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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saddam's Revenge

If I can be permitted to set aside, just for this moment, the overpowering grip that temporizing has on B. Obama, never seen more clearly than in his first debate with M. Romney during the 2012 election, I think it likely that, by this time the President is deeply sorry that, nearly a year ago, he didn't take my advice to go with a U.S. strike in Syria, right after he revealed that it was in the wind, in whatever unknown form that his military experts proposed it to him.   And they must've had something out of the ordinary and even brilliant in mind, otherwise what good are all those Pentagon types with all the scrambled egg on the bills of their caps?   Instead in September 2013 he took the easy route in which a large part of the country was sloshing and wallowing, and he decided to bring Congress in on it, with the all too predictable blah results that you always get whenever those 535 drags on the country are brought into anything.

At the time there was a non-stop torrent of blather about all the dreadful things that would happen, should Obama give the order -- outcomes for which not one of these doomsayers had reasonable evidence, whereas Obama could’ve pointed out how, with his assistance, NATO intervention had prevented a Gaddafi bloodbath in Libya.    But that didn’t stop those negators from endlessly belching out fiddle-faddle that amounted to nothing except essentially saying what a bad idea it would be to try to slow down and even stop the wholesale slaughter of Syrians that had already been going on with hardly a pause for the previous two and a half years.  These “wise heads” had no eyes for putting themselves out for some brown people in the Middle East, who, moreover, weren’t sitting on top of as much oil as some of their neighbors.

Bobby Fischer, the late, great Brooklyn-bred chess grandmaster, said, "Timing is everything," and he demonstrated that in game after remarkable game.  One of the things he meant was that a player shouldn't hem and haw, once the idea for a sharp, hard-hitting combination takes shape in his head.  The sacrifice that can't be refused must be made while it's sitting there to be made and even when the ultimate success of that combination isn't quite clear as yet.

That opportunity, like all those lives, was squandered in Syria, with Congress likewise trumpeting and braying, “Nay,” and the wise heads went back to scratching their butts and throwing back a few, while congratulating themselves for having been on the side of something that they were pleased to call “prudence and peace."  It didn’t matter to them that thus, unhindered by the international world and instead feeling themselves being cheered on by Russians, Chinese, and a host of "sometimey" American progressives, Syrians kept on killing other Syrians by a great variety of means, for no more reason than to keep the government in Damascus headed by an Assad.

Having missed the boat on Iraq, everyone was determined to avoid making that blunder again, though only complete dummies could have missed seeing from the start that the GWBush drive into Iraq was a large-scale exercise in penis-wagging and nothing else.  But Syria was more a mess in 2013 than Iraq was in 2003, despite Saddam's constant misfires and the attentions Iraq had been shown by American sanctions and air power.  Iraq’s water, electrical, and health systems were all still working, and for a long time Saddam had been spending most of his days huddled quietly in his palaces and doing much more stewing than brewing, with not one weapon of mass destruction to his name.

Now, in 2014, Saddam is long gone from this life, and until very recently the Americans were also gone -- trying to stitch their minds back together in V.A. hospitals -- and the bubbling in the Iraq pot had been nearly drowned out by other drum beats.   But the mix in that pot never really simmered down, and in the past several weeks things there have started popping and crackling and boiling over again.  A new version of Al Qaeda, called “ISIS” and seemingly arisen from almost out of nowhere, went on the move in Iraq and captured cities and started closing in on oilfields in the Kurdish areas. and this time, Obama hardly hesitated, nor did he talk much in advance about what he was going to do.

 In the interest of doing a “Bobby Fischer” for a change, he didn’t let himself get hung up on the possibility that, after he acted, the U.S. might once again get its brogans mired deeply in the Iraqi mud.   Instead I think he saw this as good timing, and he must’ve been relieved at being given the chance to hit ISIS with some air sorties that, among other things, allowed the Kurds to re-take two of their towns, while at the same time he ordered other American airmen to drop badly needed supplies and later some personnel to aid an Iraqi minority called the Yazidi, who were bottled up in the mountains while having suffered as many as 500 deaths at the hands of the murderous ISIS forces.

