Saturday, April 05, 2003

I was out most of the day so I missed an interesting debate over at Eschaton regarding this post and Aaron McGruder's remarks on Real Time, comparing Bush with Saddam. Now is Bush as evil as Saddam? Frankly, I don't care. Bush is bad enough that I want him out. Better yet, I want him impeached. But terms like "good" and "evil" have been thrown around so cavalierly that I think it's a good use of our time to actually define what we mean by "evil" for this comparison. Now, is Bush more evil than Saddam? Well, I think that Bush is both capable and willing to do more and worse than Saddam. As bad as Saddam is, the range of his atrocity is pretty small. He simply doesn't have the resources for carnage that Bush has. Now, given that Bush was "chosen by God" to lead us at this crucial hour I think that we should be very careful in analyzing his motives. Bush is so driving by his own twisted view of Christianity that I believe he could reduce Iraq to a radioactive memory and justify it in the name of peace.

Calling people "evil" in real life doesn't work. We believe that all evil people are Shakespearian like Richard the Third or Iago and completely forthcoming in the taste for villainy. But the Osamas and Saddams of this world don't believe what their doing is evil. In fact they subscribe to the idea that they serve some sort of divine purpose and we are the evil ones. That's what's so troubling about this whole debate. We've been sucked into using the same fundamentalist rhetoric to describe them as they use to describe us and given the extremists their holy war.
Josh has more on Kerry and the RNC attack dogs.

Friday, April 04, 2003

This is exactly what's wrong with the Democrats. They're afraid to close ranks and defend their own.

To his credit, Kerry is fighting back. "I don't need any lessons in patriotism or in caring for America from the likes of Tom DeLay," the decorated Vietnam veteran told a political dinner Thursday night. "If they want to pick a fight, they've picked a fight with the wrong guy." He reminded the audience of the smearing of Cleland. "I watched what they did to Max Cleland last year," Kerry said. "Shame on them for doing it then and shame on them for trying to do it now."

Shame on them is right. And shame on Democrats and the antiwar left if they leave Kerry standing out there by himself.

People who read me will probably recall that I withdrew my own personal support from the Kerry campaign some weeks ago because his views don't jive with my own anti-war stance. So perhaps I'm being a tad disingenous in criticizing Democrats for not defending Kerry's statement. But I'm not going to hang him out to dry when he finally bites back. This is what I originally liked about Kerry. So I'm not going to put up my "Kerry in 2004" stickers back up just yet but good for you Senator for not backing down.
I'm remembering, rather belatedly, that 35 years ago today Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. In my darker moments, I feel that so many things that could have been achieved evaporated in that moment. The effect of the assassinations of the 60's has not quite left us, and in a way I believe that liberals and progressives will always be in mourning for what might have been.

As the antiwar movement gains momentum and draws more fire, I am once again full of bewilderment on the relentless attack on peace. The assassination of a man of peace is possibly the most horrible of ironies, yet I can't help but understand it. In a way war is completely natural to the human existence. When you think of the history of the world, there has never been a universal time of peace. War is constant. Peace is harder to achieve.

I'm not sure how consistent of a pacifist I am. I've often thought we've been too isolationist in the past. But regardless of what side of the argument I fall on, I always have had the utmost respect for the peace movement because pacifists act as our collective consciences. They remind us that to be put in the position of going to war is to have failed at preserving the peace.

Hey y'all. Rummy's a poet.

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

-Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing
Last month, Kelly told ABC News that he did not consider his Iraq assignment overly dangerous. ``There is some element of danger,'' he said, ``but you're surrounded by an Army, literally, who is going to try very hard to keep you out of danger.'

I don't mean to use Kelly's death to make a point about this war, but it really staggers the imagination to hear that even those who are right there in the midst of everything haven't fully grasped the danger.
My God.
James has given me a permalink. I feel so loved!

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Pretty ballsy piece by Eric in The Nation today. I say ballsy merely in anticipation of the megabytes worth of hate-mail he's bound to receive. Eric is definitely more qualified then me to write on the subject of the American-Jewish relationship with Israel, being both more familiar with the issue and Jewish. But I'm not sure how productive it is to address current and past U.S. policy towards Israel simply by pointing out which powerful Jews support or condemn war. To be sure, he's merely pointing out how much more emotional and complicated the issue is, but it keeps us trapped in the rhetoric of religious loyalty and misguided patriotism, and talking along those lines leads us nowhere. If there's going to be any hope of secularizing the mid-east we first need to secularize the debate.

Beware of huge flashing advertisement for gas mask at the MSNBC Web site.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

I should have given up drinking coffee for Lent. Caffeine isn't the best thing for you when you're already tense and anxious. Neither is reading this:

Bush believes he was called by God to lead the nation at this time, says Commerce Secretary Don Evans, a close friend who talks with Bush every day. His history degree from Yale makes him mindful of the importance of the moment. He knows he's making "history-changing decisions," Evans says. But Bush doesn't keep a diary or other personal record of the events that will form his legacy. Aides take notes, but there's no stenographer in most meetings, nor are they videotaped or recorded.

