As we move away from Memorial Day I link to a thoughtful, from-the-heart post at Silflay Hraka. It is not by Bigwig, but Blakavar. I don't know who these two characters from Watership Down represent, but they are not as flip as names might suggest.
Too often, we write off war as the worst thing that could happen, and the sacrifice of our troops as a burden that should not have to be borne. Well, I've news for you. Troops know the risk, and at least in a volunteer military, bear the burden. The risk is death; the reward is a feeling of having repaid the country a debt that was owed from birth, and the knowledge that one's life, if spent, is not wasted but invested in a better future. If war is basically evil, then the lives of men who fight are essentially thrown away no matter what the cause. But if war is just another of man's enterprises, then a wise war is funded with well invested sacrifice. Evaluation of a moral question of such magnitude - whether a particular war is wise or not - requires that we put aside our partisan squabbling, and take the long view, and take seriously all arguments.
This is by no means an anti-war rant. In fact it is exactly the opposite, a personal litany of tributes to all who have touched the heart and mind of the writer as he recalls the memory of each of them, ending with that famous part of Henry V which includes...From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remembered- We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition...
Having posted yesterday's credo, I feel it is important that I complete my personal record with something indicating that I am not blind to the realities of war and its deep importance to human behavior. I have always known that righteous indignation animates everyday people more than any other emotion. And how can we express righteous indignation any better as a population than by waging war?
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
As we move away from Memorial Day I link to a thoughtful, from-the-heart post at Silflay Hraka. It is not by Bigwig, but Blakavar. I don't know who these two characters from Watership Down represent, but they are not as flip as names might suggest.
Posted by Hoots at 6:36 AM
Mainly for my personal record and as a directive for anyone else who may be interested, I'm taking note of what seems to be a formative moment in Lebanon. The two words political and progress often seem to be in conflict and the state of affairs in Lebanon illustrates the point. The post ends with a great line by Thomas Friedman: In a Democracy, every day feels like a mess, but after a year, you’ll feel that a lot of progress has been made.
That line strikes a chord with me because just in the last couple of days I have decided that one of the things I will do when my blog accumulates a year's archive is to look back at posts a year old and reflect on what has happened in the intervening time. I can relate to that "every day feels like a mess" observation. But happily, I can sometimes see progress. It's like watching the growth of a tree. There is something poetic about that image and the idea of a Cedar Revolution.
Publius Pundit is the place to go to sort out the mess in Lebanon. Once again, I thank Pejman for the link.
Now that Syria has pulled out, the precedent for a unified anti-Syria opposition has been removed as each party forms alliances and election lists with formerly hostile rivals. All of this is occurring within the framework of the controversial 2000 election law which, due to political squabbling, was not changed in time for this electoral season.
In two sentences the state of Lebanese politics is summed up. This paragraph summarizes the overall picture.
Michel Aoun’s return from exile in France and subsequent failure to conjure and alliance with Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt sparked the first real split in the opposition’s ideological direction. He is staunchly anti-Syria, however, has been relatively asinine by taking credit for Syria’s withdrawal because of his support for UNRES 1559. With regards to this, the devil is in the details. Resolution 1559 calls for the disarming of Hizb’allah, the international solution, but Jumblatt and Hariri’s parties support an “internal resolution” and insist that Syria’s pullout was based on the Taif Accord. Insofar, this is true, and it has been the foundation for the alliance between Hariri and Jumblatt with Hizb’allah and Amal. This strange alliance, as well as Hariri and Jumblatt’s willingness to participate under the old election law, are the other reasons for the split.
Thanks to the complete indifference of Americans to these details that paragraph may as well have been written in another language. It is filled with names and references that even the most experienced reporters never use.
I'm interested because it represents the details of a constructive non-violent resolution to internal conflicts that have in the past given Lebanon deep scars from civil war and sectarian violence. The reference to an armed Hizb'allah is important. If any exercise in representative government is to succeed, armed factions serve only to corrupt the process. It is hard to know how unarmed forces successfully pursuade armed opponents to lay down their arms, but when it happens the result is what we call peace. Anything else is simply another form of domination.
Posted by Hoots at 5:23 AM
Monday, May 30, 2005
Those of us who do not want to be associated with war expect at best to be endured by most people -- unless a war is under way. Then, if we are lucky, the civility of peacetime gives way to head-shaking and silence. Except in traditional peace churches or pacifist communities, friends and family regard conscientious objection to war as something of a character flaw.
Any national occasion will do for the celebration of wars and warriors. Memorial Day is especially poignant since it remembers specifically those who died in the course of military service.
This is not the time or place to argue constructive peaceful alternatives to war. It is a time to remember the price we have paid - and continue to pay - in the numbers of our children who die because we have not succeeded in figuring out an alternative to their sacrifice.
Here are poems for this day.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army...
McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915.
