discarded lies: saturday, december 16, 2017 10:45 pm zst
A Politburo of Two
daily archive: 07/18/2007
guest author: Lady of Shalott in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Why, Oh Why Are We Not Safe?
So, there's still a jihad against America. The Bush administration hasn't tidied up the world. Terrorism still exists. What a surprise! There's only been a jihad against the U.S. for thirty years, so why couldn't Bush fix things over the past six years?
After years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq and targeted killings in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere, the major threat to the United States has the same name and the same basic look as in 2001: Al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri, plotting attacks from mountain hide-outs near the Afghan-Pakistani border.

The headline on the intelligence estimate, said Daniel L. Byman, a former intelligence officer and the director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University, might just as well have been the same as on the now famous presidential brief of Aug. 6, 2001: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”
Six Years After 9/11, the Same Terror Threat. Hopefully, we won't have to worry much longer. The next president will be a Democrat and I am positive he or she will take care of the terrorism problem once and for all.
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guest author: Madison Grant in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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Two Weeks in Colombia - Part 1
It was not the most auspicious way to start a vacation. The minivan was loaded with family and luggage and I had just been brazenly cut off at the tolls. Just as my road rage was cresting just below murderous my cell phone rang. It was a recorded message saying the flight had been cancelled. Two days and another half a grand later we made it to Miami but two of the suitcases had not. We wouldn't see them for another three days.

As a result of this and some other unexpected events, the Bogota leg of the trip was cancelled and I was unable to take advantage of Jourdan's travel tips for the capital. But there was little time to dwell on that. We still had a busy itinerary. After landing in Barranquilla we stayed overnight at a relative's place. It was similar to the other places I'd been to on the Caribbean coast in terms of architecture, flora and fauna. Other than being surrounded on the outskirts by huge industrial complexes the sections I saw were unremarkable.

We drove out of Baranquilla the next day. Once in the countryside my travel-frayed nerves were initially soothed. But gradually it became clear that we were to be subject to an accelerated series of tests and ordeals like the ascending levels of initiation into a secret society. Yet the goal wasn't membership in a mysterious fraternity or even submersion into the heart of the culture itself. Instead it seemed to be related to an expected revelation of a new direction in my life and the future of our family. But first elements of the past would be disinterred and exposed to the strong midday sun and a narrative of self-knowledge would be unfurled in verse and chapter.

We got a glimpse of the Cienaga or great swamp that appears in Garcia-Marquez's fiction and memoirs. During the trip one of my disciplines was to try to reread the first volume of his memoirs in Spanish [with each paragraph read yet again in the English translation so nothing would be missed]. Of all the locations he brought to life this short glimpse of Baranquilla would be the only one I would see on the first half of the trip as we headed in a different direction from his peregrinations. But his presence lingered like a Virgil in my slow spiral ascent of this costeño purgatory. We crossed the Dantean bridge over the Canal de Dique which had flooded along with the Magdalena River and much of the land to our left was innundated. It was soon after we stopped for gas, an snack and bio-breaks That the driver began to drive on the wrong side of the road. In my initial panic I assumed that he was falling asleep, despite the plastic dixie cup of hot syrupy tinto he bought from a roadside vendor at the last toll. Even after I realized he was avoiding bad patches of pavement that were hardwired into his memory it was impossible to relax the rest of the trip. His passing technique was an new experience of intimate proximity with oncoming tractor trailers.

This did however concentrate my mind wonderfully, and it was around that time I became aware of two elements of realismo mágico that would recurr during the first leg of the trip. The first was my strange inability to set my watch to the correct time. When we arrived in Baranquilla the clock in the taxi reminded me to set my self winding watch [which usually runs fast] ahead to the time zone we had entered. However the next day I was back to an hour behind, so I set it again. A few hours later it was pointed out that I was still an hour behind. This went on for days until I gave up on time altogether.

I also noticed the strange phenomenon of plumbline straight rows of trees that parcelled out the green meadows of the valleys and scaled the sharp ridges of the hills surrounding them. It seemed to be an incredible effort to plant so many trees with such geometric precision and the thought of it being natural or accidental was Darwinian in it's absurdity. The puzzle was soon solved. The fences of the pastures were roughhewn unpainted sticks of 3 or 4 inches in diameter. with 3 levels of barbed wire wound around them. Nearly all of the sticks would eventually sprout branch and leaf and root itself in a testament to the literal fertility of the native soil as well as the wisdom of the local idiom that uses the same word for "stick" and "tree". Beyond that, it tied the physical to the metaphysical throught the vehicle of the Colombian folk imagination that translated itself freely through my terror-heighten senses, that had until those moments been so dulled by the comfort and tedium of my current life.

Little villages were strung along the road like antiquated Christmas lights. San Juan, San Jacinto , El Carmen, Obejas and and Corozal.

Our driver was now passing even faster and more aggressively. He had a special animus for the anemic motorcycles that didn't immediately swerve to the shoulder when he passed them. At one point he came so close to a young couple on a moto that I was sure he was going to send them flying off the steep embankment. I was oddly comforted when I saw him cross himself as he passed a certain shrine of the Virgin by the road side Just as I was experiencing the serenity that comes with the acceptance of imminent death, we passed the airport in Corozal and someone announced that we had more or less arrived in Sincelejo.
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