Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gidget and the Geezer

In his comment on the preceding post (and, yes, the nimrods are still working this weekend and so am I) my comrade Pluto says: "...looking forward to reading what you have to say about McCain's VP choice."

I read that and thought: what's to say? That Sarah Heath Palin is the Danforth Quayle of 2008? That McSame didn't have much of a pond to fish from: once you get past this year's failed Red candidates (and, honestly, who hadn't spent the entire evening smoking crack would want to take on "Too culty/too rich" Mittens, "Too traitorous to his own party" Joe, "Too-too" Rudi or the Incredible Huck?) you're down to the unknowns and the totally full-gonzo flippin' wingnuts?

Ummmm...yeah.So Palin does for Gappa John what J. Danforth did for 41: nails down the Nazi and Theocrat Wings of the Party of God, adds a dash of novelty to the race, gives a little girlish charm to what is basically a cold and angry old man.

Other than that? Ummmm...well, she seems to have less avarice in her soul than the typical country-club Republican. This may be personal or it may be a reflection of her good-ol'-girl background.

Her resume is thin, and based on what we know of McCain, her principal qualification might be her ability to shut up and nod. McCain, with his explosive temper and penchant for stepping on his poncho isn't looking for some snarky Darth Cheney to sharpshoot him. He wants a pliant nobody.

Or it may be the "beauty queen" thing - Shotdown John seems to have an eye for the ladies. Sarah is discreetly hot in a sort of PTA/church mom kind of way. The old coot may like the idea of some arm candy for his whistlestops.

I'm discounting the other crap: the point guard, the fish, the moose hunter flapdoodle, the stories of using her office to piss on her ex-in-law (what the hell good is political office if you can't use it to bitchslap your jackass in-laws? Jesus, you'd be asking politicians to give up free plane rides, next...) That's just for the rubes.

I think her vile christopithocene attitude towards women ("You go in there and knock'er up, Kyle - I'll getten' the law on'er if she don't pop that sprog!!") will negate whatever miniscule appeal she might have for the PUMAs, and the other Jesusopathic patriarchy-squeezers would vote for Attila the Hun if he promised to punish abortion and force schoolkids to pray for recess.

Nope. It's for the shelf appeal. She's the feisty girl sidekick that lets us know that the curmudgeonly wizened bastard is secretly "hip". She's the old Time Lord's Susan Foreman.

So here they are; America's alternative to fiscal sanity, moral probity, geopolitical realism and Constitutional fealty: John "POW" McSame, and the Northern Exposure.

Don't listen to those whining hippies! You can trust us to deliver the same fine federal government you've enjoyed the past eight years! Vote to Stay the Course! Vote Poligrip and Polly Pocket! FABULICIOUS!! Update 8/31: Two late thoughts; one sad, one happy. Sad: that anyone, especially any woman, especially any politician, could laugh at a couple of ignorant shock jocks calling a female, fellow-Republican, cancer-survivor colleague a "bitch" and a "cancer". This says to me "I'm too stupid a politician to be elected dogcatcher in a political system that actually, like, worked, and too petty and syncophantic a person to entertain enough independant thought to walk and chew gum at the same time." Happy: that the World has driftglass to take this mess and make a real FunnyHa-Ha out of it. I was laughing so hard I could barely decide whether "Weeping Barbara Bush!" was funnier than:
"And another thing; people are getting really creeped out with you dropping the P-bomb every time you have a senior moment. Treating it like you just had your tonsils out -- some free pass to be a prick and demand all the ice cream in the world."
Whatver. Flat-ass funny - go read the whole thing.
(h/t to Blue Gal for the Maidenform ad)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Well, THAT sucks...

So the contractor on one of our jobs has decided that in order to catch up to schedule he's working ALL weekend.

I HATE when that happens.

Contractor: So...we'll need you about ten on Saturday and Sunday and eight on Monday, will that work?
Me: I'll make it work. I won't be happy, but I'll make it work.
Contractor: I mean, if it's a problem...
Me: It's not a problem, it just is. I get paid the same whether your tests pass or fail. So. Let's make sure we do the work right the first time, eh, gentlemen?

Uneasy silence.

They better be ready for me tomorrow. That's not a threat. I'm just sayin'.

Update 8/30 10:00am: Well, that answers THAT question - they are ATE UP. Messed up like a football bat. Like twelve monkeys fucking a watermelon. All over the place.

