I don’t generally enjoy Memorial Day very much

I don’t generally go to barbecues or the beach or whatever it is that people tend to do on Memorial Day, in large part because, well, my dad was in the Air Force from before I can remember until I got out of college–I knew too many people in the military to feel like a day meant to honor the fallen was a day you could really devote to fun.

Monday was, perhaps, a bit more present than most, though. Partly, of course, it’s that we’re currently embroiled in a war whose pointlessness seems surpassed only by its continuing brutality and assault on the humanity of those participating.

But I also watched a National Geographic special on Arlington National Cemetery.

While some of it was about the history of the cemetery, there was also a lot of material about the guards there, and what they go through and how they feel about their duties–they’re pretty intense about it, if you couldn’t guess–and another organization, “the Arlington Ladies”:http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/anc-lady.htm.

And _that_ really got to me.

It’s hard for me to say without irony–because Irony is The Modern Condition, and I am Deeply Afflicted–but in my yoga classes the instructor will talk about keeping your actions life-affirming. Now sometimes this is even said with a little irony: “So you might ask yourself if it is life-affirming to stay one more second in chaturanga dandasana?”

(Given that the question is often presented after you’ve been there for five seconds or more, the answer is often, “No.”)

But still, there’s a lot of seriousness in it, too, and it’s not just about yoga, it’s ultimately about how you live your life, and considering how the actions you take and the decisions you make play out.

But that’s all a digression, really, because what got to me was the fact that there was this virtually unknown corps of women who took it as their duty to affirm the lives of every one of the people buried there–to be present when they are buried, so that none will go to rest unmourned.

It’s things like this that make me think there may be hope for humanity after all.

OK, let’s get one thing straight.

I found it preposterous that anyone could believe there was any urgent need to go to war with a tinpot dictator who wasn’t even in control of the northern third of his country.

And I’m pissed that we’ve dragged our own good name through the mud, with lies, torture, allies who are no better than who we were fighting against, and a stack of civilian bodies that’s got to be quite high, no matter which of many numbers you cotton to.

But if you really, really want to see my blood boil, nothing beats the shitty treatment soldiers have been getting from the government that sent them into harm’s way.

From a soldier sleeping in his car because his credit report was ruined because the Pentagon expected him to pay back his signup bonus even though he was discharged as a result of wounds suffered during his stint in Iraq, to the head of the House Armed Services committee saying he thought it was just fine that families of navy personnel stationed in San Diego–a notoriously expensive place to live, and I suspect they don’t get a higher housing allowance for being stationed there–had to stand in lines at the local food bank, it makes me want to shoot my TV.

This, though, “really takes the cake”:http://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2005/01/i-find-this-outrageous-but-i-guess-its.html.

So Al Queda has a fucking personnel office?

I’ve heard about wanting to run governments like corporations–which has long seemed stupid to me, based on the corporations into which I’ve had insight–but this almost seems absurd.

An “MSNBC report”:http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5175105/site/newsweek/site/newsweek on the rapidly dissoving case against Jose Padilla–you know that American citizen they’ve been holding as an “enemy combatant”, abrogating Habeas Corpus and, thereby, pissing on the Bill of Rights–includes this graf:

bq. The prospective case against Padilla would rely in part on material seized by the FBI in Afghanistan–principally an Al Qaeda “new applicant form” that, authorities said, the former Chicago gang member filled out in July 2000 to enter a terrorist training camp run by Osama bin Laden’s organization.

A fucking “new applicant form”? Amazing.

The infinite resilience of the human being

“Juan Cole”:http://www.juancole.com/ has a bunch of “Why did the chicken cross the road? jokes”:http://www.juancole.com/2004_06_01_juancole_archive.html#108671498109379564, properly repurposed for Iraq.

“Media Matters”:http://mediamatters.org/ has a petition to remove Rush Limbaugh from American Forces Radio

They make the point that Donald Rumsfeld has condemned the very actions that Rush (and Ben Stein, and numerous others) have written off as nothing more than schoolboy pranks.

Why, then, is the US Government continuing to broadcast his vile and pussilanimous message to our troops?

