The empire strikes out

As the bricks of our haphazardly-built empire fall like rain around us, the Military Industrial Complex and its media enablers seem to be the last to realize that no amount of fear-mongering, tap-dancing, or historical revisionism can disguise the fact that, as a country, we can no longer afford our dreams of world domination, not because anyone thinks that’s a bad thing, but just because it’s just become too damned expensive.  Having been treated like children who must occasionally be deceived to keep errant, discouraging backtalk in check, we suddenly look to find that the omniscient and eminently responsible “parents” we were told to trust have spent the savings, mortgaged the house, and trashed the whole neighborhood, feverishly pursuing some crazy, unfathomable enterprise that they repeatedly and steadfastly assured us was for our own good.

So recently, it seems, we were solemnly promised that the too-cheap-to-meter war with Iraq would set every freedom-hating dictator dropping to his knees like a hooker in a doorway, and the whole world would eternally and gratefully bask in the treasured gift of one market, under God, brought to them by the same great, benevolent guys that brought them Heroshima, Dresden, My Lai, and now, Shock and Awe.  A dark, scary, incomprehensible world, once bathed in the gleaming light of white phosphorus, would cheerfully lay down its hatreds and grow fat and happy on Pepsi and Big Macs, as the oracle Tom Friedman said, and did.   A plan so crazy it might have worked, or at least a whole lot of people who ought to have known better said so, ad nauseam.  And the whole idea, no more absurd on its face now than it was then, to anyone paying attention, that somehow ordinary Americans would derive any benefit from the enormous expense of war, the random slaughter of innocents, and the slapdash installation of puppet governments hither and yon, has finally dawned on most people to be contemptible horse shit, and all that remains is to convince the media and the pentagon brass.  This of course, is the daunting part.

Bill Kristol aside, most sane people, and even some of our media stars, now are a bit sheepish, if not repentant, about maybe going one war too far in their cheerleading.  So they’re doing the only honorable thing, which in the beltway world is to change the subject.  After all, nodding in agreement with an endless string of discredited Republicans as they troop into the studio to talk about the “generational theft” involved in building a few roads we might actually get to drive on, is pretty much all a war cheerleader can do, given the recent unpleasantness.   Presented with a pie, the obvious majority of which is long gone to warriors’ wet dreams, the media stars would prefer to endlessly dispute the disposition of the last sliver, for which the Chinese will allow us to pay later.

Wars, after all, are Serious; foreclosures and unemployment, not so much.  Thus, we are treated to the spectacle of generals in Iraq dropping little hints like, “we have reached a tipping point of diminishing returns,” or “the longer we stay, the less we achieve,” and the gasbags want to talk about a couple million for some endangered critter or somesuch, and whether that’s “partisan.”

What isn’t partisan is that we don’t live in a fantasy world anymore, and the bricks of money falling on Iraq to build imperial castles in the sky inexorably led, here at home, to plain old, regular bricks falling, and the wherewithal to patch things back together ultimately comes from the same cupboard, which is now bare.  Only in the fantasyland of the Beltway is the connection not made between the two.


  1. Dirigo says:

    And a very tasty humble pie moment is coming, based on a report in today’s Financial Times.

    It was a laugh line Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week” when South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said he thought nationalization of the nation’s weaker banks might be necessary, which prompted California Congresswoman Maxine Waters to roll her eyes and smile.

    FC says today other influential Republicans are conceding that, like Sweden in 1992, the US may choose to inject cash into weak banks in exchange for equity stakes, regulating the banks until they stabilize, and then selling the shares back to the banks, or find new investors.

    Paraphrasing Lt. Worf on Star Trek, referring to a key tenet of Klingon battle philosophy: “Lutefisk, like revenge, is best served cold.”

    • cocktailhag says:

      That Waters line was delicious, as it also was when Barney Frank pointed out, necessarily only to those on camera, that the Iraq war was the biggest spending initiative of recent memory. That line went over like a fart in church, of course.

  2. Karen M says:

    I posted something on O_S comparing the GOP attitude about stimulating the economy to a dog in a manger.

