I made reference to Haggard in my 4th of July piece for his musical merits, but Merle’s politics are pretty solidly libertarian, too. This profile on Salon (from November 2000) is a good place to start:
[O]ver the years it has become apparent that at the heart of his conservatism lies an idealization of the American past and a sincere, though occasionally paranoid, concern about the loss of privacy and individual freedom.
“Look at the past 25 years — we went downhill, and if people don’t realize it, they don’t have their f—-ng eyes on,” says Haggard. “In 1960, when I came out of prison as an ex-convict, I had more freedom under parolee supervision than there’s available to an average citizen in America right now. I mean, there was nobody going to throw you down on the side of the road spread-eagled, and look up your butt for a f—-ng marijuana cigarette. God almighty, what have we done to each other?”
Though Haggard campaigned for Ronald Reagan, who pardoned him while serving as California’s governor, he bristles at both candidates in the 2000 presidential election. “Let me say this,” he remarks. “I’m friends with George Bush Sr. He calls to wish me happy birthday. But I’ve got lots of friends that call to wish me happy birthday who I wouldn’t want to see become president.”
Haggard has also reportedly shared his, er, enthusiasm for John Ashcroft with audiences (scroll down on this link.)
This afternoon on Fox News, John Gibson was interviewing country singer Merle Haggard about his new song, “And that’s the news”. After listening to the lyrics Gibson asked Haggard if he was questioning the legitimacy of the Iraqi war, Merle denied the charge,saying that he was wanting to speak up for the common American soldier serving in Iraq. But then Haggard admitted that after listening to Tony Blair explain why he took Britian to war, he was convinced that Blair was lying. Furthermore he wondered why American boys were still dying when the war had been declared over. An off balance Gibson then explained that the Iraqi invasion was undertaken because “America had been attacked.” and Iraq had been involved in that attack. The slow-talking Haggard replied that there was no evidence linking Iraq to the World Trade Center massacre, and anyway wasn’t it Afghanistan that was supposed to be responsible for the attack. Gibson then stated that both Iraq and Afghanistan had been involved in the World Trade Center massacre and we had to go after them, one after the other.
When we wonder how the American people acquired the belief that Iraq was involved in that attack, a belief unsupported by the facts, perhaps they heard it on Fox News with John Gibson.
Apparently Paul Wolfwitz has begun reading Antiwar.com:
“I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq,” said Wolfowitz, who is touring the country to meet U.S. troops and Iraqi officials.
“Those who want to come and help are welcome,” he said. “Those who come to interfere and destroy are not.”
This clearly contradicts his bosses desires:
Speaking at his Texas ranch with the leader of one supportive country, Premier Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, Bush said, “The more people involved in Iraq, the better off we will be.”
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
An Arabic-language magazine hitting newsstands in the Middle East this week may be America’s newest weapon in the war on terrorism, a White House official said Monday.
Hi magazine, which is subsidized by the U.S. State Department, will be sold in countries across the Middle East — including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Morocco and Algeria — for roughly $2 an issue….
U.S. officials hope the new monthly magazine, targeted toward 18-to-35-year-olds, will dispel misinformation and misconceptions about the United States by focusing on similarities between American and Middle Eastern cultures with articles about lifestyle, technology and health….
Along with the new magazine, [director of the White House Office of Global Communications Tucker] Eskew cited plans for an Arabic television network funded by the U.S. government as critical to communicating America’s messages to the Middle East.
I have my doubts about the TV network, but Hi magazine might really work. This month’s feature on actor Tony Shalhoub is great (or would be if I could read Arabic)– probably enough to make everyone forget the billions we send to Israel every year.
There has been a lot of buzz around the blog of an American soldier in Iraq who describes the occupation in stark, unfiltered terms. Now another soldier, this one in Kuwait, has followed suit. This entry on his newborn son illuminates the personal toll of empire:
He is six weeks old now and getting huge! Is the bump on his head the doctors said would go away going away? God I miss him! I only knew him for four days before I left to come back to the desert, but leaving him broke my heart unlike any breaking it has had to endure to this point. Is he letting my wife sleep through the night? She says the last few days he has slept like six hours straight. That is a vast improvement over the two hours he was giving her before. Now my thoughts shift to her. I know she is holding up alright as I have some form of communication with her every night, but she is deteriorating. I think back to the morning that I left her standing in the parking lot of Battalion at three in the morning. She was crying and seven months pregnant. I tried to console her by telling her I would be back in time for the baby, but would I? They told me I would and ultimately I was. I am lucky (relatively speaking again). As I left her I couldn’t help but think about the ordeal she had coming her way. We had decided at the last moment that she was going to move back home with her mom. All of our friends were deployed and both of our families live in California (over a thousand miles away). She would have her mom to help her out especially if I didn’t make it back. My thoughts shift to being back home myself. When would I be able to walk the streets of my home town again? I re-enlisted in March for the opportunity to be a recruiter, but with all that has happened and is happening that plan may never come to fruition. My stomach turns at the possible things I may have gotten myself into by re-enlisting.
Is anyone in the White House reading this stuff? Stupid question.
Sorry, no column tomorrow, but if you’re looking for something to fill the void, check out www.philipdru.com
Philip hosts a weekly political conversation on Austin radio and posts the interviews on his website. He interviewed me last week– you can listen to me being nervous!