February 16, 2008

I've been traveling and not posting as you may have noticed, though not for lack of access to computers in Japan. The hotels had them in the room, and the tv was actually the flat screen computer monitor. But I was other focused than on Undismayed, I will confess.

I've been reading Rajiv Chandrasekaran's
Imperial Life in the Emerald City, which is worth the short amount of time it takes to read, it is essentially a long, breezy magazine article. Likely you already have read excerpts, and certainly you've read elsewhere about the specifics of the Iraq clusterfuck and the American footprint there, but always worth reminding yourself. Especially since Bush et al have deftly gotten the papers to focus on something else and it is almost possible to forget that we thoroughly screwed the pooch on this the war and are continuing to pour lives and a gargantuan amount of money down the rathole. Almost.

Anyway, I bring this book up mostly because I was mildly amused that Chandrasekaran describes Paul Bremer's desk as having "a dell computer with a flat panel monitor," as if this was a fancy thing to have. I am guessing he wouldn't have written "a cathode ray tube monitor." Maybe Paul Bremer should have left Iraq alone entirely and gone to Japan to sniff the girl's underwear they sell in the vending machines instead.

While I was gone, some dude was apparently reading way back in Undismayed archives to fall of 2006 (?!) and read about my experience talking to a Rotary International group that was all gung ho on torture. This dude even took the trouble to comment on my post, which, in case you are not re-reading the comment sections on my 18 month old posts, I reproduce below:

KevinKillion has left a new comment on your post "I spoke this morning to a Rotary club. The topic ...":

You should have stuck around a little longer at the Rotary meeting you complained about, and dug a little further. What you would have found is that Rotary International has a very strong LEFTWARD streak (see: http://www.shsmedia.com/rotarypeacecenters/), despite the bit of a conservative skew of some members. The reason you didn't pick that up is that you were too busy jabbing people with a pointed stick and then feigning surprise when they responded.

It sounds like you went into this meeting offering your opinions (which is fine) as unassailable truths (which is not) and made it clear you feel that anyone holding some other position must be a lower form of life.

You're still doing it. Just one example: being forced to wear women's underwear, or standing in uncomfortable positions, or using scary but physically harmless waterboarding, is light years away from abominations such as what happened in Myanmar, Uganda, or Nazi Germany. Since some Rotarians rejected such bizarre attempts at moral equivalence, you say that the "Rotary slogan should be changed from 'service over self' to "Deutchland Uber Alles.'" It's amazing how some people respond to different viewpoints by accusing them of fascism -- when such tactics smack of fascism!

I wanted to print his comments here so I could respond briefly and clearly. I will type slowly so this clown can understand.

1. I don't give a shit what the politics of the Rotary might be, but I know that in Virginia the concept of calling them "left" is as foolish as calling them "integrated."

2. I don't feign surprise when people respond to my bait ("sharp stick"), I sit back and enjoy watching these monkeys smear themselves with their own feces, metaphorically speaking.

3. Actually, waterboarding is exactly what despicable regimes have done to our captured GIs, and we rightly called in torture.

4. We fought and defeated fascism because, in part, it stood in opposition to the notion of the rule of law, not men. Even if you choose, as this gentleman does, to defend what the U.S. government has long defined as torture as "not-torture," is plain as day in the Constitution that cruel and unusual punishment is not what this nation supports. And it shouldn't be what we export either.

Anyone who believes the United States should torture people should self-insert my sharp stick with great vigor.

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