Be Like The Mahatma!
As I said before, I get lots of letters. Most are good, some are open discussions on difficult topics, some are bald-faced death threats. You deal with it, comforted by the fact that most leftists are terrible marksman, dont own guns anyway and every outlet of air from their mouths is a sheep like bleat admitting their general cowardace as a human being. As I said to "da goddess", I've faced death before, I used to own a 1974 Pinto.
There is one constant "stream of consciousness", that is often repeated in emails from people who consider themselves "pacifists", that I should reject violence, and follow the lessons of the "Mahatma".
This is interesting to me for many reasons, first the assumption is that I must be a "bloodthirsty warmonger" if I believe, as I do, that though war is always regrettable, it is often the only civilized answer to the question of genocide and enslavement. Second, that the "Mahatma" is an exemplar in the way to live ones life.
Through the power of the internet, I bring you the following:
"In his early days Gandhi served as a stretcher-bearer on the British side in the Boer War, and he was prepared to do the same again in the war of 1914-18."
This - I didn't know.
"Even after he had completely abjured violence he was honest enough to see that in war it is usually necessary to take sides. He did not indeed, since his whole political life centered round a struggle for national independence, he could not - take the sterile and dishonest line of pretending that in every war both sides are exactly the same and it makes no difference who wins. Nor did he, like most Western pacifists, specialize in avoiding awkward questions. In relation to the late war, one question that every pacifist had a clear obligation to answer was: "What about the Jews? Are you prepared to see them exterminated? If not, how do you propose to save them without resorting to war?" I must say that I have never heard, from any Western pacifist, an honest answer to this question, though I have heard plenty of evasions, usually of the "you're another" type. But it so happens that Gandhi was asked a somewhat similar question in 1938 and that his answer is on record in Mr. Louis Fischer's Gandhi and Stalin. According to Mr. Fischer, Gandhi's view was that the German Jews ought to commit collective suicide, which "would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to Hitler's violence." After the war he justified himself the Jews had been killed anyway, and might as well have died significantly"
Well Golly! - You never hear that little tidbit do you? How does that translate into the pacifist view on Iraq? "Gosh, they were going to die anyway, so why should we go in and try to save them..."
"When, in 1942, he urged non-violent resistance against a Japanese invasion, he was ready to admit that it might cost several million deaths."
Million here, million there, who's gonna know one way or the other.....
and the "grand finale":
"It is difficult to see how Gandhi's methods could be applied in a country where opponents of the regime disappear in the middle of the night and are never heard of again. Without a free press and the right of assembly, it is impossible not merely to appeal to outside opinion, but to bring a mass movement into being, or even to make your intentions known to your adversary."
Free press, right of assembly, make a note of that. When we get rid of Ashcroft and Bushitler we might want to get some of that.
"Is there a Gandhi in Russia at this moment? And if there is, what is he accomplishing? The Russian masses could only practice civil disobedience if the same idea happened to occur to all of them simultaneously, and even then, to judge by the history of the Ukraine famine, it would make no difference."
For you kids out there, substitute "Iran" for "Russia".
"But let it be granted that non-violent resistance can be effective against one's own government, or against an occupying power: even so, how does one put it into practice internationally? Gandhi's various conflicting statements on the late war seem to show that he felt the difficulty of this. Applied to foreign politics, pacifism either stops being pacifist or becomes appeasement."
If Orwell was alive today, He'd be on my Blogroll. I'd "Tip his jar" big-time after a statement like that!
"Moreover the assumption, which served Gandhi so well in dealing with individuals, that all human beings are more or less approachable and will respond to a generous gesture, needs to be seriously questioned."
"It is not necessarily true, for example, when you are dealing with lunatics. Then the question becomes: Who is sane? Was Hitler sane? And is it not possible for one whole culture to be insane by the standards of another? And, so far as one can gauge the feelings of whole nations, is there any apparent connection between a generous deed and a friendly response? Is gratitude a factor in international politics?"
Oh monseuir Orwell, you are so simplesse...
As is often said, Read The Whole Thing
Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
My guess is he can't sit down after the ass-paddling he got from Mccain.
Update: Michael Moore and Senator McCain will be staging a play based on the childrens classic tale "Goofus and Gallant" at the Convention.