It's gonna be a looooonng weekend.


Who Knew?

Thank God for Jezebel.
Because if we didn't know any better, we'd assume that high heels just gave you painful arches, bunions, hammer toes and other foot problems. But no, it turns out that post-partum fitness...ummm..."down there" is contingent on tripping around in those high-high-HIGH four-inch spikes. Well, Tyra says so, and if Tyra says it, it must be so!

If I'd only known: think of the fun Mojo would have had biking to work in her Meliani pumps. Mrrrrowr!

(Honestly. And we wonder why after the past eight years McSame is in a dead heat with, regardless of what you think about "Change" and the relative virtues of the candidate involved, the man who represents the only current opportunity to put the GOP slime machine back in it's box. Sigh...)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Absolutely, Yes, Really, No Shit, Really, the Final (Random) Thoughts on the Beijing Olympics (4)

This apparently is from the late 1980's or early '90's - the gymnast, a man named Paul Hunt, still trains and coaches in Utah. I understand a search of Youtube will turn up an uneven bars routine that is even more utterly whack.

The IOC really should add a "comic sports" category...


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

End of Summer

Can you feel the seasons begin to turn?

I stepped out onto the porch yesterday morning and the air had a clean snap to it, a transparent blue chill that the soft cool haze of summer just lacks.

We've already had a couple of pouring rains; I love lying in the quiet house at night, listening to the drumming of late summer rain on the roof, the rush and gurgle of the gutters draining, the soundless feel of the parched ground soaking up the moisture.

(By late September the joy is gone - the Rains have come to stay and the novelty of a wet evening is spent.)

It's almost time to take in the hammock, to roll the plastic kid pool against the fence.

It's almost time to mulch the garden and cut the remaining roses back hard.

It's almost the End of Summer.An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.

I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones
Amaded, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.

Blue poured into summer blue,
A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,
The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew
That part of my life was forever over.

Already the iron door of the North
Clangs open: birds,leaves,snows
Order their populations forth,
And a cruel wind blows.

Stanley Kunitz

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Public Be Damned

Every so often I run across something that reminds me so forcibly, so violently, of the present desuetude of our republic that I lose my wind just for a moment.

Here's Glenn Greenwald describing the scene at the current Democratic National Convention, where the telecom giant AT&T throws an intimate little shindig for the very people - imagine that - who helped them evade lawsuits for their lickspittle subservience to the criminals in the Bush White House and the NSA who believe that the laws of the land are, in the immortal words of Leona Helmsley, "for the little people".

I challenge you to read it and not throw up a little in the back of your mouth. It's sickening. It's the real face of "American politics".

It's not like this is something new in American politics. The rich are always with us, and the only difference between the New Gilded Age and the Old was that back then, a man like Mark Hanna could openly say; "Come on, you've been in politics long enough to know that no man in public life owes the public anything."

Today we have to pretend to "care" about the Great Unwashed, but the reality of America is that unless we're in the top 1% of all American incomes many of us have much of the freedom of a polled Hereford being prodded up the chute towards that dark building where we await our political and economic fate. Are we better off than some Ukrainian peasant or Zimbabwean prole? Sure. Will that mean much when our job is offshored, or we get sick and run through our insurance, or the highway to our parents' falls apart and we have to drive a 40-mile detour to visit?


Here's Andrew Bacevich talking some hard, cold sense that most of us will close our ears to:
"The military-industrial complex will inhibit efforts to curb the Pentagon's penchant for waste. Detroit and Big Oil will conspire to prolong the age of gas guzzling. And the Israel lobby will oppose attempts to chart a new course in the Middle East. The next commander in chief will inherit an intractable troop shortage. The United States today finds itself with too much war and too few warriors. That alone will constrain a president conducting two ongoing conflicts. A looming crisis of debt and dependency will similarly tie the president's hands. Bluntly, the United States has for too long lived beyond its means. With Americans importing more than 60% of the oil they consume, the negative trade balance now about $800 billion annually, the federal deficit at record levels and the national debt approaching $10 trillion, the United States faces an urgent requirement to curb its profligate tendencies. Spending less (and saving more) implies settling for less. Yet among the campaign themes promoted by McCain and Obama alike, calls for national belt-tightening are muted.

Will we listen? Will we act? No.

Because, in the end, short of violent revolution, with the monetary grip on the levers of power, what CAN we do?

