Monday, June 19, 2006

Parting Ways

They will rant, they will screech, they will wave their canes at you and call you all sorts of names, but you have to do what you have to do.

Final sentence in a Garrison Keillor op-ed piece entitled The poor old elephant needs to be led to the graveyard this November .

Twenty years ago, when I was a Marine avionics sergeant on active duty fixing and aircrewing helicopters, I would listen religiously every Saturday afternoon to Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion radio show as I crafted rustic hickory twig furniture out in the backyard of my home. I was married then, and my now ex-wife and I had just adopted our daughter, Ainsley, from Korea. Victoria, my ex, decided she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom rather than return to a very lucrative sales job when her 8 weeks of maternity leave ran out. Somehow we needed to replace her income and that's why every weekend found me shaping rustic chairs, loveseats, coffee tables and four-poster beds out of hickory saplings which were then sold to interior decorators throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

Listening to A Prairie Home Companion and bending saplings just seemed to go together. When I was in Iraq this last time I humped around a hardcover copy of his Lake Wobegon Days picked up at a USO tent. Lake Wobegon, a place "where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average", though fictional, is the America so worth fighting and dying for. Garrison Keillor and I have traveled together a long way. That journey ended today.

Apparently Mr. Keillor, although he still has his day job at A Prairie Home Companion, has a second career writing op-ed pieces for Tribune Media Services. Our local paper published one of his writings today. It was a very disappointing unfunny and un-original screed. Mr. Keillor somewhere along the way took a couple of Far Left turns. It's sad. At one time he was the worthy heir to another middle-America sage, Will Rogers. I could always depend on A Prairie Home Companion to be this weekly retreat to a timeless island of folksy Americana far removed from all the politics, insanity and vulgarity raging out in the rest of the media universe.

I could easily forgive him his jokes about Unitarians. Unfortunately, Keillor's voice, so original, eloquently listenable and engaging on APHC has turned shrill and offensive in his op-ed writings. At the beginning of this posting I pasted the final sentence from today's piece and a link to it. The very things he ends his piece accusing Republicans of doing, are the very things he himself did the entire length of the op-ed. The truly sad part, he did it poorly without the even tempered and self-effacing humility of a good Norwegian Lutheran bachelor. So we part ways. I am loathe to let him go, but as he himself said, "you have to do what you have to do".

Here, however, is a very readable and sane piece by Peter Collier and David Horowitz which involves no cane shaking, screeching or name calling. It echoes much of my own thoughts on the present condition of the Democratic Party. However, if you are in the mood for cane shaking, screeching and name calling by a completely unhinged guy on the left please go to the site of Larry C. Johnson. This guy's a classic moonbat, in fact so classic as to be parody of himself.

Here, fortunately, is a good example of someone left of center worth reading. David Brooks, writing in the New York Times this past Sunday, has an op-ed piece titled Pessimism Without Panic that I highly recommend. Howard Dean, Democratic Party Chairman, however is still re-writing history over at MSNBC's Hardball. In an interview just moments ago he described his party as not only tougher militarily, but smarter as well. Wow, that's gotta be news to about 500,000 Rhwandans who got hacked to death while the Clinton White House stood by and did nothing. Dean also opined that our problems with North Korea started 5 years ago...apparently all the wheeling, dealing, smoke and mirrors during the Clinton years that allowed them to keep developing nuclear weapons with impunity never happened. The North Koreans must have developed nuclear bombs while Bush was taking the oath of office. Man, I knew those Koreans were good at math, but this is unbelievable. And, Saddam Hussein? He was firmly in our control.....yep, that's what he said. He was no threat to anyone. So, those mass graves I saw in Iraq.....Haliburton employees?


Beth* A. said...

I'm sorry, Mike Fay. I know a bit of what you speak; the loss of a long time companion.
I was a huge BRRRRUUUUUUCCCCCE fan in College and carried that over a number of years; could recite you every lyric and stats galore. Listened so much it drove friends mad.
Not now. For similar reasons to yours.
I've decided that the best way to reconcile this in my mind is that, as with friendship, they were supposed to be there for a certain period of time, and now, something or someone else (like the folks you listed)is meant to be in their place in your life. GK served you well during the time you lugged that book around, and with the knowledge you had at the time you got much enjoyment and comfort from that.

You're pretty moxie, so you probably moved on quicker than I did, but it IS still sad. It's never easy to lose a friend (books and music count in that category, as far as I'm concerned)

Donna, Los Osos, CA said...

Gosh Mike and Beth, you both sure said well what I have been feeling for a while! I too was a huge Bruce fan, every album, many concerts..and I was crushed when he turned on us like a rabid dog.It was like finding the person you thought you knew (through his art) wasn't really there.

