As I Began
As I began
so I am
my ideology intact
my fears remain a fact
the difference is
my liberated tone
from knowing proof's
no longer asked
I've stepped aside
neat in my disquietude
The dishes in my rack
will last me out
a book some bread
paper and a pen
will keep me gay
from now to then
The world's buzz
has ceased confounding
I keep my ignorance exact
beyond philosophy's thicket
and politic's tract
I'm tunneled in
too deep for sin
my thoughts too dark
for grace abounding
Copyright 1998 by Maurice Leiter
Posted with permission
Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., resigned from Congress on Friday, effective immediately, in the wake of questions about e-mails he wrote a former teenage male page....
Campaign aides had previously acknowledged that the Republican congressman e-mailed the former Capitol page five times, but had said there was nothing inappropriate about the exchange. The page was 16 at the time of the e-mail correspondence.
The page worked for Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., who said Friday that when he learned of the e-mail exchanges 10 to 11 months ago, he called the teen's parents. Alexander told the Ruston Daily Leader, ''We also notified the House leadership that there might be a potential problem....''
ABC News reported Friday that Foley also engaged in a series of sexually explicit instant messages with current and former teenage male pages. In one message, ABC said, Foley wrote to one page: ''Do I make you a little horny?''
In another message, Foley wrote, ''You in your boxers, too? ... Well, strip down and get naked.''
Foley, as chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, had introduced legislation in July to protect children from exploitation by adults over the Internet. He also sponsored other legislation designed to protect minors from abuse and neglect.
''We track library books better than we do sexual predators,'' Foley has said....
The compromise legislation...authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.
This dangerous compromise not only authorizes the president to seize and hold terrorists who have fought against our troops "during an armed conflict," it also allows him to seize anybody who has "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States." This grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison.
And how do the Geneva Conventions fare under this legislation? The Wall Street Journal exults:
it's a fair bet that waterboarding--or simulated drowning, the most controversial of the CIA's reported interrogation techniques--will not be allowed under the new White House rules [Says who? --ed.]. But sleep deprivation and temperature variations, to name two other methods, will likely pass muster. This is not about "torture" or even "abuse," as some Administration critics dishonestly charge, but about being able to make life uncomfortable for al Qaeda prisoners who have been trained to resist milder forms of interrogation.
A "fair bet"? Does anyone know? --asks Dahlia Lithwick, at Slate:
So, what did we agree to? Is hypothermia in or out? What about sexual degradation or forcing prisoners to bark like dogs? Stress positions? I'd wager that any tie goes to the White House. One hardly needs a law degree to understand that in a controversy over detainee treatment between the executive and legislative branches, the trump will go to the guy who's holding the unnamed detainees in secret prisons.
But maybe the worst of it all is that this legislation will assure that no one will know. Lithwick writes:
Congress doesn't want to know what it's bargaining away this week. In the Boston Globe this weekend, Rick Klein revealed that only "10 percent of the members of Congress have been told which interrogation techniques have been used in the past, and none of them know which ones would be permissible under proposed changes to the War Crimes Act." More troubling still, this congressional ignorance seems to be by choice. Klein quotes Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican, as saying, "I don't know what the CIA has been doing, nor should I know." Evidently, "widely distributing such information could result in leaks."
We've reached a defining moment in our democracy when our elected officials are celebrating their own blind ignorance as a means of keeping the rest of us blindly ignorant as well....
For the five years since 9/11, we have been in the dark in this country. This president has held detainees in secret prisons and had them secretly tortured using secret legal justifications. Those held in secret at Guantanamo Bay include innocent men, as do those who have been secretly shipped off to foreign countries and brutally tortured there. That was a shame on this president.
But passage of the new detainee legislation will be a different sort of watershed. Now we are affirmatively asking to be left in the dark. Instead of torture we were unaware of, we are sanctioning torture we'll never hear about. Instead of detainees we didn't care about, we are authorizing detentions we'll never know about. Instead of being misled by the president, we will be blind and powerless by our own choice. And that is a shame on us all.
And we thought Iraq was in for a regime change.
Global warming is known to the State of California to be bad for us. But how bad can it be? Evidence has accumulated that global warming--rather than asteroid impacts--was responsible for some of the planet's prehistoric mass extinctions. The hypothesized mechanism involves an enormous outgassing of hydrogen sulphide from the oceans. Details here.
Nice account of their recent "debate" at Bloomsburg University here:
David Horowitz, the former wacky-left editor of Ramparts magazine turned wacky right smear-monger and foundation pimp, came to Bloomsburg University in rural central Pennsylvania to pick up a $7000 check and spout lies and misinformation in a debate with local college philosophy professor Kurt Smith....
The debate was decidedly one-sided, with Horowitz offering one misstatement of fact after another, and Smith batting them down with the dispatch of a seasoned squash player.
At the start of the debate, Smith explained to the assembled audience of mostly Bloomsburg U. students that Horowitz, during the several years since the American invasion of Iraq, has been following the lead of the right-wing American Council of Trustees and Alumni, attacking academia for alleged left-wing bias, Under the leadership of disgraced Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman and Dick Cheney consort Lynn Cheney, ACTA since 9-11 has been hounding liberal academics, accusing them of being disloyal-indeed of being the only segment of American society to be "unpatriotic."
Smith explained that in Pennsylvania, where the Republican-led legislature last spring impaneled a committee to investigate alleged liberal bias on state college campuses, Horowitz had come and testified, citing alleged cases of student abuse-all of which proved to be bogus. Smith then declared that Horowitz's proposed "Academic Bill of Rights," which in some versions would give students the right to sue their professors for allegedly political grading or for speaking outside of their formal field of study, was nothing but "politics pure and simple-it's about seeking a place for right-wing propaganda" in the university.
Horowitz attempted to deny that he was seeking to punish liberal faculty, claiming his proposed bill had "no teeth." He insisted that he had "nothing against" liberal professors and in no way sought to single anyone out.
This claim, however, was belied by the table in the lobby piled high with his latest book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, a libel-filled compendium of factual errors and innuendo (even the title is erroneous-there are only 100 dangerous professors listed!) passing itself off as scholarship....
During the debate, Horowitz attributed the failure of the Pennsylvania legislative Academic Bill of Rights committee to recommend any action (the Republican-run committee, after months of hearings, concluded that there was no evidence of a "liberal bias" problem or of professorial "indoctrination" of students on the state's campuses), to "sabotage" by the Democratic co-chair of the committee, State Assemblyman Lawrence Curry, a professor of history in Philadelphia. Curry, he charged, had repeatedly denounced the hearings as "McCarthyite." In fact, the soft-spoken Curry never made such a statement at the hearings, and only gently insisted that Horowitz and the panel's right-wing chair, Assemblyman Gibson "Gib" Armstrong, supply facts to back their fevered charges-which neither ever did....
Horowitz's real reason for singling out Rep. Curry as a villain is that Curry, during a televised hearing at Temple University last spring, exposed one of Horowitz's most outrageous "examples" of liberal professorial abuse and lack of adequate patriotism as a fabrication and a fraud, and had the right-wing propagandist reduced to an incoherent sputtering. This particular "example" of liberal indoctrination was a supposed biology professor at a Pennsylvania university who gave his class a showing of Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 911." As Curry said, it never happened.
Horowitz tried the same tactic again in the Bloomburg U. debate, this time using an already discredited "example": the alleged case of a student, Kelly Keehan, purportedly an opponent of abortion who was said to have been "forced" by a woman's studies professor at Penn State to chant "abortion, abortion, abortion!" until she was in tears. At a Pennsylvania legislative hearing, Horowitz had declined to even name the school at which this alleged incident occurred. He subsequently claimed it was at Penn State. But in last week's debate, Smith observed that no such student has ever come forward with a complaint, no such incident was ever reported as having occurred at Penn State, and that in all probability, the incident never happened....
Smith won boisterous applause for insisting that university classrooms are not public spaces where all speakers have equal rights. In the classroom, he asserted, there is a natural asymmetry, as a consequence of the professor's "experience and credentials." In a dig that caused Horowitz to visibly stiffen, Smith said, "You only have a master's degree in English, have never sat on a hiring committee, and never taught, and yet you are expressing expertise about higher education." He concluded, turning to the audience, "Mr. Horowitz should follow his own advice about professors sticking to their subject areas. Since he has no experience in higher education, he should not offer to solve higher education's problems. He's feigning to be an academic."
Horowitz pointedly refused to shake Smith's hand in the Green Room before the event began, even when invited to do so by the university president, who was moderating the event....
Kudos to Professor Smith!
HR 6054, the 'Military Trials for Enemy Combatants' bill, is presently scheduled to be brought before the House of Representatives. Certain Republican senators and Bush had a minor tussle over whether, as Bush demanded, the legislation would formally reinterpret U.S. compliance with the Geneva Conventions. On the face of it, the compromise legislation does not do this; however, there appear to be three clear routes to reinterpreting such compliance: one legislative, one semi-legislative, and one executive.
