Thursday, August 26, 2004

More Tales of Sacramento at Night

Last night, I arrived home to find my dog, Sparky, snuffling excitedly in an unusually dull corner of the back yard. Sparky had discovered the curled, bedraggled body of a young but dead possum. The possum looked pretty loathesome, like he had fallen out of an Ugly Tree and hit every branch on the way down, before smashing his head on a rock. I shooed Sparky away and used paper towel roll tubes to put the limp body into a plastic grocery sack. But wait! - did the bag move? - yes indeed! It turned out the dazed possum was merely 'playing possum', and he was still very much alive! I retreated upstairs, and perched myself on top of the clothes dryer. I shined a flashlight out the window at the unkempt critter, who by this time had scrambled upwards from the ground and was balanced uncomfortably on a fence top. Every time the scrawny possum shifted his balance or swivelled an ear, I bounced up and down on the clothes dryer and shouted like a banshee: "Ugly! Ugly!"

There are quite a few possums in the neighborhood: possums have nearly blundered into Sparky and myself on our nighttime sojourns around the neighborhood. Last Christmas, we discovered there are raccoons in the neighborhood as well, which surprised me, in urban Sacramento not far from downtown. Still, something has to be done about making the possums more - presentable.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Michael Moore, the American Soldier, and the Evolution of the American Left

Here is the third segment of an occasional series comparing what Michael Moore presented in the movie “Fahrenheit 9/11” versus what critics said he said, or what people might have actually said.

In "Fahrenheit 911," Michael Moore is divided in the manner he wants to portray American soldiers. At first, in a series of on-the-spot interviews, he portrays the soldiers as the American Left might at first thoughtlessly want to, as a conflicted, yet semi-barbaric, cohort:

There was a lot of innocent civilians, that were killed, and, I think that is because, uh, the U.S. Army, you know, uh, we came in, and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and, eh, pretty much at first shot anything that moved.

War happens, and the fighting starts, you know, it’s kind of like, we’re pumped up, motivated, ready to go.

It’s the ultimate rush, cause you know you are going into the fight to begin with, and if you got a good song playing in the background, and, uh, that, that gets you real fired up. Ready to do the job.

You can hook up your CD player to the tank’s internal communication system – Charlie box – cause that way when you put your helmet on you can hear it through the helmet.

This is the one we listen to the most. This is the one we travel, we kill the enemy, try to let …. just perfect for the job that we were doing.

We sing the roof is on fire, because, uh, basically it symbolized Baghdad being on fire, and uh, at the time we wanted it to burn….

The roof is on fire. We don’t need no water, let the motherfucker, burn. Burn motherfucker, burn.

"We don’t need no water, let the motherfucker, burn. Burn motherfucker, burn."

This is a whole, totally different piece of your being, pushed into the city of urban warfare, uh, in a tank, you know. Civilians. Civilians, it’s, you don’t know who’s friendly - cause we’re not - who’s the enemy?

This is a lot more real and true than just a video game. A lot of people thought it was just going to be - oh yeah, just look in the sight and shoot. Nah. A lot of this is face to face, and especially riding by after some of the bombs that went off and seeing all the people on the side of the road bloated up and just, all the smells around you, I mean, of all the people lying dead, rotted. It’s a lot more gruesome than you think.

We called in with some artillery and some napalm and things like that. Some innocent women and children got hit. We met them on the road and they had three little girls with noses blown off, and, uh, and, like, husbands carrying their dead wives and things like that. And that was extremely difficult to deal with, cause you’re shoo-, like, shoot, what the hell do we do now?

Michael Moore nevertheless reveals a grudging admiration for the spirit of the American soldiers, in order to better indict their feckless leadership:

Of course, not a single member of Congress wanted to sacrifice their child for the war in Iraq. And who could blame them? Who would want to give up their child? Would you? Would he?

I’ve always been amazed that the very people, forced to live in the worst parts of town, go to the worst schools, and have it hardest, are always the first to step up, to defend that very system.

They serve, so we don’t have to. They offer to give up their lives, so that we can be free. It is remarkable, their gift to us. And all they ask for in return, is that we never send them into harm’s way, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?

Moore's change of heart suggests he either:

  • Honestly can't decide how it will all turn out and thus presents both views of the American soldier, to cover all bases, or;
  • has had a change-of-heart, not only for himself, but the rest of the American Left as well.

I'm certainly hoping the latter: diminishing political returns argues against the former. Finally, the American Left is coming to grips with the legacy of September 11th, and not a minute too soon. A better Left needs to have good contacts, and understanding of, the American military - the Left of the 30's certainly had that understanding: the Left of the 60's became estranged from the military, to its eventual, recent harm. Time to set things aright.