Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Those Cold Equations

Since I recently reached into my podcast/science fiction ditty bag and came up with "The Cold Equations" (Aside: while I did indeed get one of the plot details about this story wrong in my last podcast, I don't think I previously conflated this story with  Heinlein's 'Sky Lift' since I have no memory of ever reading 'Sky Lift'.  It's possible, though) I thought maybe it was time to go down to the storage bay and re-read the post from very early in my blogging career (June, 2005) where I first start to use the tropes of classic science fiction (and that story specifically) as a means of explicating the real world of here and now.

The Iraq War may no longer rage on and the GOP may have airbrushed the Bush Regime out of existence, but the rest -- the Big Lie of Centrism, the complete collapse of the Party of Lincoln into a maggoty shithole of segregationists and fundies, the epic FAIL that is Tom Friedman -- remains tragically true:

What this Liberal Sees… 

..when he looks at Iraq.

Tom Friedman has well and truly surpassed himself.

Just when you think Captain Obvious could not possibly crawl any further up into his own puffy little butt, he manages to scramble up those last, few inches and burst through into an entirely new, “Being John Malkovich” kind of alternate Friedman-iverse, populated exclusively by LSD-scalded dolts stagger in tiny circle, jabbering incessantly about how amazing their hands look, and how amazing the air is, and have you ever noticed how amazing my shoes look as they go flippy-flop, flippy-flop ‘round and ‘round and ‘round.?

You meet these kinds of blown-out stoners wandering in the parks sometimes, or cadging transfers in the cool, dank stairwells of CTA stops. Pupils as big as manhole covers. Hair that’s become a free-range ecosystem for lice and roaches and ringworms.

What I usually do is give them some change and steer way the hell around them.

What I do not do is let them write for the New York Fucking Times.

Friedman has already been righteously and rightfully beaten down as the leading-edge of the execrable Apologist Wedge by Atrios, Gilliard, and god knows who all else, so I will keep this short. Ok, short-ish.

Here’s a tiny sip of the rancid stew:
Published: June 15, 2005

Ever since Iraq's remarkable election, the country has been descending deeper and deeper into violence. But no one in Washington wants to talk about it. Conservatives don't want to talk about it because, with a few exceptions, they think their job is just to applaud whatever the Bush team does. Liberals don't want to talk about Iraq because, with a few exceptions, they thought the war was wrong and deep down don't want the Bush team to succeed. As a result, Iraq is drifting sideways and the whole burden is being carried by our military. The rest of the country has gone shopping, which seems to suit Karl Rove just fine.
First, Captain Obvious has again renewed his wretched subscription to the despicable and now, really, outright treasonable world-view that:
A) No one is talking about Iraq. Which is such an nakedly demented lie that one must wonder if Tommy-boy has, at last, just lost his mind. As I sat at Wrigley field last week, in a park packed to capacity with highly-focused and well-informed Cubs and BoSox fans, at no point did I ever feel compelled to lean over to my fiends and remark -- shouting over the noise – that it was sure a pity the no one wanted to talk about baseball. 
Had I done so, my friends (being my friends) would have, have cut off my beer, gotten me out of the hot sun and into an ER immediately. We’ll immediate…after the ninth inning, but they would have been very concerned.
What they wouldn’t have done is give me a column in the New York Fucking Times.  
B) The Universe is carefully divided into Conservatives – who are wrong – and Liberals – who are somehow, mysteriously and equally wrong all the time and in equal numbers on every issue. And only Captain Obvious, frolicking across the few lonely yards of sand on his Isle of Reasonableness, can see the truth.
It does not matter how many millions of miles the Shining Path Republicans drag the “middle ground” to the Right.

It doesn’t matter that the Party of Lincoln is now infested crotch-to-crown with maggoty Segregationists.

It doesn’t matter that Nixon looks like a fucking Socialist compared to the positions now being advocated by the GOP today.

However far into the Armageddonist Abyss the wingnuts charge, Captain Obvious will dutifully pace off half that distance back towards where the Left (the band formerly know as “Rockefeller Republicans”) happened to be that day, drive his little stake into that shifting ground and declare that THIS is where the treasure of Comity and Reasonableness is buried. And that everyone on either side of his little islet is equally and oppositely wrong.

And then stamp his chubby little feet and whine that No One Is Listening to Him!

What a lazy pint of watery poo he is, and if that were all he is, that would be bad enough, but with his second absurd “indictment -- "Liberals don't want to talk about Iraq because, with a few exceptions, they thought the war was wrong and deep down don't want the Bush team to succeed.” – he definitively crosses the line into outright treachery.

So you want to know how this Liberal views Iraq?

Take a look at the sickening image that came roaring out of our collective unconscious and onto our televisions on 9/11: a human being confronted with two choices too terrible to contemplate -- leap into oblivion or be roasted alive.

And once in the air, whatever intentions or dreams or hopes or beliefs this poor bastard might have had became irrelevant. Flapping their arms didn’t matter. Prayer didn’t matter.

Once in the air, the Cold Equations were all that mattered. Once in the air, my fellow human being became a physics demonstration; an object on a downward arc governed by the Laws of Science that the Republicans hate so very much.

That, you despicable little stooge, is EXACTLY how Iraq looks to me.

On the heels of our greatest modern national trauma, the President and his minions shrieked and bellowed, roared and raged that there was a conflagration at our backs. That we were all in immediate, lethal danger from a massive, murderous attack by Saddam Hussein and that if we didn't act right now we were fucked.

