Thursday, February 15, 2007

The "Surge" hits home

Some time ago I had a young man working for me. He was the proper age and inclination to get caught up in the patriotic fervor that surrounded our entry into the war in Iraq. But I thought he was safe. He had been in the army previously, and had received a medical discharge for injuries he incurred while in boot camp. A very short stint in the military, but since his discharge was medical I did not believe he could rejoin the military even if he wanted to.

He and I had talked about the war before it started. He was a fence sitter. He agreed with much of what I said against the war, but he believed if Iraq was a threat it was our duty to confront it. I tried to convince him that Iraq was not a threat and the whole story was BS. Colin Powell had more sway than I did however. He watched Powell's performance at the UN and told me the following morning that we had to deal with Iraq now.

A couple years later he called me to tell me that he had enlisted in the Navy Reserves. He knew I would not approve, but wanted me to know anyway. He told me that the Army recruiters had contacted him and insinuated that he could either "voluntarily" enlist or the Army was going to re-activate him and send him to Iraq. By this time things were not going well in Iraq and he choose to "volunteer" for the Navy reserves rather than risk being enlisted in the Army. I thought he should check with some independent people to see if the Army could re-activate his term after they had previously forced him out if the Army. It didn't matter he had already signed up, it was too late to back out now.

Now a year later comes Bush's "Surge." He called to tell me that they are sending him to Iraq for a 1-1/2 year tour of duty, which may be extended to 2-1/2 years. The Navy has declared that he enlisted into the US military not just the Navy. As such they can deploy him as they see fit. He is leaving soon to receive 30 days of combat training and then off to Iraq. He said that normally tours are between 6 and 9 months but his order were clear 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 years. Not on a boat, or a port, but with combat units wherever they want to send him. He also said that Secretary of Defense Mr. Gates has changed the rules of deployment so that when his tour is over he can now be redeployed after only a one week break. As a reservist his enlistment was 6 years, he still has around 5 years left. I really fear he will not survive if most of that 5 years is spent in Iraq.

I am sure that his situation is not unique. Thousands of young men and women are being sent into the meat grinder under similar circumstances. For what? So, that commander codpiece can strut around and pretend his sorry ass is a leader. To admit that there is no military solution, and seriously begin looking for a political solution, is not manly enough for this former awol guardsmen. This war and this presidency must end, the sooner the better.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Are we not people?

Are we not people? Or are we merely units of consumption? Something that makes me sad from time to time is that many people I know simply have forgotten what a joy it is to live. They appear to be completely absorbed by how much and what they are able to consume.

Our success is judged by our consumption choices. Do we drive a nice car, live in a nice house/neighborhood, wear nice clothes, eat the best food? Now I admit that I enjoy the things I am able to afford, but I try very hard not to use consumption is a measure of my success. It is not easy. Society pressures us to constantly think of consuming, to the economy it is our reason for being, therefore for the machine to continue to grind on we must consume. If we consume beyond our means so much the better, then we become customers of our financial markets.

But what is success if it is not consumption? To me, the world would be a better place if we all used happiness as a measure for success. Both personal and collective happiness. If we merely strove to be happy and took joy in the happiness of others, then the happier we were, and the more happiness we brought to others the more successful we would be.

I know that sounds really corny and naive. But, look where our current model is taking us. We constantly strive for more, never really having enough to consider ourselves successful or make ourselves happy. Meanwhile our need to fulfill our greedy desires requires that hundreds of millions of people around the world to live in abject poverty. Just how much poverty are you willing to inflict so that you can live better than your neighbor?

Political operatives and economist talk about globalization bringing people around the globe up to western standards of living. Even if that is their goal, something I doubt, I don't see how the world can supply enough resources or the environment absorb enough pollutants to supply the whole world with the amount of plastic widgets and computer games that Americans consume. Now I am all for providing everybody in the world with the food, clothing and housing that we need to live a good life. However, our economy is not driven by providing just food, clothing and housing. If we devoted all of our resources and energy to producing and distributing just those necessities for everyone, many more of us would not need to have jobs, and those with jobs would not need to work 50 to 60 hours a week.

That is, as I see it, the dilemma. If only those with jobs are considered a success and the others are made to feel worthless by society, how is an economy that emphasises only producing the necessities function? It simply cannot function and maintain our current system of values.

