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Saturday, February 22, 2003

 
SLATE'S STRAW POLL

Nicholson Baker reminds us of the rules: You're not allowed to kill civilians.

From Slate:

With war in the offing, Slate asked prominent people in politics, the arts, entertainment, business, and other fields to answer the following question: Do you favor a U.S. invasion of Iraq?

A bit of interesting stuff here. Some people used this forum for shameless posturing, others used it as a chance to set aside the posturing and outline, concisely, their position on the coming war (Dr. Alterman, for example, presents a nice, clear, for-the-record list of reasons he opposes the war).

My favorite here is from novelist Nicholson Baker:

Heap shame and opprobrium on Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Powell and Bush. They are foolish, small-minded, cowardly men who will not hesitate to order the bombing of civilians from several miles in the air in order to squash a dictator that they helped bring to power.

What I like here is the utterly appropriate moral outrage. No harrumphing about strategic interests, just a cut-to-the-chase reminder of what exactly is being proposed:

... the bombing of civilians from several miles in the air ...

You're simply not allowed to do that. It's wrong. It's illegal. It's immoral. The United States, the United Nations, the United Parcel Service -- it doesn't matter who you are or how saintly your motivation. You're not allowed to kill civilians.

This is basic. This is fundamental. This is an essential component of western civilization.

You're not allowed to kill civilians.

Indiscriminate high-altitude bombing is never, ever allowed. It is monstrous, immoral, unacceptable and -- as Baker points out -- cowardly.

It is this point that provides the context for every other argument on the page. The arguments for and against the war are various moral and prudential judgments, most of which center on the rightness and the validity of the cause of the coming war. But the legitimacy of this war is rather beside the point if -- as seems to be the case -- those who will wage it are determined that it will not be fought justly. If the reports of "Shock and Awe" are to be believed, then this war will involve the massive use of lethal force against noncombatants. That is not a just war. It is not war at all. It is a massacre, a slaughter of innocents. You're not allowed to kill civilians.

Baker doesn't get bogged down tossing about Latin terms like jus in bello -- he cuts right to the moral opprobrium that is the just desert of anyone "foolish, small-minded [and] cowardly" enough to consider indiscriminate bombing a legitimate tool of military strategy and/or statecraft.

By offering such a forthrightly moral argument, Baker risks losing the appearance of sophistication and this -- the appearance of sophistication -- is the bread and butter of many of the "think-tank" intellectuals included in Salon's straw poll. Baker doesn't seem to care about whether or not he is viewed as sophisticated -- he's just trying to remind us of the rules: You're not allowed to kill civilians.

You're not allowed to kill civilians.

You're not allowed to kill civilians.

= = = = = = = = = = = = =

Sidenote on the forum:

Ten of Salon's contributors noted that North Korea has been flaunting it's possession of weapons of mass destruction and poses at least as much of a threat as Iraq does. Of these only one, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, supports war with Iraq. It's as though if you support this war you're not allowed even to mention North Korea.


posted by Fred Clark 3:32 AM

 
OATMEAL SOUP

Why do the instructions on every brand of oatmeal call for way more water than you really need? Is oatmeal traditionally eaten in a much soupier form than I prefer? Or have they just forgotten to include the additional step in the directions that reads: "Stir for 15 minutes over high heat to steam off the 1/2 cup of excess water"?

(Sorry, having a bit of an Andy Rooney moment there.)

posted by Fred Clark 3:28 AM

 
SIGN OF THE TIMES.

F.Y.I.: They put up a new clock next to the main one in our newsroom tonight.

The second clock is 8 hours ahead.

Baghdad time.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

Apropos of nothing: From The News Journal's opinion page two (almost) haiku:

Dollar diplomacy
with Turkey amid yelling
chills alliance


Enron autopsy
shows how tax shelters kept
corporation alive


Perhaps in tomorrow's paper an editorial titled:

Here where a thousand
captains swore grand conquest
Tall grasses their monument.











posted by Fred Clark 2:23 AM

 

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER IS A SHAMELESS HACK.

Via TBogg we find this, from syndicated stimulus-response columnist Charles Krauthammer:

Europe did not take to the streets against America last weekend; only Western Europe did. The streets of Eastern Europe were silent.

