Today is

   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Friday, October 12, 2007

Another Real Hero...

Who received a real and well-deserved honor. I know I speak for all of us here at WTR when I express my pride in the recognition the world has given a great American.


Blogger stewdog said...

In a related story, the United States Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, voted to take away Mr. Gore's Peace prize and to award it to President Bush.

October 13, 2007 8:22 AM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

That's great. He can store it in the vat where he collects all the American and Iraqi blood that keeps dripping from his hands.

October 13, 2007 8:43 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

Dear Madman,

I know this was meant to be -- at least in part -- funny and a way of needling us benighted Republicans about the recognition the "world" (or, er, the Nobel Prize committee) has given Al Gore.

But here's the thing. Al Gore is rich. Al Gore is famous. Al Gore is feted and photographed and fawned over. Al Gore hasn't -- yet, anyway, or as far as I know -- saved any lives with his grand crusade.

Lt. Michael Murphy is dead. A pitifully tiny percentage of the people who recognize Al Gore has ever heard of Lt. Michael Murphy.

I apologize for including in my link to the story about Lt. Murphy an oblique reference to Gore's more well-publicized honor -- not because it was disrespectful to Gore, of course, but because it was unwittingly disrespectful to Lt. Murphy. What he did stands on its own and should be honored without any attendant sniping, indirect or otherwise, about politics.

And I've compounded my sin by provoking you into posting this little item, which I would only be laughing at if I didn't feel I had dragged a real and *unrecognized* hero into a game of dueling blog posts.

In other words, if I had never posted the link to the Lt. Murphy story, I would have taken this post entirely in the humorous spirit with which it was intended. And this comment isn't meant as a criticism of your post. I just wanted to acknowledge the discomfort -- and, yes, guilt -- I feel for having "started it."

October 13, 2007 9:28 AM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

Dear Kate Marie,

Explain the sin of being rich and famous to the next person you see wearing an "I love Haliburton" T-shirt.

Here's the thing- if people want to continue to support the Bush administration and its foreign policy, that is their problem. But I have lost all patience with those who clasp our war dead to their breasts as if their political opinions make their reverence and sorrow for our fallen soldiers more genuine or legitimate than those who opposed the war in Iraq or align themselves with the political opposition.

As for your being "unwittingly" disrespectful of Lt. Murphy by using his sacrifice for a political snipe, perhaps you were- I don't pretend to know your mind. Being unwitting doesn't make it any less shameful. If you want to see a piece of reportage that honors our soldiers without politicizing them, watch the HBO documentary "Alive Day Stories." If you refuse to watch it, or even if you can watch it without weeping, you have no right to let the name of Lt. Murphy pass your lips.

Only 3,445 soldiers among the millions of men and women who have worn our country's uniform have received the Congressional Medal of Honor. When I heard of Lt. Murphy's award on the radio I was both proud and saddened. I'm ashamed to confess that in that moment Lt. Michael Murphy was the second Medal of Honor winner that I could name off the top of my head. The first was Lt. Audie Murphy, whose name I have known since the age of 5 thanks to the efforts of post-WWII Hollywood. The fact that today we give far less attention to the heroic sacrifices of our soldiers serving overseas than past generations is a profound problem, but to say that outrage aimed at Al Gore (or his admirers) on that account is misplaced is a ludicrous understatement.

As for Al Gore, the only statement I made in jest in my post was that I could speak on behalf of all of us here at WTR. I'll grant that there is a dimension of hype to the encomiums surrounding him, but that does not detract from the justness of his cause. I genuinely think he is a great American, and my admiration for him does not derive exclusively from what I perceive to be the wisdom of his political priorities. I agree with him (and so, evidently, does the Nobel committee) that we should construct both our foreign and domestic policies around principles that will both preserve the ecological health of the earth and undermine those who threaten its political harmony RATHER than fighting wars to guarantee our supply of oil and thus continue the self-destructive policies exacerbating both problems. Beyond this, I can't help but be sensible of the fact that unlike myself, and despite being rich and privileged, he donned his country's uniform and exposed himself to enemy fire when his country issued the call.

