Back to previous post: AJC rips Bush administration a new one

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: All this political blogging

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

September 14, 2006

Forgotten soldiers
Posted by Teresa at 08:58 AM * 86 comments

George Bush has yet to attend a single military funeral.

His visits to the wounded soldiers being treated in VA hospitals have been minimal—just enough to keep me from being able to type, “George Bush has yet to visit the soldiers wounded in his wars.”

He visited Iraq one Christmas. It was one of his staged, tightly controlled photo ops, where among other things he only came into contact with soldiers who’d been vetted in advance and would say and do the right things. He and his entourage left shortly after they’d finished shooting their footage.

The administration still has a strongly enforced embargo on photographs of returning flag-draped coffins. They claim this is to spare the families’ feelings. When, in all of human history, have the families of those who died in honorable combat been consoled by having their loved ones brought home in obscurity, ignored by the government that sent them to fight? This is why we, and most of the other nations of the world, have ceremonies of public remembrance for those who’ve served in our wars.

The administration’s patent unconcern for the families of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan would be enough all by itself to cast doubt on their explanation for why they treat our dead like desaparecidos.

And that’s only scratching the surface. See also, Eric Alterman’s Bush attacks the Army, too. This administration doesn’t care about our military. They just like to play with it.

Comments on Forgotten soldiers:
#1 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 10:04 AM:

Well, sure, he probably hates them for having the guts to do what he wouldn't do, and he certainly has contempt for them as servants who do his bidding. He can't trouble his beautiful mind with that stuff.

#2 ::: Tom S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 10:23 AM:

Actually, Bush has been to Iraq twice -- once for a Thanksgiving 2003 photo-op with the troops and again in June 2006 to talk with Iraqi governemnt officials. Of course, he only stayed five hours the second time -- I guess we've really got the security issues licked.

#3 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 10:47 AM:

Tom S @ 2
Or five hours was the longest they could be sure he'd be safe, given that there's a civil war going on.

#4 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 10:59 AM:

If GWB goes to a funeral he has to know that the people dying are real. If he spends too much time surrounded by the people who are doing the heavy lifting, he has to understand that he's not playing with green plastic soldiers. I'm not sure he'd do anything differently if he understood that these are real humans he's playing with, but he might be uncomfortable, and this is a president who appears to prize comfort--his own--above all things.

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 11:10 AM:

This is privilege, pure and simple: when you get to live in your preferred story, the one where you're always wonderful and always a hero, and you never have to do any of the boring stuff or pay attention to other people's stories.

I've had a phrase running through my head for a while now, and the only thing I can think of to do with it is just say it:

We're dealing with President Mary Sue.

#6 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 11:13 AM:

We're losing about a hundred killed-or-wounded per week.

#7 ::: Rasselas ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 11:47 AM:

Which would make the men and women who write for the National Review and various right-wing blogs Dick Cheney cosplayers. A painful thought.

#8 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 11:50 AM:

Well, of course Bush doesn't attend funerals. Probably because those dead soldiers don't cooperate by smiling for photo ops with him. Besides, then he might be asked by the bereaved why there wasn't enough personal armor for US forces and we know he can't answer that truthfully.

#9 ::: John League ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 11:51 AM:

Group A:
George McGovern, bomber pilot
Jimmy Carter, nuclear engineer in the Navy
John Kerry, patrol-boat officer

Group B:
George W. Bush, weekend warrior
Dick Cheney, had more important things to do
Donald Rumsfeld, Navy flight instructor

Funny, you'd think Group B would be the one eviscerated for denying the realities of war and "staying the course."

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 12:10 PM:

An American politician, a Republican as a matter of fact, who was not born to automatic privilege found the right words to say of the sacrifice made by those who donned the country's uniform. Those words are worth recalling, as an indication of how far G.W. Bush is from what a leader ought to be:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here qave their lives that the nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought so nobly advanced. It is for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God shall have a new birth of freedom; and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

#11 ::: Steven Gould ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 12:11 PM:

Between military dead and dead civillian contractors, there are more Americans dead in Iraq than died on 9/11/2001.

