Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Shameful, Bloody New Year

By Paul

No wheezing horns and turquoise hats here. No Happy in this New Year. It's a bloody, shameful mess and getting worse.

Yesterday's New York Times had extensive coverage of American service fatalities in Iraq. No that won't do. The phrase, "American service fatalities" is bland, journalistic blather. The Times covered the slaughter of 3,000 of our fresh-faced young men and women who were needlessly cut to pieces in a non-winnable, disgraceful war.

The Times has found several ways to humanize the story. One heart-wrenching feature yesterday was editor Dana Candey's remembrance of her husband, 1st Sgt. Charles King, who wrote a series of letters to the newborn son he would see only once. It's a mixed media (audio) presentation that smoothly blends a traditional Times story with Internet capabilities. Other mixed media features include C.J. Chivers report on the dangerous lives of the Eighth Battalion, Second Marines, and Dexter Filkins' punch to the gut, "Farewell to an American Soldier," about the death of Sgt. Terry Lisk in a firefight in bloody Ramadi. There's also a searchable date base "> of the the 3000 slaughtered young men and women we mourn today.

Shortly, President Bush, a/k/a "The (demented) Decider," will apparently announce a new plan for "victory," involving a surge in American troops. Let's see what the spineless Democrats do. Talking to you, Senators Reid and Clinton. I'd be talking to John Kerry, too, but he's so yesterday, he was thrown out with the frilly bows and Christmas wrappings. (P.S. I was a better windsurfer than Kerry on his best day).

And speaking of Democrats, I have an open mind on Barack Obama, the glitzy Tiger Woods of politicians, and I'm feeling strangely fond of the new, chubby Al Gore, tilting at the windmills of global climate change. If Obama is a flashy quarterback who can run or pass, old Al seems like a sturdy lineman, butt low to the ground, digging and pawing at the turf. (Another solid lineman of Republican persuasion was Gerald Ford, who famously played hard and well at Michigan).

I have strayed from my message here. The year begins with the world turned against us, our treasury depleted, with more young Arabs being taught to hate and kill us...but none of those things are as horrible as the loss of our young people. Sitting at the funeral of former President Ford, was George W. Bush thinking ahead to his own last rites? Would it be solemn and dignified, or will the streets be filled with families of the lost and a parade of thousands in wheelchairs? For my part, I hope the ghosts of fallen haunt the President's dreams the rest of his life.


The film, "Little Children," is popping up on most Top Ten Lists (including
The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, New Yorker, etc.) It's nominated for a Golden Globe Best Picture, and Kate Winslet for Best Actress.

My view? I'm glad you asked. I HATED it.

The movie was adapted from Tom Perrotta's novel by the author and director Todd Field. It's a story about two loveless marraiges, an affair, a psychotic ex-policeman, and a child molester who takes a dip in the town swimming pool, which tnen empties like the beach in "Jaws." Fine story, fine characters...but the TERRIBLE, OBTRUSIVE, OFF-PUTTING VOICE-OVER narration pulled me right out of the movie. Yes, yes, I know the lines come straight from the book. But that's no reason for an omnisicient narrator with shifting POV who tells us what the characters are thinking when we can SEE it on their faces and HEAR it in their dialogue. Why film the story at all? The movie played like a book-on-tape.

On the other hand, for TERRIFIC VOICE-OVER that does not get in the way of the story, but rather enhances it, see Judi Dench in "Notes on a Scandal." It's on my Top Ten List.


Thanks to literary blogger Gerald So for picking "Solomon vs. Lord" as his favorite novel of the year. ("Combines the best elements of legal thriller and romantic comedy). Mr. So, (hereinafter referred to as "the astute Mr. So") also praises fellow Floridian and pal James Born for "Walking Money," likening the work to that of Elmore Leonard. The astute Mr. So's selections and other bloggers "favorites" are listed at The Rap Sheet's Rants and Raves .

By Paul


  1. Even though he wasn't the commanding leader, the general, playing QB at Michigan, but a "grunt" at the center position, Ford was no dope. In his Inauguration in 1974 he said:

    "I must say to you that the state of the Union is not good: Millions of Americans are out of work. Recession and inflation are eroding the money of millions more. Prices are too high, and sales are too slow. This year's Federal deficit will be about $30 billion; next year's probably $45 billion. The national debt will rise to over $500 billion. Our plant capacity and productivity are not increasing fast enough. We depend on others for essential energy."
    The times they are a changing?
    The Iraq war far surpasses the folishness of Vietnam; it is far more expensive, stirs up more and more enemies and it comes at a time when the "empire" is no longer in control of its finances or its energy.
    The war in Iraq HAS proved good for military contractors and artificial limb makers.
    In '74, the United States was trying to figure out how to withdraw from another absurd military adventure:The war in Vietnam.
    A year after Ford took office, we were out of Vietnam.

