Saturday, March 17, 2007

Peace should be a virtue...

Why is peace so reviled these days? Why is the very notion of peace enough to have the rabid, wingnut right froth at the mouth with self-righteous anger? I had blogged about how peace is now even being equated with Satan as a homeowner’s association in Colorado had ordered a wreath in the shape of the international peace sign taken down. Some members had claimed it was a Satanic symbol, even Nero’s Cross supposedly even though the evidence that Nero used it was rather thin. It is the absurd claims that we rightfully laugh at and roll our eyes at that are the very tactics of demagogues who seek to rile up our basest emotions. It is these absurd claims that could turn around a noble word like peace and make it into something to be rejected, because it is a left-wing or even Satanic conspiracy to bring our country down. Is peace considered a feminine trait by those who follow the hyper-masculinity ethos? Must everything be settled with fists and bombs?

Our National Litterbox, (I refuse to just call him president) says Jesus is his favorite philosopher. Yet, like the GodMen of Tennessee who want a more masculine Christianity, Bush must have only read the part where Jesus drives the moneychangers from the temple in a not so peaceful display of power. Bush who is so concerned about national security that he does not investigate his administration’s outing of a COVERT CIA agent who was tracking the movement of weapons of mass destruction, whose Covert front company uncovered evidence that the WMDs were being moved into Iraq from Turkey likely so that the Litterbox could claim that WMD HAD been found in Iraq. This is no better than Hitler dressing up prisoners in Polish uniforms and shooting them, leaving their bodies in German territory so that he could claim that Poland invaded Germany. Yes, I made the comparison and rightfully so. No man of peace, no Man of God as his administration and the countless numbers of mindless uncritically-thinking Bush supporters claim Bush to be would start a war on false pretenses and then plant the evidence to fool the American people into believing that Saddam was about to nuke New York City.

Must everything be a war? We have conjurations of faux and real wars designed to appeal to the men in us. Is this why the military is so afraid of having gay men and women serve in the military openly, because they supposedly go counter against the image of a masculine army trained in the arts of war? Even the media, mainly Faux made up a fictional War on Christmas so that Christian men could claim to be fighting on the sidelines safe in America against the godless Liberals who sought to infect our country with atheism and secular humanism…

Does this administration even care that our wounded veterans had to suffer through urine-soaked mattresses, belly-up cockroaches, mice droppings in their living quarters? Could this administration not spend money to fund treatment for our wounded vets coming home? Of course not, this is considered to be nurturing and caring, traits traditionally considered feminine in nature. The hyper-masculine ethos states that money should not be going into social programs designed to give a hand up to those stuck in poverty but to huge weapons, nuclear bombs, bunker-busters, new fighter jets, etc.

We have money to spend on new weapons that are not needed in this new so-called “War on TERROR” yet we cannot spend money to fund VA hospitals and to provide psychological treatment to the wounded. We cannot deal with Post-traumatic stress Disorder as the military brass with the consent of this administration wants to send our troops back into combat without any treatment. After all, a MAN should suck it up and ignore his wounds so that he could fight for the freedom of his country. Those who are expressing concerns about PTSD and their families are being unpatriotic and un-American. It is more of the cult of hyper-masculinity that Glenn Greenwald depicts in this excellent article. After all, if our Litterbox can land a fighter jet at 150 mph on an airplane carrier, then these men should seek to emulate the masculinity of our “Fearless leader.”

Peace should not be a masculine or feminine should be one we hold common whether we are male or female. By assigning it a gender, we cheapen its value and risk having our society which tends to prefer "masculine traits" over "feminine traits" glorify the death and carnage of war. Indeed, the GodMen video from ABCNews talks about how men love blowing things up. While that may be fine in Monster Truck rallies, let us not make blowing things up in war a spectacle much like the ones held in ancient Rome, where even naumachiae or mock naval battles produced casualties.

The Pledge
I believe in the immediate withdrawal of all foreign combat troops from the nation of Iraq. I believe in using my blog, in whole or in part, as a tool toward this end.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

There were 300 men...against a million...ummmmmm not quite...

