Kissinger has been heard to describe Rumsfeld as the "most ruthless man" he ever met while in government. It is a view that is disputed by almost no one.
-- from Inside the Committee that Runs the World
By David J. Rothkopf
Foreign Policy magazine
Faster than you can shred a pre-employment non-disclosure agreement, people in-the-know of the Democrusader's first term administration are now giving us some of the answers to those nagging big issue questions we've all had concerning U.S. foreign policy over the last four years.
Despite first term pre-election promises by the Democrusader not to engage in nation building, we all know now that George W. Bush must have had his fingers crossed behind his back when he made that claim.
Dubya-defenders will point to the September 11th terrorist attacks and exclaim, "All bets are off."
At the same time, Bush-bashers will point to Iraq and exclaim, "No WMDs. No take-backs."
What is the truth? Over the past four years -- if you wanted the truth from people in the Democrusader's inner circle -- you would have had to make them stand akimbo on a box, throw a rain poncho over them, and hook their thumbs up with battery cables plugged into an electrical wall socket.
Now, however, people like Colin Powell can speak up and be more candid. In his first substantial media interview since resigning as the Democrusader's U.S. Secretary of State, he sheds a bit of light on the run-up to the Iraq war with the U.K. Telegraph:
Mr Powell said he had warned President George W Bush over dinner in August 2002 that the problem with Iraq was not going to be the invasion but what followed.
He told him: "This place will crack like a goblet and it will be a problem to pick up the bits. It was on this basis that he decided to let me see if we could find a United Nations solution to this."
Colin Powell passed the State Department baton to the former uber-grrl of the National Security Council, Condoleeza Rice. While I'm not that adept at sports analogies, I'll try one to show props to Hunter S. Thompson.
While some observers may be freaking out that Condi went from the NSC to State, I also recall seeing the outrageously outspoken Defensive Tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Warren Sapp, freak out the opposing team by joining his team's offensive line when it counted. Just being Warren Sapp would draw attention to that switch in any situation, but he was able to score a touchdown any-damn-way.
A touchdown in an NFL game is a far cry from a touchdown in Iraq. Also, many people are listening intently to the Democrusader's public statements and worrying that Operation Iraqi Freedom is only the end of the first half of the big game in the Global War on Terror.
Think about it. This past presidential election season was just an expensive, extortionate, and entertaining half-time show before George W. Bush was able to come running back out of the GOP locker room with the confidence of neo-con steroids coursing through his veins, waving his cowboy hat, and screaming, "I have a mandate!"
While I'd have to check with Media Matters to confirm it, my feeling is that the Exposed Nipple Moment in this last troubling American half-time show was provided by the Swift Boat Veterans for the Wind-Sailing Lycrasuited Liars and then broadcast as a public service announcement on every FOX Television affiliate on the planet.
What should we watch for during the next four years? As far as U.S. foreign policy, I am intrigued by the observations of David J. Rothkopf, whose recent article in Foreign Policy magazine excerpts his upcoming book, Running the World.
Rothkopf describes the inner tug-of-war in the ideological rift between the traditionalists and the transformationalists in the Bush administration. While the U.S. government is indeed a Republican monopoly now, there are a few wrinkles in the otherwise smooth and lobotomized brain topography of the Democrusader.
I don't want to be a spoiler -- read it for yourself.
"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone but they always worked for me."
-- Hunter S. Thompson
The man is dead. We been told that much so far.
If Hunter S. Thompson is not a familiar name to you, I would suggest you simply click through some of the off-blog links that I am inevitably going to pile into this entry like the empty cans of Budweiser beer strewn around your puke-stained Lay-Z-Boy on Dale Earnhardt tribute day.
If one of Hunter S. Thompson's last wishes comes true, the body of the late gonzo journalist will be cremated this week and his ashes blasted from a cannon across his fortified compound in Woody Creek, Colorado.
The obituaries and tributes are coming in from all over the planet like cockroaches from the dumpster scene in Men in Black. I wouldn't want to be laying around in a closed casket with part of my head tastefully replaced with a pound of mortician's wax while family and friends sat around a floral arrangement discussing these things either. Unlike Hunter S. Thompson and despite the manner of our own inevitable death, everyday twits like you and I will be allowed to die in relative obscurity and without as much fanfare.
Nonetheless, if you are a blogdriver or even a truly lame blogger using an inferior blogging system like livejournal or blogspot, you still owe a little thought and reflection on the death of Hunter S. Thompson. He popularized the writing format sometimes called first-person journalism. He was, by all accounts, a diarist.