The peasant I tempt to-day eats and drinks what was eaten and drunk by the peasants of ten thousand years ago; and the house he lives in has not altered as much in a thousand centuries as the fashion of a lady’s bonnet in a score of weeks. But when he goes out to slay, he carries a marvel of mechanism that lets loose at the touch of his finger all the hidden molecular energies, and leaves the javelin, the arrow, the blowpipe of his fathers far behind.
This marvellous force of Life of which you boast is a force of Death: Man measures his strength by his destructiveness.
I saw a man die: he was a London bricklayer’s laborer with seven children. He left seventeen pounds club money; and his wife spent it all on his funeral and went into the workhouse with the children next day. She would not have spent sevenpence on her children’s schooling: the law had to force her to let them be taught gratuitously; but on death she spent all she had. Their imagination glows, their energies rise up at the idea of death, these people: they love it; and the more horrible it is the more they enjoy it.
Hell is a place far above their comprehension: they derive their notion of it from two of the greatest fools that ever lived, an Italian [Dante] and an Englishman [Milton].
The highest form of literature is the tragedy, a play in which everybody is murdered at the end. In the old chronicles you read of earthquakes and pestilences, and are told that these shewed the power and majesty of God and the littleness of Man. Nowadays the chronicles describe battles. In a battle two bodies of men shoot at one another with bullets and explosive shells until one body runs away, when the others chase the fugitives on horseback and cut them to pieces as they fly. And this, the chronicle concludes, shews the greatness and majesty of empires, and the littleness of the vanquished.
I could give you a thousand instances; but they all come to the same thing: the power that governs the earth is not the power of Life but of Death; and the inner need that has nerved Life to the effort of organising itself into the human being is not the need for higher life but for a more efficient engine of destruction.
The plague, the famine, the earthquake, the tempest were too spasmodic in their action; the tiger and crocodile were too easily satiated and not cruel enough: something more constantly, more ruthlessly, more ingeniously destructive was needed; and that something was Man, the inventor of the rack, the stake, the gallows, the electric chair; of sword and gun and poison gas: above all, of justice, duty, patriotism, and all the other isms by which even those who are clever enough to be humanely disposed are persuaded to become the most destructive of all the destroyers.
Posted by Hoots at 9:00 AM
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Posted by Hoots at 7:00 AM
Saturday, May 28, 2005
It's a holiday weekend but I have to report to work. Not enough time to blog as I would like, but I started my Memorial Day post a few weeks ago and it is already finished. Pretty serious, I'm afraid, not apt to get flowers from anyone, but it is from my heart and I will post it simply because I need to. Maybe tomorrow so I can let it rest for a couple of days.
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By custom and history, Gypsies do not think in territorial terms and do not seek a single homeland. Throughout the world, most do not care who the sovereign is, but want to be allowed to teach their own culture and create a better future for their children.
And like the Jews, they were singled out by the Nazis for extermination. According to a spokesperson from Yad Vashem, "There are tremendous similarities between the experience of Jews and those Gypsies who were victimized by the Nazis."
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Posted by Hoots at 6:17 AM
Friday, May 27, 2005
...or maybe I should call it "end-note." This looks more like the end of something than part of an ongoing process.
Today someone left this curious note to Robert Fulgham as a comment on one of my posts from May 3.
Dear Mr.Fulgham...MY wife and I read your books many years ago.We tried desperately to recall your name and asked many acquaintances through email, face to face and all media to respond. Finally one friend emailed your name to us and made our day. We will inform all of them that you are still with us.When I wrote you long ago enclossing a poem about dandelions (a subject in your book) your wife sent us a lovely response from you.Now we researched you on google and will tell them you are still here. How are you and your wife doing? You reinfoced my feelings about the continuing beauty of what is called a weed and still warmly remembered....Roy Schoenberg
Something about the post must have led him to imagine that because Google had led him to that particular quote he thought he had found Mr. Fulgham.
I have been keeping up with Fulgham from time to time ever since I read Gerard Van der Leun's great story about how this uncontrollably creative gusher of a writer left the market-driven US publishing ratrace and went to Europe where he could enjoy time to breathe, write and experiment all at the same time. I had great fun blogging about it and took great satisfaction in saying "American publishers, eat your heart out."
Had he stayed in America he would have dried up like a raisin. Tom Wolfe he is not. Nor Frank McCourt. Guys like that have tough hides and laser vision. I also don't think they are into painting, sculpture or other non-literary forms, but I don't know that for sure.
Fulgham strikes me as a more vulnerable individual by comparison, too gentle to wield a blackjack in negotiations. He needs a more gentlemanly place to write and work. And certainly a place not seeking cookie-cutter writers whose value is measured more by volume than content. (I'm not referring to Wolfe or McCourt anymore, by the way. I'm talking about the pimping that publishers are apt to do to sell anything on paper.) Van der Leun said it well.
