This was a few months ago... she is much better now and we need to shoot a better video. Pardon the messy ferret room - one of them had spilled some food. (also pardon the lighting, crummy video and sound)
Time has not separated us enough from the Bush disaster, but it is the right time to begin to understand what happened least we elect people who would repeat the mistakes.
In Cole's view, the Bush administration's rhetoric of "liberating Iraq" from the clutches of a tyrannical leader with a hankering for weapons of mass destruction can't mask its long-term neo-colonial ambitions. Like Napoleon, Bush has a tendency to believe his own propaganda. Both invasions deployed rhetoric of liberation. Like the French general, Bush had a desire to create a "Greater Middle East", only to face an insurgency that viewed the foreign presence as an occupation, not liberation.
The idea that Bush's war would somehow bequeath a democratic polity in Iraq doesn't add up in the final analysis either. As Cole observes, Bush "willy-nilly was pushed into holding elections early," which resulted in the ascendance of Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, a Shiite political body led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and supported by the U.S.'s regional foe, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Two hundred years earlier, Napoleon appointed a group of Sunni scholars from Cairo's Al-Azhar University to "rule" on behalf of Egypt's "newly liberated" population. In both examples, a military occupation by ostensibly "democratic republics" -- who wanted to craft occupied lands in their own image -- ended up with Islamic republics.
And if Napoleon failed in his attempts to make Egypt a lucrative colony of the French Republic, why would Bush have any easier of a time turning Iraq into a "beacon of democracy" in the Middle East?
"The age of colonialism passed for very sociological reasons. Populations can mobilise in very effective ways and will not be crushed," said Cole. "The idea that America can just go in to shape a country is a very 19th century idea."
Napoleon's military adventure in Egypt only lasted three years, but his failure to subjugate the country's population, which was then a distant province of the Ottoman Empire, did not limit his ambition for more power. He returned to France and, falsely boasting of his victories and conquests in the lands of "the Orient," positioned himself to launch a coup, crowning himself emperor. As Cole notes, "In politics, a failure and screw-up doesn't mean you can't win."
Bush may not be so lucky. The U.S. has "kicked off a decade or two of regional instability" because of its military occupation of Iraq, according to Cole. General David Petraeus's "surge strategy", its ostensible failures and partial successes are only the latest in a string of military answers that will not remedy the more complex and increasingly intractable political situation.
The striking feature of Senator Craig's mugshot is his little American flag lapel pin. The right seems to feel these are the symbol of patriotism .. a little two dollar pin made in the third world is somehow a sufficient certification like the emblems of other empires.
I have a certain sympathy for closeted gay men and lesbians. I think that being so deeply ashamed of a part of yourself that's so fundamental, and that you can do nothing to change, must be close to unbearable; and the knowledge that coming clean would involve not only admitting that you're gay, but also that you have lied for years to people you care about, and who trust you, would only make it that much worse. But my sympathy vanishes when it comes to people who support amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage, as Craig did. There are limits to what you get to do to protect your own secrets, and being willing to permanently destroy gay men and lesbians' chances to marry the people they love, and with whom they have found happiness, is way, way outside them.
(For the record, I don't have much sympathy for straight people who support this idiotic and mean-spirited amendment either.)
Craig seems to have made a habit of voting against laws that would secure the rights of gay men and lesbians. In addition to supporting the Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, he voted against a bill that would have banned job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, against expanding the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation, and was rated zero by the Human Rights Campaign in each of the last three Congresses (1, 2, 3; all pdf.) I truly can't imagine what it would be like -- how little self-respect a person would have to have -- to amass that sort of voting record while cruising for gay sex in airport restrooms.
And besides, if I had any sympathy for Larry Craig, the fact that he "handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do you think about that?”" would have destroyed it. The laws are meant to apply to everyone, Senators included. No one gets to violate laws he himself supports and then use the fact that he has been elected to high office to get himself off the hook. Being elected Senator means being given a position of trust and responsibility that you should work every day to be worthy of, not a Get Out Of Jail Free card.