Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
I went out drinking with some Conservatives the other night. All the men were circumspect in their support for the War in Iraq. The women were more gung-ho in their desire to see American troops visit exotic locales and shoot stuff.
It’s easier to advocate shooting when it’s not your ass being shot at.
Who would have thought that Gone With the Wind was an anti-war novel?
“All wars are sacred,” he [Rhett Butler] said. “To those who have to fight them. If the people who started wars didn’t make them sacred, who would be foolish enough to,fight? But, no matter what rallying cries the orators give to the idiots who fight, no matter what noble purposes they assign to wars, there is never but one reason for a war. And that is money. All wars are in reality money squabbles, But so few people ever realize it. Their ears are too full of bugles and drums and fine words from stay-at-home orators. Sometimes the rallying cry is ‘Save the Tomb of Christ from the Heathen!’ Sometimes it’s ‘Down with Popery!’and sometimes ‘Liberty!’ and sometimes ‘Cotto, Slavery and States’ Right!’ ”
-Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind, ChapterXII
But it is Scarlett O’Hara who hits the nail on the head with her naive reaction against jingoism:
When first she looked at the crowd, Scarlett’s heart had thump- thumped with the unaccustomed excitement of being at a party, but as she half-comprehendingly saw the high-hearted look on the faces about her, her joy began to evaporate. Every woman present was blazing with an emotion she did not feel. It bewildered and depressed her. Somehow, the ball did not seem so pretty nor the girls so dashing, and the white heat of devotion to the Cause that was still shining on every face seemed–why, it just seemed silly!
In a sudden flash of self-knowledge that made her mouth pop open with astonishment, she realized that she did not share with these women their fierce pride, their desire to sacrifice themselves and everything they had for the Cause. Before horror made her think: “No–no! I mustn’t think such things! They’re wrong–sinful,” she knew the Cause meant nothing at all to her and that she was bored with hearing other people talk about it with that fanatic look in their eyes. The Cause didn’t seem sacred to her. The war didn’t seem to be a holy affair, but a nuisance that killed men senselessly and cost money and made luxuries hard to get. She saw that she was tired of the endless knitting and the endless bandage rolling and lint picking that roughened the cuticle of her nails. And oh, she was so tired of the hospital! Tired and bored and nauseated with the sickening gangrene smells and the endless moaning, frightened by the look that coming death gave to sunken faces.
She looked furtively around her, as the treacherous, blasphemous thoughts rushed through her mind, fearful that someone might find them written clearly upon her face. Oh, why couldn’t she feel like those other women! They were whole hearted and sincere in their devotion to the Cause. They really meant everything they said and did. And if anyone should ever suspect that she– No, no one must ever know! She must go on making a pretense of enthusiasm and pride in the Cause which she could not feel, acting out her part of the widow of a Confederate officer who bears her grief bravely, whose heart is in the grave, who feels that her husband’s death meant nothing if it aided the Cause to triumph.
Oh, why was she different, apart from these loving women? She could never love anything or anyone so selflessly as they did. What a lonely feeling it was–and she had never been lonely either in body or spirit before. At first she tried to stifle the thoughts, but the hard self-honesty that lay at the base of her nature would not permit it. And so, while the bazaar went on, while she and Melanie waited on the customers who came to their booth, her mind was busily working, trying to justify herself to herself–a task which she seldom found difficult.
The other women were simply silly and hysterical with their talk of patriotism and the Cause, and the men were almost as bad with their talk of vital issues and States’ Rights. She, Scarlett O’Hara Hamilton, alone had good hard-headed Irish sense. She wasn’t going to make a fool out of herself about the Cause, but neither was she going to make a fool out of herself by admitting her true feelings. She was hard-headed enough to be practical about the situation, and no one would ever know how she felt. How surprised the bazaar would be if they knew what she really was thinking! How shocked if she suddenly climbed on the bandstand and declared that she thought the war ought to stop, so everybody could go home and tend to their cotton and there could be parties and beaux again and plenty of pale green dresses.
op. cit., Chapter IX
Karol Sheinin is a very nice young woman, but after getting into a futile discussion on her blog, I must conclude that her readers, at least the ones who post comments, are mostly imbeciles.
I’m jealous, however, that she gets a much bigger audience than I do.
Here’s a pretty fun video lampooning the “surge” strategy in Iraq.
With even the conservative National Review admitting that departing Attorney General Gonzales is an incompetent way out of his depth, there can be little doubt that his departure is well overdue. But every cloud has a silver lining, as the liberal Talking Points Memo has helpfully pointed out. They have compiled a video “top ten” of Gonzales miscues. Saturday Night Live hasn’t been this funny in years.
Here are my executive cabinet choices for a pretend Michel Evanchik presidency. Making these choices was a good thought experiment to define my own political preferences in some specific and tangible ways. It’s a fun intellectual exercise that my readers should try as well.
