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750 Naked Women

My War Diary

As the months and years of the Iraq war dragged on, I found myself writing less frequently about the war and more about my hatred for the adminstration that caused it. Yes, I credit George W. Bush with teaching me how to hate (we all have it in us and and with a little coaching from Bin Laden, Rumsfield, Ashcroft or Bush, we can become quite good at it). After November 2nd when Bush was re-elected, when America gave its endorsement to everything he had done from the first stolen election to Iraq to Clean Skies, Halliburton and all the rest, I finally cracked. I knew I had reached bottom when I wanted to smash an SUV covered with Bush stickers in the parking lot, when I found myself wanting to inflict the very pain and punishment I had been trying to prevent. I could keep on hating everyone who voted for Bush, but that was half of America. I could keep following the news from Iraq, but America had spoken and said they really didn't care. Or I could go into denial and chart a deliberate course of detachment, try to ignore politics and live in peace with people whether I agreed with them or not. And that's the plan, so this is the end of the warblog. I wish I could be optimistic about the fate of the Iraqi people, and the fate of America, but the ride ahead looks rough. Me, I'll be sailing in the Caribbean, trying not to care.

What's so funny about peace, love and understanding?

Here's what I wrote on the day I decided to start this diary:

I think about this damned war more than anything else these days. If you don't know why I am upset, see my Iraq Rant. If you're wondering, the photo above (from World Photos - AP) is 750 naked women protesting. No, it was not taken in Chattanooga.

In the days since the war officially "ended" (of course, it never really ends) my rantings have become less frequent. And, I suspect, the possibility of anyone else ever reading any of this becomes ever more remote. Maybe someday, if I'm lucky, there will a copy of this preserved somehow so my beloved daughter can read about my short-lived political activism, and maybe--just maybe, no matter what her own beliefs--she can be a little proud of her old man for at least speaking his mind. Forgive me, but I really wanted her to have a better world than this to live in.

Monday, December 19, 2006 Here it is almost Christmas, and it's finally becoming clear to more Americans that we are suffering the worst defeat in our nation's history. The terrorists are winning. After we were stupid enough to invade Iraq, it now appears that we will eventually withdraw, the country will fall into chaos, and Al Queda will have demonstrated to the world (if Vietnam wasn't enough of a lesson) how we can be defeated. Idiots! Idiots! Idiots! We are idiots!

Friday, June 15, 2006 I said I wouldn't continue the blog, but one more comment can't hurt. Another year has gone by and nothing has changed...of course. The violence in Iraq continues with no end in sight, with somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 dead because of our invasion (Bush prefers the lower number, but I wouldn't think the difference would be enough to let him sleep at night). America continues to hold prisoners who haven't been charged with anything at Gitmo. And our country is still being famous for soldiers who torture, murder, and kill innocent people, including women and children.

Believe it or not, I have some respect and sympathy for our soldiers. Then this week, just when the commotion about U.S. soldiers murdering people was dying down for a moment, a videotape of one of our marines shows up on the Internet. I watched the video and was sickened. The soldier strums a guitar and sings in a surprisingly good voice about mowing down an Iraqi family and then laughing about it. The shocking part is the cheers from the crowd (I believe the video was shot at Camp Lejune) that could have come from any sports bar in the country. Blowed 'em up! Blowed 'em up real good! It was just a joke, the guy tried to explain later.

And yet I don't think any human could be expected to do the job our soldiers have been given. In a war, innocent people will inevitably be killed, raped, and blown up real good. Not sure who said it first, but war does not make men turns them into dogs. There are some really bad apples serving in our military, maybe more than any of us want to admit, but not all of these men cheering to a song about killing people were dogs before they went to Iraq. Look around, and all you see are victims.

At least we all know who to blame. How incredible to be George W. Bush, pondering your most-hated status in the history books! And yet let's be truthful: there will always be idiots around who will do stupid things with your country if we let them. Americans--those who didn't vote against Bush, at least, and then didn't speak a word out against his war and his immoral policies--caused this mess, and I fear we and our children will ultimately pay the price for our mistakes. We brought this on ourselves.

Thursday, May 26, 2005 Okay, although I reallly have stopped paying much attention to anything in the news, especially things relating to Iraq, I do occasionally find myself checking CNN and basically it all comes down to two things. (1) Thousands of people of all nationalities dead, and Iraq is still one of the most dangerous places in the entire world with no prospect of change for years or decades to come. And for you conservatives out there, my favorite mantra: ONE BILLION DOLLARS A WEEK ONE BILLION DOLLARS A WEEK ONE BILLION DOLLARS A WEEK!!!!

Oh, baby, is there any problem in the world you can't fix with ONE BILLION DOLLARS A WEEK? Tell me you're laughing, my patriotic friends, because this could just be the saddest joke you ever played on yourselves.

Saturday, October 30, 2004 Sometimes as Annie drives me into work in the mornings I close my eyes not because I am sleepy but because I can't bear seeing another SUV with a "W" sticker on it. Months ago, when the stickers were rare and seemed to me to be the moral equivalent to having a swastika on your bumper, I always tried to get a glimpse of the driver. Now the stickers are all too common and I've tired of that game; but the other day I saw some guy staring at me from the other lane like I used to stare at them, glaring at me for having Kerry stickers on my bumper.

How is it possible that there are two such different worlds, theirs and mine, matter and anti-matter side by side on the road? How can we live in the same neighborhoods and arrive at such opposite and equally alarming conclusions? Do they not watch the news, or do they just not believe it? Do they listen only to Rush Limbaugh and read Ann Coulter and disregard everything else? A friend of mine says her mother supports Bush because she knows that Saddam was behind 9-11. What do you do with people like that? It's as if they are saying the world is flat and they don't care what the pictures from space show, they know better.

