Tuesday, January 30, 2007

On stuff you can't make up

Okay, so it looks like the White House has hired a new pastry chef. William Yosses, the First Lady says, "has a light touch with desserts, and the enthusiasm with which he approaches his profession makes him a real asset for all of us.''

Basically, it means that the man who'll be making dessert for this guy:

is the man who wrote this book:

Can't. Make it. Up.

Monday, January 29, 2007

On pickle's chance to shine

Twinkle, baby! Twinkle!

Okay, so I've heard this argument so much that I just had to follow up:
"We send people to jail for killing cats but not the unborn. ... Abortion is legal homicide."

inapickle | 01.29.07 - 4:35 pm | #

'K. So here's the question for all of you anti-choicers out there: What do you think is an appropriate sentence for a woman who gets an abortion?

I'll even help you out. The 2006 Federal Sentencing Guidelines suggest the following:

- Premeditated killing: life imprisonment or death
- Conspiracy or solicitation to commit murder: 11-14 years
- Conspiracy/solicitation wherein money changes hands: 17-22 years
- Conspiracy/solicitation resulting in the death of the victim: life imprisonment or death

And, at the discretion of the judge, as many as two years can be knocked off the sentence if the woman is willing to take responsibility for the crime and participate in her own conviction.

So again with the question: What is the appropriate sentence for a woman who gets an abortion?

Your answers go in comments.

Friday, January 26, 2007

On Frosty (no, seriously, that's his name) Hardison: This Is Your Soundtrack

Okay, so I joke a lot about the apocalypse. Or possibly I'm dead serious; I think, in the end, it depends on whether or not John was on some kind of hallucinogenic when he wrote the book of Revelation. Anyway, I've been able to attribute a lot of weird behavior to the end times, but I've never considered bringing global warming into the argument:
This week in Federal Way schools, it got a lot more inconvenient to show one of the top-grossing documentaries in U.S. history, the global-warming alert "An Inconvenient Truth."

After a parent who supports the teaching of creationism and opposes sex education complained about the film, the Federal Way School Board on Tuesday placed what it labeled a moratorium on showing the film. The movie consists largely of a computer presentation by former Vice President Al Gore recounting scientists' findings.

"Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher," said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. "The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. ... The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD."
(emphasis mine)

Also shamefully omitted from the film was climate change resulting from burning bushes and the contribution of pillars of cloud to the worldwide greenhouse effect. (H/T Bill in Portland Maine.)

And that's why this week's Not-Even-Random Ten goes out to Frosty Hardison, for so graciously pointing out the omission of the six-thousand-year-old psychotic vision of a long-dead prophet from our high school science curriculum. Good catch, Frosty.

(Incidentally, today's Apocalyptic Index stands at 60.)

The Ten:

1. Jimmy Eat World, "Futures"
2. Ohio Players, "Fire"
3. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, "Weight of the World"
4. Jamiroquai, "Canned Heat"
5. Dixie Chicks, "Everybody Knows"
6. Nelly, "Hot in Herre"
7. Michael Bublé, "Fever"
8. The Trammps, "Disco Inferno"
9. A Tribe Called Quest, "Hot 4 U"
10. Kent, "Before It All Ends"

Your Random Ten and apocalyptic predictions go in comments.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

On making good things out of boring, predictable things

Okay, so the president's address was, as usual, uninspiring, with the usual promises he can't and/or won't follow through on and the usual denial of reality. He claims to be able to balance the budget without raising taxes, that he can help the health of America's poor through Health Savings Accounts, and that he knows how to bring stability and democracy to Iraq by sending more troops. Big talk from a guy who's had six years to learn to pronounce "nuclear". Demonstrating a stunning lack of self-awareness, he also takes Congress to task for earmarks, rightfully pointing out that items "that are not even part of the bill that arrives on [his] desk. You didn't vote them into law. [He] didn't sign them into law" aren't a great idea while completely ignoring his own multitudinous signing statements and executive orders that are similarly unapproved by the voting public.

But this isn't about the president's lies, because if it were, I'd be even poorer than I am now, and the Wounded Warrior Project could start including a gold brick in each backpack. No, this is about the president's repetition, and that, thankfully, I can afford. Let's take a look:

terrorists: 16
benchmark: 1
enemy: 14
victory: 2
freedom: 3
"nucular": 3
deficit: 3
Osama bin Laden: 1 (but no reference to actually catching or pursuing him)

By far the scariest sentence in the entire SOTU: "The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others." Translation: By the time the shit really hits the fan, my ass is in Crawford and the phones are all unplugged.

Most significant omission: Katrina.

Runners-up: Baker-Hamilton; winning; mistake

Early numbers for the Wounded Warrior Project: $72.50 total, pending official figures on pauses for applause (my count says 64, down one from last year, with 18 standing ovations, down about 25 from last year, but YMMV). Official figures to follow.

Update: Okay, the official ovation stats are in, and it's looking like it's 61 pauses for applause, three fewer than my count, and 24 full or partial standing O's, six more than my count. That leaves the official take for the Wounded Warrior Project at $73.25 and the two-year total for the State of the Union Pledge Extravaganza and Chili Cook-Off at $200.75. Thanks to everyone who made this possible and to George W. Bush's speech writers for being so very, very, very predictable.

On things that, shock, keep on a-fallin'

Okay, so as Bill from JC has pointed out, President Bush's approval rating has dropped to an unprecedented and near-Nixonian 28 percent. I hesitate to even do this, because history has shown that State of the Union addresses tend to carve approval points off of incumbent presidents (Bush's last one lost him two points). But just in case the dip takes a few days to register, I'm going to take a chance and revive the approval rating betting pool of last May.

Rules are the same: Pick the date you think Bush's approval rating will hit 27 and leave it in comments. Whoever gets within one day on either side of the actual event wins (as with last year's pool) his or her choice of Flying Spaghetti Monster apparel from CafePress or (new addition) an I'm on the watch list" hat or sticker.

Get your dates in now while you still can. See below for official rules. No purchase necessary. Many will enter, few will win. Vaya con Dios.