That is why I think that we all need to evaluate our own values, and determine what makes us happy that does not involve consumption. There are many things in the world that could bring us joy. The sun reflecting of the dew laden grass in the morning, the smile in a friends eye, or the laugh of a child. These are things that cannot be bought or sold but they are the things that make life worth living. If we each spent more effort looking for those joyful things in life instead of going to the mall looking for satisfaction we would all be much better off.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

... while the best lack all conviction ...

Fed. Up.

I think we are seeing what there is of substance to the new Democratic regime in Congress, and, sadly, the substance is just symbolic. The sniff sniff of Democratic reaction to betrayal and treason by the Republicans in the Senate -- with Warner devising a piggie-in-the-middle legislative ploy that has been around since aaron burr -- and the House Dems now putting the Iraq war on the docket... well, lets see... lots to do... we can work it in next week, perhaps.

fuck me. these people are natural born killers.

These people are not serious. The only thing serious about these people is the slightly less serious sociopathy with which they embrace the agendae that grow miasma all over the earth and all over this society. indeed in every institution of society, nothing but cronyism, decay, and "bring the money here."

how incredibly odd to watch the hissing snarling demo-cats chase and mock-fight the woof woof repub-dawgs to a clinching cat victory in november, and then turn and be the dawgs best friend, who are the BushCo pigs best friends in return. what a sad zoo in washington, upon which the turning gyre creaks and groans... or is that the shriek and moan of the dead and dying, the miserable and the suffering that these washingtonians build their careers on, from N'awlins to Baghdad, from NAFTA to Wal-Mart, from public schools to public health.

a plague on both your houses... ye supreme makers of worms' meat.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The march to war in Iran

Below are two post where the authors talk about how the Democrats need to act if we are to prevent the Bush administration from attacking Iran.

The first is a Nation article by Scott Ritter,

And the second is a blog post by Arthur Silber on this blog Once upon a time ...

both of these posts point out that the Democrats will bear equal responsibility, with the Republicans, if they do nothing to stop the Bush administration from bombing Iran. Unlike 2003 when they had no power in either house ( we should not forget that they did however have control of the Senate in 2002 and did nothing to slow down the march to war with Iraq) and claim because of their position there was nothing they could do and therefore bear little responsibility for events in Iraq. They now do have control of both houses and are in a better position to influence foreign policy. But will they? Are they?

Both posts suggest that the Congress should rescind both the Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution of September 14, 2001 and the Authorization of Military Force Against Iraq resolution of October 2002 by which the Bush Administration claims the authority to invade any country they wish. Then they need to pass a resolution which strictly forbids the President from initiating military action against Iran without Congressional authorization which includes a clause which states clearly that any such unauthorized use of force against Iran is cause for immediate impeachment. The house should then follow this up by drafting articles of impeachment against the president so that they are immediately ready if they are needed. All of these actions should be done publicly and with much publicity to ensure that the public and the President know what is at stake.

But Mr. Ritter goes further and suggests that hearings by the Foreign Relations Committees of both houses should immediately start challenging the Bush Administration's justifications for war. That is they should force the Administration to back up it's claims of Nuclear Arms development and Iranian assistance to Iraqi insurgents, and any other claim they float in public. The point is that Bush's team is just replaying the 2002/2003 build up to war with Iran as it's new and current target. If they are allowed to make the same ridiculous claims with no one calling then an their lies, then the most likely will again succeed in convincing the American people that we must go to war. It is quite evident that the press is not going to call them on their lies, they are once again willingly publishing whatever talking points the White house gives them. So, it is up to Congress to fulfil it's obligations and help inform the American public.

Now the question is will the Democrats do anything? I cant say that I am too optimistic. The Democrats are as beholden to AIPAC as the Republicans and it seems that Israel wants the US to confront Iran. But, we as peace advocates need to press our representatives to do the above actions now. I particularly like the idea of the hearings. To see Condi, Dick and the gang have to substantiate their claims under oath would be well worth the price of admission whatever the outcome. Our attention is on Iraq, any many of us are doing what we can to help end that war, but the Administration appears to have turned it's attention to the next war. We must stop the war with Iran before it begins. I urge everyone to read the above two posts, they articulate the reasons these actions are necessary and to write your representative asap.