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Re: Another Stupid Character Assasination

11/29/2005 8:03 AM
Mark Hammer Re: Another Stupid Character Assasination
No. You're reading things into what I said. The point is that the same people can be right about some things and wrong about others, and that being famous does not make everything one has to say reasonable or even sensible, let alone wise. In Cindy Sheehan's case, I think her expressed views on the US-Israel-Iraq relationship are way off the mark, not because she's Cindy Sheehan, not because I am enamoured of the Iraq invasion or this administration, or because I am some rabid my-Israel-right-or-wrong type, but because she's wrong. I also tried to make the point that very often being famous results in the sort of people surrounding you that lead you to question yourself less when you ARE wrong.  
I am QUITE willing to trust the opinions of the average man or woman, provided they come from a base of information, and not merely ill-informed suspicion and irritation. At the very same time, there are plenty who are seen as "intelligentsia", whose approach to social and policy issues is so abstract and dictated by things like economic factors that they easily lose sight of what really matters to people on the ground. Here I will happily defer to the "average woman or man" on many an occasion.
11/20/2005 1:46 PM
ffffffffffffffffff Cindy Sheehan is Priceless
I support Cindy 100%. You know why? Because she doesn't subscribe to the carefully constructed pack of lies put out by the Bush administration about the Iraqi war.  
It comes down to one question? Who is more honest GW or Cindy? Clearly Cindy gets my vote. So when Cindy gives us a reason why the war exists, I give her an honest listen. So far nobody has proven her wrong.  
And you have to hand it to Cindy. She was the first person on a national basis to have the balls (excuse me Cindy, I say that as a compliment) to directly confront Bush about the legitimacy of this war. Not a single politician from either the left or right had the guts to do that. Only after Cindy publically spoke have some politicians come out of the woodwork and have begun calling for an end to this war.  
The fact is that Cindy single-handedly turned public opinion against Bush. Ever since she did her camp-in at Bush's ranch, Bush's popularity has fallen. Cindy did the impossible. She turned around a freight train.  
Thanks Cindy. You did a great job! We are behind you all the way. You have provided this country with hope for peace again. Again, thank you.
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11/21/2005 8:04 AM
Mark Hammer
I applaud her persistence down in Crawford, and her decision to say "I'm a bereaved mom. I will not shut up.". Her family has tended to distance themselves from her. My guess is that they do so not so much out of any completely contrary political views but more because it would seem she doesn't know when to stop. In other words, being on the side of right once in a while doesn't make you less of a pain in the arse to people on an interpersonal level, and doesn't mean that everything you say will continue to be right.  
The trouble with becoming a celebrity, American-style, is that you get surrounded by tons of folks who tell you you're right all the time. That's a dangerous position. You end up getting encouraged to scream stupid things. If I'm not mistaken, that's precisely how a lot of politicians come to do the very things the rest of us shake our heads in disgust at. Those same sources of "risk-to-rationality" impact regular folks and politicians the exact same way.  
As dead set against the original invasion as I was (and I am not persuaded by the ever-so-eloquent arguments of "converted" lefties like Christopher Hitchens), my mom taught me that when you make a mess you clean it up. Whatever the stupidity or arrogance of marching in was, a complete pullout is irresponsible. Of course, the fact that a need to assist Iraq in attaining stability justifies some sort of continuing presence does NOT necessarily mean that the current strategies used by the White House and Pentagon are the "right ones. I would hope that they are rethinking the American presence in Iraq currently, not for the sole purpose of pulling out and saving American lives (and budget), but also for the purposes of leaving the country in less of a sorry state than it was when they went in. If I recall correctly, the original motive was to foster "stability". I don't see a whole helluva lot of it at the moment, though I would hope it is not too far off.  
As for the war on terrorism, it seems to me the sheer brutality of what Zarquawi's gangs are doing these days is rapidly undermining much of any popular support they have. In other words, maybe this is simply a fire that is burning itself out. When all the vitriol was focussed on the great satan, it was easier to get street-level support. When it starts to turn into your version of Islam not being "good enough", even folks who might have once sided with you are bound to get a little resentful. With the recent bombings at mosques and at the wedding in Amman, I imagine there are a whole lot of Muslims thinking to themselves "How the f**k does this guy speak for me?".  
It would not surprise me a bit if, years from now when the whole thing gets sorted out by historians, we find out that Bin Laden (assuming he is not presently dead) was content to hang back and lay low, but Zarquawi decided to grab the limelight (like I said before, the dangers of being surrounded by folks who tell you you're wonderful) and screwed the whole thing up for him.
11/21/2005 9:10 AM
Eric H
"The trouble with becoming a celebrity, American-style, is that you get surrounded by tons of folks who tell you you're right all the time."
AFAIK this type of behavior predates the founding of the 'States by at least a year or two.  
11/21/2005 9:59 AM
Mark Hammer
You're right. Being a slave to sycophants is as old as the hills. Celebrity via mass media, though, is a little more recent. What I meant by "American-style" was not a slag against Americans. Rather, it is quintessential to being a contemporary celebrity in the U.S.A. that one immediately translates into copy for People, US, Entertainment Weekly, the Star, the Globe, The Enquirer, Inside Edition, Entertainment Tonight, and hour after hour of CNN coverage, not to mention the websites and the inevitable song showing up on CMT. That part of it, at least, seems to be fairly American in nature, though other countries have their own mini-versions.
11/29/2005 8:55 AM
anonymous Thankfully, it looks like her 15 minutes are up  
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan waits for people to show up at her book signing near President Bush's ranch on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005 in Crawford, Texas." >
11/29/2005 9:28 AM
Mark Hammer
There is something really very wrong when a mother who loses her son in a war she couldn't stop has a whole book about it. Not that her opinions don't matter - they DO, when it comes to her personal hurt, and not that anguished mothers do not provide a valid springboard for important ideas (witness Joan Didion's recent book about her one-then-the-other loss in "The Year of Magical Thnking") But a book? Given the extensive coverage she has received, what does she have to say that hasn't already been said or covered?  
Again, I'm not at all arguing for her to shut up or go away. Rather, it is what happens once a publisher approaches someone like her with the idea that a quick knockoff book is just what's needed. How is that decision made, and what gets flagged as worthy content? How much consideration is given to the consequences for the social issues of interest if the book stiffs and goes straight for the delete bin? Does that mean her pain is passé or irrelevant now? Does that matter even just a little to the people who publish the book?  
Of course you just know that if she were 20 years younger and a bit prettier, the other outcome is that she would have been approached on the basis of being a cause celèbre by a "men's" magazine to show her boobs. The manner in which media eats citizens and citizen concerns and spits them out is discouraging, to say the least.  
Incidentally, the 15-minute reference is all about that aspect of contemporary society. To say that someone has 15 minutes of fame is to say that they have moved from having any sort of ownership of their identity and concerns to simply being content used by someone else to fill up commercial air time or page space.
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