Question of the Day

We’re looking at thirty hours of Senate debate on the Iraq war, during which everyone on the right side of the aisle is going to have to find something to say, lest they actually be forced to cast a decisive vote on the matter.  Traditionally, that means by about four a.m. tomorrow, the junior senator from your state will be reduced to reading from the phone book, or Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, or God forbid, The Weekly Standard.  So here’s my question: if you were a senator who needed something to read to the audience on C-Span in order to kill time, what would you read?

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70 Comments

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70 responses to “Question of the Day

  1. Alix

    I’d probably start going through Shakespeare’s tragedies, just for the hell of it.

  2. carol

    Obituaries of soldiers that died in Iraq.

  3. Evelyn

    The Constitution. Surprise ending.

  4. 1984. Or maybe A Handmaid’s Tale.

  5. Constant Comment

    Kitty Kelley’s book on the Bush war profiteers, “The Family.”

  6. rachel

    Hitler’s Mein Kampf since it is applicable to what the current administration and cronies are trying to accomplish.

  7. mamajane

    I’d start with To Kill A Mockingbird. There’s a few lessons there the Repubs could learn. Then, just for the sheer joy of seeing their heads explode, I’d read a few essays by Susie Bright and Tristan Taormino.

  8. puellasolis

    The leaked copy of the seventh Harry Potter book.

  9. Allie

    How about clips from Shakesville? That’d help clear a few heads.

  10. a different kathy a

    molly ivins. since the constitution’s already being done.

  11. Dr. Loveless

    Shock Value, by John Waters.

  12. Allie

    The leaked copy of the seventh Harry Potter book.

    Waaaaayyyy too good for those jokers.

  13. Jay in Oregon

    Damn, puellasolis beat me to it! 🙂

    I’d have to go with L. Ron Hubbard’s “Mission: Earth” serial pile of crap. Because I read that huge 10-volume steaming pile of shit (long before I’d head of Scientology) and everyone else should suffer, too.

    I was young and wanted to be able to say I read all 10 of them. I’d guess I’m the only non-Scientologist to do it, because I was in tears by the end, it was so bad.

  14. I like Allie and Melissa’s answers but since they’ve already been called, I submit a few choice pieces from my copies of The Zinn Reader and This Bridge Called My Back.

  15. Simon Jericho

    I’m loving the Johnny Got His Gun idea, Melissa.

    Alternately, I think a couple hours of juxtaposing excerpts from Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark” with chapters from a Harlequin romance novel or three would have the Republicans crying, “Hold! Enough!” in no time.

  16. carol and Evelyn took my first two choices, so I suppose Common Sense by Thomas Paine.

  17. …or A Modest Proposal by Jon Swift (the 17th century one) – but substituting “congressman” for “children”.

  18. I’m loving the Johnny Got His Gun idea, Melissa.

    Thanks, Simon. I can’t tell you how much I wish someone would actually do that tonight.

  19. Les Fleurs de Mal by Baudelaire.. I think L’Héautontimorouménos would be more than appropriate.

    I shall strike you without anger
    And without hate, like a butcher,
    As Moses struck the rock!
    And from your eyelids I shall make

    The waters of suffering gush forth
    To inundate my Sahara.
    My desire swollen with hope
    Will float upon your salty tears

    Like a vessel which puts to sea,
    And in my heart that they’ll make drunk
    Your beloved sobs will resound
    Like a drum beating the charge!

    Am I not a discord
    In the heavenly symphony,
    Thanks to voracious Irony
    Who shakes me and who bites me?

    She’s in my voice, the termagant!
    All my blood is her black poison!
    I am the sinister mirror
    In which the vixen looks.

    I am the wound and the dagger!
    I am the blow and the cheek!
    I am the members and the wheel,
    Victim and executioner!

    I’m the vampire of my own heart
    — One of those utter derelicts
    Condemned to eternal laughter,
    But who can no longer smile!

  20. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Oh yeah.

  21. Hippodameia

    The Rude Pundit’s Greatest Hits, especially the ones where he starts naming names.

  22. Misty

    An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It by Al Gore 😉

  23. We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom — symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning — signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

    The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe — the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

    We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans — born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

    Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

    This much we pledge — and more.

    To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do — for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

    To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom — and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

    To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required — not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

    To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge: to convert our good words into good deeds, in a new alliance for progress, to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

    To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support — to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective, to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak, and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

    Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

    We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

    But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course — both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final war.

