Saturday, December 30, 2006

Crimes, Death and the News

I found an interesting juxaposition on the home pages of the major dailies this evening.
  • Washington Post leads with a huge headline and feature on Pres. Ford as the national period of mourning begins. They have eight links to stories and images abotu Hussein, all below the fold.
  • LA Times leads with a small photo of Ford's casket lying in state next to an article about mixed reactions in Iraq to Hussein's execution.
  • New York Times has nothing about Ford, 11 links into stories about Hussein, and a single link to a story about Betty Ford, below the fold.
Two very different deaths. Three very different treatments. One great, unspoken thread of continuity.

Ford became president because of the persistence of the news media in uncovering a story about corruption and criminality in the White House. Without the work of Woodward and Bernstein, without publication of the Pentagon Papers, Nixon would probably have ridden out his second term.

Hussein became the scapegoat of a corrupt and criminal White House, a far more filthy operation than Nixon's, with the full collusion and support of the same media outlets that brought down Nixon.

Bringing Nixon's criminal operation to an abrupt halt was one of the great moments of our nation, an example of our democracy working in the right way to make the law of the land, not the whim of a dictator, the final arbiter of our fate. Allowing the Bush crime family to bully their way into the White House and then crudely exploit the murder of thousands upon our soil, a murder committed on their watch and enabled by their negligence, to prosecute a wholly unjust war against another sovereign nation has gutted whatever claim American media could once have made to being an organ of democracy.

Ford's death and Hussein's are bookends to the greatest political story of my generation - how a free and open press willingly castrated itself and made itself into the eager whore of the biggest bully in town.

Your true and absolutely representative agent is Jeff Gannon, the male prostitute turned "reporter" who sat with you in the White House press corps.


Friday, December 29, 2006

It's Not Even Past

To quote William Faulkner - The past is not dead. It is not even past.

Bush has killed Saddam Hussein. It was pointless, pitiful and petty. Had they done this two years ago, perhaps it would have meant something. Now, it is just a mark of shame on our country and another splash of fuel on the fire of the Iraqi civil war. Riverbend cuts to the chase:
...This last year especially has been a turning point. Nearly every Iraqi has lost so much. So much. There's no way to describe the loss we've experienced with this war and occupation. There are no words to relay the feelings that come with the knowledge that daily almost 40 corpses are found in different states of decay and mutilation. There is no compensation for the dense, black cloud of fear that hangs over the head of every Iraqi. Fear of things so out of ones hands, it borders on the ridiculous- like whether your name is 'too Sunni' or 'too Shia'. Fear of the larger things- like the Americans in the tank, the police patrolling your area in black bandanas and green banners, and the Iraqi soldiers wearing black masks at the checkpoint.

Again, I can't help but ask myself why this was all done? What was the point of breaking Iraq so that it was beyond repair? Iran seems to be the only gainer. Their presence in Iraq is so well-established, publicly criticizing a cleric or ayatollah verges on suicide. Has the situation gone so beyond America that it is now irretrievable? Or was this a part of the plan all along? My head aches just posing the questions...

Here we come to the end of 2006 and I am sad. Not simply sad for the state of the country, but for the state of our humanity, as Iraqis. We've all lost some of the compassion and civility that I felt made us special four years ago. I take myself as an example. Nearly four years ago, I cringed every time I heard about the death of an American soldier. They were occupiers, but they were humans also and the knowledge that they were being killed in my country gave me sleepless nights. Never mind they crossed oceans to attack the country, I actually felt for them.

Had I not chronicled those feelings of agitation in this very blog, I wouldn't believe them now. Today, they simply represent numbers. 3000 Americans dead over nearly four years? Really? That's the number of dead Iraqis in less than a month. The Americans had families? Too bad. So do we. So do the corpses in the streets and the ones waiting for identification in the morgue.

Is the American soldier that died today in Anbar more important than a cousin I have who was shot last month on the night of his engagement to a woman he's wanted to marry for the last six years? I don't think so.

Saddam Hussein may be a corpse, but he is most certainly not dead. The same collection of neocons, led by Cheny and Rumsfeld, who built him up to begin with have continued to harvest the foul fruit of their brutal crop. The dictatorship they cultivated as an opposition to the ayatollahs who overthrew their dear buddy, the Shah, became their nemesis. They protected Saddam, thinking to have their own Middle East Pinochet to call upon. Then, he disappointed them, having learned their lessons and believing utterly in their creed of take, take, take. He invaded Kuwait. Ah, lemons meet lemonade as we squelched his imperialist ambitions.

