[Mb-civic] Molly Ivins, Michael Moore, extortion
ean at sbcglobal.net
ean at sbcglobal.net
Mon Sep 20 20:48:30 PDT 2004
As I occasionally do, I am indulging myself by including *three* separate pieces in
this email--they are all pretty short.
1. Molly Ivins on why it's stupid to ignore history (we are talking recent history) and
pretend that terrorism springs from nowhere but pure evil
2. Michael Moore's letter to liberals and democrats: Put away your hankies
3. A breaking news story on the U.S. Army's extortion of soldiers: sign up for 3
more years or we'll send you to Iraq!
Why History Is Relevant
Shouldn't we understand our enemies in order to combat them?
By Molly Ivins - Creators Syndicate
Sept.16 '04 - AUSTIN, Texas -- You open the paper and read
the news from Iraq these days, and all you can say is, "Damn,
I'm flat out of ideas about how we can fix this, but I maybe
see a couple of wrong roads we should give a miss. I was much
struck by a column last week by David Brooks in The New York
Times written in an understandable rage against the
perpetrators of the school massacre at Beslan, Russia.
Condemning the perpetrators of Beslan with all the vigor at
his command -- hyperbole is impossible -- leads Brooks to an
Brooks particularly blames the American media, which he
argues are "averting their eyes" and being "quick to divert
their attention away from the core horror of this act" by
paying attention to what he regards as irrelevant: the
grievance that served as a justification or pretext for these
terrorists' act of evil. In other words, he is so exercised
at the utter, unmitigated evil of the terrorists, he thinks
history is irrelevant.
History does not excuse terrorism, but it sure as hell is
relevant, if for no other reason than you have to understand
an enemy in order to combat him. Of course we should pay
attention to what shaped the Chechen terrorists -- since when
is learning about terrorists or trying to understand what
motivates them the same as condoning them or their actions?
In the case of Chechnya, the history is so grim it draws
dramatic attention to precisely how a cult of death can
start. Chechnya has a long, bitter history of fighting Russia
going back at least two centuries. Those of you who have been
paying attention know that after World War II, Stalin
deported almost the entire nation of Chechnya to Siberia and
dumped most of them off in frozen fields with nothing. So
most adult Chechens were born in Siberia. Because of the
Chechens' desire for independence, two hideous wars followed,
one under President Yeltsin and one under President Putin.
Most of us remember the mind-numbingly desolate photos of
Grozny, the capital, after the surrender -- beyond Dresden.
That's how Chechen terrorism was born. Desire for
independence is not something this country normally condemns.
Brooks blames the terrorism on the "death cult thriving at
the fringes of the Muslim world." At least in the case of the
Chechens, that's akin to blaming Catholicism for the IRA. On
a larger plane, Brooks thinks we refuse to recognize the
absolute evil of the Beslan terrorists because it "undermines
our faith in the essential goodness of human beings." Speak
for yourself, Brooks.
Seems to me the one thing that does not change through
history is human nature. Theologians and philosophers will
continue to debate human nature. I've always liked an
observation about politics made by an old West Texas rancher:
"I feel like I'm about equal parts good and bad. There's just
not many people appealin' to the good in me."
I think we're all capable of evil under extreme
circumstances. I do know that most humans are kinder and
better people when they are healthy, well-fed, raised by
loving people in a secure environment and taught it is wrong
to kill. But that doesn't change human nature.
One trouble with defining terrorism as absolute evil is, as
the saying goes, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom
fighter. Second, we appear to be stuck -- permanently stuck
-- with war of unequal forces, since no country is dumb
enough to declare war on the United States. So we need to
learn every thing we can about how to fight these people
effectively. Third, defining "terrorist" or any "other" as an
absolute, irrational evil gives us a spurious and
intoxicating sense of self-righteousness. We become the
simon-pure contrast, thus missing any chance to consider if
correcting or just changing our own conduct would be
One of the things I know about human nature is that in order
to kill strangers face to face -- or, God forbid, their
children -- you have to either be very afraid or convince
yourself that your enemy is completely evil, other, non-
human. People seem far more capable of killing other people
if they can't see them, which is probably why war has gotten
nastier as the technology has gotten better.
We have killed an estimated 12,000-14,000 Iraqis since
"mission accomplished" and are bombing Fallujah today. For
all I know, in some future I cannot envision, this will turn
out to be the right thing to have done. Peace and democracy
will flourish in Iraq, and we will all bow down to the great
wisdom of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. But so far, no good.