Hmmm. Let's let Jeanne d'Arc handle this:

John Steppling wrote from Poland this morning to remind me that I left Warsaw off the list of cities with anti-war marches over the weekend -- between 5 and 10 thousand people showed up, depending on who was counting.

Krauthammer apparently doesn't regard Warsaw as part of "Eastern Europe." Nor are Prague, Moscow, Kiev or Mostar.

CKDumb also implies in his column that American military might is ultimately responsible for the liberation of Poland and Eastern Europe. Krauthammer and his editors at the Washington Post have apparently never heard of Lech Walesa, or Solidarity, or the Velvet Revolution, or Timisoara ...



posted by Fred Clark 2:09 AM


Friday, February 21, 2003

 
NOBODY TRUSTS GEORGE W. BUSH.

Why the deal with Turkey broadens Bush's credibility gap.

Josh Marshall has posted the second half of his interview with Ken Pollack, author of The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq. Pollack's book is the definitive statement of the hawkish position on the coming war (but note that even he is infuriated with the Bush team's bungling of the whole affair).

Here's the relevant quote regarding today's negotiations with Turkey:

... go to the Security Council members and in private say to them, "Look, you know the Iraqis have it, we know that the Iraqis have it." In some cases we can show them more information that we wouldn't necessarily show to the public. You can show governments things that you wouldn't necessarily want to make public, assuming you can trust the government. And there what you could do is to construct an argument and build the legitimacy of your case based on the number of countries who were willing to come forward and say "Yes, we agree with the Bush administration. We agree with the United States that the Iraqis have not fully disarmed." And our own feeling was that if you could get enough countries coming forward and saying that, that would be proof.

I think most Americans -- I think most people in the world -- are just looking for someone other than George Bush to be able to say that. And I think that if you had two or three dozen countries coming forward and saying "We too are convinced of this. We too are convinced that Iraq has the stuff," then that coalition, that group of people would in and of itself legitimize the effort.


The reason this statement needs to come from someone "other than George Bush" is that this president has zero credibility. None. As Paul Krugman writes:

Administration officials are insulted when the Turks say that a personal assurance from Mr. Bush isn't enough. But the Turks know what happened in Afghanistan, and they also know that fine words about support for New York City, the firefighters and so on didn't translate into actual money once the cameras stopped rolling.

The Bush administration -- and George W. Bush personally -- has a hard-earned international reputation for not telling the truth. This makes it very, very hard for them to rally international support for much of anything they say they're going to do. Thus Turkey's insistence that they be given more assurance than merely George Bush's word -- which has devalued lower than the old Taliban currency.

Since Bush's word is worth so little, the administration is forced to negotiate a deal with Turkey, in exchange for which Turkey will support Mr. Bush's war on Iraq. (Daily Kos -- via Atrios -- has the outlines of the proposed deal. Roughly, Turkey wants $30 billion in aid and loans, plus the U.S.'s OK for ethnic cleansing against the Kurds.)

This deal will likely be secured today and Turkey will say, in Pollack's phrase: "Yes, we agree with the Bush administration. We agree with the United States." But note that they will be saying this only after the U.S. has agreed to provide them with billions of dollars. Rather than legitimizing the U.S. position -- as Pollack hopes for -- this will further undermine that position, making it appear that the Bush administration can only win support for its position by buying off other nations.







posted by Fred Clark 2:39 PM

 

FABIO. HASSELHOFF. SAVIDGE.

Are we really expected to take CNN's war correspondent/soap-opera leading man Martin Savidge seriously? I can't watch the guy without giggling. Wasn't he on Dynasty years ago? He's not a terrible reporter, but put him in a khaki jacket and he assumes this "rugged, manly" pose that comes across like J. Peterman's dimmer and more narcissistic younger brother, or like a graduate of that Mike Myer's "I'm a handsome man" training course. He makes Arthur Kent seem like David Brinkley.

The other day the anchors were asking Savidge what special measures he was taking in preparation for being "embedded" with a military unit in the coming war. "Well, of course I work out ..." he said. And I wasn't sure whether to be impressed or distressed by his apparent lack of self-consciousness. I just wished the anchors had asked him what I wanted to know -- will he have access to hair gel during desert warfare?

(NOTE: Googling "Martin Savidge" turned up this. Sad.)