Then Bush the Lesser, C+ Augustus, decided that he needed to use the neocon sandbox again, this time to show he was a bigger, tougher man than his Daddy. He was the perfect avatar of the neocon lust to annihilate, and he set out to kill Saddam. But a funny thing happened. The dictator would not die. He metastasized into Iraq as such.

Iraq is now what Bush claimed Saddam to be, and so does the dictator have his final revenge on his old friends who betrayed him. Iraq, the mess we have created there and the even greater crises to follow, will reach out and harm America as Saddam himself could never do. In the desire to kill the dictator, Bush has guaranteed the butcher will live on long after Bush himself has left office in disgrace.



It appears that Saddam Hussein will be executed in the next few days. Josh Marshal has it spot on when he says
This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.

This execution marks the nadir of American foreign policy. It is George W. Bush exacting personal revenge on someone who dissed his family. It is a mob hit, no more, no less.

Hussein dangling on the end of a rope, like a puppet or marionette. A toy to be yanked and jerked about as C+ Augustus demands, a macabre and revolting stand in for the way Bush and his criminal enablers have treated the entire world for the last six years.

It is almost impossible to articulate the horrific damage these people have inflicted on the rest of humanity. I think Americans in general are finally cluing in to the fact that this nation has suffered a massive, possibly mortal, wound from the Chimperor's Excellent Adenture.

Wealth redistribution upwards. Massive debt, public and private. Loss of access to Middle-east oil. Loss of international standing. Destruction of the armed forces. Undermining rule of law to enable torture, spying and police state activities. Nuclear proliferation.

This is the nation under the Bush administration - weakend, reviled, and insecure. The damage done is so widespread and deep, there is serious question as to whether the Republic can survive it. Oh, the US isn't going away. It will simply shrink in relation to the rising power of China.

So read about the "execution" (gangland slaying) of Hussein and understand that it demonstrates nothing save that the United States has lost everything that once made it a leader and exemplar among nations.

It is a pitiful, impotent, petulant beast. Just like its current president.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Momentous Achievement

Today, I had the joy and honor of launching the Research Library at the HASA web site.

What is it? A fully researched compilation of Tolkieniana, broken out into four major content types - People, Places, Things and Timeline Events. It is chock full of quotes and citations, ready to help the writer who needs to confirm something or entertain the casual reader who just wants to follows links wherever they go. It is cross-linked and cross-referenced. There is a full-text search with full boolean operations. An A-Z index. And the best part is it is thousands of entries and it's still growing.

Dozens of people have worked for more than four years to put this into shape for public release. It took that long for volunteers to gather the data, painstakingly entering it one record at a time. A lot of time was spent experimenting with formats and organization. Everything is researched, with information about where in the Tolkien compendium this or that detail came from.

This is the best, most valuable, most interesting part of HASA. It is the reason that the site is still operating. I would have shut the site down two years ago had it not been for this brilliant gem at its heart.

Elena Tiriel and Lyllyn spearheaded the effort and kept it on track for all this time, guiding it surely and steadily through all the various fandom dust-ups and nonsense. They patiently put up with my lick-and-a-promise coding work, willing to take backseat to the flashier features. They believed in something that gets almost no attention or respect from the typical self-absorbed and incurious fangirls infesting the fandom, and have created a work of craft and imagination that puts to shame the writings of any author.

My hat is off to them and their team of research elves.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

HotK 55 - Compromised

For the fanfiction readers, I have just posted a new chapter for Hands of the King, Ch. 55 - Compromised Click on the story title to go to the overview, click on the chapter name to go to the chapter.

Single Finduilas POV chapter. Warnings - Sadness, reversals, threats of violence, violence. A chapter with some shocks. MAy or may not be work safe, depending on how high your company's filters are.

Finduilas recovers from childbirth and plunges back into politics. It is not a happy transition. Many scenes of her with groups of people. A guest appearance by a certain Ranger. Several cameos by Boromir.

I have also posted two new appendices. One is a chronology of events, both of the story and of background to the story. The second is a chart of the changing commanders at the major garrisons in Gondor.

Wishing everyone an enjoyable holiday season,