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Agam's Gecko
Sunday, June 27, 2004
 
THE GECKO SEZ:
Yo! Peeps! Finally, your small reptilian commentator gets his chance once again to take the stage. At long last this blog's human mascot has turned his back, left his confuser unattended, so here's my chance, yo! He was a bit agitated tonight - came home, switched everything on for me, and went back out again. I think he's probably out pickin' fights with fascists or somethin'.

And say hey! Since I'm in such a happy mood for having my chance to pontificate on the issues of the day - as is my wont - you'll get a small bonus. Way back when all was new here, your little marmoulak teased his readers with reference to a mysterious two-language play on words involved in your host's Thai name. Those of you who've stuck with us this long - yikes, two months already - will get a small reward today as I explain and reveal all.

Alright, so listen up. Thais got plenty of names for different lizards, cuz dere's so many different kinds of lizards down here... so don't go mistakin' me for any of those other slime-ball guys, got it? Like fr'instance never call me a hia - that's the worst. We reserve dat one for only the real low-lifes, like that Suchinda character who tried to become the fascist dictator in the Kingdom about 12 years ago (anniversary last month, I think Agam wrote something on it). Hey, 12 years, that's one cycle , just noticed dat. End of the first cycle after that popular movement told yet another dictator where to shove it. Well here's another bonus culture tidbit for ya - Thais put extra significance on anniversaries or birthdays which incorporate the 12 year cycle. Anywayz, just lettin' ya know that callin' out, "Hey, you! Ai Hia!" is a big no-no - unless you're yellin' it out at a low-life usurper like Suchinda while holding up your shoe or sandal sole to point at him and tellin' him to "Get Out!" ("Awk Bai!" goes very well with "Ai Hia!" in such circumstances). Hia's are bigger than me, but not nearly so well loved as I am.

Nosireebob! ('gam taught me dat one!) Yours truly is what is known as jing joke. In English this usually translates as "house lizard", but we all like jing joke better. Anyway, jing can also mean "true" or "correct" or "genuine" (it sounds the same but isn't the same word, spelled differently). And if you's an English speaker - a safe bet I suppose - then you know what a joke is, right? Of course it doesn't mean that in Thai at all, the only other "joke" sounds different with a longer "oh" and it's rice porridge. No connection. Jing reed is a cricket, and jing joe is a kangaroo or wallaby. Anywayz, yours truly is jing joke , or maybe you'd read it better as jingjok - but the tendency might be to then say "jingjawk" or somethin', then nobody would know you wuz talkin' about me at all. So anywayz, I think you gots it now. Agam's Gecko is a paradoxical conundrum, a Jing Joke so to speak. Any more question? Then don't axe me!

MORE THINGS THAT YOU WON'T SEE ON THE FRONT PAGE
It's really too bad humans can't usually have the spare time necessary to read all the actual reliable news reports on a given subject, and then to just provide their own darn headlines . But no, that ain't how it all works at the present time. Yet! After the last 2 episodes of the Sept. 11 commission's public hearings, the chattering headline writing classes went hog-wild parsing it into what they wanted it to say.

Basically, if they got their true wish, the commission's staff reports would have been shorter and even more superficial (if such a thing is possible). It could have just said something like "Bush is a liar, our government has been stolen by neo-cons, everybody go see Fahrenheit 9/11 for the real truth, Saddam has been misunderstood is a scapegoat for the sins of global capitalism, and the Iraqi resistance needs our support." Then the headline writers could have worked their magic without having to stretch reality nearly so far.

Well, they had no such luck. Agam wrote about this last week, so I won't revisit it all again. But it was certainly nice to see that the commission members - or some of them at any rate - were at least a bit shamed at how "We have no confirmation that Saddam collaborated on the attacks on America," was being translated for the unwashed masses into, "Saddam had no links, connections, or ties of any type with al Qaeda, ever, ever," by the high priests of the journalistic profession. Both Gov. Kean and Lee Hamilton were having to correct all this tilted perception before the day was out, explaining there was no conflict between what the commission had found, and what the Bush admin had been saying all along. For example, John Lehman:
"There's really very little difference between what our staff found, what the administration is saying today and what the Clinton administration said," said commissioner John Lehman, speaking Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "The Clinton administration portrayed the relationship between al-Qaida and Saddam's intelligence services as one of cooperating in weapons development. There's abundant evidence of that."

