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Atomized junior- The Radio Weblog

Friday, 26 March, 2004
Press coverage during run-up to Iraq war.

During the mid week coverage of the 9-11 hearings, I kept thinking back to the Diane Rehm Show segment I listened to on Monday [11:00 segment Mo, 22Mar04] when I had the day off and was able to give reasonably full attention to. It was the disconnect between the two, placed in near conjunction, which was so disassociating. Rehms show was on the press coverage during the seven to eight months before the war. Assessing the quality and efficacy of the work. They spent a good part of the show just trying to come to terms with the phenomenon - certainly something happened. Critical coverage just disappeared. The discussion went to the heart of what journalists believe they are doing: from reporting the news of the world, to taking notes from politicians press assistants. Some had a hard time leaving the latter view they didn't want to have the media even independently handle or admit cognizance of any of the ideas or policy choices of a debate without taking it as a quote from some political authorities mouth. They wanted to pretend thats how they do their jobs. Its clear though that they really felt they needed political coverage, because made little use of academics (political scientists, area specialists), foreign points of view, and they admit also that they gave singularly one-sided short shrift to what experts (various generals and other voices from the government) did disagree with the administration. I thought that the discussion was tracking closely with opinions that Washington Post Ombudsman Michael Getler holds on this topic. Eventually I figured out that he was one of the guests, along with Bob Drogin and Susan Moeller (from the journalism dept. here at the University of Maryland), and that was why.

The Report of the 9-11 commission as they are allowing themselves to known as, is lengthy and a lot of words was kicked out by Richard Clark and others during the hearings this week. I haven't been through as much as a fifth of it, so I don't have any definite impression of it yet. I intend to post an observation on this over the weekend. As I watched John Lehman question Clarke; Though, I thought, I ought to tell my John Lehman story. Lehman was Secretary of the Navy during the years I was stationed in the Pentagon, I saw him about once a week through that period - my daily routine took me through his office on the E-ring.
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Thursday, 25 March, 2004
MoveOn gets told to move along.

Like suburban police coming across a gaggle of scruffy teens, has come under the sights of those with 'to serve and protect' freshly painted on their doors. I read a Boston Globe article Bid to curb groups' political ads may dim a Kerry bright spot, a few weeks ago on rumblings concerning certain §527 political action committees. and American's Coming Together in particular. The Republican Party is challenging the activities of these groups under the restrictions of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Law. It wasn't entirely clear whether this was the Republican National Committee preparing for some legal action, or congressional republicans trying to use the control they have in Congress to press advantage. The bar being far lower for the latter. The Atlantic has a piece by William Schneider Loophole Advocacy reprinted from the National Journal which rehearses the Republican argument. The timing for this Republican alarm can be adduced from this article from 2 March on the launch of a high profile MoveOn television advertising campaign to Counter Bush's Ad Blitz.

There is of course an entire other side to this issue. one that Jerry Landay and Media detail The Apparat -- George Bush's Back-Door Political Machine on their web site (from a metafilter thread ca 16 Mar). The issue is the large number of organizations on the right doing precisely the same thing. So many that they can specialize bettter and seem to individualy be simply and interest advocacy organizations, but behind this the money and coordination are highly centralized. MoveOn in contrast to this array of funding and organizing seems to have gotten its back up against a wall, by simply being one organization and trying to do to much by itself. This was going to lead to a situation where its raison d'etre would appear to merge with not only the democratic party, which to a degree it does, but also with whoever emerged to be the parties candidate for president. That would make it seem problematic under the rules governing the §527s.

