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April 2004 Archives

April 6, 2004

Second Grade Classroom Photo Op

cover.jpg If you can recognize this photograph, you know what it means. This is a picture of President George W. Bush on September 11, 2001 sitting in a second-grade classroom, as he is informed that the second plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. He had been informed of the first plane before entering the room. It galls me that, while he'd been told by several people, including the US Commission on National Security/21st Century a few months earlier, not to mention Clarke and other terrorism advisors that a terrorist attack, possibly involving planes, was likely around then, that instead of take up the reigns - go to an "undisclosed location" or something, instead he continued with his photo-op. Better presidents have cancelled photo-ops to drive to Salt Lake City and settle UNION disputes, much less possible terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. So, I think this photo is telling. What, you might ask, did I expect him to be doing? I don't know. I'm fairly confident that there's something a president can do while our country is under attack besides listen to second graders read the Itsy-Bitsy Spider to him. MY eyes were glued to the television while it was going on, watching in horror. You'd think that would be the LEAST of what the President of our fine nation would be doing.

April 13, 2004

Pope against the war in Iraq?

What on earth does the Pope think of the current goings on in Iraq? Does he think that invasion of Iraq was a good idea? Does he think it was a bad idea? What does he think? First, why do I care. Well, briefly this weekend, I heard a clip from Rush Limbaugh's radio show. It was not Rush himself, but rather his stand-in, Roger Hedgecock (former mayor of San Diego, convicted of conspiracy and perjury and summarily removed from office), who was asserting that anyone and everyone who is against the war is an "anti-American al Qaeda sympathizer actively working towards the defeat of the United States." This struck me as a pretty broad brush, given that I was pretty sure the Pope was not in favor of the war in Iraq. And the Pope isn't generally viewed as anti-American or as working towards the defeat of the United states. As for evidence... You could go to some place like CNN where they report that the Pope condemns any war in Iraq. But the conservatives of the world would point out that this is simply liberal media at it's finest, putting words in the Pope's mouth, quoting him out of context, etc. So, let's address that, and go straight to the Vatican's website and their vast archives of the exact text of the Pope's speeches. First, let's go back a few years, before the invasion. The Pope said, in the "Speech Of His Holiness Pope John Paul II In Reply To The New Year Greetings Of The Diplomatic Corps Accredited To The Holy See,":
Not far from there, an entire people is the victim of a constraint which puts it in hazardous conditions of survival. I refer to our brothers and sisters in Iraq, living under a pitiless embargo. In response to the appeals for help which unceasingly come to the Holy See, I must call upon the consciences of those who, in Iraq and elsewhere, put political, economic or strategic considerations before the fundamental good of the people, and I ask them to show compassion. The weak and the innocent cannot pay for mistakes for which they are not responsible. I therefore pray that this country will be able to regain its dignity, experience normal development, and thus be in a position to re-establish fruitful relations with other peoples, within the framework of international law and world solidarity.
The Pontiff referred to it as a pitiless embargo, which it seems he was unequivocally against. Does this mean that he's anti-American? No - but what does this have to do with my point? I'm pointing out that he is not, interestingly, blaming the predicament of the Iraqi people on Saddam. Why? Obviously, if Saddam just did what we (the US) told him to do, the embargo would be lifted. Why does he blame those who "put political, economic or strategic considerations before the fundamental good of the people" rather than Hussein? Next, on Sunday, 16 March 2003, the Pope said in his Angelus the following:
That is why, in the face of the tremendous consequences that an international military operation would have for the population of Iraq and for the balance of the Middle East region, already sorely tried, and for the extremisms that could stem from it, I say to all: There is still time to negotiate; there is still room for peace, it is never too late to come to an understanding and to continue discussions.
So, he is encouraging the relevant leaders to not go to war, and to instead continue to negotiate. In fact, it is never too late to negotiate, he says. He also says:
I belong to that generation that lived through World War II and, thanks be to God, survived it. I have the duty to say to all young people, to those who are younger than I, who have not had this experience: "No more war" as Paul VI said during his first visit to the United Nations. We must do everything possible. We know well that peace is not possible at any price. But we all know how great is this responsibility. Therefore prayer and penance.
So, the Pope quotes another Pope in encouraging people to avoid war. "No more war," he says, using his weight as a man who lived through World War II to further emphasize the point. He also says that "We must do everything possible." What could he mean by that? I take it to mean that he thinks we should do everything that is possible in order to avoid war. Then the Pope said, in his Saturday, 22 March 2003 Angelus that:
When war threatens humanity's destiny, as it does today in Iraq, it is even more urgent for us to proclaim with a loud and decisive voice that peace is the only way to build a more just and caring society. Violence and arms can never solve human problems.
Violence can NEVER solve human problems, eh? Now, the possible way to rework the obvious impression that I get is that he's simply saying that Democracy (and of course Prayer) is the way to solve the problems over in Iraq, and that the violence is simply a method of getting there. The problem with this is that it supposes that the Pope is a proponent of the "the ends justify the means" school of thought (as long as violence is ended and we get around to democracy eventually, then it's all okay), which I'm pretty certain he isn't. If he is, then this argument is invalidated. Then, on November 16, 2003, the Pope said in his Angelus that:
In this context, I renew my firm condemnation of every terrorist act perpetrated recently in the Holy Land. At the same time I must point out that the dynamism of peace seems, unfortunately, to have been halted.
This seems to me (and I've been wrong before) that he's making sure that people don't misunderstand his frustration as an endorsement of terrorism, but at the same time emphasizing that he is displeased that negotiations and the peace process has been abandoned. Conservatives would love to tell you that obviously the Pope hasn't condemned the actions of the United States, and therefore he's all for them. But, you'll notice he didn't condemn Saddam's actions either. Which means he wasn't up for condemning either side---if he's going to refuse to condemn a regime that tortured and killed it's own people in massive numbers, he sure wasn't going to turn around and condemn the invasion and deposition of such a regime, regardless of whether he disliked the invasion or not. In fact, as I demonstrated earlier, he has a tendency to blame the rest of the world rather than Iraq, for whatever reason. Does it seem like he's thrilled with the invasion of Iraq by American and the Coalition of the (increasingly un-)Willing forces? Not the way I see things. Quite the opposite, he seems to view violence as a defeat for humanity as a whole (definitely not a good thing (do you think Saddam can defeat humanity as a whole?)). Is he an anti-American al Qaeda sympathizer actively working for the defeat of the United States? Only if you drink Rush Limbaugh's flavor of Kool-Aid.

April 17, 2004

Breakthrough Motor!

I recently found this article: The Techno Maestro’s Amazing Machine, which seems like the coolest thing since sliced bread. A quick summary:

A fellow in Japan named Minato has invented an electric motor that is 80% efficient. As a demonstration of what this means, he can run a standard washer/drier that normally needs a 220 watt outlet can run on 16 watts (that’s a 35kg motor).

Yes, I know it’s impossible. It’s still cool. :)

Continue reading "Breakthrough Motor!" »

About April 2004

This page contains all entries posted to Kyle in April 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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