IF we must die; let it not be like hogs

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Why George W. Bush was reading Albert Camus during his summer vacation and what he got out of it, if anything is one of those dank damp secrets that I don’t feel any particular need to get to the bottom of. Though perhaps Bush gave Camus’s catalogue a bump in sales. Which would count as one of the very few positive effects of his presidency or as some would properly call it, his reign. I’m not an expert on Albert Camus’s writing career though for about 70 euros or about 89 dollars(each volume) I could start with Albert Camus OEUVRES COMPLETES, I: 1931–1944.. Which means that I’ll be waiting for the Quality Paperback Book Club version.

A simple one liner used to describe existentialism is that the real precedes the perception. If we can put aside the French intellectual baggage (there is a Christan existentialism for those that are interested) that comes with the study of existential philosophy we have something very populist. The common good and basic needs of the people are paramount. How those that are trusted to govern the populace must be cognizant of that fact. Folk and later rock and roll when not being about love were about the struggles of the common man. Bruce Springsteen always seemed aware of the roll of music as anthem to the average American’s daily life. It was always about bread on the table and heartbreak. The Boss, Rooted

Some of the press have referred to the Springsteen album as a new protest album in the old Seeger mode, tying its success to widespread disenchantment with the Bush Administration. Certainly, Springsteen is an unabashed old-fashioned left-liberal. He campaigned with and for John Kerry and has hardly made his disdain for George W. Bush a secret. We Shall Overcome includes “Mrs. McGrath”, a ballad popular during the 1916 Easter Rebellion in Ireland (but which actually dates from 1815). The lyrics capture the pain of war and the sad familiar response of a mother when she sees her son home from battle and hardly recognizes him because of his injuries. It is a timeless song that could be sung during any war, as families come to appreciate the sacrifice their sons and daughters have made for their country. The grieving mother wails a universal lament: “All foreign wars I do proclaim live as blood and a mother’s pain/ I’d rather have my son as he used to be.”

Senator Harry Reid seems to have drawn a line, Sen. Reid: The Specter bill will NOT be enacted. Period.

They have ways to get what they want. Senator Graham: White House Tried to Coerce JAG Attorneys Into Signing a Prepared Statement

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), a former JAG attorney, is alleging that the White House called several active duty JAG attorneys into a meeting and held them for five hours in an attempt to “force” them into signing a prepared statement supporting the White House’s proposed detainee treatment bill.

Panel: Proposed Administration Bill Would Roll Back Human Rights Advancements

Torture: According to Chemerinsky, the Administration’s bill would “liberalize the definition of what is torture.” As a recent blog post by Professor Marty Lederman explains, the Administration’s bill would amend the War Crimes Act to permit use of “hypothermia, threats of violence to the detainee and his family, stress positions, ‘long-time standing,’ prolonged sleep deprivation, and possibly waterboarding.” These techniques are currently prohibited by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

I still have a few of those old school liberal ideals about fairness, facts, and addressing the issues directly; though obviously I’m not above using some snark to make a point. Hundreds, if not thousands of columnists, reporters, bloggers, and activists have covered the immorality, illegality and dubious benefit of torture. Maybe this gets back to some deeper philosophical issues, how does a rational person deal with people who aren’t just irrational, but hold rationalism in contempt. Threaten people’s families? Waterboarding? These are not the actions of rational sane people, and plays into the propaganda of terrorist ringleaders. Since many of the people that are undergoing such treatment haven’t been given a trial we don’t even know if the administration is torturing terrorists or ordinary people and here.

IF we must die—let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die—oh, let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
from If We Must Die by James Weldon Johnson