Mushroom-cloud fucked.

And that the ONLY alternative was to jump. He was advised by wise men of the costs of jumping, of the dangers, of the number of troops necessary, of the extremely complex situation into which he would be dropping. He was warned that beating Iraq militarily would be easy…but that securing the Peace would be hard.

He told us that the fall would be simple. That we would alight in a land where we would be greeted as Liberators. The costs would be negligible. The gains would be high. Virtually painless.

But MOST of all, that the fire was nipping at our heels. It was so urgent, so imperative. that if we didn’t want to see our children perish, we had to jump right now.

So we did.

Convinced by Bush that it was the only option left to us -- and that he had planned carefully for the consequences -- we leaped out of window and into the sky.

We jumped, because we were told we had to.

And in jumping, we committed our troops, our nation and our good name to the brutal calculus of war; to factors beyond our control, and now we are plunging down and down and down into tragedy.

And as we fall we find that the building was not on fire at all.

That the people that pushed us into space had lied to us.

That the parachute of carefully planning that they were supposed to have prepared to save us from ruin had been packed with nothing but empty slogans and ideology-drunk fantasies.

Now we are falling, out of control.

And pointing out that we are falling because of the lies and delusions of the Administration has nothing to do with whether or not I "want the Bush team to succeed” you contemptible little weed. We are watching the country we passionately love plummet into darkness along the exact trajectory we warned you about, and you think that there is any joy in being right? Any pleasure in seeing your beloved wasted and playing in traffic?

Sorry, Friedman, but no.

Now whatever intentions or dreams or hopes or beliefs we might have had have become irrelevant. Flapping our arms doesn’t matter. Prayer doesn’t matter.

Once in the air, the Cold Equations are all that matter.

Once in the air, my nation became a physics demonstration; an object on a downward arc governed by the Laws of Science that the Republicans hate so very much.

And if you had bothered to pull your head out of your ass long enough to actually look, you would see that these are what the faces of Liberals look like…

…as we are forced to watch the fall, and as we are forced to listen to preening rodents hector us for not paying the right kind of attention.

This is the world we will plunge back into under a President Romney: a world where the neocons eagerly roar back into power with their Global Conquest bucket lists in their grubby, little paws, where batshit old Robert Bork decides which of his Christopath acolytes will get to sit on the Supreme Court and tell you what you can and can't so with your vaginae for the next 40 years, and where the likes of Tom Friedman and David Brooks once again observe the wreckage from orbit and tsk-tsk those naughty Liberals for not being more reasonable and cooperative.  


Anonymous said...

Cold and clinically correct as always. Thank you. As my retirement is now three months away, I realize that I can not, will not live under Republican rule again. I shall return to Vietnam, after forty-two years, to live out my years in a less repressive, less bug-shit crazy society. Good luck to the rest of you.

heydave said...


One Fly said...

Double up on heydave's Fucking - A and ad a huge NO SHIT CISCO!

blackdaug said...

That very day, as I sat with a couple of friends, one of whom, a black man, would stop occasionally to go out on the front porch and quietly sob, before returning to to the room. With all the insanity of the day, the little thought that kept returning to my mind that I finally said out loud: "My God, they just handed Bush a blank check".
It was like being at the scene of a huge fire, and seeing somebody at the back of the crowd walk up to a group of children and hand them cans of gasoline and boxes of matches.
I hear good things about Costa Rica..

Bisham said...

That was fucking powerful. Already feeling weird with the hurricane and thoughts of privatizing disaster response. And it brings back my personal memory of the night I got into bed knowing "shock and awe" was just starting on the ground and I could only think of the innocent families that were sure to become "collatoral damage" while I was safe and comfortable. And it was the only time in my 52 years that I shed what I can only describe as emotionless tears. But I guess, according to friedman, that was just my deep down liberal desire for dubya to fail.

cousinavi said...

Jesus, DG...I hate you.
Every once in awhile I get to thinking I crank out a decent sentence here and there. And then you do this sort of thing...twice or thrice a week.
I want to stab you.

With love,

cousinavi said...

Jesus, DG...I hate you.
Every once in awhile I get to thinking I crank out a decent sentence here and there. And then you do this sort of thing...twice or thrice a week.
I want to stab you.

With love,

jurassicpork said...

Why hasn't my comment come up, yet?

John said...

Just for perspective, if Iraq did to us what we did to them there would be 24 million dead Americans and 60 million displaced. There will also be thousands of years of genetic monsters born thanks to our depraved use of depleted uranium weapons.

So please, don't you, TOO, try to minimized the horrific crimes WE committed and will continue to commit in Iraq.

If you mention it at all, scream out what we have done or keep the fuck quiet.

John Puma

Yastreblyansky said...

Ah, wish I'd been reading you back then. Incidentally you should be reading, which lays bare his thought processes in prose in much the way your visuals bring out the true nature of our Mr. Brooks.

Anonymous said...

Here's a link to the full text of 'Sky Lift'. It only looks like a couple thousand words so it's a quick read.

Edgar Johnson said...

Preach it, brother. And happy belated birthday, you old fart.

Anonymous said...

Hey usually onboard with most of what you say....the best stuff has that core kernel of truth with something so obvious readers are surprised they never heard that before...(usually with wonderful humor/scifi/photoshoppin) but something about this struck me not as plainspoken wisdom but just cheap...i dunno its just not an equal comparison fit for metaphor...not the message or meaning mind you but the point is made a thousand other ways...