Sunday, April 25, 2004

the bodies

Today's the Rally for Women's Rights in Washington. It's primarily about abortion, and the right to choose abortion, but also in a larger sense the rights of women in general. CNN's doing a crappy job covering it. They're giving a lot of time to anti-abortion people and not asking that very pertinent question "I understand you're against abortion, but why are you against the right to choose?" Not the same thing, chaps, not the same thing at all.

I hope to hear stories from Deaf people about the march soon. Deaf people have a vested interest in seeing the rights of women protected. Our bodies have been under siege as well, from day one; Deaf people have been abused, tortured and experimented on, also in the name of religion. Women suffer greater torture, since the abuse is perpetuated not only on their bodies but also those of their children. If I hear any of these stories I'll post them up!

Kerry, Kerry, Kerry

Hmmmm... long talk with my dad the other night. He's still not sure who to vote for. We have Bush, we have Kerry. Bush is the evil we know, but Kerry, despite his cleaner record, is the evil we don't. Who should my father choose?

Despite my misgivings and outright rejection of Bush's policies, decisions and self-serving action, I am still not sure it's right to vote for Kerry. The logic for voting for Kerry seems to follow one of a few major threads: a) he's not Bush, so vote for him; b) he's a Democrat, so vote for him; c) he's an experienced military man in a time of national combat, so vote for him. None of these reasons appeal to me. A, for example; just because Kerry isn't Bush doesn't mean he's necessarily going to be a good president. B's equally useless for me, with my ethical system as it is; I don't subscribe to political parties, and besides can anyone actually say what the Democrats stand for anymore? Granted they've been at the head of many national transformations in the last century, but over the course of the last decade or two they've been reduced to political survivalists. Finally, c), and this is to me the worst reason, because I want peace, not war; neither do I think war has any chance of ending terrorism, which is not a warlike action but a desperate crime. And since war produces more desperate people... the logic should be inescapable, but isn't.

I'm NOT saying Bush isn't bad! I'm not denying my line of thought might put him in office for four more years! I'm not denying I'm terrified at the thought! But if we just run to the first available solution instead of looking for ways to find or create real change, if we just continue struggling to work in a system already-proven to be corrupt, we're really just setting ourselves up for an endless parade of Bushes. That's what I'm really concerned about. Kerry might or might not be another Bush; we just don't know that, we don't have a way to know that, and we don't have a way to guarantee he won't be that.

During the first American Revolution, the popular uprisings of Boston in 1774, farmers nonviolently ended the control of the British over Boston. They did this because the British monarch altered the law, making the Judges and local governors all-powerful and not accountable to the people. We have now come to a similar point in our history, where those we elect are no longer accountable to us. Without the establishment of a system to encourage such accountability, votes are useless. All they have to do is lie till they get in office. Then they do what they wish with impunity till their time is up. No matter how much they lie, no matter how immoral or ill-thought their action, we can do nothing. Worse, the supposed system of checks and balances has been completely destroyed, first by the two-party system which removes any checks on individual branches of government, since one party can control all branches; secondly, by the alterations to existing law made by our current "President," who has given himself and his office more power than anyone should possess. Finally, the two-party system, in itself, has managed to turn politics into a sport, so people come to care less about what we're fighting for, and more about who wins. Folks, it's supposed to be about making things better...

So, again, who should my dad vote for? And keep in mind that America is in deep ca-ca here. We've been put in a situation of competition whereby we continually produce more terrorists by ill-advised actions; Bush has destroyed quite a bit of our environment (remember Yellowstone? Your children won't) and done a lot of irreparable things. We need a real leader if we want to get out of the red into the black. Is Kerry a real leader? What do you think?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Don't forget 2000

I like to keep reminding people of this because everyone I speak to keeps talking about this coming 2004 election as if it's somehow guaranteed to be any more legitimate than the previous one. This link, by the way, is to a government report from the US Commission on Civil Rights, a report which has been attacked by Jeb and Katharine; they want it off the site, or at least hushed up. Trickery and guile were used to force the election in 2000; trickery and guile will be used in this election. With the poll numbers so close, all it would take is a little very clever trickery, a little lovely guile.... or perhaps just electronic voting booths.