I do plan on seeing 300, the story of the Spartans' last stand at Thermopylae (Greek for the Hot Gates which don't really exist anymore), but I am interested in seeing how faithful the movie is to Herodotus, but reading Victor Davis Hanson's preview doesn't give me much hope (I am a purist and unabashedly so). I mean did the Greeks fight in the heroic nude as they are portrayed in black-figure vases and the promo against clothed "degenerate, effeminate" Persians?

I am also interested in seeing if there is any mention of the contingent of Thespians and Thebans. Of course 300 makes a well-rounded number, easy to remember, plus it's more oh I don't know, romantic I guess in saying 300 instead of maybe 750. Most likely, all focus is on the Spartans and all. I wonder if there will be any mention of the lone Spartan, Aristodemus, who missed the battle to his utter disgrace, which would not be made up by his almost-suicidal fanaticism and heroism at Plataea to make up for his disgrace?

I have to admit that I have not read the comic book inspired by Herodotus called 300, written by Frank Miller which the movie is based upon, but it's something to look forward to, once I get the time...along with Gates of Fire.

I saw the promo on touting that 300 Spartans faced death in the guise of millions of Persians. Herodotus gives the figure of 5,283,220 with half of them as combat troops. Considering the nightmares of logitistics Xerxes would have faced, it's really hard to believe the stories of rivers being dried up as the horses and men drank from them (Herodotus 7.108). But hey, the greater the odds faced by our Greeks, the more glory for them, right? Wouldn't that fit Herodotus' theme of how the Greeks faced overwhelming odds and defeated the slavish Persians who prostrated themselves daily to the Great King? And how can we condemn Herodotus for exaggerating if countless generals and soldiers have exaggerated the odds they faced in their victories and battles (the notable example in my mind being General George McClellan and his endless hordes of Confederates)? Besides, the greater the number of Persians Xerxes led to utter defeat, the greater and more spectacular his fall. After all, this was a man who lashed the sea after a storm, an act Herodotus condemned as utter hubris, which of course would lead to his downfall.

Arther Ferrill argues in Herodotus and the Strategy and Tactics of the Invasion of Xerxes that even Arrian who had extensive knowledge of military tactics and strategy was prone himself to exaggerating the numbers that Alexander faced. In this sense, the movie and comic book both keep faithful to the Greek tradition of pitting the Greeks fighting for their freedom against overwhelming hordes of Persians whose numbers seemed as endless as the stars.

In an interesting point, Ferrill argues that much of Herodotus' reputation as a total amateur when it came to military matters was due to this mathematical exaggeration. At first glance, his tendency to exaggerate the Persian army seems to serve to discredit him as a military historian. To support his argument, he cites Herodotus 7.173 where Herodotus argues that the Greeks, contrary to being afraid of Alexander of Macedon's warnings, were more afraid of the Persians outflanking them through another pass and in 7.177 where he states the Greeks chose Thermopylae so that the heavy advantage the Persians had in cavalry would be negated. After all, you can't do much with a cavalry force on a narrow pass barely 50 feet across. His point is that Herodotus deserves more credit than what many are willing to give him.

I'll see the movie eventually, once I get motivated enough to actually do anything other than sleep...

P.S. I encourage you to read Herodotus. It is a rich history full of anecdotes such as Arion charming the dolphins with music so that they save him when he jumps overboard to escape his captors, divine intervention in the form of a rockslide saving Delphi, stories of ghostly Greek heroes rising up to slaughter the Persians, the clever thief who so impressed the king whom he stole from that the king offered his daughter in marriage...etc. After all, the movie should do more than just entertain, it should be an opportunity to explore the world of Classics...because everyone knows the CATS love Classics.

Arther Ferrill: Herodotus and the Strategy and Tactics of the Invasion of Xerxes: The American Historical Review, Vol.72, No.1.(Oct.,1966), pp.102-115. (Accessed through JSTOR)

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The media is playing the "Let's not hold the administration accountable for the good of the country" card

The risk for Democrats would be overplaying the accountability hand. Their attempts to impose limits on Bush's ability to fight the war have collapsed repeatedly and left them unable to fashion a coherent approach to the most serious issue in the country. Some Republicans suggested that the public could tire of repeated hearings such as those held this week and write them off to partisanship.

