Buildings Goin' Up To The Sky ...06/29/2005 07:55:14 pm
It's an improvement over the original Freedom
Tower design, without a doubt. Not saying a lot,
of-course, but at least this one kind of looks like
it belongs in New York City. Begs the question as to
what all that previous effort and hoopla was
about. Daniel Libeskind, indeed.
One thing I noticed: that guy has one heckuva
hilarious website. Go there and you see just a page
of plain text. Certain words are highlighted in
orange, and if you put your mouse over them, you get
rewarded by non-sequitors of incredible wisdom. My
favorite is "machine for producing gods" -
which you get if you put your mouse over
You're a genius, Danny. Why don't you go build
some things in some fey foreign capital, like ...
well, I don't want to offend anybody. But in New York
our buildings need to look big and strong, and
especially they need to look like they've been completed.
Which hopefully this one will be, before the next ice
What Google Am I? ...06/29/2005
Yes, RWB has broken down
and put up some GOOGLE Ads. All this writing I do,
and the rising price of ink - you know how it is. So,
I can make some infinitesimal but welcome amount of
money if you click on them. There's always a risk of
politically objectionable content popping up, but,
hey, you take a risk every time you walk out the
door. Have fun.
Mail Bag! ...06/28/2005
Received this message from someone signing himself
as Ted Walish.
Just as bad
You're just as
bad as Rove these days. Every Democrat
I know, every liberal I know, wanted to get Bin
I supported the Afghanistan conflict and
when I saw focus being shifted to Iraq. I
remember those days, and the sinking feeling in
stomach. I knew were headed to utter
Why aren't you in Iraq? Are your kids in
support the Iraq war, you go fight it. You
always bitch about taxes, well you're flushing a
down a rathole that was losing battle from the
As far as I'm concerned you wingers should fight
war, and you should pay for it.
Cowards, the lot of you. Cowards and
fascists who re-write history to suit your own
You're hero Ronnie sold Saddam a lot his weapons
he was filling up those 'mass graves' you wingers
crocodile tears over. Hypocrites. You
I guess he was responding to this
post. Every so often this kind of tirade should
be answered. Let me attempt to find responses to his
First, "You're just as
bad as Rove these days." To that, I can
only respond, "I do hope so."
Second, "Every Democrat
I know, every liberal I know, wanted to get Bin
Laden. I supported the Afghanistan conflict ..."
Well, congrats on your patriotism - actually
supporting action against the regime that sponsored
the mass murderers of thousands of Americans.
However, apparently the only other liberals you know
are the mild-mannered, apple-pie variety, like, um,
Joe Lieberman. Which is rather surprising considering
your own penchant for throwing out words like
"fascist," against people with whom you
disagree. Well, I guess you just don't get out much,
so let me give you a refresher on some of what
liberals have said on this subject:
Noam Chomsky, in November of 2001 (while in
India), described the U.S. action against the Taliban
as "a bigger terrorist act than what happened on
mafia leader the US chose Afghanistan and struck
at that country because it could not strike
back," he said.
America's military establishment that controlled
the power centre," he contended at a
discussion on Where is the World Heading
on Saturday evening.
criticism, Chomsky said, "The five countries
who support America's action are all terrorist
He has modified his arguments somewhat since then,
of-course, but the U.S. safely remains the root of
all evil in the world, according to his analyses.
And Dennis Kucinich (D-OH, and candidate for the
Presidential nomination in 2004) told the Washington Post in November 2003
"that U.S. military action against Afghanistan
in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks
was not justified and has proved to be a 'disaster'
and a 'nightmare.'"
Cleverer than Chomsky, it took him only two hours
to call back and say that his "misspoke,"
that the war against Afghanistan was justified as a
"philosophical question," but it's just
that the tactics were all wrong.
to take advantage of the moment and go to the
world community and say, 'Work with us
collectively to track down these terrorists.'
Now, if a state resists, then that's up to the
community of nations. . . . When a nation or a
government refuses, and the people who are
directly responsible for an attack on this
nation, then we have an obligation to go through
the United Nations to work at providing an
effective response," he said.
government of Afghanistan itself didn't attack
us. That's the thinking. That is a major point
here in terms of the community of nations."
Colonel Kucinich, there, explaining his
no-holds-barred philosophy of war.
Michael Moore, who rallied liberals across the
country with his film "Fahrenheit 9/11,"
and who sat beside President Jimmy Carter at the
Democratic National Convention, wrote this in the days following
war?" War against whom? One guy in the
desert whom we can never seem to find? Are our
leaders telling us that the most powerful country
on earth cannot dispose of one sick evil f---wad
of a guy? Because if that is what you are telling
us, then we are truly screwed. If you are unable
to take out this lone ZZ Top wannabe, what on
earth would you do for us if we were attacked by
a nation of millions? For chrissakes, call the
Israelis and have them do that thing they do when
they want to get their man! We pay them enough
billions each year, I am SURE they would be happy
to accommodate your request.
