Friday, March 28, 2003

FRIENDS AND WAR: I have a group of friends that mean a lot to me, but most, if not all, are more liberal politically and religiously than I am. This hadn't bothered me before; when we discussed politics or religion, I said my piece and moved on to the next subject. They tolerated me, I tolerated them. But during the build up to this war, and now that it has begun, I've found it increasingly difficult to keep my cool when discussing the subject and refraining from saying pretty nasty things to my best friends. It's not that they don't tolerate me; they do. I'm the one who has trouble being tolerant, and I'm not sure why. So, until I figure out the answer, I keep reminding myself that this isn't worth losing my friends over, not because the war doesn't matter, but because our disagreement about it is irrelevant to its outcome.
TIME FLIES: My daughter is six months old today. She's crawling, babbling and has a particular love for eating carrots, dirt, grass, and paper. I don't know where the time has gone since she was the tiny lump they laid on my chest after announcing, "It's a girl!"

Thursday, March 27, 2003

TWO REASONS TO SMILE:

Friday, March 21, 2003

CHILDREN AND WAR: A friend wrote yesterday:
With luck, my kids will grow up with no memory of this war. I hope, hope, hope that is true. And my heart is breaking for the kids in Iraq for whom that isn't true.
I pity those Iraqi children too, but I find it more heartbreaking to think of them spending the first years of their lives living under that monster Hussein's rule, and more heartbreaking yet to imagine them spending many more years -- if the anti-war/pro-saddam "peace" protestors had their way -- under his heel. And unlike my friend, I won't hide this war from my son, because I want him to learn that good people must resist evil and that resistance, not hand-wringing and spouting platitudes about "peace," is the moral course of action. I hope and pray that my children -- and Iraqi children -- won't have to fight wars of their own because good people now, led by President Bush who the "peace" protestors so revile, will eliminate the threat of outlaw states armed with WMD. But if we fail, or if this war can't be won in years, but in decades, then the next generation will have to carry on the fight and children like my son will have to learn the necessity of moral action over self-righteous preening. Besides, children aren't that fragile. In fact, it's almost unseemly the way we try to shelter them. Iraqi children have to live in a world of rape rooms and poison gas. Is it really too much to ask that our children know -- not experience, just know -- that evil men do evil deeds that threaten our way of life? My husband remembers his parents explaining the Cold War to him at age four ("The bad people have bombs and want to drop them on us, so we have to have bombs so that they won't.") and finding that explanation comforting. And why not? Parents teach their children that cars can squish them and strangers can hurt them; is it really just too traumatic to teach the little blighters the basic geopolitical facts of life? Of course, I couldn't hide this war from my son if I wanted to. What with the omnipresence of NPR in our household (we have a love-hate relationship) and his habit of coloring the pictures in the newspaper, he is quite familiar with President Bush and Saddam Hussein. In fact, just this morning he looked up from coloring President Bush green and asked me whether Saddam Hussein would ever learn to be good (he's a big believer in the basic goodness of people and possibility of redemption). So I told him the truth, that he's a wicked man who is unlikely to reform and that our country was fighting his country to take away his power. And my son said, "OK," and colored Hussein purple.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

HATRED, UNBUTTRESSED BY ANY SERIOUS INTELLECTUAL ARGUMENT: That's how Michael Barone described Daschle's recent comments and it really fits this statement that I hear over and over again:
I would support the war 100% if it was backed by a UN resolution and if somebody with two brain cells to rub together were in charge.
First of all, since when is the UN the final arbiter of morality? Either something is moral or it is not -- a UN sanction does not make something moral. And I always wonder if people who say this would have supported the war if we'd garnered the necessary nine votes, but had been vetoed by France. That would mean that really France would be the final arbiter of morality. Now there is a scary thought! And as for people who think a war is justified morally but oppose it because they don't like who is leading it, that is completely morally incoherent. Whether you like the President or hate him, think he's smart or dumb as a rock, should have no bearing on whether a war or any policy decision is worth making.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

SING OUT! To the tune of If You're Happy And You Know It --
If a fascist is a threat, take him out. If he’s training jerks who hate us, take him out. He’s proved that he’s aggressive, his weapons too impressive, Inspection’s ineffective, take him out. If the UN can’t control him, take him out. Twelve years he’s been stalling, take him out. He not only hates the West, but kills his people as a test, Let’s protect ourselves and help them, take him out. --by Fran of Northwest Notes

