Friday, May 07, 2004

I am back from Xi'an. There is much to say about the trip, but other things are on the brain. I'd rather rant about them and as it is a blog, my blog no less, I find it only appropriate to do so. I promise to write more about Xi'an later.

Okay. Iraq.

I just saw some of those pictures that have apparently been circulating the mainstream media while I was down living it up (some might say down) in Xi'an. WHAT THE FUCK?! WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON OUT THERE?

There is the possiblity that some of the photos were staged. (By something mythical left-wing conspiracy group who's actually got their shit together and are out to get the Bush administration?) My thoughts are based on the belief that they were not. If they were staged, however, I don't think my thoughts would be much different, but there would be more questions to answer.

(Note: I started writing this in narrative form, but it got a bit out of hand. I realize lists are not very creative and do indicate a certain lack of literary ability, but this is the best I can do to keep things organized.)

Thoughts provoked by said fucked up pictures:

1. What was it like, sitting behind the eyes of the people who orchestrated the photos? (The photos I'm thinking of specifically are the series that include the girl holding a leash with the prisoner on the floor at its end and the simulated gangbang.) Where was it exactly that the current in the stream of thinking took a turn and produced the "this is a good idea" idea? And what did the "continue, this really is a good idea" idea sound like against images and sounds (as how I imagine it) of the humilated prisoners groaning and jerking while limbs were being shamlessly smacked and shoved into a sick and twisted Macy's store front.

2. Are we all, essentially, weak and capable of things like this? Is cruelty just a fundamental element repressed by "respect" and "concern" in safe and comfortable environments, only? And could I, put in the right circumstance, be so inhuman? I suppose that if I was some hick from Nebraska who hadn't seen anything taller than a wheat field before I got to boot camp, who barely made it through a rudimentary public education, who maybe had seen three non-White people before cable came in, who was thrown into the middle of the desert, in the middle of the world, convinced of a mission to do good, while being shot at by those I was sent to save, that that breadstick that kept it all together in my mind WOULD snap and I COULD look into the face of another human being and see nothing but soulless flesh.

3. There really is nothing that can be done to change things in the world, is there? I'd like to think that there are things that we, as individuals, can do to make things just a little bit better all around. It's a general goal of mine to live this way, but there is a very cynical part of me that really believes that change cannot be forced. Change will result when imbalances reach critical mass and maybe only (human?) nature dictates when that happens. (I'm still not voting for Bush, however.)

4. Is anybody (who has power and sway to make rather urgent foreign policy decisions) concerned about the country's image in the world? It seems to me that people don't usually let things like occupation and tortue slip from the mind casually. The Jews won't let go of the Holocaust (or at least many of those with power behind the camera) and more than half of my students openly hate the Japanese for violence most of their parents can't remember. Don't people think about this? As an American in the world I will have the stigma of this atrocious time attached to me for the rest of my life. Thanks Uncle Rummy.

This is an excerpt taken from an article in the Boston Globe. It also upsets me.

"The cost of Iraq -- $4.7 billion a month, according to the Pentagon -- already almost matches the $5 billion a month average spent on Vietnam in today's dollars. If Bush gets another $75 billion this year, he would close in on the halfway point of Vietnam spending in just a year and a half.

The diversion of resources and the obvious loss of opportunity for America's public school children is almost incalculable. Assuming even the conservative guess by Hagel of $50 billion in additional funds, that would make $216 billion in war appropriations. That sum is:

Nearly four times the budget of the Education Department.

Nearly double what the General Accounting Office said in the mid-1990s was needed to repair the nation's schools.

24 times what it would cost to fully fund the congressional appropriation for No Child Left Behind.

43 times what it would cost to enroll the remaining 40 percent of eligible preschoolers still not in Head Start.

848 times the cost of the Even Start family literacy program, which Bush proposed to kill.

1,800 times the appropriation for the national math-science partnership between high schools and colleges, which Bush proposed to kill.

6,352 times the cost of a program to help pay secondary school counselors, which Bush proposed to kill.

12,000 times the cost of a national writing project, which Bush proposed to kill.

19,600 times the cost of a program to support "gifted and talented" students, which Bush proposed to kill."

Any comments, especially from very old folks, or links to interesting related items, would be greatly appreciated at this point.

I will get up off the couch now. The shrink's looking bored anyway.

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