But I beg you,
Mr. Bush, stay with the tears. Go today to
comfort the wounded of New York. Tell the mayor,
a guy most of us have not liked, that he is doing
an incredible job, keeping the spirits of
everyone up as high as they can be at this
moment. Being there for a city I believe he
loves, his own cancer still with him, he goes
beyond the call of duty.
not declare war and massacre more innocents.
Mr. Bush. Keep running to Omaha or wherever it is
you go while others die, just as you ran during
Vietnam while claiming to be "on duty"
in the Air National Guard. Nine boys from my high
school died in that miserable war. And now you
are asking for "unity" so you can start
another one? Do not insult me or my country like
And of-course he conveniently changed his opinion
when it suited him (for his multi-million dollar
film) to say that the war in Iraq was "a
distraction" from the all-important military
action against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in
Finally, the Democratic nominee for President,
Senator John F. Kerry, in a January, 2004 debate, said this
about the war on terror:
primarily an intelligence and law enforcement
operation that requires cooperation around the
world -- the very thing this administration is
worst at. And most importantly, the war on terror
is also an engagement in the Middle East
economically, socially, culturally, in a way that
we haven't embraced, because otherwise we're
inviting a clash of civilizations.
Indictments and therapy - that's what Karl Rove
said that liberals offered. "Law
enforcement" and "engagement ... socially,
culturally, in a way that we haven't embraced."
That's what Kerry said. You tell me where the air is
between those concepts.
Today, John Kerry said this, in an Op-Ed
in the New York Times: "The
president must also announce immediately that the
United States will not have a permanent military
presence in Iraq." In who's interest is it,
exactly, that the United States should preemptively
and unilaterally give up the ability to have a base
in a friendly Iraq (from which to deter threats in
such potential hot spots as Iran, Yemen and Saudi
That's right, kids: it's in the interest of our
Islamic jihadist enemies.
So, while the professional Democratic politicians
are more careful about their public statements, it's
clear that you can draw a straight philosophical line
from Chomsky through Moore and Kucinich and Kerry,
and right up to Senator Durbin and his anguish over
the treatment of murderous jihadist detainees by
American Nazis. The theme is that we should do as
little as possible against our enemies - and first
and foremost, we should condemn ourselves and our own
country. There are endless other examples, but
Googling them is so time consuming.
Does anyone think that the war in Afghanistan
would have been pursued with the same kind of resolve
by people with thought patterns such as these?
I applaud my email friend Ted, for saying that he
supported (supports?) that war. Please, Ted, speak to
your fellow liberals and convert them if you can.
Third: "Why aren't you
in Iraq? Are your kids in Iraq? You support the Iraq
war, you go fight it."
This is of-course the argument that you're not
allowed to advocate for military action unless you
are actually in the military, or have children in the
military. It is an infantile argument, but one which
rears its head over and over again - no matter how
times it is refuted. Well, one more time. If you must
be in the military (or have children in the military)
in order to have an opinion on the use of military
force, then it follows that the same criteria should
apply to the right to vote in Federal elections.
After all, it is Congress, along with the President,
who decide issues of war and peace. So, our friend
Ted would take the right to vote in Federal elections
away from anyone who doesn't meet those criteria. Be
careful what you wish for, Ted: if only the military
and military families voted in Federal elections,
there would be nary a Democrat in office in
Washington, DC in this year of our Lord, 2005.
Ted also makes a reference to taxes - as in,
"we're wasting so much tax money by fighting
this war, and isn't that such a terrible thing."
Well, the preamble to the Constitution of the United
States Of America states that the purpose of the
whole shebang is, among very few other things,
"to provide for the common defense." I'll
earmark my taxes for an F-16 long before I'll earmark
them for any of the other innumerable items that Ted
Kennedy would spend them on - thank you very much.
Unfortunately, we're not allowed to earmark our taxes
for specific purposes. That's what elections are for.
Oh, by the way: we won the last one. Big time.
Finally, "You're (sic)
hero Ronnie sold Saddam a lot of his weapons when he
was filling up those ' mass graves' you wingers cry
crocodile tears over. "
I guess that putting "mass graves" in
inverted commas implies that Ted doesn't believe they
actually exist - yet he's willing to use them in his
argument anyway. Fair enough - a usual tactic of
liberals is to argue on facts that they don't even
themselves accept. Well, firstly, Saddam's genocidal
tendencies generally became clear in the years after
the United States gave him some support in his
war versus the mullahs of Iran. It was in 1988 that
Saddam used poison gas against Kurds; it was in 1991
that he that he killed tens of thousands of Shiites
who rose against him in the south (after the United
States had deferred to the wishes of the
international community by simply ejecting his army
from Kuwait, rather than advancing to Baghdad and
eliminating his regime).