First, a legislative loophole. The present bill extends chapter 47 of title 10 of the U.S. Code to allow that the President or Secretary of Defense (or those acting under their authority) may designate a person an "enemy combatant" to be tried by a military commission; the President may also establish such commissions. One concern here is that the definition of "enemy combatant" is worded so that its targeted designees might very well not count as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions:
The definition of Lawful Enemy Combatant diverges substantially from the Geneva Convention III Article 4 (for example, "regular forces" vs "armed forces") definitions for a Prisoner of War, thus restricting the domestic law position as to the applicability of the Geneva Convention to covered groups. The effect is to return to a pre-Geneva Conventions standard of the kind described by Justice Thomas in his dissent in Hamdan, and implicitly the harsh treatment accorded such persons pre-1949.
Somewhat tempering this concern is the explicit recognition that a military commission is "a regularly constituted court, affording all the necessary ‘judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples’ for purposes of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions", which among other things forbids (subsection 1(a)) "Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture" and (subsection 1(c)) "Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment" .
So far, so good, until you get to the part where conformity with Article 3 is defined:
IN GENERAL.—Satisfaction of the prohibitions against cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment set forth in section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 2000dd) shall fully satisfy United States obligations with respect to the standards for detention and treatment established by section 1 of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, with the exception of the obligations imposed by subsections 1(b) and 1(d) of such Article.
That is to say, conformity to the prohibitions stated in subsections 1(a) and 1(c) (cited above) is interpreted as per the relevant section of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (sponsored by John McCain). So, what standards for conformity does that act impose? Answer: the standards provided by the Army Field Manual on Interrogation, long serving as a fairly constrained basis for interrogation operations, which Rumsfeld and others had discarded on the way to Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.
One problem with basing conformity to the Geneva Conventions on the Field Manual is that the the Manual has long required that interrogation techniques conform to the Geneva Conventions. But the larger problem is that, as McCain acknowledged, the Act "would not set the Field Manual in stone – it could be changed at any time". Indeed, one month after McCain introduced the legislation Rumsfeld announced that the manual would be rewritten by the Pentagon; the revision scheduled for release this past spring contained 10 classified pages in the interrogation techniques section, and moreover specifically elided various proscriptions from Article 3 of the Geneva Convention (not, presumably, in order to avoid HR 6054's being circular). Thankfully, the State Department and other factions put up sufficient resistance to the proposal that it was scrapped in favor of a new version (not yet released) according to which "All detainees will be treated consistent with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention" (so says an unnamed military official, anyway). Still, the concern remains that since the Manual is not "set in stone", HR 6054's standards of conformity to the Geneva Conventions could end up being such as to clearly abrogate the conventions.
Second, a semi-legislative loophole. Upon approving the Detainee Treatment Act (tagged on as an amendment to a Defense Appropriations Bill), Bush issued one of his infamous signing statements, stating
The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks.
Title X specifically covers Section 1003 (named in HR 6054 as setting the standards of conformity to the Geneva Conventions). Signing statements arguably impact the interpretation and implementation of the associated legislation:
Rather than veto laws passed by Congress, Bush is using his signing statements to effectively nullify them as they relate to the executive branch. These statements, for him, function as directives to executive branch departments and agencies as to how they are to implement the relevant law.
Hence even supposing the Field Manual retains formal conformity to the Geneva Conventions, HR 6054's conformity to these Conventions as per the "Detainee Treatment Act" may ultimately be subject to Bush's (more generally, executive) reinterpretation.
On to the third, directly executive, loophole. In any case Bush evidently intends to ignore any limits that might be set by (a proper understanding of) the Geneva Conventions:
The bad news is that Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects. He will do so by issuing his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions in an executive order and by relying on questionable Justice Department opinions that authorize such practices as exposing prisoners to hypothermia and prolonged sleep deprivation. Under the compromise agreed to yesterday, Congress would recognize his authority to take these steps and prevent prisoners from appealing them to U.S. courts. The bill would also immunize CIA personnel from prosecution for all but the most serious abuses and protect those who in the past violated U.S. law against war crimes.
Perhaps one form of such an "executive order" will take the form of a signing statement, assuming HR 6054 is passed. The upshot of this and the previous loopholes:
In effect, the agreement means that U.S. violations of international human rights law can continue as long as Mr. Bush is president, with Congress's tacit assent.
Ruchira Paul comments.
As most non-Americans realize, often, when an American tells you that she attended Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, or Yale as an undergraduate, she is not doing so to give you information about her educational attainment. She is rather informing you of the privileged status of her birthposition. This article, basically a review of Daniel Golden's book “The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges—and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates”, is a good brief read for anyone teaching in a US academic institution, as well as for those outside the United States, who wonder about the moral complicity American educational institutions have had in maintaining and strengthening America's increasingly rigid socio-economic class structure.
Rebecca Kukla (philosophy of medicine, epistemology, 18th-century philosophy, feminist philosophy) and Richard Manning (metaphysics and epistemology, philosophy of language and mind, early modern philosophy), both at Carleton University, have accepted senior offers from the University of South Florida, to start in fall 2007.
Watch Clinton pulverize Fox News scum here.
The newest National Intelligence Estimate is leaking out, and the Attorney General had better get on the case unless he wants the other party to get control of Congress. According to the New York Times (Sept. 23):
A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.
This assessment contradicts the White House line that "we are safer, though not yet safe," and must dismay those Republican candidates who have taken heart from Karl Rove's blitzkrieg to set "terrorism" rather than "Iraq" as the number one issue in the midterm elections coming up in seven weeks. Or are we all in for a suprise?
Josh Marshall digs this out of the archives:
One nasty morning Comrade Stalin discovered that his favorite pipe was missing. Naturally, he called in his henchman, Lavrenti Beria, and instructed him to find the pipe. A few hours later, Stalin found it in his desk and called off the search. "But, Comrade Stalin," stammered Beria, "five suspects have already confessed to stealing it."
This joke, whispered among those who trusted each other when I was a kid in Moscow in the 1950s, is perhaps the best contribution I can make to the current argument in Washington about legislation banning torture and inhumane treatment of suspected terrorists captured abroad. Now that President Bush has made a public show of endorsing Sen. John McCain's amendment, it would seem that the debate is ending. But that the debate occurred at all, and that prominent figures are willing to entertain the idea, is perplexing and alarming to me. I have seen what happens to a society that becomes enamored of such methods in its quest for greater security; it takes more than words and political compromise to beat back the impulse.
This is a new debate for Americans, but there is no need for you to reinvent the wheel. Most nations can provide you with volumes on the subject. Indeed, with the exception of the Black Death, torture is the oldest scourge on our planet (hence there are so many conventions against it). Every Russian czar after Peter the Great solemnly abolished torture upon being enthroned, and every time his successor had to abolish it all over again. These czars were hardly bleeding-heart liberals, but long experience in the use of these "interrogation" practices in Russia had taught them that once condoned, torture will destroy their security apparatus. They understood that torture is the professional disease of any investigative machinery.
Apart from sheer frustration and other adrenaline-related emotions, investigators and detectives in hot pursuit have enormous temptation to use force to break the will of their prey because they believe that, metaphorically speaking, they have a "ticking bomb" case on their hands. But, much as a good hunter trains his hounds to bring the game to him rather than eating it, a good ruler has to restrain his henchmen from devouring the prey lest he be left empty-handed. Investigation is a subtle process, requiring patience and fine analytical ability, as well as a skill in cultivating one's sources. When torture is condoned, these rare talented people leave the service, having been outstripped by less gifted colleagues with their quick-fix methods, and the service itself degenerates into a playground for sadists. Thus, in its heyday, Joseph Stalin's notorious NKVD (the Soviet secret police) became nothing more than an army of butchers terrorizing the whole country but incapable of solving the simplest of crimes. And once the NKVD went into high gear, not even Stalin could stop it at will. He finally succeeded only by turning the fury of the NKVD against itself; he ordered his chief NKVD henchman, Nikolai Yezhov (Beria's predecessor), to be arrested together with his closest aides.
So, why would democratically elected leaders of the United States ever want to legalize what a succession of Russian monarchs strove to abolish? Why run the risk of unleashing a fury that even Stalin had problems controlling? Why would anyone try to "improve intelligence-gathering capability" by destroying what was left of it? Frustration? Ineptitude? Ignorance? Or, has their friendship with a certain former KGB lieutenant colonel, V. Putin, rubbed off on the American leaders? I have no answer to these questions, but I do know that if Vice President Cheney is right and that some "cruel, inhumane or degrading" (CID) treatment of captives is a necessary tool for winning the war on terrorism, then the war is lost already.
Even talking about the possibility of using CID treatment sends wrong signals and encourages base instincts in those who should be consistently delivered from temptation by their superiors. As someone who has been on the receiving end of the "treatment" under discussion, let me tell you that trying to make a distinction between torture and CID techniques is ridiculous. Long gone are the days when a torturer needed the nasty-looking tools displayed in the Tower of London. A simple prison bed is deadly if you remove the mattress and force a prisoner to sleep on the iron frame night after night after night. Or how about the "Chekist's handshake" so widely practiced under Stalin -- a firm squeeze of the victim's palm with a simple pencil inserted between his fingers? Very convenient, very simple. And how would you define leaving 2,000 inmates of a labor camp without dental service for months on end? Is it CID not to treat an excruciatingly painful toothache, or is it torture?
