Friday, March 21, 2003

Honor, my ass

Long piece by Chalmers Johnson on Daniel Ellsberg’s new memoirs. It is most interesting for its discussion of the constant lying about Vietnam, and how the mere possession of secret information breeds arrogance in policymakers. Also note that even anti-war people like Sens. Fulbright and McGovern were unwilling to make the Pentagon Papers public.

A detail I’d missed in the stories of massive sexual harassment at the Air Force Academy: the investigation is being conducted by the Pentagon’s inspector general Joseph Schmitz, who must know all about it given his siblings. His father was John Schmitz, the Orange County congresscritter who literally thought that Reagan was a communist and who fathered a couple of kids out of wedlock as well as, in wedlock, Mary Kay Letourneau, the teacher who got pregnant twice by her 6th-grade student, to the joy of late night talk show hosts everywhere.

In Britain, the closure of certain local schools has put distinctive regional accents at risk. One group has just received a £25,000 grant to help it preserve the Georgie (Newcastle) accent. In sign language.

The news accounts of the war are full of reports about how wonderfully precise American weapons are. Of course we have never heard this before, and we certainly won’t get reports later of hospitals and schools being bombed.

Saw Rummy’s press conference. He keeps talking to Iraqis, like he thinks there are Iraqi soldiers on active duty watching CNN. He also must have used the word “honor” five times in telling them to surrender. He is so incapable of seeing things from any perspective other than his own that he doesn’t get that even anti-Saddam Iraqis (who I really think are a smaller percentage of the population than everyone assumes; tyrants are often quite popular, and he gave his country stature as someone who successfully stood up to the Americans and survived) don’t want to be bombed and occupied by the US military.

The Brits sent over a representative (the hapless Clare Short) to try to dissuade the US from running an occupation regime all by themselves, with their private contractors, shutting out the UN and, by the by, the British. She failed.

Back home, business as usual, only more so. Massive tax cuts pass Congress, and new plans to encourage car manufacturers to make larger cars.

From a New Statesman competition, rewritten lines that destroy the meaning of the original:

If you can’t stand the heat, don’t sit so near the fire.

I have a dream--but heck, it’s just a dream, probably never happen.

It is a far, far better thing that I do than I did last Tuesday.

A rose is a rose is a rose is a daffodil.

Put out the light, and then put out the cat.

Man is born free and everywhere he is in chain stores.

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. WLTM petite blonde with own income and GSOH.

I think, therefore I am in the minority.

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