My idea was to buy a fat notebook and record the whole thing as it happened, then send in the notebook for publication-- without editing. That way, I felt the eye and mind of the journalist would be functioning as a camera. The writing would be selective and necessarily interpretive - but once the image was written, the words would be final; in the same way that a Cartier-Bresson photograph is always (he says) the full-frame negative. No alterations in the darkroom, no cutting or cropping, no spotting . . . no editing.
Hunter S. Thompson's own explanation of his style of journalism is apparent in most of what he published. Unlike you and I, he got paid to blog an event. The first HST book I ever recall purchasing was "The Curse of Lono" in which he covers the 1983 Honolulu Marathon race. As you can see from the bizarrely illustrated cover by Ralph Steadman, HST had a unique viewpoint to offer on an otherwise mundane topic. At the time, I remember thinking to myself that my day in highschool wasn't at all defined by the AP classes I took, but rather, by the weed my friends and I shamelessly smoked for breakfast before Calculus and the half-gallon of vodka we drank in the parking lot during the extended lunch hour.
He may not have been the best role model to emulate. He wrote his stories for Rolling Stone magazine for fucksakes. A little mind candy goes a long way, though. If you'd like a nice online sampling of his writing, I suggest the Hunter S. Thompson archive of Page 2 articles at ESPN. For some of us who appreciated his voice, this archive is like the last remaining free methadone clinic in the neighborhood.
Why is the death of Hunter S. Thompson worthy of a Conspiracy Theory in the Imajica entry? Simply put, the man was the Grand Poobah of Bush-bashers. Ho ho. Hunter was linguistically fraggin' the idiot-in-chief when Michael Moore was a just double cheeseburger-challenged 200-pound 3rd-grader.
Oh, and if you just happen to work for the U.S. federal government in any way ... I hope you realize, for my own sake, that whole Democrusader thang was a parody.
Welcome to Swamp Gas in the Imajica. Similar to the You Can't Make This Shit Up (YCMTSU) section, Swamp Gas will focus solely on news and items of interest in the sunshine state of Florida.
They say, "All the nuts in America roll downhill to Florida," so let's just see how true that phrase really is.
Click on the Swamp Gas logo for the smelly menu.
Swamp Gas v. 004
DAYTONA INTL SPEEDWAY
"This is the Super Bowl Sunday for racing NASCAR."
"Meeting people all the way coming out here, from gas stations to truck stops, as soon I told them I was coming here, they honestly thought it was unbelievable. They would have given a lot of things just to make it here. All through this week, there's been a huge passion. It's a subculture. People I've met just seem to live and breath it in everything they speak. It's a whole new vernacular."
-- Matthew McConaughey, 2005 Grand Marshal [source]
ON THE BOARDWALK
Arthur Blessitt's ministry is literally a cross to bear.
"One night I felt I clearly heard the voice of Jesus speaking to me, telling me to take the cross down off the wall and to carry it on a mission to identify the message of Jesus with people where they are," Blessitt said.
Some credit Blessitt with playing a pivotal role in the religious awakening of President George W. Bush. Blessitt talked with Bush in 1984 in Midland, Texas. The talk was similar to discussions he's had with "tens of thousands" of people on his "crosswalks."
Police in Daytona Beach have been alerted that a neo-Nazi group called the National Alliance plans to promote white supremacy and recruit members at the Daytona International Speedway during race weekend, Local 6 News has learned.
"We have some information that the National Alliance may come into Daytona Beach," Daytona Beach police chief Dennis Jones said. "The biggest fear is that they could cause a problem in a crowded situation if they were to incite a disturbance."
I have one neighbor who recently moved from the Northeast U.S. upon his retirement. Being fairly new to this area, he finds himself craving the Dunkin Donuts coffee he drank every morning before work for the previous few decades. He will drive for an hour roundtrip to buy a dollar cup of coffee.
Sometimes I join him on his coffee runs in the evening on his quest for that holy grail of caffeine. I welcome an occasional joyride after being practically shut-in for a year following my shattered leg injury. I think he is aware of this, too. He generously invites me to get the hell out of the house whenever he runs an errand for himself.
I have also drank several thousands of gallons of coffee to warm me up in the Winter Wonderland during the many years of construction work in my past. But, sometimes I just want a frosty Sobe Energy drink since these coffee quests are now taking place here in the moderate temperatures of Florida and not while standing outside ankle-deep in the ugly, gray, salty slush and frozen rust of Detroit of my past.
I took the above photograph on one of these coffee runs in January. It was a spontaneous urge to capture a small moment in time. Technically speaking, it's a crappy photo -- taken at night with a glovebox camera and out of focus -- but it is a helpful illustration for me. Perhaps I can bring the image into focus and shed some light upon it with less than a thousand words.