Now it appears that sleep deprivation is "only" CID and used on Guantanamo Bay captives. Well, congratulations, comrades! It was exactly this method that the NKVD used to produce those spectacular confessions in Stalin's "show trials" of the 1930s. The henchmen called it "conveyer," when a prisoner was interrogated nonstop for a week or 10 days without a wink of sleep. At the end, the victim would sign any confession without even understanding what he had signed.
I know from my own experience that interrogation is an intensely personal confrontation, a duel of wills. It is not about revealing some secrets or making confessions, it is about self-respect and human dignity. If I break, I will not be able to look into a mirror. But if I don't, my interrogator will suffer equally. Just try to control your emotions in the heat of that battle. This is precisely why torture occurs even when it is explicitly forbidden. Now, who is going to guarantee that even the most exact definition of CID is observed under such circumstances?
But if we cannot guarantee this, then how can you force your officers and your young people in the CIA to commit acts that will scar them forever? For scarred they will be, take my word for it.
In 1971, while in Lefortovo prison in Moscow (the central KGB interrogation jail), I went on a hunger strike demanding a defense lawyer of my choice (the KGB wanted its trusted lawyer to be assigned instead). The moment was most inconvenient for my captors because my case was due in court, and they had no time to spare. So, to break me down, they started force-feeding me in a very unusual manner -- through my nostrils. About a dozen guards led me from my cell to the medical unit. There they straitjacketed me, tied me to a bed, and sat on my legs so that I would not jerk. The others held my shoulders and my head while a doctor was pushing the feeding tube into my nostril.
The feeding pipe was thick, thicker than my nostril, and would not go in. Blood came gushing out of my nose and tears down my cheeks, but they kept pushing until the cartilages cracked. I guess I would have screamed if I could, but I could not with the pipe in my throat. I could breathe neither in nor out at first; I wheezed like a drowning man -- my lungs felt ready to burst. The doctor also seemed ready to burst into tears, but she kept shoving the pipe farther and farther down. Only when it reached my stomach could I resume breathing, carefully. Then she poured some slop through a funnel into the pipe that would choke me if it came back up. They held me down for another half-hour so that the liquid was absorbed by my stomach and could not be vomited back, and then began to pull the pipe out bit by bit. . . . Grrrr. There had just been time for everything to start healing during the night when they came back in the morning and did it all over again, for 10 days, when the guards could stand it no longer. As it happened, it was a Sunday and no bosses were around. They surrounded the doctor: "Hey, listen, let him drink it straight from the bowl, let him sip it. It'll be quicker for you, too, you silly old fool." The doctor was in tears: "Do you think I want to go to jail because of you lot? No, I can't do that. . . . " And so they stood over my body, cursing each other, with bloody bubbles coming out of my nose. On the 12th day, the authorities surrendered; they had run out of time. I had gotten my lawyer, but neither the doctor nor those guards could ever look me in the eye again.
Today, when the White House lawyers seem preoccupied with contriving a way to stem the flow of possible lawsuits from former detainees, I strongly recommend that they think about another flood of suits, from the men and women in your armed services or the CIA agents who have been or will be engaged in CID practices. Our rich experience in Russia has shown that many will become alcoholics or drug addicts, violent criminals or, at the very least, despotic and abusive fathers and mothers.
If America's leaders want to hunt terrorists while transforming dictatorships into democracies, they must recognize that torture, which includes CID, has historically been an instrument of oppression -- not an instrument of investigation or of intelligence gathering. No country needs to invent how to "legalize" torture; the problem is rather how to stop it from happening. If it isn't stopped, torture will destroy your nation's important strategy to develop democracy in the Middle East. And if you cynically outsource torture to contractors and foreign agents, how can you possibly be surprised if an 18-year-old in the Middle East casts a jaundiced eye toward your reform efforts there?
Finally, think what effect your attitude has on the rest of the world, particularly in the countries where torture is still common, such as Russia, and where its citizens are still trying to combat it. Mr. Putin will be the first to say: "You see, even your vaunted American democracy cannot defend itself without resorting to torture. . . . "
Off we go, back to the caves.
Vladimir Bukovsky, who spent nearly 12 years in Soviet prisons, labor camps and psychiatric hospitals for nonviolent human rights activities, is the author of several books, including "To Build a Castle" and "Judgment in Moscow." Now 63, he has lived primarily in Cambridge, England, since 1976.
America's leaders "must recognize that torture [. . .] has historically been an instrument of oppression -- not an instrument of investigation or of intelligence gathering" -- indeed they must.
Colonel Gardiner, who has taught military strategy at the National War College, says that the carrier deployment and a scheduled Persian Gulf arrival date of October 21 is "very important evidence" of war planning. He says, "I know that some naval forces have already received 'prepare to deploy orders' [PTDOs], which have set the date for being ready to go as October 1. Given that it would take about from October 2 to October 21 to get those forces to the Gulf region, that looks about like the date" of any possible military action against Iran. (A PTDO means that all crews should be at their stations, and ships and planes should be ready to go, by a certain date--in this case, reportedly, October 1.) Gardiner notes, "You cannot issue a PTDO and then stay ready for very long. It's a very significant order, and it's not done as a training exercise." This point was also made in the Time article.
So what is the White House planning?
On Monday President Bush addressed the UN General Assembly at its opening session, and while studiously avoiding even physically meeting Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was also addressing the body, he offered a two-pronged message. Bush told the "people of Iran" that "we're working toward a diplomatic solution to this crisis" and that he looked forward "to the day when you can live in freedom." But he also warned that Iran's leaders were using the nation's resources "to fund terrorism and fuel extremism and pursue nuclear weapons." Given the President's assertion that the nation is fighting a "global war on terror" and that he is Commander in Chief of that "war," his prominent linking of the Iran regime with terror has to be seen as a deliberate effort to claim his right to carry the fight there. Bush has repeatedly insisted that the 2001 Congressional Authorization for the Use of Force that preceded the invasion of Afghanistan was also an authorization for an unending "war on terror."
It seems pretty clear what the "October surprise" is to be.
I wonder how this will play with the US public. Plausibly, there's pretty serious war fatigue, so this might just backfire. But I can't find any polling data about this.
MIT Press has a blog! Who knew? Is this a first for a university press? I believe it is.
UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who wrote to inform me that there are many university press blogs, including some linked from the MIT blog itself!
Check out this photo from CNN. If only Hugo Chavez had been holding a copy of Nietzsche on Morality or The Future for Philosophy! But I guess those books wouldn't have been as relevant to his topic (though Chapter 9 in the former, and Chapter 3 in the latter are actually not totally unrelated...).
(But which Chomsky book is he holding? Is that Hegemony or Survival? Comments are open for anyone who knows.)
UPDATE: About 4 pm EST in the US, Chomsky's book ranked around #540 for sales on Amazon; it is now (nearly 11 pm EST in the US) at #57.
Who knew that the well-known legal philosopher and famed audiophile was a figure of such intrigue? Faculty web pages would be a lot more interesting to read if most were written like this!
UPDATE: Jules writes: "Now outed, I want to add two small points. The first is that his daughter has now joined his son in the band Murder Mystery. They and their music can be found at www.myspace.com/murdermysterymusic. Second, the unflattering pictures at the end are the result of a bad photo angle and a worse relationhsip with the publisher who took the pictures."
Tomorrow, new invitations will go out to the folks for whom we had dated or incorrect e-mail addresses. Since I've heard directly or indirectly from one or two who thought they hadn't been invited as evaluators this year, let me just note here the philosophers who should receive their original invitations (if all goes well) during the day tomorrow: Volker Halbach, Gabriel Uzquiano, Tad Brennan, Connie Rosati, Alva Noe, Jerrold Levinson, Jeff King, Benj Hellie (yes, we screwed up the e-mail address of one of my co-bloggers!), Joel Kupperman, Roger Ariew, Bryan Van Norden, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Bjorn Ramberg, Thomas Kelly, Brie Gertler, and Thomas Ricketts. If any of you folks are reading and don't get the invitation during the day tomorrow, please e-mail me!
Apologies for the mix-up--though with 450 invitations going out, things could have been much worse! And many thanks to all the many evaluators who have already started the surveys or indicated that they will complete them.
Posted by Brian Leiter on September 19, 2006 at 06:10 AM in Texas Taliban Alerts (Intelligent Design, Religion in the Schools, etc.) | Permalink
Sven Bernecker (epistemology, philosophy of mind, Kant and German Idealism), previously Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Manchester, has accepted appointment as Associate Professor of Philosophy (with tenure) at the University of California at Irvine.
Robert May (philosophy of language and logic) at the University of California at Irvine has accepted the senior offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of California at Davis, to start in January 2007.
Invitations to participate in the survey for the 2006-08 Philosophical Gourmet Report went out this morning to 450 philosophers around the world who were nominated by members of the PGR Advisory Board (a list of current Board members appears below). About two dozen invites have bounced back with e-mail address problems, but we will hopefully get through to most of those folks at the right e-mail address in the next 24 hours. Surveys will continue through October 9, and the new PGR should be on-line at www.philosophicalgourmet.com by early November. I may preview some results here on the blog starting in mid-October. To those of you who have received the surveys, my sincere thanks, on behalf of all prospective students, for your help.
