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Send My Conscience Home in a Taxi

Externalised Memory

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RIP Senator Robert Byrd
robert byrd
An old photo of Byrd

In other news, my favourite US federal senator (yes, it is possible to have a favourite senator) Robert Byrd died in the last day or so. He was ninety two. He'd been in the senate since 1959! And was a congressman before that. Politicians live long and stay in office a long time in the US.

Byrd mostly interested me because of his strong opposition to the Bush and the Iraq war, notably this speech: On The Brink Of War. Which included this notable passage:

And yet this Chamber is for the most part ominously, dreadfully silent. You can hear a pin drop. Listen. You can hear a pin drop. There is no debate. There is no discussion. There is no attempt to lay out for the Nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing.
and further:

What would these signers of the Constitution have to say about this Senate which they created when they note the silence, that is deafening, that emanates from that Chamber on the great subject, the great issue of war and peace? Nothing. Nothing is being said except by a few souls.

Yet this Chamber is hauntingly silent–hauntingly silent on what is possibly the eve of horrific infliction of death and destruction on the population of the nation of Iraq.
Which is not to say his entire history is commendable. He did some questionable things early in his senate career - voting against civil rights bills, for example. But his later work and his robust way of speaking I really liked.