Selection of dates is first-come, first-served. Dates available will fall in the two-month period between today (January 23, 2007)) and March 23, 2007. In the event of a tie, the contestant who picks the closest day before the event in question will be declared the winner. Declaration of winners and distribution of prizes is entirely at the discretion of management. Not applicable in conjunction with any other offer. If a rash appears, immediately discontinue use and contact your physician. Do not use while driving or operating heavy machinery. Swim at your own risk.

On the state of President Bush's fantasy world

Okay, so it’s that time of year again, when our president is given an hour of network airtime to equivocate to the country and not get called on it. Last year, I threw a little twist onto the traditional SOTU drinking games and pledged money to the Wounded Warrior Project for President Bush’s various broken-recordish speech patterns. In the end, the good people got $127.50, or enough to fill one backpack with toiletries and personal items for a soldier who got wounded and shipped home in his same filthy uniform, with $28 to start on the next one.

This year will be a bit of a challenge because, wise to the fact that his repetitive catch phrases and “stay the course"s weren't and aren’t fooling anyone (or possibly just lacking in any convincing way to put lipstick on the pig that is Bush’s foreign policy), Bush’s speech writers have started getting a little more selective with word usage. That should be interesting, and it should also be interesting to see the responses from the newly-Democratic Congress. All told, I’ll still pledge $1 for each occurrence of the following:

- “terrorists”
- “surge”
- “benchmark”
- “enemy”
- “victory” or “winning”
- “mistake” ($5 if he actually admits to making it himself)
- “freedom” (if he falls back on “they hate our freedoms”? $5)
- “nucular” ($5 if he actually pronounces it correctly)
- “deficit”
- “tyrant” ($5 for “decapitation”)
- any reference to his warrantless wiretapping scheme
- any reference to the Iraq Study Group
- any inappropriate smiling while mentioning something that shouldn’t raise a smile
- 25 cents each time he’s interrupted for applause, and 50 cents for each standing ovation
- and, of course, the usual $10 for “Osama bin Laden”

I’ll also throw in another fiver if he threatens war against Iran or tells Americans to go shopping.

Once again, it’s quite the job, and anyone who wants to help me keep count can feel free. Watch this space for final numbers on the speech, snarky comments, and the final take for the Wounded Warrior Project. Wish me luck.

Monday, January 22, 2007

On why I'm pro-choice

Okay, so today marks the 34th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, and a lot of feminist blogs are participating in a "Blog for Choice" day with posts explaining why they're pro-choice. But although I do consider myself pro-choice, this post wasn't inspired by them. It was actually inspired, if you can believe it, by something my priest said in church on Sunday about the sanctity of life.

Father X (as I'll call him, since he doesn't deserve to have his good name dragged into the perpetual moral decay of this blog) talked yesterday about how we, as Catholics, are expected to respect life - all life. Today, of course, the life of the unborn comes to mind, but "pro-life"ness tends to focus on that life at the expense of all others. Jesus didn't have a lot to say about abortion, but he had plenty to say about the homeless, the widowed, the unclean, prisoners, foreigners - basically, anyone who doesn't have someone to take care of them. Father talked about doing prison ministries, coming in with deacons and lay ministers and seeing the looks on the prisoners' faces as they realized that, contrary to their beliefs at the time, they hadn't been forgotten and disregarded because of their crimes. Jesus, after all, hung out with tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, people with disabilities that others presumed to be punishment for sins, basically everyone that everyone else had declared unworthy of contact. Jesus loved the innocents, the children, the devout and holy, but he also loved the filthy, the sinful, and the unloved.

Abortion is a bad thing. Pro-choicers are often reluctant to say that flat-out, because the automatic anti-choice response is, "Well, if it's bad, why don't you want to make it illegal?" and that's a door few people want to open. The short answer to that question is that there is a difference between something being bad and something being illegal, but that is another, lengthy and involved, post. But most pro-choicers do recognize that abortion is a bad thing - if someone is having an abortion, it means that either a) they're carrying a baby they wanted, but medical reasons are causing them to terminate the pregnancy, or b) something has happened to make them pregnant when they don't want to be. And that is a failure not of a woman, but of a society.

So one of the reasons that I'm pro-choice is that I think that preventing abortion starts long before a woman walks into Planned Parenthood. Abortion is a symptom; unwanted pregnancy is the disorder, and preventing that will prevent abortion. Abstinence-only education, for instance, keeps our teenagers ignorant about sex and contraception; at exactly the time their surging hormones are urging them to procreate, our kids hear nothing beyond just don't do it and are left to subsist on nothing more than their teenaged willpower. For those who do learn about birth control, lack of access to health care makes it difficult for some to acquire it, and those who can get a prescription often have to face down puritanical pharmacists unwilling to distribute birth control pills or emergency contraception. Giving women - young and old, married and unmarried - the wherewithal to not get pregnant practically eliminates the need for abortion at all.

What about teen sex? Most agree that it should be discouraged, and yet a society so bizarrely focused on the state of a young girl's hymen practically guarantees that she'll have issues in the future. A girl raised from childhood with the idea that her virginity is a precious and sacred gift to save for some as-yet-unmet future husband learns to put all of her personal value on that "purity," on sex. And that "purity" becomes a currency that can be traded away for affection, popularity, a false sense of self-esteem. When emphasis is put on the girl as a human being with value all her own, she can have the confidence to wait until the time is right, not because she's saving herself for some fabled groom, but because she doesn't need to rely on the attention of others for affirmation. Giving our teenagers the information they'll need to get through those difficult years of young adulthood, giving them the support they need to make decisions for the right reasons, and giving them the tools to deal with the choices they make are all key to preventing teen sex, teen pregnancy, and the teen abortion that might result.

What about pregnancies that haven't been prevented? It's a sad truth that in this rich nation of ours, having a baby takes more resources that many women have. It's also a sad truth that many anti-choicers are quick to jump in for the sake of the fetus and then just as quick to jump out when it turns into a baby. Today's pregnant woman being saved from the evils of abortion is tomorrow's single mother being reviled for being a dirty slut. More support for women with children - those willing to put them up for adoption, and those who choose to keep them - throughout gestation and after delivery would reduce the number of abortions performed because of the exorbitant physical, financial, and emotional costs of motherhood.

Preventing unwanted pregnancy, reducing teen sex, making it easier for women to carry pregnancies to term - all of those are ways that communities and the government could reduce the number of abortions. And that's a good thing, but not exclusively pro-choice. What makes me pro-choice is that I believe that, ultimately, a woman should have control over her own body. Blah, blah, blah, "It's a child, not a choice;" let me tell you a story.