(NOTE #2: According to his senior prom date, Martin is a nice, funny guy. Fair enough.)

(NOTE #3: How cool is the Internet? In ten minutes you can find out what someone's high-school sweetheart has to say about him.)

(NOTE #4: Uh-oh. What if my senior prom date posts her reminiscences about me? Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to drop the pseudonym ...)


posted by Fred Clark 1:17 PM


Thursday, February 20, 2003

 
MY GREAT-GRANDMOTHER WAS NOT CHEROKEE.

Used to serve on a board with this guy from the Southwest, Arizona or New Mexico, I forget which. This guy was Indian and we were talking about that when he asked me what percentage Indian I was.

"Zero," I said.

"What about your Cherokee great-grandmother?" he asked.

"What great-grandmother?" I said. "I don't have a Cherokee great-grandmother."

"Sure you do," he said. "All white people have a great-grandmother who was Cherokee."

I looked at him to see if he was joking, but you could never tell. He was like that.

"Or maybe a great-great-grandmother," he said. "And maybe she was Choctaw. One of them."

He looked absolutely serious, which is how I knew he was joking. He had just about the deadest deadpan I'd ever seen.

"You should get yourself a Cherokee great-grandmother," he told me. "They're very popular."



posted by Fred Clark 3:10 PM

 
IT'S NOT HOMOPHOBIA, IT'S JUST A FEAR OF GAY PEOPLE.

Southern Baptists may boycott their own hometown.

Ted Olson's Christianity Today Web log brings us this bit of news on the SBC:

The Southern Baptist Convention says it may withdraw its 2005 annual convention from Nashville, where it is headquartered, over the city's plan to include "sexual orientation" in its employment and housing anti-discrimination laws.

"This alters the nature of Nashville as a convention city for us," SBC vice president Bill Merrell told Nashville tourism officials, according to the Associated Press.

... Merell, [called] the bill "another attempt by pro-gay activists to secure the approval and affirmation of the broader culture of the homosexual lifestyle" that will turn Nashville into "the San Francisco of the Southeast."


(Um, isn't Atlanta considered part of the Southeast?)

"The Southern Baptists previously have met in Las Vegas and New Orleans," the Associated Press dryly concludes its article.



posted by Fred Clark 12:23 PM

 
11:16 a.m. EST, February 20, 2003.

George W. Bush just lied. Again. Blatantly.

The thoroughly discredited, bad average crap about his tax-cut plan benefiting Americans "an average of $1,000 each."

His arrogance and ignorance know no bounds. This speech is mind-bogglingly disingenuous. Right now (11:20) he's blathering about "double taxation" on dividends. If he really believes any of this garbage, he is a fool. If he doesn't believe it, he is evil. Is there a third option?

Now (11:22) he's saying that since "most people" now own stocks that we are an "ownership society" and will all benefit from his elimination of the tax on dividends. He does not mention that most of this ownership is in 401(k)s, and will therefore not be affected by his tax cut. Nor does he mention that most stocks are owned by a very, very few people.

He preys on the poor with an enthusiasm unseen since the most melodramatic portrayals of Prince John in bad productions of Robin Hood. He deserves the same fate as Prince John.


posted by Fred Clark 11:25 AM

 
SHORTIES.

If it's a violation of journalistic ethics for a reporter to be "in bed with" the people he or she is covering, then why are so many reporters so eager to be "embedded with" the U.S. military for Gulf War 2: Son of Saddam?

= = = = = = = = = = = =

Just got the first issue of my latest subscription to Mother Jones. Is it my imagination, or does their cover design these days seem like a tribute to the Washington Monthly?

And speaking of redesigns -- Jesse's new layout at Pandagon is worth a look-see. It's sort of a Tom Ridge-meets-Thom Yorke motif. Very cool.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

NOT OPEN TO PERSUASION.

Glenn Reynolds comes across as a smug ass in this Boston Globe piece in which he says, of Colin Powell's epically disingenuous U.N. slide-show:

"most everybody open to persuasion has been largely persuaded by Colin Powell. There are lefty and libertarian bloggers who are against it, of course, but there are far more bloggers who are pro-war than the reverse.''