And oddly enough, I =still= don't feel safer.

#12 ::: Graham Blake ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 12:15 PM:

I wonder, have many people talked to the families of fallen soldiers about how they feel regarding the repatriation of their loved ones, and its censorship?

Early in our new Conservative government's life, they tried to imitate Bush and ban the media from the repatriation ceremonies of fallen Canadian soldiers. This went over very poorly with soldiers and with the families of the fallen. The Conservative government was forced to relent when it was clear that their claims of protecting the families did not wash.

Fortunately our deaths are few enough that repatriation need not be done wholesale, and each event can be marked with appropriate solemnity. If the families of the fallen request it in a particular case, the media will remain back and not be present on the airfield when the flagged-draped coffins arrive. Otherwise, repatriation is something most Canadians see each time it unfolds. The media here always covers it, be it from the airfield itself, or from a respectful distance at the wishes of the family.

The repatriation of remains is a sacred thing. In a just war we need to witness it to be properly cognizant of our sacrifice. In an unjust war, we also need to witness it, to properly grasp the cost we are paying, and to properly feel whatever shame should come of sending our young people off to die in a pointless war.

That this profound ceremony is censored should make the American people deeply suspicious, and the media should not be letting the administration get away with it.

#13 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 12:24 PM:

While the KIA in Iraq are reported to the media by the Pentagon (sometimes days or weeks after they've died), are they actually reporting the WIA numbers? ISTR that the number of wounded is underreported because there are no 'official' lists like with those killed, and the only way the wounded number is even close is due to a lot of hard research and digging.

#14 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 12:32 PM:

The real reason Bush doesn't attend military funerals: He doesn't want to offend Fred Phelps.

#15 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 12:43 PM:

#12, Graham-- To be fair to GW Bush, it was during the Gulf War (I mean, the original one, back in '91) that the ban on showing coffins was put in place.

But absolutely agreed it's a sacred thing, part of the proper ritual. it continues to fail to surprise me that GW Bush is not a fan of the larger rituals.

#16 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 12:44 PM:

He doesn't want to offend Fred Phelps.

Well except that according to Phelps the entire population of the Earth, except some members of his family, are fags. Bush has a priori offended Phelps without even giving a back rub to Tony Blair, or Dr. Dobson, or one of his other boyfriends.

#17 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 12:46 PM:

Remember when one of the TV networks (I don't remember whether it was NPR, CNN, or one of the big three -- damn sure it wasn't Fucks) wanted to memorialize the American soldiers killed in Iraq by reading the names aloud, and got ripped at by the wingnuts for being insufficiently supportive of the troops? Talk about cognitive dissonance...

#18 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 01:03 PM:

Remember when one of the TV networks...

That was "Nightline" (ABC), I believe.

#19 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 01:07 PM:

On behalf of fags everywhere, let me just say re Dubya: Ohhhh no. You can keep him.

#20 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 01:15 PM:

kate #15: Bush is surely an egotist and possibly much worse; he believes in ritual only in so far as it serves and supports his purposes, desires, and beliefs. As Madeleine in #4 pointed out, dealing with death and grief is way outside his comfort zone. If he attended a soldier's funeral, he might have to actually confront the negative results of his decisions -- or he might be confronted, by a grieving family member. He might look "weak", for wingnut values of that term. He might say something unscripted which could be used against him politically. Couldn't have that...

#21 ::: Tom S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 01:24 PM:

PJ: Yes, that's exactly what I meant. Apparently irony is dead.

#22 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 01:30 PM:

Government incompetence against terrorism is not reason enough to compromise my rights and freedoms or yours.

Feel free to use that on teeshirts, hats, signs and whatever.

#23 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 01:35 PM:

Tom S:
I think my irony detector isn't working very well this morning. Maybe I need a little more iron?

#24 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 01:57 PM:

I have personal reasons to be grumpy about this administration's ill treatment of active duty and retired members of our armed forces.

But hey, the Democrats don't support our troops. That's why they propose spending money on transition assistance, PTSD counseling, and residential rehab services.

