sphagnum moss, dark water, and politics
Saturday, March 22, 2003
The people, united . . .
I was going to try to write down my observations about Thursday's Times Square protest, but you can just go read Nathan Newman instead.
The weather was fairly miserable - low 40s or worse with a constant drizzle-to-rain - but that didn't seem to make much of a dent in people's enthusiasm. The police's trick of letting demonstrators march out in tiny separated groups was undeniably clever. The group I was in tried to stay put long enough to rejoin by marching in a circle and just standing still - note: Is "What does democracy look like?/This is what democracy looks like!" really theright chant to use when marching round and round in a circle? - but we were quickly discouraged from doing so. While almost all the cops I saw behaved professionally, one seemed to be having a little too much fun shoving a group of young women along . . .
posted by Dan S. on 12:55 AM | | link
Friday, March 21, 2003
Minutes before the [Wednesday night start-of-war] speech, an internal television monitor at the White House showed the President pumping his fist.From the Philadelphia Inquirer
posted by Dan S. on 11:58 PM | | link
Drop Bush, not bombs
There is an incoherent op-ed by Bill Keller about why Colin Powell should go. As far as I can tell: Bush doesn't trust him, won't listen to him, and has "chosen a course that repudiates much of what Mr. Powell has stood for - notably his deep suspicion of arrogant idealism." As a result, the State Department has been crippled, unable to attend to attend to those other places which suddenly aren't in the news much, like Afghanistan and North Korea. Ok, maybe incoherent is the wrong word. Others do spring to mind, but my mama raised me to be polite. . .
This sounds like something I just read in Alterman's book - how pundits insisted during the post-election that it would just be better if Bush became President, since a Democrat would be hamstrung by conservative resistance and nothing would ever get done. Ah, democracy.
Which brings us to the argument Keller should me making: Yes, one of the guys has got to go* - and it isn't Powell.
*in a nonviolent and lawful way.
posted by Dan S. on 11:50 PM | | link
We have spent years bemoaning the fact that people are politically disinterested, that voters are apathetic, that they don't feel they have a voice. Now, when rather large numbers of Americans have left the comfort of their homes and their shopping malls to make a sincere statement alongside a bunch of strangers, liberals behave as if it is nothing. Outside of college campuses, the fact is that street protests don't happen very often in America. Unlike in Europe, general strikes and large political protests are not a big part of our civic life. So, when it happens we should really take a good hard look at why. And we should pay special attention when the people who are protesting are average Joes and Janes who work for a living and have kids and own houses. Because that means that Americans are waking up and starting to pay attention.
posted by Dan S. on 10:58 PM | | link
Thursday, March 20, 2003
One thing to do
Locate demonstrations and suchlike near you; go.
United for Peace
posted by Dan S. on 12:07 PM | | link
I know enough to know that this war is that most immoral and most unjust of wars--
posted by Dan S. on 10:28 AM | | link
Protesting the previous war
Marching for peace
in early October,
a cold wind off the river
followed us through the streets.
We had hand-lettered signs,
There were shouts,
a barking dog,
a person clapping.
But this is what happened:
We sheltered our candles carefully,
cupping our hands,
protecting the little lights
Mine went out,
and a woman paused
to light it again with hers,
a brief benediction,
and we went on. Then hers flickered out -
I did the same,
and then again for
the man besides me.
On we went,
passing that piece of light
back and forth
amid the wind
keeping it lit.
posted by Dan S. on 1:46 AM | | link
Wrong season, alas
The Season of Phantasmal Peace, by Derek Walcott
Then all the nations of birds lifted together
the huge net of the shadows of this earth
in multitudinous dialects, twittering tongues,
stitching and crossing it. They lifted up
the shadows of long pines down trackless slopes,
the shadows of glass-faced towers down evening streets,
the shadow of a frail plant on a city sill -
the net rising soundless as night, the birds' cries soundless, until
there was no longer dusk, or season, decline, or weather,
only this passage of phantasmal light
that not even the narrowest shadow dared to sever.