"The Bush administration has never said that [Iraq] participated in the 9/11 attack," Lehman said. "They've said, and our staff has confirmed, there have been numerous contacts between Iraqi intelligence and al-Qaida over a period of 10 years, at least."
If we see what was said on "Meet the Press," we find that the relationship went back at least a decade:
In fact, as you'll soon hear from Joe Klein, President Clinton justified his strike on the Sudan "pharmaceutical" site because it was thought to be manufacturing VX gas with the help of the Iraqi intelligence service.

Since then, that's been validated. There has been traces of Empta that comes straight from Iraq, and this confounds the Republicans, who accused Clinton of doing it for political purposes. But it confirms the cooperative relationship, which were the words of the Clinton administration, between al-Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence.

The Bush administration has never said that they participated in the 9/11 attack. They've said, and our staff has confirmed, there have been numerous contacts between Iraqi intelligence and al-Qaeda over a period of 10 years, at least.
Agam said he'd find out what Stephen F. Hayes had to say about all this, and he did have a number of articles up. He also has an exclusive interview with the VP on these matters.

EUROTOPIA
Here is a Euro parliamentarian who was just re-elected in a Paris suburb,
Paul-Marie Couteaux. He has these helpful suggestions for the Arab - Israeli conflict:
I have no hesitation in saying that we must consider giving the Arab side a force large enough, including a nuclear force large enough, to persuade Israel that it cannot simply do whatever it wants
And as for the many innocent victims of terrorist acts, he extends his sympathy but adds, "... as far as I know, nobody is totally innocent in a democracy." Bien merci, Paulot. Surely the loved ones of Mr. Kim, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Berg, Mr. Quattrocci, the roughly one hundred innocent Iraqis brutally murdered in the latest coordinated "resistance" operation, and every other such victim here, there and everywhere, will be much comforted to know that the one they loved and cared for, was actually at least a little bit deserving of their fate. This is the type of people that some of the citizens of the "egalite, liberte, fraternite" country are sending to their Euro parliament. It's enough to make my own jing joke blood get just a little colder.

AMERICAN INTERFERENCE IN CANADIAN DEMOCRACY?
Alright Canadians, it's time to vote tomorrow, isn't it? This is the thing people all over the world struggle so hard to get, and plenty enough of them have to go through some hellish ordeals to get it. Many of them are still in a hellish ordeal trying to reach that prize, those basic principles, and that little piece of ballot paper. It's not something struggled over far, far away - millions of them are just a few hundred kilometres from our plush but tasteful editing suites here on the east bank of the great Chao Phrya, River of Kings. Our Burmese brothers and sisters are among those still on the long and painful road to the prize.

But we've all seen how, when they finally reach it, their commitment is enough to make a grown human being cry. Yo, i'ts even enough to warm my jing joke blood right back up again after M. Couteaux's nonsense. Cambodians voting under UNTAC administration, after decades of the worst nightmare imaginable, everything destroyed in order to recreate the "year zero" of Maoist perfection, and we can see them on the fateful morning, trudging miles in the pre-dawn light to reach the voting places. Turnout: somewhere around 98% of the voters' lists. East Timor, UNAMET facilitates the first genuine act of free choice for the ex Portuguese colony - a referendum during which time violent militias (which today we would have no trouble recognising as terrorists, never mind this "militants" weasel-worded language) were terrorising the people into choosing as they told them to. When the great day came, many people hiked for hours out of mountain areas with few roads, to reach their voting places. Eligible participation, (in an atmosphere of violent intimidation) was again virtually total. Favoring independence: about 80%. They were not intimidated by thugz - afraid, yes, but not intimidated. Thugz wanted to force them to choose integration, it didn't work. In Taiwan, the last two presidential elections were held under intimidation from the thugz on the other side of the Straits, including the shooting of missiles across the island. It didn't work: the guy the commie thugz hated the most, got elected both times. This democracy stuff is serious business.