The Republicans, of course, do support our troops. That's why they increased fees and copays for VA care. "[A]ccording to the VA, the Presidentís plan would discourage more than 200,000 veterans from accessing care and would discourage another 1.1 million from enrolling in the VA healthcare system at all."

To the best of my knowledge, there are no service flags (often called blue star banners) in the windows of the White House, at Number One Observatory Circle, or at the homes of Dennis Hastert, Ted Stevens, John Boehner, or Bill Frist. The official fact sheet has more information on who is eligible to display a service flag. I'm fairly sure I'm not the only Making Light regular who qualifies.

#25 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 02:00 PM:

The soldiers aren't being forgotten.

They are being remembered . . . in a highly selective and useful way.

#26 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 02:24 PM:

Oh my, now you've presented this *usually* ethical Witch with a problem:

The dead soldiers are not real to GWB. Part of me wants to work up spell that would achieve this effect:

That each and every night, until the troops all come home, GWB would have this dream and only this dream, over and over, ad infinitum:

He is a soldier on the line in Iraq or Afghanistan, he is in a battle where he is killed in a very painful fashion (maybe death by IED)...and the dream would close with the coffin lid closing over him.

I suspect that the intent of the spell probably violates the Rede (An it harm none, do what you will.). But it is so tempting...

But maybe I'm wrong in assuming GWB has a conscience?

#27 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 02:34 PM:

Lori, I'd suggest rather one where the dead pass in review, with their names and dates and hometowns spoken, every night. (I'm going to include for this all those who die later from wounds). And as more die, the review will become longer. It isn't harm, it's a reminder that these were real people. (IANAWitch, but he needs it, IMO.)

#28 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 02:46 PM:

P J Evans, I -like- that suggestion. I think I'll go consult with some fellow Pagans to see if there's a ethical way to craft it...

#29 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 04:11 PM:

PJ and Lori,
It's called the Newshour with Tim Lear. No need for magic.

Heck, even fictional Presidents want to be there when the coffins come in at Andrews (West Wing). President Busah doesn't even measure up to TV.

#30 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 04:16 PM:

But maybe I'm wrong in assuming GWB has a conscience?

yeah, probably a bad assumption.

#31 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 05:01 PM:

We're dealing with President Mary Sue.

David Brin was way ahead of you

#32 ::: camryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 05:14 PM:

Lori --

IANAWitch, either, but my understanding is that "for the harm of none, and the good of all" is a good codicil to add to a spell.

a) If your intent (or if the current wording of your spell) is not compatible with the Rede, tacking on "for the harm of none" may help draw your attention to that before you actually cast the spell.

b) When you do the casting, the codicil helps specify the manner in which you hope your intent will be realized in the world, thus helping to prevent any vagueness on your part from getting transformed into harmfulness.

#33 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 05:15 PM:

Surely its obvious. The dead don't vote, so what use are they in extending the Bush dynasty? C'mon, get the big picture.

#34 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 05:39 PM:

"The dead don't vote, so what use are they in extending the Bush dynasty?"

Worse, they get in the way of said extension. Hide them at all costs.

#35 ::: Patrick Weekes ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 05:42 PM:

This might be a misunderstanding on my part (based on not understanding or not remembering correctly things my Wiccan buddies told me), but is the Rede tied in with the threefold rule, where the pragmatic reason for not trying to get people struck by lightning is because you'd get struck by lightning three times, too?

(I know that that's possibly the most dumbed-down version of Wiccan ethics of all time, and may not even be correct -- or my friend may have belonged to a different branch -- but bear with me.)

If that's the reason, and heck, even if "And it harm none" be the reason, I think you're in the clear.

If you reset a bone, yeah, it hurts like heck. But you're not doing it to torture the injured party. You're doing it to help the thing heal correctly. And similarly, if somebody (in this case, GWB) absolutely vitally needs to grow as an individual, you are not hurting him by sending strong suggestions that he learn the error of his ways in order to become a better person, even if that education happens to be a painful one for him.

I'm not trying to giggle about loopholes. I consider "education" a valid and beneficial wish or prayer or magical request, even if it stings. And if I get three times the education about the things I'm doing wrong in my own life, that's all the better for me.