And because, in the end, we'd rather pretend that the future holds "freedom" and green pastures and sunny skies and try not to hear the cries of the other steers and the whisper of the killing knife.

Final Thoughts on the Beijing Olympics (3)

One thing that really chapped me and always has about the Olympics is the relentless discussion and dissection of the medal count. Who's got what, how, and why, and how the number of medals, or the number of golds, is implied to speak something wonderful (or, if said number is low, terrible) about countries and peoples.

What got me thinking about what a freakish, artificial notion this was watching the woman pictured at left, a Byelorussian race walker named Ryta Turava, compete in the 20K women's race walk.

Have you ever seen this sport? It's just like what you'd think - a bunch of people power walking, only with an incredibly sinuous stride that makes you think of Mata Hari and Indian yogis and wonder how double-jointed you need to be to be a great race walker.

This poor woman had a horrible day. She kept thrusting her fingers down her throat, weaving on and off the course clearly in distress until finally, in the penultimate lap, she simply stopped, bent over and made herself be sick; she must have had an awful bellyache. She eventually finished eleventh.

This is not to tell the story of the race; it's just to introduce the fact that the woman is Byelorussian. That day I was perusing the medal table and realized that "Russia", which if you look just at the stats finished a distant third overall, at one time included Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, about fifteen 'Stans, all the way down to lowly Moldova. Add all the "former Soviet" states into "Russia's" total and you get something that looks like this...

Country Golds Silvers Bronzes Total Medals
Russia 23 21 28 72
Ukraine 7 5 15 27
Belarus 4 5 10 19
Kazakhstan 2 4 7 13
Azerbaijan 1 2 4 7
Georgia 3 0 3 6
Uzbekistan 1 2 3 6
Armenia 0 0 6 6
Lithuania 0 2 3 5
Latvia 1 1 1 3
Estonia 1 1 0 2
Kyrgyzstan 0 1 1 2
Tajikistan 0 1 1 2
Moldova 0 0 1 1
Totals 43 45 83 171

Here's a full rundown of this amalgmation of former SSRs. For all the boasting and gloating about U.S. medal totals and Chinese golds, only an accident of history dismembered the country that would have been an Olympic monster for medals this summer, relegating the current braggarts to distant second and third.

And all of this means...what?

Not one damn thing, I'd opine. This Jesuitical twittering over medals doesn't so much as feed a single hungry kid in Armenia, or resurrect one dead soldier in Georgia, or make one Chinese woman's or Azeri man's day brighter or happier or more hopeful. A bunch of athletes did well, or poorly, and good for them. A bunch of nations' athletes did well or poorly, and that says nothing about the life of your average Moldovan or average American, for that matter.

And this endless fiddling with medals and who won and who didn't, and how we "need" to win more and spend more to do it?


I enjoy sport: playing it, watching it. At its best sport helps celebrate the best of the human body and illuminate some very good (and very evil) features of the human soul. But it's not worth the life of the meanest bastard ever whelped, and I'm sorry to see that, as in this quadrennial yelping over medals, we can ever forget that.

Weekend at the Waldorf

It wasn't just Miss Lily that was busy this weekend. Mojo and Missy went over to Astor School to help with the back-to-school cleanup....And big boy Peeper and I took a load of debris to the dump, where much fun was had throwing stuff and finding out how much the truck weighed......and enjoying the loaders and big garbage trucks.The transfer station is big Boy Fun, let me tell you.

AND after that we got to go to L'Arc D'Or for some mighty fine french fries, chicken McNuggets (which the hell part of the chicken is the "nugget", anyway?) and chocolate milk.

Which, for hard-workin Garbagemen like me and the Peeper, is damn fine grubbin'.

That sounds like the worst of horrible miscegenations between McDonald's and Ford Truck commercials, doesn't it? Eeegah...

Anyway, we had fun, and then I had to take the work truck back to the office. I took my bike and rode back up to Mt. Scott Park to meet Mojo and the kids.Hey, just like the "Tour deFrance guys".

Ummmm...only older. And fatter.

Oh, and slower.

Mmphm.Here's our friend M's nighborhood project, the little triangle at SE 70th and Woodstock. Cool, neh? We loved visiting her when she was helping with the cob walls

And here she is, popping up in her community project like the devil in pantomime! Yay, M! You rock!

