Monday, March 31, 2003

This just in from "A Word a Day":
Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.
-Henry David horeau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)

Sunday, March 30, 2003

“...with a monarch's voice cry 'Havoc!'
And let slip the dogs of war”
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene I

There can be no doubt that the dogs of war have been released. The Iraqis have shown the poor taste to actually fight rather than roll over & play dead, or greet us as the great liberators we would like to be. To me, the choice seems clear:

In the words of "Stonewall" Jackson, "Kill them all." [Citation corrected by Dr. Ohmed] The recent suicide bombings confirm that the Iraqis are intent on fighting an urban guerilla war. Even prior to this, Iraqi soldiers have been dressing as civilians and faking surrender in order to ambush allied troops. A "civilized war" which seeks to avoid civilian casualties might be a noble idea, but it is not a practical one. Let's face it, "a civilized war" is a contradiction in terms right up there with "military intelligence."

Look, I'm opposed to the war. I walked in opposition to this pre-emptive strike, and I don't believe it has a shred of legitimacy. I really am not a hawk. If there were a way to step back from the brink, I wish all concerned would do so. But once the dogs have war have been released, the thing takes on a life of its own.

Our leaders have married Ares; now they must accept the bloody terms of the marriage contract. The great god of war will not be stoped until his taste for blood has been thoroughly sated, and then some. If the US and Britain hope to win this war, they'd better pull out that "shock & awe" plan pretty soon. They better be ready to bomb Bagdad into the stone age (the US has considerable experience in this area). They'd better be ready to make Sherman's "scorched earth policy" look like a Sunday picnic. We have little to lose. If we get stalled in the back alleys of Iraq's few remaining major cities, we won't look any better than we would as savage winners.

BTW, who did Donald Rumsfeld sleep with? I mean, it's bad enough this thing looks like it was dreamed up by a bunch of drunken frat boys playing Risk, but this guy has a pecular talent for saying stupid stuff. This week's New Yorker has an article quoting "unnamed Pentagon sources" which states that Rumsfeld wanted to send less troups into Iraq. This is the same military genius who said we didn't need the British to win in Iraq. This also the same tactical wiz kid who suggested we pull our troups out of South Korea just as the North is rattling its nuclear arsenal.

My cousin Gerry wrote a response to this in which he reflected that my impressions of Al Gore seemed to be primarily influenced by the media, which has been bought out by the radical Republican party. Well, there may be some truth to that claim. My primary source of national news is NPR which has become only nominally better than tv network news. NPR now, thanks to the "Republican Revolution" is beholden to ADM "food for the world", et al, well-known bastions of progressive thought.

Must be noted that my essay was in response to an article Cousin Kathi sent titled "How To Take Back America" by Thom Hartman. I agree with much of what Mr. Hartman has to say. Part of the problem, according to Mr. Hartman, is the current two-party system. He argues in favor of becoming involved in the Democratic Party with the goal of moving it toward a more traditional (i.e., "progressive") position.

The problem is, if the monied people really do control the media, then they are going to portray any viable progressive candidate as a kook. So if this semi-paranoid view is accurate - and there are hints that it may be - there really is no way to win. It's possible we've already lost.

I remember a lesson I learned in "Senior World History" in High School: freedom of choice is all well and good, but the really power lies with those who determine what the possible choices are. So long as the election process involves money, the choices are going to be driven by the ones who donate money.

If progressives can put as much money into the media and the election as the monied interests have, there might be a choice. True campaign reform couldn't hurt. My personal opinion is that the public airways are a public trust rather than a commodity, and broadcasters should be required to allow equal ad time for all candidates regardless of "viabililty." If you were able to get enough signatures to get on a ballot, then you deserve to be heard.

I recognize, of course, that at this point this is a wildly starry-eyed notion. But who knows? Anything can happen.

Friday, March 28, 2003

There is a pervasive belief that the Republicans "stole" the election in FL in 2000. If memory serves, the Miami Herald got the ballots sometime after the bruhaha was over and concluded that Bush actually won a majority of the votes, even allowing the most liberal (sic) reading of the chads possible. Of course, that count could not possibly cover the large number of people who were prevented from voting under false circumstances.

What people like Michael Moore and the authors of don't seem to realize is talk about the theft of the election or the illigitamcy of the president closes off further conversation. If, indeed, there was a conspiracy to steal the election, we best start packing for Canada or Switzerland right now. There is absolutely no assurance the election won't be equally manipulated in 2004.

That said, one would hope the more reasonable of the conservatives would understand the frustration felt by many on the left. To apply the "shoe on the other foot" standard, wouldn't they be crying to high heaven if Al Gore had won under similar circumstances? Surely they can see how a Supreme Court ruling which goes out its way to define itself as a one-time thing might have a pecular odor?

For my money, there were a number of problems with Mr Gore.

  1. He has never been able to shake an image of being a patrician, an elitist. Those who voted for Bush - with all his speaking gaffes, etc - voted for one of their own.

  2. The Democratic Party did not offer a clear alternative to the Republicans. But this centrist, pragmatic leaning of the party can be traced at least as far back as Clinton. The emphasis has been on winning rather than being right.

  3. And, let's face it, even though he tried to loosen up, the man had all the personality of a doorknob.

The Democrats who declare the emperor a naked humbug, like Mr. Daschle, are declared traitors by their own party. Even the man who has made the most sense to me (name slips my mind) has been strikingly quiet since the beginning of the war.

Our best hope is that the Republicans shoot themselves in the foot as the Democrats did not so long ago. Power corrupts - and boy, are we seeing that proverb proven - but that corruption seems to lead to a certain hubris which causes internal entropy and eventual collapse. What we need to do is to shout Enron & Halliburton from the rooftops til it's clear to the common voter that the Republicans are only good for their pocket books if they belong to the top 5% of the population.

On the dark side, we can hope that Iraq turns into the Republican's Viet Nam. Add a lengthy war, high gas prices, and a faltering economy together, and I suspect everybody but Rush will get the picture.