As for the limited support that the Reagan
administration gave to Iraq in the war versus Iran,
it has no meaning without context. Iran had in power
a militant Islamist regime which had just seized and
held 52 American hostages for 444 days. The
implications of such a regime taking over Iraq - with
its vast oil reserves and strategic importance - were
terrifying. Iran certainly seemed to harbor the
greater long-term threat to American security, and
indeed it is arguable that the entire modern Islamist
threat originated there and persists to this day. In
addition, there was a Cold War going on with the
Soviet Union (for those too young to remember, this
meant that we were all minutes away from being
incinerated by thermonuclear weapons, every day). So,
having influence on major players in the Middle East,
for better or for worse, was crucial. All the choices
were bad, in other words, but choices had to be made.
For those who are uncomfortable with these kinds
of moral compromises, it should be remembered that it
is the current administration of George W. Bush which
has been the first to concede America's past mistakes
and now says
For 60 years,
my country, the United States, pursued stability
at the expense of democracy in this region here
in the Middle East -- and we achieved neither.
Now, we are taking a different course. We are
supporting the democratic aspirations of all
And it is people like you, Ted, who oppose this
(finally) morally straightforward policy, in favor of
some kind of "hands-off, let them kill eachother
and us as much as they want" point-of-view.
So, every point is answered, Ted. Nevertheless, I
don't expect you to be converted. You will probably
just come back at me with an email with 20 more
points. That is the style of argument of what passes
for the American Left these days. Simply overwhelm
your adversary with the sheer volume of illogical
assertions that you can spew out. If one point is
refuted, just ignore it, and move on to the next one.
Tomorrow, you can use the one that was refuted
against someone else. These things are endlessly
recyclable. Never let the fact that one of your
"facts" was wrong cause you to rethink the
source of all of your thinking. Never concede the
moral high ground in your own mind. Always remember
that you are better than everyone else - everyone
else is just somehow too stupid to realize how smart
and good you really are.
One more thing, Ted - if you must use such an
epithet, please come up with something more
descriptive than "wingers." That doesn't
tell anyone if you're referring to left-wingers or
right-wingers. Same with "wing-nuts."
Believe me, there are not only right-wing-nuts in
this world, though they certainly exist. There are
also left-wing-nuts. Far be it from me to suggest a
glance in the mirror, but ...
One More Cup Of Coffee ...06/28/2005 08:27:36 am
So this from Reuters:
legend Bob Dylan on Monday became the latest
musician to sign up with Starbucks Corp. in an
exclusive CD deal that follows the runaway
success of a Ray Charles album sold by the coffee
That really raises the question of what someone
has to do to stop being labeled as part of the
counterculture. Let me see ... avoid anti-war
protests, raise your family quietly, sing songs about
Jesus ... that didn't do it ... maybe it's time to
make a deal with Starbucks ...
Live at the Gaslight 1962," co-released with
Sony BMG Custom Marketing Group, will hit
Starbucks coffee shops Aug. 30. It features 10
previously unreleased tracks from performances at
New York's Gaslight Cafe over four decades ago,
including "A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall"
and "Don't Think Twice It's Alright."
Many people, including and especially some fans,
will criticize this. Those who don't have access to a
local Starbucks might have the best case to make -
and for the moment, this deal is limited to the U.S.
Nevertheless, in a world where technology has
effectively pulled the rug out from under the
traditional music biz model, I don't think you can
knock any artist or record company for trying to do
things differently. Aside from the fact that this
"Gaslight" gig has already been widely
bootlegged, we all know that once it hits the counter
with the cappuccino's, it will be out there in the
most copy-friendly format ever devised, i.e. digital
So, I'll take a "tall," with room for
milk, and one of them there folk/protest CDs.
If The Bible Is Right ...06/27/2005 10:45:15 am
While it's still legal, RWB
is hereby posting the Ten Commandments on his web
site/blog contraption. From Deuteronomy, Chapter 5
(New International Version, courtesy of the Bible
Moses summoned all Israel and said:
Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your
hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow
them. 2 The LORD our God made a
covenant with us at Horeb. 3 It was
not with our fathers that the LORD made this
covenant, but with us, with all of us who are
alive here today. 4 The LORD spoke to
you face to face out of the fire on the mountain.
5 (At that time I stood between the
LORD and you to declare to you the word of the
LORD, because you were afraid of the fire and did
not go up the mountain.) And he said:
6 "I am the LORD your God, who
brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of
7 "You shall have no other
gods before me.
8 "You shall not make for
yourself an idol in the form of anything in
heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the
waters below. 9 You shall not bow down
to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your
God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for
the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth
generation of those who hate me, 10
but showing love to a thousand generations of
those who love me and keep my commandments.