I got the chance to witness the sanctity of life three years ago when a coworker became pregnant. I got to watch B go from flat-tummied to hugely swollen over the course of nine months. And one memorable day, she shouted to me to come into her office, grabbed my hand, and tucked it under her enormous belly. After several still and silent minutes, I felt a tiny flutter. The fetus had the hiccups.

Motherhood is an enormous responsibility. It has to be something a woman takes on voluntarily. Six months into her pregnancy, B's invisible zygote had turned into a fetus and was well on its way to becoming a tiny person. To tell a woman, fearful about her unwanted pregnancy, that she was twenty-four weeks away from feeling another being hiccup inside of her body could change her life - or make her more terrified than ever. To punish a woman for having sex by forcing her to carry and deliver a human being not only denies her the right to make decisions about her own life, but it turns the baby into a weapon, a method of punishment.

Respecting the sanctity of life means ensuring that every child brought into this world is wanted and loved. It means that no child is an accident, a burden, a penance, or a reparation for someone's sin. It means respecting a woman's right to know when a pregnancy would ruin her life. It means respecting a child's right to have a purpose for being, beyond a mere consequence for an action. And all of that means seeing women as partners in the process, not objects that need to have their decisions made for them.

No one wants abortions. Despite the protestations of the anti-choicers, pro-choicers don't hate babies, and we don't want to see more abortions. But just as a heart transplant is a sign of illness in the body, abortion is a sign of illness in society - and banning abortion won't heal that illness, any more than banning open-heart surgery will prevent heart disease. Truly respecting the sanctity of life means looking beyond the symptoms and addressing the causes for the illness. That is the only reliable way to prevent abortion, and that is a goal we all have in common.

We're often asked to consider what Jesus would do. Listening to Father X's homily yesterday, I'm fairly sure that the man who fed the homeless, healed lepers, ate with tax collectors, forgave prostitutes, and guaranteed a spot in heaven to the very thief crucified next to him would not be standing outside an abortion clinic, holding a picture of a bloody fetus and shouting obscenities at women as they passed. And I'm fairly sure he wouldn't be standing up in Congress, telling single mothers to work more hours so they could afford to raise their kids or composing horrific laundry-list snuff fantasies detailing the degredation a virginal girl would have to suffer to escape the punishment of a forced pregnancy. I daren't speak for the man, but I suspect he would show compassion and understanding and see in each woman not an example to be made with harsh, sweeping legislation, but a human life - a sacred life - worthy of empathy and human decency from a community entirely capable of delivering it.

(If you haven't been keeping up, that's us.)

Friday, January 19, 2007

On Friday Random Ten - Double Meme Friday

Okay, so for the past week, Feministe has been working a fairly unusual, fairly cool meme. Zuzu notes that people, particularly women, are conditioned to be self-deprecating, to avoid bragging, to apologize for our virtues and play up our faults. And it's true, for me at least; my own personal brand of humor leans heavily toward the self-deprecating, and it's only in the past couple of years or that I've learned how to take a compliment properly (the proper way being, "Oh, thank you!" rather than, "Please. That one high note could have woken the dead").

So here's the challenge: List five things about yourself that you like. Your body, your personality, whatever - five things. At least five things. And my addendum to that is that you must list them unapologetically, without joking, making excuses, or trying to balance the good with the bad. When I first tried doing this, it was one of the hardest things I've done, not because I couldn't think of things I like about myself, but because I couldn't brag. Couldn't do it. If I was loving on my legs, it was always with the caveat that "while they aren't the thinnest gams out there..." and if I was loving on my sense of humor, it was "some might disagree..." When did that happen?

Unapologetic brag lists, people. I'll start you off:
1. My eyes are awesome. They're blue, except when they're gray, except when they're green, and they're really sparkly and clear.

2. I'm built like Marilyn Monroe (plus an inch and a half of height). How cool is that?

3. I'm ridiculously fit. I walk constantly, and my legs can take me just about anywhere I need to go (including, on occasion, up mountains).

4. I'm wicked empathetic. I'm the go-to girl among my friends for advice, sympathy, and a shoulder to cry on, and I've got a great sense of social justice.

5. I'm not easily intimidated. I'm not afraid to take up the space I'm in, and I'm not about to back down in an argument if I know I'm right.
5a. Corollary: I'm also able to admit when I'm wrong.

And while I'm doing memes, here's my Friday Random Ten:

1. Annie Lennox, "Why"
2. Paul Oakenfold, "Sex Drive"
3. Marcy Playground, "Comin' Up From Behind"
4. Marilyn Horne, "He's Gone Away"
5. Alana Davis, "Blame It On Me"
6. Joss Stone, "Dirty Man"
7. Drowning Pool, "Sinner"
8. OMD, "Joan of Arc"
9. Ella Fitzgerald, "'Round Midnight"
10. Serge Gainsbourg, "La Fille Au Rasoir"

Your turn! Your Random Ten and your favorite five go in comments. Remember, no apologies, no excuses, no equivocating. Don't feel silly about bragging, because everybody's doing it today.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

On lions lying with lambs (the leopard and the kid, yadda yadda yadda)

Okay, so despite his longstanding, vehement protestations that they absolutely, positively, without a doubt, indubitably, unequivocally could not keep us safe if they had to get a valid warrant before (or within three days after) listening in on your phone conversations or reading your e-mail, the Bush administration has announced that... well, that that isn't the case anymore.
The Bush administration said yesterday that it has agreed to disband a controversial warrantless surveillance program run by the National Security Agency, replacing it with a new effort that will be overseen by the secret court that governs clandestine spying in the United States. ...

... Under the new plan, Gonzales said, the secret court that administers the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, will oversee eavesdropping on telephone calls and e-mails to and from the United States when "there is probable cause to believe" that one of the parties is a member of al-Qaeda or an associated terrorist group.

So by "new plan," of course they mean "old plan," referring to the one that was in place - and was, by all accounts, perfectly effective - back before King George decided that warrants were for sissies.