Oh, where to begin? There's just so much evidence of what this man is lacking . The sheer arrogance of believing that one is chosen by God, the lack of reflection over his actions, the fact that he has other people writing down his thoughts. Let's forget about the fact that he is our president (yes please let's forget all about that) and that he's waging a war (oh if only). Look at this man. If anybody ever told me they were chosen by God to do anything, I'd keep my head down and keep on walking, not push for nomination. That's the worst thing about this. It's not enough that they've captured Washington but they've done it with this guy.

It gets worse.

Bush copes with anxiety as he always has. He prays and exercises. Evans says his friend has a placid acceptance of challenges that comes from his Christian faith.

This doesn't quite jive with the picture of anxiety at the beginning of the story.

"He knows that we're all here to serve a calling greater than self," Evans says. "That's what he's committed his life to do. He understands that he is the one person in the country, in this case really the one person in the world, who has a responsibility to protect and defend freedom."]


Bush has imposed an almost military discipline on himself. Even though he's as lean as he was in college, he decided just before the war that he was unhappy with his running times, which were slowing from his preferred pace of 7.5 minutes or less per mile.

So Bush gave up his one indulgence: sweets. It worked; he's losing weight and improving his time.

Aha! There's some of that personal sacrifice.

When Bush doesn't find time to run three or four miles a day, he still works out. He uses an elliptical trainer, lifts weights and stretches. Exercising regularly, he says, gives him time to think, improves his energy and helps him sleep.

He also carves out time for family and friends. He still goes to bed by 10 p.m. and has asked his wife, Laura, to stay close to home. His daughter Barbara and his college friend Roland Betts, a New York business executive, also were with him at Camp David the first weekend of the war. He talks several times a week with his father and mother. He still tells a joke or teases an aide occasionally.

The president's friends and family fret about him, but advisers say the pressure doesn't seem to be getting to him. "He's not one of those people

Very little of the selfless here. In fact the one thing Bush seems to be quite good at is putting himself first. The fussing over him is such bullshit. They sound like overanxious parents who've just admitted to Georgie that there's no such thing as the Tooth Fairy.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Whoa. You think this is just the beginning?

The first American conscientious objector from the Iraq war will give himself up at a marine base in California this morning. He said he believed the war was "immoral because of the deception involved by our leaders".
Stephen Eagle Funk, 20, a marine reserve who was due to be sent for combat duty, is currently on "unauthorised absence" from his unit. He faces a possible court martial and time in military prison for his action.

"I know I have to be punished for going UA," Mr Funk told the Guardian in an interview before surrendering to authorities, "but I would rather take my punishment now than live with what I would have to do [in Iraq] for the rest of my life. I would be going in knowing that it was wrong and that would be hypocritical."

I think the Daily Show has finally relented and embraced an antiwar stance. Jon Stewart likes to see himself as a moderate, mostly because I don't think he likes being lumped in with hippes and flakes. But watching the news these days has a way of pushing personal politics to the left, particularly if you are as skeptical and pragmatic as Jon is.

Last night's show was particularly good. He made a point of referring to how Rumsfield's cranky old man approach to foreign policy is both hilarious and terrifying ("Hey Syria! You want a piece of me?")

Chris Rock was on and did, unfortunately, make a point not to criticize Bush. But he and Jon did have an interesting exchange on the ludicrous way the press tries to maneuver anti-war activists into somehow being against the troops. (Chris Rock: "'So you're against the troops." "No I didn't say that, bitch."')

"Only a crazy person would be for a war."

Monday, March 31, 2003

Hertzberg has a very short yet thoughtful piece on the meaning of collatoral damage.

Collateral damage is one of those antiseptic-sounding euphemisms that are sometimes more chilling than plain language, so hard do they labor to conceal their human meaning. It would be indecent to belittle the agony that has already been inflicted; you have only to imagine yourself, for example, as the parent or child of one of the dozens of people who were blown apart or maimed last Wednesday, and again last Friday, when stray bombs plowed into Baghdad marketplaces. But this kind of “damage” is indeed “collateral,” not only in that there is a serious effort to avoid it but also in that the intended purpose of the bombing of Baghdad, which so far has apparently been aimed only at military and government installations, has been to break not the will of the Iraqi people but the connections between them and their tyrannical rulers. Indiscriminate bombing would actually strengthen those connections, as we know from the experience of the Second World War and Vietnam. What we do not yet know is whether a different intention, backed by technologies of precision, will produce a different political result. And we do not yet know whether even the intention can survive the transition—which suddenly seems more likely than not—from a quick war of shock and awe to a grinding, protracted struggle, hand to hand and house to house.

Hersch also has much-anticipated article on Rumsfield in this issue of the New Yorker, but I haven't had the patience to read it. I'm getting to that bury-my-head-in-the-sand media saturation point. I'm also scared of what's happening and what may happen.
Had to delete pic. Oh well

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Well whatever you thought about Michael Moore's speech at the Oscars it's done wonders for his book sales. Wanna feel even better? Scroll down. Eric's book has poked it's bespectacled head up on the list.