11 "You shall not misuse the name
of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold
anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
12 "Observe the Sabbath day by
keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has
commanded you. 13 Six days you shall
labor and do all your work, 14 but the
seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On
it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor
your son or daughter, nor your manservant or
maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of
your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so
that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as
you do. 15 Remember that you were
slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God
brought you out of there with a mighty hand and
an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God
has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
16 "Honor your father and your
mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you,
so that you may live long and that it may go well
with you in the land the LORD your God is giving
17 "You shall not murder.
18 "You shall not commit
19 "You shall not steal.
20 "You shall not give false
testimony against your neighbor.
21 "You shall not covet your
neighbor's wife. You shall not set your desire on
your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or
maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that
belongs to your neighbor."
22 These are the commandments the LORD
proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly
there on the mountain from out of the fire, the
cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing
more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and
gave them to me.
Things have changed, indeed.
Some things are too hot to touch
The human mind can only stand so much
You can't win with a losing hand
Coming From The Heart ...06/26/2005 08:29:21 pm
fortunate enough to see Dylan's (and Willie Nelson's)
show at Yogi Berra Stadium, in Montclair, NJ, on
Friday night, June 24th . I'm not going to review it
in any normal way, but here, if you like, is an
appreciation of sorts.
Sitting back in the stands, rather than crowding
up near the stage, gave me an angle on the audience
that changed my perception of the event. I'm sure if
you were up front that the crowd seemed fairly close
in spirit to a usual Dylan concert audience. That's
probably where most of the people who trekked in from
NYC were - this venue being about 30 miles from the
city. Back in the seats and the bleachers, however,
it felt a lot more than 30 miles from the metropolis.
who is considerably less taciturn than yours truly,
traded remarks with someone who said,"The whole
town of Montclair is here tonight." Someone else
said that they'd come just because it was the first
time anyone had ever played in the town, and that
they'd walked to the gig. Just looking around told
the story - here were a bunch of normal people,
adults of all ages, kids in tow, out on a beautiful
American evening at the local baseball park. Absent
was the kind of intensity you see with serious Dylan
fans. Expectations? I couldn't tell, but they must
have been all over the place, or nowhere at all. Warm
weather, cold beer, some hot dogs, Willie Nelson and
Family lilting away in the breeze, and who knows what
from this Bob Dylan fella after the sun went down.
The portentous and hilarious introduction swiped
years ago from that Buffalo News writer was intact,
loud, and clear, "The poet laureate of rock
'n' roll ... the guy who forced folk into bed with
rock ... disappeared into a haze of substance abuse
... emerged to find Jesus ... releasing some of the
strongest work of his career beginning in the late
nineties ... ." What do people make of
that, who haven't heard it before? They probably
forget it pretty fast. The pounding opening number
cleared the air:
To be alone with you
Just you and me
Now won't you tell me true
Ain't that the way it oughta be?
To hold each other tight
The whole night through
Ev'rything is always right
When I'm alone with you.
The next tune was Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With
You. So that's two songs in a row from Nashville Skyline, an
album released in 1969, plumb in the middle of the
Vietnam War, burnt American flags, down with the
establishment, the whole world seeming to say
"Yankees go home." Yasser Arafat assumed
command of the PLO that year, and James Earl Ray
pleaded guilty to assassinating Martin Luther King.
John and Yoko recorded "Give Peace A
Chance." I could go on, but I'm starting to
sound like Greil Marcus. I'm not saying that Nashville
Skyline had anything to do with any of that.
Of-course it didn't. It's an album that you could
describe in a lot of ways - sweet country music,
simple-seeming songs about a simple-seeming life -
Dylan even crooning them in a voice he'd never
revealed before. They are in some sense poems to the
American heartland; songs about a land of love and
loss and honest work and longing for the right girl
and just the time and space to woo her, along with
the regrets of a sin-stained conscience and the pain
of promises broken. It never gets too complicated or
too clever. People accused Dylan of not standing up
and dealing with the real issues. I think he was
dealing with them just fine.
It struck me, then, at Yogi Berra Stadium, how
those songs seemed to fit the air and the faces out
here. They didn't seem like songs about some strange
Brigadoon-type place; they seemed right on-topic and
up-to-the-minute. Later, he sang New Morning too,
a song I'd never heard him do in concert before,
sweetly sounding the chords on his piano in the intro
and outro. (mp3 here for a little while, may
Can't you hear that motor
Automobile comin' into style
Comin' down the road for a country mile or two
So happy just to see you smile
Underneath the sky of blue
On this new morning, new morning
On this new morning with you.