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

SEWANEE MAKES THE BIG TIME -- I know Faulkner claimed "at Sewanee they dont even teach you what water is," and for a large number of students that is fairly true, but I do sometimes wish Sewanee were know for its excellent professors, strong liberal arts tradition and cool Anglophilic traditions and not just for the beer swilling.
US vs. THEM: Our side has reality. Their side has fiction. Our side is serious. Their side is not.
FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES: My three-year old likes to play every book we read and every video we watch. I rarely know for more than 30 minutes who I am, since my role changes often. Yesterday we were playing Monsters, Inc. and George was trying to decide who should take on the role of Randall, the bad monster in the film. I asked him if he could think of anyone who should be naughty and after thinking about it for a second or two, he said, "I guess Saddam Hussein should be Randall because he's a naughty man and Randall is a naughty monster."
EDUCATION: Susanna Cornett has a great post on teaching and educating those around you about what's happening in the world. Her arguments would also apply to discussions on matters of religion and faith, another subject we agree on for the most part.
WE ARE THE FOLK SONG ARMY: I hear so many friends and peaceniks on the radio say that they just hate the idea of war and it scares them, yadda yadda yadda. Do they think that those of us who believe Saddam must be removed by force actually like war? Like Tom Lehrer's Folk Song Army, "[They] all hate poverty, war and injustice, unlike the rest of [us] squares." I've been told that since Americans haven't fought a war on their soil since 1865, that we don't know what it is like or we'd be opposed to it too. So how did all the 20-year old appeasers learn so much -- have they lived through some war that I missed? Sometimes things are scary -- that's just life. Grownups must, at times, do things that are difficult, dangerous and scary. We look for the monsters under the beds for our children and now we'll be taking care of a real-life monster, so that the liberal children of the world will be able to continue on their petulant, fearful way, most of them ungrateful for the gifts and protection they have been given.

Friday, March 14, 2003

I THINK IT IS WRONG, BUT IF EVERYONE'S DOING IT I WANT MY SHARE! Freed-Hardeman University, supposedly one of the more religiously conservative Church of Christ-affiliated schools, is lobbying the General Assembly to provide equal lottery-funded scholarships to students at public and private Tennessee universities once the legislature gets around to establishing the lottery. Dwayne Wilson, Freed-Hardeman's executive vice president, says he opposed the lottery referendum and believes that creating a state lottery will be a mistake, but that whether his university's students should get the scholarships is a separate issue. Let's see if I understand his logic: lotteries are gambling, and gambling is sinful, so lottery revenue is literally the wages of sin, and bad, bad, bad, but my students should get their fair share. That's like saying, "You shouldn't have robbed that bank, but the church gratefully accepts your dontation of a portion of your ill-gotten gains -- that's a separate issue." Freed-Hardeman and other church-affiliated schools that purport to oppose gambling should be rejecting lottery-funded scholarships, not demanding their fair share. (Link via Theosebes)
DANGER ON THE ISLAND OF SODOR! A British psychologist is worried that children who watch too much Thomas the Tank Engine will become afraid of riding trains because Thomas and his pals get into so many wrecks. "As a result there is a possibility that the sheer amount of crashes they see on Thomas could frighten them," said Brian Young, a psychology lecturer at Britain's Exeter University. "Seeing lots of crashes on TV means they could end up absolutely terrified of going on a train." Next up: Dr. Young theorizes that, as a result of the sheer number of crashes toddlers experience while trying to walk, toddlers could end up absolutely terrified of walking and simple stop moving. Parents everywhere rejoice.
SPRING: I love the Spring. I love the flowers in my yard. I love going outside and digging in the dirt. I hate the @#*$^% rabbit that ate my hyacinths and wish it wasn't illegal to discharge firearms in the city. Maybe I'll have to try a little Tom Lehrer-inspired poisoning.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? Back in college when I was waifishly thin at 5'8" and 112 pounds, I still had a slight tummy. Even back then, I had no desire to expose said tummy to the world. Now, I have the stomach of a woman who has delivered carried two children complete with sags and stretch marks. Believe me, the sight of my stomach as it is now could probably be considered a WMD. No one wants to see it. Let's face it -- except for a few ballerinas and models out there, the female stomach is not really a thing of beauty. So what moron thought it would be a good idea to market only shirts that are 2 inches too short? Yesterday I was sitting in the car with the kidlets waiting for my husband to pick up a pizza (I can't be expected to cook all the time, now can I?) and I saw two college girls strolling along in their fashionable t-shirts and jeans. Both were of average weight and build, but their shirts were about three sizes too small. I don't want to see anyone's breasts in that much detail and tummy flab really is best left covered. Now really it isn't these poor girls' fault. The too tight, too short stretchy shirts are all that stores are selling these days. One just can't waltz into the store and leave with a remotely fashionable shirt that doesn't expose one's navel to the world if one's arms are lifted at all. Pair that with the hipster jeans are you have flabby belly sightings and crack problems all at once. It really is too much. Can some fashionista please start covering these unattractive portions of our bodies and find something a little more flattering????