M is a terrific gal, and she invited us to, of all things, an Oregon Symphony in the Park concert in her local Mt. Scott Park (also home to the coolest indoor pool in Portland). Mind you, it's been years since I classicaled, and Mojo doesn't know J.S. Bach from Burt Bacherach, but it was free, and it was a nice evening, and so we went.

It turned out to be Big Fun, with all sorts of tasty Peeper and Missy-tempting treats, lots of places to play, music by Portland Taiko (who totally kick ass like a ninja monkey) as well as the OS, who had the good sense to pick fun, uptempo stuff like the "William Tell Overture" (dada-dump, dada-dump, dada-dum-dum-dump!) and skipped the lugubrious Mahler. Here's some snapshots:The next morning Mojo went to her Fit Sisters to work out so the kids and I went out for breakfast, then a looooonng playtime in the park behind the St. John's Community Center, then Home Depot...

Note that the park was jammed: I was amazed, since we're usually alone here. This complicated matters when Peep had to do his usual post-breakfast "emergency pee". Thank god for thick hedges.

One Amazing Physics Fact: small children become electrically charged after repeatedly sliding down a plastic slide. True fact.Still more fun.And still more fun.So we had pretty good fun this weekend. Mind you, I'm still not talking about the part where the Peeper and Missy had their fun stuffing ten of Missy's diapers in the toilet while Mojo and I sat watching the Closing Ceremony. I knew that giggling meant something bad, I was just too damn lazy to get up and see.

Thank GOD they didn't flush it! Did you know that a disposable diaper can hold up to 16 times its own weight in moisture? True fact. Diapers are really amazing. Really. Amazing.

You kids...!

Anyhow, I hope you and yours had fun, too.

Time to go to work!

Shaved Pussy

Busy weekend. Poor Miss Lily went to the vet; she's been scratching herself like a mad thing and we were worried.Sure enough, she has "flea allergies", and had gotten herself all infected from the scratching. So she was shaved and cleaned and antibioticked and fleabaned and returned to us a sadder but less afflicted cat.I think she's still pissed off about this, as much for the loss of dignity as the rough handling. Sorry, possum, but nobody promised life would be a bowl of Little Friskies.

Random Thoughts on the Beijing Olympics (2)

Sat through the VERY...interesting...closing ceremony last night complete with riotous children leaping about the house as well as the "Bird's Nest" (at 8:30pm which is what happens when little girls have three-hour naps - be warned!) and had several thoughts about the past couple of weeks:1. The Ancient Greeks probably would be appalled by the monster spectacle of corporate wealth and national chest-beating that is the modern Olympics. Mind you, being Greek, hardheaded, and avaricious, they probably would have lept right in: the ancient Games weren't exactly a model of childish innocence.2. If you really want a hell of a show, always award this thing to a populous, insecure dictatorship. When the NBC commentators talked about the "4 million volunteers" (many of whom, I suspect, were volunteered in the way I used to "volunteer" my troops for details when I was a drill sergeant and Lord of All I Surveyed) and the 40 billion (not sure if this was yuan or dollars, but either is a LOT of lucre for a country with poverty as dire as China's) spent on this two-week sportfest, I kept thinking of the decrepit apartment blocks I saw in Guangzhou. I'm sure if you asked them the apartment dwellers would tell you of the pride that the Games afforded them and how that made the cost worthwhile. There are times our government is supposed to be smarter than we are. This would be one.

3. Water polo is still the MOST boring sport ever televised. Although I have to add that if I ever see another game of beach volleyball (or regular volleyball), swimming race or diving competition it will be one too many. I don't care how many Americans medal.4. And while we're on the subject, I have to admit rooting for the Brazilians in the men's volleyball final (to the extent I gave an actual shit) just because I was SO sick of NBC's undisguised "USA! USA!" attitude. Hey, guys? I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy, a Yankee Doodle-do-or-die, and I wanted to see more Estonian discus hurlers, Malawian runners and Japanese badminton players. I can see Americans play any day I go to the park. This is supposed to be the World's Games. Let's see more of the world, OK.

5. OK, I admit it: Mike Phelps can freakin' swim. But I STILL think that Croatian came in first, or at least tied. Whatever.

6. Speaking of swimmers, I was fascinated by the Mysterious Disappearance of Dara Torres until I read that she had "only" "snagged two silvers". Well, so much for you, Missus "Miracle on Chlorine" old bag lady swimming no-hoper! No wonder NBC stopped talking about you, you big, old, LOSER!! Why don't you take your sad little silvers and stomp home to your baby all dripping wet, you raddled harridan...?!

