Iraq: Who Couldn’t See This Coming?

©2014 James Montgomery Studios

©2014 James Montgomery Studios

        Yeah, there’s trouble in Iraq and it looks like the country is going up in flames. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But at the same time, if you couldn’t see, as Bush bullshitted his way into an unnecessary war, that events were inevitably going to take this turn, you are either willfully blind or stupid. There really is no middle ground. I have been saying this was going to happen since long before Bush was out of office; the “surge” couldn’t change it, but the apologists have come out of the woodwork, nevertheless, to rationalize their lies and placate their jingoistic base. Without a constant American presence in Iraq, a lasting peace was not sustainable and who wants to maintain a constant U.S. presence? What was fomented in Iraq was dishonest and futile and – let’s say it – in vain; the blood and treasure spent to prosecute this war was wasted. All that was accomplished was the fanning of the flames of unrest and only an arrogant fool thinks that can be controlled.

        So now the usual suspects, John McCain, the eternal warmonger, and one of my unfortunate excuses for a senator, Lindsey Graham, are among the number of Republicans making excuses for Bush’s actions while, at the same time, playing the tired old game of blaming Obama for being unable to avoid the sequence of events as they headed to their obvious conclusion; that conclusion being Shia versus Sunni violence aided by Al Qaeda insurgency from the very same Syrian factions these Republicans wanted Obama to support. Talk about wanting to have it both ways. I wonder if these guys even keep track of what they say and stand for anymore. Anyhow, let’s go back and see how we got where we are.

        Of course, as the apologists will point out, Saddam Hussein was a bad man, an oppressor of his people, an unstable presence in the Middle East, and desired a nuclear weapon capability. These accusations may be true, but they were not unique for various world leaders in 2001, just as they weren’t unique in 1988, just as they aren’t unique now. Assad, Mubarak, Qaddafi could meet most of these accusations, as well, except Mubarak was a U.S. ally, so he got a pass. And what about Saudi Arabia and Iran? Those two countries practice institutionalized oppression against their people with impunity – and let’s not forget that the World Trade Center attacks were led by Saudis, not Iraqis. The Saudis, as well as the Israelis, are our allies, so they, too, get a pass, unlike the Palestinians. Because when you’re talking about the Middle East, you inevitably have to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian issue.  If you’re a Palestinian, I wonder where the governments of Sharon and Netanyahu rate on the scale of oppressive regimes? Of course, the Arab and Israeli animosity may be so entrenched and so long-lived that the question becomes irrelevant. While maintaining a constant presence in the center of rationalizations for Mideast violence, these are two sides that continue to stalemate themselves at the negotiating table over Jerusalem by an unwillingness to compromise. Sounds like a certain political body in Washington, doesn’t it? And it is this same political body that thinks the factions in Iraq were going to get along just because we removed a “bad” man? The only roses in this scenario that Dick Cheney thought would be “thrown at the feet of liberators” are the tint of the glasses these idiots are wearing if they still believe that democracy is something that can just be shoehorned in on any group of people – especially people who have deep-seated resentments against one another. Iraq wasn’t a fight to be pursued and no amount of wishful thinking was going to allow a military solution that would keep Iraq peaceful indefinitely. Bush made the mess by creating a political vacuum and Obama was expected to clean it up with an infinite occupational force? Keep dreaming, morons, it was never going to work out the way you wanted – unless sowing chaos was what you were shooting for.

        “Congress approved it,” the apologists will say, “including the Democrats with few exceptions.” Yes, they did. That is their moment of ignominy. They should have stood up and opposed it instead of being cowards afraid of the old “unpatriotic” slur that gets thrown around so carelessly. They should have known better. They were fed a pack of lies, especially the ones Bush told in his State of the Union address, but they still should have known better and pursued the truth more diligently. Colin Powell now knows he was the point man for the circus of horseshit at the U.N. The British, French, Russians, and Israelis all reached the same conclusions? So fucking what? The U.S. was leading the intelligence charge and the intelligence didn’t pan out, so just how good was that collaboration? The results speak for themselves. To say that not confronting Hussein over U.N. sanctions would lead to further instability is pretty damn specious. Iraq, after the Gulf War, was a shell of its former self – and its former self wasn’t that great – and represented a very beatable opponent. Why not attack them over U.N. sanctions violations? Most ironic, though, is that the Republican party is the one with the constant “get out of the U.N.” mantra and they wanted to use upholding sanctions as an excuse for war? The indolence of Congress was obvious when no one called bullshit on this. I will have to give ol’ Dubya credit for playing Congress the way he did, because that’s exactly what he did. To cite U.N. sanctions as a basis for issuing threats but not having the backing of Congress would put the president in an ineffectual situation. Well, the Congress couldn’t have that – we’d look weak and stupid! So, they supported Bush and maintained their “patriotic and strong against terrorism” façade. Look where they ended up. They were weak and stupid!

