The War Letters
The titles are my own. They were never used by the RG editors, and appear here for the FIRST TIME ANYWHERE! A Zug exclusive! (I know it's not that Earth-shaking, but in a world of mind-numbing and constant hype, you've got to keep up with the Jonestowns, right?)
Here are my public letters in the Eugene REGISTER-GUARD for 2003, that year of the Hawk Triumphant. It seems the only way to "celebrate" this dark, fourth anniversary of Our Little Quagmire. The liars who bullied us into it, are, by the by, now trying to spin us into staying, into victory, etcetera. We begin with them.
And, note, I have a little trick I love to bedevil the R-G Editors with. Every letter is EXACTLY 250 words long, not 249, not 251. 250. Precisely. Why?
Just for the sheer cussedness of it all. I've written to precise wordages for so long, it's a little writer's game I play. Anyway ....
LETTERS IN THE EDITORS MAILBAG
November 27, 2002
How did we come to this?
As I write this letter, we are in our third day of unrelenting, right-wing hate attacks on 10 seconds of a Sen. Tom Daschle observation that Rush Limbaugh and his wannabes have increased the number of threats that he and his family have received. For two solid days, and now a third, the hate radio jocks of America have attacked Daschle in terms once reserved for back alleys and bathroom graffiti. And all the while, they pule and whine about their "free speech."
Hate radio is not free speech. Hate radio is the opposite of free speech. At first blush, the U.S. Supreme Court's classic opinion seems to defend hate radio: Americans have a "profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials." But, in fact, hate radio is commercial speech and a type that has the effect of suppressing that very robust debate that the Supreme Court has repeatedly held is indispensable to the functioning of our democracy.
Where is the robust debate when Daschle speaks 10 seconds and Limbaugh fulminates for six hours? (Add the additional dozens of hours from Rush wannabes such as Lars Larson and Victor Bok!)
The students at the University of Oregon have every right to wonder how KUGN-AM radio can call itself the "Voice of the Ducks" and broadcast this political pornography.
February 24, 2003
San Jacinto, Agincourt, The Battle of Marathon, The Spanish Armada: history is filled with examples of arrogant men and armies finding disaster against much smaller, weaker foes. The "common knowledge" of the Civil War was that the Army of the Potomac would march straight to Richmond and end the war on its first day at the First Battle of Bull Run.
All were humiliating defeats.
More than the Byzantine spins and twists in all the reasons for making war - that we must go to war to prevent war; that, in order to stop the "rogue nation" of Iraq, we will become a rogue nation ourselves if the UN doesn't concur - I am worried about the astonishing hubris of our War Hawks. They've already carved up Iraq's oil franchises; they're busily planning for the Iraqi Occupation; they've even sketched out the post-Saddam government.
We are following the classic prescription for a devastating military setback arrogant overconfidence. Were disaster to occur, the consequences for the United States, our position in the world, our relative security in that world, would be set back far beyond any reckoning of those who seem to think that war is a casual event, like a fund-raising concert, or another gala.
I have someone's World War I trophy, found in an abandoned ranch house in New Mexico. It depicts a German imperial crown surrounded with the motto "Gott Mit Uns" or "God's on OUR Side." That government was in tragic error. Right or wrong, I hope we're not.
April 13, 2003
Are we looking for fights?
Many years ago, my Aikido instructor warned me that there was a great problem in the study of martial arts: karate, kung fu, ju-jitsu and the rest. "The problem," he said, "is that you have to constantly train and practice, so, many times, all you think about is fighting. As that becomes the focus of your thinking, you find yourself constantly looking for or drawn into fights."
In other words, the continual pursuit of skill in fighting has a tendency to lead to the continual pursuit of fighting itself.
I wonder, with our few military enemies and our huge military budget if, as a nation, we're not following down that path my instructor warned about. When you constantly prime, equip and train your huge military, do you have a tendency to start constantly looking for ways to use that capacity?
His view of Aikido was that it was useful because you were, at worst, constantly looking at how to avoid fighting and how to quickly cease fighting even when fighting could not be avoided. Is there a large-scale version of this kind of thinking that we could apply to our own defense? We changed the War Department to the Defense Department in 1947 and yet we keep fighting wars far, far away from our home shores.
June 19, 2003
A question of war crimes
After 80 days, it's time Americans confronted a grave question: If no weapons of mass destruction are found, then members of the Bush administration are guilty of war crimes.
The U.S.-sponsored United Nations Charter, Chapter 1, Article 2, states: "The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members." And "All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered."
Saddam Hussein was evil, but we had no lawful right to depose him. These are our American values.
In the 1945 Nuremberg Trials, there were four counts, and one, if not two, are applicable here. Count one: conspiracy to wage aggressive war, and count two: waging aggressive war, or "crimes against peace." When it was argued that the court had no jurisdiction, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, lead prosecutor, rejoined, "The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant and so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored because it cannot survive their being repeated."
Remember that in the near year of spin leading up to this war the term "regime change" was never used until 48 hours before the war began: because such a war would have been unlawful.
If war crimes have been committed (thousands are dead), those who screamed about the "rule of law" in 1999 better step up to the plate, else there is no such "rule."
August 8, 2003
Steve Williams' defense of the lynching of Saddam Hussein (8-1-03) mirrors the near-universal screech of the "Rule of Law" crowd these days. "Saddam was bad - ergo the ends justify the means."
Nothing could be further from the "Rule of Law." Remember, WE were the ones who spent much of the Twentieth Century trying to legitimize international law. WE were the party who spent nearly a year attempting to obtain legitimate authority to engage Saddam Hussein (to "disarm" him, NOT to "depose" him!). And we, us, the good ol' USA, were the party who tried to hide behind a phony "Coalition of the Willing" to legitimize an action that cannot be characterized honestly as anything other than a lynching.
