Thursday, July 08, 2004

Letter to a friend 

A friend of mine is volunteering to go to Iraq to take the place of a man who has two little kids and has already served a year over there. He knows we don't belong there, but being in the military feels he should do his part. He also said he felt the draft was a good idea, because maybe then folks would think twice before voting in favor of a "use of force" declaration--or it would push the next election to the Dems. My (edited) response...

Don't go getting yourself sent into Iraq for someone else, noble as the gesture is. You're a hell of a highly trained guy, and a damned good friend--don't lose sight of that and get caught up in the moment. My father was drafted for Vietnam and already had two kids, and some doctor volunteered to take his place. When I asked my Dad what happened to the guy who took his place in 'Nam (my Dad spent 1.5 years at the military base in the States), he said he didn't know. DIDN'T KNOW.

That being said, I really admire your courage and good heart. But I already knew that about you, and I want you around as a friend for a long time. Don't go doing something reckless just because "W" and all his cronies are hypocritical losers who spent their time during 'Nam in Alabama. By the way, I don't know if I told you this, but a friend of mine explained why "W" was awol in Alabama. Up till that time, he'd been trained on jets that weren't called for action in 'Nam--he disappeared as soon as he was supposed to learn how to fly planes that were being used there.

You're right about the draft in one sense, but don't forget there was a draft when "W" and his papa's money could buy their way around it. And that would still happen. The difference is that we'd have 2 million troops in Iraq now, and you can't imagine how many Iraqis would be killed. I know we lost 58,000 soldiers in 'Nam, and that is 58,000 horrendous tragedies, but 2-3 million (conservatively) Vietnamese were killed, and that's unreal. War sucks, plain and simple, and while maybe a draft would make war less easy to declare, I wouldn't want to see the consequences in Iran, North Korea or Syria--or whatever Bush has planned next.

Still, you may be right for another reason--having the draft might push the last few currently complacent decent folks over the edge and we'd have that revolution after all.


Follow-on to earlier blog on Al Qaeda threat of Nov. election 

Well, "W" traveled to North Carolina the day after local boy Edwards was announced as the Dem VP candidate. Now Ridge is threatening the election once more. Some "vague" threat against the homeland is promised for November. Which is worse, an Al Qaeda attack or "W" being re-elected? Which one does more damage to more Americans?

Either way, the Reichstag is burning.


Tuesday, July 06, 2004

SchizoSociety Sample #2 

Perhaps many of you have seen Paul Krugman's piece "Noonday in the Shade". Here's enough to get the gist of the piece:

In April 2003, John Ashcroft's Justice Department disrupted what appears to have been a horrifying terrorist plot. In the small town of Noonday, Tex., F.B.I. agents discovered a weapons cache containing fully automatic machine guns, remote-controlled explosive devices disguised as briefcases, 60 pipe bombs and a chemical weapon — a cyanide bomb — big enough to kill everyone in a 30,000-square-foot building.

Strangely, though, the attorney general didn't call a press conference to announce the discovery of the weapons cache, or the arrest of William Krar, its owner. He didn't even issue a press release. This was, to say the least, out of character. Jose Padilla, the accused "dirty bomber," didn't have any bomb-making material or even a plausible way to acquire such material, yet Mr. Ashcroft put him on front pages around the world. Mr. Krar was caught with an actual chemical bomb, yet Mr. Ashcroft acted as if nothing had happened....Was Mr. Ashcroft, who once gave an interview with Southern Partisan magazine in which he praised "Southern patriots" like Jefferson Davis, reluctant to publicize the case of a terrorist who happened to be a white supremacist?


The discovery of the Texas cyanide bomb should have served as a wake-up call: 9/11 has focused our attention on the threat from Islamic radicals, but murderous right-wing fanatics are still out there. The concerns of the Justice Department, however, appear to lie elsewhere. Two weeks ago a representative of the F.B.I. appealed to an industry group for help in combating what, he told the audience, the F.B.I. regards as the country's leading domestic terrorist threat: ecological and animal rights extremists.

Even in the fight against foreign terrorists, Mr. Ashcroft's political leanings have distorted policy. Mr. Ashcroft is very close to the gun lobby — and these ties evidently trump public protection. After 9/11, he ordered that all government lists — including voter registration, immigration and driver's license lists — be checked for links to terrorists. All government lists, that is, except one: he specifically prohibited the F.B.I. from examining background checks on gun purchasers.

Mr. Ashcroft told Congress that the law prohibits the use of those background checks for other purposes — but he didn't tell Congress that his own staff had concluded that no such prohibition exists. Mr. Ashcroft issued a directive, later put into law, requiring that records of background checks on gun buyers be destroyed after only one business day.

And we needn't imagine that Mr. Ashcroft was deeply concerned about protecting the public's privacy. After all, a few months ago he took the unprecedented step of subpoenaing the hospital records of women who have had late-term abortions.

"Liberal View":
Ashcroft is endangering the country by labeling women who have late-term abortions as terrorists and failing to use the gun registration list to cull potential terrorists. His identification of "ecological and animal rights extremists" as the worst domestic terror threats show he's already forgotten Oklahoma City and that he is using terrorism as means to impose his own insane agenda on our society. Also, he looks bad in mauve.

"Conservative View":
We have the right to bear arms (and the right to bare arms), it's in the Constitution! It is indeed in the second amendment to the constitution:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

You won't find abortion in the constitution, and so someone buying a gun is simply upholding their expectation as an American. If you don't have a gun, you're un-American and stupid.

What to do?
Half the people think we need guns to protect ourselves? From what? From the very government that gives them that right? That's circuitous logic. On the other hand, equating abortion with killing is fair if you consider each egg+sperm a potential human. Then let's lock up anyone exposing themselves to teratogens and carcinogens, from alcohol to cigarettes to Cheny Dick's halitosis. After all, you might kill a sperm or an egg! Is this the compromise--we have guns being sold like popcorn because we have abortion? If so, as many a Planned Parenthood staffer can attest, that's a dangerous combination. This is another issue/set of issues that gives a near 50/50 split in our (supposedly) not cracking society...


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