Surrealpolitic for surreal times.: American Brimstone


American Brimstone

Thomas Badington Macaulay, a 19th century British author, may have been the first to coin the term "rat" to portray a deserter of a cause, in his case political. His usage of the term was borrowed from naval history, as in "rat's deserting a sinking ship". Macaulay was also credited in asking his mother if "chimney smoke came from the fires of hell" and one can only wonder if he were alive today what he might ask of the current columns of smoke billowing from Iraq (literally), Washington (metaphorically) and now Colorado (spiritually).

In Iraq, although not widely reported, a very significant decision has been made to withdraw. Not by the stalwarts of the Administration who are paying with their soldiers blood, but by a wiser and more cost-conscious entity: Bechtel. After all the President's talk of "cut and run" and "stay the course", one of the leading corporate prescences in Iraq is pulling up stakes and heading home. On Thursday, the global engineering firm announced that it is phasing out its work in Iraq and not seeking future contracts. Cliff Mumm, a manager of the company's infrastructure projects said "the security situation in Iraq has deteriortied to the point where continuing is not possible." This means that the U.S. military no longer has many of the services it needs to operate and this in turn means it's going to get a lot harder for our troops to maintain any stability whatsoever. Without a way to transport food, medicine and clothes or even the ability to build a simple domicile because you haven't the material is what our military is looking at, and it's only going to get worse. Bechtel is a corporation with unlimitied resources so what do you think smaller companies are going to do when they see the leader bail? I guarantee you it will only be a matter of weeks before they are all gone and there is no one to replace them.

Which leads us to the other "cut and runners" in Washington. Rarely have I seen such complete and total abandonment of a party as I have seen this week by Republicans. Even the most odious of the lot, Richard Perle, who said in a debate with Daniel Cohn-Bendit in May of 2003: "Ending the current Iraqi (Saddam) regime will liberate the Iraqis. We will leave both governance and oil in their hands. We will hand over power quickly - not in years, maybe not even in months ... " Mr. Perle now says: "I think if I had been delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said, 'Should we go into Iraq?', I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists'." Delphic? Uhm, Mr. Perle, all you had to do was talk to someone, anyone, in the Pentagon. They would have been happy to tell you (once Mr. Cheney left the room) that Iraq wasn't supplying Al-Qaeda with weapons of mass destruction. They would have also told you that Saddam Hussein didn't actually possess them. Delphic? More like Save Your Own Ass-ic.

Speaking of asses, we now turn to Colorado and the horrible insertion of religious hypocrisy into this loathsomely filthy midterm election. Ted Haggard, the ex-president of the National Association of Evangelicals resigned pending allegations of sex with a male prostitute and using crystal methamphetamines. Wow. You have to go back pretty far to find this sort of fall. This is beyond Swaggart's weird limo fetish and beyond Baker's Jessica dipping. This is something that bends the mind so far that you have to look away from that painful interview in the front seat of Mr. Haggard's car ... next to his wife. (By the way, Mr. Haggard, you have a tell. Whenever you lie, you close your eyes. Just so you know.) Unlike Perle, however, James Dobson is standing by his man. James Dobson, if you don't recall, is the fine and Godly gentlemen responsible for picketing the funeral of a slain homosexual teenager in Colorado. While the boy was laid to rest his family and friends had to endure people chanting and holding signs with slogans such as "All Fags Will Burn In Hell" and the like. If it comes to light that he did in fact have a three year relationship with a man, one wonders if there will be a pitchfork waiting for Mr. Haggard, supplied no doubt, by the ever faithful Mr. Dobson.

In the end they are all the same. Whether it's corporate, political or religious it is all about ignoring your failures. It's about screaming louder than the next guy and ignoring other opinions or even reason itself. It's about telling yourself that you're right no matter how many people get hurt, whether they're soldiers, civilians or congregation members. If you want to know what the road to hell is paved with it's not good intentions but the victims of those who refuse to see the black smoke of their own failings.


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