Monthly ArchiveMarch 2003



Uncategorized 24 Mar 2003 06:47 pm

Parsing Techniques – A Practical Guide

Parsing Techniques – A Practical Guide

Uncategorized 24 Mar 2003 11:56 am

Patriotism

Op-Ed about patriotism

Uncategorized 24 Mar 2003 09:27 am

Human Shield Blog

Daniel Pepper’s experience being a human shield in Iraq makes you think really hard. He draws the wrong conclusion about the war, but he raises an important point.

Saddam is a madman, we knew this. He should be taken out. Yes that is true. We cannot preemptively go into his country though. We have international law to dictate our conduct. If the resolutions to the UN Security Council had been about Saddam’s human atrocities we probably could have convinced them to take him to the ICC. If he refused, then we would probably have had to go in and take him out. That’s probably how it would have played out. That would all have been legal too. Also, that would have maintained America’s status in the world. It seems easy to portray Saddam’s human cruelty, whereas we couldn’t seem to convince anyone of his weapons of mass destruction.

Now, suppose we follow this path. I would be tickled. On the other hand, there is still the question, why Iraq? Why now? There are so many countries that do just as, or more, atrocious things to their citizens. We don’t ever seem to really go after any of those. Also, we seem to be headed down the path of less care for human rights considering the way we treat the people in Guantanamo Bay, and the proposed Patriot Act II, if it is real.

It purportedly would give the Department of Justice the ability to strip a citizen’s citizenship from them. Then they would have recourse to put American citizens in detention in perpetuity, with no access to legal representation, or due process. Our administration seems to think that the inalienable rights declared in our constitution are rights only given to Americans and not to other humans on the planet. Well, except for people in countries that happen to have other things we want, in which case we can use those inalienable rights as a pretext for invasion.

Let’s indeed work to get rid of madmen and those who would do away with our civil rights. Let’s do it by the law we all share and according to the values that make us great.

Uncategorized 23 Mar 2003 02:08 pm

Various sites of varying quality

This is just a list of sites for myself. I came across them this morning and I want to remember them. I don’t necessarily recommend them, as I haven’t read them enough to know. It all started at Dan Gillmor’s page. I do recommend him highly.

The Peace Blogger Project A Clearing house of peaceniks.

Romenesko at Poynter.org an uncle who is in the business turned me on to this good site. It is aimed at journalists.

Paul Krugman debunking the latest theory about the dollar as unit of currency for OPEC being a cause for the war.

An article saying how balanced coverage has been. While I am not sure if I agree, I am aware that most of the major media’s online websites have a link to the antiwar protesting usually within the top 6 stories listed on their sites. I have been consistently impressed by that. Of course, they still downplay the numbers of protesters.

Media Whores On Line Crass format, but lots of individual reports of media crossing the line from journalism to entertainment.

Uncategorized 23 Mar 2003 12:45 pm

Lewis Lapham essay on our war

The Road to Babylon is of course anti-war, but it does a really good job of provoking thought on that viewpoint in light of the History of the Peloponnesian War.

He says a lot of the things I tried to say, but much more astutely and convincingly.

Uncategorized 22 Mar 2003 10:54 am

Support our troops: Impeach Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft


I am not sure if impeachment will work after Clinton screwed it up by not resigning, but it at least would send a message that this behavior is not condoned.

I doubt if the majority of Americans would agree to this though because unquestioned patriotism gets in the way of clear thinking. And now that the war is on, that type of patriotism seems to be the order of the day. I say that because of the change in sentiment now that the war has started. More people support the president now than did a week ago even though we have received no new proof or reasons to believe. Now that people are dying I ask even more strongly, why do we support this war? With no new proof, I feel that is even more our patriotic duty to get our troops out of there.

I think our natural desire to support our troops, our sons, daughters, friends and family serving, is getting coopted to include implicit support for our president and his cabinet. These are two different things. I support our troops fully and explicitly. I believe the best way to support them is to not send them into battle unwarranted. We should especially not order them to participate in an illegal action against another group of people. We should have very clear, solid, verifiable, undeniable reasons for sending the people in our armed forces into war. We don’t have that.

This makes me wonder why the administration has not even mentioned the idea of capturing Saddam and bringing him before the International Criminal Court. Seems like that is the law abiding thing to do. Vigilante justice is illegal. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we refuse to acknowledge that court because we would then be subject to it as well. We at least have the integrity to admit that we do not want to be held accountable in the world, and that we won’t hold others accountable either.

But we are holding Iraq accountable for future possible crimes, and that leaves us with vigilante justice as our only means of enforcement. The international law laid down in the founding charter of the United Nations says that countries have 2 reasons to attack another country. 1) When they are being attacked by that country, and 2) When the Security Council agrees that the other country is in violation of international law. So, the U.N. Security council is the only court we have for international law, and we ducked it when they didn’t go our way. Do we assume that they are too stupid to see what we have presented. Do we assume that they, who are much closer geographically, do not want to prevent terrorism? Why couldn’t we convince them? Everyone agrees Saddam is a madman. They voted against war because there is no proof of the Administration’s claims.

The administration is not doing something new here. It’s standard strategy to get anything done seems to be to use diversions or to exploit national fear and uncertainty. Example: The patriot act was sent through congress and a vote was demanded before anyone could have had time to read it. Why not let them read it? Do they really want the reforms for the good of the Country and the Institutions they were sworn to uphold? If so, then passage should be with examination and reasoned consent. Not bullying that they would be seen as un-American.

