Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Winning Wars

We are a nation of wars. The war on terror. The war on drugs. The war in the Middle East may not be ours, although smart money says that it is and the IDF’s munitions are certainly in the main American made. We are having a culture war here at home over “morality” which is having such a polarizing effect that we can’t talk rationally to anyone we disagree with anymore. We are pretty fucked up right now as the image of Israeli girls on the left here would suggest. Hey, at least the economy is OK.

I read an article by a former Israeli soldier that pointed out that among other things that Israel lost this war with Hezbollah. I’ve read a lot of things about the war, but one thing that keeps coming up is that the most powerful military in the world cannot win a war without winning over the hearts and minds of the people. Which people, I’m not always sure of, but either you have to have a strong stomach for killing or you have to actually help somebody gain freedom. If you only bring pain and chaos, you only get pain and chaos in return. This should not be news to a country that lived through Vietnam.

But it is news, and as somebody once said “what a revolting development.” What revolts me the most is willful stupidity. Plain ignorance is somewhat forgivable if not amusing, but willfully aiming the gun at your head is just mean and vicious. We are busy committing suicide and what drives it is our hate. We are in love with hate. As Ren would say, “I like being angry.” But Ren wouldn't say, "I like killing my enemies."

Joe Strummer said that “anger can be power if you know how to use it.” We don’t know how obviously. Neither does Israel. Here’s what you do guys. Start loving. Start helping people, even your adversaries, have decent lives. Don’t be so god damn judgmental. Know what you don’t know. I know one thing. We don’t know shit about winning wars.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Flying Naked

The day before my wife and daughter were to fly to Vegas along with my friend’s wife (two sons and two husbands got to drive) the British apparently foiled some sort of terror plot that hinged on the use of liquid explosives. General panic ensued, and then after about 24 hours nobody gave a rat’s ass anymore. Packing less shit for a trip is not a hardship, and it reduces the hardship on everyone else if you’d just leave your damn shit home when you travel. I, along with the Vice President, are rooting for nude travel.

The reduction of carry-on materials is a silver lining for those of us who sometimes travel for business. And you can still take your laptop, despite hysteria to the contrary. Not that the reduction or elimination of electronic gear would be a bad thing. Having conversations with strangers is a necessary ingredient for the health of our society. And you learn shit too. Yesterday I spent the day watching the fucking Padres lose pathetically to the Giants with 7 guys who I knew pretty well and the only really good conversation I had all day was with the retired Mexican-American guy sitting next to me in the stands. From him I got the wisdom of someone who knows what is important and who hasn’t fallen to his knees in obeisance to some canted ideology of the moment. “Retire early” he suggested, and since we were there to celebrate my buddy’s retirement, it rang especially true.

It may become obvious to more of us, and soon, that retiring sooner rather than later is the most moral thing any of us can do given our countries complete descent into willful imperialistic violence. Consuming less or “dropping out” as was once suggested, is probably what more and more of us should be doing. The damn planet is heating up. What the hell, might as well take off some clothes.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Your Nation Will Die

There’s a scene in the movie “The Third Man” where a svelte Orson Wells tells his pursuer/ex-friend James Cotton a little bit about the advantages of corruption and chaos. Brilliantly set on a giant Ferris wheel, Wells is being chased by the authorities in post-war Vienna for selling bad drugs to hospitals. His soliloquy goes something like: Rome, Athens, etc, = intrigue, back stabbing, dictatorships, and great art, great architecture, greatness. Switzerland has had 800 years of democracy. And they invented the cuckcoo clock. Something like that.

When artists are faced with repression and cultural malaise, they do better work. Right now mainstream rock is so-so at best, but just outside the fringe there is some good shit happening. Last week I saw a new band, Burning Brides, out of LA that is just that. Good shit. Listen to Your Nation Will Die or Heart Full of Black. Any of their stuff will do. And go and buy the new Wolfmother CD too will ya?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Question is Religion. The Answer is Violence

I read one of the most depressing essays in recent memory yesterday. It was depressing especially because it was written by an intelligent, sensitive man, a French philosopher by the name of Bernard Henry-Lévi. He wrote from the Israel perspective of the war on Hezbollah. Entitled Pondering, Discussing, Traveling Amid and Defending the Inevitable War he discusses his reasons for supporting the violence against Lebanon within the context of a considered morality. To simply: the war is just because the missiles Hezbollah fires will only get deadlier. Israel is fighting for its existence, the Iranians want to wipe us out and they are fascists, and we are doing our best not to kill civilians so we are moral. The use of the word Islamic-fascist is telling, as is his truncated history of the Middle East and the lead up to this war. The linking of Hamas with Hezbollah, even as he notes that this war was is hurting the Palestinians is telling. His linking of Daniel Pearl to the soldier captured by Hamas is telling. But what is most telling is that there is no other answer for Israel. Violence is the only answer. Religion seems to be the question. How fucked is that?

Henry-Lévi is right about the missiles. They will only get deadlier. He is clueless as to why they will get deadlier. Israel’s mastery of violence will ensure that the only discussion her antagonists will ever have is how to poof her out of existence. But the reason there is a rise in Islamic-fascists, is this only because they are a manifestation of evil? I wonder what percentage of Lebanese support Israel? 5 percent? 3 percent? Israel doesn’t fucking care. We pay for their bombs literally. We will pay some more, on some day, no doubt. Violence is our only answer. Religion is only answer to the questions of why we are here. Jesus, we are stupid.

On a more hopeful note, I listened to comedian Doug Stanhope this morning as he discussed smoking DMT (a powerful hallucinogen) and the aftermath of this overwhelming experience. Besides being funny, he suggested the only way to understand what the experience was like was to imagine that you were a rat and for ten minutes you were given the consciousness of a human, only to return to a rat consciousness with the added knowledge that you are a rat and that there exists a higher consciousness. We are rats. I feel better knowing that.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


This fellow up in the Bay Area, John Perata called a bunch of folks down here in San Diego (anti-immigrant folks) “a bunch of crackers” and it seems to have caused a minor stir. Thing of it is, how do you characterize folks who are ignorant, hateful, and loud? If not “cracker” then what pejorative would be more sublime? Assholes? Too generic. Fuckwits? Better, but still lacking something. It needs to be more regional, hopefully something that could be tied directly to America’s finest city. I’m not saying I have any answer here. Diegans are a pretty mixed bunch but the military history of this town has left us with a cancerous root in ugly Americanism. Diego=Go-die.

The media has it that there are shitheads in every group, and they measure up every event through the lens of a false objectivity. Therefore Cracker is to whites as Nigger is to blacks, although no self-respecting white person sees it that way. A recent political cartoon on the UT’s editorial page suggested that the Israeli response to Hezbollah was the equivalent (morally?) to the US response to the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. Proportionally that is, it is proportional to be disproportional. If anyone tells you that it was morally understandable to nuke Hiroshima, they are a moral imbecile. You can make arguments about the reasons why we dropped the bomb, and they are never easy to understand unless you are a cracker but there are no moral reasons for dropping the bomb that stands rational support unless you are basically a racist fuckwit. This is also true for the bombing in Lebanon. As for the rockets of Hezbollah, two wrongs don’t make a right. However, proportionally, the two wrongs aren’t the same. Israel will become moral the second they start losing. We are no different I’m afraid.