The 8th Grade Math Test
Tuesday, 3:50 pm
You Passed 8th Grade Math
Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!
I am certain that I would not have gotten this score had it not been for helping the lad with his math homework many times in the past few years. Or the Stump Mom with a Tough Problem game. A public education twofer.
10th Anniversary Confessional
Tuesday, 12:54 pm
The things I stumble over. My goodness.
Over the last week, I’ve noticed a few of the better known neocons creeping out of the woodwork and that always sets my neocon antennae to waggling. They don’t just show up for the fun of being in front of a camera. They’re up to something. I don’t have the foggiest idea what, though. I might have said that they arrived on the scene to bury Iraq so they could plow up Iran this spring, but I’m not so sure about that now that I’ve read a recent article in The American Conservative magazine.
On November 21, 2005, the magazine ran an article honoring the 10th anniversary of the neoconservative magazine, The Weekly Standard. It is entitled, “The Weekly Standard’s War” and it is a veritable ode to William Kristol and his Iraq War. Yep, it’s Bill Kristol’s war all made possible by The Weekly Standard. (You’ll notice a bit of hubris popping up throughout the article.)
Clearly, Mr. Kristol had a lot of input in this article and it comes across as an intimate confessional. Holee cow. Neocons have always been forthright about their beliefs, goals, and tactics if you go looking for them. But this essay is a veritable gusher all on one page.
One day a novel must be written that conveys the sense of purpose and energy that surged through the Standard’s offices—and that of the whole Washington neoconservative network—in the days after September 11, 2001. No more esoteric musings about Gilligan and the Skipper [reference to a David Brooks cover story for the Standard in the pre-9/11 issue]. The Project for a New American Century—a Bill Kristol-founded pressure group that specialized in gathering the signatures of the obscure and moderately famous in support of a more militarized foreign policy—would be ignored no longer. At long last, there would be an audience.
Inside the administration were Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and their staffs, heavy with signatories of the original 1998 PNAC Saddam-must-be-removed letter. They set out to neutralize the skeptical CIA and Colin Powell’s more cautious State Department and rush the White House into a war in Iraq. Their story has been told in several book-length accounts and administration memoirs. Outside, with the vital task of shaping public opinion, the Standard emerged as the nerve center, a focal point to concentrate and diffuse the message of the Beltway neocons. For these bookish men, it was a Churchillian moment, an occasion to use words to rally a nation and shape history.
Their job was to divert America’s wrath away from those who perpetrated the attack and turn it against those who did not. It was, on the face of it, quite a stretch. The day before 9/11, the idea of a ground invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was as “unthinkable” as it had been when Kristol and Kagan had first broached it four years earlier. But the country was confused—in shock and primed for vengeance....
In the first issue the magazine published after 9/11, Gary Schmitt and Tom Donnelly, two employees of Kristol’s PNAC, clarified what ought to be the country’s war aims. Their rhetoric—which laid down a line from which the magazine would not waver over the next 18 months—was to link Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden in virtually every paragraph, to join them at the hip in the minds of readers, and then to lay out a strategy that actually gave attacking Saddam priority over eliminating al-Qaeda....
Stretch or not, looks like they handily pulled it off. But sometimes that streak of luck doesn’t last.
The essay goes on to say:
Bush and his team have since fallen out of favor in Standard land. The magazine has begun blaming the bungled prosecution of the war on Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and has called for his resignation. As Bush sinks in the polls, the journal will surely look to other politicians to carry out its aspirations. If David Brooks, now a New York Times columnist, is an indicator, that figure is likely to be a centrist or a “progressive” in the Joe Lieberman mode—conservatism as a vehicle for neoconservative foreign-policy goals having been pretty much run into the ground.
Heh. Parasites, aren’t they? Now they’re looking for more fertile fields. A Lieberman or McCain centrist presidency would work. Both men have been schmoozing with and lending their signatures to the neocon agenda for the last decade, so they’re trusted entities. You know, I don’t think the neocons particularly care whether this country’s social and domestic policies are conservative or centrist or even liberal as long as the foreign policy is hardline hawk. Better chance of that now with so-called centrist hawks like McCain and Lieberman. I’d point out to both fellows that hitching your wagon to the neocon agenda seems to lead to infamy. But they’re big boys.
