September 13, 2006

Theme? America.

No, I'm not doing a theme day here on the blog, although as I set out this morning, I felt I'd left behind three posts that look like a theme: blogging/vlogging... blahhh! I'm not doing that. I keep telling myself not to blog about blogging too much.

But I had to make fun of those bloggers who gravitated to Clinton's lunch. It made me think of this video clip a reader sent me yesterday, with President Bush standing intimidatingly close to Matt Lauer and repeatedly making stabbing finger-pointing gestures at him. I like the way Lauer wasn't the slightest bit cowed. I want nervy bloggers who stand up to powerful politicos, not folks who gush about their charm and hospitality and how good they made their ideas sound.

But I lit out before I could dispel the impression that I had a theme day going, because I wanted to take the long way driving into work and listen to "Theme Time Radio With Bob Dylan." What was the theme? For the first time, there wasn't a precisely articulated theme like flowers or the devil or baseball. It was something about traveling all over the map. The first song was the city-naming song "I've Been Everywhere" -- which made me assume, incorrectly, that the most obvious city-naming song, "Route 66," would come up later. Sometimes Bob acted as if the theme was cities. There were songs about Chicago and Tulsa and Jackson and Knoxville. But not every song had a city name. There was "Jersey Girl" and "Hawaiian Cowboy" and "Stars Fell on Alabama." So what exactly was the theme? As the show was ending, under Dylan's closing remarks, we heard a mellow, evocative guitar rendering of "America, the Beautiful."

I think the theme was "America," but a decision was made to be subtle about it. Was anything said about 9/11? No, no, nothing at all. But I thought it was very interesting that Bob chose to play a song about the great Baltimore fire of 1904 and then took the time to quote what the mayor, Robert McLane, said at the time, when offers of help poured in: "As head of this municipality, I cannot help but feel gratified by the sympathy and the offers of practical assistance which have been tendered to us. To them I have in general terms replied, 'Baltimore will take care of its own, thank you.'" And: "To suppose that the spirit of our people will not rise to the occasion is to suppose that our people are not genuine Americans. We shall make the fire of 1904 a landmark not of decline but of progress."

Did he mean to imply something about New Orleans and New York City today? Was there a subtle political message to extract?

26 comments:

chuck b. said...

Ideas and attitudes about 'help' are interesting. Helping and hurting go together naturally.

Some people think or feel that help hurts. Nowadays no help hurts. You kind of expect the help of a doctor or a dentist to hurt. Too much parental help hurts in the long run. People often make things worse when they try to help. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I read a locution somewhere recently I can't recall exactly about how the scariest thing to hear is the government saying it's here to help. Sort of an old GOP idea. Not today's GOP. That's public help.

On a personal level, helping is kind of intimate. You have to let help in, and accept it when you're vulnerable. Intimacy scares people and maybe they avoid help when they need it.

knoxgirl said...

You'd have to pay me to watch the "Today" show but I've been a fan of Matt Lauer's ever since the Tom Cruise interview.

MadisonMan said...

Isn't every way a long way when you drive to work?

Ann Althouse said...

My drive to work is 3 minutes. When I make it last an hour, it's definitely the long way.

Chevyiii said...

"not every song had a city name"

It appears to be true that there are no US cities named America or Hawaii.

Alabama City, Alabama and
Jersey City, New Jersey do appear in web searches.

I don't usually nitpick, but some things are just too important to let slide.

Pogo said...

Mr. Dylan was in our little town last week, playing to a few thousand in a hastily-arranged concert held in the baseball field right behind my house.

He played nothing from the new album, rather did several long versions of old hits. We watched him from my backyard, not 30 feet away, going up and down the stairs to the stage. He played a great show. Young neighborhood girls screamed, "we love you Bobby!", but they didn't know which guy in the crowd of musicians he was (he was the only one without a hat).

