Friday, September 17, 2004

Happy New Year

Is it too late to wish listeners a happy new year? For those concerned, of course. I just heard a great Jewish joke: Why did he have to pick us as the chosen people?

A joke like that is often called black humor -- which ought to remind us that other people have been chosen for victims over the millennia. Or, rather, allowed themselves to be victimized.

An old friend e-mails a scandal from San Diego. It seems the California State University hired Michael Moore to give a talk, but called it off because it couldn’t find a speaker of equal stature to take the other side. It asked Moore to refund the deposit. He said no, you pay, in full. So the San Diego Union calls Moore a greedy rich man -- as if being rich and greedy were not what the Bush crowd is all about.

Just so, the media is stomping all over Dan Rather for a crime committed by Dubya Bush. Somebody seems to have slipped. Rather a doctored copy of a memo that seems actually to have existed. The secretary of the Texas National Guard says its commander actually did write memos like that to cover his backside. They said Bush jumped the line to get into the Guard and avoid serving in Vietnam, and then took off for Alabama where he never showed up for drill or the required medical exam. So he was playing hookey from playing hookey, and never did earn an honorable discharge. But it’s poor Dan Rather who’ll be taking the heat from the media this weekend -- while news from Dubya’s war front continues to be catastrophic.

My word to Dan Rather: Take courage. At least, you cared.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Blog It!

Good people keep telling us that things have never looked so bad. I don’t know how much comfort it is, but I’ve seen worse, and we got over it -- well, most of us did.

It’s true that we have never, in the history of the republic, had a government as evil as this one. Or as stupid. It’s done an incredible amount of damage and plans more. Yet it doesn’t get its own way all the time, even though it has had no effective opposition in Congress or the Supreme Court. And even though the big media have never been concentrated in so few hands.

But sanity, and even laughter, can be heard out here. Two new books hit the best-seller list this week, hooting at the Bushes - one from the Daily show - blam, blam - and one by Kitty Kelley - who’s a catty gossip but has collected plenty of dirt. Then there’s independent radio, like this one, and a growing world internet of information.

For example, my comments are in the archives of Extra!, Counterpunch and WBAI, and you can now pick them up on my blog, at johnlhess.blogspot.com. Welcome.

Holding Us Hostage

The settlers vowed to kill any politician who would let a non-Jew own one inch of the Holy Land. They meant business -- they are armed, and have used their weapons freely. They cherish the memory of one of them, who murdered more than 30 Arabs at prayer. Another fanatic killed Itzhak Shamir for agreeing to leave some enclaves for Palestinians.

Ariel Sharon joked about the threat last weekend. He said he wouldn’t change his plan to clear the Gaza Strip and demolish new wildcat settlements. But before nightfall his troops killed 15 unarmed Palestinians who were allegedly trying to sneak into Israel to look for jobs. His hit squads and his bulldozers coninued their work, in vain retaliation for suicide bombings by Palestinian women. After all, Sharon has been engaged in that ethnic warfare for all his life.

Note that ten times as many Israelis had just demonstrated for peace -- but they get very little encouragement here. Ai-pac, the American lobby for Israel, has always been close to the far right there, and to the right of most Jews in this country. The conflict in Palestine is obviously damaging to U.S. foreign relations, but especially with elections coming up, the Bush administration has no intention of putting any real pressure on Sharon. This can only stir the embers of anti-Semitism -- you could hear that issue raised in discussions of Pat Buchanan’s new book. In the end, we are all playing hostage to fanatic minorities. We are the majority, let’s not be a silent.one.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

What Dilemma?

A Republican leader called upon his party, out loud, to discourage people from voting in Detroit and other districts that are largely black. When Democrats complained, Sean Hannity of Fox News charged that the Democrats were playing the race card. The Democrats!

Okay, that’s Rupert Murdoch’s stable -- which aims at people who are out of the habit of thinking. There’s quite a few of them around, unfortunately. But the more serious media are not as much help as they ought to be. Here’s a front-page analysis in the Times that says that by raising the military pressure in Iraq, the U.S. is risking losing popular support.

What popular support? Like the rest of the world, the people of Iraq generally admire our wealth, our standard of living, our consumer goods, our style as they see it on television. They send their kids to work and study here, if they can. What they don’t like is being occupied by us.

Their latest glimpse of us, showed an Arabian TV reporter pointing to a crowd celebrating the wreckage of an American armored car. As he spoke, one of our gunships opened fire, destroying the humvee and a lot of unarmed bystanders. The reporter looked at the camera with dismay and said, "I’m dying." Then he fell, dying.

That scene played all over the Muslim world yesterday. And we wonder why they don’t love us.

Our pundits keep talking about our dilemma, but a dilemma implies two choices. We don’t have two choices. There is no way that an occupied country can be turned into an obedient colony or a happy democracy. Those who lied us into this war know that. They just can’t figure out a way to get out. Besides, they’re making money out of it. So they hang on for the next election, the next four years; some have talked of staying the course for the next 20 years.

They are mad -- madder than Hannity, if they believe what they have been saying. And we would be fools to let them get away with it.


Monday, September 13, 2004

Double Talk

That was a terrible week of news for the Bushies. Dragging us deeper into quagmire abroad and stagnation at home. So what do they have to say for themselves? The memo was forged.

The Bushies, who have a lot of experience with fakery, claim this one was done on a typewriter that did not exist. Experts consulted by Dan Rather found that the army did so have lots of machines that used that type face. In any case, what the memo said was obviously true -- Dubya played hooky from playing hooky -- that is, not only did he wangle his way into the Texas National Guard to dodge serving in Vietnam but he also dodged months of flight training and a required physical. So his alleged honorable discharge is a phony. And what were the media chattering about? Whether John Kerry’s war medals were phony.

There’s worse. Dick Cheney warned us that to elect John Kerry would invite even worse atrocities in this country than 9-11. And that came in for serious discussion, too.

It must be said that the Kerry dancers played right into his hands. They couldn’t have been more helpful if Karl Rove had been pulling their strings. Their handlers told them they mustn’t be mean to the meanies -- play nice. Kerry’s worst move, no doubt, was his statement that he’d have voted for war even if he knew Bush was lying. And he might send in more troops and stay the course for four more years. He’s also sounding Republican on Social Security and Medicare, and unbelievably chintzy on welfare, child care and housing. So, where does that leave the forces of peace and justice? Where they have been all along. We’ve seen them marching by the hundreds of thousands, going to jail by the thousands, and marching on again -- getting the message out. The fight goes on.