All silliness aside the real story here is one side of the political spectrum attacking the other sides funding to keep them from even getting their message out. When Media companies themselves are part of this matrix the leverage potential can be extreme. I heard on Democracy Now's daily radio show (a rather fiercely left wing and occasionally dubious group of folk) today that Clear Channel the radio station and billboard owning company has given twenty four times as much to the Bush Campaign and RNC than to democratic interests. That is a differential that makes its position clear. And Yet its is a measurable portion of the nations media outlets. FCC chair Michael Powell would have us believe that we have choice in the media - presumably and ideally between Clear Channels AM stations, their FM stations, their billboards, or maybe Roger Ailes' news division over at Fox.
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Wednesday, 24 March, 2004
Wither Bob Edwards

One thing I have available to me through being a native New Englander is royalty free use of the phrase If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I would like to direct that phrase to the attention of the people of National Public Radio for canning Bob Edwards from his day job as host of Morning Edition. This is their news item on the subject NPR : Bob Edwards Leaving 'Morning Edition', and press release: NPR'S Bob Edwards Leaving Morning Edition Host Chair to Take on New Assignments as NPR Senior Correspondent which almost leave you with the feeling it was his idea. The Metafilter discussion on the subject Bob Edwards | Metafilter, and following the CNN link their post contains you begin to get the sense it wasn't. This sense is reinforced by the NY Times article on the matter Edwards to Be Replaced as NPR Host. Apparently the take-the-show-in-a-newdirection rhetoric has been used by NPR before when a simple personnel change was all they had in mind.

If they did have their reasons It's not in anything I've seen so far. I know that "radio" is like that, I had not wanted NPR to be that much "like radio".
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All the Little Live Things

I heard on the radio that spring began the other day. Sure enough, I heard birds when I got up this morning. I didn't have to go to work; though, because it is spring break. For two days beyond the normal miserly weekend my calling to be a library copy-cataloging clerk is suspended, and my barely present waning wisp shred of coiled mortality is free to do what it wants. My brother-in-law, Doug, once inquired why I don't - with a few days off - fly out to Alcapulco and snorkel about in the warm Pacific. Like his some of his line chefs do. These are people whose life savings are jingling in their pockets just shy the price of Snickers bar come pay-day. Despite the attraction of the life-style, what sounded good was to sleep in for a few days and read a book.

I picked up Wallace Stegner All the little Live things a book from 1967 that I bought last year. I don't know why Stegner appeals to me so much but he does. Maybe he isn't a relentlessly as 'Western' writer as he is framed to be. Maybe I'm not as attached to the atlantic coast as I have figured. I went through elementary school during a period when the central and western regions of the nation were a large and massively mytholigized part of gradeschool education. Amber waves of grain, purple mountains majesty - that wasn't just a song - that was curriculm. I was an American it was all good and New England was just were I was starting out from. Looking back I notice that the west was framed in these lessons as a natural treasure. In the mental picture I still have (and thrill to), the west of my imagination. It is still possible to hurry and catch up with Lewis and Clark and the march up the length of some transendentaly beautiful alpine pass in the Rockies with them. I remember being surprised a few years ago reading about the aircraft factories around Los Angeles that made fighter planes during world war ii. The California of my imagination didn't have factories; only Hollywood, surfing beaches, and Red Ponies. My education may have been a bit dusty, possibly left over from the thirties.

A friend of mine who I always figured to be the east coast born person I knew mostly likely to move to the west coast (she wasn't actually born on the east coast, not of the U S at least but in Rio de Janerio) When she never did I once asked her why? She said she went out there (California) on a trip at one point and decided it was not what she thought it was going to be - very different. She lives in Brooklyn now, and seems quite content.

I have an idea that every decade, of a particular culture, contains all its previous decades, not just contains but lives in and with these concurrently by diminishing degree. Maybe its just an restating of what we mean by culture. The built environment; in every city a certain portion of the buildings were built in a particular year, largely as long as they exist they will represent their decade. People, associations, organizations, corporations; all these things have a center to their existence, a moment in time when they most fully realized their purpose, their genisis. They will all reflect this stonger then they reflect other moments. All institutions, formal and informal, all things crafted were in answer to a problem and are tied to point in time when that problem or issue was identified and solved by an act of creation. These things will keep a place in their moment.

I came up with that idea at a time when I lived with a bunch of guys in a group house and somebody gave one of the others (Dan to Gary if I recall) a t shirt that read What if you woke one day and it was the 1940's and it stayed the 1940's all day... I don't know, I have dreams like that - bad dreams, but hey if it works for them. I made the point to them that the 1940's is still out there in motion and receding but it is out there now. I stop here and consider the work of another writer I like Joe Mitchell and his New York City stories. The ones in At the Bottom of the Harbor...