For reasons that I won't go into here, -- but may tell another time -- I've watched this publishing phenomenon from a unique, somewhat inside, perspective. Suffice it to say that for Fulghum and everyone else involved it was, for ten years, a wild ride. A ride that might have continued, as these publishing things do, for many more years except for one wild card in the equation, Robert Fulghum.
Fulghum is one of those rare individuals that you meet in life that are best described as: "A man who is himself." There's nothing in him that is derivative of others. Besides being a writer, Fulghum is also a painter, a sculptor, a Unitarian minister, a man who knows his whiskey and cigars, and his way around a poker table. He also plays a mean mandocello. For ten years he was in great demand as a speaker, and he still is. But there was a point at which he decided, against all advice to the contrary from the traditional publishing types in his karass, that he was tired of being "Captain Kindergarten," and he just folded up the tent and walked away.
You would think that American book-publishing, given a chance to innovate, and working with an author who has tens of millions of readers around the world, would jump at the chance to publish this in some form or another. And you would be dead wrong.
You'd be wrong because you fail to comprehend just how deep into American publishing the creative brain rot goes. When this book was "offered" to American publishers not one could even begin to imagine how it could be done, and not one could even bring themselves to take a flyer on finding out how it could be done. Every single one of them, as well as an agent or two, passed.
Were they right?
Of course not. They were wrong. They were, as most are, utterly unimaginative, uninformed, and stupefied. They were strapped to a profit and loss spreadsheet and with no vision of how to produce such a book. And it is not really hard to do. Believe me because I've done it. It is just that, in truth, the American trade book publishing industry has, over the past few decades, managed to push out the innovators and suck in the factory-workers when it comes to staffing their editorial offices.
(Don't hold back, Gerard. Tell us how you really feel.)
So back to Mr. Shoenberg.
I wanted to contact Mr. Fulgham to forward his fan mail, but I came into this...
Robert Fulghum does not have e-mail (business or personal). Really.He also does not have a cell phone. His books and appearances have generated an overwhelming amount of correspondence. He would love to be able to receive and respond to it all, but the truth is, his commitments to writing, traveling and family make this not possible. He would have to clone himself—and anyone who knows him will testify that that would be too much. So, kindly accept his apologies and then take a good look at the above photograph and ask yourself if you really would want to get a hold of this person.
-Emily Phipps, Assistant to Mr. Fulghum
I don't do photos, so if you want to see the picture go to the link and check it out.
When I try to reach Mr. Shoenberg I get a hosted site about cats and cat poetry, but no email contact for Mr. Shoenberg. I'm composing this post as a way of pulling together all these loose ends, so that in the event that contact is made, the story will be laid out and ready to read.
Meantime, thanks for reading.
I am open to suggestions about how to contact Mr. Shoenberg, but I am not keenly motivated to do much more. He had the same access to the internet that we all do, and he aparently has his own keyboard and knows how to do a Google search. Good luck to him on his Quixotic efforts.
It would seem that Robert Fulgham is about to join that elite club of reclusive creative people whose egos are healthy enough that public scrutiny is not on their need list. I find that to be a definite plus in my book. A few names come to mind: Harper Lee and Kurt Vonnegut are private people. The late Johnny Carson was a sterling example of how to live life to the fullest and go out at the top of your game. I heard on the radio today that Eddie Albert died at the age of ninety-nine. There could be a fairly long list of accomplished people who value privacy over ego-stroking. If that is what he wants to do, I say good on Robert Fulgham for joining them.
Posted by Hoots at 7:43 PM
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
George Bernard Shaw
Irish dramatist & socialist (1856 - 1950)
With apologies to Shaw, who would surely disapprove, I think of myself as an unreasonable Christian. When I try to adapt myself to the world I am plagued by the feeling that I am becoming less Christian in the bargain. And when I try to adapt the world to myself I see the image of a dog circling in tall grass, swirling out a comfortable little canine nest where he can curl up and rest for a bit. After a short nap, he moves on. The next time he wants to stop and rest, he will have to swirl out another nest elsewhere because the other one has grown over.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:22-25)
Posted by Hoots at 3:27 AM
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Via Southern Appeal, an essay in Touchstone worth reading.
Having been reared as a Southern Baptist I can tell you that today's Baptist Church is not your grandaddy's Baptist Church. I was spoon-fed so much anti-Catholocism (along with a lot of other stuff) that the fist time I saw an Episcopal service I felt like I was doing something wrong by even being in the building. Thankfully, I got over it.
The legacy of John Paul II is spreading across the Kingdom in a way that no one would have predicted twenty or thirty years ago. This article illustrates the point.
The pope is interested in saving souls, and he understands that bad philosophy, if not challenged by good philosophy, will make the church’s mission of soul-saving more difficult. Although he notes that there is no one correct Christian philosophy, there are limits to the extent to which a philosophy can be employed to illuminate Christian truth.