(Corrections welcome. IANAWiccan.)

#36 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 05:55 PM:

As I believe, the Rede translates to basically, "what energy you project/cause in the universe will come back threefold." So it's not so much as magic-ing lighting to hit a person and then being struck three times, as it's putting negative energy into the universe (to cause the lighting strike) that negative energy comes back at you three fold (repetition or strength). This may mean being struck by lighting, clothes caught on fire, and getting as flat tire on a deserted road (not all at the same time), or one event that is three times as worse as getting struck by lighting. This is why it's better to follow "as it harms none, do as ye will." In this case, if you're willing to accept the super version of the Dickensonian Xmas Ghosts, have at it. IANAWiccan, but I know many.

#37 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 05:58 PM:

Patrick Weekes @ 35

That's about the way I do QC. Have them fix it, and learn how to not do it again. (Yes, I can sit there and fix the mistakes myself, but what will they learn from that?)

#38 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 06:11 PM:

Well IAAWiccan (Wiccan and Priest Elder of a coven for 20+ years), and I say...sorry, no can do.

Sending someone an unpleasant dream, even if it does more good than harm overall, is baneful (intended to cause harm). And the dreams that will return to you will be unpleasant dreams for you, not just the same dream tripled.

If you're willing to have dreams three times as unpleasant for you as the ones you send him are for him (or rather three times as unpleasant as you intended them to be for him), you go right ahead. I'll be in the car. But then I'm not allowed, by oath, to do "baneful, coercive, or manipulative" magic, and if nothing else that's certainly manipulative, so it's right out before I even get to the "is this harm" question.

It's very tempting, I realize. The dream I want him to have is based on the scene in Richard III where all his murder victims come to accuse him, and each ends with "Despair and Die!" And if I were going to do that, I'd just send blow-up-your-pacemaker rays at Cheney and choke-on-a-pretzel rays at Bush, and be done with it. But I keep the oath. Mepf.

Btw, the Wiccan Rede is "An it harm none, do as thou wilt." The 'an' is supposedly archaic language for 'if', not a misspelling of the word 'and'. And let me just add that the more you explore the deeper meaning of 'thou wilt', the more redundant that conditional clause seems. But that's getting a bit mystical for this thread.

#39 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 06:27 PM:

Sending someone an unpleasant dream, even if it does more good than harm overall, is baneful (intended to cause harm). And the dreams that will return to you will be unpleasant dreams for you, not just the same dream tripled.

Xopher, would it be different if the caster's intention were something along the lines of "May this person see their actions and the consequences of their actions clearly and without bias"? Because that seems like the kind of thing that would certainly be painful if it came back three-fold, but would still be beneficial.

#40 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 06:31 PM:

If you're willing to have dreams three times as unpleasant for you as the ones you send him are for him

Had to read that a couple times... pondering... pondering... well, I generally don't recall my dreams. The ones I do recall are often, hm, shall we say, "behdy bahd". How about I send Bush dreams one-third as bad as mine, and we call it even?

Do I need an antenna dish or something?

#41 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 06:33 PM:

My (Christian) prayers tend to run along the lines of, "God, take care of [whatever]," and leaving God to figure out what's best. Of course, I come from Brooklyn, where "take care of" can have an entirely different meaning...

#42 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 06:39 PM:

I dunno, Xopher. I've dreamed (more than once) of dying, and it was without fear and with the knowledge that that was what I was doing. Once a car crash (through a fence into a house), once a nuclear bomb: those are the ones I remember.

The intent is not to ahrm Shrub, it's to teach him that what he does affects others; his actions and words have real consequences, and he has to deal with those consequences. In short form, he has to learn to shovel his own sh*t. I don't see a better (or easier) way.

#43 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 06:53 PM:

Phelps, that too-rancid-for-dogmeat skuz, attacks the Schmuck.

That was Nightline back when Ted Koppel was on it, before the Bimbo (male) from Britain got put in after Koppel got the book for daring to do stories on Real News and ask sometimes some questions that the answers indicated incompetence and bad faith and malice of the Schmuck and his buddies.