Anywayz, the only reason jerks like M. Couteaux can get elected, even in France, is through low voter turnout. Maybe he has about 15% support in the general population (suppose, ok?), his people are very committed and every one turns out on election day. About 23% of the people bother to vote, and presto! Now the jerk is representing you.

I have been told, that Canadians for the most part, do not appreciate the pasty fat cat type of American businessman multi-millionaires, coming along and telling them how they ought to vote in their own elections. Makes sense to me! Now, yesterday I seem to have overheard 'gam fulminating under his breath. . . . about some very large and rich American capitalist telling Canadians that voting for Stephen Harper would be real bad, sorta like voting for Bush. And that voting for Martin would be much better, because he's the only one who could stop the demon Harper from achieving his goal. Not only that, but a big part of this guy's schtick, is to rail against Iraq war profiteers, while he is one his own self. Yeah, you know I mean Michael the Boore, natch. This jing joke's favourite darling of the Cannes / Hollywood cultural axis. Michael has a close relationship with Canadians ('relationship' is different from 'links', only slightly the same as 'ties', however it's totally different from 'connections', and don't even ask about 'co/llabor/oper/ation') which is actually fairly basic: Canadians buy lots of his books, and he tells them how they should run Canada. Seems pretty fair, 'cept that I bet that old Sam Walton or whomever - the Walmart guy - couldn't get away with telling those Canucks that they should vote for Harper and kick out the Grits; even without linking (tying or etc., see above) Martin to 'evil' of some sort. Like say, Pol Pot or something.

Yo! Michael! SoSue me ! MeMeMeMe! It's all about Me, y'know eh? I know you get this because Me...MeMe. Eh? So suesusuesueMeMeMeMememememe! Man, you an' me, Michael... you an' the little jing joke - we gots stuff in common, man. Like, I keep my own pet Canadian here for my own bloggish purposes, and you're giving your Canadians group obedience lessons! Cool man! Yo da happenin' dude, yo! I need some tips, bro! But seriously man, you gotta lay off them Canucks during election, y'dig? This is voting , ya big tub - it's sacred stuff; an act of self-determination for a sovereign people; people died - and die today - for this. Even a lowly, belly-on-the-ground type like me, can get that much. And bro. Lay off the bacon bits, eh? Sheesh.

911°F. Let's Roll
Hoka Hey. It's a good day to die. It's a good day to fight and die. Black Elk Spoke. When your very society is about to be obliterated, that's what it is. When your small, nomadic settlement at the summer hunting grounds, is about to be extinguished down to every soul; or it's your temporary community on board a passenger aircraft that is about to be vapourised; that's what it is. Hoka Hey, Let's Roll.

Let's Roll is a highly honourable statement, least it looks dat way to a lowly cold-blooded. It's the highest gift, isn't it? Where is that line from, sometin' like there being no greater love, than one who lays down his life for his friend. We heard it round one of those war memorials during war memorials week (the one before the 10 day Reagan week, which was just before the 3 day Clinton week [heh, that funny Walter Shapiro, at a Clinton love-fest panel discussion we saw last night, he said "Clinton nostalgiathon"]). Sorry. I shouldn't relay funny stuff in this post. Hoka Hey. No jokes but the jing ones.

But a warrior might - for some selfish reason or other - want to weaken his own village, or subvert the survival instinct of his flying companions. Ego reason, ideology belief or material gain, or various combinations with other stuff. Never mind. It might even be a Zen warrior thing, like the only way to victory is through defeat, or sometin' like dat. Never mind. If it's gonna hasten your and your loved ones demise, then Hoka Hey it's time to Roll.

Our lovely and talented Michael MeMeMememeMe Boore did better than to just give helpful election tips to the Right Honourable Canadian Electorate in which all Sovereignty Resides. He warned the world, while promoting the release of his terribly famous mockumentary film, that anybody stupid enough to say anything not very nice about it or him will promptly face his barrage of libel lawyers.

