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Sunday, May 23, 2004

I was re-reading some books about Lyndon Johnson, Vietnam, and that whole period of time, and it got me thinking. We've all seen footage of the protests during that time, everything from the war, to civil rights, to the police riot during the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968. It's an interesting contrast to the utter stupor we find ourselves in nowadays.

I mean, we're involved in another war in south Asia. The Iraqi portion, like Vietnam, has no bearing on the safety of the United States homeland. By 1968, something like 20,000 Americans had been killed in Vietnam, and even though the people making the decisions knew by then that the best we could hope for was a stalemate, nearly 40,000 more Americans would die before we finally got out of there. As of right now, around 800 Americans have died in Iraq. Apparently, this is a number the rest of us can live with.

When will you stand up and tell the government "No more!" A thousand? Ten thousand? Fifty thousand? Nine hundred (and we're reinstating the draft in 2005)?


I have written about the reinstatement of the military/service draft previously, but every week that goes by, I believe more and more it's going to happen. Our fine military is stretched to the limit, and what with this Iraqi prison scandal, it's not as if people are going to be rushing recruitment centers to sign up.

"ARMY: Be court-martialed in the snazziest military uniform of them all," just doesn't play as an effective slogan.

So, between lower recruitment levels, dishonorable discharges on TV, and guys getting body parts shot off, there will be even fewer available people to serve. Does anyone really think that this detail will stop this righteous administration from its goals in Iraq, Iran, Syria or anyplace else? I hope to hell by now you know the answer. You can continue to pray for science to come up with an effective warrior robot to fight America's battles, but the budget for science education has been slashed, so you're screwed.

And why shouldn't they draft you, Mister and Miss 18-25 year old? You have no job prospects, thanks to the economy, so you may as well drop out of college. And besides, YOU DON'T VOTE. And they know it.

But perhaps when they do reinstate the draft, you will put down your PlayStation and your fucking Zima, and rediscover your sense of moral clarity and outrage. You may find some of the administration's other policies repugnant as well. You will protest the war, but only because your ass is on the line. And don't misunderstand me, that is as good a reason as there is. I only hope that by then, it's not too late, what with the Justice Department's wide powers to quell protests and silence dissent.

Act now. You only have a few months left to make a difference that may save thousands of lives, including your own.

Zima? You're better than that...

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posted at 9:39 PM


Friday, May 14, 2004

I'm not ancient or anything, but I'm old enough to recall that there was a time in the United States where every single issue couldn't be explained away by being good or bad depending on your party affiliation. Politicians tended to look at things as either good for the country, or bad for it. Now, an issue only matters if it positively or negatively affects the standing of a party.

I know it's not new, but it's really been crystallized in the past couple of weeks with this Iraqi prison torture story. There is simply no way to defend this type of systemic breakdown, period. And yet...

Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma said he was "more outraged by the outage" than by the photos themselves. Apparently we should not be disgusted by anything that Americans do, because we are good, and they are evil. End of story. And I would be so callous to suggest that Inhofe's opinion is colored by the fact that he and the president share a party affiliation, and this scandal is an enormous stain on Bush's presidency. Not that it needed another one...

This type of reflexive defense happens on both sides of the aisle, no question. There are exceptions, and some Republicans have been very vocal about their dismay at the actions of the soldiers in question. Senator John McCain of Arizona, in particular, has been extremely critical of the administration's attempts at obfuscation and deceit. McCain, as you may know, spent five years in a North Vietnamese prisoner camp after being shot down during the war in Vietnam. This issue is certainly personal to him, but knowing the man's record, I know he would be every bit as vocal without his tragic experience. McCain tends to stand on the RATIONAL side of issues, not the Democrat or Republican side. Sadly, this makes him a rarity in today's politics.

I said in 2000 that I would have voted for McCain if he had been in the general election, but alas, his brand of honesty prevents him from ever being President. It's terribly sad that as a nation, we can't handle the fucking truth, particularly when it's unpleasant.

"I'm cutting taxes! Enjoy!"
"But how will we pay for roads and schools and police?"
"We have a plan!"
"Can we see the plan?"
"Of course not! It's none of your business!"
"Oh, thank you then."

This of course, is utter fiction, because no American would ever ask three consecutive questions that didn't involve American Idol, or J-Lo's ass.

We are treated like idiots because we show no interest in being told the truth plainly. If we knew the truth, we might get up off our asses and overthrow the government.

This Iraqi prison thing will pass, as all things do. In the meantime, Americans abroad and at home will die at the hands of fanatics, and we will only bother to be outraged if the other team's guy is in charge.

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posted at 7:37 PM


Monday, May 10, 2004

The damned server has been down for four days, and I have no time to write today.

In lieu of that, please leave me your personal feelings about Domo Kun. Thank you.

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posted at 3:35 PM


Friday, May 07, 2004
We don't need no stinking Geneva Convention

I'm sure you've all seen these photos coming out of that Iraqi prison. And even though they're pretty disgusting, I'm more embarrassed than outraged, to be honest. I mean, how did that one woman grinning and holding thumbs up manage to be in every picture? She's gonna be walking graveyard security at some shit hole mall in Kentucky faster than you can say "dishonorable discharge."

The claims of "we were just following orders" have begun to trickle in, and I think we've seen enough from the Nazis to Watergate to know that "following orders" just doesn't fly. Although the Department of Defense is clearly being run by cowards with low morals, I find it pretty hard to believe that anyone got orders to make human pyramids or stick panties over prisoner's heads. Besides, when you're in the photo with naked Iraqis, it sort of makes it tough to swallow.

They ordered you to be in the photos with the naked Iraqi pyramid?"

"Well, no. But I thought it would make a nice Christmas card."

Anyway, if these were Egyptians, I could sort of see the whole pyramid thing. But I digress.

Now like I said before, I'm not sure if all of these guys were tortured, but they sure as hell were humiliated. The thing of it is, it makes all of these fundamentalist charges of America being decadent seem pretty accurate. I can only imagine what it is like to actually be there, and I'm sure it's tension-filled and frustrating. I'm sure I might feel the need to crack some skulls on occasion. I'm also reasonably confident that it never would have occurred to me to line the prisoners up in a daisy chain. Even if I wanted to humiliate them, I just don't really think I'd want it enough to actually stand there slapping hairy Iraqi asses while some asshat makes a Kodak moment out of it.

And of course, any mistreatment of Americans is greeted with howls of outrage, as it should be. But the problem we run into, yet again, is that we have lost any moral high ground that we may have had going in to this fiasco. We cannot pontificate about how civilized we are, and how we are just there to help. It was a fairly obvious lie at the outset, and I just don't see how we are going to recover from this. Iraqis will now be fighting to the death rather than be taken prisoner, and American casualties will escalate yet again.

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posted at 6:38 PM

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