Example 2: The election in 2000. If Bush really cared about the office of the President and this country’s constitutional integrity, he would have waited for a full recount. Otherwise, there are doubts about the legitimacy of his election. Instead he pushed for the supreme court to decide. There was no precedent for that, and it undermined democratic rule by pre-empting people’s suffrage with Judicial tyranny.

Example 3: Why is Congress being asked to vote on the budget right now? It seems at this time, we should be focused on the war costs. Wait on the budget to see how much we need to fund the war. If it gets passed now, Bush could get an extra couple hundred billion dollars out of the tax base when he comes asking congress for more money to “support our troops” in a few months. More military dollars without even making it a budget item!

The budget itself is so fiscally irresponsible that it seems the only way it would get passed is if the people were distracted. We were working our way out of the national debt, but for the last two years we have been increasing it. This budget will set us back much farther, and yet give very little to those who could use it most. Poor people don’t pay much in taxes so they will get little if any back. Middle class people will get some back, I think I heard $600 for a family that makes $44,000/yr. Then the rest of the cuts, the majority of the cuts, will go to large corporations. This falls under the Reagan economic policy known as, “trickle down”. Unfortunately, that didn’t work last time. Why would it work now?

Our current leaders, George Bush and his cabinet are rallying us around death and destruction. It now seems that to be a patriot is to stop thinking, to stop asking hard questions, to stop examining our actions and motivations to make sure that they are pure. It seems that to them a patriot is someone who believes every unsubstantiated word unwaveringly. To be a patriot is to sit idly by while the press, which is supposed to give us honest reporting of the news, is actually putting every report through the war department review office in Atlanta for censoring just for the privilege of getting to cover the story by riding along with the troops. That all sounds more like sheep than human beings. The patriots who founded this country rejected a King who dictated what they should do and believe. An unquestioned faith is no faith. It is dogma. We rule ourselves in this country. If we are going to do it well, so that posterity gets to live better, then we need to have good information and we need to be able to think critically. Our leaders should encourage that if they want to build something strong that will last.

I want a leader who will try to improve us as a people and a country. We should be more loving, more caring for the people in the world. We should be self-sufficient. We should spend our energy finding ways to solve our problems that don’t require us standing on the heads of people in other countries.

We have a lot of talent in this country. We have people who can really achieve great things when they are inspired to work together. Look at the founding of this country. Look at the technological innovation that has come out of this country. Look at the disaster relief efforts for September 11th. Look at the community response to the midwest floods in the 90’s. Look at the number of military personnel who are following their leader now into this unjust aggression. They believe in their president, and they believe in our country so much that they are willing to die for it.

That energy and creativity that we possess should be harnessed for making our country and the world better, not destroying some other nation that “might” someday attack us. This is the only way we will ever stop terrorism. Violence just brings more violence.

Have you ever been rude to someone, unintentionally of course, and it pissed them off so much that they told you? Did you then realize what was going on and apologize. Were you and that person then able to get along better? This illustrates that people who are against one another can realize the circumstances and change. Other people will respond to that change. Our approach to terrorism should be to change for the better. We need to find out what we have done to make such large numbers of people despise us and change. Most of the people of the world will respond. Hamas, Al Qaida, and other terrorist groups do not blow up their friends, they blow up their enemies. For the small number of lunatics out there, we should stop them, and we should be alert for them.

On the other hand, we cannot live our lives being afraid of every possible thing that could happen in the world. We cannot build surveillence and walls to catch every thought of every evil person. That is a destructive paranoia that will bring our civilization to an early end. At the least, we will destroy the freedoms and rights that make it wonderful to be alive.

We cannot ask others to do what we won’t do. We, as a people, should use peaceful means and our great capacities to love and to do good to end terrorism by setting an example of a just and peaceful people who work within their world to create good.

Uncategorized 04 Mar 2003 01:39 am

Good to See you

Neil Young has a way with a song. He can express things that no other song writer can. “Good to See You”(mp3) (tab/lyrics) suits my mood best today.

His songs are plaintive and unchallenging to listen to on the surface, but there is a lot of sweet subtlety and depth of feeling there for the attentive. To me, Neil Young’s songs are what the rolling hills in north central California would sound like if they were music instead of landscape.

Long serene stretches of rolling hills covered in tall straw grasses are like the folk chords G,C,D,Am,Em. Seemingly they offer nothing but a monotonous plain vista. Standing in it though there is so much.

The aromas of dill and fennel are reminiscent of old kitchen drawers in my grandmother’s house. They call back memories.

The variation in the landscape is rhythmic. Here and again are solitary California oaks. Each one is strong and gnarled with symmetrical intricate branches. Yet they all lean, pushed by the ocean wind coming over the hills. They stand and draw the eye, accents.

In summer, the sun can warm the fields to the point that everything is thirsty-dry and smotheringly hot. Down in the sheltered corners of the hills you find unexpected groves of eucalyptus and redwoods. They are comforting, cool respites from the sun and wind. The eucalyptus bark piles up on the ground and hides foxes and coyote. The soil is loose dirt, like flour, that piles up into miniature drifts covering everything. It stays on your pants and shoes.

In midday, the farther hills look like spotted cowhide from the cloud shadows. Each new vantage offers new patterns. In evening, the light brown color of the hills reflects the golden sunsets intensely. The earth takes a brief, brilliant solo.
Then the dens of eucalyptus and redwood get cold, and deer appear out of them.
Who knows where the deer came from?

What’s most alike is when you get close to the hills or the songs, there’s a chance you might glimpse something beautiful. When their quietness can quiet you then you might be able to see yourself.