Well, Michael it's like this: Hitchens has first dibbs. And for sure, he has earned it. But don't forget about MeMeMememe, OK? My pet Canadian might be roughly as pliable as yours, but he's rather a careful sort. MeMeMe on the other hand, I am a reckless, cold-blooded lizard creature with no known assets. Can I catch your interest perhaps with a little taste? You know what to expect I suppose, evidently you've had it out with Hitch in public before, wasn't it the Telluride Festival a couple of years ago? I think that Agam should try to see your new knockumentary flick, although he says that he's not interested. But after reading some reviews and details on the material, I think he'd be missing a unique and possibly stimulating game: to see how many simultaneous contradictions you can juggle at the same time. Like the great auteur doesn't just want to have things both ways, he prefers if he can have them three different ways. Folks just need to read that Hitchens column for a few tips and pointers to get in the groove. Seems like one of those exercises that humans often dig.

The people who go and see Michael's new gawkumentary with the intention of just eating up what he's dishin' out, I hope they will just first consider taking along small doses of skepticism and critical thinking, and try to do better in this department than the troops of entertainment movers 'n shakers evident at the opening screenings. Have the open discussion without intimidation by the great one's legal team. Even if the "counting doozies" game might be more fun, debunking the factuality is more important. But anyway, I don't think 'gam needs to be concerned about Boore's folkumentary actually changing anybody's mind. Should be interesting: there must be a dozen things that Christopher presents, that Moore cannot possibly have any reasonable answers for. Contradictions within contradictions which are just silly. The gloves are off and the gauntlet is thrown:
However, I think we can agree that the film is so flat-out phony that "fact-checking" is beside the point. And as for the scary lawyers--get a life, or maybe see me in court. But I offer this, to Moore and to his rapid response rabble. Any time, Michael my boy. Let's redo Telluride. Any show. Any place. Any platform. Let's see what you're made of.
Heh, my kind of human, Yo! The magazine seems ready to go for it too:
Of course, multimillionaire Moore can always punish his critics financially by filing silly lawsuits that require them to spend huge sums to be dismissed as frivolous. But Moore is not likely to want that sort of publicity and heartache--it's as much a drag to sue as it is to be sued. And a man with his sort of assets isn't likely to tempt a countersuit by the defendant when the case is tossed out. Moore isn't likely to find a more severe appraisal of his film and his work than this Slate piece by Christopher Hitchens. Read it, Mr. Moore. We invite your suit.
Heh, liberal online mag is begging Mikey to put his moneey where his mouth is. Cool-oh, daddio.

MORE ON SADDAM'S SHOCKING LINKS WITTH THE RED CZAR!
The other night my Canadian and I were watching a Washington Journal interview with Anne Applebaum, the author of one of three quite large books released around the same time about Stalin, Gulags, or other facets of the Soviet entity. Apparently just a a ton of historical stuff has been getting released and researched lately. Also stuff on the "Verona Files" or something like that, which was hidden until recently, regarding Soviet leadership of the supposedly independent and indigenous American Communist Party. Sen. Joe McCarthy might still be a real bad creep, but it turns out that he was righter than anyone ever imagined. Several people in Roosevelt's government actually are known now to have been Soviet agents.

Anyway, Applebaum wrote "Gulag: A History", and was very interesting. Host Brian Lamb showed a clip of an earlier Booknotes interview with another author, a Mr. Montefiore, on his "Stalin: Court of the Red Czar". Somewhat of a competitor to Ms. Applebaum. He was recounting how he'd gone to visit all Stalin's resort retreats around the Black Sea area. There were about 7 or so of these sort of palaces, each one quite unique and different. Montefiore asked the older local women who were doing the jobs of upkeep and cleaning etc. He wondered with anticipation whether Anne, or the other author of a different weighty tome about Khruschev, had been snooping around before himself. "No, no one has been here for ages," the women said. "But there was one Arab gentleman who also came some years ago, and he also wanted to visit all of Stalin's villas, take photos, etc. He was Saddam Hussein."

