HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

March 12, 2007
From the Editor

John Turner


No flood here yet, but the conditions for one remain. We've had little melting, though we have had a couple of days with temperatures approaching 40.

I've noticed that retired major general Paul Eaton has been much in the news lately. I saw him on the Bill Mahr show and also on 60 Minutes pointing out the debt we owe to people in Iraq who worked for the U.S. military. They are under a virtual death sentence now and very badly need refuge in the United States. Yet the State Department is approving only a trickle of Iraqi immigrants, perhaps two to three thousand this year. General Eaton says that at least 100,000 persons deserve our protection but he doesn't think many are likely to get it. This will be yet one more dishonor heaped on our nation by the Iraqi adventure.

I hope you are all keeping up with the story of US. attorneys fired for what many think were political reasons. We're beginning to hear a few calls for the resignation of Alberto Gonzales. Chuck Schumer of New York has said he should go because he can't seem to grasp the difference between serving as the Attorney General of the United States and being the president's personal lawyer.

The president's tour in Latin America doesn't seem to be winning many hearts and minds. If you're interested in why not, pick up a copy of Greg Grandin's Empire's Workshop, which analyzes U. S. policy in Central and South America since the Reagan administration. He says that Reagan was more moderate in his actions in Eastern Europe and Asia than he was in our hemisphere because in the former he had to deal with the Soviet Union. But now, with Bush, unrestrained by a rival superpower, we have seen Reaganism unleashed. The number of American intellectuals, like Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Michael Novack and Gary North, who justified murder and torture in Latin America is dismaying.

A pardon for Scooter Libby continues to be a big item in the news. Many think it has already been promised. Read Frank Rich in yesterday's New York Times, for a thorough explanation for why Bush will not let Libby be sent to jail.

The vice president hasn't had a good press for some time now. But lately the commentary has become more scathing than anything we've seen directed at a high public official in decades, certainly not since Nixon. I've heard the suggestion that Mr. Cheney has lost his mind, but that seems much less likely than that his regular old mind is working away but is now being revealed as never before.

Andy Rooney got fairly radical last night by suggesting that many current America troops are scrapings from the bottom of the barrel, and that if we want a military that can actually represent the American people we had best re-institute the draft so that some educated people can be filtered into the ranks. What happened to the universal sentiment that all U. S. soldiers are heroes and paragons of virtue?

On TV, the central message of our time is being delivered by Sprint commercials, which proclaim endlessly, "In business, faster is always better."  And since the business of America is business, I guess we can conclude that faster is always better in everything. It's a principle that relieves us from the burden of thought, which American culture has never been eager to shoulder. After all, we can't monkey around figuring out what to do. We have to get on with it.

Be un-American now and then, and send us your thoughts when you have a spare moment. And try to have a few spare moments. They're not really sins.


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