Having last seen Dylan a couple of months ago in
New York City, the contrast in just my own
perceptions was fairly stark. There, it had been Desolation Row that
seemed most relevant to the venue:
Across the street they've nailed
They're getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera
A perfect image of a priest
They're spoonfeeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they'll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words
Death by self-confidence - poisonous words - you
can get all that and more in twenty different
languages, any day of the week in the Big Apple. Free
delivery on orders of $10 or more.
Here in the environs of Montclair, NJ ( a place
that seemed to this jaded city slicker to be
the heartland), Dylan also sang Desolation Row.
But now, it seemed like something else - not a song
about what waited right outside the exits, but intead
a dose of exotic fantasy to take you away from the
mundane surroundings. Or maybe a glimpse of the
weirdness that exists in the country and the suburbs
too, but that people are better at keeping locked up
behind closed doors.
And so it went. The set list was not in its
essence different to the one Dylan had played a
couple of months earlier in the Beacon Theater on
Broadway and 74th street - a similar mix of his
heartfelt and seemingly simple songs, along with the
strange, funny and nightmarish.
When the evening shadows and the
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love
Now the bricks lay on Grand
Where the neon madmen climb.
They all fall there so perfectly,
It all seems so well timed.
And, as at that show in the city, it worked, but
in a different way. The alchemy of the songs, the
performance, the venue and the air itself created a
different but still precious kind of result. And the
palpable presence of so many people who little knew
what to expect of this Bob Dylan - this singer that
they'd heard characterized so many times but perhaps
rarely listened to themselves - provided a special
and fertile soil for the songs to settle in on. Or so
it seemed to this attendee. And what a Dylan they
got; hunched over the keyboard in stage left, singing
indescribably, or out in center stage, blowing a
harmonica while stabbing the air with his hand and
going down on one knee. Bandleader, soul singer,
lunatic and country gentleman. "Thank you,
friends," he said, like a Stanley Brother that
time forgot. (Those were his first words of the show,
with one song left to sing.)
This tour of minor league baseball stadiums across
the country - so many of which have never even seen
concerts before - is a unique and remarkable odyssey
that is leaving impressions likely to linger in
unfathomable ways. Dylan is skipping the middle-man
and taking it straight to the people.
And it's a very nice thing indeed.
I should have left this town this
But it was more than I could do.
Oh, your love comes on so strong
And I've waited all day long
For tonight when I'll be staying here with you.
Better Talk This Over ...06/23/2005 03:54:48 pm
Scanning the mainstream media today can't help but
provoke an observation or two. There is outrage amongst Democrats over
Karl Rove's remarks about September 11th, and the
difference between the conservative and liberal
responses to that attack. Specifically, he said that
while conservatives understood what had happened and
"prepared for war," liberals wanted to
"prepare indictments and offer therapy and
understanding for our attackers." Compare, if
you will, the reaction of Democrats to this (and by
the way, since they're so angry, does this mean that
they are admitting to being "liberals?"
They usually run screaming from that designation ...
) versus the reaction of those outraged by Senator
Durbin's remarks on Nazis and Stalinists at
In the case of Durbin's insults to the military,
those condemning him were quick to point out how he
was wrong on the facts. Mostly, he
was off by many millions of dead bodies. Nazi death
camps, Gulags, Cambodia = tens of millions murdered.
Guantanamo Bay = none actually dead at this point,
but hundreds of Islamic Jihadists gaining weight from
regular meals. (Perhaps they are in danger from that
other Yankee scourge - obesity.)
In the case of Karl Rove's remarks, I fail to see
any of his critics - who are calling for their
immediate retraction or his own resignation -
actually pointing out in what way he is mistaken. And
indeed, how could they? The Democratic Party is, right
now, making common cause with our enemies, on
the time-honored principle of "the enemy of my
enemy is my friend." And since George W. Bush is
the real enemy, then naturally bloody-minded
jihadists everywhere - who also hate Bush- must be
the true friends of the Democratic Party. Hence,
Durbin's perception that it made sense to label
Americans as Nazis and portray fanatical and
murderous captives as their hapless victims. He was
doing nothing more than articulating on the floor of
the Senate what has come to be the common opinion of
the most motivated, vocal and powerful elements of
the Democratic Party. A small and current example
being the patriotic band of civil libertarians who
are dedicating themselves to reviewing thousands of
pages of information about Guantanamo, already
released by the U.S., in order to "root out even the smallest
signs of government misconduct."
This, at a time when their nation is at war, seems
to these people to be a productive use of their own
time; they will comb through tons of minutiae for any
indication that the friends and allies of those who
killed 3,000 people on September 11th, 2001 might
have some cause for complaint, no matter how trivial.