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

BUSY, BUSY, BUSY: My five-month old is on the verge of crawling; she's up on her hands and knees rocking and throwing herself forward to grab things. She's decided she needs to get away from her big brother. I suppose this means it is time to buy baby gates and dig out the cabinet locks. I'm not really ready for two mobile children. The big one already has me running in circles. George is awfully cute these days, when he isn't having a three-year old moment. Our local library currently has a marionette version of The Tempest playing. We've been three times and George loves it. He knows all the characters and told me the other day that Antonio and Caliban are naughty because they want power like Saddam Hussein wants power. He's got a better grasp of these things than some liberals. Other than learning Shakespeare, it is all puzzles all the time at our house. George loves puzzles and will do them over and over again. He can do sixty-piece ones on his own, but the hundred-piece ones require a little parental help. If I'm doing mulitple puzzles every day, I get a bit bored putting the same ones together so I've been spending a fortune on new ones. I need to start a puzzle exchange club or something. Anyway, that's the Adams household in a nutshell at present. I'll be back with more scintilating rants and complaints soon.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

This is Women's History Month, so indulge me while I consider why it is that I shudder at the thought of most women running the country. Women are emotional. We often feel, cry, hug and love. There is nothing wrong with those things. However, one of the things I hate most about modern politicians is their need to "feel my pain." I want leaders that lead and are able to make hard choices, send Americans into battle, play hardball and not be too sensitive. Men can emote, but real men are also good at keeping a stiff upper lip and shouldering on when there is work to be done. Many women just don't think that way. That makes women perfect mothers, teachers, and nuturers, but often lousy world leaders. There are giant exceptions to that rule. Margaret Thatcher was as able as any man. If Abigail Adams had lived in another era, she would have made a great leader. When I talk to many of my friends, it sometimes drives me nuts to discuss politics -- not just with the liberals, but even with the conservatives, they tend to worry about the wrong issues.

Monday, March 03, 2003

A READER WRITES, IN A POLITE AND NON-FLAMING E-MAIL:
Does it not occur to you that people are protesting our going to war against Iraq because the administration has done such a horrible job selling it?
Though I've heard this before, it really doesn't occur to me, because the Administration hasn't done a terrible job. In fact, it's done a good enough job to persuade between 60-70% of Americans, maybe even more depending on the poll, that war against Iraq is justified. In a big, diverse democracy like ours, persuading fifty percent plus one is good enough, and President Bush, Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld have done better than that. Some people will never be persuaded obviously, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the arguments aren't good ones.
War is a very drastic action, not something that should be taken lightly, nor used loosely. If I am going to support a war, I want a good reason. and I don't see it. I don't seen WMD. I don't see Iraq not cooperating with weapon's inspectors. I don't see Iraq not destroying missles that the weapons inspectors say are unacceptable.
I don't pretend to have the ability to persuade you. I can't even persuade my lefty friends. If you (like my friends) see Saddam Hussein's cat-and-mouse games as compliance, and see unelected, unaccountable foreign bureaucrats as the guarantors of our freedom and security, I don't think there's much point in arguing about it. I could go on about the government minders who sit in on interviews with scientists, the fact that Hussein secretly built the illegal missiles he's now destroying in violation of Security Council resolutions, the many things completely unaccounted for in the Iraqi's report to the UN, the intelligence Powell presented to the UN or the fact that we would never have seen any cooperation whatsoever out of Iraq without our military parked on its doorstep, but really we're just too far apart to achieve anything like a consensus. Thankfully, my side won the vote.
And if you're going to tell me next something about Sadaam being a horrible dictator, or a menace to humanity, I'll agree. But he is not alone. So do would advise Bush to start a war with every menace to humanity?
Why do people think this is a strong argument? "We can't get rid of every genocidal dictator all at once, so we shouldn't ever try to get rid of any of them." If I put that into practice is my own life, I would be paralyzed. I would advise the President to do what most people do to survive: prioritize. Maybe you disagree with his priorities. Fine. But that's a different and actually debatable point, unlike the argument that we should do nothing.
Is that why you support this war? Do you, first and foremost, want to liberate the oppressed Iraqi people? If that's true, why don't you just say that? Instead of petty name calling.
It is one of many reasons why I support this war, but no, my main reason for supporting war is not to liberate the oppressed Iraqi people. First and foremost, I want my government to begin eliminating state sponsors of terrorism, so that my country will be safer. I just believe that liberation for oppressed Iraqis is a nice long-term benefit, and dare to dream that with Saddam toppled Iraq might become the first Arab democracy, perhaps even bringing to the Arab world what people like you and me enjoy: freedom and security. Most people don't think it's wrong to do things for self-interested and altruistic reasons. In fact, most people figure it's even good when people do the right things for the wrong reasons, although here I think our reasons for going to war are good too. As for "petty name calling," when the pro-Saddam goons I saw in my own city and see on TV put away their "Bush is an International Terrorist," "Amerikkka," "Bush is Dumb," and "America: the Real Rogue State" posters and t-shirts, I'll be happy to respectfully disagree with them. When they will acknowledge that President Bush is acting in good faith, I'll acknowledge that they're opposing him in good faith. Until then, they have my contempt.
JOHN O'SULLIVAN'S RULE that all organizations that are not explicitly right-wing will inevitably become left-wing has proven true once again. Today, I got an e-mail on my nipple nazi nursing moms playgroup list recommending three upcoming performances of Lysistrata around Nashville to protest war against Saddam Hussein. The best part of the letter was the warning that the play "contains bawdy adult content. One of our players noted though, that the language of this play is not NEARLY as profane as the dropping of bombs on innocent people." Oh, how clever, how profound. Do the peace-niks really believe our military targets innocents? That if you stand around being innocent long enough, someone will drop a bomb on you? Why do people who take Saddam Hussein at his word when he swears he has no weapons of mass destruction and has outlawed them refuse to place the same degree of trust in their own leaders and soldiers? I know another thing that's more profane than Lysistrata's naughty words: supporting a vicious dictator who murders women and children, while accusing your own country of doing just that. And consider these two images at Cut On The Bias while you're at it.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

