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December 16, 2011

'Letter to a Lost Friend'

Please read this from Dennis Perrin:

Christopher --

I hoped it wouldn't come to this. Writing to you after you've died. As you know, I've reached out to you since a mutual friend told me of your illness. Ceased my attacks and critiques. Not that I changed my mind about your pro-war position, but my feelings ran deeper than partisan rifts.

We never met again. Friends said it was because you were in treatment. Weak. Unable to talk. I know that's true. But maybe you simply didn't want to see me. I understand. All I desired was to look you in the eyes one last time and say thanks. So this will have to suffice.

The rest.

I'm sure there's a more appropriate day to say this, but here's what I feel about Hitchens' death: since 8:00 am on September 11, 2001, about five million people in the U.S. have died of cancer. Of that five million, about 130,000 had esophageal cancer, which killed Hitchens. And in the same ten years, 3,010 were killed by Islamist terrorism, 99% of them on the first day.

As Thomas "Crazy Legs" Jefferson said, "The evils which of necessity encompass the life of man are sufficiently numerous. Why should we add to them by voluntarily distressing and destroying one another?" What makes war cheerleading even more grotesque than in the past is that some of these evils no longer encompass life, because we have the knowledge to mitigate or even eliminate them. I'd sure like to have that $3 trillion we'll eventually spend on the Iraq war back for cancer research. Or Alzheimer's research. Or more effective antibiotics. Or prenatal nutrition. Or whatever. Who knows what we could have done with it if we hadn't decided we had to spend it murdering Iraqis.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at December 16, 2011 05:45 PM

Mr Perrin's Letter to a Lost Friend, I had read earlier and it made me cry....

"if we hadn't decided we had to spend it murdering Iraqis."

Please Mr Schwarz, could you not say "we" but say, OUR GOVT? As it is, I feel bad enough that 'our govt' does horrible things. "we" only makes it worse!

ps With $660B approved for defense, I do not believe, our govt has any intention of spending that money on "alternatives" you have suggested!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at December 16, 2011 09:34 PM

Rupa Shah: Ah, I just know in my heart YOU've PAID YOUR TAXES, Rupa Shah. Bought gas at that pump, burned THAT OIL, rode these roads on it. Same as the rest of US. Wave that flag, claim that CITIZENSHIP? U&I ARE Obama's crime partners, that's US. It REALLY IS business as usual, like it always was. Stealin' land and gettin' rich is what WE do.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 17, 2011 01:41 AM

Except, that "We" were lied to, although I was personally against it from the get go. No it was a war promoted and based on lies to the "We" and nobody, not Bush, not Cheney, not Colin Powell was held accountable for the lies and the murder done for the betterment of our big corporations ( now known as the real citizens) and the REAL constituents of the Congress Critters and POTUS. Oh and while they were at it, it was just no better time to do away with "due process" and the bill of rights in general to "protect us". The best way to win is to just voluntarily give up what our adversaries would like to take from us, now they can't "win" can they? because they're is nothing really left to lose. We Won, just look at Iraq, we won and now we're leaving as hero conquerors.

Posted by: knowdoubt at December 17, 2011 05:21 AM

Stealin' land and gettin' rich is what WE do

What you mean WE, white boy?

Posted by: mistah 'MICFiC' charley, ph.d. at December 17, 2011 07:30 AM

Chris Floyd writes:

>>In March 2003, the United States of America launched an entirely unprovoked act of military aggression against a nation which had not attacked it and posed no threat to it. This act led directly to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. It drove millions more from their homes, and plunged the entire conquered nation into suffering, fear, hatred and deprivation.

That's the opening paragraph. He becomes a bit less oblique as he goes on.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at December 17, 2011 07:36 AM

Well said.

It is as if there is a terrorism we can believe in which needs addressing first.

Posted by: Dredd at December 17, 2011 07:47 AM

Yep. He liked going to parties at rich people's houses.

Posted by: Josh Gilbert at December 17, 2011 09:48 AM

It always makes me feel good when people I hate die in an unpleasant fashion, as they usually do, sooner or later.

Posted by: godoggo at December 17, 2011 10:29 AM

Nice obituary here:

Posted by: godoggo at December 17, 2011 10:31 AM

People one likes and loves also die unpleasantly - and sooner rather than later. I fail to find a comfort or a justice in the horrible death of anyone. At the very least, it serves as a memento mori: you, too, will die; and the chances are good that the means will be sufficiently awful.

When Hitchens said of Falwell, "I think it's a pity there isn't a hell for him to go to," he was indulging in a joke. It's a displaced belief in hellfire to long for the agonies of others. This world rather than the next. The belief, however, is the same.

Posted by: antonello at December 17, 2011 01:51 PM

Well, I'll let it make me feel good regardless.

