Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Draft : Defining a moral war

In case anyone didn't realize it, I'm a girl. This means that when I turned 18 I didn't have to go get a selective service form from the post office and send it in. Several years later I joined the military anyway, so my being excused from selective service is sort of moot.

As this conflict goes on I've noticed odd things about how people talk about "the draft".

There are those who promote a draft in the hopes of raising anti-war sentiment. We've seen several examples of that which include actual suggestions of putting a bill through congress to scare e-mails sent to college students before the last presidential election. I like this from Cox and Forkum.

But there have been others, people who's comments I've read, who think there should be a draft even while they support the war. (Or at least mostly support the war.) Some few of them argue that we really need more people. But others seem to be arguing for the principle of the thing. Either it offends them that people are able to avoid fighting, that it's just not fair, or that it's not a good thing to let a separate military class develop.

But for some it seems to be some sort of gestalt combo of all of the above and the only way I can think to express it is that a draft has become this sort of magical thing that, itself, defines a moral war.

I can understand not liking the fact reflected in the quote, "America is not at war, the American military is at war, America is at the mall." When a soldier is facing yet another deployment it is likely rather annoying that other people don't have to make the same sacrifices. Still, I don't know many in the military (or who has been) who thinks serving with conscripted soldiers is something they want any part of. Besides, the fact that America is at the mall is a good thing, all told.

Would we be any more noble for being miserable?

Is that what this is, at the very heart of it? Nobility through misery. Spread it around and suddenly we become more right than before?

It would be a nice thing if people could support the effort, put 300 million minds to work problem solving. Talk about distributed computing, huh? Without half of everyone trying to figure out how to lose we might have greater success sooner. But do those 300 million people need to be uncomfortable while they're at it? Does it make the cause more worthy or the people more pure of purpose?

Victory gardens, rationing, and kids with wagons collecting scrap metal, Rosie the riveter ( I *met* her at an air show once... she came to see "her" plane) are all very nice in the abstract but do we really hope for such things if we don't *need* them?

What about having a draft was *good*?


Thursday, March 22, 2007

The perfect moral example

I'm not as contemplative as neo-neocon in her post, The ivory tower: Clean hands and leading by example.

And I'm in an ornery mood so when someone said they used to look up to us, I said this:

Never believe someone who says they used to look up to the United States.

It’s a sure tip-off that they’re trying to sell you something, namely, their approval. What coin for that approval (an approval the US has never had before in our history) why, the coin for that approval is to tolerate violence and evil.

You want to know what American principles are? Read some Westerns. Violent literature filled with violent men. What virtues? Honesty. Bravery. Individuals standing for what is right even when it means facing their sure death. Defending the weak. Pulling your own weight and prefering not to accept help on the one hand, offering help, even to the point of self-sacrifice on the other. Bullies are reviled. Personal responsibility for deafeating them, lauded. Leaving others in the way of desperate, evil men, reviled.

And on, and on.

A national mythos, or a set of principles, of ideals NEVER represent the truth of things. They’re goals. They’re something to shoot for.

Our American mythos, the picture we have in our head (to borrow something Ymarsakar said elsewhere) cheers when the taunt of “then you’ll be just as bad as me” is delivered, and the hero says, “No, I’m much worse.”

Maybe it’s a child-like view of morality but it is not comprimised in the least when the good guys are willing to do the hard work of bringing some serious hurt to the sort of depraved evil that puts children into a car to get it through a US military check point and then blows up the car with the children still in it.

It’s not moral by any fashion to equivocate that sort of behavior, that sort of depravity, to *anything* that our side has done.

We’re big and bad and scary.

And that’s a good thing.

Because someone OTHER THAN the evil bastards who saw off the heads of journalists and evicerate female aid workers and routinely execute anyone they take a disliking to, gas markets, hide behind children and kill them, needs to be.

The fact that it’s distasteful is just too freaking bad. People who don’t like it maybe ought to move somewhere and live the way you insist on leaving other people living. Do your perfect moral exampling there, if they let you live long enough.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I'm a denier

I used to be a skeptic, but I've given up that comfortable ambiguity to embrace the big "D" without apology.

If you haven't yet, check out this documentary.

Update: Basically the same information, but including this gem...

What is really being said here is, "We believe in the IPCC and anybody else who supports Global Warming. We believe it so much that we refuse to listen to anybody who says otherwise."

The only difference between this and Jim and Tammy Baker on the old PTL Club is that nobody says "Jesus."

Mr. Card is also a bit more specific about the manipulated computer models that had been mentioned in the documentary.

What were those bad numbers Mann plugged in to get his fake results? Modern bristlecone pine tree-ring data in which recent tree rings showed the widths that would normally mean unusually warm weather.

However, these trees were located near temperature recording stations that showed lower than usual temperatures. So instead of being a sign of warmer temperatures, the tree rings are actually responding to the increased CO2 levels.

Even the heading on this bristlecone pine study clearly stated that the wider tree rings did not indicate higher temperatures. But Mann plugged them in as if they did,..
And he says,

All this can be checked. I didn't even change the names.

It's a sad sad thing when science joins the rest of the world where it's quite alright if something is fake, just so long as it's true.

It's... chilling.

Update: This is interesting, too.

It's a debate between people on both sides over the question, is global warming a *bad* thing.

H/T to Steve, the fellow Card was talking about in his article. Steve McIntyre.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I haven't seen it yet, but I have opinions anyhow...

So there!

I'm talking about 300 of course.

I hope this means that studios will start to make good movies again. Art for the sake of art rather than art for the sake of a message. There's no message folks. Not a pro-war one. Not an anti-war one. Bush is not involved in any fashion whatsoever. No message. Get it through your heads.

But art. Likely very much so from what I've seen. If when I see it I repent of that opinion, I'll let you know.

So... why do I call a bloodfest art?

I didn't realize at first that this movie is made by the same person who made Sin City. Sin City was art. Very strange. Very visceral. And when people were talking about 300 being a graphic novel, even without knowing, I thought of Sin City.

Graphic novels are incredibly sophisticated visual art. I'm sure the CGI contributes to the unreality of 300, but in the trailers, clips and stills, there is a sense of detatchment and interpretation. The sepia tones and representative figures. If I had an art degree I'd know the words for this stuff. Something more realistic, more bare, would leave less for our brains to do. Our increased participation is part of what defines art.

The movie _Hero_ comes to mind. The feeling of fable comes through strong while the visuals themselves are breathtaking. The plot and characters are secondary to the experience itself.

Art, or a truely skillful novel, does not have a message, but a million of them. Something might not be to an individual's taste, but anyone can find insight in it because it speaks to the reality of human experience rather than the filtered and interpreted version of human experience.

If I'm right, there is not message in 300 but people will find messages there because they participated, and those messages will be as diverse as humanity itself.

That's not, however, counting those who are going to react with a anti-militaristic knee-jerk condemnation.