Sunday, January 28, 2007

2 Chikkn 2 Pro-TEST!

Originally posted Sunday, January 28, 2007, I wanted to remind everyone that I have LONG argued against war, and have LONG been uncomfortable with those who protest. This is something that often confuses people.

As you may or may not have noticed, depending on your media coverage of choice, there was a Peace Rally in DC on Saturday. Many thousands of people showed up to denounce the poor handling of the war, to protest the proposed surge, and to call for the impeachment of the President and his V.P.

As you may or may not have noticed, depending on whether you have read Kater's blog (my #1 friend), I didn't go.

I will admit that the main reason I didn't go with her was that I chickened out. I was afraid for the safety of my family (always a risk when leaving the house), I was worried about my legal standing (marching around with people dressed as the Devil and dangling marionette effigies of one's boss from their hands is frowned upon by most employers), and... I'm not 100% in agreement with the protesters.

That's right: I'm not willing to stand in front of Jane Fonda and cheer just yet, despite my general opposition to this war from day one. (Day one being 15 September 2001, which is when I first heard Mr. Rumsfeld trying to tie Iraq to the 9/11 tragedy, and realized that I heard a grand national railroad building up steam.)

The way I see it, I'm already doing what I can do to for the war effort on a daily basis. I won't talk about that here, but those of you who know me are welcome to invite me out for a quiet drink sometime to discuss it.

As for the "surge", my objective feeling about that is this: isn't it a little late to be second-guessing the Commander in Chief? I heard a lot of (pardon me, Mom...) assholes during the Clinton administration pulling that "I don't have to respect the man, but I will respect his office" crap, and now it's my turn. He may have failed to fulfill every promise I wanted him to keep (and kept a few I wish he hadn't made), but until he is legally removed from office, I am legally sworn to support his decisions.

Which brings us to the popular calls for impeachment. I put it to you this way: there is as much evidence to impeach as there was to invade Iraq. People like AG Gonzales may be slimy, double-talking, word-raping lawyers... but they are good lawyers, which means you won't be able to pin much on them when the dust settles.

Furthermore, it is my humble opinion that our Congress wouldn't have the intestinal fortitude to impeach a president who ate a baby on national television; all he would have to do in his defense is:
a) stonewall them with denials until they produce the tape,
b) claim that the baby was a terrorist until they can prove otherwise, and
c) use the intervening time to dig up instances of Congressional baby-eating, thus forcing them to admit that, gee, it's not that impeachable an offense after all, is it?

So, you might now be wondering, "If he feels that way, is he mad at his wife for going to the rally?" No, I'm not. I know she has agonized over the events of the last few years right along with me. I know she has supported our troops steadfastly throughout, organizing charity events through her Girl Scout troop, and generally contributing in any way she can. In other words, I know she hasn't changed her opinion with the winds of the media (when they deign to cover the real events); I know she isn't just going down to be part of some "party" atmosphere or to be near celebrities. You go ahead and list a few more of the petty barbs the pundits might sling at the protesters: they don't apply to my wife.

So yes, I support what she is doing, even if I don't feel I can join her. I maintain a firm belief that people should exercise their right to assembly, and their right to express their opinions, whether I agree with them or not.

That said, I hereby exercise my God-given right to say "I told you so" to:
* everyone who allowed the 2000 election to fall to the right, and groused about it later
* everyone who told me to shut up when I tried to warn you that this stuff would happen after 9/11
* everyone who let them string us along, promising "evidence" of WMD, but didn't make them produce it in 2002
* everyone who insists on blaming the media for the bad news, but lets the administration off the hook for the bad planning, and...
* every 3rd party member who voted either Democrat or Republican for fear of "wasting" your vote.

I'll say again, for anyone still reading: let's find a better way to pick these people. Let's not blow it again.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Is It Too Much to Ask?

From Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 15, 2007 - again, note that I wrote this before I had heard of Barack Obama. It's worth reflecting, regardless of your opinions, that electing him was a significant moment in our history.

Some would argue that a certain dream will never come true. They will point to the problems that we still have, and to the conflicts that still arise, and they will tell you that this is how it will always be. They will hold up the human failings of the dreamers and sneer at their faith and their goals. They will tell you that holding on to that dream is foolish and weak.

I disagree.