  3. timothy3 says:

    First Lindsey Graham then Greenspan sighing about the likelihood of nationalization. Rush’ll be in more a snit than usual (and he made even Pat Robertson cringe). I just wonder how many more T-Bills China can buy given the contraction in their own economy.
    Good post, CH.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, China’s in a bit of a pickle, since the good ol’ USA has been the chief consumer of their often shoddy and sometimes poisonous goods. There was a quote in the Financial Times the other day, repeated by Thom Hartmann, that the Chinese central bankers think we suck, but they’ve ruled out the mattress option for their money, so far. We shall see. Over at UT… will the Bernbart/Blaboa grudge match be televised? That’s a pay-per-view moment, indeed.

  4. Jim White says:

    Who could have imagined? I mean, I read that they had a full plan for the reconstruction of Iraq. They even had a PowerPoint, and I think it was more than 20 slides. How could that have gone wrong?

    • cocktailhag says:

      My brother and I were talking about it at the time, when, ironically enough, he was a VP at Citicorp. He said he would have been laughed out of a meeting, presenting so many rosy scenarios, all together; in business, they don’t (well, used to not…) let you go ahead without presenting the worst case, and subsequent exit strategy. Admittedly, we’ve found lately that Citi kind of changed its policy over the years, but there was a time when that was just the facts of life.

    • Jim White says:

      Hey, it worked! I put in a photo for my avatar! Like my pitchfork?

      • cocktailhag says:

        Wow! That’s fancy. And your shiny but nonetheless formidable-looking pitchfork could hold its own in adnoto’s next uprising, for sure. I, myself, just figured out how to post pictures; setting up icons is way above my pay grade. I just took some neat city shots today from my jobsite,,, I’m thinking about posting those.
        What kind of varmints was MK dispatching? Cocktailhag’s Dead Animal Rescue is always looking for a little something. (preferably a few dozen….)

        • Karen M says:

          They were coyotes.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Hmmm, Karen, I love coyotes, particularly dead ones. (sorry I muffed the names.. I sometimes read fast and haphazardly…) I missed the story about the pickup and the .38, though, to my chagrin. Were you going all LBJ on us? I meant to ask Sarah Palin if they just tossed out those perfectly good wolves, but thank heaven, she drifted into deserved obscurity…

      • Karen M says:

        How’d you do that?

      • Bill says:

        How did you do that?

        • Jim White says:

          I did a right-click on my little generic avatar and saw that one of the options was “block images from”. I then went to and found that after a simple sign-up of providing your email address, you can then upload a picture (or choose from a large gallery as well) to use. What’s interesting is that the avatar follows you around to any site where gravatar has been enabled. It looks like a lot of wordpress bloggers use it.

          It’s also retroactive. I went back to a blog where I had commented a few days ago (where I noticed everyone else commenting had their face showing up and I was a randomly selected but more colorful generic) and found that my image was now showing up there.

  5. cocktailhag says:

    Pure genius, I’m sure. Especially when I don’t know what I did. The chances are much greater that way.

  6. timothy3 says:

    Hey, CH, I haven’t seen any comments by bebop-o lately. Everything shipshape with him?

    • Dirigo says:

      This doesn’t look like me at all.

    • cocktailhag says:

      He only appears sporadically… Unpredictable as always. Thanks for the h/t at UT this morning; I was on my way out the door and got a laugh. I was thinking of Moonface Martin in “Anything Goes.” All he needed was a priest outfit and a violin case.

      • Dirigo says:

        Actually, I would appreciate any informal advice on how to use this avatar thingie that’s been mentioned, or other ways to post images.

        timothy3, bop is hanging out at Open Salon a bit. You can find him by clicking the “people” box up top on the OS home page and then typing “bebop-o” in the search box. It comes up as Arthur James. He’s having some fun there.

  7. cocktailhag says:

    I think it’s the little thingamajig that you rightly deemed a poor likeness. Apparently Jim clicked on it, and was brought into a paradise where it could be replaced with whatever you wanted; Bush in a flight suit, Condi in thigh high’s… you name it. When I tried it, it didn’t work, but that’s because I’m the editor and I’m supposed to work for that title. I hit the wrong button, and turned everybody into little Spirographs, so I’m understandably hesitant to try again. What if I finally got it right, sorta, and everybody showed up in curlers?

  8. Dirigo says:

    This is a test. Gravatar. Gravatar. Where are you?

  9. Dirigo says:


  10. timothy3 says:

    Dirigo, that avatar/Gravatar looks like Ridley Scott. And if you directed Blade Runner, you get an A from me.

    • Dirigo says:

      Thanks. It’s one of my head shots. I think I’m embarrassed. Anyway, another computer lesson: figuring out Gravatar.