Sunday, May 23, 2004

Asthma in Heaven
I caught just a wee bit of William Kristol on the BBC World Service the other morning (as I was up and about at an ungodly hour--it seems like the World Service is public radio's all-night answer to TV infomercials). It's been widely noted recently that Kristol, one of the original neocons, has been critical of the execution of the war in Iraq. (And he ain't alone.) But even though he criticizes Bush with the same supercilious tone he might use to criticize a sommelier for failing to let him sniff the cork, Big Bill still has no problem with the idea of invading Iraq, or the dream of converting it into some kind of Islamic Switzerland, thereby bringing democracy and sweet Christian love to the entire Middle East. Well, he oughta read Jack Beatty's analysis on The Atlantic's website: "Like the [post WWII] isolationists, the neo-cons are history's fools. The strategy they championed was the wrongest possible strategy for the wrongest possible moment in the wrongest possible region of the world."

Also this weekend, Asia Times has a story suggesting that the famous video of Nick Berg's execution may have been faked. I have seen suggestions of this elsewhere over the last couple of weeks--that an actual beheading by knife would have been even more gruesome and bloody than what the tape purportedly shows. (What I have not seen is the video itself. I've been tempted, but I haven't succumbed.) The Asia Times report also examines allegations that the executioner was none other than arch-terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The first time I heard that, I thought it seemed a bit too convenient--after all, we had just declared him the most-wanted man in the world, and then he mysteriously appears on this incendiary video? Forgive me for not being immediately convinced. As it turns out, neither were plenty of terrorism experts.

Recommended reading: Hal Crowther on 2004, the worst year ever to be an American, and the resulting case against George W. Bush: "Journalists used to look for the smoking gun, but this time we have the cannons of Waterloo, we have Gettysburg and Sevastopol, we have enough gun smoke to cause asthma in heaven. I'm overwhelmed. Maybe I should light a match to this mountain of paper and immolate myself."

The Progressive's McCarthyism Watch feature on Bush's recent appearance in Dubuque (where I lived for a couple of years in the early 1980s): If you couldn't certify you were a Bush supporter, you weren't going to get in, even if you had a ticket.

And finally, something I hope is real, and not an urban legend, or something cribbed from The Daily Show: 15-year-old Billy Wilson of Freyburg, Maine, describing the most important thing he learned in school this year.

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