Consider, for example, the recent challenges on the classical attributes of God: that he is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, incorporeal, and personal. Over the past several decades proponents of Open Theism (who deny that God knows the future and is immutable) and Mormonism (who deny all the classical attributes except “personal”) have challenged some of them.
Their reasoning is, not surprisingly, “biblical.” They read the text and they see, for instance, that God has regrets (Genesis 6:6), is corporeal (Deuteronomy 34:10), and is sometimes surprised (Jeremiah 32:35). So they conclude that classical theism (or some variation of it) is wrong about God because it is the result of reading the Bible encumbered by “pagan” philosophy.
Many of the Evangelicals who rightly oppose Open Theism and Mormonism respond in kind. They too cite Scripture, also claiming to do so untouched by philosophical analysis. They offer their own collection of proof-texts that they are convinced clearly show that God does know the future, is unchanging, does not have a body, and so forth.
Each side presents to the other its own collection of biblical passages, both claiming to do so by purely reading the text.
Although these traditionalists see themselves as upholding the creeds of Christendom (and that is, of course, a good thing), they rarely consult the Fathers or the Great Doctors of the Church and avail themselves of the reasoning that gave rise to the creeds they seek to protect. Their opponents do investigate their ecclesiastical patrimony, but not as teachable students willing to grant a strong presumption to the wisdom of this tradition and its formation. Their approach is like that of a criminal prosecutor seeking to find Mafia corruption in the business dealings of a corporation.
It seems odd to say this, but we must remember that our predecessors read the same Bible that we read, and they confronted the same apparently disparate accounts of God’s actions and nature that we find in Scripture. Why, then, did they develop the view of God that they did?
No way to summarize the article. You have to read it to see where this goes.
It's not as entertaining as my last reference, but it's probably more important.
Posted by Hoots at 5:55 AM
Michael Spencer, the internet monk, is my new best discovery online. His observations about faith and all that it can spew forth are truly wonderful. Today's comments on bookstores, marketing and evangelism are as refreshing as anything I have read. After swearing off Christian bookstores, he broke down and went into one anyway.
There is a large section called "Christian Living," and 98% of the books found there never needed to be written. The packaging is very nice. The titles are cute. But after that, things get desperately discouraging. Politics. Family Values. Sentimental devotionalism. Nonsense. Bad advice. Mumbling. Many books that seem to have no purpose for their existence. I mean, books that retread the same messages that evangelicals have been writing for a century.
I'm a capitalist, and Lifeway can sell whatever they want however they want to sell it. I'll just say this: Someone needs to wake-up and realize that Lifeway is pushing the teachers and the teaching that suit their purposes of making money FIRST, and not the purposes of your local church, its people or its leaders. This is what Christian publishers do. Yes, they are great people who want to help churches and Christians, etc., yada, etc. Just remember why that book was being pushed, and all kinds of great books will never be endorsed or even displayed at those stores.
So he leaves the Christian bookstore and goes to a Barnes & Noble. Lo and behold, here he is beset by General Joyce Myers. You need to go to the link to find out why he calls her by that title.
I started to look around. Joyce Meyer's books were everywhere in Barnes and Noble. Two shelves. Two tables. Displays. New books at the front. Even at the check out, looking at me from a display behind the desk. This is weird. Rick Warren has convinced these bookstores that there is money to be made, and General Joyce is cranking out all kinds of titles that look great in B&N. So we've gone from a generic evangelical Baptist to an intimidating female word-faith life coach who flashes the bling-bling at every opportunity, and she's looking at me from every aisle like she wants to hit me.
This is creepy. While Meyer is theologically light years ahead of Joel Osteen, she's also a classic televangelist multi-mazillionaire scamming tons of people while she purports to be using the money responsibly. (Read the articles. Don't bark at me.) And she's taken over Barnes and Noble. I kept looking for her jet in the parking lot.
Now that Rick Warren has revealed the buckets of money to be made, the larger publishing industry will be pushing the Osteens and the Meyers to the top of the pile. Why? They know how to play the game. The titles. The packaging. The rehashed content. The multiple tie-ins to some big event at a stadium. General Joyce has the added bonus of being a cross between Dr. Laura and Lou Gossett, Jr in An Officer And A Gentleman. She's the pastor most Southern Baptists wish they had, even though their version of God won't allow her in the ministry.
With so few pastors helping their people sort through this mess, and with Christian television pumping Joyce Meyer into our homes 24/7, it's no wonder she's a hit with the "practical Bible teaching" crowd. That success will translate into books, and as fast as she can crank them out, title them and smile for the cover photo, they will be at a Wal-Mart near you. If you love God and your kids, you'll buy them all.
If you haven't already, get this place bookmarked.
Posted by Hoots at 5:27 AM
Bene Diction points to an official Marine photo of a new piece of hardware in Iraq, an M-1A1 Abrams sporting the name "New Testament." The story makes no reference to the name of its poster child, but says...