Most folks know that people really do best when they remain self-reliant, but also know that help is always needed somewhere by someone. The crime is infantilizing a community into being unable to act without State direction. Local help for fires and storms is best, but in overwhelming disasters (WTC, Katrina) the neighboring states and Feds step in. Even then, better to keep it decentralized and the rules loose so that "it's not my job" is banished from the lexicon.

What does Dylan mean? Who knows; he's as cryptic as ever.

Doyle said...

But I had to make fun of those bloggers who gravitated to Clinton's lunch.

Why? Isn't it totally forseeable that liberal bloggers would accept an invitation (or "gravitate") to have lunch with Bill Clinton?

To make this out to be a big compromise of firebrand blogger principles seems absurd.

Sure, Kos and others aren't fond of "Clintonian triangulation" as a strategy, but are they so disgusted with him personally that they should snub a personal invite?

As for Matt Lauer, why do you appreciate it when he "stands up" to Bush on having people tortured in secret prisons, but abhor the lefty blogosphere or Keith Olbermann's "rants"?

And further, how can you look and listen to Bush in that interview and not get the sinking feeling that you're backing the wrong horse?

The Drill SGT said...

It made me think of this video clip a reader sent me yesterday, with President Bush standing intimidatingly close to Matt Lauer and repeatedly making stabbing finger-pointing gestures at him. I like the way Lauer wasn't the slightest bit cowed. I want nervy bloggers who stand up to powerful politicos, not folks who gush about their charm and hospitality and how good they made their ideas sound.

I watched the video and came away with the opposite perspective. I'm not a big Bush fan, and didn't really get excited by his 9/11 speech, but I thought that Lauer came in to that interview focused on getting a torture gotcha on film by Bush. I thought Bush handled it well and won on points.

It really is about protecting the American people, and POTUS has to make tough choices. I don't always like Bush's choices, but he makes them better than Clinton did. IMHO.

Doyle said...

It really is about protecting the American people, and POTUS has to make tough choices.

...all while preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution.

That means a) warrants for eavesdropping on Americans and b) the Geneva Convention for all detainees until such time as Congress legislates otherwise.

Anything else is illegal.

Pogo said...

Re: "...all while preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution."

Doyle, you clearly haven't yet grasped that -as has been oft-stated- the Constitution isn't a suicide pact. Hence the "tough choices" part. It means some liberties get sacrificed when the safety of the nation is threatened, to be returned when peace returns.

Lincoln knew it. Wilson and FDR knew it. You don't seem to get it. Makes me think you simply reject the idea that we're at war, and rather prefer to think "we're in a big police action", so the rules are different.

Well, you're wrong. Osama says we're at war, and I believe he's not lying.

Doyle said...

The Constitution isn't a suicide pact.

Wow. I've never thought about it that way before! Consider me completely turned around on unchecked executive power. I now realize it's the only way we can survive.

Mojave Joe said...

I had no respect for Lauer until I saw that video. Now I have . . . some. Bush's response is comedic: he almost out Colberts Colbert.

Pogo said...

Re: "Wow. I've never thought about it that way before!"

Well, good. Glad I could help.

Abraham said...

That means a) warrants for eavesdropping on Americans and b) the Geneva Convention for all detainees until such time as Congress legislates otherwise.

Surely, then, you can quote the parts of the Constitution that unambiguously require those two things.

Joel H. Seachrist said...

Prof. Althouse, for the love of Bob and fossil fuel supplies, you need to get an XM receiver that you can use both in the car and at home. The Delphi MyFi has been great for us for the last nine months, and I'm sure there are even spiffier products on the market now. Please stop the insanity.

Doyle said...

Article I, Section 8.

The Congress shall have power...to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

and

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Pogo said...

Geez, Doyle, changed your mind again already?

Ann Althouse said...

I don't need another receiver. I could stream through the website if I made a phone call. But I enjoy going for a drive in the country, and the car needs a longer drive now and then.