And men could not see, looking up, what the wild geese drew,
what the ospreys trailed behind them in silvery ropes
that flashed in the icy sunlight; they could not hear
battalions of starlings waging peaceful cries
bearing the net higher, covering this world
like the vines of an orchard, or a mother drawing
the trembling gauze over the trembling eyes
of a child fluttering to sleep;
it was the light
that you will see at evening on the side of a hill
in yellow October, and no one hearing knew
what change had brought into the raven's cawing,
the kildeer's screech, the ember-circling chough
such an immense, soundless, and high concern
for the fields and cities where the birds belong,
except it was their seasonal passing, Love,
made seasonless, or, from the high privilege of their birth,
something brighter than pity for the wingless ones
below them who shared dark holes in windows and in houses,
and higher they lifted the net with soundless voices
above all change, betrayals of falling suns,
and this season lasted one moment, like the pause
between dusk and darkness, between fury and peace,
but, for such as our earth is now, it lasted long.
posted by Dan S. on 1:30 AM | | link
Cape Cod Elegy
Where Massachusetts' outstretched arm wrestles the Atlantic,
the waves augur change.
Winter storms keep the mapmakers busy.
With the kayak rented for the hour,
I floated in the Goose Lake shallows,
among the pickerelweed stands by the shore
Rooted in the mud and gravel, their purple flowers
rose above the water,
grasping the air.
A band of small boys, summer children,
splashed in the shallow water,
at that age when earth still half has them,
limbs streaked with mud,
their bellies flash like minnows --
corralled a tadpole.
In a scooped-out hollow in the sand,
the half-fish thrashes in its cradle.
Each handful of water brings a shower
of sand. The tadpole weakens.
The boys argue over its wellbeing
Under the skin, their hearts flutter
like gills. Hunched over the pond,
you can see where time
will reshape their shoulders,
wrapping them with muscle.
Not yet. Somebody's mother
joins them, speaking such
good words, of kindness, care
for this world, the responsibility
of one small creature towards another. I
can see her shaping their minds
for the time ahead. She trusts them.
So one boy stands up, and with a smooth motion of
his arm -- I swear, there was no malice in it, only
a haste to do things right -- flings
the tadpole out over the water.
It sinks, stunned into
death, or already dying,
Settles into the mud of the kettle pond
the glacier left as it melted north again
after grinding down the bones of the country,
dropping the scrapings into the ocean,
for the waves to reshape.
On Nauset Marsh the light went flying
over the glinting water until the sun
sank into the bay. On the beach terns
returned to their nests, the waves continued,
seals floating out beyond the surf,
until there was only
the old sound of waves in the darkness.
posted by Dan S. on 12:46 AM | | link
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Like fireflies on a summer night
Oh yeah, now that we've started bombing, now Bush is talking about how tough it might be. Perhaps he could have brought up all those possibilities (dead U.S. soldiers, civilian casualties, military difficulties) a little earlier? I find it hard to imagine any reason besides not wanting to weaken the limited public support for war until it was truly - by any conventional reckoning - too late to turn back.
The broadcasters are already playing down "shock and awe." Apparently - with the bombing of "targets of opportunity" - it's now portrayed as always having been about surgical strikes at military and leadership targets, not the clearly-described Dresden-like bombardment of a major city that presumably awaits us.
posted by Dan S. on 10:46 PM | | link
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
That would be nice
" . . . and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. "
-Isaiah 2:4 (JPS version)
posted by Dan S. on 12:02 AM | | link
Monday, March 17, 2003
. . . Y'hei shlamah rabbah meen sh'mahyah,v'chahyeem
aleynu v'al kohl yisrael, v'eemru: Amein
Oseh shalom beem'roh'mahv, hoo ya'aseh shalom,
aleynu v'al kohl yisrael v'eemru: Amein
posted by Dan S. on 11:44 PM | | link
"And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop's to bomb Saddam
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die. "
-Country Joe and the Fish, "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag"
(with slight updating)
posted by Dan S. on 11:31 PM | | link
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