I snark, because that's my way, but don't pretend that I'm not happy to see George Bush doing the right thing for once. As a matter of fact, that he is doing the right thing is practically a parade-worthy event, and I will be wearing something red, tight and sparkly tomorrow to celebrate. And despite concerns that this New Old-Fashioned Way lacks some of the civil liberties protections of the original, effective FISA legislation, I have faith that our lege can work it out and, if necessary, push things through, because just for tonight, I believe in miracles.

Not too miraculous, though:
White House and Justice officials said the president was not retreating from his stance that he has the constitutional and legislative authority to order warrantless surveillance on international calls but said the new rules promulgated by the surveillance court have satisfied concerns about whether the FISA process can move quickly enough to authorize surveillance.

Allow me, in my good and gracious mood tonight, to set something straight: You don't, Georgie. You really, really, really don't. I don't know what Alberto "VO-5" Gonzales has been telling you, but you're not giving in here because he thinks the program is fine as-is. You're giving in because you don't have a legal leg to stand on, and he knows it. If you really had that authority, do you really think Bert would have you punting it mere weeks after the newly Democratic Congress took office?

Oh, you did? That's so cute.

Anyway, points to the Bush administration for doing the right thing for once, whatever the motivation. While y'all are feeling so magnanimous, let's talk about this thing you're doing in the Middle East...

Update: While I'm passing around gold stars, it would be wrong to ignore signs that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki might actually be honoring his commitment to crack down on Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, arresting in the neighborhood of 400 militia members and forcing many others into hiding. If this keeps up, and I truly hope it does, good on 'em; it's the first step to peace in Baghdad and a non-sectarian government in all of Iraq.

Of course, Maliki has also announced that in light of these developments, it's time for the US to get out. Out! Three months, six months, don't surge, don't escalate, just get out! But, um, leave those Humvees behind. And that heavy artillery. And, wow, that is a nice looking helicopter.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

On speaking for oneself

Okay, so Jane Galt was wrong about the war, but, like, the folks who were against the war? Were also wrong. Not because they were against the war, but because, like, the reasons they were against the war? Which I totally don't remember right now, but I know they were wrong. Which is, like, worse?

Unfortunately, one-time Iraq war supporter Kevin Drum, well, doesn't not have her back:
If anti-war liberals were right about the war from the start, how come they don't get more respect? Here's the nickel version of the answer from liberal hawks: It's because they don't deserve it. Sure, the war has gone badly, but not for the reasons the doves warned of.

... I don't know. I know why I turned against the war after initially supporting it (WMD flakiness combined with the mounting evidence that Bush wasn't serious about postwar reconstruction), but I don't know about anyone else. So I can't really play the game. ...

I'm not sure I see it. The fact that Iraq is a clusterfuck doesn't demonstrate that preemptive war is wrong any more than WWII demonstrated that wars using Sherman tanks are right. It's the wrong unit of analysis. After all, Iraq didn't fail because it was preemptive (though that didn't help); it failed either because George Bush is incompetent or because militarized nation building in the 21st century is doomed to failure no matter who does it. Preemption per se had very little to do with it, and the argument against preemptive war, which is as much moral as pragmatic, is pretty much the same today as it was in 2002.

Now, you can argue that non-preemptive wars are more likely to get broad international support, and that this in turn is more likely to lead to success. But this just gets back to Max's original point: does this mean that anti-war liberals think the war would have been OK if only the UN had authorized it?

Maybe so. That actually comes perilously close to my own view. But it's not an argument I've heard much of lately. ...

Kevvy, honey, back away from the broad generalizations with your hands where I can see them. Maybe you supported the war in the beginning, maybe you didn't see this coming, but some of us did. Some of us realized that turning away from Afghanistan to blast the crap out of Iraq with no solid intelligence, no real justification for doing it and no real plan to put it all back together again was a bad idea from the start. The war has gone wrong for exactly the reasons I said, so don't pretend that all anti-war liberals were wrong just because you were wrong to begin with.

I wasn't blogging yet when the war started - I only started in June of 2004 - but here's an excerpt from my very second post:
Liberals see it differently. From our end, we see that the US got bored with Afghanistan and blew off Osama bin Laden so that we could go after someone a little bit sexier. In the process, we decimated global policy, made a mockery of diplomacy, and seriously cheesed off a good number of former allies. Why do we have to adhere to the Geneva Accords and hold off on the torture? Because we have nothing left. We’re clinging desperately to the moral high road like a mountain climber watching that one last piton quiver in the rock wall and hoping to God it’s not going to slip. Not torturing people, not raping people, not threatening people with dogs or with the murder of their families, that is the only thing that we have left. Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda, they don’t have that left. We have it. And that’s all.

Jon Stewart said it in his block rocking commencement address at William & Mary:
But here’s the good news. You fix this thing, you’re the next greatest generation, people. You do this—and I believe you can—you win this war on terror, and Tom Brokaw’s kissing your ass from here to Tikrit, let me tell ya. And even if you don’t, you’re not gonna have much trouble surpassing my generation. If you end up getting your picture taken next to a naked guy pile of enemy prisoners and don’t give the thumbs up you’ve outdid us.

It’s funny ‘cause it’s true.

The fact that the war was unprovoked was only the cherry on top of the what-the-hell-is-George-W.-Bush-thinking cake. As a matter of fact, to me, it was a minor blip, because it was long since apparent that Bush's only real motivation was avenging Daddy, taking out Saddam, and playing the cowboy using any hollow justification necessary.

I don't know why some people saw it and some didn't. Maybe you were trying to give our new-ish president the benefit of the doubt; one of the benefits of my status as a near-completely-unknown blogger is that I'm not obliged to equivocate and make excuses when I smell something hideous. Maybe you were privvy to some intelligence that the rest of us didn't see that gave some credence to Bush's claims; all I saw was that he was campaigning awfully hard to sell a war that he claimed should have been intuitively justified. Maybe you're stupid, and I'm not so much. Maybe I guessed lucky, and you didn't. Dunno. Probably no way to find out at this point.

But here's the reason the anti-war liberals aren't getting respect for being right: Because that would make the pro-war conservatives wrong, and they're not about to admit that. To this day, pro-war pundits are dragging in the big bucks over their wrongness. To this day, the administration continues rewriting history in an Orwellian attempt to erase any evidence of their criminal stupidity, and no one ever gets any closer to admitting fault than "mistakes were made." Showing respect to the anti-war liberals would involve recognizing that their reasons for opposing the war were right, that they're still right, and that this entire war has been built on a shaky Swiss-cheese foundation because of it.