And then, like Senator Durbin, they will no doubt
trumpet whatever they can find in the most
exaggerated light, in order to deride their own
country's military, and give a public relations
bonanza to the enemy. "U.S. Senator Compares
American Guards to Nazis." "American Civil
Libertarians Declare Rights Being Denied To Muslim
Detainees." Meanwhile, Democrats daily seize on
every bit of bad news from Iraq as a reason to pull
out the troops - and in so doing effectively magnify
the power of every car bomb, and provide further
motivation for every already crazed car bomber.
It can give no joy to anyone that this is the
state of politics in America today. The term,
"loyal opposition," is supposed to mean
just that: A party in opposition to the incumbent
party, while remaining within the bounds of loyalty
to the nation's interests. Perhaps if Joe Lieberman
took a few like-minded Dems and started a splinter
party, we might have a loyal opposition in this
country again, instead of a party that is effectively
in opposition, first and foremost, to America.
This is what Karl Rove was getting at, in a manner
far more gentle than I. Democrats should take his
words as well-timed advice. Instead, they are
choosing to take on an argument that they cannot win
- because his words were accurate, and are only
becoming more so as the weeks and months pass.
Cry A While ...06/22/2005
By now most people would know that Senator Richard
Durbin has capitulated in the face of RWB's
post, and has issued one of those rather typical
unapologetic apologies. Anyone who's followed these
issues knows that he meant exactly what he originally
said, and it is a disturbing thing indeed to
contemplate that the number two Democrat in the U.S.
Senate is as disrespectful of the motivations and
sacrifices of the U.S. military as he undoubtedly is
- and as proudly oblivious as he clearly is to the
fact that we are a nation at war. It's a reality
check that some may need - and some others may not.
In any case, for a detailed take on this whole
story, I recommend Hugh Hewitt's piece in the Weekly
Standard. Amongst other things, he reprints this
letter sent to all 100 U.S. Senators from a soldier
currently deployed to Kosovo:
I am currently
deployed to Kosovo as a member of Task Force
Falcon, Multi-National Brigade-East, NATO KFOR.
At home I am a teacher in the Kerman Unified
School District, providing quality instruction in
U.S. History and English/Language Arts to
wonderful eighth graders whom I love dearly. I
have served in the U.S. Army, Army Reserve, and
California Army National Guard for 24 years.
I am currently on
orders for 545 days on this contingency operation
(Operation Enduring Freedom/Joint Guardian),
which means that I will miss everything that my
family does for the next nine months (at least),
possibly longer if I am redeployed to another
contingency operation, or extended here.
I share the preceding
information as a preamble to the subject of this
email, so there will be no mistake as to my
position, or credibility.
The recent comments
of Senator Durbin in reference to the conditions
for inmates at the Guantanamo Bay detention
facility are as detestable as anything I have
ever heard or read concerning members of the of
the United States military. By now these comments
have been quoted or aired enough that I need not
repeat them here.
remarks, while apparently intended to apply to
only a small number of us, actually hit ALL of us
squarely in the heart. To compare any member of
the U.S. armed forces with the murderous thugs
who ran Hitler's camp system, the Soviet Gulag,
or who gleefully slaughtered entire populations
in Cambodia, is an affront to all men and women
of our military.
Does Senator Durbin
really mean to imply that WE are thugs and
murderers? Does he really mean to imply that WE
treat our prisoners in the same manner, as say,
the totenkopfverbande treated prisoners at
Sobibor, Belzec, Treblinka, or Auschwitz? Does he
really mean that?
If the good senator
really does intend to convey this message, then I
suggest that he read Eugen Kogon's excellent and
heartbreaking study of the Nazi camp system,
titled "The Theory and Practice of
Hell." I think he should read it, and then
decide whether or not his comparisons are
entirely accurate. I would also like to suggest
that Senator Durbin read Alexander Solzhenitsyn's
"The Gulag Archipelago," or
"Children of Cambodia's Killing Fields"
by Kim DePaul and the late Dith Pran.
We men and women who
serve in the armed forces are NOT the jackbooted
tyrants that some people seem hell-bent to depict
us as. We are many things, but we are not evil.
Implications to the opposite effect serve only to
undermine and demoralize us as we try with all
our hearts to carry out our missions to make the
world a better place. If Senator Durbin or any
other lawmaker would like to see evidence of, or
hear testimony about what we really do, then I
suggest a trip to Kosovo. Ask the people here
what they think of America and our soldiers. You
might be surprised.
In conclusion I would
like to remind you that many of the men and women
currently running the detention facility at
Guantanamo Bay come from the California Army
National Guard. They are upstanding and honorable
citizens of the state of California, and the
United States of America. They are members of the
greatest force for peace, or war, that the world
has ever seen. I personally know many of them,
and they are absolutely not as Senator Durbin
portrays them. Senators, I beg of you, stand up
for them. Do not allow these reprehensible
statements by one of your colleagues to go by the
board without censure. He must be called to task
SSG Stephen Pointer
432nd Civil Affairs Battalion (-)
APO AE 09340
"War is evil,
but it is often the lesser evil."