As the Global War on Terrorism progresses, the Marine Corps continues to use an intimidating pieces of machinery on the ground …the M-1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank.
The tanks, which weigh up to 70 tons and provide awesome firepower, were introduced into the Marine Corps during the early 1990s and are usually incorporated into initial ground assaults.
“When insurgents see us rolling into town, they may set off an (improvised explosive device),” said Gunnery Sgt. Richard J. Layton, a tank commander with 4th Tank Company, 1st Tank Battalion in support of 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment. “But, that doesn’t phase these big guys and we just keep rolling right through it. It dissuades some of the insurgents from attacking us when they see that their best weapon is useless against us.”
Bene Diction, agreeing with Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost (Outpost? Isn't that derived from military origins?), doesn't believe the name is appropriate. He quotes from Evangelical Outpost.
What troubles me most about the photo is not the offensive naming of a weapon of war after a sacred religious text. Having spent nearly half my life in the Corps, I’m well aware of the level of idiocy and offensiveness that my fellow Marines are capable of reaching. No, what bothers me is that no one put a stop to this display of ignorance and disrespect before it was included on the official website for the Marine Corps.
To which he adds...
I completely agree with Joe on this. Reading the comment section, no amount of justification, approval, explanation or deviation from the topic is going to cut it.I think the US public needs to see photos like this. And I think they need to read a clear explanation from a former Marine about why this photo does not belong on a government santioned site.
My first reaction to their comments was agreement. But then I remembered looking at the coat of arms of the British Crown and finding the motto Dieu et mon droit.
"God and my right" has been around for a millinium, tying faith with earthly power. Seems to me the crusades were driven by the same Christian ferver gone amuck. Lest anyone think the impulse has disappeared, take a look at the second Google reference I got. And how many faithful Americans will reverently bow their heads in churches across the country this Sunday, praying for victory in war and protection for our men and women in uniform?
Words like "idiocy and offensiveness...idiocy and disrespect" are not my words, but they seem to apply well here. I was in the military, too. I saw the same qualities up close and personal. I entered the Army objecting to its raison d'etre and I was honorably discharged two years later the same way.
When we wage war we become that which we want to destroy. Spare me righteous indignation and inverted political correctness on behalf of the Kingdom.
Posted by Hoots at 4:08 AM
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
I was so busy working in my yard and playing with the Galloway post below that I missed the excitement, if it could be called that, of the Senate compromise. A lot of people were apparently scrooched up, holding their collective breath, hoping those ignorant, hard-headed, obstructionist, moonbat-loving (that's an inverted latter-day variant on the epithet N-word-lovin') Dimokrats (that's how you spell it to imply stupid while tying it with the KKK at the same time) would finally get their comeuppance.
Missed it altogether. At this writing there are so many panezinawad I don't know which way to turn.
Compare and contrast the following references...
This one first:
Here's what the Democrats commit to in the future: "Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist." Here's what the Republicans commit to: "In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress. . ." LINK
Now this one:
If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit. But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death. If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him. Whether he have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him. If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned. And if a man shall open a pit, or if a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall therein; The owner of the pit shall make it good, and give money unto the owner of them; and the dead beast shall be his. And if one man's ox hurt another's, that he die; then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the money of it; and the dead ox also they shall divide. Or if it be known that the ox hath used to push in time past, and his owner hath not kept him in; he shall surely pay ox for ox; and the dead shall be his own. Exodus 21:28-36
I don't remember when an ox was last stoned...but then my memory is not what it used to be.
Posted by Hoots at 4:02 AM
Monday, May 23, 2005
George Galloway, MP Bethnal Green & Bow (or as they say, BG&B) is someone I never knew of before today, and someone the US Senate probably wishes they had never heard of ever. He is a member of the British Parliament accused of profiteering on the oil-for-food program before it was replaced by a bombs-for-food arrangement. I found background at Crooked Timber.
He’s in many ways an utterly reprehensible character; friend of dictators, self-aggrandising, supporter of a lifestyle seemingly out of proportion to his income, frequenter of the libel courts, stirrer of racial tensions, etc etc. But, he does put on a hell of a show, and that’s why he won in Bethnal Green.
The Bangladeshis and poor whites who live in that area... are not daft. They work in the garment trade, an industry which is not notorious for its fools. They must be aware... that Galloway is going to spend most of his time as MP for Bethnal Green and Bow doing what he spent most of his time doing as MP for Glasgow Kelvin; wandering round the country, making speeches to extreme-left audiences and not showing up in the House of Commons. The major effect of electing Galloway...will be that in general, they will have to put up with somewhat worse housing conditions over the next four years, and that the task of dealing with the labyrinth of local government bureaucracy...will be that much more difficult...
...he puts on a bloody good show, and more importantly... he gets right up in the faces of the people at the top of the tree.