ADVISORY BOARD for 2006-08 PGR
Julia Annas (Arizona), Frederick Beiser (Syracuse), Cristina Bicchieri (Penn), Ned Block (NYU), Christopher Bobonich (Stanford), David Brink (UC San Diego), Alex Byrne (MIT), Craig Callender (UC San Diego), John Carriero (UCLA), David Chalmers (ANU), Edwin Curley (Michigan), Justin D'Arms (Ohio State), John Deigh (Texas), Keith DeRose (Yale), Michael Devitt (CUNY), Lisa Downing (Ohio State), Julia Driver (Dartmouth), Delia Graff Fara (Princeton), John Martin Fischer (UC Riverside), Graeme Forbes (Colorado), Michael N. Forster (Chicago), John Gardner (Oxford), Sebastian Gardner (UCL), Don Garrett (NYU), Peter Godfrey-Smith (Harvard), Alvin Goldman (Rutgers), Anil Gupta (Pittsburgh), Gilbert Harman (Princeton), Thomas Hurka (Toronto), P.J. Ivanhoe (BU), Shelly Kagan (Yale), Pierre Keller (UC Riverside), Scott MacDonald (Cornell), Patrick Maynard (Western Ontario), Cheryl J. Misak (Toronto), Calvin Normore (UCLA), Graham Priest (Melbourne & St. Andrews), Michael Rosen (Harvard), Alexander Rosenberg (Duke), Mark Sainsbury (Texas), Simon Saunders (Oxford), Jonathan Schaffer (U Mass/Amherst), Christopher Shields (Oxford), Susanna Siegel (Harvard), A. John Simmons (Virginia), Brian Skyrms (UC Irvine & Stanford), Ernest Sosa (Rutgers), Jason Stanley (Rutgers), Robert Stern (Sheffield), Stephen Stich (Rutgers), Ted Warfield (Notre Dame), Timothy Williamson (Oxford), William C. Wimsatt (Chicago), Jonathan Wolff (UCL), Allen Wood (Stanford), Crispin Wright (St. Andrews & NYU), Julian Young (Auckland)
Jack Balkin (Law, Yale) thinks so:
In the next few weeks, if not days, there will be votes on two very important bills. One bill would legalize the President's NSA domestic surveillance program and insulate it from judicial review. The other would ratify the President's views on military commissions, restrict the ability of defendants to see the evidence used to convict them, limit the Geneva Conventions' protections against prisoner mistreatment and outrages to human dignity, and eliminate the use of habeas corpus and the ability of an independent judiciary to inquire into the legality of the detention and treatment (or mistreatment) of human beings held at Guantanamo Bay.
I can't remember a time when two pieces of legislation were on the verge of passage that would so radically alter Americans' sense of our country--and its principles-- for the worse.
What is at stake in these two bills is whether we want the President to be free from judicial oversight and accountability; whether we want to maintain a system of secret trials with secret evidence; whether we want to announce publicly that our forces are not bound by the minimum requirements of human decency found in Common Article III of the Geneva Conventions. In their own way, each of these three issues revolves around our fidelity to the rule of law, and the meaning of America as a land where the rule of law is respected.
Our President-- with his prevarications and euphemisms, like "alternative sets of procedures"-- has been unwilling to speak the truth about what he has done in the past and what he wishes to keep doing in the future. He wants to be free of Congressional and judicial oversight when he spies on people in the United States. He wants to hold, imprison, and detain people without letting them know the evidence used to condemn and convict them. He wants to let the CIA and other operatives continue to use abusive and inhumane interrogation methods. And he wants to make sure that those who have engaged in torture and inhumane treatment are never brought to justice or held responsible for their crimes-- including especially those who authorized these terrible practices.
In short, this President wants legislation that will confirm that he is a law unto himself.
What have we come to, as a nation, when our President demands these things and expect us to follow him meekly? He seeks to maximize his power by maximizing our fear. Will we let him?.
It is bad enough that the whole "war on terror" is a fake from top to bottom; so, strictly, were the "war on drugs" and the "war on poverty." But no one in those latter cases made extraordinary claims of executive power on the basis of the abuse of a metaphor.
Via Pharyngula, I learn of this amusing idea for a regular feature:
My goal is to confront the problems with Slate magazine's contrarianism. They post any number of ridiculous things in the course of a week, and they need more watchdogs. Among their most telling efforts, see Christopher Hitchens' bizarre attack on Juan Cole. Of course, he chides Cole not for his published writing, but for a comment on a closed discussion board. ...
So why "Hey douchebag!" and not, say, "A reasonable dissent from the tone and style of Slate?" Because I'm aping their silly contrarianism, the penchant for startling headlines....
For the first installment, let's look at how Slate approaches science: with dilettante Gregg Easterbrook, who has no qualifications to write on science. Yet he tries to tell us that String Theory is junk, based on the fact that he's read one (count 'em, one) book....
Slate gives us the review of Smolin's book through the filter of a writer manifestly unqualified to write about science, a writer who clearly has other axes to grind. For example, here's Easterbrook's opening paragraph:
"The leading universities are dominated by hooded monks who speak in impenetrable mumbo-jumbo; insist on the existence of fantastic mystical forces, yet can produce no evidence of these forces; and enforce a rigid guild structure of beliefs in order to maintain their positions and status. The Middle Ages? No, the current situation in university physics departments. I just invented the part about the hoods."
So we know what Easterbrook begins with. All university physicists are trying to protect their narrow, myopic world. (By the way, Easterbrook only recently came around to "believing" in global warming, and he advocates teaching Intelligent Design in public schools. Just fyi.) Easterbrook again:
"If you worry that even in the 21st century, intellectual fads have as much to do with university politics and careerism as with the search for abstract truth, The Trouble With Physics is a book you absolutely must read."
Yes, folks, that's right, let's base our approach to this book on overgeneralized biases about the state of the university. Because nothing helps out "the search for abstract truth" like overgeneralized biases.
"The physics establishment reacted adversely to Smolin's cosmic natural selection because the idea implies direction: Over time, existence progresses toward a condition more to the liking of beings such as us. In recent decades it has become essential at the top of academia to posit utter meaninglessness to all aspects of physics."
I'd like to note that Easterbrook cites absolutely no one who claims that science must look toward meaninglessness. I'm sure he can find plenty of scientists who note the difference between study of the physical world and study of the metaphysical world (i.e. science and religion). However, noting that separation and arguing for meaninglessness are not the same thing. Of course, then we get to Easterbrook's particular axe to grind:
"Today if a professor at Princeton claims there are 11 unobservable dimensions about which he can speak with great confidence despite an utter lack of supporting evidence, that professor is praised for incredible sophistication. If another person in the same place asserted there exists one unobservable dimension, the plane of the spirit, he would be hooted down as a superstitious crank."
Poor Gregg, unable to tout his religious ideas in a scientific forum. But let me be the first to say: whether or not Easterbrook is a superstitious crank, I don't know. But he's certainly a crank.
It's good they limit it to contributors to Slate, as it would be impossible to know how to pick among the many deserving folks in the blogosphere for a "Hey douchebag!" feature!*
As per this WaPo article, more than 80 percent of voters will use electronic voting machines in the Nov 7 election, with a third of all precincts using the technology for the first time. The massive switch to e-voting machines was initiated by the Help America Vote Act, supposedly in order to prevent the sort of problems plaguing the 2000 Florida recount debacle, involving hanging chads and the like. But such systems are prone to new and horrible technical difficulties, of the sort characterizing last week's "debacle" in Maryland (see here for details).
By now it has also been multiply established that these systems contain serious security flaws (see also this article and this report). This first-person account of a hacking of a Diebold system really brings it home:
So, TJ became convinced that it was all right to upload the memory card, which he did. And there, on the central tabulator screen, appeared the altered results: Seven "Yes" votes and one "No" vote, with absolutely no evidence that anything had been altered. It was a powerful moment and, I will admit, it had the unexpected result for me personally of causing me to break down and cry. Why did I cry? It was the last thing I thought I would do, but it happened for so many reasons. I cried because it was so clear that Diebold had been lying. I cried because there was proof, before my very eyes, that these machines were every bit as bad as we all had feared. I cried because we have been so unjustly attacked as "conspiracy theorists" and "technophobes" when Diebold knew full well that its voting system could alter election results. More than that, that Diebold planned to have a voting system that could alter results. And I cried because it suddenly hit me, like a Mack truck, that this was proof positive that our democracy is and has been, as we have all feared, truly at the mercy of unscrupulous vendors who are producing electronic voting machines that can change election results without detection.
Why not use the voting procedure used in Canada? Besides making elections too hard to manipulate, such a simple system wouldn't involve yet another massive transfer of taxpayer money to U.S. corporations.
Over at Balkinization, Marty Lederman (Law, Georgetown) brings some clarity to the torture debate on Capitol Hill:
And it is this: Should the CIA be legally authorized to breach the Geneva Conventions by engaging in the following forms of "cruel treatment" prohibited by "common" Article 3(1)(a) of those Conventions?:
-- "Cold Cell," or hypothermia, where a prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees, during which he is doused with cold water.
-- "Long Time Standing," in which a prisoner is forced to stand, handcuffed and with his feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours.