Anne said that many Iraqi people who've read her Gulag book, were quite surprised how much they recognised from their Ba'athists' rule. It was a lot like Stalinism, because (and I think Agam mentioned the party's inspiration from National Socialism), Saddam actually revered Stalin. He admired Stalin and saw himself in that light, a modern strongman for Arab national socialism (Ba'athism). A curious fact is that Stalin and Saddam were actually born very near to each other, separated by about 500 miles according to a Journal caller, and confirmed by the guest.

A LITTLE BIT RUDE, WHAT THE H-E-DOUBLE TOOTHPICKS DO I CARE?
Ok, so maybe Agam will get mad at me for this but hey. A gecko has to have a little fun, eh? I just like the haiku-like feel of it. Well what can I say - the ghost of Richard Brautigan helps him write his blog, my pet Canadian helps me write mine.

[ * protein wisdom * ] :
The Easy-Bake Oven poem

for Indymedia commenters

Your brains

are like Easy-

Bake™ ovens --

warming over

stale dough

with dim,

low-wattage

lightbulbs.
Don't say I didn't warn ya's! But really, it's labeled "for Indymedia commenters" so in point of fact it seems rather understated for that crew.

WAS IT ANOTHER BBC GOOF?
I almost wonder if I was daydreaming yesterday. No retraction or apparent correction of what seems to have been a radically false headline - nobody else said it and the Beeb itself just simply stopped saying it. But for a while yesterday, after the US had made a major proposal to the North Koreans at the six-nation talks aimed at their nuclear weapon disarmament and verification, etc. it seemed like a genuine crisis was brewing. It had been by all accounts, a major act of concilliation, a generous overture by the Americans. Commentators acknowledged that it will take time for the North Koreans to be able to study the proposal and respond. But then suddenly, the very next day, BBC was leading the news with the grim news that Kim Jong Il was now threatening to conduct a nuclear weapon test unless the US would accede to his demands. It seemed completely lunatic, like something Dr. Strangelove would be comfortable with. And then it just vanished, in a puff of smoke, in glorious "BeebVision".

RANDOM FRAGMENTS
Wasn't there another diabolical mastermind along those Strangelove lines called "Doctor No"? I'm not exactly up on all aspects of human being, ummm, cultural history. Was it a James Bond flick, maybe?

Well it's just sorta weird, the Dr. No thing is somewhere out there in the collective brain, and then this new leader of South Korea comes along, and he's "President No". Except that it isn't, it's actually "President Roh" but everybody says "President No." What's up with that, I wonder? (Yikes now I sound like Trink)

But President No has a spine. His young citizen's death was horrific, his wailing pleas to live grabbed one by the spleen and kidneys and then twist. Traumatic for his poor mum and dad, traumatic for the people of the country too. But Pres. No understands that doing what the animals demand of us, would be exactly the dumbest course of action. Consistent solidarity in the greater cause and increased determination and resolve, are the only sensible reply. The Koreans, the Italians, Czechs, Poles, Japanese, Hungarians, Thais and all the other 30-odd participants in the military contributions field are not willing to be ordered by animals to "cut and run" on cue. They will not be pulling a "Zap" as far as we can see. This current world war should really have all civilised nations helping out willingly, in every way they possibly can. Protestors in Ireland made banners that said, "Bertie Ahern: Bush's Lapdog". In earlier days, it was Tony Blair: "Bush's Poodle". Is it a coincidence that the old Maoist rhetoric involved "running dogs of imperialists and capitalists". Does Mr. Bush have any more pet openings, I wonder? What kind of canine companion does Stephen Harper get to be, assuming he makes it through?