You see, it’s entirely laudable and sensible to vote for someone who will spend morning noon and night tirelessly plodding away making incremental gains on your behalf and trying to smooth over one or two of the little inconveniences that make life slightly, but tangibly and materially, more difficult to live.
No need to go on. We know people like that. In fact, we have a good many in state legislatures, and not a few in Washington. Whatever else he may be, Mr Galloway has to be one of the most colorful political creatures on the world stage today.
All you need to remember is that he was an early and loud opponent of the War in Iraq. His motives may have been as dirty as a honey-wagon, but politically he picked a winning position. The "Global War on Terrorism" is a political construct from Washington, seen in most of the world as yet another US war. We have allies, of course, but it is tenuous to speak of "democracy" when the arithmetic of a majority would not deal our War in Iraq a winning hand in any plebescite. Enough about that.
To get the full enjoyment of the circus that took place this week in Washington, it takes 47 minutes to watch the video of Mr. Galloway's appearance. If time is a problem the video can be moved ahead six minutes, which is how long it takes for the introductory statement and swearing in. A transcript is available, interestingly enough from a London source. Brad Blog complains that no official transcript is yet available, although the event took place nearly a week ago. There is another transcript available at BellaCiao which also has a link to the entire video.
After seeing the video, I understand why it has not been widely shown in the US. Aside from the arcane nature of the discussion, Mr. Galloway stands his ground with the Senate Committee in a way that we have not seen since the McCarthy hearings of the fifties.
I owe Pejman for turning me on to the debate. Having the global view that he does, he presumes that everyone else is as smart as he is, so he left it up to one of Mr. Galloway's countrymen to take him down. Gerard Baker is US Editor for the Times of London. The Queen's English doesn't get any better than this.
The Senate describes itself, without apparent irony or hint of self-awareness, as the world’s greatest deliberative body. Wherever they travel, senators are treated with a sort of scented deference that only a republic could confer on its leaders and not risk revolution. Fawning staffers strew petals in their path; highways are made straight for them; rivers are forded lest they get their feet wet. One observer noted that senators take themselves so seriously that “they’d wear togas if they thought they could get away with it.”
When mortals appear before Senate panels, they are expected to show proper deference to these lawgivers of the American republic. But while senators may consider themselves Solons, Pericles they most assuredly are not. Going through life in an impregnable carapace of sycophancy is agreeable, no doubt, but as Marie Antoinette discovered, it does not tend to sharpen one’s skills in public argument. So when a feisty member such as Mr Galloway shows up in the midst of these august figures, the effect is a little like a character from a Damon Runyon novel let loose among the Gatsbys.
Time permitting, I recommend the whole column. Don't rush it. Savor every word.
Read it to yourself conversationally, imagining the inflection of Alistair Cooke as you read. Better yet, since the last Star Wars Movie is out, remember the voice of Alec Guinness. Younger readers can think of Anthony Hopkins.
Mr. Galloway's appearance (I hesitate to dignify it as "testimony." I found some of the same phrases in an article in Al Jezeera two years old when he was booted from the Labour Party by Mr. Blair. His language was more like what we call a "stump speech.") triggered more outrage than embarrassment other circles.
Ahmad's blog, Iraqi Expat, dripped with sarcasm:
It seems that Galloway learned to talk like his friend, Saddam. Do you remember the mother of all battles in which Saddam defeated the zionist imperialist west in 1991? Well, Galloway said that the accusations levelled against him were the "mother of all smokescreens"!
If you follow the link, go to the homepage and scroll down to the May 20, 21 and 22 posts to see the photos of Saddam in unflattering images. Time permitting, read Ahmad's take on Muslim extremists. Whether you are for or against the US presence in Iraq, it will do your heart good.
Do I blame westerners for hating Islam or having prejudice toward Muslims? Absolutely not; why do we expect them to love us when there are so many of us (Muslims) hate them so much? Unless Muslims work hard to denounce those anti-Westerners, we shouldn’t expect much from them.
The problem is that some Sunnis believe - or try to believe - that there is a real patriotic resistance and there is terrorism, as if that resistance would be in Iraq’s best interest, but never mind! Most Sunnis, however, even those who believe there is resistance, condemn terrorism but at the same time try to deny that terrorism is more of a Sunni problem.
Posted by Hoots at 5:57 PM
Here is a link to a video via a blog in Bahrain that I have been following for a few months. Bahrania is a smart, cocky young woman whose blog is still in the formative stages. She's all over the place with cultural commentary, history, politics, whatever.
Her blogroll is a study in diversity, showing a range of talent and interests that I find refreshing and encouraging. I don't know much about Bahrain, except it is one of those little countries in the shadow of the larger ones that interest Americans mostly because of petroleum.
Too bad we aren't able to understand their language. But thanks to the internet and a global English-speaking empire we are now beginning to peer into their world with something resembling understanding. I love the way she comments on the video:
There's just something about a guy who can kick a ball about well that makes a girl tick. This kid is called Soufiane Touzani.
