Thought for Today

Everything solid melts into air.
--Karl Marx

Where's Swami?

Later in December, feeling the need to do some uninterrupted work on my book and sensing the onset of burnout, I asked for a month-long sabbatical. Fittingly, this will begin on Monday--the day after the Iraqi election. Will the guest bloggers who will be doing weeklong stints here comment on this event and connect it to larger questions of morality and Right Conduct? Fine if they do, fine if they don't--after almost nine months of me, you deserve a fresh voice.

One of those bloggers--she'll show up for the last week in February, so as to make a less jarring transition to my return--is Mrs. Uptown (Karen Collins). It's almost worth sitting on my hands for a month to watch her cheer the Good and prosecute Evil.

February, I need not say, is the shortest month of the year. I'll be back to annoy you before you know it.

Is It Patriotic for Soldiers to Mutiny?

A reader writes from around the globe--an ashram in India--about yesterday's blog and my question (Will soldiers have to refuse to fight to make Bush understand that this war must end? Is mutiny now...patriotic?):

My question is: How can the millions of us who are disgusted with the war mutiny in an effective way? There has to be a way that millions of us can make resistance real. There must be an economic trump card we can play and possibly even get "mutineers" in other countries to use globalization against this juggernaut of insanity. I have not been able to come up with it, but I feel it must be sitting there, to be discovered.
Me too. I spoke in London this morning. The speaker after me was Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric--a gentleman of some influence, doncha think? I wanted to ask him: What's your obligation as a corporate officer to influence national policy? But I was a guest of the company that sponsored this conference, and he might not have realized that, and then I might have made a problem for my very gracious hosts.

I sure miss that CEOs Against the War group that formed during Vietnam.

Election Day in Iraq

Watching American reporters on English TV--and then watching British TV--gives you a sense of how thick a layer of propaganda we endure.

(Okay, maybe we don't. Maybe the Brits hate freedom. Got to consider that, just out of fairness to the Administration. Have you finished considering that? Good. Now we can move on.)

Here's an unvarnished report on pre-election reality in Iraq from Dahr Jemail, an American who went to Baghdad as an independent reporter:

With the "elections" just three days away, people are terrified. Families are fleeing Baghdad much as they did prior to the invasion of the country. Seeking refuge from what everyone fears to be a massive onslaught of violence in the capital city, huge lines of cars are stacked up at checkpoints on the outer edges of the city.

Policemen and Iraqi soldiers are trying to convince people to stay in the city and vote. Nobody is listening to them.

Here in Baghdad, although the High Commission for Elections in Iraq has yet to announce their locations, schools which are being converted into polling stations are already being attacked.

Iraqis who live near these schools are terrorized at the prospect.

"They can block the whole city and people cannot move," says a man speaking to me on condition of anonymity, "The city is dead, the people are dead. For what? For these forced elections!"

At least 90 streets in Baghdad are now closed down by huge sand and/or concrete barriers and razor wire. The number is growing daily.

"Now I'm afraid mortars will hit my home if the polling station is attacked," he adds. He'll be moving across town to stay at a relative's house, which is not near one of the dreaded polling stations.