If you caught Kerry's references to Bush using "Orwellian" language in the debates, that's even more frightening: the power of a few individuals, a few hundred million dollars, and some cooperating media empires to turn everything into its opposite. War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. Increases in pollution called the "Clear Skies" Initiative. Record budget deficits a sign of fiscal responsibility. Outsourcing to other countries creates jobs at home. A man who wins medals in battle is less honorable than one who used family connections to shirk his duty. Big Brother watching what library books you're reading, people hauled off to jail but never charged in the defense of liberty. The almost perfect double-think of the missing weapons of mass destruction, that being proved wrong enhances America's credibility, of enforcing the will of the United Nations by defying the will of the United Nations...but we could go on all night.

John Kerry is not perfect, but he's a better man than most of us. He's a better man than George W. Bush, whose entire political career has been based on hiding and distorting the truth--but them I sincerely hope all of us are. Give me one reason any sane non-millionaire would vote for Bush that will hold water, just one reason I can understand, and maybe I could comprehend why he's still in office, much less running ahead in the polls. I went to the Republican National Committee site at hoping to figure that out but found only page after page of attacks on Kerry. Like how Kerry can't really pay for all things he's promised--as if ANYONE could do worse than the half trillion dollar deficit Bush created this year! Just how stupid are we? And just how sick has men like George Bush and Karl Rove made our entire political process?

This election is a thousand pound gorilla on my chest. I'm so desperate I've started praying about it, like a man prays for a cancer to be healed, knowing it isn't likely but unable to give up hope. I've sent every dollar Bush gave me in his last idiotic tax cut to the Kerry campaign, yet I have too little faith and too much fear. What will I do on November 3rd if Bush stands there with that smirking sneer on his face, re-elected? I keep trying to prepare myself, but I can't do it. There's a part of the brain that longs for reason and justice and fairness, the only real evidence of God I've ever seen, and I can't seem to turn that part of my brain off.

The thing is, I shouldn't have to. I live in a country called America.

God hates a liar, but hopefully forgives a blasphemer.

Friday, October 29, 2004 We're a sick, sick society, but it's not because we pay too much in taxes or some lazy bum is getting welfare who doesn't deserve it. We're the saddest excuse for a civilized race I can imagine. Go look at the yachts at the boat show or count the $40,000 SUV's in the driveways and tell me the rich are suffering.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004 I used to think I could get along with just about anybody, that it was interesting to know people of different perspectives, that I could still be friends with someone who had different opinions. I used to be a fairly happy, peaceful guy who knew right from wrong and believed that there was some sort of moral order to the universe.

We're a week away from the election, our country and our world are more screwed up than they ever have been before, so how in God's name is it possible that America could re-elect George W. Bush? I see intelligent-looking people driving around with "W" stickers on their SUV's and it makes me want to put a gun to my head, because I'm clearly living on the wrong planet. I mean, how is it possible? If you're a moral person, how can you vote for a man whose entire political career has been based on lies? If you're a person whose heard that old saying, "Thou shalt not kill," how can you support a man whose reckless decisions have killed tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children? If you're a fiscal conservative, how can you vote for a man who expanded big government more than any Democrat in our lifetime and turned a budget surplus into record deficits? If you're concerned about terrorism, how can you re-elect a man has done more to fuel terrorism than Bin Laden could ever hope to?

Half of America (the same half that thought "Born in the USA" was a patriotic anthem) doesn't get it. They just don't get it. They only hear with one side of their brain. They must spend their time listening to that pious drug addict Rush "Vince Foster was murdered by Hillary Clinton!" Limbaugh and actually believe some of the garbage that comes out of his mouth. They must think it's good for a country to run up trillions of dollars of debt, increase our dependence on foreign oil, sprew mecury around so you can't eat fish more than once a month. And the best way to "support the troops" during a "time of war" that will never end is to keep sending them out on patrol without armored vehicles while cutting their veterans benefits.

Are you one of them?

Don't bother telling me that if I don't love America I can leave it--I'm already packing. George W. Bush, a man I disliked from the first moment we met, has taught me the art of intolerance and hate, and that's not the way I want to live the rest of my life.

How can this be America?

I can't get that smart-alec, sneering face out of my head.

How could anyone with functioning eyes and ears and brain vote for Bush?

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Let's take a quick trivia quiz:

  1. What country arrests and imprisons people (some of them its own citizens) for years at a time without charging them with anything, without letting them see a lawyer, sometimes keeping them secret even from the Red Cross?
  2. What country currently comes to mind when you think of prisoners being tortured?
  3. What country sells wheat and corn to a certain island off the coast of Florida but cites national security in charging two citizens with felony charges of "trading with the enemy" for organizing sailboat races to the island?
  4. Speaking of that particular island, in what country does an executive order of the President give authorities the right to seize and confiscate any vessel that they think might intend to go there?
  5. In what country is it considered not just legal but a good idea for the government to track the library books its citizens might choose to read?
  6. Easy one: what country justified invading another by claiming that the smaller country had secretly stockpiled weapons of mass destruction and was violating United Nations orders to reveal the weapons to its inspectors when in fact no such weapons existed?
  7. What National Security Advisor actually said that being proven wrong in this fashion enhanced the country's credibility?
  8. Trick question: What country is the world's largest producer of opium? Hint: it's the world headquarters of the Taliban and largely ruled by warlords.
  9. An oldie but goodie: what is the only country in the history of the world to drop atomic bombs on innocent people, not just once, but twice? Sorry, I know some people like to say that was a good idea (some people are still arguing that sending 58,000 American troops to their deaths in a place called Vietnam was a good idea), but I couldn't resist. You can bet they teach that story in terrorism school, though: 350,000 people burned, blasted, and radiated to death, the first time so the world would see what we could do and the second to show it was no accident.
Yeah, yeah, why dwell on just the negatives? What about all the nice things we do? Oh, I can hear you now: if you hate America so much, why don't you go someplace else, you Islamic Communist! I know that our mix of good and evil is nothing new to America or any country in the world, that we and everybody else have always done these kinds of things. Wars waged, people murdered, lies told and believed, all in the name of money, power, and glory, going back Adam and Eve and the sins of the fathers and all of that.

