Saturday, March 17, 2012

Counterfactual Funnies

So, OK, right-wingers and left-wingers alike are screaming that President Obama is a war-monger, a war-criminal, a war-loving purple-lipped whatever. Bottom line: Obama said he'd end America's wars. And he didn't. He broke his !~@$ promise. Yeah, OK. He's dragging his feet! OK. Now there's blood on Obama's hands. Yeah, I get it. I heard you the first time. So ...

Let's make believe Obama ended America's wars in (or occupations of) Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009. Like, the first day Obama gets into office, he pulled the plug on those adventures. Based on my limited knowledge of American political procedure, I don't think that was an option. Obama couldn't even close the !@$% prison at Guantanamo, OK? He couldn't stop America's wars, even if he wanted to -- which I think he did. But let's pretend ...

Jan. 2009 – Obama begins American troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan. Republicans fight him, in Congress, in the media and the court system. Obama bends the rules and begins the withdrawal anyway. Vicious harrying action against our forces begins almost immediately in occupied countries.

Feb. 2009 – First-stage withdrawal of American troops continues. Around the world, Islamic fundamentalists begin media campaign claiming proof of victory and American weakness. At home, Republicans continue assault on Obama, raising charges of high treason. Loud, highly public outrage from Savage, Hannity, O’Reilly, et al.

June 2009 – Second stage of American troop withdrawal begins. Taliban reclaims significant portion of Afghanistan, begins reprisals. Iraq remains relatively stable. Relatively. There are high-profile terrorist actions. These looks bad, but they're not strategically significant. In America, a grass-roots campaign emerges. People begin spraying Obama posters and bumper stickers with a yellow stripe.

July 2009 – Osama bin Laden makes game-changing speech. He tells the world that what is happening is what he has foreseen. Americans always cut and run. As they did in Lebanon. As they did in Somalia. So it is now. Those who rely on America are always betrayed. Always left behind to feel the bullets and knives they deserve for their collaboration. A wave of terrorist actions begins in the countries we occupy. And others.

Aug. 2009 – Significant American losses in Iraq. Relatively speaking, they’re not so bad. Not if you compare them to the massive troop and materiel losses in America's staging areas in Afghanistan. Obama, in a panic, begins massive bombing campaign of that country. Around the world, left-wing sentiment turns against Obama. The peace-maker is now a war criminal.

Sept. 2009 – Obama's bombing bludgeons Afghanistan into silence. Temporarily. But there are street battles in Iraq and massive protests throughout the Arab world. OPEC begins a second oil boycott of America. Obama makes embarrassing speech. The quote is taken out of context, but at one point he says, “We’re withdrawing as fast as we can.” Obama's words become viral. They spread as fast as syphilis. Obama makes a humiliating deal. (He stops the bombing and sets up a "reconstruction fund" administered by the PRC.) OPEC lifts the embargo—based on those humiliating conditions. The stock market plummets.

Oct. 2009 – Republicans launch legal maneuvers to block the last stages of Obama’s troop withdrawal. He outwits them. Obama’s third wave of troop withdrawals begins anyway. George W. Bush and John McCain make a significant public speech predicting disaster if this course is not changed.

Nov. 2009 – AQ and the Taliban stage a Ramadan jihad in Afghanistan analogous to the 1969 Tet offensive in Vietnam. America’s remaining troops don’t withdraw. They run for their lives—leaving behind a vast, embarrassing stockpile of expensive killing machines. And lots of dead Americans.

Dec. 2009 – Over in Iraq, Fallujah erupts. America loses control of a third of Iraq overnight. Hillary Clinton resigns as Secretary of State. Meanwhile, Taliban consolidates domination of Afghanistan. Chinese ambassador to UN makes speech urging America not to indulge in reprisals against Afghanistan because of wounded pride. The American empire is a thing of the past. It’s a fact. We must face this fact.

Jan. 2010 – Stabilizing actions. Iraq withdrawal on hold. On the homefront, America’s streets are choked with protestors—right-wing protestors, in an ironic echo of the lefties from the 1960s. If this is peace, they don’t want it. No more peace! No more peace! The media assault is just as vicious. But Obama doesn’t budge. We’re bringing the boys (and girls) back home whether America likes it or not.

Feb. 2010 – Fourth wave of troop withdrawals begins in Iraq. Our departing troops are overrun in less than a month. The Green Zone is overrun. The end of America’s withdrawal from Iraq resembles the fall of Saigon in 1975.

March-Sept. 2010 – A very bad time for Obama and his friends. This coincides with the mid-term elections.

Oct. 2010 - A free-range terrorist in an ultralight stuffed with ordnance crashes into the Sears Tower in Chicago. It turns out that Bruce Graham and Fazlur Khan were better engineers than Yamasaki. Their ingenious structure doesn't fall. But the casualty count is high. In an unprecedented move, Vice President Biden repudiates Obama and his policies and declares his affiliation with the Republican Party. He is wildly vilified.

Nov. 2010 – Republicans sweep both houses of Congress.

Jan. 2011 – Republicans begin impeachment proceedings on Obama. And uncountable hearings and investigations targeting anyone involved with the Obama administration and the recent disaster. The Democratic Party is dead.

March 2011 – Obama is impeached. He immediately begins his prison term.

April 2011 -- Impeachment proceedings begin against President Biden.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fugate's 1117th Law

If you want to throw stones, there's no substitute for the moral high ground.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"The Artist" flunks science

Finally caught "The Artist." Fine movie. It's no "Hugo." But a fine movie nonetheless. Being a nerd, I feel to compelled to point out three anachronisms and one science error. (Spoiler alert, yattayatta.)

Three anachronisms: The fist-pumping "Yesss! gesture and the term "Superstar" didn't exist in the late 1920s; tick marks for quotations in the silent dialogue cards didn't exist either. (They used inverted commas for quote marks in the 1920s -- and never used tick marks -- which spread like a disease thanks to desktop publishing in the late 1980s.)

One science error: when George Valentin set his old nitrate-stock film on fire, the film simmered languidly for about 15 minutes, giving his dog time to rescue him. As anyone who's seen "Inglourious Basterds" knows, the nitrate film would've gone off like rocket fuel and turned his house into an inferno in a matter of seconds.