"...makes a girl tick." That's elegant use of a language that is not likely her mother tongue.
She and another blogger from Bahrain were interviewed by an Italian journalist, in English...
Chan’ad and Bahrania are the young editors of two diaries on the internet; in these diaries they tell other Bahrainis, and the rest of the world, their points of view about life and politics in Bahrain. We met them and had a double interview on the theme of freedom of expression.
Reporter: What are the differences between journalism and blogging in Bahrain today? In your opinion what are the advantages of such an instrument?
Bahrania: In the official media journalism is much more restricted than blogging, blogging has no boundaries, no censorship, no red-tape, no editorial approval, no deadlines. Blogging happens in real time, and gives the opinions of the writer who takes sole responsibility for the content. In the context of Bahrain, blogging offers freedom of speech that we don’t have in the state controlled media. Blogging by nature is unrestricted and, therefore, doesn’t fall under any particular standards and so bloggers need time to build a good reputation.
Chan'ad: There’s a huge difference, in Bahrain all the media, radio and TV are owned and run by the government, while all the local newspapers are self-censured to the point that you can never read a real and honest discussion about certain issues such as the royal family or the government. The internet gives you the perfect space to discuss issues freely, and you can do this anonymously and so you can avoid being persecuted by the authorities.
Another big advantage about blogging is that it gives the readers the opportunity, if they want, to give their opinions and to interact with the writer, both parties can learn new things, in mainstream journalism the information is usually one way.
Reporter: Bahrania, you are one of the few woman women bloggers, how do you see the position of women in the Bahraini media?
Bahrania: We live in a patriarchal society, but this doesn’t mean that there are not opportunities for women. Bahraini women are very well educated, in fact there are more women graduating than men from the University of Bahrain. There are also some very good women journalists in the local media. However, in a country where basic citizen’s or human rights are frequently ignored breached or totally absent it’s difficult to weigh up women’s rights. As a woman myself I would say I want human rights before women’s rights.
This is all pretty ordinary stuff. That's what I like about it. Most of the world is unremarkable and most of it's people face the same issues everywhere.
When we generalize and steroetype people from other countries, we only fool ourselves.
The first link on her blogroll, likely because the first character is not alphabetic, is 1 Pissed Arab. Posting here is infrequest, but revealing. Here is an interesting snip from a March post:
A storm is brewing in the Islamic world over Dr. Amina Wadud's leading the Friday prayer in a New York mosque. I heard her speaking and I did not find her offering any explanation (religious or otherwise) as to why she is stirring an unneeded controversy in this TIME and PLACE!
Here is a half-witted statement from the "organizers" shedding light by saying "this event is about Muslim women reclaiming their rightful place in Islam"
What ?? I guess Moslem women's list of demands is nearing the bottom of the list!
My point is:- Moslem women's struggle IS to re-claim what Islam has originally given them, and what deep rooted social traditions have taken from them in some countries.e.g. Inheritance, right to manage her own money, and run her own business, freedom to marry & divorce whoever and whenever, freedom to refuse her husband's taking on another wife whthout her consent, right to have her husband or brother fully cover all her financial needs from their own money ..NB. Islam gave women more rights than "western" women enjoyed until only 50 years ago, and in many countries until today.-
I understand why the Friday speech and prayer is led by a man, and if you think it's racist, please point me to where I can find the name of the last woman that held the Pope position, and the name of the church where the sermon is led by a nun. And as far as I know female Rabbis are hard to find!-
One Pissed Arab
I highlighted part of this post because American readers are not apt to catch the argument. When we look at Arab society, all we see is a male-centric society that keeps its women in an alien condition akin to "barefoot and pregnant." By filtering what we read through a politically correct interpretation, it is easy to presume that those who fail to match our own understanding of women's equality must be primitive, in need of correcting. It is worth noting that Bahrania entered the first comment on the thread and agreed with what he had said! And she doesn't strike me as a milquetoast kind of kid.
Posted by Hoots at 6:26 AM
Sunday, May 22, 2005
"There are some who, uh, feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: Bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation. “ - George W. Bush, July 2, 2003.
They took him up on it. They're bringing 'em on...
Today in Iraq blog is keeping up.
Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqis shot dead on the southern outskirts of Baghdad after they acted suspiciously. Bodies of three civilians shot dead found in Latifiyah.
Bring ‘em on: Eight members of an elite Interior Ministry force known as the Wolf Brigade killed in ambush of their 20 vehicle convoy in downtown Beiji. Two US Apache helicopters responded and opened fire on targets near the ambush site. Seventeen people wounded in a gunfight between al-Sadr supporters and guards protecting a local provincial governor's office in Nasiriyah.
Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi civilian killed and another wounded in bombing near Oyoun, west of Kirkuk.
Bring ‘em on: Twelve Interior Ministry commandoes killed in a series of clashes in and around Samarra. Police station bombed in Tikrit. Six civilians injured in mortar attack in western Baghdad. One civilian killed in roadside bombing in Azab. Two policemen wounded by suicide car bomb in Tikrit.