Somehow my concept of the west and California never got updated, it's a strange mix of grade school Americana 50s P.R. boosterism and 60s TV frozen solid. Stegner puts people and lives into these settings without losing the uniqueness of the settings or the individuality of all the little live things that exist there, like my prickly little weed from last spring. Showing the good and evil of all this striving by turns.
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Tuesday, 23 March, 2004
Green Flash

Saw this on one of the Web Logs I follow East of the Sun, West of the Moon. He (Tom Strohlmeyer) points to a NASA Page where somebody actually has a picture of the green flash of sunset. The entire time I was on the aircraft carrier [Ranger (CV 61) ] everytime I remembered and could get away I would run up to the signal bridge at sunset with my camera to try to get a picture of that. Supposedly its a phenomenon generally only seen from shipboard. Never did and never could get anyone to believe in what I was trying to do. I took a lot of grief for that. Hey Edmunds, in your face.

APOD: 2004 March 21 - A Green Flash from the Sun
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Sunday, 21 March, 2004
They took my closet

By 'They' I mean my apartment's landlord company, by 'closet' I mean that space off the hall that had that wooden pole running from side to side; where I used to hang up all my coats, jackets, Sunday, go-to-meeting clothes, the shelf where i put my old seabag, umbrellas, my scarfs and gloves. The floor where baseball bats, tennis rackets and basketball rested (all of which are in a state of unrest now). They took it. They decided they needed it for a utility closet. They came to my door and said "oh that space clear it out, tommorrow we're coming by and filling it with pipes and a water heater. And they did.

I know: you don't care. I don't ask that you do. Normally I would not even bring up such pedestrian and quotidian matters. But I miss my closet and I feel violated.
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Saturday, 20 March, 2004
Scalia vs the Op-Eds

I was willing to take Justice Scalia at his word, however tardy and there being so many of them pdf (off the SCOTUS What's New page). The Op-Ed pages of the Washington Post Mr. Scalia's Objectivity and NY Times Justice in a Bind, were not. Both noted, with very little sentimentality, that even with his explanations and insistencies of probity, that the situation didn't look good and couldn't be made to look good. Off hand I'm a little surprised. I had thought that having risen to descending to the level of the common rabble by issuing them an edifying particular statement on the matter most folk would just say 'duly noted' file his screed away and await the decision on the energy task force so that the appropriate asterisk could be placed against the result.

I don't know the history of how Washington regards the social life of the members Supreme Court. I would not want to invite or accept legacy examples from the gilded era to the case. All the same I don't regard them as having taken orders along with the robe and withdrawn from the world into some legal monastery. However the sort of people who write for editorial pages are part of the social class that form the greater court of King _, and do know these things. I get the impression they didn't like being lectured. Justice Scalia epitomizes the new imperial attitude in washington better than anyone else. An attitude and burgeoning era that prizes honors and priviledge, gifts and boon opportunites. If George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are called the fathers of American Democracy, Call Antonin Scalia and Richard Cheney fathers of American Timocracy.
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Friday, 19 March, 2004
Scalia Angry, Thousand Flee

Scalia Angrily Defends His Duck Hunt With Cheney(NYT). This is the first time I can recall wanting to practice saying the name of a NY Times piece several times fast. Yesterday Justice Scalia released an twenty one [21!] page memo described in the article as didatic and "filled with scorn" defending his hunting trip with VP Cheney. At some point he gets around to saying Of course we said not a word about the present case.''. That was all he had to say. The lawyer for the Sierra Club felt the same way also noting that Scalia's memo points out that he had bought a round trip ticket to Louisiana and flw back on a commercial carrier. Apparently Scalia would rather spend months feeling self righteous and indignant rather than be up front.

