succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Yet another wrap-up

Sorry for the perpetually sporadic long posts.  I just keep signing up to do more things than there are hours in the day (the story of my life) and when I am home for an evening, I've just spent so much time staring at a computer at work that I don't feel like sitting in front of the laptop.  Anyway.  First up:

 BARBARA EHRENREICH  is rapidly becoming my favorite NYT editorial writer.  In a rather depressing article addressing Congress's excuse of "groupthink" she says:

Instead of honoring groupthink resisters, we subject them to insult and abuse. Sgt. Samuel Provance III has been shunned by fellow soldiers since speaking out against the torture at Abu Ghraib, in addition to losing his security clearance and being faced with a possible court-martial. A fellow Abu Ghraib whistle-blower, Specialist Joseph Darby, was praised by the brass, but has had to move to an undisclosed location to avoid grass-roots retaliation.
The list goes on. Sibel Edmonds lost her job at the F.B.I. for complaining about mistranslations of terror-related documents from the Arabic. Jesselyn Radack was driven out of her post at the Justice Department for objecting to the treatment of John Walker Lindh, then harassed by John Ashcroft's enforcers at her next job. As Fred Alford, a political scientist who studies the fate of whistle-blowers, puts it: "We need to understand in this `land of the free and home of the brave' that most people are scared to death. About 50 percent of all whistle-blowers lose their jobs, about half of those lose their homes, and half of those people lose their families."
This nation was not founded by habitual groupthinkers. But it stands a fair chance of being destroyed by them.  

Next up, another fabulous female writer, Molly Ivins captures one side of my anger over the Bushies' latest excuse for the Iraq debacle (not to mention including an excellent Kerry quote that demonstrates his own moral tormoil over the Vietnam War):

 For everyone who ever cared about human rights and longed for years to get rid of Saddam Hussein, this late-breaking humanitarianism on Bush’s part is actually nauseating. All the Amnesty International types who risked their lives to report just how terrible Saddam’s rule was always had one question about getting rid of him: What comes next?

I don’t think there is any great mystery here about how this “mistake”—such an inadequate word—was made. For those seriously addicted to tragic irony, consider that the most likely Democratic nominee is now John Kerry, who first became known 33 years ago for asking, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

Continuing with Ivins, I read this article a while ago and recently stumbled across it again.  Essentially, Ivins provides quite a coherent response to the argument that disagreeing with Bush's policies makes it possible to simply write you off as a "Bush-hater":

Did you know that it is quite possible not to hate someone and at the same time notice their policies are disastrous for people in this country? Quite a thought, isn’t it? Grown-ups can actually do that—can think a policy is disastrous without hating the person behind it.

This old post from Tom Tomorrow just makes me want to pull the covers over my head and not come out until December.  But then I remember that unless people speak out about the absurd (not to mention blatantly illegal) activities surrounding our elections we will end up with our own dictatorship.  Most recently,  Congresswoman Corrine Brown from Florida was censured for having the temerity to suggest that perhaps there was some funny business going on in Florida in 2000 and that maybe, just maybe, some citizens were denied their right to vote.

And hey, speaking of denying people the right to vote, turns out the GOP has been doing that to their own party members all over the country.  When given the pitiful excuse that primaries were too expensive to hold in every state, given that Bush would surely when the nomination,  Governor Janet Napolitano responded, "Arizona can well afford the price of democracy."   Indeed.

This is a brilliant and terrifying article on fascism, thanks to a heads up from my friend Matt.  I practically want to quote the entire thing here, so even if you skip all the other links, please follow this one and read the article.  It's significantly more frightening than any of the latest Orwellian references.

There are times when I want to shake Senator Byrd, whom I still claim as my representative even though I've changed my residence to GA.  And there are other times that I just want to hug him.  This is one of the latter times.  At least you can believe that someone who carries around a pocket Constitution has actually read and respects the thing and maybe even loves his country.  Traits I find harder and harder to find in politicians.

This article is an interesting essay about F9/11 and love of country and whatnot.  Seems interesting but somewhat unremarkable until you notice that the author is the daughter of Ronald Reagan. 