The media is now playing the accountability might be used for partisan purposes and poison the Washington atmosphere card now that the Democrats are in power and are using the power of subpoena against the Bush Administration. Our country is tired of partisanship and wants to return to the good old days of bipartisanship and civility which fostered in a Golden Age of American politics as none had ever seen before. Excuse me? Is this the same media which mindlessly repeated Republican charges against Clinton and pursued the witch hunt against him with equal vigor that now says we must back off for the good of the country?

Were not the Republicans overplaying the accountability hand when they attempted to investigate EVERYTHING the Clinton administration did? 1000 subpoenas issued by the House Government Reform Committee and for what? Was he actually convicted of corruption? Remember the $200,000 wasted on Vandalism-gate, the claims that the Bush Adminstration was victimized (such a right-wing fantasy that continues to be repeated ad nauseam) by Clinton administration thugs who removed Ws from computer keyboards? Remember how those allegations were proved to be false? Where was the media? Apparently when the GAO proved those accusations to be utter LIES, the media was asleep at the wheel. Now reverse the situation...If Gore had been president and accidently misspoke, the media would have been all over, howling and frothing at the mouth to show the country how much of a FUCKING LIAR Al Gore was. (oh wait…)

We did NOT have accountability when the Republicans controlled the White House and Congress. Potemkin hearings where Arlen Specter would engage himself in a kabuki play of faux accountability filled with meaningless sanctimonious words about fighting the administration’s abuse of power and backing off when he got his nose too deep in its matters does not count as accountability.

"They bring up sort of old Washington," said former Bush aide Nicolle Wallace. "The Democrats have to walk a fine line and be careful. People don't want to turn on the TV and see every story being about the obstruction of people trying to do things. . . . The people who will stand out in Washington are the ones who will look forward."

Please compare this to what the Publicans said about Bill Clinton and the subpoenas which wasted our taxpayer dollars for nothing…and remember old Washington is what the Republicans instituted under the Clinton administration, but funny a Republican forgets to mention that...

"I think it would be disastrous. It is basically saying he is above the law, he doesn't have to comply with the law," said Senate Majority Whip Don Nickles of Oklahoma on NBC's "Meet The Press." "Everybody else in America has to comply with subpoenas (while) he's saying he wouldn't. ... I don't think that would be sustainable."

"I think the fact that he would ignore and violate a subpoena would certainly be grounds to file articles of impeachment," Hatch said. "If Kenneth Starr does have additional information, I think it could snowball into a real impeachment problem for the president. I personally hope that doesn't happen."

The Republicans are now claiming that our country does not need to be poisoned by investigation after investigation of this administration’s misdeeds, which include lying the nation into war, corruption, cronyism, intimidation of federal attorneys, etc. The list goes on and on, but the same people who sought to obtain Bill Clinton’s head on a platter are now saying that the country doesn’t need to go through another Watergate. It does not need the trauma of seeing a president investigated and convicted for his crimes, never mind that 3,200 of our troops are dead and 655,000 Iraqis and 30,000 Afghans. Now the liberal media decides it’s in their best interest to trump the GOP talking point and run away with it.

Sex scandals in the White House which should have been the business of the president and his wife are best sellers for the media but even the public grew tired of the impeachment saga, and the move backfired on them. Now the media is spinning that into the notion that the public doesn’t want to see a Democratic Party witch hunt and instead wants to see the president serve out the remainder of his terms in relative peace. Impeachment would destroy the country and it would not recover from the toxic environment the Democrats are about to plunge it into. I’m sorry, but accountability is not only for Democrats, it must be for those in power too.

"Justice demands that Bush issue a pardon and lower the curtain on an embarrassing drama that shouldn't have lasted beyond its opening act," National Review said within hours of the verdict.

This is the GOP playing the pardon card. The country doesn’t need anymore trauma. President Nixon should have never been pardoned, but that according to the Republicans is good politics. Pardoning Caspar Weinberger so that he wouldn’t implicate Bush 41 is also good policy. However, when Clinton pardoned his choices, the GOP frothed at the mouth like the mad pack dogs, yet they are actually calling for a repeat of Watergate, because justice was never served.

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