“Go!”:http://www.petitiononline.com/mmfa2/petition.html Sign the petition. I’ll still be here when you get back.

Oh, yeah, BTW, have you “heard about the US soldier who was beaten into medical retirement during a training exercise in Gitmo”:http://www.lex18.com/Global/story.asp?S=1891343&nav=EQlpNN9R?

I call your attention to Josh Marshall…

who makes this “terrifyingly good one-sentence argument for why our efforts in Iraq may well fail”:http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2003_12_21.html#002351:

bq. Is it really reasonable to expect that the values which undergird liberal democracy in America will be effectively spread abroad by the most illiberal people in America?

Eisenhower, on Vietnam

bq. Without allies and associates the leader is just an adventurer, like Genghis Khan.

This in response to the desire of many in his administration to get the US involved militarily in Vietnam in 1954.

So, I’ve been reading Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam: A History

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

bq. The outcome at Ap Bac aggravated the friction then growing between the American government and the news media. Neither Kennedy nor his successors would impose censorship, which would have required them to acknowledge that a real war was being waged. Instead, they wanted journalists to cooperate by accentuating the positive. Just after the Ap Bac battle, when Peter Arnett of the Associated Press asked him a tough question, Admiral Felt shot back: “Get on the team”

Of course, Ap Bac–this is the January, 1963 battle of Ap Bac–was, in terms of the engagement itself, utterly unlike anything in Iraq, if only because US troops weren’t actually involved.

That last bit sounds just like Rummy and the rest of the Imperialists, though. I wonder if they would sound like that if they’d actually served in Vietnam?

It’s going to be a strained Christmas party…

…because if any of my conservative relatives bring up politics (I make, here and now, a solemn pledge to not so much as make jokes about Bush), I will have a hard time not spontaneously combusting.

Really, I never intended this to be a political blog _at all_.

Anyway, the latest funny is that, supposedly “money intended for homeland security is being diverted to foot the bill for Iraq”:http://www.juancole.com/2003_09_01_juancole_archive.html#106489017491301103.

Don’t we all feel safer?

Doublethink in action

From his “groveling at the U.N.”:http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/09/20030923-4.html (emphasis mine):

bq. And because there were consequences, because a coalition of nations acted to defend the peace, and the _credibility of the United Nations_, Iraq is free, and today we are joined by representatives of a liberated country.

From “just over a year ago”:http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/09/20020912-1.html:

bq. The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? _Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?_

The clear implication being that if it doesn’t support Washington’s push for war, it will be irrelevant. I don’t usually consider things irrelevant but then worry about talking about their “credibility”.

And here’s another one, “from last February”:http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/02/20030209-1.html:

bq. And the inspectors have gone to Iraq, and it is clear that not only is Saddam Hussein deceiving, it is clear he’s not disarming. And so you’ll see us over the next short period of time, working with friends and allies and the United Nations to bring that body along. And it’s a moment of truth for the United Nations. _The United Nations gets to decide, shortly, whether or not it is going to be relevant, in terms of keeping the peace, whether or not its words mean anything_.

But one thing is certain, for the sake of peace and for the sake of security, the United States and our friends and allies, we will disarm Saddam Hussein if he will not disarm himself.

Again, the clear implication is that if the UN doesn’t take the US’s stance on things, it’s…

Wait, I just realized–by launching on this bit of imperial adventuring, Bush probably _has_ reinforced the credibility of the UN…by showing it as a clear antidote to unilateral preemptive imperialist bullshit.

They found Saddam’s buried stores of mustard gas near an airport…

…strangely, though, it was an airport “near Fayetteville, NC”:http://www.fayettevillenc.com/story.php?Template=region&Story=5806186, rather than, say, Baghdad.

OK, my lead’s a little deceptive, I admit, but when I heard this story on NPR this morning, I swear when I heard “Stores of mustard gas have been believed to be found buried near an airport…” my brain went ahead and filled in “…near Baghdad”. I was rather suprised to find that, in fact, they were just a couple of hours up the interestate.


“Read carefully”:http://coxar.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/