As for Bush in that clip, I appreciate what he has to say, but I am disturbed by the weird effort at physical intimidation. He should make good points that don't require pointing like that.

As to the bloggers gushing over Clinton, I absolutely stand by my position. If bloggers are enamored by politicians, they don't begin to approach journalism. They're fans. Kids. Useless.

Doyle said...

We liberals are flip-floppers by nature :-)

The Drill SGT said...

I replied earlier, but blogger ate my homework, I'll try again.

Doyle said...
It really is about protecting the American people, and POTUS has to make tough choices.

...all while preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution.

That means a) warrants for eavesdropping on Americans and b) the Geneva Convention for all detainees until such time as Congress legislates otherwise.


where do I start. I'll let a lawyer lecture on all the times that a warrant is not needed under the 4th amendment. I have a passing knowledge of SIGINT so let me look at it from that perspective. When you say warrants for eavesdropping on Americans what is meant with regard to the highly publicized NSA work is Listening to known or suspected foreign terrorists, located outside of the US, when they call a number within the US that may or may not received by a US person. There are so many legal ways to do what I have redefined that I could write volumes. Let's just take the easiest to understand. Intercept the phone call off a satellite and download it to the UK for analysis.

from FISA
“Electronic surveillance” means—
(1) the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any wire or radio communication sent by or intended to be received by a particular, known United States person who is in the United States, if the contents are acquired by intentionally targeting that United States person, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes;
(2) the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any wire communication to or from a person in the United States, without the consent of any party thereto, if such acquisition occurs in the United States, but does not include the acquisition of those communications of computer trespassers that would be permissible under section 2511 (2)(i) of title 18;
(3) the intentional acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any radio communication, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes, and if both the sender and all intended recipients are located within the United States; or
(4) the installation or use of an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device in the United States for monitoring to acquire information, other than from a wire or radio communication, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes


Now on to the Geneva Convention for all detainees

The Geneva conventions were put in place civilize warfare. They are multi-lateral agreements between signatories to treat each others soldiers well. There is a clear class difference between treatment of signatories and the rest of the folks, the "unlawful combatants". Folks who don't wear uniforms, hide amongst civilians, commit crimes, etc. They get a much lower standard of treatment, precisely to encourage folks to sign up to the full package. Al Qaeda clearly does not follow the accords and the international community is remiss in not punishing them for it.

Remember that photo from Tet 68 in Saigon when a Police chief shot what looked like a civilian in the head? Was the chief tried for his crime? NO, he was acting fully within the Geneva conventions to perform summary execution on captured terrorists, spies and saboteurs operating amongst the civil population.

It may be in our PR interest to treat captured terrorists according to the Geneva convention, but any caught on the battlefield could be executed then or later.

Doyle said...

If bloggers are enamored by politicians, they don't begin to approach journalism.

Fair enough, but did you read Hinderaker's recap of his audience with Bush a few weeks back? It was so embarassingly fawning that it got "syndicated" everywhere on the left. It was that funny.

Pogo said...

Doyle,

No one is immune from the charms of politicos. Only a fool thinks himself above the flattery and charisma common to the leadership class.

Remaining objective is tough.Sounds like Matt Lauer was so able, while the bloggers (left and right) were not. Your best bet is to never eat dinner with them. But I admit it's hard to refuse to dine with rock stars.

Except for me. Mostly because I am dead certain I'll never be asked. It's easy to remain chaste when offers of debauchery are few.

nedludd said...

b) the Geneva Convention for all detainees until such time as Congress legislates otherwise.

Have you ever read the Geneva Conventions?

Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War

Part 1, Article 3

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.



Part I, Article 4

A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

(c) That of carrying arms openly;

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.


Yup, that seems to cover the "insurgency" to a tee.

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1)

Article 46.-Spies

1. Notwithstanding any other provision of the Conventions or of this Protocol, any member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict who falls into the power of an adverse Party while engaging in espionage shall not have the right to the status of prisoner of war and may be treated as a spy.

