Hotter Saturday Blogging

My God, we started our Saturday morning bike ride at 6:30 and were toast by 8:00, with a few miles still to go.  But we gutted it out to the end, then sat outdoors . . . albeit under patio umbrellas . . . at our local coffee shop.  My one concession to the heat was drinking iced latte rather than my usual cup of coffee.  As I write it’s somewhere above 105 degrees Farenheit.

At the coffee shop, we bumped into a friend from our neighborhood and sat down with him.  He happens to be the guy who put in our new air conditioner a couple of years ago, and even though we had a good visit, I pray our encounter wasn’t an omen.

So what did we do when we got home?  We (that would be the royal “we,” you are to understand) put away the bikes, cleaned up the patio, picked up dog poop, did the chemicals in the spa, refilled the bird feeders, put charcoal in the smoker . . . and we have so far (it’s 4:00 PM now) spent more time outdoors than in.  I’m smoking a side of ribs and two chicken halves.  It’s going a little slower than I thought it would, but boy does it smell good.  While the meat finishes smoking, I’ll start heating up beans and boiling corn on the cob.  Company’s coming over later to help us eat, and I hope someone brings watermelon.  It’s a watermelon kind of day.

A hot watermelon kind of day . . . not a day to get too fired up about things, but . . . I had an interesting discussion with a hashing friend a couple of months ago.  This man, educated and intelligent, a former US Air Force officer and recently retired airline pilot, expressed to me the interesting belief that the men who hihacked and then flew airliners into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon were Iraqi members of Al Qaeda, and that Saddam Hussein was Osama bin Laden’s co-mastermind.  Yes, he believes just that, and consequently believes our invasion of Iraq was righteous and that nothing we dish out to Iraqis can be severe enough.  There’s no talking to him on this subject . . . well, you can talk to him, but he won’t hear you.

Of course, during the Bush/Cheney/Halliburton administration’s preparations for invading Iraq, we heard our leaders say, over and over, that there was a connection between Osama and Saddam.  After the invasion, when the insurgency started, our leaders began saying we had to “fight them there” so we didn’t have to “fight them here.”  Pretty soon our leaders were talking about fighting a group called “Al Qaeda in Iraq.”  Now they’re simply talking about fighting “Al Qaeda.”  In Iraq.  In other words, they’re now calling Iraqi insurgents Al Qaeda, and the media seems to be going along with it.

You would think educated, informed people . . . never mind the media . . . would see right through this shit.  What was an insurgency is still an insurgency, and although there are militant factions inside Iraq that have recently incorporated the words “Al Qaeda” into their names, the real Al Qaeda, and its leaders, are elsewhere . . . in Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and soon again Afghanistan . . . presumably planning new attacks on the USA and the West.  Nothing we’re doing in Iraq has anything to do with that, and, should Al Qaeda be on the verge of another attack, nothing we’re doing in Iraq will prevent it.  Surely everyone understands that.

And then I remember my friend, the administration’s ideal citizen.  Sad to say, many educated people choose not to be informed, and not only don’t see right through the shit, can’t get enough of it!  For all our talk of freedom, rugged individualism, and questioning authority, many of us are happy to swallow whatever those in authority say.

Now I know US special operations forces are risking their lives in other parts of the Middle East, going after the real Al Qaeda.  We don’t hear about that, and we shouldn’t.  Covert ops don’t work if they aren’t covert.  And I wish them all success and hope some day soon to see Osama bin Laden’s head on a pike, but I worry that Bush and Cheney’s sideshow in Iraq is using up the resources and support we need for the real battle against terrorism, the real battle against Al Qaeda.

Yeah, I guess I am a little fired up, even though it’s a hot day.  Question authority, people, and think critically.  Don’t believe everything you hear, and whatever you do . . . get outdoors and smoke some ribs!

© 2007, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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2 comments to Hotter Saturday Blogging

  • DickHerman

    Paul, as usual I found your take on your Air Force buddy and retired pilot thought-provoking. Like many Americans, he makes the mistake of mirror imaging and assuming the Middle East is organized, and functions like the modern world. Nothing could be further from reality. It is organized around the family, clan, and tribe and functions through that matrix. There is not a shred of evidence that supports Saddam being an active co-conspirator in 9-11. However, there were many links with Al Qaeda that went through Iraq because of family, tribe, and clan connections. Saddam and the Baath Party appears to have tolerated, maybe encouraged, those links. That’s just the way the Middle East works and the same pattern can be found, to some degree, in other Middle Eastern countries.

    Americans, being Americans, see that pattern and immediately interpret it through our prism. And voila! Co-conspirators.

    I’m glad to see things are returning to normal. By the way, I have started a new story and am returning to basics, a la “The Warbirds.” I’d like to say a few words about the warrior ethic and would appreciate your thoughts. Hell, I might even quote you — again!

  • Dick, I remember watching the news on TV with my father a few years ago. The lead story was the release of a death row inmate whose case was reinvestigated and overturned on DNA evidence. My dad’s reaction? “The guy’s obviously a shitbird, and if he isn’t guilty of the one thing, he’s guilty of something else.”

    I don’t see much difference here.

    I’m as sick of Muslims as most Americans, and I admit to a deep vein of prejudice – when I see a woman with a head scarf these days, I’m afraid my first thought is “get out of my country.” When NPR interviews any kind of Arab, and I hear that accent – or, especially, when they actually speak Arabic – I change the station. I’m trying hard to control these feelings.

    Goddamnit, with all the resources at our disposal, we haven’t rounded up Osama bin Laden. We haven’t captured the antrhax terrorist. Given all the displays of governmental incompetence we’ve seen since 9/11, how can anyone believe we’ve developed the capability to prevent another major terrorist attack on the USA?

    But we haven’t been sitting still, oh no! We’ve been busy pissing away our reputation, influence, and treasury, breaking our military, wasting thousands of American lives (and countless, or more accurately uncounted, Iraqi lives), and exhausting the world’s reservoir of good will toward America.

    I’m more convinced than ever that our invasion of Iraq has been nothing more than an exercise to use up and replenish our WRM, enrich contractors, build permanent bases, and . . . from the get-go . . . take over the oilfields.

    I hope this craven display of prejudice and cynicism doesn’t preemptively invalidate, to your mind, my thoughts on military service and the warrior ethic, which I promise to organize and send you soon. And may I say I’m really looking forward to your new novel, Dick!

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