A more restrained and yet devastating response to
Senator Durbin is hard to imagine. It's no surprise
that the Senator was choking back sobs as he issued
his apology, and yet, we all know for whom he was
crying those tears.
Well, you bet on a horse and it
ran on the wrong way
I always said you'd be sorry and today could be the
I might need a good lawyer, could be your funeral, my
Well, I cried for you, now it's your turn, you can
Oh, Sister ...06/21/2005
Condoleeza Rice is not your father's Secretary of
State. When I saw the FOX headline today, "Rice To Syria: Knock It Off,"
I figured it was a little tabloid-style flourish by
the fair and balanced network. But it wasn't. That's
exactly what she said - reacting to the assassination
of the anti-Syrian Lebanese politician George Hawi.
"I do not
know who was responsible for this and I don't
want to say that I know who was responsible,
because I don't," Rice said. "But there
is a context and an atmosphere of instability.
Syria's activities are a part of that context and
that atmosphere and they need to knock it
More dramatic, however, and certainly more
important in the long run, was her speech in Cairo, Egypt, on
Monday. It's not a speech that I could imagine Colin
Powell giving, somehow - let alone Madeline Albright
or Warren Christopher. This is a Secretary of State
who is clearly comfortable going full-bore and
risking (egads!) the discomfit of her hosts and
America's erstwhile Arab "allies." Some
For 60 years,
my country, the United States, pursued stability
at the expense of democracy in this region here
in the Middle East -- and we achieved neither.
Now, we are taking a different course. We are
supporting the democratic aspirations of all
We know these advances will not come easily, or
all at once. We know that different societies
will find forms of democracy that work for them.
When we talk about democracy, though, we are
referring to governments that protect certain
basic rights for all their citizens -- among
these, the right to speak freely. The right to
associate. The right to worship as you wish. The
freedom to educate your children -- boys and
girls. And freedom from the midnight knock of the
In Saudi Arabia, brave citizens are demanding
accountable government. And some good first steps
toward openness have been taken with recent
municipal elections. Yet many people pay an
unfair price for exercising their basic rights.
Three individuals in particular are currently
imprisoned for peacefully petitioning their
government. That should not be a crime in any
Now, here in
Cairo, President Mubaraks decision to amend
the countrys constitution and hold
multiparty elections is encouraging. President
Mubarak has unlocked the door for change. Now,
the Egyptian Government must put its faith in its
own people. We are all concerned for the future
of Egypts reforms when peaceful supporters
of democracy -- men and women -- are not free
from violence. The day must come when the rule of
law replaces emergency decrees -- and when the
independent judiciary replaces arbitrary justice.
Government must fulfill the promise it has made
to its people -- and to the entire world -- by
giving its citizens the freedom to choose.
Egypts elections, including the
Parliamentary elections, must meet objective
standards that define every free election.
groups must be free to assemble, and to
participate, and to speak to the media. Voting
should occur without violence or intimidation.
And international election monitors and observers
must have unrestricted access to do their jobs.
Those who would
participate in elections, both supporters and
opponents of the government, also have
responsibilities. They must accept the rule of
law, they must reject violence, they must respect
the standards of free elections, and they must
peacefully accept the results.
Middle East, the fear of free choices can no
longer justify the denial of liberty. It is time
to abandon the excuses that are made to avoid the
hard work of democracy. There are those who say
that democracy is being imposed. In fact, the
opposite is true: Democracy is never imposed. It
is tyranny that must be imposed.
There are those who say that democracy is for men
alone. In fact, the opposite is true: Half a
democracy is not a democracy. As one Muslim woman
leader has said, "Society is like a bird. It
has two wings. And a bird cannot fly if one wing
is broken." Across the Middle East, women
are inspiring us all.
women protested to win their right to vote,
carrying signs that declared: "Women are
Kuwaitis, too." Last month, Kuwaits
legislature voiced its agreement. In Saudi
Arabia, the promise of dignity is awakening in
some young women. During the recent municipal
elections, I saw the image of a father who went
to vote with his daughter.
cast his vote himself, he gave the ballot to his
daughter, and she placed it in the ballot box.
This small act of hope reveals one mans
dream for his daughter. And he is not alone.
And so it is that the evil imperialist American
hegemonists continue wreaking their havoc and ruining
the world, with this insistence that everyone should
be able to "vote" and "choose"
their leaders - even in countries where the current
dictators do their bidding anyway. What wily scheme
are they hiding behind this message of
"freedom" and "basic rights?" I
smell a secret pipeline, or at a minimum another
ginned-up war to distract the American people from
the problems of rising ATM fees and runaway brides.