    So let us begin anew — remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.

    Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

    Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms, and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

    Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

    Let both sides unite to heed, in all corners of the earth, the command of Isaiah — to “undo the heavy burdens, and [to] let the oppressed go free.”¹

    And, if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor — not a new balance of power, but a new world of law — where the strong are just, and the weak secure, and the peace preserved.

    All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days; nor in the life of this Administration; nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

    In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

    Now the trumpet summons us again — not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need — not as a call to battle, though embattled we are — but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation,”² a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

    Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

    In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

    And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

    My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

    Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

    ¹ Isaiah 58:6 (King James Version of the Holy Bible)

    ² Romans 12:12 (King James Version of the Holy Bible)

  24. Don Quixote, mostly because if people are going to say I’m quixotic, we might as well remember where the word came from.

  25. Oo! Or The Great Gatsby, for that Andy Kaufman spice.

  26. Whoa, my comment got eated. I said the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

  27. What the hell? The spamulator hates me! Twice!

  28. Okay, why are the comments all messed up? There’s something wrong with the timestamp thing, I didn’t see my comments at the top of the thread.

  29. evilchemistry

    Every smutty book written by a conservative. Lynne Cheney, Scooter Libby, Bill Orally, etc.

  30. NameChanged

    Oo! Or The Great Gatsby, for that Andy Kaufman spice.

    damn you zack!

    My second choice would have to be The Grapes of Wrath. Gotta love Steinbeck.

  31. Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade, because that’s what our soldiers seem to be doing in Iraq at the moment.

  32. Argh! Close your tags!

  33. John Kerry’s testimony to Congress regarding the Vietnam War.

  34. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – with “Republicans” inserted every time the original mentions “Jews”.

  35. anarkallisti

    The 9/11 Report, but the Constitution would be my first choice.

  36. Life According to Mister Rogers.

    If ever a hero there was.

  37. Liz

    1. Howard Zinn: People’s History of the U.S.
    2. Leslie Marmon Silko: Almanac of the Dead
    3. John Steinbeck: Grapes of Wrath (first mentioned by NameChanged)
    4. George Orwell: 1984 (first mentioned by Kathy)

    Lurve this question; fully intend to yoink it for my blog! 🙂

  38. SAP

    The five books of THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY trilogy, of course.

  39. Kathy Kattenburg

    Isaiah 58, which is traditionally read on Yom Kippur. Here are verses 1-12:

    1 Cry with full throat, without restraint;
    Raise your voice like a ram’s horn!
    Declare to My people their transgression,
    To the House of Jacob their sin.

    2 To be sure, they seek Me daily,
    Eager to learn My ways.
    Like a nation that does what is right,
    That has not abandoned the laws of its God,
    They ask Me for the right way,
    They are eager for the nearness of God:

    3 “Why, when we fasted, did You not see?
    When we starved our bodies, did You pay no heed?”
    Because on your fast day
    You see to your business
    And oppress all your laborers!

    4 Because you fast in strife and contention,
    And you strike with a wicked fist!
    your fasting today is not such
    As to make your voice heard on high.

    5 Is such the fast I desire,
    A day for men to starve their bodies?
    Is it bowing the head like a bulrush
    And lying in sackcloth and ashes?
    Do you call that a fast,
    A day when the Lord is favorable?

    6 No, this is the fast I desire:
    To unlock the fetters of wickedness,
    And untie the cords of the yoke
    To let the oppressed go free;
    To break off every yoke.

    7 It is to share your bread with the hungry,
    And to take the wretched poor into your home;
    When you see the naked, to clothe him,
    And not to ignore your own kin.

    8 Then shall your light burst through like the dawn
    And your healing spring up quickly;
    Your Vindicator shall march before you,
    The Presence of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

    9 Then, when you call, the Lord will answer;
    When you cry, He will say: Here I am.
    If you banish the yoke from your midst,
    The menacing hand and evil speech,

    10 And you offer your compassion to the hungry
    And satisfy the famished creature —
    The shall your light shine in darkness,
    And your gloom shall be like noonday.
    11 The Lord will guide you always;
    He will slake your thirst in parched places
    And give strength to your bones.
    You shall be like a watered garden,
    Like a spring whose waters do not fail.

