November 8th, 2007

i'm driving!

And life is grand

I don’t necessarily have anything against cars. Global-warming-loathing hippie mudhead that I am, I think we’re overreliant on them as a culture, and I really wish we were willing to do something about our catastrophic oil addiction. But, that said, I love to drive, and as a rule, our car culture is something I have enjoyed as much as deplored.

But we need to put an end to this habit of marketing people slapping the “touring” designation on whatever model of car they feel like charging an extra five grand for. The “touring”, “Turismo”, or “GT” label conjures up images of European gentry, roaring around the dusty back roads of a newly reborn West, free of fascism for the first time all century, stopping occasionally to over-tip some lucky café owner or petrol attendant, with nothing ahead of him but possibility. It should not conjure up images of Mom driving her kids to the Sonic for cheese tots after the tee-ball game.

“I say, Rotney! Grease up my PT Cruiser Touring Edition, and fetch me that wonderful Scottish tweed scarf I picked up in Orkney last summer. Oh, and my spectacles, and a Guide du Michelin. I’m going touring to the Valero station for a Tabasco Slim Jim! After that, dependent on my social calendar, I may tour the retail establishments of San Marcos and pick up a new shoe buffer. And after that, strike me if I don’t tour on over to the office and FAX some contracts! Shall I tour by KFC and acquire a picnic lunch, darling? It’s only a short tour away from the store where I get personalized golf tees! THE TOURING LIFE FOR ME!”

Does...does this guy even know what he does for a living?

So, who doesn’t love our awesome democratic ally, Pakistan? A shining beacon to Muslim countries everywhere, it’s so democratic that you can vote sometimes, as long as it’s for the dictator who seized power in a military coup, and hey, who doesn’t want to imprison all the lawyers anyway, ho ho ho? In keeping with our policy of invading any country filled with radical Islamist zealots that might possibly develop nuclear weapons someday, we have left Pakistan absolutely the fuck alone, because they already have nuclear weapons. Thus it is that they have been elevated, despite the presence of a brutal dictator and cadres of howling, anti-American religious fanatics, from “candidate for regime change” to “valuable ally in the war on terror”.

Anyway, things have been a bit, well, whoopsy-daisy in Pakistan lately. Authoritarian dictator Democratically elected leader Pervez “Perv” Musharraf has decided that, since there is the possibility that the Supreme Court might find his recent election win unconstitutional, the best thing to do is to get rid of all the members of the court who might rule against him and replace them with pliable jurists who are his ideological allies. Where he got an idea like that, we may never know, but the upshot of it is that he’s imposed martial law, rolled back Constitutional freedoms, and started locking up his political enemies.

Condi Rice is said to be “disappointed” in this result, in an oh-you-lovable-scamp sort of way, and President Bush has apparently located enough shame to actually make a few comments about his great friend Perv’s most recent slide into fascism. The thing is, it’s President Bush, and so his comments made no fucking sense.

After a few stumbling incoherencies about how much he pretends to love democracy, the Prez urges Perv to “take off his uniform”, which he doesn’t mean in a ‘hey, Captain Sexy, why don’t you take me in for some deep questioning’ way, but rather in a ‘you’re the head of the government, quit pretending you’re a war hero’ way. Good advice!

The President then goes on to warn Musharraf that “You can’t be president and head of the military at the same time”.

Let me repeat that, just in case its impact is unclear: the President – of the United States – told a foreign leader that you can’t be president and head of the military at the same time.

In other world news, worms continued to pick away at the nearly-stripped bones of irony (470 B.C.-2001 A.D.).

Eating babies, now THAT'S funny

As long as I’m ragging on everyone today, can I just say that, even by the standards of this insufferably smug, incompetent, unfunny right-wing comic strip, today’s Day By Day cartoon is teeth-grindingly terrible?

So, okay, we start with one of Muir’s patented scoliosis-stricken women, wearing some variety of floral maternity handkerchief, asking: “Are things turning around in Iraq?”

Instead of answering “Well, considering that 2007 has been the bloodiest year of the war so far, I would say that’s a pretty asinine question”, another of the spine-mangled stroke fantasies replies: “You mean ‘victory’? Sam, it’s not like WWII. You can’t sum it up in some photo.”

Now, leaving aside the weirdness of this response (conservatives are always trying to compare the War on Terror/Iraq/Darkies to WWII, and exactly what photo would sum up the Second World War, anyway? The bombing of Hiroshima? The raising of the flag at Iwo Jima? The Times Square kiss? The pictures of huge piles of corpses in Nazi death camps? The Japanese surrender?), it’s the third panel that’s the real kicker: cut to a photo (taken by highly respected journalist Michael “Al-Q’aeda is Making People Eat Babies” Yon) of Iraqis erecting a cross on top of a church.

There you go. There’s your iconic image of victory in Iraq. Sure, a record number of American troops died this year, and sure, the Taliban is resurfacing in Afghanistan, and sure, no one in all of Iraq is safe, and sure, our own government is saying torture is legal, and sure, we abuse prisoners and let mercenaries and soldiers slaughter civilians, and sure, the Middle East is less stable than ever, and sure, our entire pretext for war was a lie, and sure, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, and sure, radical Islamic terrorism now exists in one of the few Arab countries that didn’t have it before we invaded, and sure, after six years of war, al-Q’aeda is stronger now than it was before September 11th, but FINALLY THE VILLAGERS HAVE A PLACE TO PRAY!

Also, for all the talk about how this isn’t a war against Islam, about how it’s not a crusade or a religious war, it’s pretty telling how Muir and a lot of other right-wingers choose this as their defining image of victory in Iraq. Not the statue of Saddam being pulled down, not the building of a school, not the people turning up to vote in (sort of) free elections – nope, an image of a Christian church being restored. Sends quite a straightforward message about how they perceive the conflict. Nice.