"Far more than the reverse" here would mean that there are more bloggers who are pro-war than there are pro-war people who are bloggers -- but incoherence aside, the annoying thing here is Reynolds' insulting assertion that anyone who disagrees with him is not "open to persuasion." Reynolds is accusing others of closed-mindedness because they disagree with him -- which is to say he is proudly declaring his own closed-mindedness.

This is the kind of self-reinforcing, no-questions-allowed belief system that enables a person to reject all contrary opinion without having to listen to or evaluate it. Reynolds is not a stupid man, but with such an interpretive scheme in place it's only a matter of time before he becomes one.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

BUSH VERSUS "OUR TROOPS."

In a post called "Yellow Ribbons and Food Stamps we mentioned a Bush administration plan to cut federal aid for the education of the children of U.S. military personnel. The cuts will affect the schooling of some 900,000 children -- at a time when Mr. Bush is getting ready to send their parents into combat.

I linked to this article describing the cuts' effect on children near Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Now Jeanne d'Arc links us to this article describing the impact the cuts will have on children in the San Diego area.

Time for a new bumper-sticker:

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS:
IMPEACH BUSH.


= = = = = = = = = = = =

This lovely slideshow reminds us of the outpouring of sympathy and goodwill the world demonstrated for America in the days and weeks following 9/11. The people of "Old Europe," especially, rallied with impromptu memorials and vigils -- heartfelt expressions of a deep alliance and a deeper friendship.

That friendship has been strained in the months since then by the hamfisted, undiplomatic bullying of a handful of Americans in high office. Their coarse, childish behavior has isolated the United States from the diplomatic good graces of the international community and from the goodwill of the people of the world.

The terrorists chose New York City because more than anyplace else it embodies the American dream. That dream -- the idea of America -- doesn't just belong to the United States, it belongs to everyone, everywhere -- which is why an attack on New York was rightly perceived, around the world, as an attack on us all. The mythic New York, like the mythic America, is arrogant and boisterous, yes, but it's also inclusive, egalitarian, international and rambunctiously pluralist. It survived the terrorist attacks and it will overcome the stunted chauvinism of Bush and Rumsfeld.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

The preceding paragraph gets a bit wound up, granted, but read this and tell me if "inclusive, egalitarian, international and rambunctiously pluralist" isn't an accurate description.


posted by Fred Clark 10:51 AM

 
MOVE CLOSER TO YOUR WORLD MY FRIEND.

Philadelphia is a world-class city. No, really.

Calpundit links to a Journalism.org report on local television news reporting that finds -- surprise! -- that most of it isn't very good.

So I click on over to read the report and see how they rated the local news coverage here in the Philadelphia area.

But the report doesn't cover Philadelphia.

What's up with that? They studied 17 cities, but not Philadelphia. No disrespect meant to Sioux Falls, Iowa, or Baton Rouge, La., but it makes little sense to study these AA hamlets while neglecting the fifth largest city in, and one-time capital of, the United States.

Philly gets dissed like this all the time. Remember the movie Independence Day? Despite the star-turn by West-Philadelphia-born-and-raised Will Smith, the movie completely ignored the City of Brotherly Love. We saw evil space aliens destroy New York, L.A. and Washington right off the bat, then the mother ships moved on to Houston, Chicago -- even Pittsburgh -- but from the brief glimpse the movie gave of the Big Map in the secret air force base, Philadelphia wasn't even regarded as significant enough to be destroyed by evil space aliens.

Comic book supervillains also somehow overlooked our fair city, which meant no super heroes here either (unless you count Bruce Willis in Unbreakable). Did DC Comics even bother coming up with a DC-world pseudonym for Philly? No respect.

Anyway, who needs Batman when you've got Ben Franklin? Philadelphia -- regardless of what Journalism.org may think -- is a world-class metropolis. Jim Capozzola has been making this case convincingly at (the newly renamed) TRR: The Lighter Side of Rittenhouse.

As for our local TV news, well, it's pretty bad. But Channel 6 Action News does have the greatest local news theme music ever.

Dit-Dum dum, dum dum da-da da-da dah
Dum-dum-dum DUM DUM
Da-da da-da daaaaaa.

(See here for a fan site offering real audio of multiple versions of Al Ham's masterpiece.)



posted by Fred Clark 10:48 AM

 
HUBBERT'S PEAK.