On that night's coffee run, we spotted this odd-looking contraption in the parking lot of the store where I wanted to grab something else to drink besides coffee. It was taking up two parking spaces. The damn thing was not only a three-wheeled motorcycle (trike), but also it had a loaded cargo trailer hitched up behind it.
Looking at the trike more closely, it was apparent the entire odd thing was custom built by the owner. It had fat car wheels in the back as you can see from the wide fender sporting the Support our Troops yellow ribbon in the lower left of the image. That shiny metal object with the straps to the yellow ribbon's right is one of two small Falstaff Beer kegs used for some bizarre mechanical purpose. I think they were additional fuel tanks.
In a moment of rare extroverted behavior, I decided to limp around with my cane and find the owner. I knew I wanted to snap a photo of the custom-built trike. And I also knew I didn't want the owner to freak out because two crazy people were loitering around his property taking flash photos in a dark parking lot. I located Frank (back left) who was drinking a beer with his friends after a long day.
Frank gratiously answered all of our questions about his curious work of mechanical art. Honestly, I had a few questions about this thing that I envisioned being part of some small hometown holiday parade. I imagined good ol' Frank has been photographed waving while puttering down a few main streets in his time since he built the trike in 1978. Both Frank and his trike were quite a piece of work, as they say.
Imagine, if you will, a large steamer trunk with a myriad of stickers on the luggage representing all the places some intrepid world traveller has journeyed. You, yourself, may still have a twisted gaggle of those annoying elastic airport tags wrapped around the handle of your suitcase in the closet. I think most people who don't constantly travel on business tend to leave those destination tags attached as little reminders of a happy vacation. Frank's homemade trike and attached trailer had a few symbolic things attached to it as well.
One of the things important to this stranger I had just met was his family. More specifically, but unseen from this photograph, Frank had a large oval photograph of his son laquered onto the top of the front center gas tank. Sealed there for the ages was the image of a child who was most likely my age some 25 years later. Oftentimes, people have images like that in memoriam of someone who has died. So, not wanting to bring up something uncomfortable, I simply pointed at it and said, "Wow, that's really cool."
Other symbols were more obvious and self-explanatory. I already pointed out the yellow ribbon decal on the fender. Also visible at the top of the photograph, although a bit fuzzy, is the American flag mounted on a golf flag staff like a tall whip antenna.
The retiree down the street from me also displays an American flag, as do many other people in the neighborhood. He also properly displays a second flag under the national colors. This second flag is sky blue. Flying proudly is the unit insignia and the words, "82nd Airborne Division."
All of the men in this photograph are military veterans (including the terrible photographer who is not shown). Today, it occured to me when I happened to see that familiar sky blue flag again that the most symbolic image of freedom was actually this goofy picture of these men. Patriotic people often display their own country's flag, but where the rubber meets the road in the symbolism of freedom is in the person.
Andrew V. was an Army officer that I served with in Sadr City. A police officer in civilian life, he was decorated with the Bronze Star for his acts in Iraq. Upon his return, he faced serious problems dealing with the readjustment to civilian life. Alcohol, PTSD, and family problems worsened, and nothing helped. In the summer of 2004, he donned his formal Army uniform, placed a noose around his neck, and stepped from a bridge, killing himself. He left behind a wife and a legacy of faithful service to his country.
Read the letter by Jason Thelen. His concern about veterans health care is not solely based on a few personal anecdotal examples -- as tragic and moving as they are. Jason's concern also stems from reading articles in his local newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, about the lack of proper health care for veterans, especially in the Dallas area.
I'm concerned about the seeming disconnect from the Bush Administration and the GOP-controlled Congress with the facts on the ground. I'm not talking about the Democrusader's spin machine concerning Iraq. I'm specifically talking about the Veterans Administration.
The newly appointed Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Jim Nicholson, is now in charge of the largest health care operation in the United States, comprised of more than 230,000 employees servicing over five million veteran patients annually.
What are Nicholson's qualifications for this position? For the last three years, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican -- the smallest principality on the planet. While Nicholson is a Vietnam-era vet, I think the fact that Jim Nicholson was a national Republican Party Chairman weighed more heavily on his work resume than anything else.
Larry Craig, chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said the proposals to charge some veterans annual health care fees of $250 and increase their prescription drug co-payment from $7 to $15 must be considered in lean budget times.
While that may seem reasonable enough to you, it's a slap in the face to veterans when our so-called lean budget times are caused by the never-ending cost and consequence of the Democrusader's war of choice in Iraq, compounded with a multi-trillion dollar federal budget deficit.
I fail to see the compassionate conservative ideals and priorities that we were all sold in 2000 and 2004. Like Jason Thelan, other veterans in the Democrusader's home state of Texas are not so pleased, either.