I'm going to go off on politics and foreign policy in a second, but while I'm on the topic in general, here's some required viewing. Please forward this to anyone and everyone: a chart showing the distribution of benefits for the presidents dividend tax cut. Please also note, the notion that a dividend tax is some form of "double taxation" is simply wrong. It's a language game -- like "death tax" or "evil doer" -- designed to generate political support. But enough of that. On to the main issue.
My man Robbie Everett, who generously provided the big map for my party this weekend, emailed me this morning asking me as a favor in return to track down the hoax/truth status of the "Robin Williams Peace Plan" that's been circulating. Your answer is here (hoax, but click to read the "plan").
What strikes me as most quixotic -- or depressing, depending on my mood -- about the "Robin Williams Peace Plan" is just how bad a peace plan it. I understand that it's intended to be humorous, but only Faux News devotees would find any of the "zingers" within it even worthy of a chuckle. I would do a point-by-point breakdown, but that would require a second cup of coffee. Maybe later.
Reminds me, though, of Metaphor and War, Again, that very interesting essay from alternet which explored why and how people become misinformed about things -- e.g. Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 -- and why giving them "the facts" is usually not enough to adjust their world view. The author, correctly insofar as I can tell, asserts that the metaphorical framework that surrounds an issue is far more important in terms of how the public receives it than the actual substantive details themselves. He talks about how the nations-as-people metaphor is used to tell stories with heroes and villains in order to sell war.
The connection for me is that the main (or meta) problem with the "peace plan" is its foundation in the binary, zero-sum meme of "us right, you wrong" which is so prevalent in the conservative media and bathroom graffiti these days. It would seem that any sober analysis of history and current international relationships would conclude that as far as nations are concerned, everyone is wrong. Certainly some nations are more wrong than others, but I can't think of a single nation that's above reproach. Even the Canadians persecuted the Innuit people at one point, if I recall.
I've been mulling over this for quite some time, trying to think of an alternative to the hero/villain story which still makes use of the nations-as-people basis (which is with us, for better or worse). The other night after reading Joe Sacco's "Palestine" -- you should check out Sacco if you haven't already: he's the brilliant cartoonist equivalent of an intrepid photojournalist -- I thought maybe the family might work. Not the fantasy nuclear family, but rather the extended, sprawling, fractured, step/in-law, dysfunctional post-modern reality.
Families are messed up, and most of all they have history, good and bad. In real families, while there are leaders and black sheep, no one is "good" and no one else is "evil." There are times when people are right and people are wrong, but there is no unshakable blanket statement, no "evil--doers" or crusading saviors. Real families are complex, and the solutions to their problems require humility, communication, compromise. I don't know. Maybe, this is a completely half-baked idea (I know it's not original), but maybe it's worth elaborating on a touch in the future.
Finally, in case you've missed it in the past week. Things are going bad in Iraq. A number of US solders were killed, some in accidents, some by snipers, some just gunned down in broad daylight. The occupation team is being shuffled -- all the top people, Gardner, Bodine, etc -- are being replaced, as nearly a month after the end of major combat the country is continuing to disintigrate. Rumsfeld is trying to limit visits to the region by Congresspeople to 2 hours in-and-out. Looting continues. No WMD have been found, and the Army Expiditionary Force that's in charge of searching for them is being dismantled. Bad news all around. There are stll some causes for hope, but the current trend is far from encouraging.