Runcible Blog

No Fooling Today

There's not a whole lot going on in my life recently besides the ol' rat race and banging on computers, but here are some stories of interest:

  • The Wall Of Shame should be required viewing for anyone who believes this war is for the benefit of the Iraqi people.
  • Light-weight media critic Howard Kurtz mentions some of the negative aspects of "embedded" journalists. You'd have to be really naive if you believe that the U.S military doesn't see "embedding" as a propaganda opportunity. Check out this older article about Cheney's "management" of the press during the first Gulf War.
  • A graphic account of the battle in Nasiriya:
    Down the road, a little girl, no older than five and dressed in a pretty orange and gold dress, lay dead in a ditch next to the body of a man who may have been her father. Half his head was missing. ...
    and a quote from one of America's "finest":
    "The Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy," said Corporal Ryan Dupre. "I am starting to hate this country. Wait till I get hold of a friggin' Iraqi. No, I won't get hold of one. I'll just kill him."
  • FOX's "fair and balanced" coverage of the anti-war demonstration in NYC:

    Fox News had its own response to the demonstrators. The news ticker rimming Fox's headquarters on Sixth Avenue wasn't carrying war updates as the protest began. Instead, it poked fun at the demonstrators, chiding them.

    "War protester auditions here today ... thanks for coming!" read one message. "Who won your right to show up here today?" another questioned. "Protesters or soldiers?"

    Said a third: "How do you keep a war protester in suspense? Ignore them."

    Still another read: "Attention protesters: the Michael Moore Fan Club meets Thursday at a phone booth at Sixth Avenue and 50th Street" - a reference to the film maker who denounced the war while accepting an Oscar on Sunday night for his documentary "Bowling for Columbine."

  • In other news, David Frum, writer of the infamous "axis of evil" speech, Bush cheerleader, and former CANADIAN citizen (up until 2000, I believe), is whining about "unpatriotic conservatives". With friends like Frum, who needs enemies?
  • Finally, a serious and important domestic issue -- detaining citizens without being charged with a crime. Mike Hawash, American citizen and Intel engineer, is being held in solitary confinement, with little to no access to an attorney and without being charged with a crime. This is wrong, and dare I say it: unamerican. These illegal arrests must be stopped. The government can not be given free reign to detain or spy on law-abiding citizens. If Hawash has committed a crime, he should be charged as such and given a fair trial. There are far too many people in our government who seem to be reading 1984 as a handbook for doing business (one of these days I'll finish reading that book...hopefully sometime before fiction becomes reality).


  • It's Just Sick

    Tonight I watched Gladiator Days: Anatomy of a Prison Murder, a documentary on HBO. It was very sickening and hard to watch. The opening shots are the prison security camera recording the brutal murder of an inmate. The killer, motivated by some "white power" crap, stabbed the guy 67 times. Ugh...it is just awful. I can't describe it.

    How anybody can stand on top of someone, stab the person repeatedly in the back, face, and neck, and watch that person die is absolutely beyond me. The documentary seemed to imply that life in prison will drive prisoners to violence, but there is no excusing such a terrible act. Now the murderer, who was serving life in prison for a previous brutal murder, is on death row. A short addendum to the movie stated that the killer attacked a Muslim inmate after 9/11/01 apparently in retaliation for the terrorist attacks.

    Now, I don't believe that the death penalty will solve anything, but geeze, what can you do with such violent people? How can we solve this problem? How can we as a "civilized" society teach people that violence is not the way to solve conflicts? And especially, how can we attempt such a difficult task while we bomb, kill, destroy, and project the concept of "might makes right" to the rest of the world and our own people? There's so much violence out there. It's downright discouraging.


    ---
    On a side note, I have a shirt that I've worn for a bunch of years. It says:
    Marines
    Travel to exotic, distant lands. Meet exciting, unusual people.
    And kill them.

    A while back, my father remarked that I probably wouldn't wear that shirt today considering my anti-war stance. I was sort of surprised because I always understood that the quote was one that opposed war. Of course, it's a paraphrase of a quote in Full Metal Jacket by "Joker", a soldier who wasn't exactly enthusiastic about being in Vietnam. He said "I wanted to be the first kid on my block with a confirmed kill." But his tone was obviously sarcastic. So, I always understood the quote on my shirt as one that pointed out the harsh irony of war. That may sound contrived, but it's true.

    For some reason, it never occurred to me that other people wouldn't see the absurdity of the quote. Now, I look back to all the times I've worn that shirt and had people comment on it, and I wonder if they got the message that I understood. I don't think they did, and that's too bad. I guess I should've been less subtle.

