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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fifty years ago today, a black woman refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus, and the face of the nation was changed. It took years; it is still proceeding. But that was a watershed moment in American history.

Alas, we had our little moment of profundity and reflection with the funeral of Rosa Parks a month or so ago, and so the anniversary passes without much in the way of commemoration. We Americans don't appreciate our past, and we don't seem to be very "deep" as a people, so we're all kinda profounded out. Certainly the moment now passes without any acknowledgement of what Bush famously mea'd his culpa about in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

It is an altogether fitting and proper moment, however, that Bush had his little photo op today to sign an order for a statue of Mrs. Parks to be erected in Washington, D.C.

Fitting and proper that a man whose disputed elections both turned on an integral and intrinsic plan of hijacking Blacks' right to vote on a massive scale: in Florida -- and Missouri -- in 2000, and again in Ohio (and who knows where else?) in 2004. That this transplanted neo-racist cracker from West Texas should be in the White House, and signing the order for Rosa Parks' statue on this, the fiftieth anniversary of that epic moment in American history, December 1, 1955, well, that's a sad irony that also passes quietly, uncommented, unnoticed, unmourned.

The struggle for equal rights, and the redress of the long history of slavery has been reduced to tee ball on the White House lawn, and endless Kodak moments by the POTUS and his concubine with cute black children. Manner triumphs over matter.

But here's to you, Rosa Parks. History moves, no matter what our little individual lives, but, as someone pointed out, it can't move without someone, some living, breathing, vital person, taking the point. Fifty years ago today, Rosa Parks took the point of history, and that's what we ought to celebrate.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


"Skiing Uphill" is still on hiatus, but, to quell fears and rumours running rampant in the affected regions of Imaginary Space, here is an Hiatus Update (official update Number A001):

Total number of words in last year's blog -- about 350,000. Average -- a smidgen under 1,000 words per day.

Well, in all of that, you can well imagine how many snipped prefixes, dropped suffixes, comma splices and split infinitives have fallen on our wordsmithy's floor. (It took Roscoe nearly two days just to clean up the area around the anvil, and the forge itself is shut down, and cooling off --it takes a few days -- before we can get in there and sweep up all the excess prose and discarded doggerel.)

What I said earlier is still true: we are moving between acts of The Great Passion Play of El Bushe.

In Act One, the Usurper moved to firmly take control of the government and agenda, following a very close election and a vicious campaign highlighting imaginary "integrity" and "Christianity." The agenda of the country moved, by quick degrees to the far right, and the post-9-11 world turned into a strange invasion of a non-involved country that we happened to dislike anyway.

In Act Two, the Invasion turned into an occupation; the arid Iraqi desert miraculously became a quagmire, a strange re-election campaign followed, with a post-re-election dance of attempting to fundamentally alter Social Security, and to control the rapidly rising tide of dissent with a relentless campaign of smears and fears. Then, the Crawford protests, followed by the Washington D.C. protests, Katrina, Rita, Wilma and other damsels of destruction, and the hemorrhaging of the secret, inner bubble, with indictments, resignations, investigations and grand juries. Smoke aboundeth; fire not quite yet seen.

And now, Act III:

Almost imperceptibly, the Administration has gone not merely into defensive mode (minus almost laughably trivial trips to China and to Tucson and El Paso, too, in which the old "change the subject" trick failed to work), but into siege mode, as well. Increasingly, all speeches are given before guaranteed sympathizers, and/or military troops who are, by law, forbidden to boo, and strongly pressured to clap. Increasingly, the ladders are being pulled up, and the drawbridges drawn. Offensive operations seem to be at an end, and defensive measures assume ever greater importance. (Just like in Iraq.)

There seems to be an entire web of Republican congressional corruption and outright bribery, money laundering and cover-up that's started to unravel, and the congress is following the country's lead in beginning to demand withdrawal from Iraq.

The bluster and irrational macho gibberish of the Administration continues, unabated:

  • We will stay the course.
  • We will not leave without total victory.
  • We will not cut and run.
  • We will finish the mission.

Er, staying the course when things have failed spectacularly would seem to imply that failure is not an option because it's the only option. And isn't "total victory" not merely so grandiosely vague as to defy definition, but also smacking of some of the ugliest rhetoricians (and, coincidentally, war-mongers) of the XXth Century? Of course we won't "cut and run" -- when we leave, no matter how deeply our collective tail is tucked between our metaphorical legs, the terminology won't be anything other than grandiose: "strategic revetment" perhaps, or "redeployment," or even "propitious re-ennoblement of indigenous populations."

But it most DEFINITELY won't be "cut and run." That's only what happens if Democrats redeploy. (The "You wanna make somethin' of it, Buddy?" and consequent invitation to partake in a knuckle sandwich entree are embedded, rather than overtly stated, of course.)

Finally, dear friends, we were told that we were going in to Iraq to find the weapons of mass destruction. Mission accomplished. We were then told that it was to "effect regime change." Mission accomplished.

Then, it was to "spread freedom." Well, if by freedom you mean utter chaos (and chaos is an important ingredient in freedom, remember. Never trust a "well-ordered" democracy. It probably isn't all that free.) -- well, then, mission accomplished there, too. So we've finished the "mission" and two more besides.

Can't the mommies and daddies come home now, Georgie?

Or does the death odometer grind relentlessly on whilst you dither ... like 9-11, like the tsunami, like Katrina?

Act Three is just beginning, so we'll be out in the lobby stocking up on metaphorical popcorn and re-waxing our eloquence for a little while longer. But we'll be back in time for the fat lady to sing.

After all, that's what ends the soap opera, isn't it?


hart williams
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