Well, looky here. I’ve managed to stick with this for another week. Unlike last week’s edition, which was a rush of ideas that came to me that morning, today’s edition includes little gems I’ve picked up as the week has gone by. So … here we go.
I saw this video on Twitter a few days ago. It purports to show a Taliban official who is unable to identify where Afghanistan is on a globe. Of course, the idea is that this is ridiculous and worthy of scorn. But why? This is one of the reasons I realized we had no business trying to nation-build in that country. We insist on applying our standards to the rest of the world (and in our history, to our own world, with our destruction of the native people who lived on this continent before our arrival).
There are countries in this world that just aren’t ready for modern, Western-style, governance. Afghanistan is one of them. It’s a shame, but it isn’t our shame. It isn’t even a shame of the Afghan people. It’s just a reality. Not everybody wants to be like us. Not everybody needs to be like us. I’ve written enough about this in recent years, so I’m not going to repeat myself. But our arrogance and superiority and belief in our own exceptionalism is wearing a bit thin. So much of it is a sign of immaturity rather than what most Americans think it is.
Our only mission in Afghanistan should have been to get Osama Bin Laden, destroy Al Qaeda, and then we should have gotten out of the country. Provide economic aid to try to assist the better hearts in Afghanistan, but ultimately leave their destiny to them instead of forcing our view of the world on to them.
Another thing I learned from Twitter this week … apparently, there are three Spanish screenwriters who got together and wrote a novel. The only problem is that they published it under a pen name. Well, that’s not the problem. The problem is that the screenwriters were all men and they used a female name to publish it, and they created a bio for this fake author and promo materials and photos to make it look even more real. A female author tweeted about how bothered she was by this.
Does this bother any of you? I get that one could argue that it was misleading, but so what. When I read a piece of fiction, I really don’t care about who the author is. I care about one single thing … the story and whether it holds my attention and allows me to escape my own world while I am reading.
I can’t help but feel that the negative reaction to this is a little deeper than that it was misleading. No, it also has to do with the idea that you’re not supposed to write in the voice of other types of people. Men shouldn’t write female narrators. White authors shouldn’t write black characters. Etc., and ad nauseum. Which, to me, is just a bunch of bull shit. The whole point of writing is to create, and maybe a part of this whole thing for those screenwriters was to create a whole persona — not just write a book, but also to create a fictitious author for the book. I mean … they’re screenwriters!
This next one involves a very small, but personal sample size. I’ve never watched network morning shows very much, but ever since I retired and then the pandemic shut everything down, including sending me to the home office for my part-time work, I’ve had The Today Show on for an hour or so just about every morning as I go through my early morning routine. (Side note to get from there to there: I have occasionally watched The Today Show at other times over the years, just not as steadily as I have for the last 20 months.)
Here’s what I don’t get or what I want somebody to confirm for me. Why do the anchors and reporters on The Today Show make so much of their stories about themselves? Has it always been this way and I just didn’t notice before? Maybe some of it is pandemic-related. When they were all working remotely and travel was limited and other restrictions were in place, maybe they had to fill all those hours with more personal stories. But that seems like a weak explanation. All I know is that it feels like a half hour doesn’t go by without some story about one of them having a baby, or an operation, or some other aspect of their lives being discussed and analyzed in front of millions.
It just seems weird to me that they make themselves the story as much as they do.
Colin Powell died. He is getting the requisite hero treatment by most of America. Most is the key word. Where he is not getting the hero treatment is in the hard core right wing of this country. They think he was a disgrace to the GOP, that he was a RINO, that he was a monster going all the way back to Vietnam, that he was just a politican in a uniform, that he was … well. Let’s let former President Trump put his own unique spin on things:
“Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mmistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media. Hope that happens to me someday. He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in piece.”
That was the statement Trump released on October 19, 2021. Yes, he really said all of that. And tens of millions of Americans have no problem with it, or with him. (This will be a theme for the rest of this post. Just warning you.) Why would Trump say this? It’s easy. Powell hurt his feelings when he endorsed Biden and, even more egregiously, when he left the GOP because of Trump. You see, of course, Trump cannot let any slight like that go. It affords him the opportunity to demonstrate that he still rides in the sandbox, throwing sand at his enemies and crying when nobody wants to play with him.
But back to Powell and the hero worship. I get tired of this stuff. Powell certainly lived a charmed life and accomplished great things on a personal level. That said, I’m not thrilled with his role in our military and foreign policy worlds and his contributions there. One of the interesting things I’ve read in recent years, in biographies of military officers who serve in Presidential administrations, is how important the idea of service is to them. That if the President asks for their service, the only correct answer is to say yes.
On some level I get this. Men and women who have spent their lives in uniform have a very deep and profound idea of service. The problem I have is that there service is not supposed to be to a person — the President. No, their service is supposed to be to their country, its citizens, and to the Constitution. At some point, if a President is going in the wrong direction, something has to be done. Something more than just speaking up behind the closed doors of the White House. Resign. Speak out. Do something. And that’s something that Powell never did.
Going back to Trump … the service these men and women provide seems more and more like the service to a King, instead of an elected representative of the people and the nation. I get that some of the officials who stuck around through the bitter end with Trump did so because they thought they could prevent him from doing crazy things. I appreciate that, but at some point, the nation needs something more from officials like Powell. He failed in that regard when he knew our leaders were leading us down the wrong path.
So, laud him for his accomplishments. For his rise from a child of immigrants to serving in the hallowed halls of power in this country. But a hero? I don’t think so.
Steve Bannon is in trouble again. This time for ignoring Congress’s lawful subpoenas seeking documents from him and his testimony in connection with the events of January 6. They made similar requests to a bunch of other Trump allies and former officials in the Trump administration. As far as I know, Bannon is the only one who has signed on to Trump’s obstructionist behavior by refusing to cooperate.
What I don’t understand about Bannon is how he continues on as he does. How he continues to have legions of fans attesting to his brilliance. This is a man who was quoted as saying, “I am a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” A reporter claimed that he said this during an interview in 2013. When the reporter wanted to publish the quote in 2016, he asked Bannon about it. Bannon claimed to have never talked to the reporter.
Regardless of whether he made that statement, his actions over the years have essentially demonstrated the truth of the words. He is an agent of chaos, a perfect wingman for Trump. In so many ways, he personifies an element of our country that has no respect for anything and who really does want to destroy the whole thing. It’s a growing element in this country. The people who want to see the country crash and burn if they can’t have the country exactly as they want it.
And I’m going to close with Tina Forte, a New Yorker running against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Forte attended the 1/6 rally/protest/insurrection/break-in. And she doesn’t hide it. She also appears to have a few screws loose. Here’s an example of her wonderful way of communicating her ideas. There are more and they don’t get better.
I don’t think she has a snowball’s chance of beating AOC, given how blue AOC’s district is. But what I don’t get is how we have arrived at a world where people like here have a platform to spread their vile crap.
As I said to a friend earlier today, “Pandora’s Box has been opened.”
In the world I grew up in, people like Trump and Bannon and Forte and anybody who was involved in the worst of the 1/6 incident, and anybody who would be trying to obstruct an investigation into 1/6 — none of them would have a platform, none of them would have a snowball’s chance. They would be shamed and removed from any political party they wanted to belong on. And they certainly wouldn’t be running for office and attracting donations and support from tens of millions of people.
Once Pandora’s Box is opened, how do you close it again?