-- Threats of violence and death of a detainee and/or his family.
(These are the CIA techniques that have been widely reported, including in this ABC News Report and in Ron Suskind's book [The One-Percent Doctrine]. To the extent some of these techniques are not among those that the President is now euphemistically designating "alternative," or to the extent the Administration is attempting to preserve other techniques currently prohibited by Common Article 3, the burden is on the Administration to clarify the record. They have resolutely refused to disclaim any of these reported techniques, and so I think it's fair for Congress and the public to assume, absent contrary evidence, that these are among the techniques at issue in the current debate. If we're going to authorize conduct currently prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, we ought to know just what we're signing on for.
What about waterboarding? My sense is that the debate is no longer about waterboarding. I have heard scuttlebut from several sources that not even the lawyers in this Administration -- who apparently were able to conclude that waterboarding was not torture -- have been willing to say that waterboarding is legal under the McCain Amendment's prohibition on conduct that shocks the conscience. Therefore, I think (but am not certain) that waterboarding has not been a viable option since December 30, 2005 -- which explains, perhaps, why the Vice President was so insistent on creating a CIA exception to the McCain Amendment, i.e., because he thought that waterboarding could not continue without such an amendment (or a Commander-in-Chief override).)
A bunch of other questions that have been dominating the public debate really ought to fall to the side now.
[It's not about] the authority of interrogators to yell at detainees, or subject them to Eminem or the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Nor -- contrary to the Administration and to many press accounts -- is it primarily about the meaning of Geneva's prohibition on "outrages against human dignity," and "humiliating and degrading treatment."
Unfortunately, even the New York Times can't get this straight. In "Bush Says GOP Rebels Are Putting Nation at Risk" (Sept. 16), the Times repeats the Bush/Rove line:
The dispute centers on whether to pass legislation reinterpreting a provision of the Geneva Conventions known as Common Article 3 that bars “outrages upon personal dignity”... Mr. Bush argued that the convention’s language was too vague and is proposing legislation to clarify the provisions. “What does that mean, ‘outrages upon human dignity’?” he said at one point.
But, as Lederman points out,
The CIA isn't much interested in the outrageous and inane forms of humiliation -- underwear on the head, religious degradation, etc. -- that the military used at GTMO and in Iraq. Those things may be illegal, they might violate Common Article 3, but they are not what the Administration is tring so diligently to preserve. The Administration is, instead, seeking authority to use threats of violence, and the cruel physical techniques listed above, akin to classic forms of torture.
That is what this current legislative debate is about.
"Stress positions" and devices to compel them have a long history. One of the best-known examples is the "Little Ease," a cell barely large enough for its occupant, who was unable to stand upright, sit, stretch, or find any comfortable position. The 16th century Jesuit martyr Edmund Campion was confined in "Little Ease" in the Tower of London, followed in the 17th century by Gunpowder Plot conspirator Guy Fawkes. Cells of similar description--4 feet high, 4 feet long and 20 inches wide--were used by US Special Operations in Iraq, according to the New York Times, "Pentagon Study Describes Abuse by Units in Iraq" (June 17, 2006), along with "cold cell" and starvation. In 1999, the Israeli Supreme Court unanimously outlawed the use of stress positions, shaking, and sleep deprivation as interrogation techniques--but, what would the Israelis know about combating terrorism, right?
Of course Rove wants the issue to turn on the meaning of "outrages upon personal dignity," which--hey!--might include hazing the pledges over at Animal House. What is not understandable is why reporters at the New York Times are falling for it. Or is that understandable too?
A Minor Occurrence
Found this morning on my desk, pale even in sunlight, not breathing: a poem, dead. Help was called and came—investigators and an ambulance team (never before asked to cart a poem away). Around the room, walls lined with relatives, many seeming quite sturdy, some even jaunty despite the event, others dark and brooding, but all of them still breathing. And after interviews and photographs, fingerprints and polygraphs, detention of all and sundry, it looked to be the perfect crime—if crime it was.
Of course, there was an autopsy, which really got us thinking, for when the poem was opened up, other poems were found inside, along with, of all things, bits of prose spread throughout the body as if appropriated from somewhere else and secreted there—borrowed gems to brighten up a drab design. We found scraps of old texts and documents as well: Whitman, which was no surprise, but Heidegger, Wittgenstein, even Plato, looking not a bit the way we had expected.
From this, the examiner suggested that the poem might have died of bloat, its slight body unable to assimilate so much foreign matter into so fragile a receptacle. No matter, no certainty was reached and, when done, the poem lying there dismembered, piece by piece, no one had a clue as to what had held it together or, for that matter, how to restore it as it had been found. For now, the poem was deemed to have died of natural causes, although odd ones at that, and the file left open in the event of new information.
Sadly, one could visualize it when young, trying on new garments, borrowings perhaps from adult’s closets, fancying itself decorative, even sophisticated, proud to parade before the world as if authentic, independent. But there, on the examining table, it seemed not just a poem, at all, more like the kind of extravagant creation found on the coffee-tables of those affluent but banal. Yes, one had to admit it seemed like something only dilettantes would find attractive, ‘foggy with philosophy,’ aglitter with borrowings and imitation, mere brass aspiring to be golden, a blondness not of wheat but chaff.
I was present for all of this and felt somehow to blame. The poem was found on my desk, but it might have perished anywhere. I even had felt tempted to deny knowing it and, perhaps, there was some truth in that. Suffice it to say that all I told the carpers and the critics was that I had thought nothing amiss when I looked in on it the night before, although I had to confess I had not examined it closely, had, I acknowledged, taken it for granted. I couldn’t help feeling culpable, but certainly not suspect. To be sure, the authorities act as if everyone is responsible even when there is no palpable crime. Still, if I’d been more attentive, more proactive, more vigilant about the health of poetry, in general, perhaps this episode could have been prevented.
If there be in this a consolation, it is this: its death was no more important than its life. As to that, everyone knows that poems change nothing—except other poems. One more or less is not remarkable.
5/16-7/17/96, 2/25-26/97, 6/14/98.
Copyright 1998 by Maurice Leiter
Posted with permission.
ORIGINALLY POSTED MARCH 1, 2005
Speaking at an off-the-record panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 27, CNN chief executive Eason Jordan apparently suggested that U.S. forces in Iraq had intentionally targeted journalists. When challenged by members of the audience, including Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Jordan backtracked, saying that he did not believe that such attacks were deliberate U.S. government policy.
By most accounts Jordan's assertions were wavering and ambiguous. Not so for the resulting howl from conservative bloggers. Twenty-two days later, under pressure from critics across the political spectrum, Jordan resigned.
Major news outlets jumped for the tried-and-true storyline: public figure makes outrageous statements and is taken down by persistent bloggers. The pajamahadeen, still triumphant from having toppled Dan Rather, had claimed another scalp.
Even Jordan's defenders went out of their way to attack his statements. Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, who voiced concerns that a "cyber-mob" mentality might chill journalistic free speech, made it a point to call Jordan's comments "manna to Islamist recruiters" and "stupid, even indefensible."
But what's truly indefensible is the American media's failure to examine the substance of Jordan's claims, however clumsily articulated. If they did, they might be surprised.
To be sure, many made superficial attempts. A typical example appears in conservative columnist Cathy Young's Feb. 14 Boston Globe op-ed, "Sliming American Troops." Young, pointing out that Jordan also cited an "uncorroborated tale" of an Al-Jazeera journalist tortured at Abu Ghraib prison, dismisses Jordan's accusations between parentheses:
"All this suggests that intentional targeting of journalists as journalists was likely a part of Jordan's claim. (No such charge has ever been made by any journalists' organization, though disturbing questions have been raised about negligence in the U.S. military's shelling of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad in April 2003 in which two journalists were killed.)" (emphasis added)
No such charge? On April 8, Reporters Without Borders issued a press release headlined "Reporters Without Borders accuses U.S. military of deliberately firing at journalists." That Young missed this item from a global media rights group, released the very same day as the Palestine Hotel attacks that she goes on to mention, shows just how blind she is to facts that lay outside the orthodox narrative.
Young is one of the few columnists to make any connection between Jordan's comments and the shelling of the Palestine Hotel, which killed two journalists, José Couso of the Spanish network Telecinco and Reuters cameraman Taras Protsiuk, and wounded three others.
A film of the incident, shot by the French TV station France 3, shows that U.S. troops were not under any fire at the time, and that the tank crew took a few minutes to adjust its gun before opening fire on the hotel, which was home to more than 200 journalists and media assistants at the time.
Following a Pentagon investigation in which the U.S. military completely exonerated itself, the International Federation of Journalists denounced the "cynical whitewashing of a horrifying and avoidable tragedy...."
As for the "uncorroborated tale" of torture? According to those who witnessed the remarks at Davos, Jordan discussed the case of an Al-Jazeera reporter who had been taken to Abu Ghraib prison, where he was forced to eat his own shoes and mocked as "Al-Jazeera boy."
The only reporter from a major paper to look into this tale was the New York Sun's Roderick Boyd, who did so in a display of astonishingly lazy reporting. Boyd writes:
"A man who said he was a producer with Al-Jazeera at the network's headquarters in Doha, Qatar, said he was unaware of any such incident, 'although we have had problems with American troops in and out of Iraq.' The Al-Jazeera producer refused to give his name."
