Friday, October 20, 2006

In Honor of Pat Tillman

His brother, Kevin Tillman, writes:
It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we get out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.

After Pat’s Birthday

Emphasis added, as if it was necessary. Count me in, Kevin. Count me in.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

War Crimes

Let's pretend the 600,000+ number is all wrong and that the minimum is the correct number: nearly 400,000. Is that better? Prior to the war, the Bush administration kept claiming that Saddam killed 300,000 Iraqis over 24 years. After this latest report published in The Lancet, 300,000 is looking quite modest and tame. Congratulations Bush et al.

Everyone knows the 'official numbers' about Iraqi deaths as a direct result of the war and occupation are far less than reality (yes- even you war hawks know this, in your minuscule heart of hearts). This latest report is probably closer to the truth than anything that's been published yet. And what about American military deaths? When will someone do a study on the actual number of those? If the Bush administration is lying so vehemently about the number of dead Iraqis, one can only imagine the extent of lying about dead Americans…

Americans invaded Iraq on a pretext and has brought about more death in five years than Saddam Hussein did in two and a half decades. This is a war crime. The entire Bush adminsitration (you, too, Colin Powell) should be tied for crimes against humanity.

Billmon rightly points out:
The point deserves frequent repetition: We did this. We caused it. We're not just callous bystanders to genocide, as in Rwanda, but the active ingredient that made it possible. We turned Iraq into a happy hunting ground for Al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army. If Iraq is now a failed state, it's because of our failures...

My question to myself, in other words, is like Thoreau's famous question to Ralph Waldo Emerson when Emerson came to visit him in jail after he was arrested for not paying his poll tax as a protest against slavery:

Emerson: What are you doing in there, Henry?

Thoreau: No, Waldo, the question is: What are you doing out there?

It's easy to think up excuses now -- we were in the minority, the media was against us, the country was against us. We didn't know how bad it would be.

But we knew, or should have known, that what Bush was planning was an illegal act of aggression, based on a warmongering campaign of deception and ginned-up hysteria. And we knew, or should have known, what our moral and legal obligations were:

Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.

We were all complicit. I was complicit. Because I was afraid -- afraid to sacrifice my comfortable middle class lifestyle, afraid to lose my job and my house, afraid of the IRS, afraid to go to jail.

But not nearly as afraid, of course, as the thousands of Iraqis who have been tortured or murdered, or who, like Riverbend, are forced to live in bloody chaos, day after day. Which is why, reading her post today, I couldn't help but feel deeply, bitterly ashamed -- not just of my country, but of myself.

This is, I think, why so many thousands of Americans cannot, will not, never will, accept the basic criminality of the Bush regime. It means judging themselves, too, for having aggressively promoted what they knew from the start was wrong. The same people who will go out in November and vote for the Republicans.

How, though, do you try a nation? How, short of war, can a country be brought to justice?


Monday, October 16, 2006

Why no new posts?

  1. Parent is ill
  2. Job is hectic
  3. Site demands fixes
  4. House needs buying
  5. HotK requires attention
  6. Elections feel wrong

HotK - Ch. 52: Hope

For the fanfiction readers, I have just posted a new chapter for Hands of the King, Ch. 51 - Hope Click on the story title to go to the overview, click on the chapter name to go to the chapter. No warnings for this chapter. Well, except for an overly happy High Warden...

1 of 3 Denethor POVs. A few days in July as Denethor enjoys the fact that Finduilas finally is pregnant. Many small sub-plots are woven in to set up events further down the road. Mr. Grumpy has very little time in which to be anything except happy, quite an unusual experience for him. Brandir gets to say "I told you so" in his own, dear way. Not many conversations, but a lot of observation. Denethor is about to embark on six of the happiest months of his life.

For people who aren't familiar with HotK, it is a fanfiction novel, published a chapter at a time. It chronicles the courtship and marriage of Denethor and Finduilas. A new chapter usually appears every 2 to 3 weeks.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

HotK - Ch. 51 - Conquest

For the fanfiction readers, I have just posted a new chapter for Hands of the King, Ch. 51 - Conquest. Click on the story title to go to the overview, click on the chapter name to go to the chapter. Warnings - grief and illness of secondary characters, brief explicit sex scene.

3 of 3 Finduilas POV chapters. Finduilas remains in Minas Tirith during plague time. She uncovers several secrets, personal and political, and must finally face what she most fears. Denethor gets another lesson on why only the truth will serve him well where Finduilas is concerned. The story within the story takes a new turn. Who shall emerge the conqueror in the battle between Finduilas and Maiaberiel?

For people who aren't familiar with HotK, it is a fanfiction novel, published a chapter at a time. It chronicles the courtship and marriage of Denethor and Finduilas. A new chapter usually appears every 2 to 3 weeks.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Silence of the Lambs

Foley has been propositioning and attempting to molest teenage boys for years. The Republican Party leadership (of whom he is one) have allowed him to continue (ahem) unmolested in his predatory pastime. Knowing he is stalking minors, they turn a blind eye and willingly go down the path to hell.

However, here's what is getting me. Other Republicans, staffers and congressional workers, also knew this pervert was trying to fuck boys. They warned kids not to go near the pedophile. Foley's congressional colleague, Brian Bilbray, currently up for reelection here in San Diego, knowingly sent a male page to the House to reward Republican donors. At least some parents of these kids KNEW this baby fucker was after their own son.

Did any of these scum sucking Republicans make a single move to protect these youngsters? No, they didn't. They tried to keep it hush-hush, tried to keep the moralizing face on their moral cesspool of a party. They offered up their children, allowing these kids to be preyed upon in the hopes of tax cuts and business deals, to further their own political careers and line their pockets.

Think about that. These people were happy to allow this miserable perv to fuck some intimidated minor so they could keep the money rolling in.

They are silent about the sacrifice of these lambs on the altar of power.