So, as of November 21 that was the plan. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy toward McCain, let me tell you. Lieberman can likewise take a hike.
That still doesn’t answer the question of why Kristol trotted out on Sunday to drop his bombshell. I don’t imagine the interview was set up to simply be a bellyaching session. What are they up to?
Ninth Circle of Hell
Monday, 9:04 am
Perhaps it’s because I am in the throes of catching a cold that I feel miserable and nasty this morning. So I won’t apply the semi-gloss of civility to my utter disgust for all things neocon this morning.
Yesterday, as many of us are aware, William Kristol sat in a FOX television studio and admitted to the world that the War on Iraq is a goner. Lost. It was a noble idea, but the war hasn’t been fought seriously. It’s not the fault of the neocon ideology. Oooh, no. It’s everyone else’s fault. Everyone else took the perfect opportunity to tear Iraq apart so that the democracy Phoenix might rise from the ashes—and they blew it. Kristol’s pea brain only has one groove—blow the shit out of everything and everyone in the Middle East until there isn’t a living soul left to complain about it. If we kill enough Islamofascists, we’ll emerge victorious. (And, incidentally, the term Islamofascist was first coined by another pea-brained neo-con, Frank Gaffney.) Michael Ledeen voiced the same odious theory in the early days of the assault. If a billion Muslims died in the process, eh, so much the better for us. Seriously.
During the early days of the war, you couldn’t turn the television on without finding a neo-con flapping his jaws about the glory and the higher calling of their delusions, dearly held since at least the middle part of the 1980s. They salivated and cackled during Shock and Awe. They were first in line to cast the word treason at the feet of anyone who questioned their vision or the proceedings in the new Great War. This war was the best, the greatest, the shining American moment. We who thought they were nuts were just traitors to the country and to our brave troops. They spread division amongst us, with the able help of their dim puppet-in-chief.
When events in Iraq began to head south, they vanished from the airwaves. They crawled back under their rocks to watch and wait. Can’t you envision their midnight confabs, working out the new strategy of loss? How to save face. How to blame their flawed ideology on everyone else. Anyone else. Their grand vision has been betrayed by a bunch of incompetents.
I don’t disagree with the incompetence part, although they were the original incompetents. Those who hide in ivory towers and push soldiers around on paper, have little exposure to reality. They, who encouraged Rummy’s new vision of a slimmed-down mobile army and blasted General Shinseki for his traitorous pronouncement that we weren’t going to win anything with less than a few hundred thousand troops on the ground, now have the glaring audacity to blame the ones whose paeans they sang and crammed down our throats at every stinking opportunity.
It was in May of 2002 that Richard Perle, one of the neo-con architects of the war (then Head of the Defense Policy Board) and also known as the Prince of Darkness, was interviewed by David Corn. During that interview this exchange took place:
I noted there were widespread media reports saying an attack would require up to 250,000 troops. These soldiers could not all be air-dropped into Iraq. They would have to come from somewhere, such as Saudi Arabia. And a military action of this size would need extensive logistical support nearby.
Forget the 250,000 figure, Perle said: “The Army guys don’t know anything. They said we needed 500,000 troops in 1991 [for the Gulf War]. Did we need that many to win? No."
What’s the Perle Plan? I asked.
"Forty thousand troops.” he said.
To take Baghdad? Nah, he replied. To take control of the north and the south, particularly the north, where the oil fields are. Cut off Saddam’s oil, make him a pauper, that should do the trick.
"We don’t need anyone else,” he said, in a distinctly imperial fashion.
Screw the Army guys who don’t know anything.
Now that the thing is lost, they feel absolutely no twinges of regret for casting blame far and wide. The war hasn’t been fought seriously, lo these past three years. It’s not their fault. We still could have done it with 40,000 troops and enough bombs to turn Iraq into glass, no? And what about cakewalks and roses?
“We have not had a serious three year effort to fight a war in Iraq, as opposed to laying the preconditions for getting out,” Kristol stated, without batting an eyelash.
Tell it to the soldiers who died, believing they were saving your ass, traitor.
You see, a plan of disengagement, which all military personnel worth their salt understand is part and parcel of warmaking, is for appeasers. This war wasn’t supposed to end. It was supposed to go on and on and on. It was supposed to engulf Syria and Iran and Saudi Arabia and Egypt, if possible. It was the grandest vision of Pax Americana that anyone has ever conceived.