Republican strategists could not be more pleased for the man who invented the role of "Goofus" to be playing the role off broadway for the first time.
Well, this could come in handy...
First thought - Call my broker and dump oil stocks.
Second thought - If theres no refinery to send it to, does it really exist?
Third thought - In the Life Magazine issue I was going through the other day is a full page Ad for Southern Cal Edison. It shows a hardhat guy "clocking out" at work**. The copy says:
"Why do we need additional power plants?"
Thats why we need additional power plants.
From your friends at SCE
Fourth thought - Paul Ehrlich, Call your Office!
Fifth thought - How lame of a government do you have to be, to be sitting on top of huge oil reserves, yet your primary export is people and your capital city is the biggest slum in the western hemisphere?
** Yes, "clocking out" with a paper time card is another thing thats slipped into the mists of time.
Ron Silver: A Man
Note to the Left:
You can keep Michael Moore. If the world was full of liberals like Ron Silver, the world would be a much safer place.
Note to the Right:
Is that not the most moving thing you ever did see?
Note to the kids:
Thats what a man looks like.
This is one place where the medium of the web cannot begin to capture the beauty of the moment.
Life Magazine: Summer 1972
I've just spent some time reading through the summer of 1972 in old copies of Life magazine.
First issue - August 25 1972. Republican First Lady Pat Nixon on the cover.
Second Issue September 15th 1972 - Israeli kidnappings and murder an the Munich Olympics.
According to these magazines, Summer of 1972 we had :
Olympics (Munich - "West" Germany)
A Controversial incumbent republican president (Nixon) running for re-election against war hero liberal democrat.(Mcgovern)
How many pages do you think are dedicated to the war in both issues of this magazine? How many pages are dedicated to the wild eyed hatred of the Americans overseas? How many talk about Nixon in terms of "hitler-like"?
This is 150 huge pages of journalism, written by the cream of the liberal media crop at the top of their game.
come on, just take a guess......
Just 4. One article by Ramsey Clark on our bombing of the North Vietnamese, on reading the article its clear that Mr. Clark never visted Dresden, he seems to think that "bombers" is just a great nickname for a Kansas City Womens Professional Roller Derby team. He seems genuinely surprised to find that when a squadron of B-52 salvoes its payload, that things break and people die for miles around. There is a minor mention in one article about the hip new talk show called "The Dick Cavett show" that talks about how a somewhat lesser known character, known as a "Mr. Kerry" being taken apart by 'his enemies' on the show( gee, I wonder how that all turned out?). In the September 15th issue the only "letters to the editor' that discuss the war are in response to the "Ramsey Clark" article.
Thats it, Vietnam, the most controversial war of all time rates just four pages, in two issues at the very time its being fought.
How is it that the Vietnam war seems to be getting more press in 2004, than it was getting in 1972?
Update: Further analysis of these magazine issues also has revealed that based on the advertising levels seen within them - that Americans of 1972 drank only the hardest of alcohol, smoke cigarettes like chimneys, drive only really big cars made exclusively in some place called "Detroit". There are also repeated references to a device known as a 'record player' and a "hi-fi", which seem to be very popular, although their exact purpose seems to be lost in the mists of time.
The way you look tonight
Three years ago, a summer was passing and grade school was starting across America. School lunchboxes were packed, books stacked and kids marched off to do the drudgery that we require of all our younger minds. While we dashed the young ones off to their lives, we went to work and went on about ours. We were concerned with power, electric power and would there be enough to run our air conditioning. We were concerned with computer jobs, would there be enough as many of our friends, who left the normal corporate world for the dotcom world were coming back like defeated British paratroopers at Arnhem, tired and beaten, but not defeated. We were concerned with our declining stock portfolios and what our friends would think of us for buying pets.com at 60.00 a share.
A new President was in Washington and Republicans were still basking in the fact that for the first time in memory, it was Republicans who had protested in the election, the shouts of "get out of Cheney's house" still ringing in their ears as they felt for the first time that they had not been victims of a Democrat political machine who controlled events because they controlled the mob. Now it seemed, the Republicans were also capable of street theatre and their own mob action.
