Thursday, June 25

Public forgiveness, puh-lease

This is delicious. Mark Sandford, Governor of South Carolina, gives a rambling, groveling discourse rich with flattery, self-adoration, requests for forgiveness, flamboyant adverbs, and, at times, it's-just-hard-to-make-out-exactly-what. (Maureen Dowd gets her claws into this one with gusto.) Two women can be seen smiling and, it seems, giggling at times in the background. I was totally with them. It's not out of Schadenfreude, it's just that the performance is brilliant in a self-pitying but steadfastly delusional way. It's impressive, however you cut it. My favorite line of all:

"The biggest self of self is, indeed, self."

I am tempted to turn the best parts of this into a 7-minute Dylanesque ballad, a comic tribute to that distinctly American art wherein politicians fess up to their extramarital affairs. Can't you just hear Dylan croon?: "The biggaaaast... self of se-huh-elfuh... is-a selfuh."

Uh, no, I can't either.

Wednesday, June 24

Washington doublespeak

1. 'Dozens dead' in US drone strike

2. Obama condemns 'unjust' violence

No, those titles do not both refer to the same incident, one that has repeated itself time and again since Obama took office. I reconstituted these two BBC titles just as I had first found them on the BBC news feed. I thought they were highly eloquent when placed next to one another. And I wondered whether in being reshuffled, the titles' embarrassing proximity had been noted by someone at the BBC. I don't think I need to translate, but seeing "US president kills scores of innocent people" and "US president bemoans deaths and brutality against scores of innocent people" next to one another like that gave me pause. Obama's quote was equally eloquent in its lack of self-criticism: "We deplore the violence against innocent civilians anywhere it takes place." Did he merely forget to say, except for when it takes place in Pakistan and/or Afghanistan under my command? One wonders, because it's hard to put much sense to his words without postulating such an omission.

While my courageous Yellow Sth Sth friend seems at the end of his patience with the corporate control of the political process in the US, which seems incapable of delivering the health care that the people want and need, Obama keeps pursuing his vain attempt to crush resistance to foreign intervention in Afghanistan. And it doesn't seem to disturb the president one bit to take words from the mouth of Martin Luther King Jr., a man who would have been the most influential and strident critic of the campaign of violence in Afghanistan if he were still alive today. The arc of the moral universe might be long, but it doesn't bend toward the indiscriminate and unjustified bombing of civilians.

According to the Pakistani government, there have been 60-something drone attacks, which have resulted in 14 "bad guys" killed and over 700 civilians. When your "precision weaponry" is proven to be that bad, isn't it time to shelve it? And when its only significant consequence is that the flames of hatred against the US have been fanned far and wide, can you find a better example of the meaning of "counterproductive"? That's the most generous word that can be used to describe this campaign.

Let's see Obama quote MLK Jr. meaningfully and not spit on all that he stood for. Let's have the president make the same connection that MLK Jr. made between the unjust and costly military adventures abroad and the denial of services that are a public right to citizens at home.