Monday, April 19, 2004

War doesn't have to be our future

Kos posted today that he supports a military draft. His logic is that having more people in the military rather than making it the job of professionals would reduce the number of people who advocate for war. I disagree, since I think it could go either way - people with family and friends in the army either become stiffly opposed or radical supporters. I respect Kos a lot, because every time I read his blog I get a fresh perspective on a complicated situation. But I've come to the realization that drafts, and the military, aren't the answer. We need to devise new answers for a new world. Why?

One: while I believe that there is a necessity for a national defense force of some kind (though why it needs to be military is beyond me) the U.S. Army has been used for defense exactly how many times in the last several decades? A huge draft would gift the government with a powerful, self-renewing force they could then use to wreck more havoc in the world in the name of "protecting American interests." We have so many other options to explore. The employment of diplomatic and economic pressures, for example; the continual re-evaluation of our own policies. The terrorist attacks against the United States were reactive in nature, rather than active; they were devised because of existing, contested US policy in the Middle East. These policies were already contested through regular channels and had been maintained. We essentially backed people into corners, and when you do that they fight back. That's not politics, that's just human nature. People find their bosses aren't listening and they strike, right? Same sort of thing. Had we left options for rational diplomacy in the hands of others this might not have happened. We didn't, because neoconservatives currently in charge of our country believe in getting what they want at all costs, never giving anyone else a chance, and never looking for alternate ways for both groups to get what they want.

Secondly, the military is a regimental institution whose training and methodology focus on following orders, the hierarchy and chain of command. Look at how excited the Dems were by John Kerry-an ex-military man willing to question the use and implementation of the military. That alone shows the force of military thought. If everyone's got to go through it, wouldn't that encourage that type of thought? Also, why not draft for diplomatic corps as well? Doesn't diplomacy deserve as much, if not more, consideration than the military? Shouldn't we therefore draft for all alternatives, not only those involving guns? If we draft at all?

Thirdly, training to fight, and fighting itself, puts fighting into people's heads as a primary, even a preferable, option. When you fight, you learn to think fight... And it's hard to stop. You forget about other options and pressures-diplomatic, economic, social, the works. Fighting is what children do when they can't get what they want. When are we going to grow up? Its one thing to use fighting to remove leaders deemed truly unreasonable or insane. It's quite another to use it because you can't get what you want fast enough.

Four, the existence of the military as is causes a polarization in thought which is destructive to American interests. Our focus becomes, well, sporty. Our team against their team. We forget that there are ways to get what both teams want, and focus instead on beating what we want out of whoever Them is at the time. This is destructive to American interests because if we focused instead on ways of achieving both goals, we become perceived as wise, even-handed, and most importantly-they owe us favors. The whole “we don't need anyone else, America can go it alone” is also childish. Adults work together. Adults work as teams. And besides, how much does that line in quotations sound like an angry teenager? “I don't need you! Ill do what I want!” Do we need the image of ourselves as bratty children? Admittedly this is more of a general point than one related to the draft, but we only NEED a draft because of our damnable insistence-not on always, always, getting our own way, but doing it at the expense of others.

Fifth, there is no way to de-classify the Army. Even if you made it possible for the rich bastards to be forced into service, chances are they'll be able to buy their way to a cushy post they never have to show up for. Money itself doesn't care whose pockets it lines. This means not only will rich people have the most political power in this country, they'll be able to assuredly send only poor people who don't even want to be there to die for their lordly masters' economic gain. Heh, if it were possible to change this, I'd demand that government jobs be draft jobs, with everyone having to take a turn in some kind of political service; would be nice, wouldn't it? Really anyone being able to be president? Would remind people they're public servants, not public masters. Of course you could argue the holders of the posts would need education, etc., but Bush hasn't got any... [snide giggles]

Now, while I'm intrigued by a war-less world, I'm aware we don't live in one and need to deal with other countries who might attack us. Pre-emption, of course, is a stupid reaction to that idea. So is building up a military already the most powerful in the world; that just leads to competition. What I'd support building aside from a military structure is a true defense structure, based in the US. I'd have to think longer before I could say how such a structure works, intimately, but if a 24 year old boy can think of such a thing right off the bat, what can men of experience do?