I am not watching ABC these days, that lies-u-meant-ory was the last straw.

#44 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 07:44 PM:

A couple months ago, the CSNY tour came through here. While the first half of the concert was a mix of old and new songs, the second half was pure anti-Bush politics.

After singing, "Let's Impeach the President," they went on by flashing the quote from Shrub banning the images of coffins, then showed several flag-draped caskets and the pictures of EVERY soldier killed to that date, all to an extended and subdued version of "Find the Cost of Freedom." By the end, there wasn't a dry eye among 10,000 people, although many were tears of rage mixed with the sadness... When it was over, there was a 10 minute standing ovation, and it wasn't for the band.

As in all things, Bushie fucked this one up royally...

#45 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 09:27 PM:

Thanks, Xopher, for the clarification. I keep on learning more the older I get.

#46 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 09:35 PM:

If Bush went to one funeral, would he have to go to all of them? I agree that he should have to make a public recognition of the individuals who are killed and wounded, I'm just not sure going to funerals is practical.

I don't know about other places, but folks who are buried at Arlington always get very high officers at the funeral.

#47 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2006, 11:34 PM:

Lori, Xopher, a thought.
Would it be ethical to make the dreams fade/grow milder as Shrub might learn to take responsibility for the consequences of his actions and admit his errors?
Could this be extended to any other intentions being imposed on him? (I can't say, honestly, that I want the dreams to completely disappear - I suspect he's one who would backslide if the reinforcement is removed.)
Would it be ethical to apply the same intention to others (Rumsfeld, Addington and Yoo come most immediately to mind)?

#48 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 01:55 AM:

The News Hour had a segment tonight about American wounded soldiers with what's called TBI, traumatic brain injury. As I was watching that horror (a woman who's capable of walking but can't retain short-term or long-term memory, even that of giving birth to her child), I was muttering that the piece should be required viewing for Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Nightly. For the next 10 years.

#49 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 08:15 AM:

...let me just add that the more you explore the deeper meaning of 'thou wilt', the more redundant that conditional clause seems. But that's getting a bit mystical for this thread.

But Xopher--if we didn't have the conditional clause, people might think we were @whisper(Thelemites)! Can't have that.

#50 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 08:37 AM:

Linkmeister #48: The News Hour had a segment tonight about American wounded soldiers with what's called TBI, traumatic brain injury.

Remember, our leaders the Republicans cut the budget for research into and treatment of war-related traumatic brain injury.

#51 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 08:40 AM:

PJ, there's no way within my ethics to do magic targeting another person without that person's permission. Well, if they're in a coma or something you can put it in a box and let their True Will (which is what 'thou wilt' refers to) reach for it. But in general you have to have the actual permission, in language; for my skeptical/atheist friends, I ask "would you still give permission if you truly believed it would work?"

Now, traditions vary, and not everyone has such an oath, so the above limitations and restrictions may not apply to you. If harmlessness is as restrictive as you get, you can do anything that you're willing to take threefold in return. As I said, I won't denounce you, but I'll be in the car.

The most I might be comfortable with, and it would be a strain, would be making a spirit box (I picture it as a black lacquer frame with white paper walls...you've seen those), filling it with "see and feel the broader consequences of your actions," and putting it near Dubya's True Will. If he's really bad even in his inner spirit, this will do absolutely nothing; but if that's the case so will your dream sendings. He'll just tell the dead "So? You died. People die in war. My presidential legacy is more important than all your lives."

As for being thought Thelemites...yeah, that's a risk. But they have this in common with Christians: the ones who aren't totally ignorant aren't as bad as the general group's rep would lead you to believe. They've realized that 'do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law' doesn't mean "do whatever the hell you feel like doing from moment to moment, and fuck anyone who tries to tell you you're doing bad things."

#52 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 09:57 AM:

Re Thelemites in #51: Having dated a Thelemite, and therefore hung around a bunch of them, I have to say that the group as a whole doesn't impress me. I get the whole True Will thing, and I even met a couple who seemed to as well, but in general they are just exactly as bad as the group's rep. I understand what Crowley was trying to do, but what he actually did was create a philosophy that makes it much too easy to shrug and trample people.

