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30 December 2006

An American Triumph

Ah, it went off like a Texas execution, with all the PR timing we've come to admire and love from this administration. Just in time for coffee and Saturday morning cartoons on New Year's weekend, and to drown out, one can only assume it is hoped, the 3,000th ending of human lives we care about. We don't do body counts for unworthies.

A new beginning. My eyes mist.

1. An absolute miracle of propaganda; amazing what is left out: strong US support till 1991.

The first paragraphs of the lead "news" story aren't so great, either:

BAGHDAD, Dec. 30 — Saddam Hussein, the dictator who led Iraq through three decades of brutality, war and bombast before American forces chased him from his capital city and captured him in a filthy pit near his hometown, was hanged just before dawn today during the morning call to prayer.

The final stages for Mr. Hussein, 69, came with terrible swiftness after he lost the appeal, five days ago, of his death sentence for the killings of 148 men and boys in the northern town of Dujail in 1982. He had received the sentence less than two months before from a special court set up to judge his reign as the almost unchallenged dictator of Iraq.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

--Julia Ward Howe, 1861

I don't expect much from the Times, God knows, but this was a new low. Of course, they must cover their tracks, too, and there are tyrants to topple before we cease.

The only moral issue, it seems, is how much of the hanging video to show.

They're selling postcards of the hanging
They're painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They've got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad they're restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

--Bob Dylan, 1965

Now, for us adults out there, some actual facts and analysis, unaccountably left out of the mass media feeding frenzy (the other side of the "Diana effect," another terrible swift sword -- that cuts both ways):

2. Robert Fisk.

3. Robert Parry.

And I believe this version of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" is more apt; had we an actual paper of record, it would be extensively quoted; had we an actual education system, widely known:

Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword;
He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger's wealth is stored;
He hath loosed his fateful lightnings, and with woe and death has scored;
His lust is marching on.

I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps;
I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps—
His night is marching on.

I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal;
Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel;
Lo, Greed is marching on!"

We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat;*
Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat;
O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!
Our god is marching on!

In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch,
With a longing in his bosom—and for others' goods an itch.
As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich—
Our god is marching on.

* NOTE: In
Manila the Government has placed a certain industry under the protection of our flag. (M.T.)

--Mark Twain, 1901