These are largely symbolic choices, and a final choice might be changed in consideration of administrative ability (and the candidate’s willingness to serve). As we have painfully seen in the forty-third President’s administration, enthusiasm is no substitute for competency:
- Agriculture: Willie Nelson, country singer and friend of the small farmer
- Interior: Robbie Cox, President of the Sierra Club
- Commerce: Cory Doctorow, free software advocate and corporate copyright skeptic. I’d let him clean up the Patent Office.
- Justice: Nadine Strossen, President of the ACLU
- Defense: Wesley Clark, the last successful American general
- Labor: Andy Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union (more…)
There is a great concern that the military is being stretched thin in Iraq. The war against the insurgency is lasting much longer and the fighting is much harder than the war’s planners ever envisaged. Troops are serving longer tours in country and getting less time recuperating out of country. National Guard and Reserve troops are playing a much greater role than planned, putting a particular strain on these formerly “weekend warriors”. Yet a significant and loud minority in this country persist in supporting a large American military presence in the war. The problem is that the troop levels necessary to carry on the large-scale engagement insisted upon by the war-hawks are not sustainable in the long run, not without a draft or a great increase in voluntary enlistment.
I do not support the war. I have a very simple test for determining my support – would I fight in it myself? I will not call on other men to fight when I will not. My reasons are simple. Firstly, I have a healthy fear of death. Secondly, to overcome this scruple over staying alive with all my body parts intact, the cause must be sufficiently important for me to risk my life for it. Iraq is simply not important enough. When President Bush recently compared actual failure in Vietnam to possible failure in Iraq, I shrugged my shoulders. While the U.S. might have suffered emotionally from losing the Vietnam War, from a practical point of view, no real U.S. interests were harmed.
So I will not support a war that I will not fight in. But as the fight is going on, I encourage all those who would fight, to volunteer. If you support the war, and are between 18 and 42 years of age, and are not enlisted in the military, then please shut up. Don’t ask others to fight your battles.
I am writing to tell you about an abuse of power in Asheville, NC by a police sergeant.
I occasionally stand on an interstate overpass near my place of work in the mornings and hold a sign that says ‘IMPEACH BUSH / CHENEY’.
On Wednesday August 15, I was standing alone with my sign for about 10 minutes, when I was approached by Police Officer Russell Crisp. He asked me how long I was planning to stay there and I told him just a few more minutes because I had to go to work at 8:00. He asked for my ID and I obliged. I asked him if I was doing something wrong, and he said that his Sergeant was on the way and he was going to wait for him. SO, I went back to my sign holding over the interstate. <more…>
After reading this account of a peaceful and cooperative protester being arrested in North Carolina, I am shocked and dismayed. For peacefully and unobtrusively displaying an “Impeach Bush/Cheney” sign on an Asheville sidewalk, this man was cited, handcuffed and arrested. This outrageous behaviour by the police is a dangerous and chilling impediment to free political speech. It is my sincere hope, that when this matter is resolved, if the above account is true, that all the police officers involved, and any other officials that gave then their marching orders, are fired and put on trial for their unconscionable actions.
The very essence of democracy is the ability to speak your mind and express your views without fear of reprisal. To slander this right is an egregiously infamous act repugnant to all believers in a free and democratic republic. This is not a politically partisan issue, except to the most corrupt and bloody-minded miscreants. While one may strongly disagree with the views stated by this protester, one must vociferously support his right to speak if one is to consider oneself a good citizen. Only by keeping officials accountable, like these officers, for such outrageous actions, can we hope to maintain a free and just civil society.
And, uh, oh yeah, impeach Bush/Cheney.
Here’s another item for the “American Decline” file. Apparently, there are well-connected people out there who would support a fascist America.
An article encouraging President Bush to declare himself President-For-Life was posted on the conservative web site, “Family Security Matters“. A cached version of the article is still available online, though the original has since been taken down. The website’s principal advisor, Barbara Comstock, was a former Justice Department spokeswoman under John Ashcroft, and familysecuritymatters.org is a front for an influential conservative think tank, or so it is said on the blogosphere.
The article was quickly taken down and may just be a harmless aberration, but one has to wonder how many conservative fifth-columnist are really out there, ready to turn the United States of America into a banana-republic style military junta. The list of advisors and directors for Family Security Matters has some recognizable public names on it, and they really should reconsider the company they keep. Even worse, maybe they have considered the company, and decided that they liked it.
I wonder if I’m putting myself on a secret enemies list just by writing about this. What’s most frightening is that it is not an idle thought. Something is going very wrong with this country. There is an air of fear and paranoia that has no proportion with the pipsqueak terrorists that we are supposedly being protected from.
I’m just hoping that we make it to free elections in 2008, that we get some good and honest national leadership, and that enough of the country is courageous enough to demand a return to a free and civil society. I like to think everything will be okay. I believe that the bad guys are just incompetent and paranoid, not brave or evil enough to ruin this country. But I’m not one-hundred percent sure, and it bothers me to lack confidence in the integrity of our government. I’ve never been struck with such angst over our country’s future.