    Do I care if the next President is as good a windsurfer as you are? NO.But I do agree we could use another "good lineman" like Ford as our next leader.

  2. Jon,
    Excellent letter. With time, Gerald Ford has come to be remembered in a similar vein to Dwight Eisenhower (who played some football at West Point).

    We are, as my father used to say, in a helluva pickle.

  3. Yes, the subject of your blog got both me and my wife going on yet another "we are so screwed" rant about Busheney and this debacle in Iraq. I was watching the Ford funeral and thinking, hey, Ford said he wouldn't have invaded Iraq, Carter said he wouldn't have invaded Iraq, I'm sure Clinton wouldn't have invaded Iraq and George Sr DIDN'T invade Baghdad, in what in retrospect seems like a stroke of genius. Well, Raygun might have invaded Iraq, but he's not around to give us his opinion.


    Congrats on your book's plug. It was one of my 2006 favorites as well.

    Mark Terry

  4. "...but none of those things are as horrible as the loss of our young people."

    Really, Paul? Have you noticed the civilian casualty figures?

    If anything, the Iraq "war" is incredibly even more mismanaged than Vietnam conflict. Too many people were far too pleased with the easy success of the ground conflict, and expected that ease to continue. I know a retired Ranger who simply grumbles that no one in America had (or has) the stomach to do it the "right" way.

    Sorry, I'm not going to start a rant on your blog. Thanks again, Paul.

  5. BRAVO Jeff....you are precisely right...... civilian casualty figures indeed.....not sure what the "right way" is.....unless it's like some thought about Vietnam: Kill them all and let God sort them out...OR, bomb them all back to the stone age......oh, looking at that "execution," er, lynching, they won't have far to go.
    Perfect example of the principle that "might makes right." Nevertheless, WE don't need and have never needed to be over there as the GREAT DEMOCRATIC HOPE.
    PS: look at our domestic "casualties." they are just as horrible and saddening....our major casualties are the sad state of the economy and the even sadder state of our children's education.....the list goes on

  6. from Jacqueline

    I didn't get a chance to read yesterday, so here I am, late, on Wednesday. This is a post that hits it right on the nose - thank you! I've been wondering when all the marching in the streets that hasn't happened yet, will happen - where is the action on the collective outrage at the policies of this administration? And I have to add, the thing about Ford that really ticked me off - fine man that he was - was that when he said he would never have invaded Iraq, that it was a mistake, he said that his assessement should be off the record, not to be released until he was dead. Just what did he have to lose in speaking out for all to hear? A state funeral? And that's the thing, isn't it, so few are prepared to speak out for all to hear, to really just say what's going on - everyone's hedging their bets, couching truths in cotton candy, yes, even the spineless Democrats.

    I have always, from my very heart, been against any kind of draft and I am fiercely anti-war, but there is a truth, that this "war" would have been over long ago had the sons and daughters of ordinary middle class voting people been drafted to this war. I know, there are a fair number out there anyway, however, it is true that in any war without conscription, the rank and file make up the bulk of the human military might.

    And Jeff, you're right, the civillian toll is brutal, truly brutal. The late Robin Cook resigned from Tony Blair's government to express his dissent, and in an open letter predicted the outcome of the invasion of Iraq - it was eerily bang on the money, right down to the anarchy and continual huge loss of life - to say nothing of his prediction of inflaming terrorism throughout the world.

    And to close, before I burst an aorta, this from the French writer, Romain Rolland, written in September 1914:

    "I find war detestable, but even more detestable are those who praise war without participating in it."

  7. Absolutely right, Jacqueline.....I'm 100% antiwar,too. Not only for the reasons that you describe but because of the underlying reason[s] we are there. This is not a situation where there was immanent threats made to our lives and liberties, like W.W.II. We don't even couch it as a war but have catchy "blather" like Operation Desert Storm.
    As "we" have spoken in your previous posts, and as was my point in my last post, there are more important "wars" we should concentrate on here at home: like our insistence on ignoring the "Inconvenient Truth," or our lack of, as you said, "...being aware that our actions, choices and attitudes have an impact far beyond the boundaries of our own family, bank account, house, garden or workplace."