Thing is? I don't particularly care about getting a cookie for opposing the war from the start for the right reasons. What would that accomplish? Okay, I was right. Three years and 3,000 troops ago, that might have meant something. Now that Iraq is well and truly broken, and no one in the administration has any realistic plan to fix it, "being right" doesn't mean much.

What would mean a lot? If the Bush administration would recognize that they're wrong. If they would recognize that they had it wrong from the start, but moreover, that they're really, really bad at this. If they would recognize that there are other people who are far smarter than Bush could ever wish to be and that those people, not our emotionally retarded president, should be defining our foreign policy.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

On Martin Luther King Day

Okay, so it seems appropriate to celebrate the earth-shattering and much beloved civil right leader's birthday with a little ideological diversity. That this might result in some cognitive dissonance is the price of playing the game.

The good:
"We must keep reaching across the table and, in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, feed each other," Yolanda King said during a presentation Sunday at Ebenezer Baptist Church that was part motivational speech, part drama.

King, 51, told The Associated Press the King holiday provides an opportunity for everyone to live her father's dream, and that she has her mother's example to follow.

"I connected with her spirit so strongly," Yolanda King said when asked how she is coping with her mother's loss. "I am in direct contact with her spirit, and that has given me so much peace and so much strength."

(Read the entire post at Pam's House Blend.)

The bad:
Yesterday, CNN Headline News anchor Glenn Beck began his program with a commentary about the Duke lacrosse rape case. On Martin Luther King Day, Beck described the media’s treatment of the Duke players as “a lynching without the rope.” He then gestured to himself and said, “for the first time in my life, Mr. Oreo Cookie — without the chocolate on the outside — can understand why people celebrated when O.J. Simpson was acquitted.”

And the ngweaaagh:
RICHMOND, Va. - There were furious denunciations in the General Assembly after a Virginia legislator stated that black people "should get over" slavery.

Hanover Delegate Frank Hargrove made the comment about slavery in an interview published Tuesday in The Daily Progress of Charlottesville.

In the same interview about whether the state should apologize to the descendants of slaves, Hargrove wondered aloud whether Jews should "apologize for killing Christ." ...

(H/T Daily Kos.)

Happy birthday, Dr. King, indeed.

Update: Screw it, I'm not willing to leave it like that. Take it home, Dr. King:
And so, I conclude by saying today that we have a task, and let us go out with a divine dissatisfaction. (Yes)

Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds.
(All right)

Let us be dissatisfied
(Yes) until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice. (Yes sir)

Let us be dissatisfied
(Yes) until those who live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security.

Let us be dissatisfied
(Yes) until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history (Yes), and every family will live in a decent, sanitary home.

Let us be dissatisfied
(Yes) until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality integrated education.

Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity.

Let us be dissatisfied
(All right) until men and women, however black they may be, will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not on the basis of the color of their skin. (Yeah) Let us be dissatisfied. [applause]

Let us be dissatisfied
(Well) until every state capitol (Yes) will be housed by a governor who will do justly, who will love mercy, and who will walk humbly with his God.

Let us be dissatisfied
[applause] until from every city hall, justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. (Yes)

Let us be dissatisfied
(Yes) until that day when the lion and the lamb shall lie down together (Yes), and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid.

Let us be dissatisfied
(Yes), and men will recognize that out of one blood (Yes) God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth. (Speak sir)

Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout, "White Power!" when nobody will shout, "Black Power!" but everybody will talk about God's power and human power.

And I must confess, my friends
(Yes sir), that the road ahead will not always be smooth. (Yes) There will still be rocky places of frustration (Yes) and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. (Yes) And there will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. (Well) Our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted. (Yes) We may again, with tear-drenched eyes, have to stand before the bier of some courageous civil rights worker whose life will be snuffed out by the dastardly acts of bloodthirsty mobs. (Well) But difficult and painful as it is (Well), we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future. (Well) ...

... Let us realize that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Let us realize that William Cullen Bryant is right: "Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again." Let us go out realizing that the Bible is right: "Be not deceived. God is not mocked.
(Oh yeah) Whatsoever a man soweth (Yes), that (Yes) shall he also reap." This is our hope for the future, and with this faith we will be able to sing in some not too distant tomorrow, with a cosmic past tense, "We have overcome! (Yes) We have overcome! Deep in my heart, I did believe (Yes) we would overcome." [applause]


Friday, January 12, 2007

On Friday Random Ten

Preach it, Keith Olbermann.

Okay, so with all the attention I've been putting on Bush's actual plan, I've been shamefully neglecting the speech itself. Let's give it a look:
Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

Declaring... war... on Iran. Is one way to get troops out of Iraq, I suppose.

Yikes. Never mind. Somebody post a Random Ten. Here's mine:

1. Berlin, "Take My Breath Away"
2. Alicia Bridges, "I Love the Nightlife (Disco 'Round)"
3. The Psychadelic Furs, "I'll Stop the World"
4. The Gap Band, "Early In the Morning"
5. Frank Sinatra, "My Funny Valentine"
6. Hugh Masekela, "Mama"
7. George Gerswhin, "Summertime"
8. Revis, "Caught in the Rain"
9. Lenny Kravitz, "You Wer In My Heart"
10. Jump, Little Children, "Lovers' Greed"

And rather the oldies-heavy Random Ten it was, too.

On The Plan

Okay, so I've said in the past that if President Bush could produce a plan, a concrete plan, some sign that he has put some thought into this war and decided what to do next, I'd give him his credit. And I do. Major ups to our president for making a plan and presenting it to the American people. Allow me to repeat, where everyone can see:

Major ups to our president for making a plan and presenting it to the American people.

That having been said, can we call it a first draft?

The plan, to give it its due, is very thoroughly thought-out. A detailed Iraq Strategy Review (pdf)strategy review has been provided by the White House outlining the present situation, challenging past assumptions and strategies, and offering new goals and objectives.