7. The little feature that NBC did on doping had the drug control people talking about how their fear was that the next level of cheating would be "genetic manipulation", and they said it like the swimmers would show up with gills or the cyclists with wheels instead of legs. But what I couldn't help thinking was of the teeny little gymnasts, the impossibly tall volleyballers,slender gracile east African distance runners, troll-like shotputters and think that "genetic manipulation" was right there for us to see. Anything more would simply be the 21st Century equivalent of selective breeding...

8. And speaking of selective breeding AND Dara Torres, I couldn't help noticing that Ms. Torres has among the largest feet I've ever seen on a woman and I say that as a man with size 13 dogs. I mean, she's a big gal and her feet are shapely and not out of proportion, exactly.But then, it makes perfect sense; what better way to swim fast than have Nature's swim fins at the end of your legs? To help alleviate the sameness of the sleek-suited swimmers all seemingly swimming the same race over and over again I started focusing on hands and feet, and, you know what? Most of the swimmers have great big, fin-like appendages. Huh. How 'bout that? Genetic manipulation? Or natural selection? We report. You decide.

9. For all that NBC drove me nuts with their bias (my friend L asked "This is the Olympic Games - why don't we see the discus, the javelin, any of the ancient sports?" and, just for laughs I checked: not a Yank in the top 12. Sorry, L, no Yankees? No TV.) CCTV, the official Chinese TV agency, was worse. Here's Jim Fallows from Beijing:
"...CCTV is showing instead: a ping-pong match between a Chinese player and a Swede, a diving contest involving two Chinese stars, interviews with a foreign coach of a Chinese team, and replays of week-old swimming events in which Chinese athletes did well. These are at the very instant that the men's 5000m is underway. Same thing during men's 800m. Will this apply to the men's and women's 4x400 relays?? Arggh! One world! One dream!"
OK. Even NBC wasn't quite that biased...

10. For all the hype, the nationalism and the disgusting orgy of corporate remoras feeding off this thing,

I still find the idea of all these young people coming from all over to try and do their best, for whatever reasons; hope, competitive fire, greed, obsession...strangely compelling.

Who couldn't love that adorable nut, Andreas Thorkildsen, with his laurel-crown hairdo,winning the javelin? Here's a guy who's never gonna be on a cereal box, ever have his own VISA card, never be anything more than a footnote in an immense record book, a long-forgotten addendum to history in 8-point agate type.

And yet, you can hope that one day, long hence, his kids and their kids will find that gold disk and its faded ribbon in its dusty box, and race into the kitchen shouting in Norwegian.

And Grandpa Torkildsen can grin that same goofy grin he's got in his picture today and tell them of the day when all the world met in Beijing and he was young, and strong, and brave, and the world was, too.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Return to the Silk Road 2: Tarnished Gold?

I haven't seen the game yet, but I couldn't wait to find out the result.

USWNT 1, Brazil 0 in extra time

While I'm happy for the U.S. gals - and especially Hope Solo, who has played spectacularly in goal this tournament after having drained a bitter World Cup thanks to Greg Ryan's incapability - I have to feel for the brilliant Brazilians. Possessed of the finest women's player in the world - Marta - and a terrifically talented squad they seem to have a hell of a time figuring out the U.S.

The commentators over at ESPN Soccernet, never ones to neglect to mention any USWNT accomplishment, weren't hesitant: Brazil outplayed and out-skilled an overmatched U.S. team that had to rely on luck, a bunkered defense and a red-hot goalie to stay in the game for 90 minutes. As I mentioned before, this game should have ended there and been replayed tomorrow. Instead, the tired players were required to play on and on until Carli Lloyd hit what seems to have been a rocket and that was it.I'm thrilled for the US gals, and Solo, and smarting for Marta and her teammates' disappointment. But I question if this is really a good thing for the U.S. women.

It seems to me that the U.S. team's play wasn't really all that great in this tournament. They lost a disgraceful game to Norway, only managed one against Japan (who, admittedly, were playing above themselves) and looked graceless and often lost against the Kiwis. Their win over Canada was another game that was ugly for long stretches, an especially bad sign given that Canada has always been a very flawed team with one great player (back in the day it was Charmaine Hooper, now it's UofP's own Christine Sinclair). And now this.

