Jan 6, 2009

O Joy O Rapture, we survived

2009 is here and we are a mere 15 days from having survived the most dangerous calamity of recent memory. It is time for closure as we have much to do and to repair. In this article, Tom, palpably excited and relieved for having survived the same, puts it away so we can start the year and hopefully the rest of this planet's life without wasting anymore time on George W. Bush's presidency. Here is to a year that despite being probably one of the toughest on our planet since the 1930's -- will also be most certainly better than the year that came before it.


The Ponzi Scheme Presidency

Bush's Legacy of Destruction
By Tom Engelhardt

It may finally be 2009, but in some ways, given these last years, it might as well be 800 BCE.

From the ninth to the seventh centuries BCE, the palace walls of the kings who ruled the Assyrian Empire were decorated with vast stone friezes, filled with enough dead bodies to sate any video-game maker and often depicting -- in almost comic strip-style -- various bloody royal victories and conquests. At least one of them shows Assyrian soldiers lopping off the heads of defeated enemies and piling them into pyramids for an early version of what, in the VCE (Vietnam Common Era) of the 1960s, Americans came to know as the "body count."

So I learned recently by wandering through a traveling exhibit of ancient Assyrian art from the British Museum. On the audio tour accompanying the show, one expert pointed out that Assyrian scribes, part of an impressive imperial bureaucracy, carefully counted those heads and recorded the numbers for the greater glory of the king (as, in earlier centuries, Egyptian scribes had recorded counts of severed hands for victorious Pharaohs).

Hand it to art museums. Is there anything stranger than wandering through one and locking eyes with a Vermeer lady, a Van Eyck portrait, or one of Rembrandt's burghers staring out at you across the centuries? What a reminder of the common humanity we share with the distant past. In a darker sense, it's no less a reminder of our kinship across time to spot a little pyramid of heads on a frieze, imagine an Assyrian scribe making his count, and -- eerily enough -- feel at home. What a measure of just how few miles "the march of civilization" (as my parents' generation once called it) has actually covered.

Prejudiced Toward War

If you need an epitaph for the Bush administration, here's one to test out: They tried. They really tried. But they couldn't help it. They just had to count.

In a sense, George W. Bush did the Assyrians proud. With his secret prisons, his outsourced torture chambers, his officially approved kidnappings, the murders committed by his interrogators, the massacres committed by his troops and mercenaries, and the shock.........

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