Friday, July 30, 2010

Sounds Of Silence

Sorry for the lack of publishing this week. This whole cancer thing, which comes to a head today, has me restless and a little anxious. I haven't had many firm opinions about the news because I can't focus.

With a little good luck, I should be back to my old snarling self by the end of the day.

In the meantime, here's a cat picture:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wiki The Witch

Some interesting stories come out of the controversial Wikileaks documents.
Apparently, Osama bin Laden has been dead for nearly six years now, which is in keeping with some of the videotapes that have been released since that time, in which bin Laden "appears" but does not say anything truly contemporary to the time of those tapes (there are audio tapes that suggest he may still be alive, of course, but faking a voice is not that hard).
Apparently, we had multiple opportunities to capture him, knowing ahead of time on at least three occasions where he would be and with whom, yet we either failed to act or decided to let events play out. Apparently, Iran and North Korea have allied themselves with Al Qaeda, which explains much of the aggression of both the Bush and Obama administrations.
And there are some "duh!" moments, too, such as a "secret" Senate report that indicates that we had bin Laden in our hands in 2001, yet let him get away. A simple perusal of the nightly television programming on The HIstory Channel will show that, indeed, that's been public knowledge for some time, and that this is hardly a revelation. We had him in the Tora Bora region, and had surrounded the hilltop cave where he hid, but missed picking him up when our Afghan home to supper!
The response to the leaks? It's been predictable: It's Wikileaks fault that we screwed up.
Nevermind that Pakistan has been as Pakistan has always been, an unreliable ally when it comes to Afghanistan. Nevermind that the armed forces in Afghanistan have been questionable in some of their tactics, to say the least. No, it's all about the public perception of the war and the public perception of our chances there.
Which brings us back to the essential question: why are we there? That's the question Congress doesn't want to raise at this time, since it is our sole focus on that region (Iraq pretty much having settled into a quiet unease). It is the only war we should have been fighting, the only war that ever really mattered and the war we had to win.
Iraq was a choice. Afghanistan was an imperative, and I say that as someone who opposes war, full stop. I don't believe either war was necessary, but understanding the pulse of the nation at the time, and understanding that most Americans are too immature to accept a war waged without lots of colorful explosions and dying enemy soldiers, Afghanistan harbored the people who injured us. I understand that war had to be fought.
Much inferential evidence suggests, no, insists that the reason we allowed ourselves to be distracted with Saddam Hussein and Iraq was a plan on the part of neo-conservatives that would brand America forever an empire. Hussein stood between us and wresting South Asia for ourselves and our domestic purposes. The Wolfowitz Doctrine spells that out quite plainly.
Conveniently, the time was right to strike. Strategically, it was the single stupidest strategy we could have pursued just into a mild recession and just after a weakening blow to our psyche. We had to fight in Afghanistan. We didn't have to open a second front. The greed of these assholes is almost palpable.
And now we have what we have: two lost wars and an aborted attempt at creating a "New American Century" and American empire (which history suggests would have been fleeting and ultimately futile and debilitating).
I haz a sad, but thank Wikileaks for bringing out the truth. No need to burn them.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!

There are only a few times a decade that I can be proud of my church. Today is one time:
With a laying on of hands, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on Sunday welcomed into its fold seven openly gay pastors who had until recently been barred from the church’s ministry.

A couple of notes to make here. First, the Lutheran Evangelical Church is essentially the Roman Catholic Church without the Pope and all the trappings therein. As the first Protestant sect, it remains the one most closely tied to the RCC and has even made attempts to reincorporate into the fold. As such, it can be and has been at points a bellwether for the papal congregations. One hopes that is the case here, as well.

Second, about that second word in its name..."Evangelical". While the Lutheran church in America is not the first evangelical church to recognize gay ministers and/or pastors, it is the most conservative church to do so. Indeed, parts of its doctrine makes churches like the Southern Baptists look practically liberal. This development will put enormous pressure on other evangelical sects to follow, and also opens up the question of gay marriage in places like California, where Proposition 8 passed largely on the basis of votes from evangelicals, white and black.

I have long believed that marriage ought to be available to any two consenting adults. It seems silly to try to keep two people from forming a more perfect union, when our own nation is so divided to begin with.