August 27, 2004

The man in the White House - oooh! He's got a conscience black as sin!

* Bob Herbert in todays New York Times. excerpt:

"In what is surely the most important election of the last half-century, we seem trapped in the politics of the madhouse. What is incredible is that these attacks on men who served not just honorably, but heroically, are coming from a hawkish party that is controlled by an astonishing number of men who sprinted as far from the front lines as they could when they were of fighting age and their country was at war.

"Among them:

"Mr. Bush himself, the nation's commander in chief and the biggest hawk of all. He revels in the accouterments of combat. The story was somewhat different when he was 22 years old and eligible for combat himself. He managed to get into the cushy confines of the Texas Air National Guard at the height of the Vietnam War in 1968 - a year in which more than a half-million American troops were in the war zone and more than 14,000 were killed.

"The story gets murky after that. We know the future president breezed off at some point to work on a political campaign in Alabama, skipped a required flight physical in 1972 and was suspended from flying. He supported the war in Vietnam but was never in any danger of being sent there.

"Vice President Dick Cheney, another fierce administration hawk. Mr. Cheney asked for and received five deferments when he was eligible for the draft. He told senators at a confirmation hearing in 1989, 'I had other priorities in the 60's than military service.' Many draft-age Americans had similar priorities - getting an education, getting married and starting a family.

"Attorney General John Ashcroft. He is reported to have said, 'I would have served, if asked.' But with the war raging in Vietnam, he received six student deferments and an 'occupational deferment' based on the essential nature of a civilian job at Southwest Missouri State University - teaching business law to undergraduates.

"Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary and a fanatical hawk on Iraq. He was not fanatical about Vietnam and escaped the draft with student deferments."

* George Saunders in Slate. read it. excerpt:

"Last Thursday, my organization, People Reluctant To Kill for an Abstraction, orchestrated an overwhelming show of force around the globe.

At precisely 9 in the morning, working with focus and stealth, our entire membership succeeded in simultaneously beheading no one. At 10, Phase II began, during which our entire membership did not force a single man to suck another man's penis. Also, none of us blew himself/herself up in a crowded public place. No civilians were literally turned inside out via our powerful explosives. In addition, at 11, in Phase III, zero (0) planes were flown into buildings."
...
"Who are we? A word about our membership.

"Since the world began, we have gone about our work quietly, resisting the urge to generalize, valuing the individual over the group, the actual over the conceptual, the inherent sweetness of the present moment over the theoretically peaceful future to be obtained via murder. Many of us have trouble sleeping and lie awake at night, worrying about something catastrophic befalling someone we love. We rise in the morning with no plans to convert anyone via beating, humiliation, or invasion. To tell the truth, we are tired. We work. We would just like some peace and quiet. When wrong, we think about it awhile, then apologize. We stand under awnings during urban thunderstorms, moved to thoughtfulness by the troubled, umbrella-tinged faces rushing by. In moments of crisis, we pat one another awkwardly on the back, mumbling shy truisms. Rushing to an appointment, remembering a friend who has passed away, our eyes well with tears and we think: Well, my God, he could be a pain, but still I'm lucky to have known him.

"This is PRKA. To those who would oppose us, I would simply say: We are many. We are worldwide. We, in fact, outnumber you. Though you are louder, though you create a momentary ripple on the water of life, we will endure, and prevail.

"Join us.

"Resistance is futile."

* Melbourne, Australia man makes car that runs on compressed air. picture at link.

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