I'm glad when the U.S. team wins; it's good for the sport here, and it's good for U.S. women's sports in general. But I'm not so sure if I want us to win if we're going to become the Italy of women's soccer, playing 90 minutes of ugly catennacio. Is that what we want to show the world? Is that what the "91ers" worked so hard to create?

So...good luck to the "08ers"...and personal wishes that you can reach inside and find the "beautiful" in the Beautiful Game.

You love your kids just because they're yours: as the Peeper says, "family are the friends who have to love you even when they don't like you so much. But the love is always a little better, a little broader, a little deeper...when the love can come with real pride.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Money for Nothing

This is the kind of thing that pisses me off about our over-long, bloated-budget, poorly-scripted Jerry Bruckheimer film of a war in Mess-o-potamia.

Jesus wept, guys.

The freaking Iraqi jundi - typically a badly educated street rat or a tribesman right off the family date ranch - doesn't have the technical background OR the tactical skills to use a state-of-the-art M1A1.Hell, his government, oil slush fund and all, doesn't have the capability to keep them running for him. Despite the happy-fuzzy-bunny-wuffy talk from our Public Affairs Officer pricks over at the MNF-I head shed in the Green Zone Iraq is still fundamentally a Second World (at best) society. The Iraqi tankers had the balls - ask any Iranian or a GI from the first Gulf War - what they never had and still don't have is the world's most advanced technological base, the largest military budget in the universe outside the Imperial legions of George Lucas and a society and educational system that produces troopers with the mindset to keep highly complex and touchy mechanical devices in working order.

It's not just the PMCS (Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services) that these Iraqis won't perform; it's the Direct Support and Third Shop maintenance they won't have, the command emphasis that they'll lack and the real-world enemies they'll need these 21st Century tanks to fight.

The Iraqi Army needs simple, basic tanks, tracks and trucks to perform internal security, i.e. kill guerillas and crush uprisings by people they and their American papis don't like (and, yeah, I'm lookin' at you, Muqtada, pal. Sorry.) and fight potential wars with potential local enemies such as...ummm...Syria? (frightened silence) Iran? (Smouldering animosity) Turkey? (Indifference with occasional glances of savage resentment at the Kurdish guy standing over there looking innocent)...


OK, so the Iraqi Army doesn't really need a LOT of really new, fancy tanks. A couple of brigades worth of bargain-basement 1970's-era M60's would do just fine.In fact, the costs of the M1s would probably be a long-term burden and hardship for a small, relatively poor country like Iraq.

But damn if we won't sell them some smokin' hot new tanks with all the shiny parts and the little streamers coming off the handlebars. Because after all, it's just your tax money anyway, and what's more important? Some silly old highways, bridges, schools and hospitals? Or a new summer house for the two-yacht family and shiny new tanks for our bestest best Iraqi pals?

501: Race Day Wednesday

Some things are simple and clear.Some things are difficult and complex.But some things are

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Five Hundred

It was almost exactly two years ago: July 17, 2006. I stumbled across this thing called "blogging" that let me do what I enjoy almost as much as scratching my ass through tight shorts: blabbering on about everything - "anything moving"The Peeper was the subject of my second and third posts that very same day. And I promised to talk about adoption, soccer and politics, and I think I've done that. I can promise that as long as we have Little Miss around there'll continue to be adoption, politics is as much a part of me as the whole really-loud-snoring-thing (sorry, honey), and I'm going to talk about soccer whether y'all like it or not (and judging from the lack of comments, you don't).

Oh, well.

That's why it's MY crappy little blog - I get to chose what 99.78% of the world doesn't read.This blog has been with me, a part of me, from frozen peas through times of small joys to great happinessand almost inexpressible sorrow to glasses and sippies and drywalling and scooters...And after two years and a month, 761 days, this is post #500.

Every day we pass another milestone. That's not exactly profound; rather, it just is what life is, our slow walk from birth to death. If we're lucky, along the way we find hope and joy and love to go with the pains and losses, we use our hands and our hearts and minds to craft our route; dig out a root or two across the path, built a bridge or three. If this little electronic place has helped me talk to and touch you, I am pleased, and content. I can stop by the woods at today's evening feeling that I have made a small progress along that Way."For the woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep."
R. Frost

Neener neener

Nasty little argument brewing between "Badger" over at missing links and "Dr. iRack" over at abu muqawama over the coming ratissage that the Malikists are going to drop down on our ex-Sunni-muj, ex-Concerned-Local-Citizens current-"Sons-of-Iraq", the best proxies that our money has bought over in the post-Ottoman snakepit called Iraq.While the name-calling is silly (stop it, you two!) the disagreement seems to point up the difference between the outlook of very different groups of non-Middle-easterners as they look over our current adventure in southcentral Asia.