Gods and angels--maybe Bush has heard of Thelema. I doubt it, but it makes a horrid kind of sense.

#53 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 10:45 AM:

Xopher, the spirit box sounds about right. My feeling about it is, he needs to learn and grow, to get past being a small child inside, and I can't think of any other way to do it. That, or he spends a lot of lives doing repayment. (Well, he'll do that anyway, but shortening the number of lives needed is good.)

I klearn it as 'Love god, and do as you please', the kicker being if you do love god, you find what you please is not unlimited.

#54 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 11:44 AM:

Xopher -- I said I was tempted, but there's no way I'd do it, UNLESS I could come up with an ethical way to do so. (I did a binding once that didn't work the way I thought it would* ...classic case of "be careful what you ask for...")

In order to pull this type of casting off, you've got to be completely objective and you've got to keep the goal of being "for the good of ALL" in mind -- and unfortunately, I can't contemplate GWB et alia without wanting them to suffer...that would guarantee that the 3-fold return would be a doozy.

*For those who may be interested, binding spells cut both ways -- whatever you're trying to prevent your target from doing, you won't be able to do it either. I bound an undesirable from visiting my mother...and it worked, but every time I went to see my Mom after that, the fellow would show up at her house while I was there...oops!


#55 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 12:00 PM:

Xopher said: there's no way within my ethics to do magic targeting another person without that person's permission

I've heard some people suggest that it's okay, as long as you're not harming the person. For example, you can get rid of a noisy neighbor by wishing that he would get a transfer to a better job, or move to a better location.

Also, what about the canonical example of somebody who's out there doing very bad things? How would you deal with a serial killer?

Personally, I don't have much of an opinion, since magic spells have never really worked for me.

#56 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 12:13 PM:

Laurence wondered:
I've heard some people suggest that it's okay, as long as you're not harming the person. For example, you can get rid of a noisy neighbor by wishing that he would get a transfer to a better job, or move to a better location.

I think that would really depend on how clear you were about your intentions. "I want my noisy annoying neighbour to stop bugging me by getting a new job that makes him go away" has a very different flavour from "My neighbour really deserves a better job, and -even if they stay- I'll be happy for them".

Also, what about the canonical example of somebody who's out there doing very bad things? How would you deal with a serial killer?

There's plenty of mythological canon that shows the evil being dealt with a great cost to the entity dealing with the evil in question. It's arguably hard to deal with any sort of evil without becoming in some way tainted yourself.

#57 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 12:58 PM:

Laurence, there's a lot of debate among Wiccans on both these topics. I'm at the extreme end of this debate in that I require informed consent, and I'd never do magic to get someone to go away.

Protecting MYSELF is another matter. You're always free to do magic targeting yourself, to make yourself stronger, keep yourself safe...even turn yourself blue if you want. That's unwise but not unethical. You always have your own permission.

Serial killers can be dealt with magically only by similar protective moves, or general things like "let justice be done" (very dangerous unless you're absolutely certain that you don't deserve ANYTHING bad). It's tough.

People in the middle of the debate (most people, in the "harm none" ethical position) might deal with a serial killer by sending supportive magical energy to the police and investigators.

There's always SOMETHING you can do, no matter how strict your ethics.

#58 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 01:41 PM:

general things like "let justice be done"

I think I'd say that's the best way to deal with it.

As for the danger . . . it's about being protected from the consequences of your actions, isn't it? How many people would say "I want to be allowed to get away with anything, and I support everybody else's right to get away with whatever they can as well"? That does seem like a pretty common sentiment, actually. Immunity from prosecution to all!

#59 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 01:44 PM:

"President Mary Sue" is exactly right. I found myself thinking what a shame it is that the concept isn't mainstream enough to be used as a talking point. Unfortunately, too many people even on our side of the argument wouldn't get it.