    I also have a bumper sticker on my car that reads, "I couldn't go to work today because the voices told me to stay home and clean the guns." I thought that was a pretty funny quote at the time, although it doesn't apply to me personally. I'd like to think that if you knew me, it would be obvious that I'm not a gun-toting freak. But I suppose it's not obvious enough. This brings to mind a conversation from the aforementioned movie:

    "You've written 'Born to Kill' on your helmet."
    "Yes, sir."
    Why did you do that?"
    "I don't know, sir. Everyone writes things on their helmets."
    "You write 'Born to Kill' on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What is that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?"
    "No, sir."
    "Well, what is it supposed to mean?"
    "I don't know, sir."
    "Answer that question, corporal, or you'll be standing tall before the man."
    "Well, sir," Joker says with exaggerated thoughtfulness, "I suppose...I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man."
    "The what?"
    "The dual nature of man?... You know, sir, the Jungian thing about aggression and xenophobia on one hand, and altruism and cooperation on the other?"
    There is a fairly considerable mouth-breathing pause from the colonel.
    "Whose side are you on, son?"
    "Our side, sir."
    "MARINE!"
    "Yes, sir."
    "Don't you love your country?"
    "Yes, I do, sir."
    "Then how about getting with the program? Why don't you jump on the team and come in for the big win?"
    Joker still manages to keep a straight face. "I'm certainly ready to do that, sir."
    "Confess corporal, confess that you want peace."
    "I confess, sir."
    The colonel leans closer and lowers his voice, "Son, we've all got to keep our heads until this peace craze blows over."


    Disturbing Times

    Today's Washington Post reports that an "unembedded" (read: uncensored) journalist has "disappeared" after apparently reporting too much:

    Phil Smucker, who writes for the Christian Science Monitor, told his paper yesterday that military police were going through his belongings and were concerned that he had disclosed too much information in an interview, according to Monitor Foreign Editor David Scott.

    Despite repeated attempts to contact Smucker, "that's the last we've heard from him," Scott said. "He was upset. I don't think he felt like he'd done anything."

    "Some general in Qatar blew a fuse and said, 'Get rid of this guy,' " said Smucker's father, John, who lives in Alexandria.

    But censorship during war is nothing new. In fact, it's an important part of the strategy:

    Vietnam was the first war ever fought without any censorship. Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.
    --General William Westmoreland

    Meanwhile, supposed "patriots" have effectively shut down the Al-Jazeera website while claiming to be protecting freedom. The irony is lost on these particular computer hackers.

    Another word that ends in "y" is hypocrisy. Today's example comes from our much-loved government, who won't reveal where they're keeping Iraqi prisoners of war. No big deal, you say? Well, actually, the Geneva Convention (yes, the same one Donald Rumsfeld whines about the Iraqis violating) grants the Red Cross the right to inspect and interview any POW's for evidence of mistreatment. So there you have it -- the daily dose of hypocrisy. Kinda brings this to mind:

    Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.
    --Ernest Hemingway

    Finally, here's a poignant sentiment from one of our old, irrelevant presidents (after all, he didn't have to deal with 9/11.....only that little skirmish known as the Civil War):

    Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose -- and you allow him to make war at pleasure. If today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us' but he will say to you, 'Be silent; I see it, if you don't.'"
    --Abraham Lincoln


    That's What I Get

    It's been a long time since I listened to "Pretty Hate Machine" by Nine Inch Nails, so I popped it in the car CD player. Man, what a great album! I remember way back when I used to make ANSI art of the NIN logo with backwards N using a now-ancient 386. Those were the days. But now, for some reason, I actually understand the lyrics on this album. That says something about what I know now compared to then.


    A Gesture

    Yesterday I ended my brief and futile three day fast in protest of the war. I lost 5 pounds and gained a slightly different perspective. I know fasting won't stop this war, but it helps remind me of the much greater suffering happening across the world. Maybe if lots of people went on hunger strikes, it could make a difference in public opinion. I might try fasting again.

    I've had a few arguments with people as a result of the generally pro-war attitude at work, the Eagle Tribune. Since the newspaper itself is noticeably biased in favor of war, it's been discouraging to hear so many people cheerleading for the president. Maybe if the paper even bothered to present the harsh realities of war, we wouldn't have to read editorials that describe the "shock and awe" bombing campaign as "riveting". Maybe if more people saw the picture of this guy: dead soldier, we would think a little harder before sending young people off to die in a war of choice. He won't be coming home, and for what good reason did he die? This prisoner of war might be subjected to torture or death because of his involvement in this illegal war. POW He is merely a mechanic and looked understandably frightened when his interrogators recorded his answers to their questions. He said he has no problem with Iraqis; he doesn't want to kill anyone but would only shoot back at those who try to kill him. Another POW, when asked why he was in Iraq, answered, "because they told me to come here".

    The President, he's got his war
    Folks don't know just what it's for
    Nobody gives us a rhyme or reason
    Have one doubt, they call it treason
    With chicken feathers all without one nut

    Goddamn it!
    Tryin' to make it real compared to what!
    Sock it to me! (Woo)

    From "Compared to What" by Les McCann