People will always be people, and that means there will always be something to fight over; but look at how very far we have come. Those who used to be banished to the back are now driving the bus. Those who were forced to run a gauntlet through jeering crowds to get to school are now the administrators, teachers, coaches, and superintendents. The transition is not complete, but it is implacable, and the Dream is attainable.

It is still going to be hard to take it all the way to its conclusion; past the grudging acceptance of the last generation, through the sometimes painful transition of our own, and into the peaceful and colorblind integration of the next. I can see it coming in the way my own children behave with their classmates; working together every day, seeing their similarities, and minimizing their differences.

Some have argued that this "politically correct" vision is being forced on them. They say that things like Martin Luther King's holiday and Black History Month are being shoved down their throats -- and they try to pretend as though it is this that they object to, and nothing else. They try to pretend that their resentment comes from some betrayal of their rights. To those people I say, you are not being dragged from your home and forced to endure 400 years of subjugation. You are being asked to help bring about a society where that sort of thing can't happen, and if you don't like the methods being used, you are more than welcome to offer a peaceful alternative. You have that right because courageous people like Dr. King led the fight for promised equality, and not for dominance.

And you can't stand in the way of that goal without giving the lie to your own avowed American ideals.

The beauty of the Dream was not that it led to a peaceful fairytale vision of the future; I don't think anyone has ever really believed that we could bring about Utopia. The beauty of the Dream lay in the non-violent nature of the journey. Dr. King's faith in those ideals that we have had "forced down our throats" since primary school -- the ideals of peace, freedom and equality -- is what makes his Dream so powerful. His Dream was that the so-called American Dream would come true, and we would all pay more than lip service to it.

It is that faith in our own ideals that we need to hold onto, even in the face of war.

The last few years have been a test of our belief in those ideals; a test we have done poorly on. We have allowed ourselves to be led into all of the old, familiar traps that have perpetuated violence and oppression throughout human history. "Eye for an eye", "if you are not with us you are against us", and "by any means necessary"; these are not the ideals our fabled founding fathers set out for us. These are the easy answers of the reactionary, the tool of those who crave power, and the Achilles' Heel of the ignorant.

The tragic truth is that people who truly believe in peace are few and far between. Finding people with the courage to say, "We have a reason to fight, but there is a better weapon than violence" is my own dream, though it seems impossible these days. Prevailing logic tells us that our enemies must be killed, but our methods have driven away our allies, and the violence has only continued the cycle of revenge.

What we desperately need is someone who, like Dr. King, can articulate a way to bring about peace peacefully, and can convince even the most rabid hawks to give us that chance to end the fighting.

And let's see if we can't keep that person alive this time, along with the Dream.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Majority Report

Originally posted 3 January, 2007, I thought I adequately expressed my lack of enthusiasm about the Democratic Party's recapture of a slim Congressional majority, but I guess since I didn't call to have them poisoned or compare them to Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Darth Vader, I was considered "too tame"...

Well, the holidays are over, and it's time to get back to the business at hand. The Dawn of the Dems has arrived, friends and neighbors, and a new chapter in American politics begins. Of course, it will sound a lot like the last chapter...good luck keeping straight who's who.

The new majority may be slimmer than Nicole Ritchie, but it will still behave as though it has a universal mandate from the mythical People (you know, the People they are all supposed to be looking out for). The new minority, despite 12 years of nearly unimpeded corruption and a full death grip on all three branches of government will blame their ascendant opponents for all of the country's ills. Careers will rise and fall like Roman candles on the 4th of July, characters will be assassinated in the run-up to the next big brouhaha, and nothing much will be accomplished except the small accidental triumphs that come from the rest of us ignoring them all and struggling on as best as we can.

But rather than waste the next year or so listening to the Leaders of Conventional Wisdom blat away at each other with overwrought and under-thought rhetoric, how's about we try something new. Let's start a list of "things that really matter that we can fix", and maybe another one of "people who really ARE looking out for us". Don't put labels on them, just note when they do things right. You may have to go looking for them, because people doing good things doesn't make the news; but they are out there. Let's start now so that when the Coke and Pepsi candidates ask which tastes better, we can tell them... I'll take a beer, thanks.

I know it's sad to think of putting them out of work... but I can think of a very nice parting gift: Has Been, by William Shatner