July 01, 2006

The barbarity of man

Oh, I know the traditional media machine isn't making anything of it. And the military brass certainly isn't going to draw any public conclusions, or point out any obvious connections. But is it just me, or do you, too, find it to be a stunning coincidence that the four American soldiers accused of raping and murdering an Iraqi schoolteacher and her family are from the same platoon as the two Americans abducted and butchered in mid-June?

And here's the punchline. Our alleged atrocity happened in March.

For those of you who are averse to timetables of any sort, let me point out that that's a good three months prior to the brutal execution of our two guys. And if the military itself has "found sufficient information existed to recommend a criminal investigation into the incident," then doesn't it stand to reason that the "terrorists" who acted in June might just hate us for something other than our freedom, or our tireless efforts to repair schools and paint hospitals?

Of course, I'm not contending that the murder of our troops is in any way justified by the inexcusable acts Americans themselves apparently committed in March. But it sure seems like yet another clear and shameful sign that we don't have the slightest f#$king clue how to weaken anti-American hatreds in Iraq and elsewhere throughout the Muslim world. And this latest revelation of U.S. atrocity toward the very people we're supposed to be "liberating" is a stark reflection on the leaders whose belief is that democracy can be spread with the muzzle of a gun - or at the end of a leash.

It's also an accurate indication of what war really is, and why, therefore, it is something that must be employed only as a matter of last resort. War is brutality. War is terror. War is the failure of reason. War is the reduction of potentially rational human beings to their most barbaric, animal core.

Don't the inhabitants of the Earth GET IT by now? There is no "nobility" in war as a solution to international disagreements. Which makes the eagerness of those who would rush to war - especially one based on lies, misdirection, and disingenuous propaganda - doubly reprehensible.

Equally disgusting are those who've attempted to twist that harsh truth about war into an excuse of sorts for the growing list of barbaric acts attributed to Iraq's Red White and Blue liberators. "They're under tremendous pressure," and "These things happen," and "This is no different than any other war," it's been said, as if that somehow makes our hypocritical stance of continuing moral superiority OK. Well, duh! Of course warring soldiers are under tremendous pressure, and "these things" do happen when you send armed children off to kill for an ever-shifting objective.

And that's precisely the point.

It's clearer than ever that the time has come to get out of Iraq - and to re-evaluate our overly militaristic approach to all global issues. The longer we stay, the more savage incidents will come to light, fueled by the lurking and inevitable barbarity of man. That's part of the landscape of war itself. Which, again, is why war is not the answer to the "terrorist threat" exposed so terribly on 9/11. It is the exact opposite - gasoline poured on a long-smoldering fire.

In a furious refrain, the band System Of A Down once wrote, "Don't you know that evil lives in the motherfucking skin?" If an alternative rock group can understand the inherent bestiality of human beings, especially those that have been trained to kill for a "cause," shouldn't our leaders be able to envision the Pandora's Box of animal behavior they unleash by willfully engaging in armed conflict? Don't they keep telling us that America is better than that? Don't they keep assuring us that we're on the side of truth, justice, and the American way?

These days, I'm not so sure.

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June 29, 2006

Mental exhaustion

While watching the intelligent, informed, well-spoken Al Gore on last night's Daily Show, I was overcome by a feeling of profound grief, a devastating sense of loss that pervaded every muscle, every pore, every cell of my body. It was an overwhelming blanket of sadness at the thought of what could have, and should have, been, which ultimately forced my frustrated and terminally depressed brain to simply shut down and seek refuge in the peaceful oblivion of sleep.

Because when I look at the "news" dominating our media landscape, I no longer know what to say about what America has become after five and a half years under the thumb of George the Younger and his odious disciples. It is no longer my America, of that I'm certain. Under the stewardship of a corporate-owned cabal of conservative sociopaths, it is a nation that's come to represent the worst aspects of human nature both at home and abroad.

And I increasingly fear that we're powerless to do anything about it.

Hypocrisy. Militarism. Torture. Homophobia. Indefinite detention without trial. Dismissal of Constitutional protections. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Celebration of mediocrity. Rejection of science. Aversion to diplomacy. Economic irresponsibility. Apathy toward the poor, the unemployed, the uninsured. Suppression of information and dissent. Criminal malfeasance and ineptness without accountability. A politically biased judiciary. Fearmongering and warmongering.

Oh, and lying. Lots and lots of lying.

These are but a few of the repellent characteristics that have come to define the ol' Red White and Blue in the 21st Century, and we have 12 years of Republican governmental control, and 6 years of Democratic impotence, to thank. The daily erosion of the promise of America fills me with such rage that, ironically, I'm left feeling totally incapacitated. Why, at my son's graduation a few weeks ago, I even found myself unable to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in unison with the crowd of beaming onlookers, each word sticking in my throat as I thought of how the tenets of America have been relentlessly betrayed by those purporting to lead it.

So today I'm bereft of ideas. Sure, I could comment on the idiocy of Orrin Hatch, or the repulsive agenda of Denny Hastert, or the calculated mendacity of George Bush himself. But to what end? When I go to bed tonight, they'll still hold their respective positions of authority, determining the direction of policies which will continue to sully the dream of democracy.

