Saturday, January 13, 2007

Blog Depression

I've already satisfied myself that blogging is not addictive. I reserve judgment about my Internet use in general. There are so many things that make me feel really good; especially when I see, read, listen to so many who create something good. But politics, in particular the politics of war can make me feel very bad.

I wasn't sure what image to accompany this post. I have a nice graphic that says: No War On Iran, after President Bush's speech this week that's surely been on my mind. But I chose a picture of General Smedley Butler's book. The reason is while obsessing over the implications of speech, looking high and low for opinions and commentary, I feel downright depressed.

Butler is one of the United States Marine Corps heroes. It seems strange from today's perspective that would be the case because General Butler articulated a severe critique of Eisenhower's famous Congressional-Military-Industrial Complex long before Eisenhower coined the term and the complex had consolidated its gains through the Cold War. Americans have long known there's something rotten at our core.

Gail Russel Chaddick of the Christian Science Monitor wrote a line that stopped me dead in my tracks in a report early in the week about Congressional hearings over Iraq:
That means a key aspect of the president's plan, expected to be unveiled this week, will run into a wall of words on Capitol Hill, but not much more.
Chaddick is a careful reporter. I've been reading her reports for years because while I was in school studying education she was the Monitor's education writer. "A wall of words and not much else" that's not spin, it's just the facts.

I've signed MoveOn's Petition urging Congress to block the president's plan to escalate the war in the Middle East. I've signed Care2's petition as well. I've written my senators and representative--you can find out how to contact Congress here. I haven't written my local paper as my letters no longer raise any response. I think all of those things are good to do and encourage you to do so too, if you're so inclined. But my depression persists because I know Chaddick is right: "A wall of words and not much else." She's right for reasons Butler laid out before World War II: "War Is a Racket."

I'm an avid gardener and one of my essential seed sources is J. L. Hudson Seedsman. Even if you don't buy many seeds the dollar for the catalog is well worth it because they sell only Public Domain seeds. So many plants, especially flowers to my mind are best as species, and there are many venerable old selections almost impossible to find elsewhere but very worth growing. D. Theodoropoulos, the owner of the business is also an anarchist and scatters pithy quotations throughout the catalog in order to make the page columns even. This year there are a couple new to me. The first from William Burroughs:
Migrants of ape in gasoline crack of history.
The second by R. Crumb:
Sooner of later you're gonna hafta face up to them...the fact is, you know too much're no know what they're doing all over the world is terribly, terribly wrong
Inconvenient truths I somehow ignore most of the time. The policies my country is perusing under my flag I oppose.

I certainly don't expect others to trust my views about American politics, I'm no expert. Digby at Hullabaloo is someone whose views about politics seem quite informed and Digby makes an observation about the political calculus and war in this piece that's really astute:
I thought long and hard about that since then, wondering how a politician can truly know the smart move in cases of war and I concluded that they probably can't. They simply have to do what they think is right. It's a different case than most legislation where you can horsetrade and think about positioning for the future and otherwise play politics. War is a wildcard --- you can't know in advance how things are going to go or what position taken today might benefit you tomorrow. The risks are so high and the moral questions so profound that you are better off just trying to make a reasoned decision and being open minded about changing your mind if things go differently than you expect
I believe strongly that my country's current policies in the Middle East are dangerously mistaken. My views aren't very significant, but ultimately what we all think is right is significant. Elected politicians have to wrestle with what is right as much as I do, and the outcome in their cases is far more important. I find Digby's observation somewhat encouraging, at least it's possible politicians could decide what's right. Of course, I'm not holding my breathe. It's sad to say most people are like me in not sufficiently valuing what we think is right. And maybe a wall of words isn't as insubstantial as we imagine. Alas, I'm still depressed.

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