Just wondering -- how much oil is left, and what's Plan B?

Can't help but wondering if news stories like this -- reporting near-record oil prices of close to $37 a barrel -- are at all related to this (found via comments at Eschaton).

Global oil production will probably reach a peak sometime during this decade. After the peak, the world's production of crude oil will fall, never to rise again. The world will not run out of energy, but developing alternative energy sources on a large scale will take at least 10 years. The slowdown in oil production may already be beginning; the current price fluctuations for crude oil and natural gas may be the preamble to a major crisis.

In 1956, the geologist M. King Hubbert predicted that U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s.1 Almost everyone, inside and outside the oil industry, rejected Hubbert's analysis. The controversy raged until 1970, when the U.S. production of crude oil started to fall. Hubbert was right.

Around 1995, several analysts began applying Hubbert's method to world oil production, and most of them estimate that the peak year for world oil will be between 2004 and 2008. These analyses were reported in some of the most widely circulated sources: Nature, Science, and Scientific American.2 None of our political leaders seem to be paying attention. If the predictions are correct, there will be enormous effects on the world economy. Even the poorest nations need fuel to run irrigation pumps. The industrialized nations will be bidding against one another for the dwindling oil supply.


(Those with a conspiratorial bent would of course disagree with the statement that "None of our political leaders seem to be paying attention.")

The excerpt above is from an overview of Chapter 1 of Kenneth S. Deffeyes' book Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage.

I have no idea how Hubbert is/was regarded by other geologists. This may be mainstream thinking, or it may be viewed as the lunatic fringe -- I don't know. But it is interesting.

In 1991 I was part of a delegation of Baptists, Sisters of Mercy and New York City Firefighters (no, really) negotiating with Mobil Oil on a shareholder resolution for environmental disclosure. Mobil rejected our proposal (with condescending corporate politeness), but the firefighters' pension fund had enough shares to get us a full day with top executives and I ended up having lunch with some of the top research guys -- the scientists who had gotten promoted to become executives overseeing the scientists.

My conversation with Mobil's top research people went roughly like this:

ME: I have these, um, friends who are environmental types, and they tell me there's only about 30 years of oil left, is that true?

MOBIL GUY: Well, that's a pessimistic way of looking at it. Technically, yes, the reserves we know of now are probably only good for 30-40 years at the current rate of use -- but we're confident there's plenty more out there and we're looking for it every day.

ME: How much more?

MOBIL GUY: Probably another 30 or 40 years.

ME: At the current rate of use?

MOBIL GUY: Yes.

ME: What if the rate of use increases?

MOBIL GUY: Well, then it would be less than that. And anyway we expect during this time to develop an efficient means of extracting oil from shale -- which should buy us another 50 to 80 years.

ME: So you figure we're good for at least another 100 years?

MOBIL GUY: Yes, all of which will provide us time to develop whatever's next.

ME: Like cold fusion in a jar?

MOBIL GUY: Or something we can't even imagine yet.

When he said that last bit, he was beaming with a Roddenberry-esque techno-euphoria. That's where we left it. I saw the glass as half-empty. He saw the glass as overflowing with yet-to-be-discovered milk and honey.

Googled across this Canadian energy analyst who provides some data that questions Mobil Guy's sanguine outlook about the global rate of consumption remaining constant forever. (See especially the helpful .pdf graph showing the increase in world oil consumption. See also this graph showing who is doing most of that consuming.)



posted by Fred Clark 6:45 AM


Tuesday, February 18, 2003

 
BLOGPSOT FULL OF HSIT.

A simple typo leads to premillennial dispensational "mega-site."

Steve S. (one of my favorite people in Harrisburg) sent along a heads up about where surfers may find themselves should they get a few letters scrambled while typing in the URL for the slacktivist.

It seems "http://slacktivist.blogpsot.com" takes you to a site called "Aarons [no apos] Bible," which describes itself as:

A mega-site of Bible, Christian and religious information & studies; including, audio and written KJV Bible, Bible helps & tools, churches, Doctrine, links, news, prayer, prophecy, sermons, spiritual warfare, statistics, and tracts. Features the Chronological 4 Gospels, Prayer Book, Prophecy Bible, and a photo tour of Israel.