But shouldn't we aspire to be something better? In these days of the Internet and information that flies all around us, why does half of America not see what a billion or so other humans on the planet do? How can we be so confused about so many people around the world hate us? The people driving around with Bush/Cheney stickers on their SUV's don't listen and don't care.

I love America. You don't have to tell me about the good things we do. Damn it, I occasionally even did some good things myself. But if the idiots continue to prevail and keep Bush and his redneck friends in power, I swear I will leave this country and never look back. What other choice would I have? When I was in sixth grade I won a cash prize for a ridiculously patriotic speech I gave entitled, "What Freedom Means to Me," and I still feel the same way.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004 Well, here we are, very close to a year since I began this diary. I haven't added anything in months, but honestly there hasn't been much to add. Today we lost another six Americans in bomb attacks, but this is getting to be old news after all these months. If only we could capture Saddam and end these horrible attacks--but wait, we did capture Saddam, and the attacks continue. For everything we do right in Iraq, there's some innocent person we kill or haul off in the middle of the night for questioning who doesn't ever seem to get released or even charged with anything. When other countries do this, we scream about violations of human rights. And still Bush refuses to admit that he was so completely wrong about Saddam having any weapons of mass destruction, even after everyone else in the world (except for Blair) has come to that conclusion. David Kay, head of the WMD search team, blames poor intelligence for misleading our president. Yes, Bush does have a problem with intelligence!

Friday, August 29, 2003 Our local Congressman Zack Wamp (who wrote me personally a while back to call my views "disgusting" but impressed me nonetheless because he wrote back at all) said recently that America should let the United Nations take over and bring our troops home. Wrong again, Zack! I hated starting the war in part because I knew we would never really be able to "pull out." We are committed now--the mistake has been cast, the troops are there to stay. That doesn't mean I don't want the men who made that mistake brought to justice. We must hold Bush and his henchmen responsible for the horror they chose to create.

Tuesday, August 26 I've been trying to write a letter to my friends about the war for weeks now, but I can't do it. Just like I can't finish my analysis of Powell's speech to the United Nations (might as well publish my draft, then). Here's some of what I was going to say in my letter but had to cut out for brevity:

People, many of them civilians, are still dying every day (see if you can stand to read some of the details). Yeah, war is Hell, and I share the blame for inflicting it on the people of Iraq along with the rest of you. If you're one of those people with the "Proud to be American" bumper stickers, then go ahead and visit (warning: some of these pictures, which were censored by our own press, will sicken you) and see how proud you feel.

Now we are mired down in a country where we are increasingly hated, with no way to leave and so little progress in bringing peace or prosperity to the people we have "liberated." (Pop quiz: what percentage of the people in Baghdad, the center of all our efforts, now have reliable electricity and water?) We spent $100 billion dollars to kill one man, and we can't even accomplish that. The final price tag (forget human lives, we're just talking dollars here) for what will likely be years of occupation is at least half a TRILLION dollars, absolutely none of which we have in the bank to spend. No, we're financing 100% on the backs of our children, who will be paying the interest on that debt for the rest of their lives

I spent hours and hours and hours going over Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations on February 5, trying to understand how the war was "justified" (Powell's arguments didn't win over the U.N., but they did a lot for the pro-war cause here at home). The amazing thing, now that we have the benefit of hindsight, is that just about every threat that Powell tried to magnify has turned out to be NO THREAT AT ALL. I had expected to find something concrete, but most of what he said was dubious then and NONE of it stands up now. Think about it--we've had complete control and access to all of Iraq, combing the country with thousands of specialists and interrogating scientists and top officials of the Hussein regime for MORE WEEKS than Bush gave the U.N. inspectors, and we've found not a single weapon of mass destruction, much less the tens of thousands that Bush, Powell, Rumsfield, and Rice bold declared were definitely there.

The pattern of deception, secrecy, and outright distortion of the facts has become standard operating procedure for the Bush Administration. They do it every day when they talk about the environment, tax cuts, energy policy--virtually everything they touch is tarnished with misleading or out-of-context information.

God help me, I'm still working on the letter.

Tuesday, August 19 Golly gee, let's see how things have improved in all these weeks. Today terrorist bombs killed 20 people today at the U.N. headquarters in Iraq and another 20 or so in Israel. This week the Taliban killed over 60 people in attacks in Afganistan (which, incidently, is now the world's largest exporter of heroin). A recent study said that the United States is more at risk for terrorism in retaliation for our wars in Iraq and Afganistan, while a recent New York Times article details how "intelligence" was so blatantly exagerated and used to mislead the American people. God, sometimes it really hurts to be right.

Saturday, June 7: Obviously, my war blog is winding down. Life at my home and across America goes, seemingly unaffected by the continuing fiasco halfway around the world. I don't lie awake at night thinking about people dying anymore. Bush and other leaders who sold the war to the public largely on the claim that Saddam was preparing to use and distribute weapons of mass destruction now look like liars or fools because no such weapons have been found (a Pentagon report from September confirms that they suspected WMD's in Iraq but had no reliable evidence), but the average American on the street doesn't care. There will be congressional invesigations (was our intelligence really that poor or did our leaders deliberately tell lies) but most people think the war was a great success, and Bush is riding high in the polls. Months after we took over the country, they still don't have electricity or water in Iraq, but I'm sitting in air-conditioned comfort here at home. An American soldier or two is shot every day in Iraq, the people are marching in the street telling us to go home, and suicide bombers are blowing people up, but here on my street it's nice and quiet, so why should I care?
TAB I have these questions for anyone who thinks the war was a success. First, how many people have died so far in this war? Oh, we know the number of American casualties. Does anyone know the total number of people (non-Americans are people, too) killed? Does anyone care? I saw one small article in USA Today (page 8 on 5/18/03) estimated 1,700 civilians were killed and 8,000 wounded in the battle for Baghdad alone, but that's the only number I've seen anywhere. How many Iraqi solders died, not just in Baghdad, but across the country? In America, nobody knows, and nobody cares.
TAB Second, where next? Where will our next "pre-emptive" attack take place? Yemen, Iran, North Korea? Brother, the list is growing. World opinion of the United States is at an all-time low. More people in Muslim countries trust Ossama Bin Laden to do the right thing for the world than George W. Bush. They hate us. And yes, they are scared of us, the world's biggest bully. Is that what we set out to accomplish?
TAB America is more at risk than ever. Our children will still be dealing with the mess we've made long after we're gone. God forgive America, because the rest of the world never will.