According to both opinion polls in Iraq and in the larger
Arab world, our invasion of Iraq has increased hatred of the
United States and fanned terrorism. Ignorance and
condemnation are not a strategy for dealing with that.
[Molly Ivins is the former editor of the liberal monthly The
Texas Observer. She is the bestselling author of several
books including Who Let the Dogs In?]
Enough of the handwringing! Enough of the doomsaying! Do I have to come
there and personally calm you down? Stop with all the defeatism, OK? Bush
IS a goner -- IF we all just quit our whining and bellyaching and stop shaking
like a bunch of nervous ninnies. Geez, this is embarrassing! The Republicans
are laughing at us. Do you ever see them cry, "Oh, it's all over! We are
finished! Bush can't win! Waaaaaa!"
Hell no. It's never over for them until the last ballot is shredded. They are
never finished -- they just keeping moving forward like sharks that never
sleep, always pushing, pulling, kicking, blocking, lying.
They are relentless and that is why we secretly admire them -- they just
simply never, ever give up. Only 30% of the country calls itself "Republican,"
yet the Republicans own it all -- the White House, both houses of Congress,
the Supreme Court and the majority of the governorships. How do you think
they've been able to pull that off considering they are a minority? It's because
they eat you and me and every other liberal for breakfast and then spend the
rest of the day wreaking havoc on the planet.
Look at us -- what a bunch of crybabies. Bush gets a bounce after his
convention and you would have thought the Germans had run through
Poland again. The Bushies are coming, the Bushies are coming! Yes, they
caught Kerry asleep on the Swift Boat thing. Yes, they found the frequency in
Dan Rather and ran with it. Suddenly it's like, "THE END IS NEAR! THE SKY
No, it is not. If I hear one more person tell me how lousy a candidate Kerry is
and how he can't win... Dammit, of COURSE he's a lousy candidate -- he's a
Democrat, for heavens sake! That party is so pathetic, they even lose the
elections they win! What were you expecting, Bruce Springsteen heading up
the ticket? Bruce would make a helluva president, but guys like him don't run
-- and neither do you or I. People like Kerry run.
Yes, OF COURSE any of us would have run a better, smarter, kick-ass
campaign. Of course we would have smacked each and every one of those
phony swifty boaty bastards down. But WE are not running for president --
Kerry is. So quit complaining and work with what we have. Oprah just gave
300 women a... Pontiac! Did you see any of them frowning and moaning and
screaming, "Oh God, NOT a friggin' Pontiac!" Of course not, they were
happy. The Pontiacs all had four wheels, an engine and a gas pedal. You
want more than that, well, I can't help you. I had a Pontiac once and it lasted
a good year. And it was a VERY good year.
My friends, it is time for a reality check.
1. The polls are wrong. They are all over the map like diarrhea. On Friday,
one poll had Bush 13 points ahead -- and another poll had them both tied.
There are three reasons why the polls are b.s.: One, they are polling "likely
voters." "Likely" means those who have consistently voted in the past few
elections. So that cuts out young people who are voting for the first time and
a ton of non-voters who are definitely going to vote in THIS election. Second,
they are not polling people who use their cell phone as their primary phone.
Again, that means they are not talking to young people. Finally, most of the
polls are weighted with too many Republicans, as pollster John Zogby
revealed last week. You are being snookered if you believe any of these
2. Kerry has brought in the Clinton A-team. Instead of shunning Clinton (as
Gore did), Kerry has decided to not make that mistake.
3. Traveling around the country, as I've been doing, I gotta tell ya, there is a
hell of a lot of unrest out there. Much of it is not being captured by the
mainstream press. But it is simmering and it is real. Do not let those well-
produced Bush rallies of angry white people scare you. Turn off the TV!
(Except Jon Stewart and Bill Moyers -- everything else is just a sugar-coated
4. Conventional wisdom says if the election is decided on "9/11" (the fear of
terrorism), Bush wins. But if it is decided on the job we are doing in Iraq, then
Bush loses. And folks, that "job," you might have noticed, has descended into
the third level of a hell we used to call Vietnam. There is no way out. It is a
full-blown mess of a quagmire and the body bags will sadly only mount
higher. Regardless of what Kerry meant by his original war vote, he ain't the
one who sent those kids to their deaths -- and Mr. and Mrs. Middle America
knows it. Had Bush bothered to show up when he was in the "service" he
might have somewhat of a clue as to how to recognize an immoral war that
cannot be "won." All he has delivered to Iraq was that plasticized turkey last
Thanksgiving. It is this failure of monumental proportions that is going to cook
his goose come this November.