#60 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 03:23 PM:

Laurence #58: Exactly so, and it's the source of an awful lot of Wiccan morality. We have no Hell, but then we have no way of escaping the consequences of our actions. No sin, but no forgiveness either. You can't do all kinds of bad shit and then just "repent" and have it all go away. Repenting keeps you from digging a deeper hole, but you still have to get yourself out of the hole you already dug.

Lee #59: Good talking point among fans though. And I can't help thinking there's some way to translate this for the masses. "He's the hero in a really bad story written by a frustrated 13-year-old boy" or something.

#61 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 03:44 PM:

Xopher @ 60
"He's the hero in a really bad story written by a frustrated 13-year-old boy" or something.

Or a superhero comic written by a 13-year-old. No, make that a 10-year-old; the 13-year-olds I've met have a better grasp of reality. They know that superheroes don't really exist.

#62 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 04:17 PM:

Xopher #60: That is food for thought.

#63 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 04:20 PM:

Xopher #60: There's a common bumper sticker in certain parts of the country which says, "Christians aren't perfect -- just forgiven." It used to be fairly innocuous, but these days it has a much deeper and scarier implication. "We don't HAVE to try to do right, because if we do wrong it doesn't matter anyhow."

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 05:31 PM:

Lee: yes, never trust someone who believes s/he can be forgiven for ANYTHING. Once "penance" got dropped to a formality, then (in some churches) eliminated altogether, it became hard to see why anyone who believes in those forms of Xianity would have any moral standards at all.

#65 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 09:07 PM:

Lee> (#63): I've always hated that bumper sticker, because from when I first saw it, some twenty years ago, it had that reek to it.

#66 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 11:35 PM:

#63 et. seq. invites the question: Can G hod make a soul so foul G hod can't forgive him?

#67 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2006, 11:38 PM:

Monkey's paw style I suppose a wish that Bush attend a military funeral would be followed by the end of Colin Powell?

On the general subject of forgotten soldiers and moral action I'd be interested in a discussion of supporting Libby Dole and others on limiting the damage done by paydayloansharks but I suppose even loansharks have to live?

Then too there's some reason to keep Tricare payments high enough to keep physicians accepting patients in the not necessarily well served small towns that produce so many of today's soldiers.


#68 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2006, 02:46 PM:

I doubt this is actual church doctrine, but when I was young, I was told that every sin I commit makes Christ suffer a little more. Therefore, if I loved Christ, I would want to sin as little as possible, even if my sins would be forgiven.

I don't expect not to sin, but I do expect to at least try not to sin, as much as I am able.

#69 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2006, 04:06 PM:

Can G hod make a soul so foul G hod can't forgive him?

Not to play in the worms from that can, but just to note how interesting it is that the first pronunciation I came up with for 'G hod' was "GEE-hahd," which has an unfortunate sound...

Margaret, I can see some virtue in that...but it doesn't work on a totally selfish person. One of the things I love about Wicca is that if you believe in the Threefold Law and take it seriously, it will turn a completely selfish person around inside of a couple of years...because doing good magic for others is three times as effective as doing it for yourself, even if all you want is goodies for YOU.

There's even a proverb: "Work for yourself, and you will see that Self is everywhere."

#70 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2006, 04:07 PM:

Um, not just magic. Doing good for others in general. Saw that but had already hit Post.

#71 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2006, 12:29 PM:

Regarding bindings and protective rituals with unintended effects, an amusing if tangential anecdote - the house I was living in during my second year at university was in a pretty bad part of town, and had no security at all to speak of. So I figured, a little protective ritual couldn't hurt - keeping out unpleasantness and illdoers.

We never got burgled, and we got very little junk mail, but on the other hand, we didn't see the landlord for six months.

#72 ::: tthomason ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 05:34 PM:

wow, what a bunch of liberals...

#73 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 06:02 PM:

You know, if tthomason had posted that on any other day, it would just have been a bit of pathetic trollerly.

Today, mere hours after the Secretary of the Army resigns over the disgraceful conditions at a housing facility for disabled vets . . . it's just deliciously ironic.

#74 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 07:32 PM:

Stefan: I prefer to think tthomason's remark was a compliment.

#75 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 07:45 PM:

Oh, on another day, I would have said "Why, thank you!"

