On the way home from work today, I heard on the radio that one of the banks in town is giving away:
A Free Toaster
as an incentive, to those who start a checking account with them. And, apparently, as an incentive to Eat A Healthy Breakfast.
I was amused.
Last week I ordered a birthday present* for myself, and it got here yesterday. Now I need to go get a decent memory card so I can take more than two pictures at a time, but here are two hastily-taken-at-low-quality and sloppily edited pictures proving that I do, at last, have a digital camera:
I would like to take this time to say that I did not, repeat not take 15 minutes last night photographing myself doing random things.
Requisite picture of my computer. And messy desk. Honestly, do you think my desk would be any other way?
I also got lucky and found this camera refurbished. A $340 camera for $180! Ardith wins again.
*Ostensibly, that is. The reality is that I basically forgot it was almost my birthday and was buying a camera just because.
While pointedly ignoring the sanctimonious Nightline special on the recent mass murder at Virginia Tech, I happened to run across Richard Perle's documentary, The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom on PBS. I'd remembered reading that it was going to be shown, hadn't been specifically intending to watch it, but I thought I'd sit down for a few minutes and see what he had to say.
I was not especially impressed.
First, some background:
When making a documentary about one's point of view, it's important to be aware of the difference between how one wants to come across, and how one actually manages to portray oneself. I know this from my extensive experience in documenting in film my life's work saving Argentinian Lesser Red Tree-Piranhas. It's so sad to see their little snappy teeth fall out, because they're unable to get the nutrition they need, because their habitat is being demolished to make room for giant factories mass-producing in-dash 1080p television sets for American SUVs. And yet no one took me seriously, because I was laughing all the time.
When watching The Case for War, I got the distinct impression that Perle wanted to come across as the elder statesman, always ready to give a helping hand to those wishing to rise up and bring democracy to their respective homelands, ever vigilant to wage sad but necessary preemptive war on those threatening the Ideals of Freedom.
I am reminded of a passage from The Two Towers in which the voice of Saruman is described:
Those who listened unwarily to that voice could seldom report the words that they heard; and if they did, they wondered, for little power remained in them. Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves.
Perle attempted to create such a feeling, verily he did. The scene, where after interviewing an enthusiastic young Iranian dissident, he calmly and sedately remarks on how he understands the young man's impatience, and yet, statesman-like, feels it is not appropriate to send the Marines to Iran. Such restraint! Such gravitas!
This is followed by the discussion with the journalist who once interviewed Osama bin Laden, wherein he quietly asserts that if the terrorists in Iraq would simply refrain from bombing things, all would be well, and peace would reign throughout the land.
When he talks with American political figures, such as Pat Buchanan, or Richard Holbrooke, the discussions are framed by references to how 'we once agreed,' in a somber tone of voice.
Throughout, one gets the impression that Perle is grieved, and saddened by events in Iraq, but if we just keep surging manfully onward, all things good will be accomplished through sheer force of will and the Light of American Values.
In short, I had nothing in my head the entire time, but Saruman, looking sorrowfully down upon the little people from his clear vantage point at the height of Orthanc. The condescension, in the 'voluntary descent from one's rank in relations with an inferior' sense, is palpable.
However, all of Perle's quiet and measured tones had no real response to Haris Silajdzic's point that unilateral action is dangerous because the country so acting is not guaranteed to have a government capable of being morally responsible. And making the claim that Neoconservativism is the true inheritance of Jeffersonian ideals does not make it so. Nor does it follow that our opinions of the war here at home have a fundamentally greater influence over the outcome than the actions of those who actually live and/or fight in Iraq, as he also attempted to assert while talking to Holbrooke.
So yes, he seemed to want to come across as the elder statesman, and he wanted to be convincing, and show everyone that if they just saw things the way he did, everything would all work out.
I feel compelled to to interject that speaking calmly about contentious issues is difficult, and I applaud that. But humility is also necessary, and there was none of that here. Just more words about how the will to succeed is paramount.
The final lesson? An air of noblesse oblige will get you compared unfavorably to a fantasy novel character by a young 20-something in the Midwest. Use at your own risk. Oh, and that I really do make strange connections in my head.
Today for supper, I had hummus. With, uh, tortillas.
And now you know why I haven't posted for a month. I have had literally nothing to say.
Except for that draft I started which interpreted Richard Perle's "But all along, really, we were right" documentary using quotes out of The Two Towers which described the voice of Saruman. But I think we all agree the world is better off without that.