And they'll inexplicably continue to have legions of faithful supporters.

I guess it's just mental exhaustion that's inciting today's feeling of utter despair. My apologies. I'll try to be better, more proactive, tomorrow. Hopefully by then I'll have found a renewed energy, optimism, and purpose. After all, if I don't, then the real terrorists - those who threaten the glorious potential of America from within - will truly have won.

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June 26, 2006

Echoes

OK, I'll admit it. It's flattering on occasion to see my own humble opinions echoed by well-known icons of the traditional media, if only because their reach is far broader than mine, and I can take some measure of comfort, then, that those opinions will reach a wide audience.

Today's case in point is Bob Herbert's New York Times editorial, lambasting the Administration for "playing politics with Iraq" - and with the lives of the men and women forced there by the unconscionable lies of America's Ruling Party. Excerpts:
The administration and its allies have been mercilessly bashing Democrats who argued that the U.S. should begin developing a timetable for the withdrawal of American forces. Republicans stood up on the Senate floor last week, one after another, to chant like cultists from the Karl Rove playbook: We're tough. You're not. Cut-and-run. Nyah-nyah-nyah...

But then on Sunday we learned that the president's own point man in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, had fashioned the very thing that ol' blood-and-guts Frist and his C-Span brigade had ranted against: a withdrawal plan...

I wonder whether Americans will ever become fed up with the loathsome politicking, the fear-mongering, the dissembling and the gruesome incompetence of this crowd. From the Bush-Rove perspective, General Casey's plan is not a serious strategic proposal. It's a straw in the political wind.
Also, a special "Brava!" to the prescient Star A. Decise of The Enigmatic Paradox, who predicted in April that troop withdrawals would be the centerpiece of Bush's "October surprise." As Ms. Star postulated two months ago:
The less cynical may argue that an American president wouldn't play politics with American lives. It is, after all, beyond the pale. But an administration that man-handled intelligence to manipulate public opinion into supporting a war is unlikely to hesitate about stage-managing a war to influence public opinion. The two are mirror images of each other. And Karl Rove, recently reassigned to focus his considerable energies on partisan politics and the mid-term election, has never been known as squeamish.
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(NOTE: For those of you who are not yet subscribers to the NYT's "Times Select", Mr. Herbert's article is reprinted in the comments section below. Click "add your opinion" to access the full editorial.)

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June 25, 2006

Hope?

Pop quiz:

When Liberals argue for a planned withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, they're labeled "defeatists" and "cut and run Democrats," and are shouted down in the halls of government by the Ruling Party.

When General George Casey, our top commander in Iraq, lays out a classified timetable for the withdrawal of American troops, with the first cuts happening in (who'd have guessed it?!) September of this year, he's labeled _______?

Time's up. Did you get it? Did your answer include the word "patriot," or the phrase, "We planned this all along"? Then give yourself a thousand points, America.

Once again, the GOP machine displays its Machiavellian brilliance at politically outmaneuvering the hapless Minority Party. For despite that second party's rightful claim that this type of a plan is almost precisely the thing they've been "traitorously" proposing all along, the fact that this news is officially emanating from the Administration is a trump card Dems are once again powerless to beat in the court of public opinion.

And I'll bet that any complaints about the suspiciously convenient timetable contained within this classified gameplan will only add fuel to the "whining, crybaby, hate-Bush-at-all-costs" Liberal reputation that's been so insidiously reinforced in the minds of half the nation for the past six years.

Nevertheless, I'm happy for the men and women in uniform, many on their third or fourth tours of duty, many obviously starting to crack under the strain of this fruitless exercise in PNAC imperialism. I really am. The individuals who are asked to put themselves in harm's way on my behalf deserved better, right from the start. So anything that'll get them home in one piece merits a sigh of gratitude.

Still, I do have to complain - regardless of the "never satisfied" insults I expect that complaint to incite from Conservative loyalists. Because the amazingly coincidental timing of this news, and the arbitrary target dates that seem designed to synch so conveniently with U.S. election cycles, make me angrier than ever at the architects of this deadly fiasco. That very timing itself confirms to me that the Bush Administration has been playing political football with the lives of those American men and women from the inception of this mad military adventure, an unprecedented pre-emptive invasion built on lies that's killed and maimed hundreds of thousands.

And in my book, that's nothing short of a criminal offense.

Unfortunately, it's become mind-numbingly obvious that there's nothing much we can do anymore but hope. Hope that Gen. Casey's plan really does start reducing our presence in Iraq within the next year. Hope that those pitiful few voices of opposition within a lethargic Congress will continue to press for answers as to why we were in Iraq in the first place - and for accountability from the individuals responsible for damage that will take decades to repair.

And hope that the American voter won't allow this Administration's "honorable withdrawal" (if it truly comes to pass) to erase a list of incompetence, malfeasance, and downright criminal behavior for which it has yet to take responsibility, either in the courts or at the polls. Hope that the citizenry won't forget that this "war" has done nothing but bankrupt our economy, destroy our international reputation, increase terrorist hatred of the U.S., and leave us more vulnerable to catastrophe than ever before.

Of course these days, with a population whose collective attention span stands at approximately 23 seconds, that may be a forlorn hope. Let's just hope I'm wrong.

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