Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Maggie, Maggie, Maggie

Maggie Gyllenhaal's 9/11 comments have hit the fan.

From Newsday (link):
"Because I think America has done reprehensible things and is responsible in some way and so I think the delicacy with which it's dealt allows that to sort of creep in," she said on the channel [NY1].

From a fan website here, this is her official statement about her comments:
" 9/11 was a terrible tragedy and of course it goes without saying that I grieve along with every American for everyone who suffered and everyone who died in the catastrophe. But for those of us who were spared, it was also an occasion to be brave enough to ask some serious questions about America's role in the world. Because it is always useful, as individuals or nations to ask how we may have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to this conflict. Not to have the courage to ask these questions of ourselves is to betray the victims of 9/11."

Gee, was it a rather balanced comment or just a naive liberal questioning A-mur-ican values? Is this akin to Ward Churchill's post-9/11 article (and later, book) discussing chickens coming home to roost? Yet, these questions go to the heart of 9/11 - why did people hate the United States so much that they flew planes into large buildings and committed mass murder? Why do others like them enlist to kill Americans today?

Also - does any of this backlash have to do with conservatives getting hammered recently by Terri's Law, DeLay, Social Security smoke & mirrors (did I mention my 401(k) lost money last quarter?), etc., etc.? And here comes a handy punching bag.

Some things to chew on.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

In Retrospect

Flicked through the cable channels tonight and came across Robert S. McNamara, former Secretary of Defense (1961-69). He was on a C-Span 3 program called "Lessons of Vietnam" filmed at and hosted by Harvard's JFK School of Government. Fascinating stuff - it included clips from the 2003 documentary "The Fog of War" and a discussion of McNamara's 1995 book, "In Retrospect."

The most intriguing part regarding our Vietnam policy involved a 1967 memo by then-CIA Director Richard Helms. Helms had requested an analysis of the impact on US national security if the US pulled its troops lock, stock and barrel out of Vietnam. The answer: negligible. Given that our stated rationale for being in Vietnam was due to the Domino Theory (if South Vietnam goes Communist, then goes Laos, then Cambodia, then maybe Japan...), this analysis is shocking to say the least. It's no surprise this memo took so long to be declassified.

A major theme in the brief time I watched: empathy. McNamara explained that The Cuban Missile Crisis was largely averted by the actions of one man: Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson. Thompson was an Ambassador-at-Large in Washington at the time and had served one of two stints in USSR as the US Ambassador there. Based on his personal experience with Khrushchev, he strongly advised against massive retaliation against the Soviets and persuaded President Kennedy to respond to Khrushchev's "first" letter regarding Cuba. While the US had empathy for the USSR, there was no such advocate several years later for the Vietnamese.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Humvee Armor in Iraq

The Philadelphia Inquirer had a story on Humvee armor (or lack thereof) on 4/10.(here, registration required)

Rather sobering that we still don't have proper equipment for our troops. I know! It's John Kerry's fault! Remember - he voted for it before he voted against it.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Sensitive/Insensitive Song for the Day

While at a grocery store tonight, I heard Elton John's remake of Candle in the Wind (for Princess Diana). Naturally I hadn't heard the song in years, yet it was being played the day Charles was getting married to Camilla Parker Bowles. Good timing, eh? You should have seen my face. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

John Paul II R.I.P.

Now here was someone who was genuinely "pro life" in ALL cases. And also importantly, someone who spoke out against Communism (though he was not as influential or as rabid as Fox News would have you believe). But very, very happy when Communism fell in Poland.

Friday, April 01, 2005

they come in threes

Terri Schiavo.
Frank Perdue.
John Paul II?

Terri has passed...but the debate rages on...

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay attacked the Judiciary yet again yesterday. On Thursday, March 31, shortly after Terri Schiavo passed away, DeLay said
"The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior..."
When the case reached its first go-round on the U.S. District Level after the Terri Act was passed, the court unexpectedly rejected the family's claims. Aside from DeLay's posturing and blustering, what did the act actually say?

