Monday, May 26, 2003

Today is Memorial Day, when we are supposed to honor the men and women who have died in war.

An American soldier was killed in an explosion south of Baghdad yesterday, and another was killed in an ambush in Baghdad today. According to the U.S. government, however, there is no longer a war, so these soldiers died in...what? A misunderstanding? A political conflict?

Someone forgot to tell the Pentagon that Iraq is still fighting the war. Looting, vandalism, impure water, disease, political upheaval, the stripping away of women's rights--they are all right there, for everyone to see. When you blow a country up, it's a good idea to have a plan for preventing out-and-out anarchistic chaos. But there is no P.R. benefit in that, so such a plan--if it ever existed--was not put into play until just recently.

This is a nation that loves to talk about honoring its war veterans, but in reality, we have abused them repeatedly. The government has never taken responsibility for what happened to the men in Vietnam who sprayed Agent Orange, and there is still no satisfaction for those who returned from Desert Storm with Gulf War Syndrome (which for years the government said didn't really exist). U.S. military hospitals and veterans' hospitals are often hopelessly inadequate and even dangerous, and military women have to worry about sexual assault and the covering up of sexual assault.

And now we have seen U.S. soldiers die because of Bush's liberation of Halliburton. They are dying as I write this.

Happy Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

In the ancient city of Ur (often cited as the birthplace of the prophet Abraham) is a large pyramid. The Pentagon is building its Iraqi base alongside the pyramid, an act that could certainly be interpreted as lacking respect for the monument. Just as significant, however, are reports that members of the U.S. military have vandalized the archeological treasures of Ur by spray-painting them with graffiti and through theft. What is even more significant is that the U.S. news media has chosen to ignore these reports.

So much for public information. And if the reports are true, so much for the good old Christian-Judeo tradition that those in power swear they uphold.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Men's Wearhouse has a new commercial, promoting their tuxedo rental service to high school boys who are prom-bound. The ad shows a boy rejecting his mother's choice of a "traditional" tuxedo in favor of a "modern" (which is to say, totally inappropriate) one. That part is offensive enough, but at the very end of the commercial, the voice-over reminds mothers that what they should be worrying about is what the girl is wearing. Then we see an adolescent girl in a sexy (but tasteful) dress getting out of a limousine.

Here we go again. Those poor boys--they're just victims of the evil power of female sexuality. Don't teach your son responsible maintenance of his sexuality: just watch out for those girls.

About that commercial--if you are a woman with half a brain, I guarantee you'll hate it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

"Any American can get a job earning $30,000 a year."

This is the latest piece of nonsense spouted by Bill O'Reilly. Someone (not the Bush administration, who isn't interested in helping people get jobs or child care or education or medicine) needs to put O'Reilly in charge of healing the nation's poverty. His statement was not a throwaway line, an exaggeration, but something he repeated several times, with emphasis on any American.

There are a lot of Americans who would be really interested to hear this: People in small towns in which the major industry has gone out of business. People who have no job training. People who are partially disabled and just keep getting overlooked in the job market. People who have the wrong color skin. People who live in states (let's see--that would be all 50 of them) which are going bankrupt because of the the collapse of the economy. People who do not have enough money left to move their families to a new area and look for a job.

If you are going through bad ecoomic times, drop O'Reilly a line and ask him to refer you to one of those 30-grand-a-year jobs. He knows all about it.

Friday, May 09, 2003

The talking heads say the Democrats need to stop criticizing president Bush for wearing a flight suit and arriving in a state of fabricated glory on an airline carrier. Some of the objection to the event has been that the president's show postponed the troops' journey home. Some of it has been that the event was costly to taxpayers. And some has been that the whole thing was done obviously just to get campaign video. All of these criticisms are valid, to a point, but the main reason that the act was scary is that in doing what he did, Bush blurred the line between civil authority and military authority, thus strengthening the White House's message that the military is in charge of all of us.

At first, the White House said that Bush made a jet landing onto the carrier because he couldn't get to it by helicopter, but when confronted with reality, the president's spokespeople changed their story quickly. Some of the president's apologists, like Chris Matthews (who just can't stop talking about how Bush's body build shows off a flight suit to his advantage), say that he had a right to don the suit and make the landing because he flew planes in the National Guard. Only Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, who appeared on "Hardball," bothered to correct this misperception about Bush: he went AWOL during his service with the Guard (the National Guard refuses to release these records to the public).

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Today, Bill O'Reilly, a person of obvious racist makeup (he can't stop making racist comments), was explaining to a caller that the recently publicized segregated proms in Georgia were fundamentally wrong in nature and violated the meaning of America's mission. He emphasized the fact that he was calling this segregation "wrong"--not like the secularists who never call anything wrong and who don't believe in applying value judgments.

That is a ridiculous assertion. Secularists have moral values, too. And considering what the churches have done to America in the past few decades, I would say that secularists have more humane values than thousands of church-goers. (Consider for a moment the droves of churched Americans who promulgate ethnic cleansing, child abuse, hatred of various classes of people, and the cruel exploitation of non-humans.) Secularists do indeed call things right and wrong, but people like O'Reilly like to disseminate the myth that they don't.

While I'm on the subject, many people in America who are called secularists are not really secular in the true sense of the word. Pure secularism eschews the spiritual as well as the religious. In the current climate, though, the unchurched are called "secular," regardless of their spiritual leanings. To be exact, in what the president calls Amurika, non-Christians are often assumed to be secular.

In any context, Bill O'Reilly is a hypocritical, racist boor.

Friday, May 02, 2003

Coming down out of the sky and declaring yourself the Messiah is the stuff of fantasy literature, at best, and--in a darker light--the content of a psychiatric case study.

When George W. Bush does it, he gets wild applause from the military and is heaped with praise by most of the news media. The Bible text--Isaiah's prophecy of Jesus's words--apparently wasn't in the original speech, but was added, we can presume, by whoever is Vice President of Religious Right Conspiracy Content. In any case, the message is clear: the president has come to conquer the world on behalf of Amurika.

It is a teensy coincidence, perhaps, that this is the same goal held by PNAC, the same goal held by Christian right extremists, and the same goal held by those who paid millions of dollars to get Bush elected. PNAC's objective is to promote democracy by force. The Christian Right extremists' objective is to convert the world to Christianity. And those companies that paid the millions of dollars just need to get their investment back and have a comfortable profit.

If someone wrote it as fiction, it would be written off as melodramatic, sensational garbage.