In our modern age of the internet and the dissemination of image based information, we often forget about what a photograph means to us in a tactile sense. A photograph is a paper based chemical reaction to light that captures in two dimensions what the lens sees. A photograph is in a way a chemical memory of a time and space that has since passed and can never be recaptured. Light from the Sun on a particular orbit of the earth bounces off buildings and trees and is gathered by a small glass lens and concentrated onto a piece of paper coated with a silver compound that reacts to the light to capture the image. It is a miracle when you think about it.
The camera goes 'click', and another piece of time/space is captured. It is no wonder that many primitive societies consider photography to be the "stealing of a soul", in many ways that is what is going on. The soul of a moment in time is gathered and stored on a piece of paper.
Much more than just light is captured in a photograph, Our minds react to the picture and we are brought back to the time that the picture was generated. We are reminded of where we were and sometimes who we were when the picture was made. Photographs are often composed of scenes that are important to us at the time for seemingly trivial lighthearted reasons. Sometimes those pictures contain information which at the time they are made make no sense to us, but years later, Time and space have moved to provide a context that didn't exist when the picture was originally made.
Yesterday, a slice of time/space re-appeared into my life.
Its a summer vacation picture. it is of an older woman,My mother-in-law, wearing a Statue of Liberty foam-crown, so commonly found on the heads of tourists in the New York City area. She is standing on the front of a tourist boat in New York Harbor. She's smiling for the camera and all the folks at home in a grin that could easily contain a regulation football and leave space on each side of her face. She his happy, Her arms outstretched in front of the New York Skyline, Her right arm overhead of Ellis Island.
She's on vacation with her daughter. They have flown clear across country to visit New York City.
In the background, prominent in the scene, are "David" and "Nelson". "David" and "Nelson" are not relatives hogging the picture, "David" and "Nelson" are the names of the two WTC towers.
In every visit I ever made to Manhattan and the New York and New Jersey Area, "David" and "Nelson" stood there marking the daily passing of the Sun. If you were in Long Island traveling towards Manhattan you knew you were getting close when you could see the tops of the towers in lower Manhattan above the tree line. If you were in New Jersey, you could look across and see the brothers and know that the rotation of the earth ran through those axles that came up out of the ground in Manhattan, you could see it there, right across the water.
Three years ago, the world changed and I didn't even know it. It was mostly over by the time I became aware of it here on the West coast. Much like the way the lives of parents are destroyed without their knowing it in the hours before they find out that their children were killed overnight in a car accident, our lives were changed forever hours before I knew it had even occurred.
I turned on the TV the way I used to do every morning and I saw the axles of the earth crash to the ground. We wondered if we should send the kids to school, We wondered if the attacks would continue, if these attacks were just the start of something bigger. I found myself confronting a fear that I hadn't had in the years since the end of the cold war that 'today could be the last day of life on earth'. I watched in awe as aircraft around the country stopped flying. The sky was silent and for the first time in my life even in my fathers life, no aircraft were in the skies anywhere. As a pilot, being told there are no aircraft flying was the equivalent of a priest being told that there are no more churches.
Well, there was one aircraft. Out on the horizon that night you could see the navigation lights of an F-15 fighter aircraft in a wide orbit over the city, looking for an enemy that thankfully didn't reappear. I always wondered what was that pilots name and what was in his mind those nights. He was a man who like the rest of us worried for his family and hoped for the future, only he sat in the front of a weapon ready to do his duty, even though he was not in foreign skies against an enemy pilot, but here at home and his likely target would be a civilian airliner being used as a weapon against his family and his homeland.
The day went from bad to worse as the impact began to sink in as to what it all meant. " We are at war" is what I said when I saw that it wasn't a tragic airliner accident, the moment when the second tower was hit was as powerful to me as the words "The Japs Have Attacked Pearl Harbor" was to my fathers generation.
That night, I, like thousands of other Americans went to the Red Cross blood center to help in the smallest way I could with helping in dealing with the carnage. It was filled beyond capacity, parents brought their children for whom there were no babysitters planned for and they all calmly sat on the curb outside the building waiting their turn to help their fellow countrymen. For a large crowd, it was very quiet and orderly. It's amazing how emergencies turn what would ordinarily been a crowd of misbehaving kids and rattled parents into calm collected citizens, all more aware of their neighbors needs than their own desires. We all wanted to be somewhere else, we all wanted our pre-breakfast lives back.
