Friday, February 23, 2007

this just in | Anna Nicole Smith

Sources close to the Anna Nicole Smith case say the remains of the deceased woman will be dismembered (possibly in a televised procedure) and distributed among the claimants for final disposition.

All this amid rumors that Ms Smith's daughter and heir Daniellyn will be placed with monks of unknown provenance and raised in the ancient ways to be a defender of the dispossesed (or possibly an assassin or prescription drug addict or both).

Asked to elaborate on the distribution plan, a courthouse spokesperson would only confirm that Ms Smith's heart had been removed to an undisclosed location for safekeeping.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

the weapons trade, for what it's worth

Today ends the IDEX 07 armament show in Abu Dhabi. The Associated Press reports an estimated 900 weapons manufacturers and security firms came anticipating over two billion dollars in contracts; with helicopters and electronic warning sensors expected to do particularly well.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
— Dwight D. Eisenhower, From a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

was this war in Iraq a mistake? a letter to Congress

Was this war in Iraq a mistake? Or was it just plain wrong? I believe we'll be splitting hairs over incompetence and wrongheadedness for a long time.

Meanwhile the Administration apppears to be conducting a slow bleed offensive against the obvious. If the White House or Congress could present a substantive reason to believe the President's surge will be saving lives and creating stability a week after US forces leave Baghdad and Anbar, we might be more resolute about sending additional young men and women, underfunded and lacking training and equipment (and facing an ineffective and hostile bureaucracy should they return home wounded) -- but none of us believes there is any such evidence. Everyone knows the game changes the moment the door closes behind us.

I don't believe there is a decent solution to this bloody conundrum. At this point all the solutions appear indecent. It's going to be relentlessly bad no matter what. The only question is, What kind of bad? The US government and the citizens it represents will be making amends for decades to come.

Our nation failed in this adventure. Whether through foolishness or hubris or overreaching or yet-to-be-revealed moral turpitude or some combination of all these (seasoned with ambition, tunnel vision, ass-covering and God knows what), will take time to sort out. We are lost in the woods. Look it in the face. Retrace your steps. Find your way back. Deal with it now.

TODAY, we call on you, our elected officials, to pursue the hard work of cleaning up as well as you can; ending further loss of life insofar as it is in your control; seeking genuine reconciliation among the parties insofar as that is in your control; voting across party lines wherever that is necessary to promote policies that tend to restore equilibrium and a return to sanity.

Do this as if your next campaign depended on it for it almost certainly does.

Friday, February 16, 2007

narrowing the religion gap

The February 18 New York Times Magazine includes this from Gary Rosen:

Try a quick political thought experiment. First, form a mental picture of the Democratic front-runners for president — Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Now do the same for the leading Republican contenders — John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Next (and this is the key step), imagine each of them in church, sitting in a pew, head bowed, or better still, at the pulpit, delivering a homily or leading the congregation in worship.

Strange, no? It’s not hard to envision Clinton and Obama among the faithful. She is a lifelong Methodist and self-described “praying person,” and he belongs to a church where some years ago he found himself (in his own words) “kneeling beneath that cross” in submission “to His will.” Both slip easily into the earnest, humble-of-the-earth mode of liberal God talk.

But McCain and Giuliani? You somehow imagine them fidgeting during the hymns and checking their watches. The senator is an Episcopalian, the former mayor a Catholic, but neither man, you have to think, would be caught dead in a Bible-study group or could possibly declare, à la George W. Bush, that his favorite philosopher is “Christ, because he changed my heart.” In the piety primary, the Democrats win hands down.

It's a twist on America's political road that would have been difficult to imagine at the turn of the century. Political conservatives may now find themselves splitting hairs about the private faith of their candidates as supporters of John Kerry and Al Gore did so recently.

Is it too much to hope for a broader, more substantive, less doctrinaire and demonizing conversation about governance than we've had in recent election cycles?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Barack the Vote

Before you've heard too many people dissect and spin bits and bites and of the announcement, take 20 minutes to watch the unedited video of Barack Obama's declaration that he is a candidate for US President. I found it quite remarkable.

If you would prefer to read Senator Obama's speech (or follow along while you watch the video) here's the text.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Camp Pendleton Crossing

Northbound Surfliner,
Upper deck.
Rain on sprouting field
Separates track from sea.
Attack helicopter traces the shore,
Guy across from me dozes, beer wedged between his thighs;
Half past ten;
Doesn't mean he won't be thirsty
When he wakes.
A girl talks loud on her phone:
"Are you gonna get kicked out?"
Landing craft takes a run at the beach, flanked by rubber Zodiacs.
Dark copter edging away,
Toward something I cannot see.
"I'm sorry you're sad," the girl says to her phone.