07 September 2008

Great White Snark

John Maxwell

I consider myself something of an authority on American comic book characters, ever since, nearly a hundred years ago, I was forced to spend months in hospital, aged ten, with tubes coming out of various parts of me, while my innards were reconstructed just in case I survived.

I survived because the surgeon, a great man named  Herbert Morrison, saved my life with his skill and a new drug called penicillin. In those days, during the second world war, very limited supplies of the new wonder drug were available outside of the war zones. The British apparently sent a few doses out to special doctors in the colonies, for testing i.e for use on cases for whom there was no hope.

But I did acquire a huge collection of comics and my fascination with this art form has persisted. It also may explain why I see many politicians as  comic book characters and why I had been looking forward to the celestial pairing of those quintessential bumblers Elmer Fudd and Mr Magoo at the top of the Republican party ticket. The combination of John McCain and Joe Lieberman seemed too good to be true and it would have happened had Mr Fudd not decided on a Captain Marvel type transformation into Daddy Warbucks and in the nick of time – found his Little Orphan Annie.

The problem of course s that Little Orphan Annie may be a political suicide bomber in disguise, carrying baggage too toxic for the fans

US Republican politics often reminds me  of a horror comic scripted by Dale Carnegie and drawn by Gahan Wilson, where the monsters are all on their best behaviour as they delicately dismember some cherished principle of American democracy.

Principles are fungible; foreign policy experience is absolutely  essential, until Daddy Warbucks espies Little Orphan Annie, who is very aware that when she sits in the Alaska Governor’s office, Russia is everything to the left and is a Very Bad Place, chock full of Very Bad Men. Little Orphan Annie is so cute she doesnt need to know anything about foreign oolicy, except never to find herself alone with that bad Mr Putin.

If you are an American it is deemed sexist to criticise Governor Palin. She makes tough decisions, decisions that mere men could not dare. One such is to leave her newborn son Trig, four days after his birth, to go back to work. Trig, with Downs Syndrome, will need a mother’s love for much longer than most babies and if he were breast-fed, might have a much better chance of survival and living a useful life.

But Sarah Palin is off to help McCain capture the women’s vote, the feminist vote; the Hillary Clinton discontents who, we imagine will admire her Amazon self-denial, her NRA membership, her hunting prowess; her opposition to the protection of Polar Bears, and  her opposition to abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

She is indeed a tough cookie, turning not a hair as it is announced that her 17 year old daughter is pregnant and that despite that news, Mrs Palin still opposes sex education for kids. The governor announces that the boyfriend involved is to marry the girl – perhaps to his own surprise – and he is flown to Minneapolis to be part of the Palin family welcome to John McCain. His airport abrazo with McCain should live long on YouTube.

The Emperor McCain

      John McCain’s Elmer Fudd public persona conceals a reality that may of course, surprise and perhaps even frighten some people.

For more than a decade he has been the President of the International Republican Institute (IRI), an outfit that operates its own maverick and sometimes violent foreign policy. it is the sort of outfit which goes into action, gets out of its depth and then calls 911 at the Pentagon, to come rescue them and keep US democracy looking good.

People who may have been surprised by McCain’s warlike declaration that he was ‘a Georgian” at the height of the failed Georgian blitzkrieg, may not have realised that Mr McCain’s IRI along with the CIA, the Israelis and other assorted neofascist troublemakers were an integral element of the Georgians attempt to incorporate South Ossetia and Abkhazia into Georgia and provide a more secure path for Central Asian oil to Turkey and eventually Israel and the US.

I and many others, wondered at Mr Mc Cain’s presence in Colombia a few weeks before that, shortly after the end of the Republican primaries. Then,while he was there, there was a great hullaballoo about the freeing of FARC captives by the Colombian government and its allies. Surprisingly, Mr McCain’s IRI was never mentioned in dispatches nor was he included in the celebrations, although he was pictured smiling smugly, as if he knew something the rest of us didn’t.  Could it have had anything to do with the illegal use of Red Cross paraphernalia?

And the IRI was spectacularly involved with the failed anti-Chavez coups  in Venezuela. about which a discreet silence may  be the best policy.

