Saturday, August 23, 2003

This fall's pick for One Book, One Chicago is The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. There is a rumor floating around that this was a deliberate choice on the part of the Chicago Public Library as a way to get the city to start a conversation about war and opposition. Once again I've got to hand it to our libraries for being more gutsy than say our elected officials.

If you haven't read the book yet, now would be a good time. Don't buy it though. Check it out from the library.

From the title story:

They had no sense of strategy or mission. They searched the villages without knowing what to look for, not caring, kicking over jars of rice, frisking children and old men, blowing tunnels, sometimes setting fires and sometimes not, then forming up and moving on to the next village, then other villages, where it would always be the same. They carried their own lives. The pressures were enormous. In the heat of early afternoon, they would remove their helmets and flak jackets, walking bare, which was dangerous, but which helped ease the strain. They would often discard things along the route of the march. Purely for comfort, they would throw away rations, blow their Claymores and grenades, no matter, because by nightfall the resupply choppers would arrive with more of the same, then a day or two later still more, fresh sweaters—the resources were stunning—sparklers for the Fourth of July, colored eggs for Easter—it was the great American war chest—the fruits of science, the smokestacks, the canneries, the arsenals at Hartford, the Minnesota forests, the machine shops, the vast fields of corn and wheat—they carried like freight trains; they carried it on their backs and shoulders—and for all the ambiguities of Vietnam, all the mysteries and unknowns, there was at least the single abiding certainty that they would never be at a loss for things to carry.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Okay, this is sacrilege
I think every self-respecting Catholic should take this into their local parish priest and demand some gnashing and grinding of teeth at the highest levels of the church. This isn't just portraying Bush as Jesus-- this is portraying him as The Sacred Heart. And I would have to consult with my uberCatholic brothers to be sure, but I think it's a thousand times worse. This really hit a nerve with me, and I'm not even practicing, my youngest isn't even baptized (unless you count his uncle Arnold baptizing him in the tub when he was a toddler to make sure he wouldn't be lost in purgatory for eternity). This is enough to send me back to Sunday mass. This makes me want to vomit (penicillin, benydrl and chocolate, notwithstanding). I can't wait for the smiting to begin.
I'm not sure how widespread this is, but even isolated incidents should tell us something.

A Marine who had told authorities he had been shot while trying to help a stranded motorist has now admitted that he shot himself to avoid being shipped overseas.

The Anoka County sheriff's department said Wednesday that Adam Welter, 20, acknowledged the gunshot wound was self-inflicted. He was treated and released from a hospital Monday.

Welter was reportedly scheduled to ship out for Hawaii that day. He called an investigator Tuesday to take responsibility, said Capt. Robert Aldrich, a sheriff's department spokesman.

"He was extremely remorseful for this and the commotion he caused," Aldrich said. "I don't think he anticipated it would become as large a story as it did."

This story doesn't make a direct connection to Iraq or Afghanistan, and it doesn't have to. People will probably make that leap on their own. But to me that's not the main point. Three things stand out to me:

--The age of the man, 20.

--The fact that he wasn't being shipped to the Middle East but to Hawaii.

--The calculated risk of trying to injure yourself without killing yourself.

My biggest complaint about the military is that for so many young men and women it's the only place to go if you don't have money or opportunity but are looking for a way out. And when you're 18 it's always easier to see the benefits before the consequences. I keep thinking of people who collapsed under the pressure of college that first or second year because they weren't mentally prepared to simply make their own decisions. How do you mentally prepare for service and possible combat?

I remember toying with idea of joining Peace Corps and rejecting it because it was too daunting to face two years away from friends and family in extreme conditions. I don't consider myself any weaker for it. It's a lot to ask of a person.

We have a right to expect a lot of the Marines and other members of the armed forces. But how much do we understand what they face, even during times of peace? How ready were we to be on our own at 20?

UPDATE: I feel like I make this point alot, and this post was written hastily and not very well. But it bothers me, especially having family members nearly the same age as Walter serving in various parts of the military. And when the pro-war crowd gets all dewy eyed over our men and women overseas, I want to kick'em in the teeth for being such short-sighted hypocrites.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Dear PetitionOnline,

Re: your Boycott KB Toys For Misleading the Public About Bush's Military Record

I think you're missing the great potential for payback K•B Toys is providing. This doll has VOODOO written all over it. I can already imagine sticking pins in it, burning it in effigy, or giving it to the puppy as a chew toy. Just imagine hundreds of Bush dolls wearing orange jumpsuits, hanging from tiny nooses, or getting fried in mini-electric chairs, or just behind little prison bars. Maybe you could request that K•B Toys give a percentage of their profits from this particular doll to a veterans organization? I think there's a way to turn this around and still get the visceral satisfaction that would come from tearing it tiny inauthentic limb from tiny inauthentic limb.
...if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord, George Bush to take

I'm with Sally Baron, the recently deceased woman whose obituary included:
'Memorials in her honor can be made to any organization working for the removal of President Bush.'
So please, please, please donate, sign petitions, (thanks to Ceds for that link) and do it in Sally's name.
Apparently assigning responsibility for the bombing of UN headquarters boils down to a massive game of Not It between Bremer and the Iraqi Governing Council.

The confrontation clearly reflected a growing American conviction that a greater and more visible Iraqi involvement in government might allay some hostility to the American-led occupation. Iraqi officials said the Council had responded by saying it lacked authority to convince Iraqis it was effective or relevant.

Iraqi Council members have repeatedly said they should be granted more authority over the police force."You can't blame for us anything," said Adnan Pachachi, a council member, in a recent interview. "We don't have any responsibility."

So what is the most troubling implication here? Not the loss of life, the worsening situation, the growing hostility. No, it's the fact that the US might be blamed instead of the Iraqis.

Concern was clearly widespread today among Western officials that Iraq could find itself in a political void. The memo prepared for Mr. Bremer suggests that American officials are concerned that in the aftermath of Tuesday's truck bombing, Iraq's leaders might appear disconnected from the tragedy.

These no-shit-Sherlock moments have elements of humor. Forgive me if I don't laugh.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Turns out some of the dumbest people on the planet are also evil. The evil-dumb combination appears to be something of an epidemic these days.

Poor man links to the site directly. Readers with a soul may want to take a pass on this one.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

After quickly reviewing some of the major stories that I missed I’ve decided that I may need a bit more time to get reacclimated to the twilight zone that is American politics and media. Between Arnold and Gary Coleman, and Fox News and Al Franken I need another vacation. And it’s only Tuesday.

At least our sense of humor over hear on the left is still intact. Nice to see that Paul Newman is batting for our team once more.

And Joe’s book is out. I still have the read The Clinton Wars but Big Lies might come first anyway. Sorry Sid.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Well folks, I'm back. I was supposed to be back earlier but ended up getting diverted from JFK to Logan Airport which set me back a day. Good old blackout. During my flight and my long wait in the security line I had a few thoughts regarding readiness and terrorism; thoughts that Herbert has articulated quite nicely.

The report I was reading when the power failed was issued less than two months ago and was titled, "Emergency Responders: Drastically Underfunded, Dangerously Unprepared."

The report acknowledged that some progress against terrorism has been made through the Department of Homeland Security and other federal, state and local institutions. But it said, "The United States has not reached a sufficient national level of emergency preparedness and remains dangerously unprepared to handle a catastrophic attack on American soil, particularly one involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear agents, or coordinated high-impact conventional means."

It's good to be home.

Today will be light blogging as I am playing catch up at my day job. Many thanks to Ceds, Red Rabbit, and the Professor. Hopefully they will stick around to fill in the gaps.