Wednesday, May 8: In the past couple of days I've read that $500 million was looted out of the central Iraq bank, people in Baghdad are angry and suspcious of the Americans, looting continues around the country, millions are out of work and have no electricity, and to top it off, the Taliban is making somewhat of a comeback in Afghanistan. Now, you can say I'm a "doom and gloom" kind of guy, and you'd obviously be right. But the fairy tale of Iraq magically becoming a model democratic country that will make friends and influence people across the region looks more like fantasy than ever. Of course, America has already declared that "democracy" won't include electing people who aren't on our approved list.
TAB As if we didn't already have enough troubles at home.

Friday, April 18: Now that the war is "over," a few people have asked me if I felt any different about it. Reality check: like millions of other people, I did not oppose this war because I thought we would lose militarily. Everyone knew our forces would crush the Iraqi army. The only question was how much it would cost us in human lives on both sides, military and civilian. We still don't know the answer to that question, and I'll be surprised if we ever do. It's estimated that around 1,700 Iraqi civilians died, and who knows how many military men perished. But, the people persist, don't I feel safer now? And this I cannot grasp: why anyone would feel safer, why anyone with a brain thinks terrorists have been harmed in any way by our conquest of Iraq.
TAB I'm glad Saddam is gone, dead, whatever--no longer a threat to his own people. But Iraq is hardly a place of joy, and as they sit watching anarchy unfold around them, without electricity, water, hospitals filled with the wounded and no medicine to help them, the people of Iraq have only hope that the days ahead will be better instead of worse. Do I feel safer, proud, happy about what my country has done? Of course not.

Wednesday, April 9: I am haunted today, this day of the liberation of Baghdad when statues of Saddam are being pulled down, by the knowledge of a 12 year old boy who lost seven members of his family and both arms in a missile attack. There was a picture of him in the hospital bed with two bandaged stumps. The kid said that if doctors can't reattach his arms, he will commit suicide. I wonder how soon they'll tell him he will always have stumps instead of hands. Saw the story earlier but it has disappeared now, apparently pulled off the site. Who wants to read depressing stories during our victory celebration? Who knows or cares how many Iraqi people are dead, dying, or greiving right now? Who cares that we haven't found even first weapon of mass destruction, and that was our entire excuse for this invasion? That's not the story America wants to hear now.

Monday, April 7: A quote from UTC's own Jeffrey Rush: "Who cares what the rest of the world thinks?" Oh, thank you, Mr. Rush, for sharing the true depths of your wisdom, for letting us see that glimpse into your soul and the true promise of the human race. I watched the war for the first time, really, on TV tonight, Ted Koppel going from the start of the ground war to the troops arriving in Baghdad. Laura was taking a bath so I watched the explosions and the tanks clattering over the pavement and cars full of Iraqis getting chewed up by American machine guns. Laura and Mommy are shrieking with delight in the tub, Everybody Loves Raymond is on the other channel, and men in dusty uniforms are shooting guns and rockets at each other on the other side of the world.
TAB What a horrible world we've made. What a horrid, primitive species we are. There is truly no bottom to our capacity for cruelty. And I understand, finally, why suicide bombers push the button.

Tuesday, April 1: Back into the routine after a long weekend out of town and the war is getting to be old news. Monday's print edition of USA Today had a horrid letter complaining that that readers shouldn't have to see the "distressing details" of the war and that the headlines should concentrate on something else to offer "relief" to Americans. I wish--you know, I just wish for justice. I want those who supported this war to experience its horror. I want those who ordered this war to feel its pain. But they don't, and they won't. There is no justice. There is no heaven. There is no hell. There is just this damn war.

Thursday, March 27: All those billions spent on defense and darn if we've got anybody worth fighting anymore. It's so pitiful to hear about Iraqi's in pickup trucks going against our tanks and armored vehicles. Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers will die and we don't lose anybody, and then we complain because they aren't "playing fair." Then a few Americans (maybe even some of these twenty year olds I keep hearing on the radio who can't wait to get closer to the action) are killed and we get all mad, because now it's "personal."
TAB Lots of personal pictures of dead bodies from both sides flying around the Internet today (if you've got the stomach, see These are being mostly censored in this country, but of course they can't be stopped. Some people complained that they were offended by seeing these pictures. Get a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, America. See how much blood your president (sorry, you can't blame Saddam when we are the ones who are attacking) has on his hands. Then take a look at your own hands and ask yourself what you did to prevent it.

Tuesday, March 25: The war has become routine, just another part of our daily landscape. Then on the radio I hear about the 3rd Infantry battling the Medina Division (it sounds like a sporting event), "softening them up" with artillery and bombs, and the horror of it comes over me again. We are the invaders. The Iraqi army is defending themselves against us. And, using $75 billion of our own tax dollars and 43 of our soldier's lives as of the last count, we are slowly wiping them out. My God. My God. My God!

