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Bush v. 10 Million Iraqis
A Failed Florida Election In Iraq

Pierre Tristam/Candide's Notebooks

Why should Florida and Ohio have all the electoral fun? Iraq’s Sunnis are asking for a recount. Or an investigation. Or somebody’s head. They’re unthrilled by the numbers, which show religious Shiite victories by margins beyond sizeable. The headlines in Teheran must be hilarious in a Woody Allen-does-Apocalypse Now sort of way: “Iran Wins.” The headlines in Fallujah and Ramadi, where every street is Elm Street for American patrols, must have a more Freddy Krueger feel: “Sharpen Your Knives.” Iraq’s so-called secularists—the only secularists in the world toward whom the Bush administration is willing to display wet and wild public displays of affection—are also feeling sclerotic. Ayad Allawi, former Saddamite but currently the closet thing Bush has to a trusty DeLay in Baghdad, scored a “dismal” 14 percent in his own town.

The Diebold machines must’ve not made it to Iraq on time. Either that or the hackers borrowed from the Florida Supervisor of Elections office must’ve taken the day off, or mistaken Bahrain for Baghdad, or failed to convince Iraqi voters that touch-screen voting machines had nothing to do with Poltergeist, or that the 72 virgins some of the more rabidly ayatollesque candidates promised their supporters were predicated on a mailed-in rebate coupon from Best Buy. There are no Best Buys yet in Iraq. Not with Halliburton monopolizing the vestal vermin’s market, anyway. There are only rancidly honest elections. The results are living up to everybody’s expectations but the Bush administration’s team of fabulists. They’re trying to rewrite history’s first drafts in the White House basement, down there well out of the light but in the same dank dens of fantasies where Oliver North once concocted his delusions of grandeur in that pre-Viagra era of GOPers Gone Wild.

You can see how these little blue pills have done more to damage the world than Fat Man and Little Boy. Before losing his constitutional compass North just wanted to rewrite history in Nicaragua while freeing hostages in Lebanon with Saudi money and Israeli missiles FedExed to Teheran. All of that on a measly $17 million budget, with “residuals.” (A brief tangent back to that Iran-Contra era, seemingly so innocent in comparison with today’s high crimes: here’s Oliver North explaining to his Senate questioners, on July 8, 1987, why he should be in the Boy Scouts Hall of Fame instead of in a Senate hearing room: “I saw that idea of using the Ayatollah Khomeini’s money to support the Nicaraguan freedom fighters as a good one. I still do. I don't think it was wrong. I think it was a neat idea. And I came back and I advocated that and we did it. We did it on three occasions. […] It was a good idea because we weren’t using the taxpayers’ money, we were using the Ayatollah’s money.” Ah. That wonderful Republican reasoning where defense of the taxpayer always trumps the defense of the Constitution. (North’s testimony that day is worth a read because it doesn’t look as if Gore Vidal will live long enough to immortalize it in an eighth installment of his American Hysterics series; lacking time, settle for this gem from Letterman’s Top Ten Oliver North Campaign Slogans, from February 3, 1994: “If I ran contra, I can run the country!”)

Bush’s vigilantes in comparison are trying to put a corporate face on these latter-day crusades from the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush. The Ayatollah is dead and his check book long closed, so it’s all been done on a $1.5 billion-a-week expense account drawn right out of the taxpayer’s nose. The vigilantes imagine they can not only force-feed “free” elections on a nation of shell-shocked poster broods of resentment, and in the scope of howitzers and F-16s to boot, but that they can actually calibrate the outcome as precisely as they did in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004. Arabic, it turns out, isn’t as easy to gerrymander as Floridian. Iraq’s Shiites have been laughing all the way to the polling station. It’s the arms-for-hostages deal all over again. America is again the hostage. Iraq is getting armed to the teeth at American taxpayers’ and gullibility’s expense (“we’re building up the Iraqi Army so the U.S. Army can stand down”). And Iran’s Shiite brigades control the trigger. As Yakov Smirnoff might say, “what a country”—if he ever took a break from entertaining corpulent and contented conservatives vacationing in Branson, Missouri, and ventured his pandering humor to the turbid shores of the Tigris. But then, he could say the same in Branson with equally lethal irony. I dare you to laugh.

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