Aaron offers many scary items, but before getting into that I should point out that Steve also notes that Aarons Bible cherry-picks any URL headed for a "blogpsot" domain. To wit:

http://atrios.blogpsot.com
http://bodyandsoul.blogpsot.com
http://rittenhouse.blogpsot.com
http://calpundit.blogpsot.com
http://tbogg.blogpsot.com

Et cetera.

You can also reach the site through it's own URL: http://aaronsbible.org.

Aaron's preoccupation seems to be premillennial dispensationalism, a 19th-century, American-made, cut-and-paste eschatological olio popularized in the books of Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye, and in the syndicated television programs of people like Jack Van Impe.

Adherents of this weird little heresy believe that the world will get worse and worse before Jesus comes back. And since they want Jesus to come back, they tend to express a perverse glee about earthquakes, wars and natural disasters, and to get all wide-eyed with anticipation, like a little kid on Christmas morning, whenever violence breaks out in the Middle East.

This is part of why PMD is one of the world's scariest heresies. Scarier still is that President Bush is among the Scripture-twisting, death-denying, apocalypse-seeking adherents of this world view.

Some other fun pages from "Aarons Bible" --

-- Roman Catholicism is not just a "cult," but also the "whore of Babylon." (This is straight out of the mouth of Bob Jones I - IV. The Bobs Jones liked to take passages about the Roman Empire and pretend they were about the Roman Catholic Church -- which is about as accurate as saying they were about Roman Polanski.)

-- The "Voice of Satan," which does not include real audio or .wav files. Or even a link to Ozzy.

-- There's a link labeled "Jews Information Desk." [Insert your own Mel Brooks joke here.]





posted by Fred Clark 6:45 PM

 
SIMONS SAYS.

Looking for something else by the Baptist Peace Fellowship, I found an old bulletin-insert of theirs with the following, from Menno Simons in 1539:

True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant --

It clothes the naked
it feeds the hungry
it comforts the sorrowful
it shelters the destitute
it serves those that harm it
it binds up that which is wounded

It has become all things to all.



posted by Fred Clark 1:31 AM

 
FAREWELL LOCUST-EATER?

Uh-oh. Does this mean what I think it means?

(Happily, there's a link to here.)


posted by Fred Clark 12:02 AM


Sunday, February 16, 2003

 
IN DEFENSE OF OUR OLDEST ALLY.

Where's Victor Laszlo now that we need him?

The anti-French moron meme is getting dumber and dumberer. It goes something like this: The French are ungrateful. They should happily succumb to being George W. Bush's hand puppet in gratitude for America's "saving their asses" in two world wars.

This ignorant petulance is not merely rude and counterproductive, it is bad history.

Consider the record of American valor during the following years:

1914: How many Americans fought in World War I? How many French soldiers died with their boots on?

1915: How many Americans fought in World War I? How many brave Frenchmen died?

1916: How many Americans fought in World War I? How many Frenchmen fought and died?

1939: Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany invades Poland. France and Britain go to war to stop Nazism. America does not. We're not sticking our necks out for anyone.

1940-1941: Nazi Germany's imperialistic evil is clear to the entire world. America cowers behind two oceans. The British flee at Dunkirk, but the French cannot escape across the channel. America watches complacently as Nazi's overrun Paris and conquer France. Late in the year, the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor and the U.S. responds by declaring war ... on Japan.

Yes, yes, of course America eventually acquitted itself bravely and proudly in both World Wars. Eventually we came around and rescued cities we had watched get overrun. But let's not be so full of ourselves that we think somehow this makes us more brave or virtuous or even stronger than the people of those cities we allowed to fall.

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY, Moron) says of the French, "Most of us believe that they'd all be speaking German today if it were not for U.S. military intervention."

Possibly, but they'd certainly all be speaking German today if it were not for Japanese military intervention. Let's not pretend we weren't fiddling while Paris burned.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

Lived in Ardmore, Pa., for about six years. The neighborhood bar nearest my apartment was called "The Normandy" (one dartboard, two beers on tap -- Bud and Busch). There was an old guy in the neighborhood who used to come in once in a while. He was a retired engineer and a World War II veteran. He wasn't a part of the "greatest generation," however, since in WWII he had been driving a Panzer in a German uniform.