I'm aware that there'll be lots of people out there saying this is all liberal bulls**t, the kind of stuff you get from PETA or whatever. Two things in response to that, for your consideration. One, while PETA is radical, if they weren't there, the less-radical liberal would become the radical. Without someone pushing the envelope on the left, the political "middle" shifts back right. There is no abstract map of discourse, nothing dividing hemispheres; there's only arbitrary judgements and pre-established definitions. If people don't engage in discourse, their "hemisphere" isn't part of discourse at all. Therefore it is important to keep pushing the envelope of political debate, because otherwise there'll be no reason to listen to the more middle-of-the-road liberals. Secondly, the exposition of ideas expands the political debate. If nobody talks about a way to eliminate war, war won't be eliminated. That simple. And something that's such a waste of life and land and money and technology should be eliminated, shouldn't it? But the war president thinks of war first.


People keep making a huge deal about how the terrorists won the election in Spain. So, being a logical investigative journalist, I decided to see if a little Yahoo! could show me what opinion polls said before the Madrid bombings. And the percentage ranges from 75-85%. For example:

Polls in Spain Contradict PM's Support for Iraq War

All Things Considered audio

Feb. 8, 2003

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar is one of President Bush's biggest European supporters in the war against Iraq. But polls show that three of four Spaniards oppose the war -- even if the United Nations backs military intervention.

And this was before the UN... disapproved of war. So, when you account for incremental increase in disapproval for the war due to UN disapproval and, well, people not liking family and friends going to foreign countries and killing people, you see opinion in Spain changed very little or not at all. This entire analysis took me two seconds to make. Yet people have spent hours haranguing the cowardly Spanish on Fox news?

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Yep, he's a racist

Via Billmon:
Newsday is reporting Bob Lonsberry, a conservative talk-show host at WHAM, Rochester, has now been fired after more than a week of intense criticism over recent remarks.

It all began when Lonsberry made on-air comments that alluded to the black Mayor of Rochester, Mayor William Johnson Jr., as a monkey and orangutan."

Nobody can deny there's a serious undertone of racism to this 'war', from the menacing photos of Iraqi, Afghani, and other Middle Eastern civilians to the semi-religious anti-Muslim rhetoric. The terminology I see on Fox and CNN generally follows the line of "Radical cleric," etc., as if religious monomania were the only thing driving our enemies. We easily fall into the trap of categorizing the Dark Man as the Dark Man. Race becomes the physical representation of political debate, and the excuse for removing oneself from participation in that debate. Lonsberry's remarks, I feel, were race-based, and firmly rooted in the notion that the people of Iraq are sub-human. Why else would he say it's okay for the people we 'saved' to die? Fucked up rhetoric aside, I'm just glad he was fired. We don't need vitriol fuelling the flames of this war.

What we do need, unfortunately, is an open and honest discussion about why this war was so easy for this country, why we fell into it so easily, why we perpetuated the racially-related mistakes of the past - I think of the Japanese concentration camps of World War II, for example. Because if any part of that reason, any tiny part, has to do with the color of Iraqi skin... you finish this sentence. I can't.

Monday, April 12, 2004

lick it lonny

Bob Lonsberry wrote an op-ed called Fight Like Americans today. I find this article to be absolutely fucking insane. Is this guy eating psychotropic chemicals? We're "pussyfooting" in Iraq? Oh my god, don't even get me started. People are "whining" about wanting to be out of the country? And he mixes all this up with platitudes about how soldiers are boys?