Had Boyd bothered to enter the words "Al-Jazeera boy" into Google or Lexis-Nexis, he would have found a March 11, 2004, story in the Nation, a May 2, 2004, story in the London Observer, and an account from Reporters Without Borders, each of which details the seven-week detention and torture at Abu Ghraib of 33-year-old Al-Jazeera cameraman Salah Hassan.
But Boyd didn't bother. He was happy enough to settle for the anonymous source who told him what he wanted to hear. His "evidence" that the incident never happened has been reprinted throughout the blogosphere, including the influential conservative blog, Instapundit.
The reporter forced by U.S. troops to eat his own shoe was actually a different person: veteran Reuters cameraman Salem Ureibi. On Jan. 2, 2004, U.S. soldiers arrested Ureibi, Falluja stringer Ahmed Mohammed Hussein al-Badrani and driver Sattar Jabar al-Badrani in Falluja as they were filming the site of a helicopter crash. The three men were held for 72 hours, during which they were beaten, stripped and threatened with rape.
The story was reported by Reuters, the Associated Press, Editor and Publisher, the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the Raleigh News Observer, the Xinhua news service and many other outlets....
It was not the tales of abuse, however, that most appalled Jordan's critics—such stories are no longer shocking even to casual followers of the news—but the notion that the U.S. military would deliberately target media outlets in Iraq in order to silence them. In the early days of the invasion, they did just that.
In the hours before dawn on March 26, 2003, precision guided bombs struck the headquarters of Iraq's state-run television station, which had days earlier broadcast images of dead and captured American soldiers, in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
But the Geneva Conventions also prohibit targeting civilian buildings, unless they offer "definite military advantage." Media organizations and human rights groups were outraged.
"The bombing of a television station, simply because it is being used for the purposes of propaganda, cannot be condoned," read a press release from Amnesty International, which called the strike a "possible war crime."
"Once again," said Aidan White, general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, "we see military and political commanders from the democratic world targeting a television network simply because they don't like the message it gives out...."
The next time some self-congratulatory, right-wing empty suit with a blog starts blathering about how the blogosphere challenges traditional media, send them this link. As usual, the right-wing blogosphere missed the real story.
Posted by Brian Leiter on September 15, 2006 at 09:25 AM in Authoritarianism and Fascism Alerts, Deja Vu All Over Again (Repostings of Earlier Items of Interest) | Permalink
Helen Steward (philosophy of mind and action, metaphysics and epistemology), presently Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford University, has accepted a permanent post at the University of Leeds.
Long-time readers of this of this blog are familiar with Brian's series of posts on the probability of a US military draft: the war plans of the Cheney administration -- which it seems determined to carry out -- it would seem, can't be pushed any further without additional forces.
[Bush] has been consistent from the earliest days of his regime - consistently incompetent, delusional, and violent. He does not bluff. He does exactly what he wants to do. And there is nothing he wants more right now than to use nukes on Iran. It's not merely because he's a kid with a cool popgun, but one shouldn't misunderestimate his impulsiveness and immaturity. It's also because he, and the other rightwing lunatics genuinely believe that since 1945, liberals have severely crippled America by making such a big deal out of nukes. By all means, check out Curtis Lemay's "America is in Danger" for an historical example (late 60's) of this delusion. How are we crippled? Well, according to them, by refusing to use nukes, America fights bloody prolonged conflicts that are difficult to conclude with decisive victories.
Bush and his pals wants to save America from liberals that will once again deny America a critical victory, crucial to its safety and security. Bush wants to break the nuclear taboo.
I gleaned a pretty good sense of long-term right-wing dogma from years of reading the National Review, American Spectator, Human Events, and other such birdcage liners -- Cheney admin policy seems designed to actualize many of the therein articulated crazed fantasies. Why not this madness as well?
The International Atomic Energy Agency has condemned the House Staff Report on Iran's nuclear-weapons capabilities; Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has condemned the Bush effort to get Congress to legalize torture; the conservative Cato Institute has condemned the institutionalization of Orwellian double speak in the "war on terror"; and Turkish and Pakistani government officials have condemned the Pope for diss'ing Mohammad as a bringer of inhumanity and evil. Don't these people know there's a war on?
Relaxing in the midst of like-minded folk, the President let on yesterday that he sees himself as leading a third great religious awakening. So says the Washington Post, in "Bush Tells Group He Sees a 'Third Awakening'" (Sept. 13). Lest the Great Crusader be misunderstood,
aides said Bush was not casting the war [against Islamo-fascism] as a religious struggle but was describing American cultural changes in a time of war . "He's drawing a parallel in terms of a resurgence, in dangerous times, of people going back to their religion," said one aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the session was not open to other journalists. "This is not 'God is on our side' or anything like that."
Of course not. The Post also relates that
On another topic, Bush rejected sending more troops to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas to find Osama bin Laden. "One hundred thousand troops there in Pakistan is not the answer."
One hundred thousand troops in Iraq is the answer? No? What then is the answer? The President continued:
"It's someone saying 'Guess what' and then the kinetic action begins," he said, meaning an informer disclosing bin Laden's location.
The Post's English translation is helpful if incomplete. It suggests Bush's presumable answer to neoCon William Kristol's call for a further infusion of troops to rescue the former Iraq. Kristol has a point: If "the safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad," as the President told the nation on Sept. 11, 2006, wouldn't it make sense to send reinforcements when that battle is being lost? Or do you suffer defeat "with the army you have"? Surely some bold journalist will someday ask Bush this question. Until then, we may surmise that more troops there aren't the answer: the thing to do is to wait for the "Guess what" that means an informer has disclosed the location of,....well, you know, the evildoers. Then you'll see some kinetic action, maybe of the kind that began when bin Laden was cornered in Tora Bora. Which was...sending a hundred thousand troops to Iraq?
Meanwhile, the Vice President has disclosed that at least part of his job is to "think about the unthinkable" --you know, the out-of-the-box stuff Herman Kahn dug but John Nance Garner never was much into. Wilde's foxhunters have now turned to quail, and the unspeakable are in full pursuit of the unthinkable. Somebody wake me when the kinetic action begins.
I don't know who Matt Lauer is, but in the video clip linked here, you can see him in the unenviable position of interviewing Bush at literally less than two feet distance. Bush -- utterly predictably -- comes off as an unbelievably aggressive asshole, getting in Lauer's grill, interrupting, condescending, waving his arms around, and opening up several cans of good old "let me finish!". That looked pretty unpleasant for Lauer -- at one point he waves his uncapped sharpie around to get Bush to back off. (By contrast, compare this tale of today's blogger klatch with the Big Dog.) Too bad the ruler of the US is a fucking sociopath.
Apparently Martin Peretz, owner and e-i-c of the New Republic since 1975, and chief insider of the neoliberal/hawkish/center-right "Democratic Leadership Council", has just been named to the advisory board of the defense fund for traitor and uber-Cheney Admin insider Lewis Libby.
Speaking of mundane duties, we are now putting the finishing touches on the surveys for the new Philosophical Gourmet Report, which are slated to begin next Monday, September 18, and end about three weeks later. Once results are compiled, and the Advisory Board reviews the specialty rankings, the whole thing will be shipped off to Blackwell, and should be on-line by the first week of November at the latest, at the current URL (www.philosophicalgourmet.com). Between PGR business, the impending start of my teaching at Chicago, and still more publication deadlines (including getting the final manuscript for this book to OUP by Friday!!!), I will need to take a mini-hiatus from the blog till some time next week, I expect.
Not really is what my colleague Sandy Levinson effectively concludes.
The other Brian Leiter has posted some purely personal recollections about that day whose fifth anniversary we mark today. Here I want to comment on the political and psychological ramifications of that event. It is not unknown for traumatic events to cause people to lose their bearings, and what is true at the individual level may also be true at the cultural and social level as well. We have seen many instances of individuals, some of genuine ability and talent, who essentially "cracked up" after 9/11, people like Norman Geras and Christopher Hitchens, who started spouting moral nonsense and wish-fulfilling delusions of a kind that their former, unshattered selves would have diagnosed accordingly.
But of far more consequence is the extent to which the United States (which is, after all, the world's most powerful and dangerous nation) has become, in its public culture, completely unmoored from reality. Things that do not (indeed, in some cases, can not) exist--a "war on terror," a "global Islamic jihad," and so on--are now the stuff of ordinary parlance, as though they refer to actual events, movements, and ideas. But as I wrote on an earlier occasion during America's descent into madness:
The central delusion that has gripped the American right since 9/11 is...the idea that every terrorist incident is related to every other one, that the grievances of Chechen separatists have something to do with the grievances of Palestinian suicide bombers which have something to do with Sunni resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq which has something to do with the murderous delusions of religious fundamentalists actually beholden to Osama bin Laden. But these events have almost nothing to do with each other (as we have had occasion to remark previously), except that they serve the propaganda purposes of a decadent and amoral empire. One really can't repeat this often enough: there is no "war on terror," not only because you can't wage war on a technique, but because there is no single agent of terrorism motivated by a unitary set of concerns. The whole "war on terror" is a fraud, and anyone who speaks of such a fake war should be laughed out of serious society. If America had not lost its collective mind after 9/11, there would now be only an international criminal manhunt for bin Laden and other perpetrators of crimes against civilians in New York and London and Madrid (etc.).
