Fiascoes Great and Small

A historical CIA failure of epic proportions and Kanye West crashing the stage one more time.

I’m reading a book right now called Bay of Pigs, the Untold Story, by Peter Wyden. This is an episode of American history I was almost totally unaware of until I read a fictional account of it in a James Ellroy book called American Tabloid. It took place in April of 1961. The CIA-orchestrated operation was a planned invasion of Cuba that was designed to incite open rebellion amongst the local population and result in the overthrow of Fidel Castro’s government. It turned out to be a complete fiasco, a total and utter failure. The CIA under-estimated Castro’s support in his homeland, and the invading force of American trained Cuban exiles was slaughtered almost as soon as they hit the beach at one of Castro’s favorite fishing spots.

This failure was staggering and a major blemish on America’s reputation as a nation that was able to strategize intelligently and act decisively. Wyden claims that were it not for this fresh chink in America’s armor, Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev “almost certainly would not have dared precipitate the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962…” Sitting American President John F. Kennedy purportedly asked himself after the disastrous episode: “How could I have been so stupid?”

But to me it isn’t particularly difficult to see how that could happen. The CIA operatives who planned the mission were some of the very brightest in the department. One in particular, the deputy director for plans, was a man named Richard Mervin Bissell, Jr. He was in charge of the agency’s covert operations and reportedly possessed a staggering and intimidating intellect. However, as you moved down the chain of command, the talent became questionable.

I can’t imagine being the President. So many decisions have to be made, and the information the President has to make them is necessarily filtered through trusted advisors. The President’s decisions, ultimately, can only be as good as the intelligence being afforded. Throughout our history we see decisions made that turn out to be flawed because the information being presented as factual was flawed.

Kanye Plus Beyonce…

Anyway, on to more important things. I had to laugh when I read that Kanye West had once again spontaneously taken to the stage, this time to protest Beyonce not being given the “Best Album” award at the recent Grammys show. That award went to the diminutive in stature Beck, who looked a little scared when Kanye came flying onto the stage, commandeered the microphone, and then offered a sly smile and a wave before returning to his seat. This makes two such impromptu award-show appearances for Kanye, the first time being when he took the microphone from elfish Taylor Swift during the 2009 MTV Music Award show to let the audience know his feelings on her award for best video. I’m not sure if anyone else has mentioned this, but both times he has claimed that Beyonce should have been the winner. I’m starting to believe Kanye has a big old schoolboy crush on the “Put a Ring on It” singer and dancer extraordinaire.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.