October 13, 2007 12:09 PM  
Blogger stewdog said...

Wow! Madman, I don't really know you or your politics, but frankly I originally thought your post was in jest. It is apparently not.
I will just add 4 comments:
1. The Nobel Prize was awarded to Yassar Arafat in 1994. As far as I am concerned they have no credibility and their awards mean nothing.
2. "If people want to continue to support the Bush administration and its foreign policy, that is their problem." I would humbly suggest that it is their perogative and your problem.
3. I have nothing against Al Gore. I really don't dislike or hate him. I frankly feel not that much for him either way, but I am put off by the deification of him, and the attitide by many that if you don't agree with everything in his movie, then you are as bad as a holocaust denier. I am not a scientist and will leave it to others to debate the truth vel non of the film.

October 13, 2007 4:15 PM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

Dear Stewdog,

No, as I told Kate Marie, my post was not in jest, except for the part about speaking for all of us at WTR. I've been paying attention- I don't pretend to know you but I have a sense of what your politics are. As to your comments I would disagree with 1) and take little issue with 3). On number 2) I would only insist that in as much as it is undeniably any individual's prerogative to support the Bush administration and its foreign policy, it is not my problem alone but that of the whole nation.

October 13, 2007 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Topdog said...

Madman, If I take you at your word that you did not intend your Gore post in jest, I would have to conclude that you were equating Mr. Gore's honor with that of Lt. Murphy's.It is an opinion you may hold and your praise of Mr. Gore suggests that you do, but, for some who do not share it ( like me), it is regarded as diminishing Lt. Murphy's sacrifice with an odious comparison.

A bit of background - Early on the morning that both stories were in the news, I sent an e-mail to Kate Marie telling her that I had seen the Gore story in the online version of the paper and that as I read the praises heaped on Mr. Gore, I happened to notice, next to the large picture of Mr. Gore, a list of "lesser" stories. Down that list was the story headlined "SEAL Receives Medal of Honor". Having just read that the director of Greenpeace considered Mr. Gore an American hero, I thought that the good director had dumbed down the concept of heroism by many orders of magnitude, considering the truly heroic deeds of Lt. Murphy. I reminded Kate Marie that I had just read the book by Lt. Murphy's friend and brother in arms. I think my e-mail was the genesis for Kate Marie posting of the link to Lt. Murphy's story. A link, by the way, that made no reference to Mr. Gore.

You then posted your Gore post, which, like Stewdog and Kate Marie, I also thought was a jest. Stewdog then posted what he thought was a humorous reponse. You, at that point, lowered the level of discourse significantly with your "vat of blood" comment(on the same level as the tired sloganeering along the lines of" Bushitler", "No blood for oil", etc.)Kate Marie then made an effort, I thought, to take blame on herself (she often does that) for any unpleasantness. Despite her graciousness, you responded with a screed, that was insulting to her and others and reeked of elitism. I thought it was unlike you.

Like you I have strong political views and strong opinions about the people in the political arena.I even admit the conceit that my ideas are right and yours are wrong. But, I know many decent people of good will who disagree with my views. In my dealings with those people, I try to be respectful.In that spirit, I'll be keeping my opinions of Mr. Gore to myself in addressing you, although I may share them elsewhere.

October 13, 2007 11:16 PM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

Dear Topdog (and Kate Marie),

If you take me at my word that my post was not in jest, you would have to conclude that I felt that Al Gore was a real hero and that his Nobel Peace Prize was well-deserved. That is what I meant and that is what I believe. Just as Kate Marie never mentioned Al Gore in her post, I never mentioned Lt. Michael Murphy in mine, nor did I equate his honors with those of Al Gore. To my mind, the honors awarded to Lt. Murphy are self-evidently greater and rarer than that given to Al Gore, that was the point of the statistics regarding the Medal of Honor that I cited in my response to Kate Marie. If you filled a stadium with current world leaders and current US military veterans and began randomly walking about, you'd bump into a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate a lot sooner than you would bump into a Medal of Honor Winner.