So, do not despair. All is not over. Far from it. The Bush people need you to
believe that it is over. They need you to slump back into your easy chair and
feel that sick pain in your gut as you contemplate another four years of
George W. Bush. They need you to wish we had a candidate who didn't
windsurf and who was just as smart as we were when WE knew Bush was
lying about WMD and Saddam planning 9/11. It's like Karl Rove is
hypnotizing you -- "Kerry voted for the war...Kerry voted for the
war...Kerrrrrryyy vooootted fooooor theeee warrrrrrrrrr..."
Yes...Yes...Yesssss...He did! HE DID! No sense in fighting now...what I need
WAKE UP! The majority are with us! More than half of all Americans are pro-
choice, want stronger environmental laws, are appalled that assault weapons
are back on the street -- and 54% now believe the war is wrong. YOU DON'T
EVEN HAVE TO CONVINCE THEM OF ANY OF THIS -- YOU JUST HAVE
TO GIVE THEM A RAY OF HOPE AND A RIDE TO THE POLLS. CAN YOU
DO THAT? WILL YOU DO THAT?
Just for me, please? Buck up. The country is almost back in our hands. Not
another negative word until Nov. 3rd! Then you can bitch all you want about
how you wish Kerry was still that long-haired kid who once had the courage
to stand up for something. Personally, I think that kid is still inside him.
Instead of the wailing and gnashing of your teeth, why not hold out a hand to
him and help the inner soldier/protester come out and defeat the forces of
evil we now so desperately face. Do we have any other choice?
mmflint at aol.com
AP via 9News.co - Sept 16, 2004
Soldiers Say They Are Being Threatened with Iraq Duty
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - Soldiers from a combat unit at Fort
Carson say they have been told to re-enlist for three more years or
be transferred to other units expected to deploy to Iraq, the Rocky
Mountain News reported Thursday.
Hundreds of soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team were presented
with that message and a re-enlistment form in a series of assemblies
last week, two soldiers who spoke on condition of anonymity told the
"They said if you refuse to re-enlist with the 3rd Brigade, we'll
send you down to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which is going to
Iraq for a year, and you can stay with them, or we'll send you to
Korea, or to Fort Riley (in Kansas) where they're going to Iraq,"
said one of the soldiers, a sergeant.
The second soldier, an enlisted man, echoed that view: "They told us
if we don't re-enlist, then we'd have to be reassigned. And where
we're most needed is in units that are going back to Iraq in the next
couple of months. So if you think you're getting out, you're not."
The sergeant told the News the threat has outraged soldiers who are
close to fulfilling their service obligation.
"We have a whole platoon who refuses to sign," he said.
An unidentified Fort Carson spokesman said Wednesday that 3rd
Brigade recruitment officers denied threatening the soldiers with
more duty in Iraq.
"I can only tell you what the retention officers told us: The
soldiers were not being told they will go to Iraq, but they may go to
Iraq," said the spokesman, who confirmed the re-enlistment drive is
One of the soldiers provided the form to the News. If signed, it
would bind the soldier to the 3rd Brigade until Dec. 31, 2007.
An Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Gerard Healy, said sending soldiers to
Iraq with less than one year of their enlistment remaining "would not
be taken lightly."
"There's probably a lot of places on post where they could put those
folks (who don't re-enlist) until their time expires," he said. "But
I don't want to rule out the possibility that they could go to a unit
that might deploy."
Extending a soldier's active duty is within Army authority, since
the enlistment contract carries an eight-year obligation, even if a
soldier signs up for shorter terms. Members of Iraq-bound units can
be retained for an entire year in Iraq, even if their active-duty
"I don't want to go back to Iraq," the sergeant told the News. "I
went through a lot of things for the Army that weren't necessary and
were risky. Iraq has changed a lot of people."
The enlisted soldier said the recruiters' message left him "filled
"For me, it wasn't about going back to Iraq. It's just the fact that
I'm ready to get out of the Army," he said.
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Action is the antidote to despair. ----Joan Baez
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