        I’ve heard the cowboy boots that have the pointed toes referred to as “cockroach killers” – you can get into the corners with them. That’s all Bush, the cowboy president from Texas, was doing: taking his boots and kicking at the cockroaches. The problem is you never get many roaches and they scatter – just like Al Qaeda did – and you still have cockroaches. The Republicans want to accuse Obama of playing politics? They’ve all been playing politics all along.





We’ve all heard the derision at one point or another about the usefulness, in fact, the legitimacy of items gleaned from the pages of Wikipedia. Its detractors roil about how anyone can put anything on there and the skeleton crew that serves as an editorial staff may or may not get around to addressing such items in a timely basis. I know, firsthand, how companies have tried to “control the message” about what goes on their Wikipage. Imagine! Wouldn’t it be great if we could allow only the nice things said about us and all other facts that may disparage our reputations are cast to the waste bin of knowledge? What a world that would be! Its supporters, on the other hand, say it’s a useful tool for getting information quickly and easily with the caveat that the information may not be entirely accurate. Pardon me, but if that’s the standard, then Wikipedia-gained knowledge ranks right above gossip as to its integrity.

Knowledge is a funny thing. Some of us go to college and expand our horizons and learn about things we may never experience outside of the classroom. I’ve taken years of German, but will probably never set foot in ol’ Deutschland even though I spent most of my military career trying to get there; it just wasn’t in the cards. I’ve learned a great many things and I have to trust that the knowledge I’ve gained is accurate or, at least, tested and challenged as to its veracity. As it is with many things we read or see; so it is with Wikipedia. It may not be the Library of Alexandria, or even the Library of Congress, but it is a collection of information to do with as we will.

The problem seems to be that I keep coming across sites on the internet that are little more than aggregate sites of various news items. These sites didn’t come by their information honestly, they’re just parroting what somebody else wrote. They don’t do investigation work, they just practice the cut-and-paste method of journalism (and maybe pay off a few folks to keep from getting sued). The comments, particularly with political sites are even worse as any lame-brained notion is likely to be “backed-up” with a link to – yes, you guessed it, Wikipedia. Naturally, once the poster has been vilified for using Wikipedia, the excuse is, “I know, but I’m in a hurry.” I’m not saying Wikipedia is total garbage, but I want to hear from people who actually know something, not any clown who can cut-and-paste something. Unfortunately, I think the problem is getting worse.

I had the occasion recently to look into the 1909 Honus Wagner T206 baseball card, the “Most Valuable Baseball Card in the World”. In fact, that’s what we called it for the Wal-Mart giveaway back in 1996. I should know, I worked at Treat Entertainment, the company responsible for the contest through Wal-Mart. I designed much of the artwork, such as it was, for the card packaging as well as the label that went on the case of the card that was given away.  In fact, it was through my time at Treat that I learned how Wal-Mart operated and to hate them for what they are and what they’ve done to our economy. But that’s another story; back to the card.

As I looked over Wikipedia, I read about the card, the history of the most famous version – the “Wayne Gretzky” card, that Gretzky and Bruce McNall owned, and how this card became the centerpiece for the Wal-Mart giveaway after Treat paid Gretzky $500,000 for it. But Wikipedia never mentioned the other T206 card that Treat had. There was something special about that card that technically devalued it, but made the card unique.  I never saw this particular something mentioned about any Wagner T206.  So I looked over at other sites that dealt with collectible sports cards and found that, largely, the articles were verbatim copies of the Wikipedia entry! It didn’t seem to matter if the information was true, false, or otherwise, they went to their one source and plagiarized the write-up.

One of the things one learns in school – especially college – is that you don’t copy anything! You also don’t rely on just one source for your information and you credit your sources. It seems that the need for accuracy and thorough collection of information has taken a backseat to quick-and-easy and just flat-out laziness. Who cares if it’s done “properly”? It not like anybody’s writing a term paper here.

Yet you are, or, at least, you should be employing the same writing standard as if you are. After all, you want people to take you seriously – especially if you’re writing about a serious subject that matters to you. What people are going to see from the lazy source gathering, poor grammar and spelling, and lack of proofreading is that you don’t give a shit! And if all you’re doing is creating click-bait or just trolling, why should anybody give a shit about anything you say?

In Which Maureen Dowd Launches the Zombie Apocalyse

I’ve seen a few websites hosted by folks who don’t care for the politics of ol’ Maureen and have done zombiesque defacements of her pictures.  Quite frankly, they all suck.  I’m not saying that because I am a fan of Dowd, I’m just encouraged that a 62-year old wants us to believe the chestnut vibrancy of her mane has anything to do with reality – as if the drapes still match the carpet.  But she needs to be zombified, so here she is, Maureen Undowd:


C’mon, Greg Nicotero, help a brother out! I don’t live that far away from where you shoot TWD! (Photo by Bob Daemmrich/Corbis)

So now the talk around town is that ol’ Dowdy got hold of some special recipe snacks and went down for the count.  That’s why I made her a bit green because I figure the Zombie Apocalypse will be started by dummies doing dumb things.  And since the common reaction to that doobie high is the munchies, the desire for human flesh seems inevitable.  Plus, cannabis – cannibal, it’s just works!