Dr. iRack, and many of the posters at abu muqawama, have always seemed to me to look so hard at the trees that they miss the forest. The focus at AM seems to be tightly locked, not on geopolitics or grand strategy (although there is some) but local strategy and tactics. The arguments there often seem to me to center around whether W Beach was a better place to land than V Beach rather than what the point of investing a Turkish peninsula might be. AM always seems to me to circle back to "us" (i.e. The West) when talking about Iraq in the same way that NBC is always tightly centered around the fifth-place American shotputter rather than the Kazakhs and Byelorussians that medalled. The Muqawamis seem to be, in general, a little sad and a little mad that our Man in Baghdad is going to go after our very bestest best Sunni pals.

Badger, on the other hand, seems to start from the position that the U.S. is the problem, and as such can never be part of the solution. Or, at least, can't be part of the solution so long as its geopolitical objectives are both unacknowledged and hegemonic. His general take on this issue seems to be that we fucked up both strategically and tactically and we're about to get ours. Too bad, so sad. Smile, Uncle Sammy, and get used to it.So who's right?

Both, I think, and neither.

We should never have bankrolled the "Sons of Iraq" (silly name, but WTF...)

or have placed ourselves in the position to need to buy off our political rivals in order to preserve domestic political support for a neocolonial enterprise that we can't sell on its own merits in the first place. Period.

At this point, we need to either admit that we're going colonial, or we need to start openly preparing to go home. We can't have it both ways forever, and "forever" is coming remarkably close.

Divide and rule is a classic and lovely old colonial strategy. We divided some of the Sunni muj from their less reasonable/less buyable salafi pals and used them to mop up our enemies AND drop our casualty count. This was good for the folks who want our people to stay in the Iraqi "central position" for generations; for those of us who think this is a grand geopolitical fuckup, this was an occasion of buying today's success with tomorrow's failure, and it looks like our line of credit may be running out.Maliki, much as I disrespect the man and his kleptocratic siderunners, is doing what is entirely expected and rational for any middle eastern potentate: he's positioning himself to defenestrate potential rivals and present enemies. To the extent that we should be doing anything, we should be deciding which wogs our viceroy and military pasha (i.e. the CINC of MNF-I) is going to back, and then use them to exterminate their enemies. If we haven't figured out that this is how the world works outside of Lyons, Bonn and Silver Spring, Maryland then we have spent the last eight years standing around southwest Asia with our thumb up our ass and our brain in neutral.

We seem to think that if we just shimmy a little here and wriggle a little there we can figure out a kinder, gentler way to occupy and control a foreign land.

There may be such a way but if there is I can't see it.

The lessons of the European empires are that if you want to directly control the politics of a foreign land you can bribe them (by buying them or their leaders) or you can force them (by threats or use of actual violence) but talking nice to them only works if their interest in your interests is as great or greater than their interest in their own.

In this case, the Malikists appear to be concluding that while Sunni Iraq may be vital to U.S. security interests, our interests don't coincide with theirs. Their increasingly useful militia (the IA/IP) gives us less leverage to threaten and our parsimonious "reconstruction" has never given us a real ability to bribe. So, guess what? We get the finger and the "Sons of Iraq" get the shaft.

If we're smart, we'll buy a couple of leaders on both sides, and when the dust clears we'll have a few remaining proxies to do our dirty business. If we were REALLY smart, we'd have done this about three years ago, and would be back doing what smart Great Powers do, which is using a judicious mixture of force, bribery, persuasion and dead-of-night-skulduggery to get their allies and proxies to get their work done in peripheral theatres like Iraq. But then, if we were REALLY smart, why would a clueless frat boy and his greedy, foolish cronies be running our country.

No, we're still fucked. But to piss and moan about this? Waste of time. Makes us look naive and clueless. We should smile and accept the fact that we're getting schooled in 21st Century colonialism: the pleasure is transient, the position ridiculous and the expense damnable.