2. A member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict who, on behalf of that Party and in territory controlled by an adverse Party, gathers or attempts to gather information shall not be considered as engaging in espionage if, while so acting, he is in the uniform of his armed forces.

3. A member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict who is a resident of territory occupied by an adverse Party and who, on behalf of the Party on which he depends, gathers or attempts to gather information of military value within that territory shall not be considered as engaging in espionage unless he does so through an act of false pretences or deliberately in a clandestine manner. Moreover, such a resident shall not lose his right to the status of prisoner of war and may not be treated as a spy unless he is captured while engaging in espionage.

4. A member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict who is not a resident of territory occupied by an adverse Party and who has engaged in espionage in that territory shall not lose his right to the status of prisoner of war and may not be treated as a spy unless he is captured before he has rejoined the armed forces to which he belongs.

Article 47.-Mercenaries

1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.

2. A mercenary is any person who:

( a ) Is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;

( b ) Does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;

( c ) Is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;

( d ) Is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;

( e ) Is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and

( f ) Has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.


Actually read the protocols, they really don't apply very well in this situation, and there is no real reason that I can find to follow them. Most of the so called insurgents (actually a collection of Ba'athist dead enderes who at least deserve the title of insurgent and foreigners (just like the USMC) fighting to impose their vision of sharia) also fall outside of the convetions do to their method of waging war,

Same protocol as above,

Article 51.-Protection of the civilian population

1. The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations. To give effect to this protection, the following rules, which are additional to other applicable rules of international law, shall be observed in all circumstances.

2. The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.

3. Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this Section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.

4. Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks are:

( a ) Those which are not directed at a specific military objective;

( b ) Those which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or

( c ) Those which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by this Protocol;

and consequently, in each such case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction.


Seems to rule out car bombings.

Why would you think the Geneva Conventions apply? Read them. They are about as applicable in this situation as a drill manual from the Pennisular Campaign.

Richard said...

I noticed too how close Bush and Lauer were standing, but I don't think it was Bush's idea. I sensed the were asked to get close together for the camera shot. It certainly looked weird though.

Mojave Joe said...

Bush's posturing is weird because most of us last saw that kind of behavior in junior high school (if, or especially if, we went to a public junior high school). I guess the post-World War II generation of leaders is now in its full 'glory': a generation that won't put away childish things. Clinton never outgrew the sax-playing, glad-handing, friend-to-all phony that he was in high school. And Bush never outgrew that special type of school-yard bully: the guy who could not possibly physically intimidate you on his own, but the guy whose money and status alowed him to surround himself with sycophantic and brainless dolts with (some) muscle. (And if all else failed, the chaffaeur was around to clobber you.) It's amazing people still fall for that: like David Brooks gushing in the NY Times today about Bush "swallowing up the room" with his "confidence and intensity." But Bush's strutting around is as genuine as Clinton's bad-acting.

Bush: we saw and have pictures of Johnson giving people the Johnson treatment, and guess what? You're no Johnson (with the exception, perhaps, of Vietnam--but strike that, we'll be bogged down in Iraq much longer while the real bad guys make mischief everywhere else).

Finally, I remembered now where I have seen Bush-Lauer waterboard riff--I think they were channneling Nigel Tufnel (Bush) and Marty DiBergi (Lauer) in this scene from This is Spinal Tap:

[discussing Nigel's Guitar collection]
Nigel Tufnel: Look... still has the old tag on, never even played it.
Marty DiBergi: [points his finger] You've never played...?
Nigel Tufnel: Don't touch it!
Marty DiBergi: We'll I wasn't going to touch it, I was just pointing at it.
Nigel Tufnel: Well... don't point! It can't be played.
Marty DiBergi: Don't point, okay. Can I look at it?
Nigel Tufnel: No. no. That's it, you've seen enough of that one.

The Tiger said...

Funnily enough, that exchange makes me think more highly of both participants (though that body language is a little weird)...