A Cautious Man
January 25, 2006
 
"Jumping The Shark"
That's the first thought that came to mind about "Wonkette.com", after reading this -
Hi. It’s Glenn Reynolds. I’m Wonkette for the day ...
No comment.

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January 08, 2006
 
"We Keep Pretending That There's Nothing Wrong
But There's A Code Of Silence And It Can't Go On"

It's been on my mind for a while, which you may have gathered from the things I've posted here. I guess it started a couple of months ago, after I attended a talk by Scott Ritter. As I wrote at the time -
When asked what people should do, his answer was very simple - do something. Get out there. Make a statement. Don't wait for the Republicans, for the Democrats, for the New York Times, or for anyone else to talk straight. If more people did that, who knows what could happen?

Anyway, I bought a couple of copies of his new book (to read and to pass on), and took his admonition to heart. We all need to get out and make our voices heard - and no matter how many people we may reach, it helps to keep passing it on.
It continued when I reflected on the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon, and I had this thought -
We can let a performer (or any person) inspire us, but we can't let them be a replacement for us. If we just sit around remembering someone, who once sang "War is over, if you want it", and do nothing else, we're really not keeping him alive, are we?
Just the other day, I was moved by the words written by Mr. Paul Schroeder, who used to live, and who raised his late son (a Marine who died in Iraq), here in my community. He wrote at the conclusion of his essay:
But their deaths will not be in vain if Americans stop hiding behind flag-draped hero masks and stop whispering their opposition to this war. Until then, the lives of other sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers may be wasted as well.
In short, silence is not neutral, now. If you are not heard, you may as well be endorsing what is happening. I was reminded of that yet again today, reading a transcript of Howard Dean on CNN -
BLITZER: About a month ago, Senator Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic vice presidential nominee spoke out, urging his fellow Democrats, including yourself, to restrain themselves in criticizing the president's position on Iraq. Listen to what Lieberman said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander-in-chief for three more critical years, and that, in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you think? Is that advice good advice from Senator Lieberman?

DEAN: No. This president has lacked credibility almost from the day he took office because of the way he took office.

He's not reached out to other people. He's shown he's willing to abuse his power. He's not consulted others. And he's not interested in consulting any others.

And I think, frankly, that Joe is absolutely wrong, that it is incumbent on every American who is patriotic and cares about their country to stand up for what's right and not go along with the president, who is leading us in a wrong direction.
And, finally, this evening I found myself reading an address by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered April 4, 1967 at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City, entitled "A Time to Break Silence". He was discussing the war in Vietnam, but his words are as applicable to our present times -
I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." And that time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

And some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.
(By the way, you can listen to that address at this link.)

So, to sum up - I feel that there are so many reminders out there that to be silent is to aquiesce. As I've said before, if you approve of what is happening, that is your right. If you do not, then you can't just sit there. Learn about what is going on, make a statement in some way, and contribute to the growing clamor.

You know what to do, so just go and do it.

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January 07, 2006
 
"Well Brunettes Are Fine Man
And Blondes Are Fun ..."

We don't tell a lot of jokes around here, but this one (courtesy of The Lesser of Two Weevils), is clearly the funniest blonde joke ever.

(Apologies to the golden-haired among you, but sometimes I can't help myself)

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January 03, 2006
 
A Prayer For The Souls Of The Departed
I've written here before about Edward August "Augie" Schroeder. He grew up in my community in New Jersey. He graduated from our high school in 2000; my own son graduated from that same school last year. I did not know him or his parents personally, but many of my friends and neighbors did. Like my own son, he was a Scout, a town pool lifeguard, took part in assorted extracurricular activities, and was active in his church's youth group. In his yearbook portrait (which you can see in the story at this link), he looks just like a lot of the kids of our friends, and like our childrens' classmates. Heck, my son has a similar haircut in his yearbook picture. A lot of us see our own children, when we look at his picture.

He died while riding in a lightly armored, amphibious vehicle in the middle of the desert.

At the time, we saw that his parents were very strong people, who were not afraid to make their feelings known - His father had asked a friend to pass this on to the community through a local internet message board: "Also, we want them to know that the question is not why, but what next."

Cpl. Schroeder's father has continued making his feelings known, and did so today in an essay published in the Washington Post (which you may have read already, since it's all over the web today):
Life, Wasted
Let's Stop This War Before More Heroes Are Killed

By Paul E. Schroeder

Tuesday, January 3, 2006; Page A17

Early on Aug. 3, 2005, we heard that 14 Marines had been killed in Haditha, Iraq. Our son, Lance Cpl. Edward "Augie" Schroeder II, was stationed there. At 10:45 a.m. two Marines showed up at our door. After collecting himself for what was clearly painful duty, the lieutenant colonel said, "Your son is a true American hero."