The issue now is whether Justice Ginsburg will continue to take criticism for her association with the NOW Legal defense and education fund lecture series, whether people will read this as a general principle reaffirmed. Or whether they will continue to press inquiry into the conscience of the Court.
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Wednesday, 17 March, 2004
Free (as in beer?) Culture

Lessig on his web log notes that he has a new book coming out next week Free Culture. I bought his last book Future of Ideas for my sister, Ann, as a Christmas present a couple years ago (yeah, we are an exciting family). She misplaced it though before she could lend it to me. Just as well - where she works they are not allowed to admit awareness of Lawrence Lessig's existence.
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Evil that Men do

I had a kid stick a 38 in my face once, and say: "give me your money or I'll blow your f**king head off." At the point where he actually pulled the trigger and tried to make the gun go off, I figured he was closing in on realizing the casual definition of evil I carried around at the time. Well this was eight or so years ago and it was in Washington DC and that sort of thing is fairly commonplace in Washington. Too commonplace to be evil. Two to three years in Lorton depending on the case they could make; so the police told me. I knew what the two who confronted me wanted, taking them at face value, they wanted the twenty-one bucks I had in my wallet. I knew what I wanted too: I wanted to crack their skulls open on the sidewalk with my bare hands.

What did the the people who planted and set off those bombs in Madrid want? Even asking that question makes me feel dirty, complicate. Maybe it's easier to decide they don't want anything, except to kill and cause suffering. Within the individual, pathology is a bottomless morass. A twisted junkyard of broken desires and unfilled needs, for which life and limb will be extracted from the material world with a terrible vengeance. Its very close to not being understandable, yet the yearnings and hunger that feed it is present in all of us. I become confused when I look at the public works of terrorist organizations. This is not the work of a madman; it required planning, cooperation, it required being communicated, understood by others. Can its logic; however impure, be as relentlessly delusional as criminal insanity? Certainly with cults there is a mass subjection of wills under one pathology. Whatever became of the one hundred nineteen year olds who accompanied novelist Yukio Mishima on his quest to overthrow Japan in November of 1970. Who waited while he disemboweled himself, then cut off his head. Political Scientist Fareed Zakaria writing in todays Washington Post, All that's left is Violence , repeats a claim that many believe that the active membership of Al Qaida at this point may be only in the hundreds and that of ETA, the Basque separatists only a hundred or so. No more are needed. Zakaria also passes along the line said of terrorists that what they want is only a few dead and a lot of people watching - and hearing about their cause.

Are the sponsors of this destruction seen as being different whether ETA or al Qaida. Different in motavation or purpose? Did the outcome of the election Sunday, and the strange steering around of blame during the days running up to the election (which may have been the real locus of Spanish reaction), did this show a willingness to read evil like a western union telegram. Evil with a specific message for political action. Is this terrorism or is it something else. On Friday Jim Lehrer interviewed the Spanish Ambassador Javier Ruperez ( Online NewsHour: Conversation: Spanish Ambassador Javier Ruperez -- March 12, 2004) , this was still at a time when primary suspicion was directed towards the Basque separatists. Jim Lehrer asks: Now, what would be their point? What is the message that they want to get over by killing these 200 people yesterday? Amb. Ruperez responds at length but finally arrives at this The object of terror is to subvert the working of the system just to give them power. That's the only thing they're looking for, power, power for themselves. Power is what they want. A street to walk down and a big house at the end. A thin wholly modern despotic exercise in their privilege and rules. It is globalized civil war. Al Qaida wants the arab street, they'll start with any street, eventually they want it all. Their message is not for attention. They want the west to leave their little patch of ground, so that they may take the place of its current rulers. They are pushing rather than talking.

Does this malignant expediency justify their cause? That if they push, and we step back - their effort is comprehensible and efficient. How do you call this evil? If it obtains. If we hold out against it foremost our purported material (military) superiority. The hidden rules of real world justice revealed, conforming solely to a calculating rationality. This is a world without legitimacy or morality. It is simply force and reaction, an endless destruction, incapable of evolving. A world where evil can never be more than a tautalogical statement of material condition. As Flannery O'Conner recalled: ...the kingdom of heaven suffereth the violent, and the violent bear it away.