Posted by: godoggo at December 17, 2011 02:17 PM

mistah charlie ph.d. I mean "WE" as in "WE aught to be gittin' OUR SHARE. I'm a Zionist Hebrew,by the by, so's one could assume I may over look a fence or two. This country was started by stealing The Injun's Land. Plan on giving it back? I can't change THAT nor can YOU. ALL one can do is CHANGE THE DIRECTION of OUR expansionism. I would suggest a 90 degree turn straight up and cease ALL outward expansion. WE're gonna need LOTS-O-CASH to do it, and I think its in Goldman_Sachs' basement vault, in gold.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 17, 2011 03:38 PM

i really like antonello's comment.

not so much godoggo's, though i certainly understand the sentiment, and now I feel even more sure i'm going to die in a really unpleasant fashion. (sic transit gloria n e) Oh well, as godoggo points out, that's what it comes to for us all.

I really liked Dennis Perrin's article, though I wasn't particularly moved by it. It doesn't surprise me that Hitchens wasn't born what he became or that he may have been quite decent to Perrin and other people. I have long known many fine people who thought and think that it's okay for our military to bomb people in other countries, even unto killing children and old people and mothers and basically everyone. It's possible to believe this and be a decent person, unfortunately, just as it's possible to be a prick and asshole and take correct moral positions about war.

The biggest challenge the Pentagon has faced for decades is keeping our wars going, because most people would change their views if they ever got past all the ideology and brainwashing that disconnects military action from common morality people live by in their daily lives. I agree with old Chomsky about that. That's why 9/11 was so important, and why it had to be such a shock trauma too. Nothing but history is going to stop the war train now, thanks to that, but I'm pretty sure history is going to have the last laugh on Francis Fukuyama, because history is not over by a longshot. As old Chomsky has also pointed out, it's not so easy to run the world. Other forces are already responding to our craziness.

mistah charley, chris floyd actually reminds me of hitchens, though obviously they wrote differently about iraq, and I agree with Floyd's basic moral position. But i have gotten very sick of, and cynical about, self-impressed impassioned writing. I remember a comment by i.f. stone about martin luther king sounding a little too sacharine for him (years before 1967, when I don't think that was so true), and I now think I know how stone felt, though I didn't really get it when I read it.

I suppose impassioned rhetoric has its place in breaking down the sort of cynical fatalism that can afflict us, though I think really the bigger problem is that most people, myself included, have to focus on smaller and more attainable goals to survive. And i'm sick of rhetoric because it obscures the real problems--institutional, governmental, political, cultural, social, damn near all of them, and makes people think elections and candidates are really important. Closer to inconsequential.

As a culture and society, the bullshit is now way over our heads, and we're drowning in it, and those in control of institutions just respond more and more with vast overuse of media to justify vast overuse of violence abroad, and more at home than the affluent think, to try to keep everything going while everything gets progressively worse. If you're really rich and getting a lot of sucking up from everyone else all the time, it's easy to put that out of mind, sort of like Immelda Markos putting up fake fronts along the highway to hide poverty, but with different fake fronts.

It looks to me like this will culminate in the coming decades with something like a total war between Asia and the West that will be a mix of Orwell and the Terminator, because we're still fighting over energy treasure, and there isn't enough of it for everybody. Plus, we're making more and more people all the time, but technology makes more and more of us redundant every year. We seem likely to destroy the world before we share or cooperate to fix these problems, because that's much easier and doesn't require only stupidity and a mania for violence. We have that in spades.

So was Hitchens okay? Personally, I have no idea, though all that booze seems unlikely to have helped. But his public views certainly weren't okay--they rationalized bigotry, mass murder, and lies and hypocrisy and illegality that, while not unprecedented, were a big step in the wrong direction. For all that, I think Hitchens had a large bill to pay, but that's not unusual. As William Muney said to the kid who had just shot his first cowboy after the kid sort of squeaked out that the coyboy had it coming: "We all got it coming, kid."

Posted by: N E at December 18, 2011 07:58 AM

I mostly agree with NE's comment. I have a bit more liking for Floyd's post, but understand how one can get tired of passionate rhetoric. I'm not sure how Floyd's rhetoric somehow makes people think elections are really important. But I'm not in an argumentative mood and most of the rest of NE's comment seems right to me.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at December 18, 2011 12:08 PM

So... how bout that Vaclav Havel?

Posted by: go at December 18, 2011 01:50 PM

I was not sure if I should respond to the comments here. In any case, I decided to say something.

I am NOT PERFECT. I am sure there are some people who may not like me or dislike me a lot ( I am not talking about the commenters here ). But to think, one of those may be happy because I was dead, it is not a very comforting thought.....imagine, how some people who liked me, came to know that some people were happy that I was dead when they were grieving!!
There is good and bad in people and I just came across this which may interest some of you.


