Sunday, September 27, 2009

Will Obama go the way of LBJ?

I have yet to get a clear sense from anyone in Washington what "victory" in Afghanistan would look like. No Taliban? Won't happen. A government with control over its people? Never yet. Half a million American troops killing ever more millions of innocent civilians out of sheer frustration while at home the Democratic party refuses to renominate the donkey-headed president? I wouldn't be surprised. If we're not out of Afghanistan soon, I'll be marching against him and I won't vote for him in '12.

America should not make wars unless it is attacked by another nation. No nation is stupid enough to attack us - it's only happened once in our history - that was in 1941. The Japanese were gambling, and knew it. They regret it now. America cannot win wars if they last longer than three hours with commercials - the American people won't fight them unless they are under threat. They are not being threatened by the Taliban. They weren't being threatened by Saddam either. These wars weren't just crimes, they were blunders - but the men who made them only wanted to get Bush elected; they had no other ambition, and they achieved it. Can we go home now?

We can't win a war in Afghanistan. No one else has since Babur, and he started in Uzbekistan and had Muslim sentiment on his side. Will the U.S.A. go the way of the U.S.S.R.? Breaking the bank for no purpose but making the military-industrial complex even richer, while we die for lack of health care at home?

If Obama could describe a rational, honest objective to this war, I might have some faith in it. He can't. It's not a war he'd ever have made given the opportunity. Is he really going to let every earthly ambition of his life and being go down because of someone else's foreign policy blunder? Yes, the Republicans will shriek bloody murder and traitor and everything else, scrounging votes, if he pulls out - but the answer to that is to denounce their treachery in declaring a war they couldn't win in the first place, committing America to a debt they never intended to pay. The answer is to stop being Obama and fight dirty. Or just resign and let Joe Biden handle it.

Once again, I'm not sure Obama is the man for this job. He gives every sign of wanting to be president to deal with problems he hasn't been able to get to - because of all the problems he'd rather not deal with that have piled up on his desk. Too bad. You don't get the term you'd like; you get the term you were elected to. Deal with this. It's a rough call, and the sooner we're out, the better.

Withdrawal from the war should come as soon as possible after health care goes one way or the other. And a bitter attack on Republicans should fit in there somewhere.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


The latest mysterious ailment:

A rash, my right upper back and neck ... hardly noticeable but skin sensitive to tight-necked shirts, to certain salves ... a waxiness also about the right ear ... a fungus? a leprosy? a melanoma? very mysterious.

Until yesterday, for some reason, when it occurred to me that the sun slants in from the window to the left of the bed ... and I never pull the shade, hoping (uselessly) the light will wake me early ... and came at last to the proper conclusion:

Sunburn! I've been getting a steady morning right-shoulderblade sunburn!

Covered it with aloe goo, and already it feels much better.

The solitary life, unaccessoried by an interested (and often entertained) second party, leads to many a fractured conclusion.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jigsaw Puzzle

There’s no box
Well, there’s a box in my head
And I study it there
How it’s supposed to look finished
Right down to the foxed edges of a well-read first edition

But I have the pieces out on the table
And found the corners, and all the bits of edge
And set out the frame
And the colors are vivid in places, so I’ve written those chapters
But there are acres where the pieces do not fit, have not fit
And the color is wry and deceptive

It’s less easy when you must craft each piece yourself
When the color is clear but does not match the pieces around it
When the shape, the hook, the duck’s head could go here – or there
It’s a puzzle

And perhaps this piece, this ambition of pieces,
This lingering glen, this wormwood
Would look better there (and the box is no guide)
Or belongs there – or how could I be so blind?
It’s a puzzle

And the whole elegantly pieced section over there turns out
To belong to some other picture
Or has already been done better before
Or there are two, just as good, and they must be collated,
And you must learn to discard what you’ve already done
It’s a puzzle

It’s less easy when you must mold each piece yourself
Tear the flesh of the story out of your body
Mold according to cells extracted from the skull without anesthetic
Ignored the blood and guts streaming and starting to smell
To create life, new life, your own story
It’s a puzzle