* * *

So, you think the Commander in Chief will take any responsibility for brain-traumatized vets waiting for treatment in a mold-ridden slum?

#76 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 07:52 PM:

Stefan: I like the Wonkette comments on the SecArmy resignation.

#77 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 11:18 PM:

"Liberal," of course, means "right about everything so far...."

#78 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 11:34 PM:

#77: I like that.

We need a motto to the effect that liberals have ideas that conservatives will be claiming as theirs fifty years down the road.

#79 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 11:39 PM:

Stephan, why ruin a perfectly good record? At least he didn't praise the secretary of the army profusely before said secretary got fired.... pity.

The fact that the first outcome of the story was to discipline the soldiers involved and ORDER them not to talk to the media is completely disgraceful and wrong.

But their treatment is pretty much par for this administration's course. As I've said before, the admin is against abortion, but they're against anything that would help provide prenatal care or education or anything else, especially after the child is out. They "care" for the troops until the troops aren't useful to their purposes. They they insist on cuts in VA funding, etc.

they need to be hard fired.

#80 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2007, 10:09 AM:

After reading about the treatment - and just the treatment - that most of them are getting (in Newsweek), I want Shrub, Cheney, PNAC, and all the people who thought this war was a good idea from the start, to spend 5-to-10 years carrying bedpans, cleaning toilets, and scrubbing floors in VA hospitals. Then we can let them talk about supporting the troops.
[mumble, pitchfork, mumble, torch, mumble]

#81 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2007, 11:24 AM:

If what I read at talkingpointsmemo is true, Gates fired Harvey precisely because Harvey fired the new guy and put someone who ignored the problems (but kept a lid on it) back in charge.

If that's actually true, that's the most encouraging sign to come out of this administration in a while. Much better than what happened when Rumsfeld's wife was brought to Walter Reed to see the problems.

#82 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2007, 11:58 AM:

nowhere do we find that they who claim
to know in every case what is the right
to have in their possession the true light
will when things go sour take the blame
nor will they even affect a false shame
at best you'll see them taking a brief flight
claiming a deep concern but never quite
giving the things that happen their true name
so what if people lie and writhe in pain
they volunteered knowing what they could get
there's nothing here to see keep moving on
we'd be all right if you didn't add some strain
there's nothing here to anger or to fret
now just shut up or too soon you'll be gone

#83 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2007, 12:33 PM:

And to add insult to injury, they're asking soldiers who have been discharged, honorably mind you, because they've lost limbs or had brain injuries or psychololgical problems that prevent them from being remobilized, to return part or all of their enlistment bonuses.

http://www.wpxi.com/target11/11002564/detail.html

Way to go, military. not.

#84 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2007, 05:12 PM:

paula @ 83

That is getting really close to being illegal as well as the immoral act that it already is. 'Support the troops' shouldn't mean 'support the troops only while they're active-duty and healthy'!
[more mumbling about pitchfork and torch, with tar and feathers included]

#85 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 03:40 AM:

At #56, xeger said

"There's plenty of mythological canon that shows the evil being dealt with a great cost to the entity dealing with the evil in question. It's arguably hard to deal with any sort of evil without becoming in some way tainted yourself.
This was a quite strong thread I got from my reading of The Lord of the Rings, which doesn't seem to get too much attention in many discussions of it — not just the lure of the Ring itself, but in several examples throughout the tale. It was harder to pick in the recent film version, though. I wonder if remembering it would help in some current RL problems.

#86 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 10:21 AM:

Dave Kuzminski:

Well, of course Bush doesn't attend funerals. Probably because those dead soldiers don't cooperate by smiling for photo ops with him. Besides, then he might be asked by the bereaved why there wasn't enough personal armor for US forces and we know he can't answer that truthfully.

You've got the basics for a script worthy of 'Ghastly' Graham Ingalls. Maybe we could get Jack Davis to temporarily regress to his truly creepy mode (when I see a swamp with rotting vegetation in a movie I think of Davis, whose drawings of such are much nastier than reality) and illustrate it...

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="http://www.url.com">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.















(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.