That night I witnessed a bit of magic. The moment of magic was captured when a woman, who had clearly been a singer in her younger days began to sing " The way you look tonight". It wasn't obtrusive, it wasn't joy filled piano bar belting that was going on. This was something else.
She could see what I saw, the recognition of so many willing to give, and help at a time of need. I started the day wondering where my socks were and at the end of the day I had found my heart, thanks to a woman who's name I'll never know, and a moment in time that was not on anyone's agenda as much as 12 hours before. In the parking lot of the Red Cross stood a woman singing a song to an audience of Americans, doing all that they could with what little they had.
What was she wearing?
She was wearing a Statue-of-Liberty foam-crown.
I wasn't aware of the picture of my mother-in-law in front of the New York skyline in a Statue-of-Liberty foam-crown until yesterday. The slice in time/space from whence the picture was taken, a simple vacation trip taken before mass murder was committed in the same place as this photograph of a womans of joy and innocence, did not have the significance to me then that it now does.
Two seemingly unrelated events brought together by a simple piece of tourist kitsch.
Three years later, "David" and "Nelson" are gone, and so is my mother-in-law, of a disease she must have had but didnt know about at the time the picture was taken. She is happy, arms outstreched like Barbra Striesand in "Funny Girl" - she has 2 years to live, the buildings behind her and three thousand lives, only 14 months...
Somewhere in a drawer at the home of a woman who was once a singer, sits a small piece of tourist kitch, a green crown made of foam, to make the wearer look like the Statue of Liberty that she once bought on her trip to New York, unaware of how it and a photograph taken by the daughter of another woman visting New York before September 11th 2001 tied together time and space in the parking lot of the Red Cross on that warm summer night in September.
It's three years later and I still miss them. That song still goes through my mind everytime I think of how the world has changed.
APB: Beer Truck Stolen
Letters! We get Letters!
Well, its week one here at Varifrank and its been quite an eye opener. I have to say to all that have visited here in the inaugural week that things are moving along nicely. With one Vodka-lanche and two -count 'em- Two Insta-lanches, the traffic is moving along just fine. Its more than I could ever hope for and I thank you all.
The Moveable Type site is beginning to form and with the sure as the sunrise arrival of payday and a cash infusion to the hobby will provide what I need for a graphics mercenary to get it in professional shape.
I also have to say I get one heck of a lot of email. I also have to say that 99% of you are polite, erudite and smart, even when you disagree with me. Some of you however, are a real adventure.
You learn a lot when you blog. It's like being a teacher. People have this illusion that students learn from their teachers, but its really the other way around, its the teachers who are learning from their students.
For example, I grew up in a four generation Navy family, I thought I had heard every dirty word ever uttered in about 12 languages. This week, I learned a lot more. I cant wait to see my dad again so I can tell him all the new things that monkeys want to do with me and apparently what people want me to do with monkeys. Surprisingly, most of the anger seems directed at my mom and her genetic lineage, why? I don't know.
I also learned that "the kids today" end all the words that end in "s" with "z". I learned that there is a large population of people who are utterly shocked to find that not only is George W. Bush running for office, but that there are a substantial number of people who actually are supporting him.
I learned that there is a hotbed of anger, bile, bigotry and hatred called "Democratic Underground", where bigots trade invectives and give each other hints on what new names to call people with whom they disagree. Think of this as the webs equivalent to the kind of place that southern sherrifs and their deputies used to sit around killing time in before the evenings cross burning and lynching activities were underway.
Now, I know I'm not supposed to do this, but I do try to talk to them when they write. If I can translate their text ( often it appears in the form of Instant Messenger shorthand text) I try to form a response to their statements. I want the record to be clear - I do not hate Democrats, I hate Tyranny. Democrats are my countrymen, I need a strong Democratic party for this country to exist. I happen to disagree with them on many issues, but that is not the end of the world, at least not to me. If Western Civilization is about anything its about tolerance. I am a very tolerant fellow.
Here's an exchange I had with one of the members of "Democratic Underground":
Care to name all 40 states? Or would that make plain
how ridiculous both your prediction, and you, are?
While you're on the subject of Vietnam service, why
not mention that while Bush supports that war, he used
his family connections to avoid it? Or that he
couldn't be bothered to show up for Guard drills for
months at a time? Just like Iraq, he's perfectly
willing to send the less fortunate in our country to
die for an unjust war. Apparently, so are you, you
The author posted this email on the forum, but seems to have neglected to post my response.
