Wednesday, March 23, 2005

baby says, "wah"; picture; and Nader

Tom Delay, whining: "It is very unfortunate that the Democrats have no agenda. All they can do is try to tear down the House and burn it down in order to gain power," he said in defending himself.

I'm no psychiatrist, but I'll bet that keys to defensive behavior are overexaggerating and deflecting.


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These are Schiavo-pro-lifers, and I don't really understand what their point is. Because who can't talk about it? EVERYONE is talking about it. And you know what? With the feeding tube? And the tape?


It might be too early for a transcipt right now, but...

I saw Ralph Nader on Crossfire tonight. You know what I love about that guy? He fucking keeps it irrelevant ALL THE TIME. I on purpose turned the music off and changed the TV from MUTE when I saw that he was on to talk about Schiavo. I figured he would be tearing everyone around him a new one. Nope. Paraphasing, this is what he had to say, in the midst of all the controversy of the past few days (and specifically today): "I don't see why custody can't be transferred from Michael to her parents." WHAT? Yeah, because all Michael wants is a day off. Fuck Nader, once AGAIN.
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This is my little cactus almost exactly a year ago. I literally picked it up off the ground from a sand dune in Nags Head, NC. Actually, the part that I picked up was just the section closest to the dirt, with the sharp quills. I thought I'd try to get it to grow and I've had a lot of luck. This is it now.

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For perspective, the pot in the first picture is the same pot in the second picture. It is about 3 inches in diameter. The cactus now is about 7 inches long.
This third picture is why I am so excited about it now.

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You can see the new growth starting by that one quill and there is similar stuff happening all over the cactus, but too small to really be able to see yet. In a month or so I will post a new picture. I think this thing is going to explode.
When my family returns to Nags Head this summer in July, I think I'll bring the cactus with me to sit on the counter. Everyone will be amazed.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

What's the Matter with Lebanon?

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Other than bad taste in music, I mean. Judging from what little I've heard in the media, you'd think that a great wave of democratic resistance had risen up against an opressive regime, inspired by the elections in Iraq and the wisdom and courage of President Bush. Or something. Is that what's up?

Not really. Lebanon's been some form of "democracy" for years. They have an elected Parlaiment, President, Prime Minister, the whole nine yards. In fact, the man whose assassination sparked this month's uproar, Hariri, was Prime Minister for most of the time since the civil war ended in 1990.

And there's the problem. Lebanon's haunted by the ghost of a horrible civil war. The reason nobody talks much about Lebanon when talking about democracy in the middle east is that it hasn't, historically, worked out so well there. It's a very diverse country, split along sectarian lines, and in recent decades those groups haven't been so good at getting along together.

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Actually they have demanstrated quite a talent for blowing each other for pieces. For those of you too young to remember, the US sent Marines there (to keep the peace or to help one side or the other, I can't remember and can't be bothered to do basic research before spouting off - what the hell, Rush doesn't research, why should I?) and they got blown up. Then we ran away and invaded Grenada instead, to prove we were still pretty tough.

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But this is America. Nobody cares about ancient history like the 80's. You want to know about half a million people flooding the streets with their faces painted like it was St. Patty's Day on the South Side. And why wouldn't you? You're supposed to. These people are trying to communicate with you. Why else would their signs be in English?

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Here's the deal as far as I can tell. Not wanting to overgeneralize, but people in the Middle East love a good conspiracy theory. The economy? Bad Weather? Car bombing? People who get interviewed in cafes (always in cafes) will tell you it's always shadowy forces behind the scenes, the government, the Israelis, the CIA, the Masons, the Bilderbergers, whatever. So when Hariri resigned after having a public feud with the Syrians, and then got blown up, it was assumed to be the work of the Syrians. So half a million of his supporters (a shaky coalition of Sunni Muslims like Hariri, Christians, and Druze - a fourth monotheistic religion most Americans have never heard of) have taken to the streets to demand Syria withdraw from Lebanon. Half a million supporters of the pro-Syrian government showed up in another square across town, to oppose Syrian withdrawal.

Now we've all heard by now that the counter-demonstration was organized by Big Bad Hezbollah. True. But two facts you need to be aware of; first, there are only about three million people in all of Lebanon. Second, Hezbollah gets about ten percent of the vote for Parlaiment. In other words, if every Hezbollah voter showed up, and every Lebanese was a voter, there would only be 300,000 people there. So who were these people? They're Shiites. Remember our friends in Iraq? In Lebanon, we're apparently on the other team, or something.

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Actually the Shiites have a good reason for liking Syrian intervention. The Syrian regime is headed by Allawites, who are kinda sorta Shiites if you squint real hard. So in a country like Lebanon where there is no majority, it helps to have your distant cousin and his army around if a fight breaks out.

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So where do I stand on all this?

I was relieved when Syria took control in 1990 because it stopped the slaughter. About whether it's time for them to leave now, I don't know enough to have an opinion. But while it's delightful to see all these young people involved in politics and wanting to shape their own national destiny, I'm actually finding a situation in which something like a third of the country is out in the streets demonstrating - against each other - in a country so recently torn by civil war . . . disturbing. I'd hate to see them start blowing each other up again. And as for Hezbollah, I don't buy the hype. They were a violent resistance movement, now they're political has beens. Kinda like a Middle Eastern IRA. But I do see them representing a threat - I'd hate to see radical religious people of any stripe take over Lebanon.

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I mean here we have this fabulous country, wonderful weather, oceanfront property, and a country that is obviously full of beautiful people - and I mean that in the most shallow way possible - and yet another group of religious wackos are threatening to take power. Think about it. Probably the first thing they'll do is ban bikinis. All that beach and no babes.

Now that would be tragic.
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