[T]he shoah must be treated as a rare yet significant and reliable test of the hidden possiblities of modern society. (Zygmunt Bauman quoted by Ronit Lentin (ed)introduction: Re-presenting the Shoah for the 21rst century, 2004)
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Saturday, 13 March, 2004
Feeling left out

Being in one of the states not considered important to the outcome of the election. I haven't had a chance to see the two new gnarly political ads the candidates have put up. Not a 'swing' state not a 'battle ground' state, I may have to forego the exitement of a lot of pre-convention politicking. George Bush was going to teach me to watch nascar and chew tobacco. I'll pass this on to Aquinas, an additional proof. I did read a description and see a still of the Bush ad: John Kerry's plan in large letters on the right margin, on the left a montage of images including a dark skinned man glancing around with narrowed eyes, airplanes taking off. Well that's subtle: "John Kerry's gonna kill your babies, people!" Washington Post claims to have these at their politics subsection.

I'm looking around my place to find the biggest book I can find so I can spend the next six months reading it. (that being how long it took me to read "the Magic Mountain").
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Friday, 12 March, 2004
Smart Cars r coming

I had forgotten about it until Motor Week (PBS) came on again last night - last week they said that MCC Daimler Chrysler are going to bring the Smart Car to the U S market. If you've ever seen one of these thing you know they look like a cushion chair on wheels. A picture named smartc_03.gif They're bringing out a mammoth SUV model, it will be almost the size of a mini Cooper.

I first heard of these cars when my sister, Susan, came back from trip to Europe two summers ago with a picture she had taken of one. It looked like someone took a regular car and cut it in half. I had never seen a car like it before, but she said they were all over the place in Italy. Their web site confirms introduction to the U S in 2006. All their web sites (the main one and the regionals) are done with macromedia flash which is unfortunate if you're using dial-up access. The UK site has a good presentation of the various models There is also another British site dedicated to Smart Car news Smart I've already come up with a good marketing slogan they can use over here. "Smart Car: always keep one in your 4x4's glove compartment."

While doing a google search for Smart cars I came across the web log of someone in England who has one and talks about it. The site's called Atomised! What kind of name is that for a website?

[Fri 12Mar04 20:15] While making use of the 10K line at work, I decided, if you have broadband - and a modern browser the best experience is from the International pull down selection off the main smart car page. I like those 360 deg quicktime vr pans.
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Wednesday, 10 March, 2004
Tolomee Theater

Somehow George Tenent has construed that it is better to go in front of Congress and declare that everything they knew was wrong Tenet: Bush did not overplay Iraq threat | Dana Priest, Washington Post, but they sent in the army anyway. Rather than admit the administration herded the CIA towards conclusions they had already drawn, like a flock of wooley sheep. I don't see how the American public is going to gain confidence from that. He thinks that being sure about something that wasn't, is better than admitting they are clueless about what was and is. I figure I'm on my own now.

I saw the other day that Vice President Cheney and President Bush have come out and said that that the American people should see Sen. John Kerry as 'indecisive' Kerry Hits Back at Bush, Cheney Over Leadership. That's big talk from an administration that has shown itself willing to make decisions based on no real information at all. I wouldn't want to say that I'm automatically committed to one approach over the other. I saw a play once, called Hamlet, prince of denmark or some such. Main charactor spends the entire play trying to make up his mind. Finally he does - sort of - and everybody dies. I thought, reading that, well the same result could easily have been achieved in one act. Three, four pages in, beady-eyed Hamlet grabs a really sharp sword and goes running amok through the palace babbling about what the ghost of his dead father told him and hacks everybody on the Dramatis Personae page to little pieces. Curtain, falls everyone comes out and takes a bow.

Probably not the sort of fare that would make it with the Globe's crowd. Perhaps one of those other theatres down the block: three shows a night, bear baiting between shows, open stage poetry nights on Wednesday: "Oi! I got a poem; 'enry grace a du I calls it..."

Henri Grace a Dieu 
th' henry grace a doo was a ship it was,
th' henry grace a doo was a big old ship
it sailed out on the waves of sun swept sea 
then it sailed right back t' the land aga'n
but it ne'er came near the Woolwich dock
for that
no, great harry stayed away.