Sunday, March 23: After a slow start, "shock and awe" got underway Friday and it has been downhill since. There was another message from the right-wing extremist Jeff Rush from UTC's Criminal Justice department expressing his concern that some people still didn't think the war was justified or the right thing to do. To help us, he provided a bunch of links and quotes from experts like Russ Limbaugh.
TAB Then there were all the people at UTC that thought it would be appropriate to fly our flags at half-mast in honor of the increasing number of American soldiers who are dying in Iraq. A few others thought it might be nice to consider the hundreds (or is it thousands by now?) of Iraqi soldiers, too.
TAB I don't care how much Jeff Rush drools over the idea of it, I hate this war.

Thursday, March 20: Got a lengthy and thoughful response from a friend whose husband served in the last war. She was right to take me to task, but I defend my stupid honesty in recording not just logical arguments against the war but my state of mind as well. My severe "dislike" of Bush, my harsh criticisms of some Christians for not taking more of a stand against the war, even my implication that we got pulled over and ticketed because of our anti-war bumper stickers (that was only half-serious, by the way) really have no place in the debate--but that's what I was feeling so that's what I recorded. However, I felt a little entitled since some of those advocating war seemed to be invoking hatred of Clinton and religious righteousness in justifying the killing, or even pre-meditated apathy ("I'm sure the president knows a lot more about this so I'll just trust him to handle it.")
TAB Now, with American troops advancing in Iraq, bombs dropping and missiles flying into Baghdad, there's another sentiment that says, "Shut up and support the troops! Support your country!" I've never met anyone yet who didn't support the troops, but the current administration has alienated at least a third of America along with a majority of the world. Don't expect unity and forgiveness from people who were told bluntly that their opinion didn't count. The war may be a moot point but forgiveness for it is a sad, impossible dream. Bush had better hope he can find the weapons of mass destruction the Iraqi's have so far failed to use (initial reports of Scuds being fired into Kuwait were apparently false) or else he is going to look like the world's dumbest and biggest liar.
TAB May the war be over quickly with the fewest possible casualties on both sides.

Wednesday, March 19: 300,000 troops, B52's, and Tomahawk missiles are "all awaiting an attack order from Bush," says USA Today. There was a bit of a e-mail debate on campus today about the war, sparked by posting of Micheal Moore's Letter to Bush. I got angry reading some of the pro-war responses from people who were still arguing Clinton versus Bush and God and Country and September 11 and similar crap. I get angry again just thinking about them now, sitting warm and cozy in their homes waiting for bombs to fall halfway around the world, thinking that's going to make the world a better place. I only wish they could get a taste of the shock and awe of an explosion going off around them. I got a taste of it myself last night when I had a head-on collision with a 16 year old in a pickup who was going too fast on a slick road. There is no word to describe that moment, the sudden BANG of horrible violence and then the silence. Both me and the other driver walked away from it. We were lucky. But at least it was an accident, not a premeditated attempt at murder.
TAB Just after Annie, Laura, and I got home from Chuck E Cheese tonight, missiles started hitting their targets in Iraq. The attack has begun.

Monday, March 17: It hangs around me like a sick fog, the idea of this war that Bush is announcing tonight. I smell smoke everywhere I go. I couldn't stand to watch him on television tonight. It feels as if someone you love is dying, and the cars on the freeway just keep zipping by outside the window, and you wonder how they do that without even thinking about death when you are so surrounded by it. I am alternately depressed and angry, bleak, barely able to carry on a conversation with anyone, including myself.
TAB Who wins the battle inside you, goes the story: love, or hate? The one you feed, says the wise man, which one you feed.

Sunday, March 16: With war looming, over 300 men, women, and children gathered on the Walnut Street Bridge tonight to hold candles and show their support for peace as part of a world-wide vigil. Young and old, they stood solmenly, determined to keep the tiny flames of their candles lit against the wind. I was proud that Laura and Annie were there with me.

Candles for Peace

Families United

There is at least a flicker of hope for America.

Not everyone in this country thinks it's really cool to watch buildings full of other human beings blow up from 3,000 miles away.

Even in Chattanooga, there are people who believe that being the greatest military power in the history of the world does not give America the right to invade and conquer without justifying our actions to the world.

Whatever happens, we cast our vote for life, not death, for both American and Iraqi people.

Whatever happens, we stood together tonight asking for peace.

Friday, March 14: USA Today is reporting that Bush, Blair, and Aznar will meet on Sunday "amid a cascade of events--all pointing to war, perhaps just days away." Bush told America just one week ago that he would ask for a vote by the Security Council no matter what, but now that he can't get support from anyone except Britain and Spain, he's will probably go back on his word. And then, for a man who cares nothing about world opinion, there will be no reason not to launch the attack. To show that he's a man of peace, he gives a news conference today about a middle east peace plan that would create a Palestinian state. God have mercy on my soul for hating this man as much as I do. Bush, I've never said this about another human being in my life, but you are one sick motherf***er. God have mercy on America for giving you and your simple-minded friends the keys to our kingdom so you could throw the future of our country and our world up in the air like a pair of dice.

Wednesday, March 12: Home sick still; missed the regular Wednesday peace vigil downtown. Thinking about how I have to be careful not to fall into the trap of letting my dislike for Bush influence how I feel about his policies and practices. I tend to distrust everything he does, but let's be clear about this: I may hate Bush because he is moving our country into unjustified war, but I would hate the idea of that war no matter who was peddling it. By the same token, if the world was with us, if the evidence was there, I don't think I would even be protesting.

Tuesday, March 11: Home sick and feeling sicker after reading the results of recent polling at USA Today and CNN. Around two-thirds of those polled back the attack on Iraq, regardless of whether the we have the support of the U.N. In an even more depressing poll reported by CNN, 76 percent believe Saddam provides assistance to al Qaeda and an incredible 72 percent think it was either "very or somewhat likely" that Saddam Hussein was "personally involved" in the September 11 attacks. No one, not even George W. Bush, has ever claimed Saddam was personally involved in September 11, but drooling Americans sitting in front of their televisions are somehow hearing it. Of all the Bush claims about Iraq, the links to al Qaeda are embarassingly weak, but we not only believe them, we take it step further! We are complete fools, idiots, buffoons, the mightest nation in the history of our planet, and we might as well be aiming those thousands of missiles down our own throats.