So, Here is my response:
Ok, let's be nice here. I'm just a guy and so are you. There's no need to get upset.
I'll try to answer your questions as long as you promise to play nice.
Here's the states I don't think Bush will win:
I see Bush taking all the rest, 'cept Washington D.C.
For the record, I didn't mention Bush.
But since you did -
I don't see a problem with Bush's performance in the National Guard. If Bush made it the centerpiece of his campaign, my opinion would grow very dark indeed. He was the equivalent of what I believe Kerry to have been, a mediocre officer just marking time. There's no shame in that, there's nothing wrong with it at all for either man. There is something really weird with making it into something more than it was, as Kerry has clearly done.
If Kerry's is a "War Hero" doesn't that make Vietnam a "Heroic War"? I'm ok with that definition, but I very much doubt that you are willing to go that far. For a man who testified in front of the Senate that "Vietnam is the biggest nothing in history" to now champion his time in Vietnam as having "fought for his country" seems odd to me.
I do support the war in Iraq. Kerry has said recently that he too would have invaded Iraq. President Clinton has also said that "While he would have done it differently" he too would have take the actions that President Bush has done in Iraq. I didn't need WMD's to invade Iraq. the words "Children's Prison" was enough to justify our invasion. The recent return of enough nuclear material to produce 142 atomic weapons to the Oak Ridge laboratory is not a bad thing either. My biggest reason for wanting to invade Iraq? it gives us a nice long border on which to invade Iran. Hopefully we will get around to doing it before they have atomic weapons, which they are busily working day and night to acheive, and rest assured, they will use. It's not a question of "if" we will fight the Iranians, but when. Iraq is just logistical staging area for a bigger more dangerous enemy elsewhere. It was also long overdue.
If Bush was invading Iraq just for the ability to feed his friends in the Oil industry, He could have simply declared war on Iraq in the week after September 11th. The emotions of the time would have allowed it to occur with little problem. Bush didn't do that, He didn't declare war as he easily could have done, and the question has to be asked "why"?
While many call President Bush a "bloodthirsty warmonger", it doesn't resolve to the process that we have used to persecute this war. It's important to understand that our troops aren't dying because our enemy is effective, but simply that we wish to remain humane. We could kill with extreme precision and in mass numbers and our shirts would not so much as get slightly moist with sweat, we've chosen not to do this, but there's nothing really stopping us but our basic humanity.
"Chicken hawk" is a nice word. There are those of us who believe that a democracy is only a democracy when all citizens have a voice in their affairs. There are those who believe that only those who have military backgrounds should be given the full rights of citizenship. Those people are called "fascists". I don't think you really want to be a "fascist", and rest assured I don't want to be one either. I like differences, I like opposition. You are not my enemy, you are my countryman and I hope we can learn to live together. If you are truly for peace, you will find a way to do this, as I have. "Peace" if that is your goal, starts with you and me, right here.
If you can't learn to get along with little old me, what hope do you have for the rest of the world learning to get along?
I'm willing to serve in any capacity that I can to see that the civilization that you and I live in is allowed to survive. I believe that you too are willing to do what is necessary. If I could serve in the military, I'd be happy to do so, if you have some contacts to get me in, send them my way, it's not that I haven't tried. I hope that you would say the same, and I give you the benefit of the doubt that you would.
You, my friend have a lot to lose in the war that's going on. This war is far beyond just Iraq. The Jihadis have told us to "submit or die". We in the west didn't choose this war and frankly we spent 20 years turning the other cheek to avoid it. We can argue about the parameters of western civilization after we are assured that it will survive. While I'm hopeful and optimistic that we will win, I'm painfully aware of how easy it can be to lose.
You should also know that if the Jihadis win, the only difference they will make between the two of us is the order in which we are marched to an open trench to be killed at gunpoint. You and I are both "infidels" to them and in that respect we have that much in common at least.
I'm thinking of making a Letters section on the blog. Some of these are really precious. I just love it when little kids learn to speak and spell, they are just so precious at that age, these kids today have such a dynamic language, it just makes you tingle to read it. .
Victory or Peace?