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Monday, 8 March, 2004
Range Roving with the stars

As I with hairshirt and acetyl spraeic acid attempt to mortify the body, to sear the guilty flesh, or at least encourage the parasitic virus within to move along. I pause, what exactly do cold and flu viruses gain by making you sick anyway? What's in it for them? Where is the glory? What Pindar sings for the common cold?

An article in the Boston Globe today Iraq death spurs push for Humvee armor brought to mind an article I read last month in Slate Hummer Bummer: why is the White House underfunding armored humvees. I had considered writing about it then, but its true nature was budgetary and selling its significance seemed like an uphill struggle. The Boston Globe article puts a human face to this bit of policy. A soldier writes to his father about how exposed he feels in unarmored humvees and is killed on patrol a few days later. The Military envisioned that combat patrols would conducted with Bradleys or the like, as part of their general unpreparedness they don't have enough of these in iraq and are patrolling with unarmored hummers. Hummers are scarcely more adequate for this than Techinicals (pick-up truck with a machine gun in the back, war-wagon of choice across the world) and they cost three times as much. Two related things are converging in the budget arena. The war will be paid for by a supplemental appropriation - and that will not go to congress before the election; until then the army has to sit tight. What funding as has been requested runs deliberately pedestrian; ammunition, body armor, Humvee conversion kits are not included at levels needed, because a lower initial request can be made and sold to congress without them, and you can descend into crises mode later on and get those things on an emergency basis. Works fine for everyone - except people like PFC John Hart.
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Thursday, 4 March, 2004
Forget politics, when does spring training start?

The Washington Post had two articles in last Sundays outlook section I wanted to point to. By Chris Mooney Beware of Sound Science. Sound Science is a catch phrase in the administration to refer to the Peer Review initiative I referred to a couple of posts ago and other science advisory board policies. The underlying purpose of these is to yoke the functioning of the entire federal government to the political purposes of the president. This might seem matter-of-course but it is a more drastic intrusion of politics into formerly objective, autonomous, and distributed government functioning than previous. A second article, by Bernard Ries, you can't duck this conflict, Mr Justice looks at Energy Task Forces Appeals case from the perspective of a former NLRB judge.

Voting in the Primary yesterday certainly was anticlimatic. There were very few people around the polling place, but I got to spend several minutes chatting with a very nice (and cute) pollster after completing her survey. She was with Zogby. While we were talking another man she had been talking to earlier left, and she said he was a rep from the voting machine company. We were using Diebold Machines in PG County. I have to say they do rate highly in ease of use. It's in the realm of security that issues arise. She hadn't heard anything about Diebold so I got to tell her about that. She seemed very surprised. I got a little sticker that said "yo votes" as I left

Drilling through Ars Technica and CNN to the Pew internet and American Life project site I read through an interesting survey they just released on Content Creation Online 17% of those online have posted written material to the internet, but only 6% have posted artwork, and only 2% maintain web logs (or web blogs as the Pew torturously refers to them).
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Wednesday, 3 March, 2004

The Washington Post had two articles in last Sundays outlook section I wanted to point to. By Chris Mooney Beware of Sound Science. Sound Science is a catch phrase in the administration to refer to the Peer Review initiative I referred to a couple of posts ago and other science advisory board policies. The underlying purpose of these is to yoke the functioning of the entire federal government to the political purposes of the president. This might seem matter-of-course but it is a more drastic intrusion of politics into formerly objective, autonomous, and distributed government functioning than previous. A Second Article by Bernard Ries
._._. pb _._
Ah, the effects of cold medication and too little sleep. I have created a broken double post The remainder of the post above this was supposed to go into this space after I looked at the links, but I got turned around. Nothing to do now but re-dedicate this space as a permanent memorial to the 1967 Boston Red Sox
Jerry Adiar 2b
Mike Andrews 2b
Gary Bell p
Ken Brett p
Joe Foy 3b
Russ Gibson c
Ken 'the Hawk' Harrelson of
Elston Howard c
Dalton Jones 3b
Jim Lonberg p
Dave Moorehead p
Dan Osinski p
Rico Petrocelli ss
Mike Ryan c
Jose Santiago p
Norm Siebern of
Reggie Smith of
Lee Stange p
Jerry Stephenson p
Jose Tartabull of
George Thomas of
Gary Waslewski p
John Wyatt p
Carl Yaztremski of

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Tuesday, 2 March, 2004
A few words about Evil.