Lynchings are illegal, no matter how bad a guy the lynchee is. This diabolical spin that being against the war equals being in favor of Saddam Hussein would be laughable, were it not so forcibly advanced by the same hypocrites who wailed, squawked and pounded their chests for the "Rule of Law" when their case was, at best, a technicality, and their motives were demonstrably the opposite of the simon-pure righteousness they so endlessly and loudly espoused - and espouse.
We began by attempting to murder Hussein in cold blood in an undeclared war, and we conclude by playing "WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE" sweeps. But, really, it was a necktie party, and remains a vigilante's approach to law.
Again, we see that the so-called 'Rule of Law' only applies to non-Republicans. Impeach Bush.
October 27, 2003
I've done my level best to bite my tongue on this Limbaugh matter. But having listened to the absurdities coming from the Right AND the Left, something needs saying:
To the Right, I'd say: Isn't it astonishing that the selfsame conditions that would have you sanctimonious hypocrites up on your soapboxes screaming for the Wrath of God to come down were this a poor Black or Latino living in Rush's Florida County, suddenly find your "Christian" charity and prayerfulness when darling Rush turns out to be the junkie? Make no mistake about it, Oxycontin is synthetic heroin, pure and simple. It is a "prescription drug" in the exact way that cocaine, morphine and speed are also "prescription drugs."
To the Left: I am astounded at the muddleheadedness of this sudden need to cast the question in "larger" terms. We've had a century to debate what should happen to junkies. To suddenly discover the question this week ... well, it makes me wonder if Rush wasn't right about you all along.
To everyone else: Not only has Mr. Limbaugh himself shown no compassion whatsoever for anyone in his present circumstances, but the LAW in Florida prescribes a minimum sentence of five years in prison -- in no small part because of Limbaugh's own screeching about "lenient judges." Let him be hoist by his own petard. Like it or not, it is the law.
Is it really a question of whose ox is being gored as to whether the law is actually enforced?
To: Eugene Register-Guard
Written November 16. (Seems to be unpublished)
There is something profoundly disturbing and all-too-common in L. W. Huffman's November 15 letter crowing that "These two extreme left-wing thinkers bash anything that is conservative or connected to the name of President Bush. That is why I will place [Les] AuCoin on my 'do not read list' along with [Molly] Ivins."
Why? To paraphrase a favorite of the Far Right: because they will not know the Truth, and the untruth will enslave them. What have we come to when folk like Huffman are convinced they should never be tainted by hearing any opinion they don't agree with? When conservative commentators continually "win" one-sided debates that all too often suppress any uncomfortable facts?
The 700 Club/CBN openly suggests that they are the *ONLY* news source their viewers need. And the "fair and balanced" Fox News is so unashamedly biased that the Republican Senate leader's office circulated this memo last week: "Fox News channel is really excited about the marathon. ... The producer wants to know, will we walk in exactly at 6:02 when the show starts so we can get it live to open Britt (sic) Hume's show? Or, if not, can we give them an exact time for the walk-in start?"
You have to go back to the horrific days of McCarthyism to find this phenomenon of the "Silenced Majority." And it's absurdly deemed not only acceptable but even desirable. This tunnel-vision represents a far greater danger to our democracy than any terrorist, any dictator, or any "heathen" belief.
PS: For fact-checking, I quote from this Republican memo, circulated to their own by Senate Majority leader Bill Frist (R, Paranoia) staffer Mañuel Miranda, which was openly mocked by some Democratic Senators during the appalling "30-hour Marathon" spectacle last week:
"It is important to double your efforts to get your boss to S-230 on time. Fox News channel is really excited about the marathon. Britt [sic] Hume at 6 would love to open the door to all our 51 Senators walking on to the floor. The producer wants to know, will we walk in exactly at 6:02 when the show starts so we can get it live to open Britt [sic] Hume's show? Or, if not, can we give them an exact time for the walk-in start?"====
The Land of the Terrified
Since all we liberals do is whine, I'd like to avoid that and offer a constructive suggestion instead. This letter isn't protesting the sudden invocation of a High Terror Alert by the Department of Homeland Security during the busiest travel time of the year -- all without actually giving the average citizen anything to do except to be afraid.
And this letter isn't to complain that while Saddam Hussein was famously getting his tonsils examined by a U.S. Army doctor, President Bush was signing into law the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, which greatly and stealthily expands domestic surveillance powers in a fine-print rider to a little-noticed, mostly-classified appropriations bill.
Even though Texas Republican Representative Ron Paul objected, "the stealth addition of language [is] drastically expanding FBI powers to secretly and without court order snoop into the business and financial transactions of American citizens. These expanded internal police powers will enable the FBI to demand transaction records from businesses, including auto dealers, travel agents, pawnbrokers and more, without the approval or knowledge of a judge or grand jury. This was written into the bill at the 11th hour over the objections of members of the Senate Judiciary Committee," I'm not complaining.
No, I'd just like to offer the following friendly suggestion. Rather than continue the venerable National Anthem with the outmoded, "Land of the Free and Home of the Brave," let's change it to the more modern and trendy "Land of the Subjugated and Home of the Terrified."
For fact-checking, Rep. Paul's comments can be found in the Congressional Record November 22, 2003 (Extensions)Page E2399, and at: http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2003_cr/h112203.html
Gee. In my Hart, I know I was right. Of course, I'd have rather been wrong, and that we'd never gotten into this misbegotten war. What else is there to say? Four years later, Iraq is in worse shape than it was when we invaded in 2003. On this date in history.
Today, less than one American in three thinks this war is a good idea. What the hell is wrong with them?