In Haiti, the IRI led the racist assault on democracy and Aristide. The IRI  retains  a commanding position in the American takeover of a sovereign nation where life gets ever more interesting and more desperate every day

Hurricanes and rainstorms kill more people in Haiti than in most other places for one reason: the democratic leadership has been destroyed. The institutions and community arrangements by which other societies protect themselves are broken. The President is in forced exile, other leaders have been murdered or exiled and one in particular, Dr Lovinsky Pierre Antoine, has been kidnapped and has not been heard from for more than a year.

The destruction of the Haitian polity and economy means starvation for the people. While people eat dirt and die of hunger the IRI and its allies are moving to improve their image and strategic position, and no doubt, build more swimming pools.

 The latest initiative  is the open but totally illegal capture of land owned by Haitians in Cite Soley, for the building of what seems likely to be the American answer to Christophe’s  Citadel.

Perhaps someone might ask Daddy Warbucks if he knows anything at all about all this activity?

And, if he does, what does he think about it?



Racism, chauvinism and sport

      The gulf between writers and hacks is nowhere greater than in the field of sports. There are those who not only know their subjects backwards but are poets and gracious human beings as well. And there are those who are the real  offspring of the economic prostitution of sport.

These are people who don’t bother to know their subject, are hopelessly chauvinistic and spiteful towards people they regard as somehow unworthy Some of this is racist as the Williams sisters discovered at the height of their glory. The Olympics provided a showcase for some of these sarcoptic flies of journalism.

The worst that I saw was one Rick Maese of the Baltimore Sun whose interest was to denigrate Usain Bolt

“Last week I cast skepticism on Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt's incredible feats at these Olympics -- shattering the world records in both the 100 and 200 meters. Not surprisingly, there were some who disagreed, who want to believe that Bolt earned that record through hard work, powerful homegrown yams and his pre-race Chicken McNuggets. Admittedly, I'd love to believe that too. Unfortunately, I just can't.”

He can’t because he hasn’t bothered to do his homework. According to this bozo:

Put simply, Phelps' growth curve is a bit different and the testing standards for his home nation are significantly different. Bolt entered these Games as a curiosity, while Phelps had long ago established himself as swimming's version of a bull in a world-record shop.

Maese does make a slight bow in the direction of fairness “This isn't to suggest that Bolt wasn't also a rising star (in fact, at 16, he was the youngest world champion ever). But their respective paths were different. For most of his competitive life, when Phelps wasn't performing in the swimming pool, he was performing for doping officials behind closed doors.

“For the sake of accuracy, Bolt has also faced plenty of tests. After winning his third gold medal of these Games, here's what he said: "I've been tested so many times in the competition I've lost count. We know we're good, we know we're clean. We work hard and any time you want to test us, it's OK."

Here's the difference: The United States has a much more stringent testing program. Jamaica doesn't even have an accredited anti-doping system. The only times many athletes there -- and in many other countries -- are tested is when they're in actual competition.”


More reprehensible was the space given in the San Diego   Union  Tribune to the notorious corrupter of the young, the druggist Victor Conte, who, in a perfect world would be spending the rest of his life in some workhouse contemplating the lives and careers he helped to ruin and working to make amends to the idea of sportsmanship he did so much to smear. Instead, this blood-sucking parasite is allowed to recklessly libel Jamaica and its athletes, finding a ready audience in a nation that finds it hard to believe in the integrity of anyone or anything.

Conte reminds me of Ogden Nash’s cobra, who

‘fills his mouth with venum.

and walks upon his duodenum.”

“In December, Conte says, he met with former World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound and provided details – name, address, phone number – of a drug dealer providing banned substances to Jamaican track athletes. Pound passed along the information to his successors at WADA, who have indicated that protocol requires such data be forwarded to that country's anti-doping agency.”

The suggestion is that the Jamaican authorities are complicit in athletic corruption.

I would be surprised if Conte were not the creep who posted that infamous parcel to Beijing, addressed to The Jamaican team and allegedly full of dope.

Creatures like Conte have a terrible thirst for justification, and if the Jamaicans prove that you don't need dope the Contes will be forced back into the compost heaps which are their natural habitat.

Meanwhile, Mr Conte should be forced in court, to prove the truth of his allegations or pay substantial sums to the Jamaican sporting authorities and the athletes.

Copyright©2008 John Maxwell


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