Monday, November 19, 2007

W Back to the Future?

Today is Monday, 19 November 2007.

Why am I reminded of November 1963?

Back in that day: a country with multiple on-going civil conflicts, an army featuring a corrupt officer corps and frequently-demoralized “other ranks”, a president concerned above all, and at any cost, with the preservation of his personal power, all fueled by American dollars and other support.

And elements within the US government convince President Kennedy to throw his support to generals plotting against the president of the Republic of Vietnam (“South Vietnam”).

Sound familiar?

In Pakistan, the struggle of the central government to bring to heel the tribes of the Northwest Frontier is, to be charitable, bogged down. (There is a reason the imperial Brits ignored these tribes: there was little of value to be had, and subjugation would have been too costly in lives and treasure, compared to the return.) The corrupt officer corps of the Pakistani military controls the single largest collection of businesses in the country. President Musharaff (who has amassed at least $10 million in real estate holdings alone, on a general’s salary) has again overthrown the constitution to maintain himself in power. The Pakistani military has received at least $10 billion since 9-11 to fight the “Global War on Terror”.

And, last week, Bush-Cheney regime sources leaked the news to The New York Times that they wouldn’t mind if the #2 in the Pakistani military, the Vice Chief of Staff, overthrew Musharaff and installed Benazir Bhutto as figurehead civilian prime minister and [ANY NAME HERE] as figurehead civilian president.

And what happened in South Vietnam? It joined the coup-of-the-month club for several years, until a new strongman emerged, who brutally assaulted the country for several years before fleeing in 1975 with suitcases filled with gold bars.

And so it goes: the Bush-Cheney regime continues its mad descent into even greater levels of hubris, desparately imagining now that an attempt to dominate Pakistan and Iran will reverse its failure to subdue Afghanistan and Iraq.

Comic relief. Found this gem by an artist from Upstate New York. I presume the song was originally used in the 1960 presidential campaign. It's based on "Buckle Down Winsocki", from the 1941 Broadway musical, Best Foot Forward, with June Allyson, which was the Broadway debut of the great songwriting team of Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin, also the writers of the great Liza Manelli vehicle, Meet Me in St. Louis. Ralph was born and raised in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and retired in Tulsa, where in the early 1980s he would drop by the bookstore HH managed, full of wonderful stories.


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