Since then, two reactions to Augie's death have compounded the sadness.

At times like this, people say, "He died a hero." I know this is meant with great sincerity. We appreciate the many condolences we have received and how helpful they have been. But when heard repeatedly, the phrases "he died a hero" or "he died a patriot" or "he died for his country" rub raw.

"People think that if they say that, somehow it makes it okay that he died," our daughter, Amanda, has said. "He was a hero before he died, not just because he went to Iraq. I was proud of him before, and being a patriot doesn't make his death okay. I'm glad he got so much respect at his funeral, but that didn't make it okay either."

The words "hero" and "patriot" focus on the death, not the life. They are a flag-draped mask covering the truth that few want to acknowledge openly: Death in battle is tragic no matter what the reasons for the war. The tragedy is the life that was lost, not the manner of death. Families of dead soldiers on both sides of the battle line know this. Those without family in the war don't appreciate the difference.

...

Two painful questions remain for all of us. Are the lives of Americans being killed in Iraq wasted? Are they dying in vain? President Bush says those who criticize staying the course are not honoring the dead. That is twisted logic: honor the fallen by killing another 2,000 troops in a broken policy?

...

But their deaths will not be in vain if Americans stop hiding behind flag-draped hero masks and stop whispering their opposition to this war. Until then, the lives of other sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers may be wasted as well.

This is very painful to acknowledge, and I have to live with it. So does President Bush.
As always, read the whole thing.

So, what more do we need to hear? It is no longer the case that "your silence passes as honor". If you agree that everything is just as it should be, then that is your right. But, if you do not agree, then you can't just sit there. We've been told what we have to do, so we had best start doing it.

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This Pretty Well Sums It Up
An editorial in the current issue of the National Catholic Reporter -
Enough.

Little else is left to say to an administration that:

- Led a country into war on false premises;

- Continues to link the war against terrorism with the war in Iraq when the two had no relationship at the outset;

- Dismisses the Geneva Conventions and holds prisoners incognito for years, without charges or access to legal representation;

- Places detainees on planes bound for foreign countries known for torture and abuse of prisoners;

- Maintains secret CIA prisons on foreign soil;

- Subverts laws guarding the civil liberties of U.S. citizens, including searches of personal records and infiltration of religious and peace groups by the FBI;

- Defers to a vice president who argues for legal exceptions so that U.S. personnel can engage in torture;

- And has, at various times, created mechanisms to plant false news reports domestically and overseas and most recently paid to have stories planted in the Iraqi press.

Where are we headed?

To this deeply disturbing list of human rights abuses and violations of civil liberties add the most recent revelations that President Bush, under the influence of and with the encouragement of Vice President Cheney, personally approved widespread electronic eavesdropping on Americans.

We may not have reached, yet, the “Newspeak” or “telescreens” of 1984, but the level of deception is certainly approaching Orwellian dimensions when a president who casts himself as a champion of global democracy could orchestrate so much that is fundamentally destructive of democracy.

...

Bush tells us that he is protecting us from terrorists. But without even the minimal protection of the secret Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court, how do we know what criteria are used to determine national security threats? Who’s there to protect against the temptation to use the technology for political ends? Exactly what, in these days of secret detentions and rendition flights, makes for an enemy of the state?

At what point do we begin to call what’s happening a dangerous abuse of power and demand accountability?

It is time.
As always, read the rest for yourself.

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January 02, 2006
 
Cautious Man
One of the reasons (and, there are a couple of them) that this collection of random thoughts takes its name from a particular song is the line –
When something caught his eye he'd measure his need
And then very carefully he'd proceed
So, if I have a New Years resolution, it is to be less, well, cautious in that regard. I’ve already started out on the wrong foot, since as you can see this isn’t being posted on January 1 (even though I thought about writing this on that day).

Basically, I have to improve my ratio of doing things to thinking about doing things. I have to remember that anything good that’s ever happened to me has been the result of overcoming my natural hesitation. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t now be married to the Cautious Wife (yes, readers, “he let his cautiousness slip away”), or have any of the Cautious Kids, or be sitting right now in my nice home in my cool town. Listen, I agonized a long time over DSL vs. cable modem – that’s just the way I am. This whole site would’ve been operating a lot sooner if I hadn’t kept fussing with the color scheme (Hey, what's wrong with those colors? …).

We’ll see how it goes. Maybe if I let go of this obsessive need to try to use song lines for post titles, we might get more done here this year.

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