Monday, March 10: Today Kofi Annan, U.N. Secretary General, was quoted as saying that military action without direct authorization from the Security Council would violate the charter of the U.N. Despite heavy pressure by Bush and Blair, Russia and France have both said they would veto an authorization for the attack, although a veto may not be necessary since Bush hasn't been able to get close to the nine votes needed to pass his resolution for war.
TAB And in the middle of all this I realize that I do get carried away in my rantings about the horrors of war, losing sight of my belief that war is sometimes justified, sometimes necessary. But we are such a long way from that unhappy conclusion in this case. I wish no evil on the military men and women who signed on the dotted line and have the courage and conviction to obey their orders, nor on their families waiting at home. But it's hard not to wish evil or at least justice on the politicians who cause these artificial and so often unnecessary human tragedies. It's hard not to make the mistake of hate.

Sunday, March 9:We're just back from a long weekend in Huntsville, revisiting childhood haunts and trying to relax. I made the mistake of watching Bush Jr. address the nation on Friday night. I have to hand it to Bush: he kept pounding home his key messages. Saddam is a danger, I'm sworn to protect, and I'm going to disarm him no matter what anybody thinks. The gaping holes in his answers, the illogic of his logic (I'm going to make sure the world respects the authority of the Security Council by going to war even if the Security Council is against it), the idiocy of some of his rhetoric (Saddam is a world menace but North Korea is a "regional problem") finally drove me over the edge. My festering dislike for Bush turned to true hatred. I've tried to regain my composure since. Let's just say I do not like Bush, who as someone repeated as last week's protest "was born on third base and thought he'd hit a triple."
TAB Looks like we're going to need to conquer Iran, as well as Iraq, sooner than we thought. News reports now confirm that Iran has a "very advanced" nuclear program.

Wednesday, March 5: I had nothing to say yesterday. Today there was an actual protest on campus (the "Books not Bombs" national walkout). Small but dedicated turnout at the regular Wednesday protest downtown. I was wondering if I had been too harsh in my condemnation of Bible Belt Christianity on Monday, so I asked various folks about Christian doctrines that would allow for war. They pointed me in the direction of Saint Augustine and philosophies of "Just War." (see the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Dr. Joe Byrne'sThoughts on America's Response to Terrorism, etc.). But this kind of philosophy, created and argued by scholars, is not the kind of thing you'll hear a Baptist preacher belt out on Sunday. Since we can't agree whether the "cause is just," pro- and anti-war forces are right back where we started.
TAB Several news agencies are quoting anonymous U.S. officials as saying the strategy is to "shock and awe" Iraq with ten times the number of bombs used in the opening days of the 1991 war. So many dead, so many families grieving! Such a powerful statement to the world of what Christianity means to America!
TAB At the risk of offending a lot of people, I stand by what I said on Monday. For all I know, that's God trying to tell them something.

Monday, March 3: Thou shalt not kill. Number one on God's list. Somebody, please, explain to me how so-called Christians who support this president and this war sleep at night. There's a doctrine to explain it, I'm sure, just as we've built an excuse for so many human failures right into our religions, just like Christian men found justification to keep their slaves a hundred and fifty years ago or to push the Indians right off the edge of our God-given continent. Got an e-mail today from a co-worker who in defended the war by railing about Clinton havng sex with women who were not his wife in the Oval Office, talking about moral outrage, about how wonderful it was finally to have a true Christian in the White House. And I'm thinking of family values and the Crusades and the Inquisition and how neatly that 757 disappeared into the tower...about religion and the righteousness it sirs up like a poison from deep inside of us.
TAB There are priests and ministers and men and women of peace who try to live up to Christ's words, and I stand sadly and proudly next to some of them every Wednesday in the park. But I fear Christianity as whole, especially here in the Bible Belt, has failed us now as it has failed us so often in the past. I won't stand with you, the rest of you so-called Christians, telling fairy tales of morality while you give your silent (or not so silent) approval to send so many thousands of your fellow human beings, innocent and guilty alike, straight to the Hell you're always hearing about. You demonstrate no morality. You show no trace of Christ's teaching. I cannot believe you have ever really talked to God.

Sunday, March 2: The Turks are holding firm. My pal Jerry hears rumors of Saddam having ships out at sea filled with biological and chemical weapons, and he half believes them and starts to wonder if this war okay ,after all. Give me a break. Bet you a hundred bucks, but nobody will take my bets. Annie says she's ready sail off on a sailboat in two years, but I'm still wondering if Americans will be welcome anywhere in the world by then.

Saturday, March 1: Saw last night that Bushy was now demanding that Saddam go into exile as a condition of avoiding the war in the New York Times, but there's no mention of it at CNN or USA Today. It made an outrageous sort of sense. Iraq is destroying the Al Samoud 2 missiles, Bushy can't find any believable links to al-Qaeda, and the inspections are working, so Bushy knew that he had to up the stakes. Saddam had just been quoted as saying he would die rather than go into exile.
TAB I'm floating out on the lake in the sailboat this afternoon, and instead of enoying it, I'm thinking about Bush, Saddam, and Blair.

Friday, February 28: Iraq agrees to destroy the non-compliant missiles, and the same Bush who wants us to believe war is a "last resort" says it's just another trick. "We will disarm him now!" Bushy says. El Torro comes to see me and says he's turned against the war. I offered to bet him $100 that Bush would turn back and call off the attack, but that's a sucker bet and he doesn't take it.

