one for the anti war campaigners

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    The Clusterfuck Nation Chronicle
    Commentary on the Flux of Events

    by Jim Kunstler

    August 15, 2005,
    Before I even get started, I will qualify my remarks this week by reminding you 1.) I'm a registered Democrat, and 2.) I'm not "pro-war."
    So yesterday afternoon while working outside, I was listening to Harry Shearer's Le Show on National Public Radio. Le Show is a patchwork of skits and news commentary by the actor/comedian who played one of the rockers in This Is Spinal Tap, and who has since shown up in several Christopher Guest mockumentaries such as A Mighty Wind.
    So Shearer was on the radio and I'm not crazy about his show because he puts across a self-congratulatory air of moral superiority that, after a while, gets on my nerves. Yesterday, he was twanging on the Iraq War again and especially on the notion that the public was swindled into entering it on the phony pretext of "weapons of mass destruction( WMDs)," with the implication that he was a superior person for having figured this out.
    Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I regard the standard WMD argument as fatuous (turned out there was nothing there, so we shouldn't have gone in and looked"). But this blog isn't about the WMD argument per se. It's about Harry Shearer's snotty assumption that our exertions in the Middle East -- however poorly or well we are managing them -- are only undertaken for the vanity and greed of George Bush & Co.
    Because as Shearer was twanging on about WMDs and Iraq and how deplorable the whole thing is, I started wondering about Shearer's real life in Los Angeles, and imagining him driving from his house in one of the better sections of the city to the studio where he does the show, or Shearer motoring across town to Melrose Avenue for sushi, or Shearer tooling up into the canyons above Hollywood to have drinks with friends, or Shearer transporting a child, perhaps, twenty miles down the freeway to a soccer game. And I was wondering what kind of car Shearer drove, and I couldn't help imagining it was probably not a cheap car, and perhaps not a little tiny car, and if Shearer was married or lived with somebody, then his wife / partner undoubtedly had a car, too -- because that's how life is lived in Los Angeles, despite some of their strides in public transit. And as I imagined Harry Shearer driving around Los Angeles in an expensive car deploring this terrible war in Iraq, I couldn't shake the feeling that Shearer was getting, so to speak, a free ride.
    Which gets back to the war per se. Because if anyone asked me to define what the war is about -- and people have asked -- I would say the war is a desperate attempt by the US to stabilize the region of the world where two-thirds of the remaining global oil supply exists in order for Americans like Harry Shearer to continue enjoying a lifestyle of extreme car dependency. Now, this war may be an exercise in futility and ineptitude by the people running it, while it includes acts of valor or brutality by the soldiers engaged in it, and certainly produces a lot of personal tragedy for the soldiers and the Iraqi people.
    But I have trouble imagining what Harry Shearer thinks the Middle East would be like now if the US had not overthrown Saddam Hussein and was not struggling to maintain this police station there in the hot center of things. Does he imagine it would be a tranquil scene, like the picture on a pack of Camel cigarettes? If Shearer couldn't get as much gas as he wanted on a given day -- even if he could pay high prices -- to fill up his Infiniti, or Beemer, or Benzie, or Toyota Landcruiser, or whatever he drives, would he be feeling quite so superior about the war? Has Harry Shearer seen any of his children join the army and go to Iraq to preserve his entitlement to drive all over Los Angeles in a spiffy car? Has Harry Shearer made any sacrifices so that he is less oil-dependent than he was before there was a war in Iraq?
    Harry Shearer with his attitude of moral superiority reminds me of my neighbor here in Saratoga Springs, the lady with the "War Is NOT the Answer" bumper sticker on her Ford Expedition. For people who want to keep on enjoying an easy motoring utopia, war is the answer.
    This, of course, is the predicament of the Democrats, my own party. They have no interest in modifying the nation's suicidal suburban sprawl lifestyle either, only in the easy pretenses of political correctness. Instead of twanging on WMDs and the depravity of the war in Iraq, I'd like to hear someone like Harry Shearer (or John Kerry, or Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid) stand up and pitch for restoring the US passenger rail system. I'd like to hear some of these assholes propose some meaningful changes that Americans can make in behavior so we won't be so desperate to engage in military contests over the oil we need to drive for sushi in Los Angeles.

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