Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Humpty Dumpty

How far broken is Iraq? I read all the various proposals to "solve" the problem, and my immediate reaction is, "Humpty Dumpty took a great fall; all the king's horses and all the king's men could not put him back together again".

Obviously there are limits to the broken egg analogy. A country--or a geographical region, if you will--is not a limited entity. There will be people, resources there. Culture, history, crime, poetry...the full extent of human effort and emotion. But it remains: what was there was smashed.

Whatever the future, the fate of Iraq was sealed in the very early days of the war. When the national library was looted and burned, when the national museum was looted and burned, when Donald Rumsfield said, "stuff happens", and equated anarchy with freedom, it was clear that no good would come of this. When the head of an intensely hierarchical, regimented organization cannot distinguish between freedom and anarchy, it is clear that the our leaders have slipped their moorings and drifted off into psychological waters whose divorce from reality knows know depth. When the inmates are in charge...

I don't know how broken Iraq is. I do know that any thoughts that it is "fixable" are hubris. It has become a cliche that there are no good choices but...there are no good choices. Given the folks who are in charge, I think that our government will continue to make the worst choices. It is the end of the world as we know it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Shut up and sing!

On the day my home town newspaper (The Washington Post) came out in favor of that dispicable dictator Pinochet (and really, what does a terrorist murder on Washington's Embassy Row, 3,000 + murdered Chileans--they were all leftist anyway---and 20,000+ tortured citizens matter when there is MONEY to be made?) Nick and I saw an early show of Shut Up and Sing, the Dixie Chicks concert tour documentary. It was painful to revisit early 2003. The nation was living in some mass hallucination. One of the previews was a documentary of the Jim Jones People's Temple mass suicide, and while wild horses could not drag me to see that depressing film, 2003 sure seemed in retrospect a period when the great bulk of the nation was drinking the poisoned Kool-Aid.

The key moment was the first one. As the movie showed, up to a million people were on the streets of London protesting the soon to take place war. The Hammersmith theater where the concert took place was a wonderfully intimate venue. A young woman deep inside the pop music bubble could never expect her words to stir up the storm of protest that followed.

That's why the film's look back was so depressing. I could not believe then, I can not believe now, that the Bush administration's mendacity was accepted with such alacrity, and that those who didn't accept it would be greeted with such universal derision. Natalie Maines doesn't come across as a deep thinker (although she does come across as someone with integrity and no shortage of self-confidence and ability to think for herself). She was just some ordinary person who said, the emperor has no clothes, and got bashed for it.

There's a bit of sentimental mush in the movie (a bit heavy on the motherhood side) but the film is great on the hippie aesthetic of the LA recording sessions, honest about the money-making corporate side of the business, ditto honest about the Chicks ambitiousness.

Bonus item was Oregon Republican Gordon Smith waxing sanctimonious about how the "Hollywood" personalities shouldn't be surprised when there is a business consequence for expressing an honest opinion. Smith has lately been shedding aligator tears about the immorality of the war. Hope this clip gets played a lot when he's running for reelection trying to explain why he was for the war before he was against it.