Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Most Unselfish Act in History?

...Sure Wasn't Blood For Oil

"It is logical," said Marshall, "that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health to the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is not directed against any country, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Any government that is willing to assist in recovery will find full co-operation on the part of the U.S.A."

Secretary of State George Marshall to the graduating class of
Harvard University June 5, 1947.

Can anyone in the current administration say the words "exit strategy?" The Marshall Plan was not perfect nor was it really that unselfish (nor even a planned "exit strategy" in today's sense), but it exhibited a knowledge of the people with whom we fought and against whom we fought. It didn't stroke people on foreign soil with "Hi! we saved your asses, now demonstrate to us how grateful you are by instituting something called democracy. After all, you'll want to be just like us!" And while it did require that the benefiting countries trade with us, it certainly didn't force countries to change their form of government.

(From Wikipedia)
The official mission statement of the Marshall Plan was boost to the European economy: to promote European production, to bolster European currency, and to facilitate international trade, especially with the United States, whose economic interest required Europe to become wealthy enough to import U.S. goods. Another unofficial goal of ECA (and of the Marshall Plan) was the containment of growing Soviet influence in Europe, evident especially in the growing strength of communist parties in Czechoslovakia, France, and Italy.

Possibly the most astute statement made about the American entry into Iraq:

The American invasion of Iraq was, above all else, a revolution in the lives of Iraqis. Their institutions, their everyday routines, their futures, their sense of order were all turned upside down. This revolution, which is still ongoing and will play out for years to come, was the opening of a prison. When they staggered out into the light, most Iraqis didn't know where they were, what they wanted, even who they were, and the Americans who had so quickly and casually broken down the gate were standing around as if they had never even considered what to do next. The Americans were nominally in charge—the Iraqis expected them to be, and after the first few weeks of paralysis, the Americans flung themselves into a flurry of activities befitting an occupying power—but it was all illusion. No one was in charge.

-George Packer: Over Here: Iraq the Place vs. Iraq the Abstraction

Alas... all too true:

The picture at the right may not at first seem to have much in common with this post, but the sign about "The Rapture" indicates just how much Americans believe religious ideolgies are involved in the war. They don't see those ideologies as "peacemaking" either. An Onward-Christian-Soldiers thought: will Christian soldiers be the only ones to stay in Iraq for the next 50 years?

Banning the Bible and The Little Mermaid

The "The Ugly Duckling" Could Be Next!

Today is International Children's Book Day. It's a day that librarians and teachers embrace, but school boards detest. Why? It just means extra work and unwanted publicity - banning children's books is a nasty affair. If the school board is too hideabound and slow (like Tennessee's state government- see side bar), it winds up looking ridiculous. Books by Mark Twain, Dr. Seuss, Jack London, Judy Blume, Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein and (of course) JK Rowling have been detested (and contested) by minds that have obviously never enountered the joy of childhood reading.

Then there's guilt by association - actually, guilt by authorship. Oscar Wilde wrote fairy tales, so naturally his books could never be seen in a children's library. And Hans Christian Andersen was a homosexual whose life mirrored "The Ugly Duckling." And since King James I of England was bisexual, those "King James Version Only" advocates look pretty suspicious.*

Book banning in any form is a crime. With children's books, however, it's partiularly pernicious.

"In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards." - Mark Twain

Reading to an ugly duckling

* There has been a "distancing" of some fundamentalists from the KJV recently - the ones who've actually studied history. They take to heart the adage the Elizabethans coined on the death of Elizabeth: "Elizabeth was king - now James will be Queen."

The Bush Legacy: A Waste Management Facility Memorial!

This Could Be
The Legacy He's Dreaming About!!

Let's face it: George Bush is desperately searching for a legacy - ANY legacy. History's greatest diplomatic dimwit is willing to put his stamp on anything so that he won't be known merely as the President who craved war. This lamest of lame ducks has safely hidden his gubernatorial records (as governor of Texas) in his father's presidential library so that nothing more could sully the Bush name.

Ever-considerate San Francisco is now willing to help the President achieve his goal. This item hit newsprint yesterday:

(From SFist, Mar. 31, 2008)

Looking to honor the forty-third President of the United States of America, George W. Bush, the recently formed Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco is looking to change the name of the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Facility. It seems the group would like to rename the SF Zoo adjacent facility to the "George W Bush Sewage Plant."

The local grassroots movement, helmed by "Wayne Pickering," is proposing an ordinance initiative for the November 2008 San Francisco ballot in order to get the poop/pee/vomit plant's title changed. Why? To honor our current leader of the free world with an "appropriate and enduring legacy...As we near the end of George W Bush's presidency, we think it is important to select a fitting monument to this president's work. On matters ranging from foreign relations to fiscal and environmental stewardship, no other president in American history has accomplished so much in such a short time. To honor George W Bush for his eight years of public service, the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco is sponsoring a ballot initiative this November in San Francisco. It reads

..."Should the City and County of San Francisco rename the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Facility the George W. Bush Sewage Plant?"

More high-caliber volunteers are being called upon to help promote this ballot initiative (after all, six people - so far - cannot accomplish this lofty task by themselves). To sign up for this worthy cause just click here.

This is one Bush project I heartily support.