To be sure, craven villains and war criminals like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have exploited the events of 9/11 for calculated ends that we have understood ever since Marx observed that "The modern state is merely the executive committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie." Whatever soco-economic and psychological factors explain why these particular individuals no longer feel the normative force of "the Golden Rule," they shed relatively little light on the condition of the public culture. The crucial question of our time--not just in America, alas, since America could destroy the world--is how the United States can be restored to the league of civilized, post-Enlightenment nations, where epistemic and rational norms still play a role in public affairs.
The single best commentary on the horrific events of 9/11 remains, of course, that of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Aghanistan (RAWA), a group whose members have a particularly vivid appreciation of what it means to be victimized by fundamentalist psychopaths. But their essentially humane and cosmopolitan appeal has been almost totally eclipsed by the need in the U.S. to downplay (for obvious reasons) the role of religious fundamentalism in the events of 9/11 in favor of very different bogeymen. The descent into public madness began in earnest with the run-up to the war of aggression against Iraq, the first make-believe enemy to be constructed out of the ashes of 9/11. As I wrote back in 2004:
Less than nine months after fundamentalist religious zealots inflicted mass casualties on the civilian population of the United States, and only about six months after the U.S. toppled the regime that harbored them, a country of no consequence or relevance to the safety of the United States--a country hated by the fundamentalist religious zealots for its secular ideology and its Western treatment of women, a country with a devastated economy and crippled military, a country that the U.S. and Britain regularly bombed (since it didn't even have sovereign control over all its own terriroty), a nation half of whose population were children, a country which the US outspent on military might 400 to 1--this country was suddenly declared the most pressing threat to the U.S. and world peace.
In an American version of Ionesco's Rhinoceros--the brilliant, "theater of the absurd" rendering of the mass insanity that beset Germany in the 1930s--the American population was progressively whipped in to war frenzy through a series of lies, more or less brazen, to the point that, while no one in their right mind in the summer of 2001 would have described Iraq as a security threat to the U.S., by the late fall of 2002, a large portion of the U.S. population actually believed that. (It's worth noting that the lies, and the cover-up that followed them, were heavily abetted by the blogosphere, despite its self-important, but simply self-serving, claims to be a force for accuracy in news coverage.)
Despite the breathtaking propaganda campaign--the most frightening in the United States during my lifetime--significant portions of the U.S. population remained opposed to the lunatic belligerence of the current Administration; they were joined, of course, by the vast majority of the world's population, though in a signal victory for democracy, their voice was ignored by numerous "democratic" governments, who quickly joined the Administration's "Coalition of the Billing."
Now that the Iraq bogeyman has been so completely discredited, new forces of darkness are needed, and so we have "Islamic jihad" or "Islamic fascism," forces that, in their latest incarnation, now portend a new World War, we are told. You see, the far right in America has largely tired of the specter of the man in the cave toppling the U.S. government (to be sure, not all the know-nothings have), and has opted for a new paranoid scenario in which third-rate military powers (who happen to sit upon and be proximate to large oil reserves) present the new "threat" to the American way of life. This article (linked, of course, by InstaIgnorance) is typical of the new insanity. It begins:
Why is America waiting to be attacked by Iran?
Alas, we can proceed no further. For this is literally the first sentence of this opinion piece, and it is not meant as a weird joke. It would only be slightly weirder if it read: "Why is America waiting to be attacked by Martians?" Or: "Why is American waiting to be attacked by smurfs?" Iran--a country that has not attacked any of its neighbors since the late 18th-century; which the US outspends on military personnel and hardware 50 to 1; and which barely has the military capacity to defend itself against Israel, is going to attack the U.S.? With what? Spitballs? Mean words?
Some on the right who are still not wholly unhinged from reality have greeted these kinds of claims with the derisive response they warrant:
If Iran is really out to conquer the region, it would need tanks, lots and lots of tanks, plus air cover, since tank armadas are dead ducks in the open desert. So, is Iran building up its tank fleet and air force preparatory to its upcoming blitzkriegs? Here's what the Center for Strategic and International Studies says about Iran:
"Most of Iran's military equipment is aging or second rate and much of it is worn. Iran lost some 50-60% of its land order of battle in the climatic battles of the Iran-Iraq War, and it has never had large-scale access to the modern weapons and military technology necessary to replace them. It also has lacked the ability to find a stable source of parts and supplies for most of its Western-supplied equipment, and has not have access to upgrades and modernization programs since the fall of the Shah in 1979."
Here is Iran's tank fleet, according to a site called MILNET:
Tank Type Count Manufacturer M-47/48 150 U.S. (*) M-60A1 150-160 U.S. (*) Chieftain Mark 3/5s 100 U.K. (*) T-54/55 250 Russia/Soviet T-59 150-250 (35-?) Russia/Soviet T-72/S 480 Russia/Soviet T-69II 150-250 ? Russia/Soviet Zulfiqar 100 Iranian made from T-72 and M48 pieces Total Estimate 1600 * delivered prior to the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979
A reader comments:
I believe the name of the Iranian-made main battle tank, the Zuliqfar, literally means "burning torment" and is perhaps best rendered colloquially as "flaming coffin" or "death trap."
And here are other regional powers:
Comments Israel 4300 Modernized, well maintained Egypt 4300 Fairly Modernized, maintained Syria 4600 Fair maintained
but much older technology
Mostly older technology, maybe one to three full divisions of modern equipped Jordan 1217 Fair maintenance, old technology Saudi Arabia 1055 Well Maintained, modernized regularly Lebanon 315
Well aged, poorly maintained,
single battle ready only
So, it looks like Iran would match up pretty well with mighty Jordan.And then there's the Iranian Air Force, which resembles the raw materials for a nostalgic air show more than a war-winning military arm:
Aircraft Made in Count Mission Comments F-14 U.S. 50 Air Defense Poorly maintained, Little/no AAM, gun only MiG-29 Russia 6 Air Defense Highly capable, heavy maintenance costs, fuel hungry F-7M China 35 Air Defense Fairly modern and capable F-4D/E U.S. 260 Attack/Defense Very poorly maintained, parts not available to Iransome in ME market F-5E/FII U.S. 260 Attack/Defense Very poorly maintained,
parts not available from U.S., some in ME market
Su-24 Soviet 30 Attack Some parts purchases with Russia have taken place, these may be the best maintained of all Iranian aircraft Su-25K Soviet 7 Attack Seized during Gulf War (Iraq inexplicably flew them out)
May be operational but doubtful
Mir F-1 France 24 Attack/Defense Seized during Gulf War (Iraq inexplicably flew them out)
May be operational but doubtful
The theoretical bulk of the Iranian air force (520 planes) is made up of F4s, which first flew in 1958, and F5s, which first flew in 1959. If any are still flying, the rest must be used as sources for the cannibalizing of of parts.
So, it looks like Iran would match up pretty well with mighty Jordan.
As for the F-14s, which were the pride of the Shah's air force:
"One report suggested that the IRIAF can get no more than seven F-14s airborne at any one time"
So they've got 6 good MiG-29s, 30 Soviet Su-24s, and 35 pretty good Chinese planes.
In contrast, Israel, for example, has "555 combat aircraft (90 probably stored)." And, of course, Iran is missing most of the components of post-1979 air supremacy, such as AWACS-style flying command posts and stealth planes....
What the Iranians have been investing in are, intelligently enough, missiles and, presumably, nuclear weapons development, which makes a lot of sense if their military strategy is to deter attack.
But back to the latest insanity percolating up from the bowels of the American right:
Why do we listen to the European appeasers as they pretend the Lebanon front is a regional conflict, a national liberation contest, when it is demonstrably the prelude to the wider war — the Spain 1936 to the continental war of 1939?
Saying something is "demonstrable" is not the same as demonstrating it, and the author adopts not even the pretense of the latter in support of his ludicrous analogy.
What is the explanation for America's willful fiction that the United Nations Security Council can engineer an accommodation in Lebanon, when it is vivid to every member state that this is a replay of September 1938, when Europe fed Hitler the Sudetenland as the U.N. now wants to feed the jihadists the sovereignty of Israel?
Nazi Germany was, dare it be noted, a bit more powerful economically and militarily relative to its competitors than Iran is today; as already noted, Iran can't even hold its own militarily against Israel.
The most threatening answer is that America waits to be bloodied because it has lost its will to defend itself after five years of chasing rogue-state-sponsored gangsters and after three years of occupation in failed-state Iraq against Tehran- and Damascus-backed agents. A grave possibility is that America is now drained, bowed, ready to surrender to the tyrants of Tehran.
"Surrender to the tyrants of Tehran"? Surrender? I realize that American news coverage isn't very good, but did all the major media really fail to report that Iran had demanded our capitulation lest it attack us?
On its face, this kind of rhetoric is transparently ridiculous to any grown-up, but that does not mean it is not already inspiring little suburban brown shirts with computer keyboards to fantasize about global war, who are then joined by big brown shirts with newspapers available to spread the lies. What starker evidence could there be that American public discourse is unhinged from reason and evidence than that this ludicrous chatter analogizing Iran to Nazi Germany is repeated by anyone not already under psychiatric care?
