I've had a busy past couple of days, no time to update. I was able to ride my bike each day, though it was somewhat cold and overcast yesterday. I also made a short trip out of town, and truly enjoy driving the 2000 Escort, not to mention how cheap it is on gas!
Today is a beautiful day, sunny and in the 60s. It is SO nice to see the sunshine, and feel that spring is perhaps finally in the air. I LOVE springtime, it's my favorite season next to autumn.
I went on the bike ride early this morning (and was able to ride in the park, no work going on), then cleaned and rearranged the feeding area for the stray cats. All the rain had caused the ground around the covered picnic table to get muddy, so I moved that to a different location in the backyard. I have a long upturned wooden box that is positioned underneath the covered picnic table, where I place the dry cat food and fresh water daily. But I do move the table around to various spots in the yard, just to keep it cleaner and not kill the grass, or let the ground become too muddy.
I also did some extensive housework, and finally am at the computer. I wonder sometimes how I ever found the time to write over twenty novels, but I suppose I MADE time. Now it's all I can do to make entries in this journal!
I have several article links and excerpts to post, so here goes:
Why Not Kill Dictators with Kindness?
A year ago in Tehran, I noticed a defiantly goofy graffito inscribed on the wall of the old U.S. embassy building, the compound where the American hostages were held in 1979: ON THE DAY THE U.S. WILL PRAISE US, WE WILL MOURN. This was an official slogan — in Iran, as in America, graffiti are the work of miscreants, but in Iran the miscreants run the country — and it was an unintentionally revealing one: the mullahs are terrified of better relations with the U.S. Without the Great Satan, they have no excuse for, and no way to divert attention from, the dreadful brutality of their rule. A wicked thought occurred to me at the time, and recurred last week, as the Bush Administration continued its foolish refusal to meet with the North Koreans: Why not do the one thing that would most discomfort, and perhaps even destabilize, the precarious regimes of the Ayatollah Khamenei, Kim Jong Il and — for that matter — Fidel Castro and Muammar Gaddafi? Why not just say, "We hereby grant you diplomatic recognition, whether you like it or not. We're naming an ambassador. We're lifting the embargo. We're going to let our companies sell you all sorts of cool American things like Big Macs and Hummers. This doesn't mean we approve of the way you run your country, but it's silly for us to deny that you're in charge ... for now"?
The arguments against Fatal Huggery are obvious. Why encourage and legitimize evildoers? Why allow Kim Jong Il — the Michael Jackson of world leaders — to succeed with nuclear blackmail? Why reward the Iranians for their support of Hizballah? Fair points, all. But there is a problem: the current American policy of nonrecognition isn't working, and it may well be counterproductive. "What's the hardest job for a tin-pot dictator in the information age?" asks Joseph Nye, dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "Keeping his people isolated from the world. Why should we be making life easier for Fidel Castro or Kim Jong Il?"
The U.S. is the only major country that indulges in diplomatic ostracism (although most Arab states don't recognize Israel). This policy was invented, appropriately enough, by the arch-idealist Woodrow Wilson, who said that diplomatic recognition should depend on the "existence of a just government ... resting upon the consent of the governed." Wilson refused to recognize the Soviet Union in 1917. That ban was lifted in 1933, but Wilson's policy was resurrected in 1949 when the communists conquered China. America's nonrecognition of China, which lasted nearly 30 years, was an unmitigated disaster. "If we had not ostracized the Chinese, we might have avoided the war in Vietnam," says a prominent Republican foreign policy expert, referring to the American misreading of China's control over the Vietnamese communists (China and Vietnam proved to be mortal enemies). "But when has it ever helped to refuse to talk? Why voluntarily reduce your influence over an adversary?"
I find this very thought-provoking, particularly after Bush's speech last night indicating he is ready to wage war -- whether American people or anyone else worldwide likes it or not. Shades of the lone cowboy are NOT encouraging to me! At any rate, that's an excellent column if you have time to read it.
Gephardt Could Win. Really
.... Gephardt does have a message advantage. For any Democrat to have a chance against George W. Bush, the economy will have to be the dominant issue in the campaign. And Gephardt, more than the rest of the Democratic field, has a message designed to capitalize on (you might say "exploit") whatever economic discontent there is out there come primary and general election time. Having sided with Bush on Iraq, Gephardt is counting on the economy — rather than war or terrorism — to carry him to the nomination and beyond. He started today by slamming Bush's "tax cuts for the wealthy", proposing that the money should be used instead for expanding health care coverage. Depending on the state of the economy next year, it's a message that could resonate — certainly in the Democratic primaries, and maybe even in the general election.
Sounds good to me. I am definitely in the Gephardt camp, and will vote for him in the primary.
I watched Nightline last night, and the program was somewhat upsetting. I'd never heard of a group of conservative Republicans who advocated invading Iraq LONG BEFORE the terrorist act of 9/11. Apparently this group included/includes Donald Rumsfield and several of the individuals NOW in the administration. Scary too. Not only are they advocating invading Iraq, but also 'spreading democracy' throughout other parts of the world, middle east, etc. I can't help but think of how history has taught us that only the deluded rulers think they can 'take over the world'...such as Hitler and company. Missions of world domination are always doomed, in my opinion. Here's the URL for their website:
The Project for the New American Century
And finally, this awful article about two terrorism prisoners possibly being tortured to death while under interrogation by the U.S. Here's the URL to the article:
America admits suspects died in interrogations
American military officials acknowledged yesterday that two prisoners captured in Afghanistan in December had been killed while under interrogation at Bagram air base north of Kabul – reviving concerns that the US is resorting to torture in its treatment of Taliban fighters and suspected al-Qa'ida operatives.
Somehow I don't think this will be reported on the major network news media tonight.
I fear war is soon to be a fact, and I HATE war. I can't help that, it's just my natural instincts to think/feel that war anywhere is an atrocity and that human beings SHOULD be able to rationally, diplomatically settle their differences. Call me an idealist, though I am a very practical, realistic person...but I HATE/LOATHE killing -- of humans, animals, anything.
I also saw another interesting Nightline program that had a town meeting discussion, with Rep. John McCaine one of the people on the panel. When asked specifically, pointedly about how long U.S. troops would have to stay in Iraq AFTER the war, he was at first evasive. But eventually he did say that we couldn't keep the current troops there indefinitely, since they were mostly reserve forces, but that troops would have to be there for a long, long time. This led me to speculate that possibly there will, at some point in time, HAVE to be another draft in America if the current administration plans to 'spread democracy' (or take over other hostile countries) and station troops there...because quite simply, we will HAVE TO HAVE MANY troops, and volunteers for armed servies are NOT going to be enough. So get ready for the draft, kids.
Additionally, I read this disturbing article on MSNBC about aspects of the upcoming war our soldiers can expect. Here's an excerpt:
“Eco-terrorism”: In a written statement, the Pentagon said it feared Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would try to destroy Iraq’s oil fields and that it had “crafted strategies that will allow U.S. forces to secure and protect the oil fields as rapidly as possible in order to preserve them prior to destruction.”
Citing the destruction of Kuwaiti oil fields by Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, the Pentagon said it had also drawn up plans for putting out oil fires with the help of Brown & Root Services, a subsidiary of Halliburton Corp., the massive energy services company headed by Dick Cheney before he became vice president.
Oddly enough, I find it not surprising that Halliburton stands to make money off the situation described. Of course, this war is NOT about oil, is it? (sarcasm)
And that's all she wrote for today!