    12 Men from your midst shall rebuild ancient ruins,
    you shall restore foundations laid long ago.
    And you shall be called
    “Repairer of fallen walls,
    Restorer of lanes for habitation.”

    I cannot think of a better, or more exquisitely written, rebuke to everything the Bush administration stands for and has done.

  40. Kathy Kattenburg

    I see that Fritz was thinking along the same lines I was. 🙂

  41. Misty! I love it!

    I was going to suggest all of the Harry Potters to date… them’s thick books! I might also go through all the collected works of John McPhee, Jared Diamond’s two tomes, an English-Spanish dictionary…

  42. Mikado

    A list of the names of the war dead. If that isn’t long enough, I’d then start on listing wounded.

  43. stonebiscuit

    The Constitution.

  44. i’d just grab some good stuff, after all it would only be me and the other insomniacs by then. i’d lay on some yeats, read from alexander’s afghan campaign (i’m working on a post about how alexander broke one of history’s finest armies on the jagged rocks of tora bora and the hindu kush, an army that had never once been defeated in battle went to the king and said “dude, we’re tired and stuff, we wanna go home.”) then i start reciting lyrics from 50’s and 60’s bubblegum pop records.

  45. bartkid

    > if you were a senator who needed something to read to the audience on C-Span in order to kill time, what would you read?

    I would read Doonesbury cartoons, especially the ones listing the names of fallen armed services members.

    And then, The Assault on Reason by Al Gore.

  46. Kimmijo

    War and Peace

  47. if you were a senator who needed something to read to the audience on C-Span in order to kill time, what would you read?

    These comment threads.

    All of Amanda Marcotte’s blasphemous writing, as published originally on this blog. (hee hee hee)

    One straight hour of “suck it, baby, suck it!”

  48. Thorn

    Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich.

  49. Ulysses by James Joyce. I figure it would be the only way I’d make it to the end.

  50. ChuChu

    The names, in order that they died, of every single soldier killed since “Mission Accomplished” 😡

  51. As tempted as I am by Psalm 137, I myself would read from Wilfred Owen:

    DULCE ET DECORUM EST

    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
    Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
    Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

    Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
    And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
    Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
    In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

    If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

    8 October 1917 – March, 1918

    Dulce et Decorum est, pro patria mori, for those not up on their Latin, means “It is sweet and right to die for your country.” I’d read the poem; unfortunately, half of the senate would misunderstand its meaning, so steeped are they in the politics of spreading the old Lie.

  52. Just in case it was indeed lost to the mists of the intarwebs, I said James Joyce’s Ulysses, because it’s the only way I’d ever get to the end of that book.

  53. kate

    Since Wilfred Owen’s been taken, I’ll go with Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch. Edifying and entertaining all at once. And I’d follow up with Monstrous Regiment, because it tells why the Geneva Conventions are good in words even a four-year-old could understand.

  54. He MB, I’m sure you know it but it blows my mind every time I’m reminded of the fact this dude, Big Al, took fuckin elephants all the way too. Makes old Hannibal look like a wimp that do. Right at the moment SWMBO is reading a sort of travelogue of his trip and I’ve gotta read it when she’s finished. Just saw a doc. about this on the talking box and in one place out there they have a shrine with an olive tree he supposedly planted. And I got the idea that the people who cared for the shrine didn’t have a clue what kind of tree it was, not a lot of olives grow in Mongolia, but they kept it alive anyway because he planted it. That’s making an impression!

  55. TinaH

    Looking backwards, it’d have to be The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk.

  56. “The Plague” by Albert Camus

  57. Orationes et opera Ciceronis.

    Particularly the Philipics.

  58. BGW

    The Marx-Engles Reader. I am guessing by the time I get to the Communist Manifesto all the Dems in the room would get so excited they would have to run off to the bathroom….

  59. Em

    The ‘Left Behind’ series.

  60. Rhiannon

    Full Frontal Feminism. Or the next Harry Potter novel… I haven’t read either yet, so it would keep me entertained… and possibly everyone else as well.

  61. Dee

    Kathy picked mine: The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984

  62. The Declaration of Independence (very slowly, with a translation essay on every point, so they cannot miss it) and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

  63. Alice in Wonderland. Followed, if there was time, but Dante’s Divine Comedy – but only the Inferno section.

  64. Pingback: Question of the Day « I am the Lizard Queen!

  65. Teddi

    Who Moved My Cheese?

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