Thursday, February 27: I was more anxious and angry about the war today than usual. I made the mistake of reading a young female Republican's opinion piece in the student newspaper, the Echo. Some twenty-year old was telling me that war would be tough on all of us but it was our God-given duty to free the Iraqi people. Then she demonstrated her vast understanding of human history (oh, please, please, don't compare Saddam Hussein to Hitler!) by comparing Saddam to Hilter. Ah, the brilliant logic of her arguments--how could it fail to move me? Instead, I couldn't get the pictures of blackened, decapitated soldiers, of dead babies in their mother's arms, out of my head.
TAB Oh, you poor little Republican girl!

Wednesday, February 26: We had a heckler at the peace vigil downtown today, a young man in short hair and a winter coat who stood on the other side of the street in the rain loudly reading Bible verses to us. After a while he started yelling over things along the lines of, "Go read your Koran! Go back to Iraq!" At least everyone on our side of the street had the sense to bring raincoats or umbrellas. You couldn't help but feel sorry for this poor unbalanced fellow standing there with his Bible getting all wet.
TAB As part of the "Virtual March" today, I was supposed to call Senators Frist and Alexander. Frist had turned off his phones--a machine said his messages were full. I did talk with some folks at Alexander's office. Tried to call Senator Daschel but "all circuits were busy." I'll bet it was a busy day for the folks who answer phones in Washington.

Tuesday, February 25: Bush interview in "Bush hopes against war, but would be willing as last resort." What bullshit. Of course, no one who reads Fortune is already a Republican almost by definition, so it's so nice that they can feel better about themselves now. "I hope we don't have to go to war," Bush says. "I understand the precious cost of war." Yeah, how would that be, Baby Bush? I guess you learned a lot about war during that drunken year when you were AWOL from the National Guard.
TAB Maybe we need a new perspective. See the funny (if it weren't so frightening) animated war scenario at

Monday, February 24: It's been long enough after September 11 that I had actually forgotten why al-Quaeda had gone to the trouble and expense of flying two 757's into the World Trade Center. It wasn't just to kill Americans, to show how much they hated us. What was it all about? Remember? September 11 was designed to strike fear into us, humiliate us, but perhaps most of all to anger us. Al-Qaeda can't defeat the United States alone. Bush and the military darlings who run his administration are doing exactly what al-Qaeda hoped they would: provoke us into a response that will stir up ever greater hatred of America around the world. We think we're running the show, but really we're just following someone else's script. Al-Qaeda can take a vacation while we destroy ourselves, and we're just arrogant enough and stupid enough to do it.

Sunday, February 23: Today, after two weeks of rain it was warm and sunny, so we try to take Laura up to play on the excellent playground at the TVA Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Facility. However, the gate is locked with a sign that says "closed indefinitely." Darn, my mistake--I guess we should have been out at Walmart buying more duct tape to get us through the orange terrorist alert. Damn you, Bush.

Saturday, February 22: The Dow Jones is up 103 points and the threat of war is not mentioned on the front page of CNN's website. I suppose the public is tired of hearing about it ("Hell, Dubya, let's just bomb them and get it over with so I can get back to watching American Idol !"). Ah, here's at least a mention at USA Today, "Troops Head to Turkey." Looks like the Turkish leaders sold out, and buying them off only costs Americans $6 billion. Who knew the Turks were such pushovers?

Friday, February 21: Saw a headline proclaiming that the war was scheduled for mid-March. Oops, make that the "possible war with Iraq." We certainly wouldn't want to imply that the Bush administration doesn't view war as a "last resort."

Thursday, February 20: A copy of Senator Robert Byrd was circulating around the Internet today. What, actual intelligence in Washington? See Byrd's speech, We Stand Passively Mute.
TAB Prediction from yesterday's NPR interview of Washington Post military correspondents yesterday: the war will start not with cruise missiles in downtown Baghdad, but ground troops jumping in from all sides to take control of oil wells and other strategic assets.

Wednesday, February 19: My 42nd birthday. A very pleasant evening of opening presents with family and friends, then playing with Laura. In between are mixed thoughts and conversations about Iraq. Today we had about two dozen people at the peace vigil downtown. Another typical day in America.

Tuesday, February 18: Bush says the millions who protested the war around the world had no effect on him. My young friend Jesse Wright has been called up to active duty and will soon be headed overseas. Turkey's leaders are not satisfied with the $6 billion Bush had offered them and are holding out for more. The Kurds across the border in Iraq say they will start a war of their own if any more Turks come over.
TAB Started reading Michael Moore's book, Stupid White Men. Chapter one is all about how Bush stole the election. Some of this stuff is so much over the top it's hard to believe, which means it's probably all true.

Monday, February 17: You know, it was good to feel part of something on Saturday, to hear other people who share my disgust with our country's leadership and to know that the millions who protested had a very real effect. But I can't help returning to the same thought: these idiots running the country are what America voted for, or at least didn't vote to stop. Most of America, whatever they feel, is still voting every day by their silence.
TAB So here I sit. Disenfranchised.

Sunday, February 16: My brother, whose favorite pastime is some "first person shooter" video game the United States Army spent millions to develop as a recruitment tool, told us that he has decided America maybe shouldn't attack Iraq. Maybe there is hope for the world, after all.

Saturday, February 15: Around 300 people united in their search for peace marched through Chattanooga today, joining millions of others around the world. and possibly the largest single day of protest the world has ever known. Peace, please!
TAB I've compiled a photo gallery of this event, which brought together people of all ages, races, and creeds; see also today's Chattanoogan. U.S.A. Today reported that diplomats were "rattled" by the protests. At yesterday's U.N. Security Council meeting, the anti-war messages of Russian, Germany, and Belgium were greeted with wild applause, while Colin Powell's response was met with silence.