 Also these moves were forms of redemption, for, in a notable instance of bad timing, Obama had screwed up on Gaza just a few days earlier, when he and his advisers bought in on the Yahus’ assertion that one of their soldiers, one man, had been kidnapped in Gaza, and -- just as B. Netanyahu had also charged Hamas with kidnapping and murdering three Israeli teenagers, which he used as his excuse for unleashing the pit bulls of war on the whole captive population of Gaza – Obama quickly charged Hamas with grabbing that soldier, only to find out that the man had been killed in combat.   But that didn’t stop an instant Israeli operation that resulted in no less than 50 Palestinian deaths in one day.  Fifty for each one Israeli death!  But oh no, Gaza can never be likened to Lidice!  So say the Yahu apologists.

Ironically, there is a movement in that same Congress that opposed Obama’s acting in Syria in 2013 that is attacking him for not intervening in Syria now with much more force than he has exerted so far.

But the trouble is that now the good guys are not so easily distinguished from the bad guys as they seemed to be a year ago.  On the part of the former “good guys,” the insurgents, things went to pot pretty fast while no one was looking, and now those insurgents, acting under the guise of the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS), are even worse than the original “bad guys,” Assad’s forces.   This suggests that there’s hardly any room left in Syria for good guys.  For, in addition to the slaughters that have remorselessly been carried out by ISIS, Assad can proudly point to a total of over 200,000 Syrians killed so far on his behalf, together with the UN declaration that 3,000,000 people, fully half of Syria's population, are now refugees.

So whose side should a government ostensibly on the side of ordinary human decency take?  Definitely not ISIS.   The choice is clear, then, but that is a very sad state of affairs that just maybe could have been averted or transformed in some way, earlier in the day, before the borders were obliterated and militants in Iraq, taking new heart, joined forces with like-minded extremists next door in Syria.

“Saddam’s revenge,” I think you would call this very sticky development, though it’s far from unprecedented.  Recall how the USSR and the USA stood with each other in 1943 and how that situation was the complete opposite just 10 years later.

What did the man say?   “Timing is everything?”    By now Obama might be also regretting that his game is basketball, not chess.   -- Not that anyone else in his position far into the future would be any better equipped to see a sufficient number of moves ahead.  Real chess players are never seen to be as qualified for high office in the U.S. as are second-rate film performers.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Maybeee Sunday

 When you deeply love someone, it can happen that the pain of their leaving can actually be greater than the enjoyment you feel when they’re around.

If that pain not only persists but also grows stronger, you could start thinking that actually you’re better off when she is not around.

This discomfort increases all the more if it occurs to you, next, that all you were thinking about during the whole time when she was around was that in just one more  hour or two or three at most, she would leave, and there you would be, left with nothing but a fast-dissipating memory.

And that's not all.

The acuteness of this situation inflicts special pain because of your awareness that that loved person gives little if any thought to you in that much larger compartment of her life that exists without your being around, so great is the delight that she is taking meanwhile in a Preferable Other or Preferable Others. 

Yet that's still not all, because then there's the added knowledge of how that Preferred Other or those Preferred Others, who usually have not been acquainted with her for nearly as long and have not thought about her nearly as much as you have, nevertheless, because they have so much more leave to do so, they suddenly get to see your loved one not just for a few hours but throughout the day, and every day.  And a chill sets in which you realize that this means that in one day they will be favored by her presence more in a single day than you will in a whole year.  And they will do so while sharing in the most intimate relations possible, whereas you've always been restricted by forces over which you have no control to only a few hours at a time and then no more often than once every three weeks or a month of that person's presence, and then without personal contact of any sort, except verbally.

This is just one of many forms in which, besides being as beneficial and ecstatic as songs and stories endlessly would have it, and despite being impossible to avoid, love, genuine love, is nevertheless also often one of the cruelest forces that one can experience.

