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December 15, 2003

Happy Monday

Monday's are better when they don't include class or finals. Sure, there's always studying, but... Today is an extra-good Monday, in light of yesterday's big news. But what to say that hasn't been said? This is good—a recognition that taking Saddam alive rather than killing him on sight was a testament to American ideals of justice and due process.

Beyond that, since the media orgy (capture porn!) started yesterday morning I've been longing for some perspective. What does Saddam's capture really mean? The talking heads keep saying "this changes everything" and I've even heard some calling Bush's statement yesterday a "victory speech." So "winning" this war means capturing Saddam? The goal of the conflict changes so often I just can't keep up.

But the talking heads have incredible power. Friday night's study break (my life is really just one big study break; I should talk about breaks from breaks, which is the time I actually study) was a screening of "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," an incredible documentary about the attempted coup in April 2002 against Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected leader of Venezuela. The coup was led by the upper-middle and upper classes, neither of whom like Chavez because Chavez's basic goal is to redistribute the proceeds from Venezuela's vast oil resources among all Venezuelans, rather than allowing a small elite siphon those profits for their personal gain, which has been the status quo for the past century. The leaders of the coup used Venezuela's private television stations to convince people the at Chavez was a brutal dictator; the tv stations told outright lies and lied by omission—showing only certain clips edited to make Chavez look as bad as possible, while withholding footage that made Chavez look good. There's evidence that the U.S. backed the coup, but of course, the U.S. officially denies it. At any rate, the coup failed, largely because the mass of people who voted for Chavez demanded he remain in power. Today, Chavez does remain in power, and his efforts to redistribtute Venezuela's wealth more equally among all its people continue.

The point? Simply another illustration of the powerful role the media can play in defining an event. Just something to think about as you digest the constant stream of pronouncements on what the capture of Saddam Hussein means to you, the U.S., the U.S. presidential race, Iraq, or the world.

And while you're digesting all that, consider something you're probably not going to see on tv—Michael Moore's perspective:

Stay strong, Democratic candidates. Quit sounding like a bunch of wusses. These bastards sent us to war on a lie, the killing will not stop, the Arab world hates us with a passion, and we will pay for this out of our pockets for years to come. Nothing that happened today (or in the past 9 months) has made us ONE BIT safer in our post-9/11 world. Saddam was never a threat to our national security.

It's brash and bold, and definitely polemical in the current context. For a slightly less abrasive take on what Saddam's capture might mean outside of the media frenzy, leaders in other nations are expressing hope that it will mean a quicker return of Iraqi sovereignty. Finally, the Washington Post already has poll numbers on how the capture affected Americans' perceptions of the war, Bush, etc. Interesting, but probably not worth much so soon after the fact. Only time will tell. For now, I hear the siren song of CrimLaw...

Posted 08:25 AM | Comments (3) | general politics life generally

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