Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Chimpy's Reading List

The White House reports that President Chimpy is doing some summer reading, including...

"Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar" by Edvard Radzinsky.

Right. Can't you just see it? Chimpy digesting late-19th century Russian history. Right.

I'm sure that The Monkey House can get advance copies, but the book won't even be released until the end of October!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Iraqi constitution

So, looks like the little experiment in "democracy" isn't going the way Chimpy planned. Well, just minor details remain, like THE ROLE OF ISLAM, FEDERALISM, ETHNIC AUTONOMY and WHO CONTROLS THE OIL!!!


1) we can have the process tainted by real or perceived U.S. interference
2) the tough issues can just be pushed down the road to reach a face-saving deal (like, oh, I don't know, SLAVERY? How did that work out?) or
3) it all just blows up.

Freedom is on the march!

But once it's done, it will just be beer and skittles. After all, popular insurgencies rarely last long or cause much damage, such as that little one led by Emilio Aguinaldo.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Please Read "The March of Folly"

I referenced Barbara Tuchman's brilliant 1984 book, The March of Folly, below. Please read this book. Please.

She defined "folly" as the KNOWING pursuit by governments of policies contrary to self-interest.
It is not enough that governments made bad decisions--governments are made up of fallible humans who make mistakes and bad choices. Folly requires the knowledge that the course taken is wrong AT THE TIME and involves not only a failure, but a refusal, to learn from experience. She includes, from an American standpoint, the pigheadedness of George III and American independence, and her aptly-named chapter, "America Betrays Herself in Viet Nam."

I re-read this book this week. I began this post with the idea of writing how eerily her words about Viet Nam tracked the disaster in Iraq. She writes how the United States, in its domino theory claims, became "lodged in a trap of its own propaganda." She notes how "prophecies of exaggerated catastrophe if we lost Viet Nam served to increase the stakes." She concludes that "the American mentality counted on superior might, but a tank cannot disperse wasps."

I found these similarities telling and frightening, and I considered a long post on her observations. But--we know all that. What moved me to write was this huge difference she observed in a very few words:

"American reporters were probing the chinks and finding the shortfalls and falsehoods in the compulsive optimism of official briefings." Re-read that-----American journalists practicing ... journalism?????? QUESTIONING administration policies rather than Judith Miller's "Give me a W-A-R!!!" cheer? Asking for a rationale rather than "Wow--I'm embedded! Look--tanks!"

Amazing--and frightening.

Too Stupid to Lead

Bush defends not talking to grieving mom

CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush, noting that lots of people want to talk to the president and "it's also important for me to go on with my life," on Saturday defended his decision not to meet with the grieving mom of a soldier killed in Iraq. Bush said he is aware of the anti-war sentiments of Cindy Sheehan and others who have joined her protest near the Bush ranch.

"But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the president, that's part of the job," Bush said on the ranch. "And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But, I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."

The comments came prior to a bike ride on the ranch with journalists and aides. It also came as the crowd of protesters grew in support of Sheehan, the mother who came here Aug. 6 demanding to talk to Bush about the death of her son.

He needs to get on with HIS oh-so-privileged "life?" Tell that one to the dead, the maimed and the grieving!

Lessons Not Learned

From Barbara Tuchman's March of Folly:

A contemporary summing up [of the Viet Nam War] was voiced by a Congressman from Michigan, Donald Riegle. In talking to a couple from his constituency who had lost a son in Vietnam, he faced the stark recognition that he could find no words to justify the boy’s death. “There was no way I could say that what had happened was in their interest or in the national interest or in anyone’s interest.”