ANTI-WAR PROTESTS: Yesterday on our way to lunch Justin and I had the misfortune of driving through a pro-Saddam demonstration on the edge of Vanderbilt's campus. All the usual suspects were there -- the slack-jawed blonde wearing a "GW Bush is really dumb" t-shirts, the troll-like never sun-kiss'd creature wearing a "Frodo has failed: Bush has the Ring" t-shirt, the teenagers who think they're all grown up, and the over-the-hill hippies who never did grow up. I politely declined a flyer thrust through the open car window by a pro-Saddamite, resisting the urge to flip her off (in front of my children) -- I'm not that kind of girl, after all. What surprised us was the strength of our feelings: anger, disgust, loathing. We'd seen "peace" protestors on TV and in the papers, but they just seemed foolish. But seeing them in person, in all their willful dishonesty and hatred for America, we saw them for what they are, evil, or admirers of it or at the very least "useful idiots" as Lenin once named their ilk. We wondered how these people, who blather on and on about "peace" and "democracy," always end up standing behind some thug with his jackboot firmly planted on the collective windpipe of his people. The protestors' love affair with Saddam is like Jimmy Carter's twenty-year running tryst with Arafat: naively stupid on the surface, but consciously evil underneath. Still, we told ourselves, the pro-Saddamites don't matter. Our side -- responsible, grown-up, America-loving Americans -- has the votes; they don't, and never will. But we didn't believe our own argument, because in times past, people just like the "peace" protestors -- angry, juvenile, power-loving pseudointellectuals -- have gotten the votes, or at least the power, and gone on to kill their millions. That's when we realized what made us so angry. It's not that the pro-Saddamites haven't learned from history. They want to repeat it. Do you think this is too extreme? Do you want to point out that not all the protestors are ANSWER neo-Stalinists, that many really are just naive? OK, remember this: if these protestors win and prevent a war (which they won't) they will do exactly what they did before President Bush began threatening war against Iraq, either ignore the plight of the Iraqi people and Hussein's drive to acquire WMDs or actively help Hussein crush his people and get his weapons by working to end sanctions and inspections. I call that evil. Now, try explaining all that to a three-year old on the way to lunch on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Better yet, don't. Sadly, he'll have ample opportunity to discover the idiocy and wickedness of some of his fellow men after he learns to read.
PRO-WAR RALLIES: Friday was a big day for pro-war rallies in Nashville. I drove past the Kurdish pro-Bush, pro-war rally on Broadway, which the pro-weasel Tennessean either incompetently or dishonestly (probably both) reported as an anti-Turkey protest. But I missed the other two pro-war rallies that day (that's what I get for listening to public radio and not AM talk radio), one hosted by local right-wing AM talk host Phil Valentine at the Parthenon, which had the added benefit of displacing the much ballyhooed Lysistrata performance at the same venue (which really ticked off the actors). A Ford dealership hosted the other rally, hilariously and brilliantly entitled "Bash A Peugeot For Peace," which invited citizens to work out their frustration with French weasels by taking a sledge hammer to a Peugot.
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