The strategy review maintains that the goal in Iraq remains the same and defines it as "[a] unified democratic federal Iraq that can govern itself, and sustain itself, and is an ally in the War on Terror." A noble goal indeed, and I have no objections to it. The objectives of the plan are as follows:
1. Defeat al-Qaida and its supporters and ensure that no terrorist safe haven exists in Iraq.
2. Support Iraqi efforts to quell sectarian violence in Baghdad and regain control over the capital.
3. Ensure the territorial integrity of Iraq and counter/limit destructive Iranian and Syrian activity in Iraq.
4. Help safeguard democracy in Iraq by encouraging strong democratic institutions impartially serving all Iraqis and preventing the return of the forces of tyranny.
5. Foster the conditions for Iraqi national reconciliation but with the Iraqi Government clearly in the lead.
6. Continue to strengthen Iraqi Security Forces and accelerate the transition of security responsibilities to the Iraqi Government.
7. Encourage an expanding Iraqi economy including by helping Iraqi maintain and expand its export of oil to support Iraqi development.
8. Promote support for Iraq from its neighbors, the region, and the international community.

All good things. So why am I insisting on rewrites? Allow me to quote, well, myself:
You always, always, always start at the top and work down. Your goal is simply what you want to accomplish. Your objectives are specific, measurable, time-sensitive benchmarks that will ensure your goal is met; you have to know who you're trying to reach, how many of them you're trying to reach, and in what time frame, or else you'll never know when that objective has been met.

This is a standard for any strategic plan. The difference between an objective and just another sub-goal is that you have a way to know when you've reached that objective. If your objective is to "continue to strengthen Iraqi Security Forces and accelerate the transition of security responsibilities to the Iraqi Government," how do you know when you've gotten there? How do you know when you're done? Is it 25,000 Iraqi troops who actually show up for work and know how to handle a firearm? 250,000? You also have to have a time limit, or else you could be waiting forever to get those 250,000 troops equipped. June 2007? December?

Because of that failing in the plan, the rest of it is inconsequential. Strategic plans are built from the top down, and if you don't have specific, measurable, time-sensitive objectives to work from, your strategies will be ineffective. That same strategy review offers "major strategic shift" such as "Iraqis are in the lead in ensuring success" and "moderates will be vigorously supported in the battle with violent extremists." Well, first of all, if you're only now starting to support moderates against the extremists, what the hell have you been doing? But secondly, and more importantly, how do those strategic shifts help better achieve your objectives? Will "plac[ing] the responsibility for success on the Iraqis" help safeguard democracy? Will "counter[ing] extremist portrayal of Iraq's conflict as Sunni vs. Shi'a, rather than moderates vs. extremists" make those extremists realize the errors of their ways? Or is it just more pretty language and warm hopes with nothing to back it up?

Here's what I do like about this plan: It recognizes what the US has been doing wrong, and it recognizes what victory kind of looks like. It articulates what we want to achieve. But it doesn't tell us how we'll know when we get there. And that's why presenting this plan as a "surge" instead of an escalation is a joke. He can't possibly say that he'll only need 21,500 troops if he doesn't know exactly what needs to be accomplished to reach his goals, and he certainly can't say they'll only be there for six to nine months if he doesn't know how long those goals will take.

This plan was a good start, and I was glad to see it, even if I wasn't satisfied with what was in it. But I need to see more. I need to see actual objectives, not just optimistic goals; I need to see strategies and tactics deriving from those objectives, and not from the optimistic goals; I need to see proof that he thinks this is a good idea and isn't just trying to stick it to the Iraqi study group; and moreover, I need to see feedback from the generals that the objectives are realistic and the strategies and tactics call for the resources we actually have available. Because you go to the war with the army you have, not the army you want or would like to have - and if the army you have isn't enough to get the job done, you don't go to war. You find some other way to accomplish your goals that won't leave your men and women unprotected and fighting an unmatched battle.

I give it a D+. Good thought, nice elucidation of goals, but weak structure and poor followthrough. Specific suggestions for improvement will follow shortly. See me after class.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

On light posting

Okay, so Nate the Fish passed away during the night. Although I feel kind of silly getting this exercised over a fish, the fact remains that Nate the Fish has been my steady companion for the past two years, outlasting several of my relationships with humans, that his little flippy self was always amusing and comforting to me when I needed amusement and/or comfort, and that I'm just not really feeling up to the snark right now. Posting later, maybe, or tomorrow, or something.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

On troop (let's not kid ourselves here) escalation

I'm not buying it.

Okay, so tonight, President George W. Bush stands before America to announce a significant strategy change or, more accurately, to use new words to describe doing the same thing that hasn't been working for the past four years. The White House has protested the use of the word "escalation" to describe the process of sending five more battalions to Iraq for an indeterminate length of time, saying that it would only be a few thousand troops and it would be for a short period of time, which is more of a "surge" than an escalation.

Point the first: Rather than having a specific deadline for troop withdrawal, guaranteeing that the escalation would, in fact, be for a short (specific) period of time, he has assigned benchmarks to the Iraqi army. Iraqi troops must, among other thing, actually show up for work, perform their duties regardless of sectarian interests, and follow a clear chain of command with Prime Minister Maliki at the top before the "surged" troops can return home. It could, in fact, be a mere six months before our guys would be back with a great tan and a few great drinking stories to show for it, or it could be a year, or it could be two years; swearing that this wouldn't be an open-ended deployment, our president nonetheless doesn't do timelines.

Point the second: Bush wants 21,500 troops. I want a rich Clive Owen lookalike who thinks my football addiction is cute. At least I'm used to disappointment; Bush may be shattered to learn that the military has, in fact, somewhere around 9,000 troops capable of "surging" into Iraq at this point. Not to mention the fact that we can barely afford to arm and armor the troops already there.

Point the third: Bush's plan for the troops (or, at least, as much of the plan as has been leaked) call for rules of engagement that would make it easier for Iraqi troops to strike back at militias. Follow this up the aforementioned clear chain of command and decide whether or not Prime Minister Maliki is really that interested in picking a fight with Muqtada al Sadr and/or stop Shiite death squads from torturing and killing people, and if he is, why he hasn't done it sooner.

Dan Bartlett has said that the president will also admit that American and Iraqi forces were ill-equipped to keep the peace in Iraq following the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. He cites "rules of engagement" that prevented this; most members of the military and, for that matter, most Americans would agree that "halfassing the invasion" and "not giving the generals as many troops as they explicitly said they needed" could be added to the Why-Why chart.