"After a determination of the merits of a suit brought under this Act...."
Apparently the court was supposed to rubber-stamp the suit, because after all, Congress passed a law and the President signed it. The phrase "after a determination of merits" was apparently put there for...for...well, I'm confused what it was there for. If Tom DeLay wanted to have the feeding tube re-inserted, he should have INSISTED on the phrase "PUT THE FEEDING TUBE BACK IN HER EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY" or other clear, concise unmistakable words to that effect. He is, after all, the HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER. Some would argue that Congress has no right to order such an action, but if they were illegally transferring jurisdiction of a case anyway, why not go for the whole hog?

When he attacked the courts for being "out of control" he was being either disingenuous or he outright lied. Well, either one works to get votes. The court was clearly aware of Congress's intent for there to be a de novo determination of facts, but also was limited by what the record of the case so far had determined (see here).

DeLay and other Congressmen insisted that Judge Greer advocated Terri's death and was determined to make that happen. But as Judge James Whittemore noted, "by fulfilling his statutory judicial responsibilities, the judge [Greer] was not transformed into an advocate merely because his rulings are unfavorable to a litigant."

This is what it boiled down to:
1. Congress didn't like the outcome on the state court level, so they illegally wrested a case out of the state system and threw it to the federal courts in order to cause a different outcome.

2. The Schindler family's attorneys thought if they could throw enough legal shit against the wall, enough of it would stick to at least get her feeding tube reinserted. I can't blame them for trying, especially when a life was at stake, but don't blame the courts when the shit doesn't stick.

3. Conservative and Liberal judges alike refused to touch this with a ten-foot pole, including judges appointed by Bush senior. Same for the Supreme Court, which, last time I checked, helped Bush win Florida in the 2000 election. So, four years ago (since they decided in January 2001) they were geniuses. And now they're heartless morons.

4. Democrats and Republicans became very strange animals over this case. Democrats were suddenly very much in favor of states' rights, except for Jesse Jackson, who went to Florida to plead for the reinsertion of the feeding tube, and the 47 House members who joined Republicans to pass the Terri Act. Republicans, who blasted the Clinton Administration for seizing Elian Gonzales, were very much in favor of Gov. Jeb Bush's possible plan to seize Terri from her hospice with either state troopers or the National Guard.

5. Advocates of multiple causes hijacked this case from the get go. Randall Terry, who I've mentioned previously, came down to get some PR for his pro-life organization. Although when you threaten a judge with violence, that dims your message a bit. On the other hand, he's already threatened doctors with violence, so this is nothing new. Disabled rights activists claimed that this was a dawn of a new state-sponsored genocide against disabled people. Bah! The courts did not decide "Well, we don't like Terri, so we're going to KILL her today." They ruled in favor of her husband, who claimed she would not want to live like this. And no, I'm not going to get into the accuracy of that wish, because frankly, I'm not in a position to tell you or anyone else what her actual wishes were.

6. Speaking of advocates, I'm tired of Schindler family lawyers and former Schindler family lawyers appearing on shows like Sean Hannity's and claiming they have "no interest" in this case. Or for the matter, hosts like Sean claiming they're "open minded" about the case. Bullshit.

7. I'm just waiting for the medical malpractice issue to come up, since a big money lawsuit windfall was one of the prime reasons Michael Schiavo and the Schindler family fought for so long.

8. I am disgusted that Michael Schiavo refused to let Bobby Schindler, Terri's brother, in her room as she passed away. How petty, even to the end.

9. And planning to bury her remains in an unmarked grave is a whopper, too. It really highlights how Michael and the Schindlers thought of Terri after 1997. If she was "gone" in terms of mind but not body, Michael had no use for her to live. But her family clung to her right to a corporeal existence regardless of what condition her mind, spirit or body was in.

10. More people need living wills.

11. God has plans for you. Watch South Park and you'll see what I mean.