Something David Brooks wrote a couple weeks ago stuck in my mind. He was writing a column that laid out what President Bush should have said when he was interviewed by Tim Russert on Meet the Press, opposed to what he did say.
Some liberals have trouble grasping evil, and always think that if we could take care of the handguns or the cruise missiles or the W.M.D., our problems would be ameliorated. But I know the problem lies in the souls of our enemies. Bush on Bush, Take 2 | David Brooks
Some conservatives don't seem to have that problem. They find evil everywhere, ever-close and find it handily. They grasp its presence in the souls of all their enemies. Evil must have a great attractiveness, its great power of pan-explanation make it an easy choice of fools.

Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector for Iraq, has referred to this as the Theocracy of Evil. Saying about it Going beyond mere political ideology, the theocracy of evil encompasses a faith-based value system that embraces a simplistic 'good versus evil' opposition. As Thom Hartmann points in another piece AlterNet: A Fistful of Kryptonite another way of looking at this is that the more demonic you conceive your enemy, the more heroic you become by defeating him.

There are only three things about evil I could think of off hand. Causing death of thousands of innocent people to make a point is something most people would call an evil act. An earthquake, like the one in Lisbon in 1755, can kill as many, and all people can do is bury the dead and stand the rocks and sticks of their dwellings upright again. Perhaps murmuring as they do so "this was a terrible thing to happen, terrible", but probably not calling it evil. Terror used in this sense, the terrible, is a naming of the sublime. The difference between the evil act and the terrible one is slight. Again think of the Egyptian Airliner that mysteriously flew into the sea a few years ago. Some felt that the pilot did it as an act of terror, many others not. Consider the range: a willful act by the pilot, and accidental act, but through misperformance, Mechanical error - running the gamut from parts fatigue, incomplete inspection, and gross incompetence. When does it pass from tragedy, to reprehensible? The wrong that is done among man is done by man. Evil requires a human author

The more publicly and demonstratively wrong is done, the more likely it will be applauded. There is no pathology of which I am aware that has not been celebrated by mass practice in the cause of some national destiny. There is an archetypal film reel I have seen over and over, whether it's Hitler, Stalin, or one of the Il Sung's - a crowd of school children will crowd round the great man, perhaps sing a song, then one child will step forward shyly and present a bouquet of flowers. Every monster of history has at one time or another been the beloved father of his people, a noble hero of the people, or the little booted baby son of one. Evil, while it exists, will often seem quite pleasing.

Winners write history. Evil, by happenstance, is discovered most often when history is being written. It is said of the other, that they are evil because they inflict suffering without distinction or rationality. They target, with intent, the innocent as well as the combatant and claim that no one is uninvolved in their struggle. Some try to target only the combatant - an elastic concept allowed to expand or contract as needed and do so with explosives and automatic weapons which can neither distinguish between the innocent and guilty or be perfect in their arrival and detonation. The uninvolved who are caught up and broken by the machines are denoted by system term collateral damage. Formally unintended, but always predictably present. It makes little difference to any, and none to the destroyed. Terror is a blunt instrument used towards an end. The label of evil obscures the fact that through its wedge application of power it often achieves almost unnoticed a semblance of its narrow ends. The nominal winners must always take care to remove the pencils from everyone else's hand's or in history evil will be written against their name.

What I see called evil are the actions arrived at through bad opinions. When I hear someone say of another: "he or they only understand and only respect force", I know a bad opinion is forming. Force is obeyed only as necessity as it is applied, and carries no moral obligation in its absence. It is not capable of being respected. Suffering is the lever bar the violent use to turn forcibly the world towards them. It is not sustainable and cannot attain legitimacy. Franz Kafka once volunteered that nothing is more evil than the thought of doing evil.
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