Resolving such a stunning lack of self-awarness might be a priority for a president in his position, but apparently, ours is too busy. While acknowledging the importance of input from his generals - "It's important to trust the judgment of the military when they're making military plans ... I'm a strict adherer [sic] to the command structure" - he simultaneously decides... not to.
Pentagon insiders say members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have long opposed the increase in troops and are only grudgingly going along with the plan because they have been promised that the military escalation will be matched by renewed political and economic efforts in Iraq. Gen. John P. Abizaid, the outgoing head of Central Command, said less than two months ago that adding U.S. troops was not the answer for Iraq.

Here's why he doesn't care: Bush's legacy trumps winning the war. He doesn't know how to win it. He doesn't know if it can be won. He doesn't really know what winning would look like. Bush wants to put $5 in the gas tank in the hope that he can limp this war along for two more years until it's no longer his problem. He realizes that the glorious Ridley Scott victory on which he still vehemently insists may be - probably is - impossible, but that if he can just make it to the handoff in 2008, the responsibility of being a true leader, cutting losses, and bringing the troops home will be out of his hands. He will forever be the President Who Wouldn't Say Die, and his successor will be the quitter who lost us the war.

If it takes 1,604 troop deaths to get him to that point, so be it.

The generals don't want more troops. The Iraqi government doesn't want more troops. The troops don't want more troops. The American people don't want to send any more troops, and our allies don't intend to send any more troops. President Bush has said that he'll stubbornly push forward with his ill-conceived plans even if Laura and Barney are the only ones who support him; that point is rapidly approaching. And he doesn't care.

(H/T Kevin Drum and ThinkProgress.)

Monday, January 08, 2007

On a Monday, which was bound to suck anyway

Okay, so I'm writing this, and outside, it's gorgeous. The unpleasant, unseasonable mugginess of the past week is gone, as is the torrential rain we had yesterday; the sky is clear, the sun is shining like crazy, the weather is appropriately crisp, and I'm about to ruin my own day. Such a me thing to do. But the fact is, I've been saving things up during the holiday crush of non-blog-related program activities, and I shot my proverbial wad of good news on Friday, so now it's back to reality.

- Justice was served to Saddam Hussein before New Year's, not solemnly and by uniformed government agents but by hooded executioners in front of a cheering crowd. As was to be expected, video was shot and leaked by a witness with a camera phone, but it was the official photo of Saddam with noose around neck shown by the major media that led a 10-year-old Houston boy and a 9-year-old Pakistani boy, in separate incidents, to hang themselves in imitation of the images seen on TV. This is our legacy; welcome to 2007. (H/T Eschaton.)

- In other Iraq news, right-wing bloggers who doubted the existence of Jamil Hussein, the Baghdad police officer who acted as a source to the AP following a November attack on a Sunni mosque, now have an answer. The Iraqi Interior Ministry has confirmed that, contrary to previous report, Jamil Hussein is, in fact, an active member of the police force in Baghdad. He also faces arrest for speaking to the press. To quote Guardian Middle East editor Brian Whitaker, "Congratulations, bloggers. He won't be talking to AP again now."

- Anyone trying to justify, rationalize, or excuse the treatment of "unlawful combatants" in US custody might want to read reports of suspected terrorist and confirmed American citizen Jose Padilla's condition after what amounts to four uninterrupted years of solitary confinement and abuse.
[...] Padilla's lawyers contend that as a result of his isolation and interrogation, their client is so mentally damaged that he is unable to assist in his own defense. He is so passive and fearful now, they maintain, that he is "like a piece of furniture."

Even at this late stage, after dozens of meetings with his lawyers, Padilla suspects that they are government agents, says Andrew Patel, who is on the legal team. Padilla may believe that the lawyers assigned to represent him are in fact "part of a continuing interrogation program."


The experts believe that Padilla suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his isolation and interrogation. [...] Padilla is so fearful that he will not discuss his interrogation, will not look at videotapes of it and will not even review a transcript. In their view, he is not able to understand the significance of legal proceedings against him.

Doctors Say He's Not Faking It

There is no indication that Padilla is faking it, Hegarty says. To the contrary, Padilla denies that he has any problems and tends to identify with the government's interests more than his own.


Both Hegarty and Zapf administered a variety of objective tests to evaluate Padilla. While they found that he is able to understand the basic charges against him, he is "unable to assist" his attorneys because of his mental condition and the "paranoia" resulting from his treatment during two years of total isolation, followed by an additional year and a half of similar treatment. Zapf also suggested that Padilla may have suffered "brain injury." Both doctors noted his tics and spasmodic body responses.

The government adamantly denies mistreating Padilla, though it does not dispute the particulars cited in Padilla's legal papers. Rather, the government says its treatment of Padilla was humane and notes that it provided medical treatment when necessary. The government agreed to the additional psychiatric evaluation that has now been ordered by the judge.

Indeed, there are even some within the government who think it might be best if Padilla were declared incompetent and sent to a psychiatric prison facility. As one high-ranking official put it, "the objective of the government always has been to incapacitate this person."

In cases such as this, there are always concerns that certain interrogation techniques might, in the end, weaken the government's ability to prosecute the war on terror or protect the homeland by making key witnesses and testimony inadmissable. In Padilla's case, however, his incapacity to stand trial is likely to have little effect on homeland security. After all,
[e]ven former Justice Department spokesman Corallo concedes that in hindsight, Padilla was a bit player.

(H/T Hullabaloo and Balkinization.)

- And in other "How was I supposed to know the car would blow up when I filled it with TNT and pushed it off a cliff?" news is the report that the Bush administration was fully prepared to resettle 500 Iraqi refugees in 2007. Reality? It's estimated that tens of thousands of Iraqis are fleeing the country. Every month.
Until recently, the administration did not appear to understand the gravity of the problem.

I'm sure we're all shocked.

In the grand tradition of Heckuvajob Brownie, Bush's appointee to make it all better is Ellen Sauerbrey, whose extensive experience with humanitarian efforts and refugee crises includes work as Bush's Maryland state campaign chairwoman in 2000. Iraqi refugees in need of aid may want to question whether or not Katrinaland is the best administration to help them anyway.