Peace only occurs where there is capitulation. In this example, we can only hope that al-sadr will either say the arabic equivalent of "no mas" or suddenly have an "accident". I'd like to set the limit to "negotiations" to 5.
And would someone PLEASE occupy that damn shrine before the next set of delicate delinquents occupy it?
Of course, If I had my way, we would have renamed the shrine "monte cassino" and told the Air Force to go take it out. Shrine? I got your shrine right here pal.
Farewell John Kerry!
I had a whole agenda of things I wanted to look up on John Kerry today, and I couldnt get the words to come out. One week after starting my blog, and here I was with a ripping case of "blog-block".
Why? Because I didn't start the blog so I could dig up the obvious on John Kerry. Frankly, its just too easy.
Let's take a look at the score so far. Kerry , who decided for some reason beyond the comprehension of a simpleton like me, has decided that the most important thing to run his campaign on is 4 months of service in Vietnam 35 years ago.
35 years ago! For Gods sake man! Did it occur to you that 35 years was a hell of a long time ago? Do you remember anyone in 1960 running on his war record against the Kaiser in WWI? Did you really think that no one would look into your record? Did you not think or did anyone that works for you not think that you, like almost everyone else in the world, did in fact embellish your resume and tell tales that weren't based on fact, but on the emotions of the time?
Didn't it occur to you even a little bit, that standing up and saluting like a total fob and saying " Reporting for duty" after you sat in front of the Senate in 1971 with a fatigue shirt and long hair and told tales of "Americas war criminals" that somehow the "Band of Brothers" made for TV presentation schtick, might ring a bit hollow?
Here you are, with a 15% polling tailwind from the press reduced to Michael Moore street theatre with Max Cleland doing your dirty work in front of the cameras.
Do you know how non-presidential this looks? Can you do anything else to look more petty, small and dare I say "lawyer-ish".
If you can't take a punch from a guy like Bush, how are you going to deal with Chirac? or the Iranians? or for that matter, all the other Republicans in Congress, who want nothing more in life than to be the one who spills your guts out on the floor.
This is real hardball politics and your response is to go on "The Daily Show"? Really Mr. Kerry, THE DAILY SHOW? Do you hold me and the rest of the American public in such contempt that your first show after the convention is on a cable comedy satire show? It annoys me sir, but you've got to think that it just sizzles the rear ends of the political journalists, and you know what happens when they get mad at you? They will go looking for things to make you look bad. Mark my words sir, the easy stuff about you has come out, when the really ugly stuff comes out, you're going to need a better game than this to stay upright and watertight. How does it help you to alienate the press? You make the statement all the time about how we are supposed to work with our allies, and here you are, in a political campaign annoying your allies for no clear purpose.
Mark my words - The press made you, and the press will break you. Now that you've embarrased them, they will make it their life's work.
There is no President in modern memory who is so universally hated than George W. Bush, and yet, you've never polled outside of the margin of error. Now, the polls are going against you, and by my measurement, its going to get worse, not better from here. Bush is a marathon runner and you are a country club golf cart riding, two caddy golfer. As long as you continue to bring your B game to an A game park, you and your party are going to look fools. At some point, you will begin to see your allies in your party and the press begin to make you the pinata at this party. They will not take the heat for your loss, they will tie a can around your neck and toss you out into the exercise yard for the guards to shoot at. Everyone loves a winner, but no one can stand a loser.
You sir, are a loser. You will go down in history as the man who made Dukakis look good.
I don't really feel sorry for you, frankly you've proven to be everything I've learned to expect from the son of a foreign service officer who was raised in a swiss boarding school, whos personal fortune comes from marrying women from a higher income bracket than himself.
I do feel sorry for Howard Dean and his supporters. I hope you guys understand what you sold your votes out for. Deaniacs, you might not like George W. Bush, but take a look at John Kerry. Bush might be your enemy, but hes not the one who sunk your battleship. The USS Kerry did that for you, and you helped him do it.
Prediction: Mcgovern, Mondale, Dukakis and now Kerry will each get an entry in the hall of fame of losers. 40 states will go for Bush. It will not be a close election.
I hereby swear off blogging about John Kerry.
UPDATE: Some of you have written saying that I should not stop blogging. I have no intention of stopping, I just got started. I've just sworn off "Blogging on Kerry". It's just not right to attack the weak and infirmed.