But you are right Beth, there is a season for everything.

Mike Fay, thank you for all you do. I am so grateful you have continued posting. You are a wonder!

Semper gratus,

Rob W said...

David Brooks left of center? He's a Republican and is usually placed on PBS News hour as the conservative to Mark Sheilds liberal voice.

And Horowitz and Collier? Why they make accusations which they admit aren't true. Take this gem: "It is all the Democratic Party can do to keep from publicly embracing the assertion of the hard left as to why were are in Iraq: “Blood for Oil!”
Needless to say, no Democrat of any substance has said anything like this, yet your esteemed GOP op-ed writers conveniently tell us that they really think that in their hearts.

That's not argument, that's fallacy, a straw man fallacy to be precise. Makes your job easier, doesn't it? Make up a quote, tell everyone they really believe it (because you want them to), and then fire away.

Here's another example: "Their present position—America was foredoomed to fail—is just one short step away from Noam Chomsky’s position—America had it coming." Again an equating of mainstream politicians with someone on the far left who has nothing to do with the subject. And who exactly has said "America was foredoomed to fail?" I haven't heard it.

Of course, this isn't the worst example. That's saved for last: "It is hard not to conclude that the Democrats want America to be defeated in Iraq and that it is not only their electoral opportunism but their worldview that demands it." Not a single Democratic leader of any substance or repute has said this at all. This is balanced writing?

It get's worse: "From the beginning of this war they have waited impatiently – if not eagerly -- for U.S. troops to sink in a desert “quagmire.” Who are these people who have waited for defeat? No one. They name not a person.

This type of logic, unfortunately infects most of the war's supporters. They seek to find fifth columnists where there are none. Why? Because they cannot defend the current policy, which is leading us to ruin. Today 80 people were kidnapped on the way home from work. And our own ambassador in Iraq sent a cable last week indicating that the situation in Iraq is getting worse, not better, especially as seen through the prism of the life of Iraqi staffers at the U.S. Embassy: "Some of our staff do not take home their American cell phones, as it makes them a target. They use code names for friends and colleagues and contacts entered into Iraq cell phones. For at least six months, we have not been able to use any local staff for translation at on-camera press events."

Perhaps the most damning langague comes Iraqis themselves: An Iraqi blogger named Salam Pax, who has been blogging from Baghdad since before the war and supported the overthrow of Saddam puts it best: "Today Saddam is in prison and we Iraqis are constantly being told that we have been liberated but when I look around I still see a Republic of Fear.
Life seems to have lost its value and we are shutting up and shutting down because of fear. This is about how when everyone came to destroy what was wicked they killed what was good as well." Salam has more troubling notes to add: "I quickly realized that fear of death isn’t what has been turning my stomach into a tight knot whenever I go near one of the so-called hot zones in Baghdad. It is the life we live that fills me with fear.

I have newly found out that I should avoid getting out of Baghdad through a certain road to the south because the Iraqi Army battalion situated there really hates my family name. People driving through that route towards the city of Hilla have been arrested just because they have that name.

The reasons people are killed for are absurd to the point of being funny. On the top of my list is wearing shorts. Teenagers in my neighbourhood have been killed for that unforgettable crime and probably it is the reason why two sportsmen who play for the Iraqi Tennis team and their trainer have been murdered."

This is real life in Iraq and it shows exactly where the long-term danger to our hopes lies--its in the death squads made up of Iraqi Army and security forces which are attacking ordinary citizens.

But the most surreal and frightening thing was posted by Iraqi blogger Riverbend. In March, TV shows in Baghdad had the following scrolled on the bottom of the screen:
وزارة الدفاع تدعو المواطنين الى عدم" الانصياع لاوامر دوريات الجيش والشرطة الليلية اذا لم تكن برفقة قوات التحالف العاملة في تلك المنطقة
The translation:

“The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area.”

The primary threat comes from the government we are fighting for over there. As I've said before, they are ready to ally with Iran. The Administration is avoiding the real danger and goes on whistling because were it to admit that it has erred gravely, it would have to take another political hit.

They'd do well to do a Clinton and admit that they totally blew it and that the country's support was needed to fix the problem. But the stance of the right in this country won't allow any admission of a mistake. That's why 60% of the population of the country, (those you call traitors) is against the war.

EdoRiver said...

Just stopped by to see what kind of party is lined up for the Marines acused of murder. What a joke. PR smoke...Rove does it again. Great strategy before election. I've got to hand it to the guy pulling the strings behind all this, whatever his name is. He could probably teach Reagan a thing or two.
I'm an independent of course. I won't worry who'se elected. Both would probably do well enough, Your guys in the White House, they know how to do whatever it takes.