The fact that the names of the Medal of Honor winners of this generation are less well known than those of celebrities like Al Gore is execrable, but that does not diminish the respect that I think Al Gore deserves (though others are of course free to disagree). One could compose a long list of facts that Americans are statistically more familiar with than the heroism of soldiers like Lt. Michael Murphy- the drug habits of Britney Spears, the indiscreet remarks of Don Imus, etc. etc. etc. Given that context I felt that critiquing the hype surrounding Mr. Gore's (in my view) justly deserved award using the categorically different case of Lt. Murphy was gratuitously polemical and as such, disrespectful of both men.

I confess that Kate Marie's original post angered me in that I saw it as a "cheap shot." As I wrote to Kate Marie in an email since, Lt. Murphy's sacrifice and heroism puts him in a different order of moral authority than the vast majority of people, living or dead. Few people (and even fewer politicians) or their accomplishments can come up as anything but trivial when compared against those of a Medal of Honor winner, especially one who gave his or her life in the service of the country. For this very reason, however, even making the comparison for rhetorical purposes is rather facile and crass. I thought it was especially unfair in the case of Al Gore. People may caricature him however they like, but despite being born to wealth and privilege (which is hardly his fault) he is not only a tireless public servant but also a war veteran. In that respect, though he certainly cannot compare with Lt. Murphy in absolute terms, in relative terms he has far more in common with Lt. Murphy than someone like me, who has never worn the uniform, will ever have.

As for the "vat of blood" comment I'll grant that it was less than tactful, but I must admit it does reflect my true feelings. I would ordinarily refrain from making such an extreme remark for politeness' sake, but Stewdog's comment about giving Mr. Bush the Peace Prize literally made me see red. I'm sorry if I offended you.

I'm sorry also that I was so extreme and self-righteous in my castigation of Kate Marie. It was especially unfair in that she had already apologized for the offense for which I then proceeded to rake her over the coals. Like you I know many decent people of good will whose views differ from my own, and Kate Marie would have to be tops for decency on that list. Indeed, she would have to come up as among the most decent people I know in any list I made of my acquaintances, however it was configured. I apologize for my self -righteous screed and I hope that she will forgive me.

October 14, 2007 2:20 AM  
Blogger stewdog said...

For the record, my comment that made Madman 'see red' was a paraphrase from the Matt Wuerker ( cartoon from Saturday's Los Angeles Times (although I originally posted a similar comment when he shared an Oscar) Mr. Wuerker would seem to me to be a Gore Supporter, over a Bush Supporter, as gleaned from some basic clues on his website ( inclueding the Bush Critique "The Madness of King George".

October 14, 2007 9:12 AM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...


I guess a lot of this stems from miscommunication, as you didn't know that I wasn't joking and I didn't realize you were. The bell can't really be unrung on my "vat of blood" comment. If laying out my feelings in such graphic terms makes me seem like a self-righteous prig, I would be foolish to deny that I have that potential from time to time. I apologize to you too if I gave offense unprovoked.

October 14, 2007 10:18 AM  
Blogger stewdog said...

I take no offense in spirited debate. We haven't had a real rumpus on Rumpus in a while.

Please pick a new topic to be wrong about tomorrow!

October 14, 2007 9:26 PM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

Dear Stewdog,

Thanks, sort of. Just for the record, I would caution you not to confuse glibness with spirited debate. Glibness can enliven spirited debate, but when it crosses certain lines it can also kill it. That is why I apologized for the "vat of blood" remark- Topdog was right to admonish me for having transgressed the boundaries of decent conversation.

October 15, 2007 9:54 AM  

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