The new year begins with a bang ... er ... make that a hang
Of course, the big news over the weekend was this:
Say g'night, Saddam
My own views on this are probably similar to those of many of you. Saddam was a ruthless pig who Got What Was Coming. But is that an end? Have we finally come to this corner that every Republican from Bush to Hannity and all in between have promised that we were turning at some supposedly historically significant moment, whether it be Bush's aircraft carrier speech about the alleged end of major combat operations, or the capture of Hussein or now, his death?
Of course, to think that this changes anything is to slurp up the same naivete-laced Kool Aid as that of phantom Weapons of Mass Destruction or any of the other lies packed down our throats in the time between the beginning of the Iraq war and the present day.
Tellingly, Saddam died on a Saturday. And the very next day ... Sunday ... the Lord's Day, the 3,000th American soldier died in Iraq.
For us -- for Americans -- the death of Saddam changes nothing. We continue to send our fellows into the meatgrinder of the Middle East, while even those in Washington who are against the war mourn the loss of "our youth" or "our sons and daughters" as if talking of another, lower class of people. And for those who are for the war, their deaths can't come soon enough, as Bush and his toadies like John McCain call for even more of our neighbors, friends and family to be sent off to die for nothing.
For the rest of the world, Saddam's death meant even less. Indeed, most of the planet treated the event as though it were some sort of gruesome, barbaric farce.
And what about Bush, one American who I don't include in the inclusionary pronoun "us"? Indeed. What about him? Traveling, as usual, to the foreign press to get a different perspective, one is reminded of the cold, hard truth by Robert Fisk, who writes in an editorial worth reading in its entirety:
"No, Tony Blair is not Saddam. We don't gas our enemies. George W Bush is not Saddam. He didn't invade Iran or Kuwait. He only invaded Iraq. But hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead - and thousands of Western troops are dead - because Messrs Bush and Blair and the Spanish Prime Minister and the Italian Prime Minister and the Australian Prime Minister went to war in 2003 on a potage of lies and mendacity and, given the weapons we used, with great brutality.
In the aftermath of the international crimes against humanity of 2001 we have tortured, we have murdered, we have brutalised and killed the innocent - we have even added our shame at Abu Ghraib to Saddam's shame at Abu Ghraib - and yet we are supposed to forget these terrible crimes as we applaud the swinging corpse of the dictator we created.
Who encouraged Saddam to invade Iran in 1980, which was the greatest war crime he has committed for it led to the deaths of a million and a half souls? And who sold him the components for the chemical weapons with which he drenched Iran and the Kurds? We did. No wonder the Americans, who controlled Saddam's weird trial, forbad any mention of this, his most obscene atrocity, in the charges against him. Could he not have been handed over to the Iranians for sentencing for this massive war crime? Of course not. Because that would also expose our culpability.
And the mass killings we perpetrated in 2003 with our depleted uranium shells and our "bunker buster" bombs and our phosphorous, the murderous post-invasion sieges of Fallujah and Najaf, the hell-disaster of anarchy we unleashed on the Iraqi population in the aftermath of our "victory" - our "mission accomplished" - who will be found guilty of this? Such expiation as we might expect will come, no doubt, in the self-serving memoirs of Blair and Bush, written in comfortable and wealthy retirement."
Brutally honest, eh? A little unfair, perhaps, but whoever said the truth was fair? And keeping on the subject of editorials and the war, former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke had a doozy of an op-ed in the weekend's WaPo, in which he lists all the opportunity costs of Iraq -- all the fights against climate change and nuclear proliferation, etc., etc. that we are losing simply through virtue of our failing to show up to the battlefield, because we are too busy turning the meatgrinder.
So what's the answer, ace? What's going to take us from the darkness of night and lead us into the glorious thousand points of light emanating from a shining city on the hill, in which we ask what we can do for our country and no one fears anything, even fear itself?
Simple. This guy:
That's right, Dennis Kucinich, ace. The Little Big Man. Don't believe me? Here's his issues page. Read it and weep. He's for everything good, and against everything evil. I know I wept when I read it. Like a little baby, safe in the knowledge that Santa Claus exists and there is still good in the world. Those were tears of joy, ace, and they can be your tears, too.
Now, I know what you're thinking. It's the same thing I've thought in several recent blog entries. The guy can't win. Well screw that noise. I'm not generally in the habit of quoting other blogs -- I try to link to actual news sources -- but Atrios, the blogger over at Eschaton, is one of the most widely read lefty bloggers on the Web, and his recent entry about Kucinich is spot on:
"Dennis Kucinich Is a Very Silly Person
We all know this to be true. He's very very silly. His silliness has nothing to do with whether he's right or wrong. I don't know if he's really been right about everything, but he's certainly been right about more important stuff in recent years than most of the people on Tim Russert's rolodex. Still, he's a phenomenally silly person, so silly that when he's covered in the media there's tangible eye rolling by the reporters in the copy.
Since his silliness doesn't have much to do with his judgment on important things, it's worth exploring why he's so silly. As we know, you can be wrong about absolutely everything and still be a Very Serious Person Who Is Not Silly At All. Still, poor Dennis. He's very very silly.
He's silly because he talks outside the bounds of acceptable discourse which have been established by The Serious People. He doesn't try to work within these clear boundaries, but instead steps outside of them.
Howard Dean was also branded a very silly person by the Wise Old Men of Washington. He had the temerity to suggest crazy things which were not supposed to be said - the Iraq war was a bad idea, the capture of Saddam Hussein wouldn't make us safer, etc... etc..."
Nicely said. And Dean almost grabbed the big brass ring. We are desperate for authenticity these days, and Kucinch has it. So climb aboard the Kucinich Express, ace, because it leaves the station soon. Many are called, few chosen, and all that.
That's it for now. My New Year's Eve was unspeakable, the sort of thing that would make Caligula puke with envy, and I still haven't cleaned the cobwebs from my brain entirely. You're lucky you got this much out of me.
Just remember, get on the train.