It's a late August midnight, I'm on vacation, a hurricane named Katrina is heading to Florida--and I'm online. Like some 40 percent of Americans, I have spent half of my time this vacation in (thrice) daily contact with the office. Heck, I've even read the business section of the New York Times on Saturdays and watched Meet the Press on Sundays.
But I did get the hang of climbing out of my superstructured world. I've stared at the ocean for hours. I've slept late, taken a few cat naps (and then worked into the wee hours). I've sharpened my driving skills, and zip around narrow roads with the radio blasting Motown. I learned how to make a wicked martini and cook two new dishes.
As for reading material, I've polished off two novels (and the biography of Thomas Paine for political inspiration). I also brought along a copy of one of my favorite "self-help" books. I first read The Importance of Being Lazy two (long) years ago, and I recommend it to all you Type As who don't know what to do with yourselves on vacation. Read on, enjoy, and get into that hammock before fall descends.
In the new issue of The Nation, Karen Houppert investigates how the US military has gone beyond trying to recruit tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders and is now actively chasing children as young as eleven years old. Growing desperate amid repeated failures to meet recruitment quotas and empowered by provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, military recruiters are working the schools like never before.
Houppert shows how many parents are increasingly resisting these efforts. "A lot of people are concerned," she quotes one Los Angeles parent as saying, "but don't know what to do about it." But now there's a new coalition designed to aid parents--and all concerned citizens--alarmed by the military's increasingly predatory efforts to woo teenagers into the armed forces.
Spearheaded by Working Assets, Mainstream Moms and ACORN, the Leave My Child Alone coalition is trying to raise awareness of the military's often stealthy recruiting ploys and make sure that all parents know that the Pentagon has established a database with the names of 30 million 16 to 25 year olds as a recruitment tool and that their children can opt out of their school's military recruitment lists and the Pentagon's database.
Often, when an executive faces lingering questions about his skills, he works extra hard to make sure that every "i" is dotted and every "t" is crossed.
Not so George W. Bush.
Indeed, if the "CEO of the USA" who is currently enjoying a five-week sojourn at his ranch in Texas keeps vacationing at the same rate, he will have spent the better part of two years of his presidency away from work.
There is something profoundly disturbing about the fact that the Commander in Chief is in better shape than his Army, that he has time to ride his bike around his ranch for hours while the wheels are coming off the war in Iraq, that he had time to attend fundraisers but not to meet Cindy Sheehan.
Bush's disengagement from reality is reaching the freakish level. In America, Republicans are abandoning his war as they face re-election in '06. Chuck Hagel compared Iraq to Vietnam. More than 60 percent of Americans think the invasion was a mistake, and we are not winning. And now the first Democratic senator, Russell Feingold, has broken ranks and called for a timeline for withdrawal.
In Iraq, Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds are seriously debating if they really want to be a unified country, whether women will be treated as equal citizens and how much Islamic theocracy to put into the constitution. Outside the Green Zone, the Shiite militias are arming themselves for civil war, while American soldiers are dying at a faster and faster clip.