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December 2006


Anyone keeping an eye on the whole Iraq thing (I know it’s difficult to tear away from the Britney scandal) has probably noticed that we seem to be making enemies faster than we can kill them. In fact, the balance seems to have tipped to the point where we’re pretty much universally considered the bad guy by those people.

I’m pretty sure the place we went wrong was by getting all them Iraqis killed. No matter if you believe Bush (30,000 dead), Tony Blair (50,000 dead), or those epidemiologists who do all the major disaster death-counts for a living (650,000 dead), the point is we’ve caused a lot of folks over there to get killed and it’s put us on shaky ground with the Iraq population who, for some reason, would like to see us leave their country before we get them personally killed.

Whichever death toll you believe, it would seem that the majority of Americans still felt that the death count was too low by at least one, and were looking for looking forward to Saddam Hussein’s death (Ironically, for crimes against humanity.) Now Saddam was a pretty bad guy and all. He was responsible, sometimes directly, for the death of anywhere from a half a million to a million people in Iraq ( a difficult feat to beat: to make sure we’ve got the high-end covered, we’re going to have to stay in Iraq at least until the end of the Bush presidency. ) But crimes aside, what better way is there to let the citizens of Iraq know who’s really in charge than to have their government (which we established) ‘execute’ the guy who used to run the country?

None that I can think of.

Of course, killing the old boss is a time-honored tradition here in the west. To take just a small period in English history, we see can see it in action:

  • In 1649, King Charles I was defeated in a revolutionary war. After his defeat, he was tried and convinced of high treason by the victors. They put him to death.
  • Lord Cromwell took over the helm for England, theoretically making it a democracy. But, unfortunately, he killed lots of people rather whimsically, then he left the title of ‘Lord Protector’ (not to be confused with ‘king’) to his son, Richard.
  • In 1660, Richard (being held in house arrest) wisely gave up power to Charles the Second. King Chuck II had the good manners to not kill the co-operative Richard, but did dig up his father, posthumously execute him, and leave his head stuck on a tall pole in central London for four years.

    If there’s any conclusion to be drawn from all this, it’s that former Iraqi President Saddam should have seen it coming and current the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani should be shaking in his shoes. Especially because, if the U.S. does pull out of Iraq anytime in the near future, it’s historically assured he’ll be following in the footsteps of the man he didn’t see fit to pardon.

  • This New Years, at midnight on the dot, the government will be declassifying hundreds of millions of documents. Why? Executive Order 12958.

    Not to be confused with the lame ‘Order 66’ invented by George Lucas as part of his wide-scale attempt to destroy the most popular Sci-Fi trilogy of all time, Executive Order 12958 was issued by Clinton in 1995, and, after two extensions, is now being enforced by George Bush Jr. The order states that every document over twenty-five years old that isn’t specifically requested to be exempt will be made public. It’s always possible that this could be a non-event, but let’s consider what we might learn about:

    * How many times has the U.S. tried (and failed) to assassinate Fidel Castro?
    * Did the CIA do secret LSD experiments in Vietnam?
    * Who slept around more: George Washington or Ben Franklin? (to get Clinton in the pool, we’ll have to wait until 2025)
    * What the hell fell out of the sky in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947?
    * How many Cuban cigars did John Kennedy illegally purchase? (against his own order)
    * Why does Henry Kissinger hate everybody?
    * Who really killed Marilyn Monroe? Bobby Kennedy? Laura Palmer?

    All the big stuff will certainly make the news (overshadowing, as usual, news from Iraq) but if you really want to dig through the details yourself, check out this place here: The Digital National Security Archive.

    If you were thinking perhaps of bonding with the father or son this Santamas season by seeing a movie about football, you might consider a movie that is actually about football and not, as the case would be, We Are Marshall.

    No, We Are Marshall isn’t about football any more than Apocolypse Now was about Vietnam. It’s merely a convenient setting in which to tell a different story. Like in this case, one about people who cry a lot.

    Really, crying. No amazing passes. No astounding plays. No last minute, make this touchdown and win the woman/trophy/respect of your fellow inmates. The few football scenes are more about bringing someone to tears than playing the game. In this movie, if someone isn’t tearfully shouting “We are Marshall,” then they’re crying.

    All that happens in the bulky two hours and seven minutes of We Are Marshall is everyone cries. Almost every story arc in the entire movie is just the progression of a character from a non-crying one to one that does cry. The talented Anthony Mackie cries every fifteen minutes, often with declarations of how much pain he’s in over the loss of his teammates. Matthew Fox and Ian McShane get to save their crying to the climax of the movie. Oh, wait: Their crying is the climax of the movie. In fact, the only person who doesn’t cry is Matthew McConaughey, who, in some drive to win an Academy Award, seems to have stapled his lip half shut. He uses what’s left of his mouth to continually and rapidly spout that right-thing-to-say-and-also-funny-and-insightful dialog that is falls just short of the realism one experienced in For the Love of Benji.

    Now it’s appropriate, mind you, after such a tragedy as one witnesses in We Are Marshall to cry. But do you really want to go and spend both time and money to watch his useless cryfest? Couldn’t you just just pop your own popcorn and then break your nephew’s favorite new Santamas toy? At least then you could sit in a comfortable seat.

    I never thought I would see the sun rise on such a day here in America, but it’s happened.

    It seems the the White House (a term one can only think refers to President Bush) has censored a New York Times article about Iran. Follow this link to see the scariness itself: an American news article with dark black lines blocking out sections of the article.

    Of course, the ‘White House’ has presented the usual security-related reasons. (which for any other administration would seem valid). But I ask you, Do you think Fox News ever had an article censored?

    I don’t think this administration is taking their defeat at the polls (and therefore the loss of their self-proclaimed ‘mandate’) very seriously.

    Time Magazine announced their Person of the Year, and, after the standard self-promoted speculation, dodged the disappointment and/or controversy that usually surrounds their choice by simply not making one. Instead, they placed a flimsy mirror on the cover and announced the winner was little old ‘You’. Perhaps it is their hope that people will see themselves in the mirror and be pulled into an illusionary world where it really is them, personally, who is the Person of the Year. Perhaps for that cookie recipe that all the neighbors love so much. Or that man they gave that quarter to on that street corner that one day. Or that amazing blog they write that it seems a few people are really starting to read.

    This mirror thing is an old trick. I think the first person to ever use it was Mister Rogers, in his book, You Are Special. Seriously you Time-Warner-AOL-Turner-Best-Music-of-the-Seventies people, if there’s one dude you shouldn’t rip off without credit, it’s the eternally beloved Mister Rogers (who never once tried to assault the public with offenses like The Nativity Story or Snakes on a Plane.)

    Even worse, the photos Time Magazine choose to represent “you” feels a lot more like a cheap knock-off of the iPod ad campaign than any general public I’ve ever seen. They did sneak in one person over forty, probably some sort of homage to the people who once read that now-useless magazine.

    Anyway, I think next time they should go all the way and offer custom covers to everyone.

    I bet someone’s getting fired right now for not thinking of that.