One night he told us this joke: "Why do the French plant trees by the sides of the road? So we Germans can march in the shade." It's a triumphalistic little joke, but it also revealed a bit of regret or maybe bitterness that despite millions dead in France during the 20th century, the country had not become a puppet regime of Germany. I've heard variations on this same joke told by Americans who seemed to share that same bitterness. Americans liberated Paris. Some Americans apparently think we should have instead, like the Nazis, conquered it.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

As for Pa. state Rep. Steve Barrar -- who apparently believes Delco's own Chaddsford Winery is some kind of cultural pinnacle -- let's look at this statement:

I am tired of America always being there for the French through the 60 years of the Cold War ...

It is difficult from this to discern whether Barrar believes the Cold War is ongoing -- and therefore began in, I guess, 1943 -- of if he understands that the Cold War ended with the revolutions of 1989, in which case he seems to believe the Cold War began in 1929.

Tuesday (the next day my Pa. "state store" is open) I am going to buy a bottle of French wine and toast Barrar's ignorance.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

Now everyone go watch Casablanca:

Rick and Laszlo hear MALE VOICES singing downstairs. CUT TO:

INT. RICK'S CAFE - MAIN ROOM - NIGHT

A group of German officers stand around the piano singing the "Wacht am Rhein." CUT TO:

INT. RICK'S CAFE - BALCONY - NIGHT

Rick stands at the balcony outside his office and watches the Germans below. CUT TO:

INT. RICK'S CAFE - MAIN ROOM - NIGHT

Laszlo's lips are very tight as he listens to the song. He starts down the step. CUT TO:

INT. RICK'S CAFE - MAIN ROOM - NIGHT

Laszlo passes the table where Ilsa sits and goes straight to the orchestra.

Yvonne, sitting at a table with her German officer, stares down into her drink.

Laszlo speaks to the orchestra.

LASZLO
Play the Marseillaise! Play it!

Members of the orchestra glance toward the steps, toward Rick, who nods to them.

Laszlo and Corina sing as they start to play. Strasser conducts the German singing in an attempt to drown out the competition.

People in the cafe begin to sing the "Marseillaise."

After a while, Strasser and his officers give up and sit down. The "Marseillaise" continues, however.

Yvonne jumps up and sings with tears in her eyes.

Ilsa, overcome with emotion, looks proudly at Laszlo, who sings with passion.

Finally the whole cafe stands, singing, their faces aglow. The song finishes on a high, triumphant note.

Yvonne's face is exalted. She deliberately faces the alcove where the Germans are watching. She SHOUTS at the top of her lungs.

YVONNE
Vive La France! Vive la democracie!

CROWD
Vive La France! Vive la democracie!

People clap and cheer.


As Washington said to LaFayette, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."


posted by Fred Clark 1:59 PM

 
GOOD TIME HAD BY ALL.

Yesterday's marches were just the beginning.

Went for a walk in Philadelphia yesterday with about 10,000 other folks.

The protest was really pretty delightful, with a truly diverse crowd -- all ages, many religions and ethnicities -- and an almost jubilant atmosphere. Some of the signs and chants were pretty funny (I liked the "Asses of Evil" one especially). There were a handful of fringe-y old lefty relics -- people peddling various socialist newspapers and the like -- and they were tolerated as a part of the crowd while clearly remaining fringe-y.

Many of the chants utilized the "[repeat verb] this!" construct which is such a favorite here in Philly. "Duct-tape this!" was especially fun.

Ten thousand people is pretty small compared to the half-million who swarmed the avenues in Manhattan or the hundreds of thousands in London, Paris and Rome -- but it was the largest political rally in Philly in many years.

In any case, one got the sense yesterday in Philadelphia -- and I'm guessing it holds true for the dozens of other cities around the globe -- that yesterday was merely a beginning. If Mr. Bush insists on going ahead with his pre-emptive, wanton wars, if he persists in his obsession with raining indiscriminate death upon civilians already suffering under cruel dictatorships, then the marches will continue. And they will only get bigger.

Many of the marchers yesterday said it was the first time they had done such a thing, but that it would not be the last. Millions more will soon experience their first-ever marches.

The people have only just begun clearing their throat.




posted by Fred Clark 12:13 PM


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