- And in domestic news, those who missed it the first time around might want to make note that, through the magic of signing statements, our fearless leader has declared his right to open your mail without a warrant. The statement, one of over 400 written during the course of his presidency, "is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it." In light of his previously asserted warrantless wiretapping powers, Bush now has a matched set of blatant civil liberties violations, which I'm sure he can use to bookend his outdated and useless copy of the Constitution.

(H/T Pandagon.)

- Did someone say "civil liberties"? Slate brings us the "10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006."

In other news, I saw Children of Men over the weekend, and I must agree with Josh at Martians Attacking Indianapolis (best blog name evah, btw) that it was ridiculously powerful, certainly the best movie I've seen in the past decade (or, very possibly, "ever"), and that everyone should run out and see it right away. And then come back and talk with me about it, because I'm still trying to figure it all out.

Happy New Year once again. I do believe I asked for a better one this year.

Friday, January 05, 2007

On Friday Random Everything

Okay, so the week following a holiday can be completely exhausting. I'm sure it's something to do with getting out of the swing of things and then back into them, and maybe to do with all of the food and booze generally consumed on holidays, and something about late nights, perhaps. All I know is that I'm beat, and I think I'm getting a cold, and any of you familiar with my constant companion Nate the Fish should know that he's not long for this world (poor old guy), so this is what you're getting for Friday, and you'll like it.


- C/o Feministing, this bright little gem of hope on a rainy January day:

Check out the look on Denny Hastert's face. Ever classy, looking good, and, as I understand it, wearing purple as a salute to the suffrage movement, Nancy Pelosi is my babydaddy.

- That having been said, I hope this isn't going to predict the tone of all of Pelosi's media coverage from now on. My favorite quote? "Still, some wonder if there isn't too much attention altogether on what Pelosi wears." Psst. Psst, Ms. White...

- So, okay, yeah, speaking of rainy days, tornadoes in Louisiana and tornado watches and cloud rotation in Alabama. In January. During a 66-degree night. But global warming is a myth.

- Check out Doug's series on The 50 Most Loathed People In College Football, because it is hilarious, and he always tells me I'm the better writer and I'm fairly sure he's just saying that because things like this make me disagree entirely.

- When you're done there, run over to RetroJunk ("Your Memory Machine") for the comforting realization that other people live in the past just as much as you do.

- Apparently, Mr. Bush has - ahrem. Mr. Bush... Heehee... Mr. Bush - Pres -

Ahem. Apparently-Mr.-Bush-has-written-a-newspaper-column. (Thanks for that, TBogg.)

- And because I haven't said it yet, go, you freakin' beautiful Georgia Bulldogs. OMG. Indescribable. Won't try.

And now the Random (for once) Ten:

1. The Beatles, "Yellow Submarine"
2. Lords of Acid, "The Real Thing"
3. Train, "Drops of Jupiter"
4. Jamiroquai, "Virtual Insanity"
5. Moby, "Oil 1"
6. Alana Davis, "Crazy"
7. Otis Redding, "Try a Little Tenderness"
8. The Temptations, "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)"
9. Madonna, "The Power of Goodbye"
10. Howie Day, "End of Our Days"

Thursday, January 04, 2007

On people swearing

Okay, so the new (and newly Democratic) Congress take their seats today, and here's hoping they'll actually get something done this term. It certainly started out with a bang, particularly for one rep from Minnesoter. A brief re-creation:

KEITH ELLISON: Hi, I'm Keith Ellison, and I want to be your Congressman.
RIGHTY BLOGOSPHERE: HolyshitholyshitholyshitMuslim!
PEOPLE: Whatever.

Since his election, his religion has led to more and more controversy among those who think that a) Islamofascist terr'ists are totally going to take over the US, b) Americans are, for some reason, going to just let them do that, and c) every tan and/or Muslim person in the US is an Islamofascist terr'ist. To wit:

VIRGIL GOODE: I'm serious, y'all, Muslim!
RON TALLON: Yeah, Muslim!
PEOPLE: Whatever.

And of course, his decision to take his oath of office with his hand on the Koran instead of the Bible (and a note there: As a group, the incoming Congressindividuals don't swear on any holy book at all, and Ellison's choice of holy books would only come up in a separate, private ceremony) has only served to make those wingnuts wingier.

DENNIS PRAGER: Christian nation!
RIGHTY BLOGOSPHERE: For serious, y'all, Muslims!
PEOPLE: Whatever!

And now that the day has come, what particular Koran has Ellison chose for his private ceremony? That would be the one formerly belonging to Thomas Jefferson.

KEITH ELLISON: Founding father, beeyatch.
FREEPERS: That's...! But I... Ahem. He's... Still, Muslim!
PEOPLE: Are we done here?

Because, in the end, we all know that there is no religious test for Congresscritters, that ours was a country based on, among other things, religious freedom, that we are not a quote-Christian-unquote nation, that even George Washington himself didn't go to church, and that the important thing is the oath itself, which is a promise to protect and uphold the Constitution.

(Unless you want to go through people's mail, which is obviously a different situation entirely.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

On a fresh supply of hope

More love; more joy and laughter. Can't hurt, right?

Okay, so I had this big long post started about the new year and my hopes and wishes and how lucky I felt to live in a free country and blah blah blah optimismcakes, and that would be a great way to start the new year, but we all know that's not me. So here's what is me: I love my country. I hope that, being perfectly capable of preserving people from disease and starvation, we choose to actually do it. I hope that people get jobs that actually pay the bills and put food on the table. I hope that people without homes are able to have them. I hope we don't screw the world up any more than we already have. I hope we don't voluntarily sacrifice any more of the wonderful freedoms that make the US what it is. I hope we don't voluntarily sacrifice any more of the human values that set us apart from the people we're fighting. I hope we don't forget that behind and between the people who want us dead (and want each other dead) are people who wish us no harm at all and just want to live their lives and maybe have some electricity. I hope I don't ever not feel grateful for always having more and better than I really, in all honesty, deseve. Death from natural causes and/or old age aside, I hope that no more people die, because we've had more than enough of that for several new years. I hope we stop being afraid of each other because of our skin color and religion and realize that, as sappy and Up With People as it is, all of that stuff is incidental to the people we are on the inside. I hope for world peace.

And while we're dreaming, I'd kind of like a pony.

Happy New Year, y'all.