I still do not wish to be included in "we" because
I have NEVER supported any action by either our govt or anyone else which I believed was wrong. I am fanatically against ANY KIND of violence ( WAR being the worst one of my previous comments I had stated WAR ITSELF IS A CRIME....and collateral damage is the most obscene two word expression ever invented by the warmongers ). I have made my sentiments known to our elected officials time and time again with occasional positive results. And I took the public transportation to go to work in below zero weather ( having to walk 20 minutes in each direction ) for years.
I do not wave flags nor would I burn any. If anyone wants to wave flags, it does not bother me as long as what that flag represents to THAT person is not being imposed on me. If somebody stomps on another country's flag, I would try to stop them ( I really did once ) or stop them from burning it as it does not change the situation, it only increases bitterness and hate.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at December 18, 2011 03:01 PM

I just want to add to my above comment that, that is how I think and feel and it is not my place to tell ANYONE how he/she should think or feel.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at December 18, 2011 06:47 PM

Ah Rupa Shah forgive me if YOU think I would wish YOU or YOURS any harm. I do not, nor would I ever. None the less, my felow citizen, WE are ALL partners in crime with OUR Govt. Power comes from WE THE PEOPLE, to give or take away. WE gave OUR power to these people and they have abused it. WE have not taken that power from them, as a NATION the guilt is with US.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 18, 2011 08:51 PM

For US to say,"WE are innocent because WE did nothing" rationalizes the excuse for US to DO NOTHING. But I DO SAY WE DID SOMETHING, We elected these bastards,these kinds of people to office and power, which has become inexcusable.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 18, 2011 09:06 PM

@ Mike Meyer
I feel awful and guilty because all the horrible things out Govt does, NOT because I support that.....because I DO NOT. Like you used to call Pelosi, I call or email my reps to protest things they do, on my behalf, which I do not support.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at December 18, 2011 10:17 PM

"I would not wish death on any man [or woman], but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."

-quote from I forgot who.

Also, I'm for burning all flags.

Posted by: Rojo at December 18, 2011 10:50 PM

I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.
 - Clarence Darrow

I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
 - Mark Twain

And personally I'm not particular about people burning any rag on any pole (whether or not it's got fancy decals).

Rupa: If you're a U.S. citizen you're part of "we", period. That's exactly why I spend time writing what I do--because I recognize my share of responsibility for the past, present and future crimes of our country and want to do something about it. Don't let it make you feel bad, but determined.

Posted by: John Caruso at December 19, 2011 01:55 PM

@ John Caruso

Don't let it make you feel bad, but determined.

Without trying to be rude, you know NOTHING about my determination.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at December 19, 2011 04:13 PM

I wasn't trying to be rude either (but supportive), Rupa, and I certainly wasn't questioning your determination; sorry you took it otherwise.

Posted by: John Caruso at December 19, 2011 04:39 PM

When WE vote, WE AGREE to the winner of the election to have the POWER OF OFFICE. When they abuse that power, it does not change the fact that WE put them there and gave them power. WE are responsible for what they do in OUR name while in office.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 19, 2011 07:12 PM

Mike, this is precisely why I will refuse to vote for anyone who supported the repeal of habeas corpus--our most basic right, which all other rights depend--under the guise of the National Defense Act. I refuse to vote for tyranny,

Posted by: Paul Avery at December 20, 2011 06:39 PM

The Trial of Henry Kissinger is a remarkable book. If you do not read it, God will cry. Hitchens is proof that alien abductions not only occur but are common. I would like to know when Hitch was abducted and replaced by someone who stopped giving a shit.

Speaking of Kissinger, he is paraded on CNN so often (don't fucking ask why I'm watching it) that I reckon they must keep him cryogenically frozen in a room out back. What I find amazing is that when he speaks ash falls from his mouth. It covers my floor in black soot. The news "reporters" chat away with him as if it's the most perfectly natural thing to do, talk with a blood-soaked mass murderer. And always when I'm eating my muesli, and then I have to mop up the oats and milk from the floor along with the ash.

Posted by: Sometimes Not Errol Flynn at December 21, 2011 02:32 PM

In the 1950s, Henry K's fellow students at Harvard called him Ass-Kissinger.

He was a diehard hawk then, before Nixon briefly made him the world's most famous promoter of detente and got them both booted out of office by the Hollywood Military Golgamesh complex hawks, enabling him to become the everafter favorite of the Googlemush hollywood media complex pundits in search of a smart-sounding accented quote.

Sy Hersh is right that everything he says is a lie, and yet Sy Hersh is an insider's insider too.

Just eat your muesli and try not to fret.

Posted by: N E at December 21, 2011 06:08 PM

Why do you call Seymour Hersh "an insider's insider?" Last I recall he's a Pullitzer prize-winning investigative journalist. One of the few who has a backbone and does not recycle soundbites. As of course you know, he famously brought the My Lai massacre to the wider world's attention, the abuses at Abu Ghraib also. The way you say it makes it sound like he's some kind of CIA mole or double-agent or something.

I agree with Mr. Hersh wrt. Ass-Kissinger (thank you for that, why yes I love stooping to name-calling). Mr. KissMyAss is probably genetically incapable of truth-telling.

By the way, if you are N E, does that mean you are Not Errol also? I hope it does. Many of us can be Not Errol, that is the beauty of being Not Errol. Please say it's so N E, my dear.

Posted by: Not Errol Flynn at December 22, 2011 08:58 AM

I wish every one

"Merry Christmas"

"Happy Hanukkah"

or any other FESTIVAL you are celebrating and

a New Year full of Love, Joy, Hope and Peace


Posted by: Rupa Shah at December 22, 2011 05:48 PM

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to YOU also, Rupa Shah and indeed ALL at ATR.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 22, 2011 09:23 PM