It certainly couldn't be that this Condi Rice is
really saying that the United States has broken with
six decades of purely pragmatic self-interest and is
now gambling on supporting the ideals of its own
founding across the world, even at the risk of
unfriendly governments being elected?
Why, if that were the case, surely those old
liberals in the U.S. Senate, like Ted Kennedy, would
be heartily supporting it, instead of attempting to
throw a wrench into the Bush Administration's foreign
policy by blocking his nominee for the ambassadorship
to the United Nations (John Bolton).
The truth is that Condoleeza Rice is advocating
and expressing a foreign policy based on a
combination of high principle ("certain
inalienable rights") and genuine far-sighted
self-interest (a Middle East without repressive
governments that foster sick resentments amongst
their most idle citizens), and it is a potent mixture
that, with the grace of God and the hard work and
sacrifice of some unbelievably brave people, gives us
all the best chance of avoiding a true clash of
civilizations - one that would make the current war
look like a skirmish.
And she's doing it with style.
You're No Good ...06/19/2005
The behavior of American military guards at the
Guantanamo Bay detention center for Islamofascist
terrorists is somehow equivalent, in Senator Richard
Durbin's view, to the behavior of murderers in Soviet
Gulags, Nazi death camps, and Cambodian killing
fields. This despite the lack of any actual deaths at
the aforementioned facility, versus the various
multiples of millions of deaths at the other
locations. Mark Steyn has a fittingly serious
response to Durbin's despicable provision of grist
for the enemy here - and Iowahawk has a
fittingly hilarious response right over here.
Right Wing Bob's
response is, oh well, let's try this one - going out
as if sung in a full-throated roar by everyone who's
ever worn the uniform of the United States, or ever
had a loved one in uniform, and every young and
not-so-young American who's been killed on a foreign
shore winning freedom for someone else.
You got a lotta nerve
To say you got a helping hand to lend
You just want to be on
The side that's winning
You say you lost your faith
But that's not where it's at
You had no faith to lose
And you know it
And now I know you're dissatisfied
With your position and your place
Don't you understand
It's not my problem
Yes, I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
You'd know what a drag it is
To see you
When The Ship Comes In ...06/18/2005 11:20:12 pm
So Amazon.com is having a 10th anniversary bash on July 16th.
They are treating their employees to a gala featuring
Bob Dylan (the best selling living male artist on
Amazon) and Norah Jones (the best selling living
female artist) as well as Bill Maher (the best
selling albino-ish comedian on Amazon?).
I'm frankly stunned, if pleasantly so, that Dylan
has sold more than any other living male on
Amazon.com. That Norah Jones is the best selling
female artist just seems drearily predictable: She's
made all of two albums, photographs well,
and crosses all the barriers by being musically so
nondescript. (That's not intended meanly - it's not
her fault she's sold so many discs.) I just can't
understand how Dylan has gotten ahead of all the male
equivalents. I'm too out-of-the-loop on the current
music scene to even name them, but they must be out
It appears that Dylan's master plan, which he
hatched in the late 80s, of constant touring,
visiting the same places over and over again,
garbling his songs beyond recognition, gaining a
reputation for being a complete wacko, recording a
couple of acoustic albums that would never get played
on the radio, not releasing anything for 4 years,
recording an album that everyone thinks is about
dying, and then recording an album where everything
seems to be stolen from somewhere - has paid off in
spades! He's the biggest thing since Michael Jackson
and Billy Joel all rolled into one. The guy makes
Jack Welch look like somebody who just got knocked
off "The Apprentice." He sure
knows how to sell records. Excuse me,
And I guess it shouldn't be any surprise, given
his amazing ability to influence otherwise sane
individuals into creating endless numbers of websites
dedicated to the study of his work. It was only a
matter of time before that whole thing would reap
I'm so amazed by the mighty Dylan's sales
statistics, that other parts of the Seattle Times story on this
thing, which might ordinarily annoy me, just kind of
make me yawn:
uncommon for high-profile artists, even
one as closely associated with the
counter-culture as Dylan, to appear at
corporate events, according to Gary Bongiovanni
of the concert trade magazine Pollstar.
stigma that used to be associated with these
corporate gigs seems to be just about gone
now," he said.
artist's motivation for doing this is usually
money. They pay extremely well. ... (Dylan's)
doing casinos and all kinds of things now. Bob
hasn't been as selective in his choices as he
would have been even 10 years ago, or as any
artist would have been 10 years ago."
Oh, alright. Back here I
lambasted a Seattle Times critic for spouting various
inanities about Dylan, and chances are the same one
had a hand in this story (it's just credited to
"Seattle Times staff"). Fine, if they want
to continue to label Dylan as being part of the
"counter-culture," then let them have their
illusions. Dylan's role as ultimately subversive
to the counter-culture would hardly be as successful
if everyone realized what was going on.
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2005 by RightWingBob.com
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