Friday, July 28, 2006

Testosterone Day

Floyd Landis--Landis is saying now that his testosterone levels have always been high. Very con-veeen-ient! But it doesn't wash. If his testosterone levels were always high, wouldn't he have been flagged for high testosterone levels before his super-human effort on the last day in the Alps?

The Israelis--The Israelis might not have as much testosterone as we in the United States think. It's beginning to look like they never planned on moving into Southern Lebanon with heavy forces to flush out Hezbollah. It seems like the plan all along was to launch a massive air terror campaign to destroy the Lebanese civilian infrastructure. The goal seemed to be collective punishment rather than the elimination of terrorist infrastructure.

Driving Around Baghdad--To the contray, it takes a lot of testosterone for American men and women to serve in Iraq where the primary mission seems to be serving as targets for IED's and rocket-propelled grenades. It seems that the only way we can locate the insurgents is to send some soldiers out in vehicles and have them drive around until somebody attacks them. Too bad the mission in Iraq has become such a mindless waste. Our soldiers deserve better.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Right Ponders Apocalypse

The American right proclaims the United States as a beacon for the whole world. But there's too much civil rights, gay rights, Miranda warnings, men getting fired for sexual harassment, and more than 100 languages in public school systems for right-wingers here. The right-wing doesn't believe in the United States anymore.

Instead, the right-wing has believed in Israel.

From the right-wing point of view, the Israelis are tougher, more determined, and consequently more virtuous than American government. They assasinate terrorists, kidnap terrorist leaders, and bulldoze the homes of those who support terrorists. If the Arabs attack the Israelis, they'll always do ten times the damage to you when they retaliate.

And the Israelis always win . . . easily.

However, the faith of the American right has been shaken now that the Israelis are not winning easily in Lebanon.

As a result, the right is becoming unhinged.

In today's column about Lebanon, the right-wing columnist Cal Thomas drifts toward genocide. Disagreeing with Bush's optimism, Thomas counters that Germany only accepted democracy after fire-bombing and Japan after being nukes with the implication that the U. S. will have to subject Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas to apocalyptic displays of power before they'll be brought to heel.Thomas does not stop to ponder the possibility that the American right-wing might be more of a threat to the world than Hezbollah or al-Qaeda. However, anyone dreaming of apocalypse while sitting on thousands of nuclear weapons has to be considered a real problem.

The American right is much more of a danger to the world than Hezbollah or Hamas will ever be.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Angela's Massage

George's neck massage of German Prime Minister Angela Merkel at the G-8-- Was it appropriate? No, but the insight that it gives us into George Bush is important. Bush looked almost as uncomfortable in giving the little message as Merkel did in receiving it. According to Newsweek, Bush is always uncomfortable in these formal meetings with other leaders and doesn't act like himself until he gets in one on one meetings where he can "dominate."

Bush has always had a thing for physical domination. He's in awe of the domination that top athletes like Nolan Ryan exercise over other major leaguers and was fascinated by Ryan's punch-out of Robin Ventura while Bush owned the Texas Rangers. But he's never been physically dominant himself. George Bush is a relatively small, not particularly coordinated guy, not particularly hard-working guy who never played competitive football, basketball, or basketball and even lost at a racquet sport to radical clergyman William Sloane Coffin while at Yale. This is part of Bush's uncomfortableness with himself. Impelled toward domination but unable to dominate until he was elected Governor of Texas, Bush is uncomfortable in his own skin and uncomfortable with others.

With Merkel, I think Bush was trying to make himself comfortable with her, trying to be friendly, by establishing a physical domination over her that he could not do with the men in the room. In this way, Bush was singling Merkel out as a woman, but treating her the way he wanted to treat the men as well. Bush wanted Merkel to be "Angie baby" the same way he's made Karl Rove into "turd blossom" and the best way he could do so was to physically grab her.

And it worked! Merkel initially froze and tried to repel the neck massage, but relaxed and eventually smiled after she saw it was Bush. That "well, I guess it's okay even though I would have been extremely angry if it were anybody else" smile was an indication that she accepted the massage as long as it was from Bush. In other words, she accepted his physical domination. Bush was on his way to creating his kind of friendship with her.

Israel and the Hezbollah Headache

The Israelis are getting set to learn the lesson about military superiority that the Bush administration refuses to learn in Iraq.

It's a big headache.

That's because the Israelis are beginning to run out of options in their campaign against Hezbollah.

The Israelis wanted to force the Lebanese government into disarming Hezbollah. The Lebanese government hasn't budged.