What, then, is the sense of it all?

After all this time, and after all the repetitions, and after the songs without end that are so tiresomely sung about it, the answer to that question has never reared revealed itself.  Not to me anyway.

I just know that it doesn't involve the so-called and fabled "Love of One's Life."  This situation doesn't arise just once, and it's not unique, and it's just as strong and acute on one occasion as it is on all the others.   Instead that chapter in one's experience can make its first appearance as far back as the utmost beginning limits of a child's memory, and periodically it can replay itself, not word for word of course but in its spirit in exact repetition, time after time, regardless of age and everything else as well.

       This is an interesting experience but one apparently never deemed to be worthy of jumping extreme, that is, of ever doing a damn thing about it, and instead it is a matter of just letting it keep coming on, over and over again, without amelioration of any kind.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Three Sentences, or the Story of My Life

It's a very difficult thing, to see how many times your dreams are realized by others, as if somehow they were spirited out of your head and transferred into more deserving and possibly also more capable entities.

Eventually, however, you find that you can keep going on in spite of that, not comfortably but bearably.

That's why there are so many reasons not  to buy into anything  that is wildly popular.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Elderly Walking

         The other day I reached my 83rd birthday, and that means (it must mean) that in addition to being a slow thinker and a slow talker, I am now also a slow walker.

Yesterday, accompanied only by my 6-foot-long walking stick that once had been a tall, straight stem of an Osage Orange tree, I visited a neighbor lady and her husband.   Not counting their driveway, they live exactly one mile from here, downhill on our gravel road to a river and across the bridge over that river and then uphill to H and K’s driveway, when there is still that quarter-mile of their driveway to negotiate even more steeply uphill.

To get there I hitch-hiked a ride to the bottom of H and K's driveway with another friend and his wife, who come here every Tuesday that their schedule allows, she to go on a walk with my wife, often over that same stretch of country road, and he to play chess while we wait for the ladies to return.

But to get back home I vowed to see how it would be to walk the whole way back.

(Meanwhile it’s necessary to mention that I went over to H and K’s to watch, for a moment or two, in absolute silence, while K was attending, online and therefore from afar, the 2014 National Conference on Autistic Children.  She’s been teaching autistic children for many years, and she loves it,  and therefore she probably knows a lot more about it than do a lot of the speakers at that conference, I would think, though she, of course, would never say such a thing.  And I had been helping (I hope I helped) her and H to get their wireless service set up so that she could sit in the comfort of home and take notes and quizzes and stuff instead of having to drive all the way up to Ohio and Pennsylvania or wherever and attend to all the expenses, troubles, and other things that that would have involved, to attend in person.) 

Among many other things, I am fortunate that my legs and my feet are still the same ones that, unlike my teeth, I had when I was born, and they’re largely intact and fully functioning, and I saw no reason why that walk back home would be much different from all the walking I do here at home because of sheer inefficiency.

And I was right.  It actually wasn’t much of a thing, except that I should’ve worn my trusty straw hat, because what I call the “eye flies” were out in force, and it would’ve also helped if I had drunk something before setting off.   Instead it was quite an experience because it had been many a year since I had last walked that far along our gravel road all in one jump, and in the meantime the trees had gotten much taller and the distances between various points much farther.   Still it was all a matter of taking one step and then another and another and so forth and so on, while stopping as little as possible, for what seemed like an extremely long time that involved taking many more steps than I had thought would be necessary.

My wife and this lady’s husband, H, had been a little concerned, however.   They must think that I’m literally on my last legs.   Therefore, just when I was only 100 feet or so away from the point where our property starts, on the south side of the road, three-quarters of a mile I would say from those folks’ steep driveway, my wife showed up in her Saturn and drove me the short distance of the rest of the way home.  But I wasn’t huffing and puffing, nor was I thirsty or any the worse for the wear in any other way.

Obviously I must look a lot worse than I actually am.   I have no idea whether that’s good or bad.  A little of both, I would guess.   That’s usually the way things are.