thought to have been disloyal to President Bush ...” – see this for details.  The White House doesn’t want facts – as that might mess things up.


And William Safire retires from the New York Times - so who will now tell us Ariel Sharon is a fine man of peace, and that Mohammed Atta fellow really did meet with Saddam’s guys in Prague and plan the Manhattan and Pentagon attacks of three years ago – even if no one can prove it?  I think his language columns may continue.


So this issue will be short on current events items.


I’m running on empty. 


Bob Patterson, Just Above Sunset’s ace columnist – also know to you readers as both The World’s Laziest Journalist and the Book Wrangler – tries to goad me.


There’s this –


What the hell's going on in Washington?


On Wednesday, the New York Times had a story on the front page under the headline "Chief of CIA Tells His Staff To Back Bush."


On Thursday they had a story on the front page under the headline: "Marine Officers See Risk In Cuts In Fallujah Force."  The Marines are leaking intelligence to manipulate the Commander-in-Chief?  Who's in charge here?  I thought the leaks were supposed to end, not get more prevalent.


Ted Rall's latest book is titled "Generalissimo El Busho" - Rall says Clinton was the first black president and Bush is the first Mexican president with his own "junta."


Will Generalissimo El Busho get toppled by another military coup that disagrees with his tactics for Fallujah?


What the hell's going on in Washington?


Shall I rise to the bait?  Let’s see… The New York Times dropped Rall last winter and the Washington Post dropped him this week, according to Editor and Publisher Dissent is not too popular these days.  Rall is a cartoonist who also writes strong opinion columns – see August 24, 2003 Opinion and January 25, 2004 Sidebars in these pages for a detailed discussion of some of his views. 


Is there a message here?  Don’t make trouble?  Don’t stir the pot?


But Bob persists -


Both the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times have stories on the front page indicating very strongly that Iran may have weapons of mass destruction capabilities in just a few more minutes.


Assuming that we are not going to wait for evidence in the form of a mushroom cloud before we do what must be done, then the Question of the Day is: How long will it take for Bush to start the draft again?


If we start a pool, I say the first draftees will hit the basic training camp on July 1 of next year (2005.)


Can any sane person advocate that we don't release Bush from his… well, he never did actually make a promise.


Bush knows what has to be done


When exactly will it happen?  When will the first draftees get off the bus at Basic?


The New York Times on page one today, Friday, November 19, 2004, in the second paragraph for the story headlined:  "Bush Confronts New Challenge On Issue of Iran" says: "In an eerie repetition of the prelude to the Iraq war, hawks in the administration and Congress are trumpeting ominous disclosures about Iran's nuclear capacities to make the case that Iran is a threat that must be confronted, either by economic sanctions, military action, or "regime change."


It's all so deja vu, eh?


Yep it is.  But I won’t be goaded.  I’m long past draft age.  And none of this can be fixed now.  We made the purchase and it’s non-refundable – we elected the guy.  What will happen will happen.


What the point is protesting?


Bob persists -


According to the Associated Press (the report was printed on page A-25 of the Los Angeles Times on Friday, November 19, 2004):


Rep. Chris Bell (D-Texas) has been warned by the House Ethics Committee that his accusations concerning Majority Leader Tom DeLay could result in disciplinary action (against Bell.)


“Bell got a four-page letter advising him that he could have violated a rule barring "innuendo, speculative assertions or conclusory statements."


Apparently if someone isn't guilty until they have been proven guilty, then it's wrong to talk about it before the jury renders a verdict.


It's almost a Catch-22 type situation.


Democracy is on the march!  "Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out!"


Sigh.  So what.  The guys in power are, well, in power.  Stop thinking logically.  Live with it.


But Bob persists, this time about the upcoming elections in Iraq -


Keeping in mind what Rumsfeld said: "Partial democracy is better than no democracy at all" (or words to that effect) and keeping in mind that Bush doesn't flinch…


Chriswell, Carnac, and Patterson predict that the elections will be (partially) held on time and that it will be every civilized citizen's duty to hail it as a feat worth of a Nobel Prize.


Meanwhile, in Baghdad, the natives are restless.


Hasn't this all been predicted in "Heart of Darkness"?


Yeah, it has.


So what more is there to say?


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....