Friday, February 14: Had a spirited debate with my friend El Torro at quitting time today. Like many Americans, he is convinced Saddam is a bad man (no kidding) and thinks we should get rid of him at almost any cost (I don't think so). El Torro says he believes Saddam already has nuclear weapons and has missiles that could reach the United States. He doesn't think Bush and Powell are overstating anything. As usual, I ended up depressed after talking with him.
TAB Today's U.N. weapon inspector's report again contained no evidence that would change anyone's mind one way or another. Of course, there are so few minds open to changing.
TAB Peace march tomorrow at 10:00 AM at Coolidge Park, part of one the biggest days of protest that our world has ever seen. I hope.

Thursday, February 13: Bush and Powell are finally catching a little heat for some of the unfounded "proof" they have presented about Iraq and terrorism. For example, Powell said the ricin seized in Europe came from Iraq, a claim that European intelligence sources say is just plain wrong. A "terrorist training camp" in northern Iraq turned out to be full of Kurds opposed to Saddam, not allied with him. And of course the recent Bin Laden tape (in which Saddam is called an "infadel") seems to indicate that the two men are anything but allies, but Bush says it proves they are partners. The big news was the "discovery" of missiles that could fly further than the 93 miles permitted under the U.N. agreement. Actually, it appears that the missiles can only do that when the weight of their guidance systems is removed. To lessen the drama even further, these missiles were in fact listed in the report given a few weeks ago by Iraq.
TAB Observers inside and outside of America have pretty much oncluded there is no proof of any link between Saddam and al Qaeda, but Bush keeps insisting there is.
TAB Will the Bush spin doctors ever realize that when you consistently cry wolf by overstating your case, people around the world stop believing anything you say? Is our intelligence really that flawed, or is Bush deliberately trying to mislead us? Either way, it's an embarassing time to be an American.

Wednesday, February 12: It was a beautiful day, warm and breezy. Spring is in the air. Stocks are at a four-year low, gasoline prices are up dramatically, and there are anti-aircraft batteries set up among the cherry trees around the Washington Monument. Meanwhile, we got a ticket for an expired tag this morning on the way to work, and I couldn't shake the suspicion that the cop noticed our bumper stickers long before he looked at the tag. Hassled by the man! Now we're cooking.


Today's peace protest went well----with lots of honks and waves of support from the passing cars. Feels good to stand there, waving back. Making plans to be at the peace rally and march at 10:00 Saturday morning at Coolidge Park.

Tuesday, February 11: I've been checking the news with dread every morning, afraid I'll see that we've launched our attack, but with soldiers and equipment still flowing towards Iraq, analysts say we are a couple of weeks away from reaching maximum troop strength. Maybe there's a little time left.
TAB Today I had a semi-coherent letter published in the Chattanoogan. I also sent a notice to our staff e-mail list (around 900 faculty and staff) inviting them to tomorrow's peace protest downtown. I got a grand total of three responses, but who knows--maybe a few more folks will be there tomorrow. Annie says more people at her office are starting to talk about the war and its consequences.
TAB Remember the televised coverage of the last Gulf War? What I remember made it look as if we were the ones under attack: air raid sirens, Patriot missile batteries firing, big holes in the street where Scuds had found their way to Israel. On television we see the Tomahawk missles streaking proudly away, watch the bombs dropping so accurately from above. For obvious reasons, we never witnesses the horror of one coming toward us. But then, what do we care about the people down there? They aren't like us. They aren't Americans. They don't even speak English, for God's sake.

Monday, February 10: I work on a college campus that is a hotbed of apathy. Short of a snow day, our students don't get excited about much of anything. I could imagine fiery public debates, sit-ins, at least a peace gathering or minor demonstration, but you don't hear or see much about Iraq. Unfortunately, unless you turn on the nightly news, that silence may be the case everywhere. In 1991, people gathered on overpasses to cheer the troops as they headed south towards Iraq. This time, nothing--either pro or con--as if the American people want to change the channel and forget this war is even happening.
TAB We've got a President who the majority of voters did not vote for who is forcing our country into a war almost half of all Americans aren't convinced is necessary. United we stand? We've never been so divided. We're not exactly building consensus elsewhere, either. Despite calling in every favor we've got, many of America's oldest allies refuse to stand by us. Our brash Boy President is about to declare the United Nations "irrelevant" and may dissolve NATO as well at the rate he's going. If things were any worse, the United Nations would be sending in peacekeeping troops to defend Iraq against us.
TAB And I've yet to see a single "No war" bumper sticker on a car other than my wife's.
TAB Meanwhile, I see that Bush has denounced recent concessions and cooperation by Iraq as dirty tricks to "stall for time." Has it ever been clearer that Bush doesn't want Iraq to cooperate, that he was determined to invade and conquer the country right from the beginning?

Sunday, February 9: Had a couple of very polite and thoughtful e-mails today from a fellow named Chris who explained to me that terrorists attack America on religious grounds, because they think our very way of life is immoral. In other words, no matter how nice we are to the world, the fundamentalists will continue to hate us. I saw Warmonger Rumsfield making this same argument yesterday: they already hate us, so overthrowing Iraq won't make any difference. If you extend this logically, the United States can't stop with Iraq. We must overthrow at least twenty governments around the world. Is this really what Bush has in mind? It's frightening, but possible. Of course, all of this assumes that Bush is attacking Iraq only to stop terrorism (not to get their oil, distract Americans from our sinking economy, or just to show daddy he can do it.)

Here are the latest stats from today's CNN poll:

  • 75% of Americans believe war is inevitable. You know, I don't want to believe war is inevitable, but Bush has painted us into a corner and it's difficult to imagine him reversing course now.
  • 52% (a very slim majority) don't think Bush is moving too quickly to war. Hard to say what this means since "moving too fast" is not quite the same thing as saying, "attack today." Sounds as if Powell's speech on Wednesday had an impact, despite the fact that he really didn't present much proof of anything.
  • 77% think attacking Iraq will result in an increase in terrorist attacks inside our borders.

Copyright © 2003 by Rodger Ling.
All rights reserved.