Bring ‘em on: Director general of the Iraq Trade Ministry and his driver shot to death in western Baghdad.
Bring 'em on: Thousands of Shia protest against the American occupation in Najaf.
Bring 'em on: Al Sadr supporters clash with guards at the headquarters of Dhi Qar provincial governor in Nasiryah.
Bring 'em on: Seven killed in insugency attack on the home of Sunni politician in Mosul. In another press report of this incident: An Iraqi lawmaker said 10 of his private guards were killed here on Thursday during a 1-1/2 hour-long battle with insurgents and Apache helicopter-backed U.S. forces, who he accused of killing several of his aides.
Bring 'em on: Two US soldiers killed Thursday in gun attack on convoy in Baghdad.
Bring 'em on: One US soldier killed Friday while on "combat logistic patrol" in Taji.Bring 'em on: Senior Iraqi oil ministry official gunned down in Baghdad.
Bring 'em on: Iraqi university professor gunned down in Baghdad.Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi journalists executed last Sunday whilst travelling to Kerbala.
Bring 'em on: Iraqi police officer and his father shot dead in Samarra.Bring 'em on: US soldier killed by IED explosion whilst travelling on an escort mission in Mahmudiyah.
Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi soldiers killed and five injured in car bomb attack on a military convoy in Baghdad.
Bring 'em on: Civilian killed by roadside bomb in Latifya.
Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi policmen killed by roadside bomb in Baqubah.
Bring 'em on: US soldier killed in indirect fire attack in FOB Ramadi.
Bring ‘em on: Iraqi Interior Ministry Brig. Gen. shot to death and his wife and driver injured in Baghdad attack. Two Iraqis killed and eight wounded, including seven children, in mortar attacks in Mosul. Baquba car bombing aimed at a police convoy injured 14, including 12 police officers. Seven Iraqis injured in a Baghdad bombing aimed at an American convoy. Iraqi Transport Ministry driver shot dead in Sadr City.
Bring ‘em on: Iraqi intelligence official and his wife killed and their three children injured in an ambush south of Baghdad. Bodies of three Iraqi civilians believed to have been working as contractors for the US military found in Dujail. Footage released of the execution of two more Iraqi contractors kidnapped from Baghdad.
Bring ‘em on: Bodies of seven men, blindfolded and shot in the head, found in Amiriyah.
Bring ‘em on: Twenty people killed in clashes between militants and US forces backed by attack helicopters in a neighborhood in Mosul. Former Baath Party member and his three sons abducted and killed in Tunis, a village south of Baghdad.
Bring ‘em on: The bodies of at least 21 Iraqi males, blindfolded and with bound hands, have been found in Al-Sha’ab and Ur neighborhoods of Baghdad and in the town of Al-Mada’in. Two survivors were found and reported that they had been arrested and shot by men dressed in Iraqi army uniforms. (These bodies are in addition to the 34 reported in yesterday’s post.) Two Iraqi security contractors killed, two Iraqi and one American contractors wounded in eastern Baghdad roadside bombing. Five Iraqi soldiers killed, seven soldiers and three civilians wounded in bombing in Baquba. One Iraqi security guard killed and two female students wounded in mortar attack at Baghdad University School of Engineering. One Iraqi civilian killed and one wounded in drive-by shooting in Mosul. One of Ayatollah Sistani’s aides and the aide’s nephew killed in Baghdad drive-by shooting.
Bring ‘em on: Three clerics, two Shiite and one Sunni, assassinated in Baghdad in separate incidents. An engineer working for the Commission on Public Integrity, which probes corruption in Iraq, assassinated in Baghdad. Bodies of three Iraqi soldiers, one beheaded, found near Qaim. One US soldier killed, one wounded, in roadside bombing just south of Tikrit. Four Iraqi soldiers killed and three wounded in fighting outside a power plant in Mussayib.
Bring ‘em on: US troops, backed by attack helicopters, battled insurgents in Mosul. Heavy exchanges of gunfire were reported.
Bring 'em on: Thirty four bodies found in Baghdad, Ramadi and Latifya.
Bring 'em on: Two drivers taken hostage in Baghdad.
Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi journalists and their driver killed in ambush in Mahmudiya.
Bring 'em on: Two civilians killed in bomb attack on Iraqi convoy in Baghdad.
Bring 'em on: Four Iraqi troops killed by mortar attack in Khan Bani Saad.
Bring 'em on: Three civilians injured in mortar attack in Baqubah.
Bring 'em on: Iraqi policeman and his wife gunned down in Aalgaya.
Bring 'em on: Four gunmen killed in failed assassination attempt on Iraqi army general in Baghdad.
That's just this week.
The blog has lots more than stats and snips.
Only if you're interested.
Posted by Hoots at 1:21 PM