Lonsberry doesn't think. We're not in Iraq to fight the Iraqis. We were there because we thought Saddam had weapons of mass destruction [er, someone said someone else thought...] Then we 'decided' we were there to get rid of Saddam. Now we're staying for the good of the Iraqi people, because everyone takes it as given that if we leave things will descend into chaos [like they're not there already.] Who, in all of this, is the enemy? I'm not doin the hokey thing and saying it's our fault. I mean, who is the enemy? First we were trying to save the Iraqi people, now it's our duty to kill all of them to prevent Americans from dying? And this he says is the best thing for Iraq? We put all our soldiers there, even call up the national guard, and he says it's not enough? He compares this to Vietnam, decrying our desire for positive world opinion, and doesn't realize that the world is watching-and has history books? Lonsberry would leave Iraq empty and devastated. Because unspoken in his essay is the assumption that all Iraqis are our enemy. Has to be, because it's just dumbass to talk about wiping out entire villages and expecting whoever's left to be anything other than vicious towards us.

Get this straight. There are no terrorists attacking us in Iraq, although there will be soon. They are normal people whose country has been invaded by people with access to really powerful technology and they are reacting in a typical invasee fashion and doing it secretively because they don't have the power to kick us out head on. If we failed to make allies of the Iraqis, as we have with everyone else, it's our own fucking fault. We captured this guy who was torturing them, right? Oh, but we bombed them for how many freaking years? I guarantee you every attack on an American soldier has a dead wife, husband, child, lover, brother, sister, friend behind it. You forget about that, and you can forget about winning this war, because any plans you make will be built on false information.

Lonsberry would call this whining. I call it facing reality. And how can you plan if you can't face reality? If you create lies to create the illusion that 'whining' isn't needed? This is the fundamental problem I have with the People In Charge right now.

Thursday, April 01, 2004


So here's a quote from terry p.: You can't live other people's lives for them. A quote especially appriopriate in relation to the Iraq "war" (can it really be a war when one side basically swats the other? I don't know.)

I watch all the terrible things happening - to "us" and to "them," although they've got plenty of "us" and we've got plenty of "them." Don't think I feel any of them are excusable. The latest-dead people being dragged through the streets? It's going to be used by the American Right to justify all the people dead by the hands of our current administration (or, since we permitted their control and their actions, us) and it's going to be used by the left to justify bashing Bush, and five people will be dead and nobody will remember their names or why they were there or, you know, the little bitching noises they made in the dead of night. They'll become a political football, and nobody will care why they were killed. Nobody will interview the Iraqis who killed them. They were videotaped, eh? The cameraperson didn't bother getting involved. He just taped. He was News. Life wasn't his business, or sanity. You've got to admire the single-minded idiocy of it.

That we accept the motive of "removing Saddam Hussein" as valid shows how stupid and forgetful we are. No country needs much help when they really want to remove their leader. They do it. Blood, tears, and occasionally badly-spelled magazines are often involved. People die, and the new leader doesn't do anything much different from the old, but people are happy because he's their leader. "That's why they call them revolutions. They always come round again." Pardon the digression. The point here is we went in saying we wanted to kill Saddam and take his weapons, we turned it into something about "freeing Iraq," we told them we were killing them for their own good, we took away their jobs, their relative safety, their water, electricity, and food, and we are somehow surprised when they behave in a less than rational fashion. We didn't remove Saddam Hussein; he kind of left voluntarily and jumped in a hole. We removed pretty much everything else though.

And ten thousand people on their side, several hundred on ours, are dead. Military and civilian alike. The Iraqis never asked for that. Neither did we. How long till someone else more ruthless than Hussyface, but more acceptable to the Bushmen, is put in place? I mean, come on, we all know Saddam was "bad" but we also have to realize we were only seeing the bad shit about him, so we think he's like a thousand times worse. You can do that with anyone. People learn to do that in fucking high school. Grade school, really. And I'm getting pissed off about this because I can't get past the bodies, okay? I can't get past the bodies to the plane everyone on the news seems to be on where it's all Political. Not today. Maybe tomorrow. But not today.

And just for the record? It's everyone's fault.