President Bush, on the other hand, says that he loves this country and, giving him the benefit of the doubt, I assume he does love his conceptualized idea of America. But I don’t think he loves us—the people who make up this land. The huddled masses. The millions of citizens who just want a peaceful, safe life. Those who want to put their kids through school and see them grow up; who want to take vacations to other countries without fearing for their lives because so much of the world hates us.
I don’t think you lie to people you love. I don’t think you send them off into dangerous situations on the basis of murky, cobbled-together information that isn’t really information at all. I don’t think you keep them scared all the time. I don’t think you respond to horrors like public beheadings with cowboy slogans that sound like they came from old John Wayne movies. And I think if someone masterminds an attack on people you love and murders thousands of them, you go after that person until you find him. Osama bin Laden is six feet, eight inches tall, he wears white robes and he reportedly suffers from kidney failure, requiring him to be on dialysis. I haven’t researched this, but I assume there aren’t many dialysis machines in Afghanistan. So wouldn’t it make sense to stake out the ones that are there? He could have a portable one, which would require a generator. That should make him easy to spot, too.
But, alas, no one seems to be looking for Osama. According to Tim Russert, the Bush White House has done such a good job of diverting our attention to Iraq, there are actually people who now think Iraqis flew the planes into the World Trade Center towers. I believe Tim Russert. He has direct, honest eyes. He seems to love this country deeply. Perhaps he should run for office.
It seems to me that the most important question we can ask when choosing a president is, Does he love us? I think Democratic presidential contender Sen. John Kerry should address this question—not in a sappy, touchy-feely way, but just matter-of-factly. We are going to be married to one of these men for the next four years, so it seems a crucial point. The sad fact is that someone who doesn’t love us is not going to take very good care of us.

Personal Stuff

Ok.  sorry for the volume, just been saving up lots of articles lately.  So what else have I been up to?  Well, Brad came to visit last weekend, which was pretty cool.  I love my brother and I really appreciate that he made the trip down here, and we had a good time, but that boy just wears me out.  My current theory - because he is roughly as ocd/turretic/neurotic as I think I would be if I didn't make a conscious effort to be more socially acceptable, his akwardness stresses me out and increases my anxiety level.  Anyway.  His flight landed last friday night, we went out to dinner, lots of my friends joined us for drinks after, which was really cool.  We wandered around Atlanta Saturday and had a great time at an Irish bar that night with sing-along drinking songs.  After a somewhat stressful drive downtown on Sunday we went on a CNN tour (more interesting than I was expecting), wandered around Centennial Park, and had drinks at the Sundial, a rotating bar on the top of the Westin hotel.  He flew back to DC that night and I went to an Outfoxed party, which was also better than I had expected.  Monday I had a meeting about this human rights report card thing I'm working on with some of my profs and then we went out for sushi.  Tuesday I voted (yay!) and Matt and I went to a primary returns party.  Wednesday it was time to watch the Weathermen documentary I had rented from Netflix (very good and a little disturbing; did you know the Weathermen were a violent, radical offshoot of the Students for a Democratic Society?).  Thursday was crazy - another meeting for the human rights report card, a John Kerry meetup, grocery shopping, and trivia with the boys.  Last night was a young dems mixer and chillin' with the boys.  So I haven't been around much.  This morning I did my first voter registration drive - knocked on doors in a neighborhood with traditionally low voter turnout.  It was cool, but kind of depressing because people were obviously home and just didn't want to answer their doors.  Not that I can really blame them.  Mark and Carrie and  I pretty much stopped answering the door at Belmar unless we were expecting company.  Tuesday I'm getting to hear the Dave Matthew Band concert for free (!) because I'm doing a voter registration table there, Thursday night is the Curiosa concert (The Cure and others) and next weekend is the Doctors for Global Health conference.  Whew.  I can't believe I thought I was going to have more time on my hands during the summer.  Ah well.  It's all fun and well worth it.  Ok, enough of the longest post ever, just one more thing...

For Sid

Things I'd Rather Do Than Go See Catwoman


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A thoroughly enjoyable post, all-around. Excellent site referrals, excellent arguments, two thumbs up from me.

And I'd like to say kudos on the voter registration thing! I know we tend to butt heads a bit on political issues, but this is the sorta grassroots effort that makes things better for everyone... so, pat on the back from me.

Finally, I know you already read McSweeney's, but I thought I'd point you in the direction of this.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, right! Signing the post!

Me (Sudiptya)

p.s. Say hi to your brother for me.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, last post, I promise...

On Sen. Byrd: Having met the fellow, I had to say I was initially disappointed in the way he voted on the marriage amendment... he was one of the few Dem. to break away from the party and push for a vote on the bill, but after a while, I realized that it comes back to the reason why I like/respect the fellow so much... 'cause while he very much is an old, irrascible crank, he's also one of a few Senators who can always be counted on to vote for his consituents and his conscience. He's a good guy, says I.


12:53 PM  

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