Thank goodnesss for the Lew Rockwell libertarians----the ones who actually care about liberty, and not about shilling for the Republicans--who, when not indulging their free market utopias, are rather good at calling out the nonsense echoing throughout the culture. Herewith, Charley Reese:
For the president to compare Osama bin Laden, a crank with maybe a thousand followers scattered around the globe, with Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin is preposterous, absurd and even laughable. To suggest bin Laden could take over Iraq is even more so. We have 140,000 troops, a Navy and an Air Force, and we can't "take over" Iraq. How in the name of heaven could bin Laden do it with no soldiers at all? He is, after all, a Sunni with only a small following among Sunnis, and the majority in Iraq is Shiite....
Let's not play around. Am I saying the president is crazy? No, not in the clinical sense. But, if he believes that bin Laden, Hitler, Stalin and Lenin are comparable, if he truly believes he is leading the free world in the great ideological war of the 21st century, then he has cut his anchor chain and drifted off into the Sea of Delusion....
The president, I believe, is desperate to be what he knows he is not – a great man. He has fantasized that he is a second Winston Churchill leading the forces of democracy in a great crusade against the forces of darkness. The only trouble is, there is nobody out there in the dark.
Sure, bin Laden and his small band of followers hate our guts. So what? They are half a drop in the bucket of 6 billion people. Bush has so distorted his view of reality, he does not seem to realize that most of our "allies" in the Middle East are dictators, and the people he calls terrorists – Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah – participated in free elections.
Even his so-called war on terror is phony. You can't wage a war against a tactic. Most of the groups he labels as terrorists are local groups with local grievances and don't think twice about us.
If America had not lost its collective mind after 9/11, there would have been a massive international criminal manhunt for Osama bin Laden and his associates; dramatically improved security at airports and ports; and renewed efforts to control and contain the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. That's it.
Instead, billions have been squandered on imperialist aggression that has killed and maimed hundreds of thousands, turning Iraq into the new training and recruiting ground for would-be terrorists; port security remains almost as weak as it was five years ago; airport security is only somewhat improved; Osama bin Laden is free, his popularity at an all-time high in much of the Islamic world thanks to Bush's carnage, or sanctioned carnage, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Lebanon; and there is a worldwide rush by those countries fearing the American juggernaut to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
And to top it all off, delusional paranoids--or individuals whose cynicism simply knows no moral limits--are trying to foment a new war of aggression against Iran!
This morning, I found an e-mail sent at 9:57 am (Texas time) on the morning of September 11, 2001. By that time five years ago, the sickening images of hijacked planes exploding, the desperate and trapped jumping to their deaths, the towers collapsing, and on and on--all these had been paraded again and again across the screens. The flurry of calls and e-mails that morning to family, friends, and colleagues in the Northeast and elsewhere, all gave expression in one form or another to fear, horror, shock, despair, concern. This particular e-mail (to my father, in the New York area) was no different, though it concluded with the following clumsy line, though one whose resonance is now positively creepy: "This bodes ill for the future, since the only available responses will be hatred and more violence. I just hope the lunatics in the white house don't nuke Iraq in the next 24 hours as a response." They didn't use nuclear weapons on Iraq, and it took more than 24 hours for them to launch their war of aggression against that country. They now, however, talk openly about using nuclear weapons against Iran.
Unless the mental disturbance that has now all but consumed the public culture of the United States abates, even darker days, I fear, lie ahead for humanity, both in the U.S. and abroad. We shall, however, carry on with our mundane duties, hoping, as always, for the best.
Al Qaeda is the effective sovereign over one third of the territory of the former Iraq, according to the Marine Corps's chief of intelligence in Iraq, Col. Pete Devlin. The report was sent to the Pentagon on August 16, and is described in today's (9-11-06's) Washington Post:
Devlin reports that there are no functioning Iraqi government institutions in Anbar, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has become the province's most significant political force...the report ... describes Anbar as beyond repair ... it concludes that the United States has lost in Anbar.
This, following the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, concluding not only that there was never any credible evidence that Sadaam Hussein supported Al Qaeda, but that Hussein in fact opposed it. In defence of the Bush Administration's conduct of the "war on terror," Vice President Cheney explains that this kind of reversal is the result of people talking about it.
On the off-chance that some of you are readers, there is more information about my Jurisprudence seminar here.
This time, it's literal:
(Moreover, the document linked to answers the question How the hell is Bush going to get away with giving a speech at the WTC site? Won't he be howled down by thousands of furious angry New Yorkers? Wide-angle photos from the event reveal the bizarre---if, I suppose, predictable---truth: the WTC site had been cleared of all life during the speech aside from Bush, Mrs Bush, and their marine escort. [Of course, they also show without saying the presence of some kind of press section . . .])
I'd been wondering why Bush suddenly announced trials for the Gitmo 14 -- now I know.
Just as Rove pulled out the 2002 midterms by forcing the legislature into the Iraq war, apparently he plans to pull out the 2006 by forcing them to accelerate the US's drive toward the police state. Now that's synergy!
MOVING TO FRONT from Sept. 7, since an interesting discussion has developed in the comments section.
Academic journals are an amazingly cheap and secure way for publishers to make money. Cheap partly for the reason Tom [Hurka] mentions: most of the serious work (including the work that gives the journal its prestige -- writing and peer reviewing) is unpaid. And secure because university libraries are committed to keeping complete series of the main journals in a field. Yet profiteering publishers like Springer and Elsevier put up their prices regularly, and their captive market has to pay. Every year more and more of a University's library budget is eaten up by (some) publishers' unreasonable price-rises. Readers in the UK will already know that this is how the infamous Robert Maxwell made his money.
In the age of online publication, there is no reason why publishers should make so much money from our work. We don't need publishers in order to have peer-reviewed quality journals. We don't need paper publication for journals. Philosophers' Imprint has shown how you can have an excellent free e-journal which is peer-reviewed, and the Notre Dame Philosophical reviews is now one of the leading places for book reviews. Of course, these projects cost money too -- but it would be a better use of libraries' budgets to administer e-journals which are free for the whole world, than to fill the bank accounts of Springer, Elsevier and the like.
It's true that some profits of journals (e.g. Mind, Philosophy, Analysis) are ploughed back into the profession in the form of scholarships, grants etc. But this is because these journals are owned by academic societies, who have an agreement with their publishers to use a portion of the profit in this way.
It's perhaps worth noting that In the UK, the Wellcome Trust has now made it a condition of giving any research grant that the published results are deposited in an open-access online archive, in addition to being published in any peer-reviewed journal. Also, the dreaded UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2008 will now accept any form of web-publication as publication.
These seem like steps in the right direction: to aim to make all peer-reviewed and other research available online to all, for free.
Comments are open; non-anonymous postings will be preferred. Comments may take awhile to appear (I'm finishing a tenure review, hence the paucity of postings lately).
Readers of the major blogs will have seen this connection by now, but it's worth highlighting in this forum since it involves two of the betes noires on this blog -- apparently 'Path to 9/11' was put together by an amalgam of two right-wing Hollywood mole groups, one run by David Horowitz, another by elements of the Christianist movement.
Poor ABC/Disney, on the other hand, appear to have "Punk'd" -- inadequate oversight, together with an underestimation of the bile the right is capable of, allowed the right wing to use ABC as its bullhorn, with probable damages both reputational (that Disney broadcast right wing propaganda directly before and intended to influence an election will be remembered for the next century, harming their clean-Gene reputation with the public and, as noted in the just cited piece, undermining their copyright lobbying, which relies on some presumption of responsible stewardship) and financial (see immediately below).
. . . or maybe it was a deliberate case of marketing synergy.
I'm no lawyer, but I found this to be very tightly argued. Read the whole thing -- here's the money quote:
[T]he cumulative liability here could flirt with The Big B as in "Billion."
If you have school-age children, you will want to make sure that your child's school is not peddling this garbage as instructional material.
Oklahoma City Bombing: Reflections
“Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’ hierarchies?”
--Rilke, “The First Duino Elegy”
“I can see them with their angel’s wings,”
--A mother who lost two children in the explosion (CNN)
New wounds bring old ones in their train
Reasons sour like debts too long unpaid
We feel the bite of teeth but see no face
Here in this place that is no place
Mean tasks are elevated in the blur of grief
Rubble becomes ritual without relief
If only these dead had been nameless
We’d need not seek them all
Their muddled futures will be built
Of counterfactuals ringed with guilt
And banality will join with bile
To wreathe catharsis for a while
No one ever understands death’s dance
Antietam Iwo Jima Ardennes Viet Nam
Grow younger as we die with them
What color is the enemy whose enemy are we
We survive as conscripts of remembrance
For knowing is accomplice to the crime
Old wounds spawn new ones in their line
The unthinkable keeps ticking all the time
Let the children have their wings
Poor dead tiny blameless things
Why not place them near the angels:
Who will hear them if they weep
4/19-5/24, 12/2/95, 2/2-2/9/98, 3/1/98
Copyright 1995, 1998 by Maurice Leiter
Posted with permission.