The Israelis wanted to destroy Hezbollah infrastructure through the air, "pinpoint attacks" on Hezbollah tunnels and mines, and occupying a sliver of Lebanese territory. But Hezbollah keeps on firing rockets into Israel while Hezbollah leaders brag about how few casualties they're suffering.

Along with Condoleeze Rice, the Israelis are sending up trial balloons for a large UN occupation force to come in and disarm Hezbollah on Israel's behalf. But they shouldn't kid themselves. Peacekeeping forces only work when both sides want peace. Do the Israelis really think that the Shiite population of Southern Lebanon is going to be eager for peace. Someone noted that al-Qaeda is probably running out of application forms from all the young Arab men signing up right now. The same is doubtlessly true for Hezbollah and it's pretty likely that new resistance groups are forming as a result of current Israeli operations.

The Israelis thought they would be able to relieve their Hezbollah headache through their current attacks on Lebanon. But like the Bush administration in Iraq, the Israelis are finding that military superiority just makes the headache bigger.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bush: A Failed Sinatra

When George Bush finally drives away from the White House in January 2009, he should place bumper stickers on the front and back of his limo. The front bumper sticker should say "I DID IT MY WAY" while the back reads "SORRY IT DIDN'T WORK."

Bush's way didn't work in Iraq, didn't work in New Orleans, didn't work on global warming didn't work on government spending, and won't work on stem cells and health care either.The Bush formula is act unilaterally, wreck the status quo, and dictate the terms of the new settlements. The whole idea was foolish, but it failed because Bush and his people thought that everyone would submit to American terms once we had shown our superiority. Bush's people were genuinely surprised when an insurgency coalesced in Iraq and blew any chance they had of making the occupation work by failing to commit enough troops and money. As a result, Iraq is a chaotic mess and a haven for global terrorists over which the Bush administration has little leverage.

Now the Israelis are trying the Bush formula in Lebanon to the same disastrous effect. Refusing to deal with Hezbollah, the Israelis decided to wreck Lebanon's civilian infrastructure in the expectation that they could render Hezbollah impotent in the process. Two weeks into the Israeli operation and its already clear that it isn't working. The Israelis showed how tough they were, but the show of force did not prove to be intimidating. Hezbollah has proven to be a surprisingly effective fighting force. Lebanese sentiment is starting to coalesce against Israel and the Israelis are looking for the fig leaf of a NATO peacekeeping force to serve as a buffer force between Southern Lebanon and Israel. That won't work because peacekeeping doesn't work if there are active antagonisms between the parties.

Having acted with Bush-like arrogance and recklessness, the Israelis are now facing a situation that is worse than the status quo ante. Like Bush, they've become failed Sinatras.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Red State Driving Zeitgeist

Driving is a word that has a variety of meanings and derivations. There's driving your car to the store or driving your family on vacation and all the symbolism of personal freedom associated with the automobile. In fact, the phrase "he or she's in the driver's seat" is an indication of a heightened degree of control. But there are also involuntary images of driving such as being "driven" out of town or being "driven" to drink or take drugs.

Driving was an important image in the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader today. The Herald-Leader has a major story on blacks being driven out of towns all over the the South and border states like Kentucky. Blacks were driven out of Corbin, KY during the 1920's and black parents still tell their children not to drive through Corbin when they get their licenses. Blacks tell their children not to drive through my town of Morehead as well. One of the legacies of segregation is that the South and borderstates are a checkerboard of places where blacks can feel safe, relatively safe, unwelcomed, or banned. In a few cities like Atlanta, blacks are in the political driver's seats. In other places like Louisville, KY, blacks feel relatively safe although Louisville has had the same problem with the police shooting black men as Cincinnati. In places like Corbin or Forsythe County, Georgia, segregationists are still in the driver's seat and blacks drive there at their own peril.

In Morehead, segregationist good old boys were in the driver's seat until about fifteen years ago. Blacks and Yankees drove through here at their peril. But that group has passed on. Now it would be more accurate to describe the 98% white town as a checkerboard where blacks are welcomed in some stores, with some people, and with some police; not so welcome with some stores, people, and police; and completely unwelcome with others. About 15-20% of the cars at the Wal-Mart parking lot carry Confederate flags and other Confederate memorabilia. Slavery and Segregation still reign in their cars and their hearts. Things have improved for blacks here, but not nearly so much that they can ignore the wariness taught them by their parents. Living, and driving, freely is still something that escapes black people in Red States like Kentucky.