Apparent at the thronging of the revolutionary vanguard thingy, were (as normal), many Palestinian flags, many Saddam version Iraq flags (the noble resistance, donchaknow), and many men in black hoods, balaclavas or wrapped cloths hiding their faces. Oh yeah, like I can't wait to have people like this running MY life! South Korean anti-war demonstrators declare that the young man who went willingly into Iraq, and chose to stick around the most violent place Fallujah, "has been sacrificed because of the war by American." For Oil, check. More hostages are taken by the vicious al Zarqawi gang, three Turks. Another video with the same basic staging philosophy, another threat of three more beheadings. These are basic Islamic animal sacrifices, with infidels taking the place of goats or buffalo. In all sorts of holy days and festivals, "chopping" goats or buffalos heads off in a sacrificial offering is standard procedure. It's as much a part of everyday life as for those who do Christmas and Thanksgiving being accustomed to the normalcy of stuffing turkeys. Of course, only the sickest ones will see the beheading of a Korean, an American or some Turks as sensible alternatives to doing goats, cows or water buffalos. But some of them, I suspect, see it just as easy and untroubling as that. Infidels aren't quite fully human anyway, to these fundies.

The gang of al Zarqawi proudly announced that "the flesh of collaborators is tastier than that of Americans". Today, I actually saw someone named Barbara Ehrenreich giving a university commencement speech to a roomful of impressionable and idealistic young minds. She went on about vast amounts of money and power, oil and conquest, labelling her own country as "an empire of pain". Who is extolling the tasty qualities of their enemies' flesh, and the comparative aspects of domestic vs. imported? Who videotaped his own officials chopping hands, heads, severing tongues and gouging out eyes, for his own satisfaction that the jobs were being done properly? And who is doing more in the effort to defeat the flesh eaters drunk with their blood addictions, and the old fascist forces clinging to a dismal perverted dream, their ideal of a Regime of absolute Fear? The gecko knows.

OOPS, ONE MORE: PEMILU!
Pemilihan Umum. The General Election. Abbreviation: Pemilu. Indonesians love their accronyms and abbreviations.

In case you were wondering, Megawati is through. There are five pairs of President/V.P. candidate teams. Mega with a moderate Muslim figure. Her current V.P. Hamza runs for Prez with another former minister. Amien Rais completes his ticket with a businessman who was a minister for Soeharto. Retired General Wiranto, wanted for crimes against the Timorese during the referendum, has another moderate Muslim religious figure on his ticket. And finally, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his second, Jusef Kalla. In the most reliable polling by phone in seven major cities from Sumatra to Sulawesi, SBY (which is how everyone prefers to call him), and his partner, are polling over 50%. I like his advertising spots too - nice and generous examples of a broad, tolerant and inclusive society. I believe this is SBY's actual vision for the country. We recognise the Indonesia we love best in his campaign spots. If he can take more than 50%, there is a distinct possibility that a second round would not be necessary. Which would all be a fine result for the country's first ever direct election of the executive branch.

So, best wishes to the voters in Canada tomorrow, and in Indonesia one week later. In between the two, the interim government in Iraq will become the actual, sovereign government. It will organise elections within about half a year. We had practically the same thing in this country after the May 1992 crisis.

An interim, unelected Prime Minister (a well respected national figure) held office for a little over four months, and his primary purpose was to organise and safeguard free, fair and effective national elections, promote national reconcilliation after the terrible events, and so on. People understood that it was a government of limited duration, limited responsibilities, limited powers and limited legitimacy. Yet many folks would name Mr. Anand's short tenure -- a one year interim stint to rebuild a rotten money politics system into something better. The army needed him following their coup d'etat. One year, they let him do what he wanted, and he provided one of the cleanest and best governments in Thai history.

That should have been it -- interim good governance, fair elections, new parliament, new government, bing bang bong. A hitch between steps 3 and 4. Some uniformed Ai Hia wanted to become the next Field Marshall instead of the process which was agreed to. So... crisis again, violence, social upheaval and division, more interim Mr. Anand, four months, new elections again, and everyone played by the rules this time.

Interim temporary caretaker goverments which originate other than from elections, can certainly be respected institutions. The Major-General was rejected for having not been elected, Mr. Anand was enthusiastically welcomed and assisted in his efforts, despite not being elected. Well, dat's my experience with some of this kind of thing anyway. Speaking as an absolute non-participant in the events, of course.

Happy election day to all, and to all a good morning, Yo!




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