And they feel aggrieved and petulant over seeing the shards of their dreams scattered from here to Baghdad. Nevermind that they got exactly what they wanted and it didn’t work. Being a neo-con means never having to say you’re sorry.
Every last one of them belongs in the Ninth Circle of Hell. Every last one of the nasty miserable bastards. Incomparable Sniveling Cowards.
The end of the wood pile
Sunday, 11:22 am
We’re just two days away from the end of February and I have about a week’s worth of wood left for the wood stove. So, my two cords of wood held me through half of October, November, December, January, February, and into the first week of March. That’s pretty good, making my heating costs roughly $125 per month. Even though our temperatures were much warmer than normal, colder temperatures probably wouldn’t have made that much difference in how much wood I burned. The one big difference I could have made was replacing the gasket around the stove’s door a couple of months earlier. That might have made the wood last through the third week of March. Next year, three cords of wood. It’s always better to have some left over than to run out.
There’s a fellow in the next town who sells haul-your-own wood at pretty reasonable prices. If he has any left, I’ll borrow a friend’s SUV to go fetch a load to get us through March and early April. I really, really hope he has some left because....
I received my January-February gas bill a couple of days ago and the price of gas went up again. No surprise there, but if I have to heat my house at those prices, I’ll end up paying, for one month, nearly what I spent on two cords of wood. Because I haven’t been shoveling out bushels of money to the utility, I’ve been able to tuck a nice little chunk of cash away in savings the past few months and I like it. One of the direct benefits is that I can pay my car loan off in March. Whoo!
Next month I get to start haggling over prices for three cords of green wood, about half the price of seasoned wood. If I can get a delivery in April or May, I should be good to go by October or November. And, of course, the lad will still be around to help me stack it. Dividend!!
The lad is home. He arrived here a couple of hours ago and is already at his desk doing homework, which, he reported, is what he spent most of his time doing in PR, too. He surely doesn’t look as if he saw much sunshine while he was away, although the sunny green warmth was way welcome—even if it was on the other side of the window. Arriving home in a snow storm, with bone-chilling winds, was a jolt back into reality. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize he would be home so early this morning and I hadn’t started the stove up yet. It was cold in here. Once I did get a fire going he practically grafted himself to it. A 70 degree difference in less than a day is a bit of a shock to the system.
Never thin enough
Friday, 8:23 pm
I sat down to see what was on television and a commercial flashed across the screen. There was a bubbly young woman named Zora Andrich. The accompanying print said she is a reality TV star. I have no idea who she is. But she appears to be quite tall and emaciated. She said, “This is the first time I can remember feeling this good about my body. I went from a size 10 to a size 4 in just two months.”
The ad showed a before and after picture. The only difference I could see was that the before picture showed a thin woman with just enough meat on her bones to prevent them from sticking out. In the after picture, she is nothing but bones with skin wrapped over them. But pretty smile. And did I mention bubbly? She’s so skinny that she feels great!
The commercial was for Nutrisystem.
What’s wrong with this picture, huh? What does it say about our society when a woman has to be that thin to feel good about herself? She’s too thin. Way too thin. But she feels good about her body for the first time. She got that message someplace and did a fine job of internalizing it. Nutrisystem is apparently now preying on the already thin enough with the message that you can never be too thin. That was a bizarre ad. And unhealthy, too, in my opinion.
That was all the television I could stand for one night.
More weather. Ick.
Friday, 4:19 pm
Oh crap. Now we have a winter weather advisory and a high wind advisory in effect. Not that much snow is forecast, but that and the wind will come right about the time the lad is supposed to land at the airport. Between ice/snow and the wind, I wonder what kind of delays they’ll be facing. I’m sure I won’t see him until Sunday afternoon now. Well, that gives me an extra day to put the polish on the last bit of what has turned into spring cleaning. I guess we’re close enough to spring for it to count, right?
We’re getting an awful lot of high winds lately and we could do without. It’s already starting and a couple of tree branches have hit the back of the house with a crash. Last week we had fierce winds that snapped one of my beautiful birch trees right in half, just like a toothpick. I wasn’t very happy about that. There’s one left and I’d like it to stay intact and healthy.