Archive for March, 2009

The Shoe Chucker and the General

March 24, 2009

            The General is a sweet and to the point poem by Siegfried Sassoon.  This poem reminded me of the infamous shoe assassin.  I am referring to the incident that occurred in Iraq on a glorious mid December day; the odd-job like assault attempt on President Bush by Muntar al-Zaidi.  A basic run down of the scenario is that President Bush was addressing the Iraqi press and Muntar in a fit of rage threw both of his shoes a Bush narrowly missing. 


            This international incident started very similarly to the beginning of the poem


‘Good-morning; good-morning!’ the General said


            Probably similar to the gibberish Bush spat out with a Texas accent.


“When we met him last week on our way to the line./ Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ‘em dead,/ And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.


            So far it seems pretty accurate.  Muntar more then likely lost friends and loved ones during the invasion and he describes his act as


“a natural response to occupation.”


Sassoon’s poem goes on to say


“He’s a cheery old card,’ grunted Harry to Jack/ As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack/ But he did for them both by his plan of attack.


            The similarities are astounding.  Bush does seem like a “cheery old card.” Bush makes up words on the regular which has to be fun, spent 40% of his presidency on vacation, and he definitely did Iraq in with his plan of attack.  Bush caused this one man so much hatred because he was the ‘General’ that he threw his shoes at him.  Once again just like the story Muntar is SOL just like Harry and Jack because he was sentenced to 3 years in prison for throwing a shoe.  The case is being appealed but in the court of public opinion he has already won with 60% of Iraqis considering him a hero.  So in summation, who throws a shoe? Honestly!


Shoe attacker on the BBC


Boys at War

March 24, 2009

            Wilfred Owen is the master of anti-war poetry and a favorite of mine.  In Arms And The Boy he speaks about boys and war.  The poem starts off saying


“let the boy try along this bayonet-blade/ How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood;/ Blue with all malice, like a madman’s flash;


            Owens speaks about how we let are children play with toy guns and knifes and play war.  This poem reminded me of a military blog that really showed me that the men fighting overseas really are Boys.

            The author of the blog was going on a routine mission to check out three clinics.  The fist two clinics go by no problem, but in route to the third the 3rd clinic the road they are on dead ends.  So they turn around and try to drive through the old dirt road graveyard that they drove on to get the first clinics.  So there driving through the graveyard and the first MRAP gets stuck.  So the MRAP the author is in drives past and everyone starts yelling.  So they obviously think they are about to get stuck so they back up.  Turns out they had already went over the whole everyone was yelling about and backed right into it. 

            This funny, quirky story from Afghanistan to me shows how young our soldiers really are. Owen says in the final lines of the poem


“For his teeth seem for laughing round an apple./ There lurk no claws behind his fingers supple;/ And God will grow no talons at his heels,/ nor antlers through the thickness of his curls.


            This story just really hammers home how we send the youth of our nation of to a foreign land to fight a foreign enemy equally as young.  The boys in this story had a good laugh at themselves in a war zone and if that doesn’t prove that they are just boys with arms noting else will.


MRAPs and Graveyards don’t mix

Absurdity of war

March 24, 2009

The bombing of Dreseden produced the largest casualties of WWII and was kept secret from the American public because in Rumfoord words


“fear that a lot of bleeding hears might not think it was such a wonderful thing to do.” 


            Today the death tolls are never as high as they were back then because of nuclear weapons and conventional war fair is supposed to have largely ended.  Yet how can we reconcile that statement with the large death tolls in Israel’s latest excursion into the West Bank.  In a recent report the U.N. special rapporteur for the Palestine on human rights Richard Falk has labeled the 22-day conflict a


“massive assault on a densely populated urbanise setting.”


Falk went on to say the attacks were unlawful because they were launched on targets that could not be distinguished as military or civilian.  Falk states that Israel specificly targeted

            “schools, masques, and ambulances.”


The death toll in Palestine was put at around 1400 most of which were women and children.  Whether it is Dresden of Palestine or the body count is 1400 or 140,000 the absurdity of the matter is as real as it was in Vonnegut’s day.  In all the dialogue between Rumfoord and Billy not much is said.  The culmination of the Dresden story was a few lines

“It had to be done,” said Rumfoord

“I know” said Billy

“That’s war”

“I know. I’m not complaining”

“It must have been hell on the ground.”

“It was” said Billy

“Pity the men who had to do it.”

“I do.”

“You must have had mixed feelings, there on the ground.”

“It was all right,” said Billy. “Everything is all right, and everybody had to do exactly what he does.”


Although nothing is really said in the conversation they destroyed a city of no military significance; killed virtually only civilians yet it “had to be done,” absurd.  This is very similar to what happened in Palestine.  A totally of 13 Israelis were killed and they responded by leveling a city, murdering 940 civilians, and sending Palestine back to the stone ages, absurd.  The BBC had a story that fully spoke to the absurdity of this conflict.  In the article it cites a U.N. report that accuses the Israelis of using children as human shields.  Allegedly having the children go first in to buildings and open packages.  Israel has denied these allegations but the mere fact that they are present just speaks to how ridiculous all of these nations and people have acted through-out history and Vonnegut did a masterful job of portraying this.  The conversation and the way Slaughter House was written all speak to the absurdity of war.  Although i doubt it will every end…..So it goes.

BBC article

Al Jazeera article


Epic Rhetoric

March 24, 2009

Watch more YouTube videos on AOL Video

Sean Hannity is one of the foremost conservative ideologue in America and his show Hannity’s America delivers his message flawlessly.  Through-out the last few weeks Hannity has opened his show with these seemingly doomsday montages of President Obama and other Democrats set to dramatic music like Lux Aeterna, made famous in Requiem for a Dream, and other music from epic motion pictures. 


This music sets a tone to the material just like the Marine and Army recruiting commercials do.  In both there is propaganda and rhetoric conveyed by the music playing in the background. In the Army and Marine commercials the music conveys honor, courage, patriotism, and strength.  In Hannity’s montages convey rampant fear as if Lord Sauron himself is storming Pennsylvania ave. as we speak. 


In this particular video “Socialism we can believe in” the music is epic and paints the democrats as the destroyers of America.  Despite all my research I could not quite put my finger on the composer of this peace despite its popularity. The music has that same parallel structure and ads and immense dramatic effect to the piece; as much as it offends me as an intelligent person it is quit brilliant.


 I believe that this blatant use of propaganda and rhetoric found in both the military commercials and in Hannity’s America dangerous and misleading, and so did Owens.  Owens himself was a victim of his work being used to promote an agenda, in his time the war effort, and these artists too are having there works bent by the will of powerful men.  In the end all I can do is have faith that the loyal viewers of Hannity’s America can hear through the music and realize that politics isn’t Hollywood and epically evil music doesn’t make those in the corresponding video right or wrong.