Thursday, January 19, 2006


Two items in the press recently rang the scribe’s chimes. They’re about the war, of course.

And what a waste of a literary career having to constantly carp about this ghastly tragedy.

The first is an opinion piece by Derrick Jackson who hails from the “Boston Globe.” It is most important for our purposes here at highwayscribery, which hoists the banner in favor of innocents bulldozed by the forces of history and stratagems of monsters like George w. Bush.

We stand, first and foremost, in defense of the hypothetical little-girl-in-a-courtyard with her cat whose reality is shattered by the searing scream of fighter jets and the earth shattering explosions they deal in their battle for democracy, peanut butter, and jelly.

And we stand for mincing our own thoughts in with those of more accomplished and recommended thinkers, without their permission.

Here’s the link:

The touchstone for Jackson’s piece is the recent slaughter of 18 people breaking bread together in Pakistan. You may not remember it given the scant outrage it has generated, but the purpose of the bombing of a civilian repast was to get the #2 Al-Qaeda guy (whatever that means). And that’s Jackson’s point: Our reprehensible inability to feel the pain we visit upon other people.

Jackson notes how the fact that innocent people died at the hands of our blustering foreign policy is of little import to (p)resident Bush who, “long ago maneuvered the self-absorbed American psyche to ignore our own inhumanity.”

This is why Europeans, and everybody else really, hate Bush around the world. He represents what’s worse in us: our callousness and disregard for the lives and progress of other countries, other peoples. They feel they are naught to us. And Bush doesn’t beat around, well, the bush. He doesn’t apologize, thinks we’re always right, and that because of 9/11, no small country can pay too high a price.

Here’s Jackson again: “With three years of denial [regarding civilian deaths], the reaction to the latest mistake in Pakistan was predictably without feeling. Asked Tuesday if regrets were forthcoming, White House press secretary Scott McClellan refused to talk about the incident, saying only, ‘I think you’ve hear our comments about matters of that nature in the past. If I have anything to add, I will’.”

That’s the compassionate side to the American conservative.

But as Jackson notes, Evan Bayh, a Democrat and Senator from Indiana, couldn’t wait to jump on board the tough-talk bandwagon and delivered his own serving of insensitivity on one of the weekend talk shows (according to Jackson): “It’s a regrettable situation, but what else are we supposed to do?”

the scribe would like to suggest acceptance of the fact terrorists take cover in civilian settings means they can’t be bombed. End of story. Find another way that doesn’t cost a billion dollars and doesn’t kill a thousand people.

Bayh was joined by Secretary of State Condesencia Rice, and that ‘ol pal of Strom Thurmon’s, Trent Lott of Missassippay.

John McCain, taking what passes for the centrist road in this country, apologized and then qualified that apology on “Face the Nation.”


“The air strike in Pakistan reaffirms how our behavior is plummeting in the direction of the evil we proclaim to fight.” (Jackson)

And this charming process is very expensive, according to a piece by Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz in the “L.A. Times” that you can find here:,0,4539675,print.story

The pair just made a presentation at the American Economic Association which suggested the cost of the war, depending upon how long troops are there, will cost between $1 trillion and $2 trillion.

Here’s just one paragraph:

“Like the iceberg that hit the Titanic, the full costs of the war are still largely hidden below the surface. Our calculations include not just the money for combat operations but also the costs the government will have to pay for years to come. These include lifetime healthcare and disability benefits for returning veterans and special round-the-clock medical attention for many of the 16,300 Americans who have already been seriously wounded. We also count the increased cost of replacing military hardware because the war is using up equipment at three to five times the peacetime rate. In addition, the military must pay large reenlistment bonuses and offer higher benefits to reenlist reluctant soldiers. On top of this, because we finance the war by borrowing more money (mostly from abroad) there is a rising interest cost on the extra debt.”

The administration’s estimate for the cost of the war was $16 billion. Saving the Salton Sea in California and thereby avoiding an environmental disaster with global implications, especially for migrating birds, would cost $2 billion, but nobody has it.

Here’s a cool ticker that gives you a graphic and moving idea of what we’re talking about here:

And finally, it turns out Al Gore’s speech had more resonance than usual (“You Go...Gore,” Jan. 17). Here’s a link to David Broder’s column in the “Washington Post” on the mercies and blessings of the former vice president’s speech.

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