25 August 2004

in a shocking turn of events, a commission full of Important Experienced Worthies has concluded that, when soldiers commit human rights violations, the responsibility ultimately lies with the secretary of defense.

in another shocking turn of events, i have officially survived the move, the trip, the travel back to new haven (taxi, plane, plane, bus, train, taxi), and the first few days of Being a Grad Student. i have a bank account, a probable advisor, a bunch of courses to take, and a lot of cool classmates. to all you commenters, well, it's nice to know i'm missed. i am not going to say that i am or will be "back in the swing of things," because i'm actually inventing an entirely new swing.

tonight six of us (the "wet dream team," i am ashamed to admit) took second place in the trivia contest at the local irish pub, but it was somewhat unfair because two of the rounds were (1) match the former name of the country its new title (as in belgian congo-zaire) and (2) name the politician (on the strength of a ten-second sound clip). i believe we were also the only team in the room to come up with "improvised explosive device" for "IED." woo hoo.

swarthmore claims it sent my immunization records two weeks ago, but yale doesn't believe them. i guess i'll be doubling up on my shots. ouch.

bonnie and clyde have decided that measuring tape is the best toy ever. even better than the leaves of the plants, thank goodness.

i have spent a certain amount of time in the past week thinking about the purpose and possible outcomes of the anti-RNC protests coming up this sunday in new york. i sat with a political theorist (-to-be) at the bar last night and discussed briefly whether it had any chance of being a watershed protest, or whether it's going to be a tool for the republicans themselves. (answers: probably not; maybe, depending on the level of pandemonium outside the Garden.)

"is there an opportunity cost?" said the political theorist. and quickly answered himself: "no, because what else are you going to do?" i concurred: a protest is what happens after you've already been rudely shoved out of the majoritarian process.

[let me just say right this minute that i'm going, and that i think this has the potential to be an incredibly important symbol of the immense opposition to four more years of bush. i think, in fact, that while it won't be remembered as another march on washington, it comes close enough to the Main Event (thanks to the repubs' cynical exploitation of 9.11) that the motivation could last through the election. it could be important. a source of energy rather than an energy drain.]

BUT. i think we need to ask ourselves what else we could be doing. it's pretty easy to go to a protest, feel as if you've done your part, and forget to knock on doors or give money or host a party or whatever. it's pretty easy, in short, to pretend that this is just another anti-war protest, that it's a collective howl of agony about an event over which we've lost our last measure of control. obviously, this is not the case, and it would be a mistake, i think, to let anyone pretend that it is.

...which is what will happen if civil disobedience gets out of hand, if new yorkers hate the protesters more than they hate the convention, if the face of this protest is the anarchists, the communists, the free-whomever crowd. don't think i don't realize that this sucks. but given the media coverage of these events (of the left in general, i'd say), if the frustrated and disenfranchised yell the loudest and act the weirdest, well, then everyone who was there is going to be branded frustrated and disenfranchised.

my bet is that the kerry campaign is on pins and needles about this. it could be an important catalyst, or it could be an embarrassing dead weight, and i don't think anyone can predict which.

my goal: less chicago 1968; more washington 1964.

see you there.