Sunday, December 31, 2006
The Decoy May Be Dead But Guess Who is Alive and Well?
Well Saddam has been murdered, um I mean executed by the puppet Iraqi goverment. To a world that deplores the death penalty this will enrage the bulk of the planet when our stock is already at an all-time low.
Bush’s game of 3 Card Monte is on the table and America and the Mainstream Corporate Owned Media is shilling as hard as it can. Cult USA is absolutely clueless how this will play outside our border and they are acting like something good happened tonight. The only thing that will happen is that it will beget even more insidious violence. As Riverbend says in her new entry today:
Why make things worse by insisting on Saddam’s execution now? Who gains if they hang Saddam? Iran, naturally, but who else? There is a real fear that this execution will be the final blow that will shatter Iraq. Some Sunni and Shia tribes have threatened to arm their members against the Americans if Saddam is executed. Iraqis in general are watching closely to see what happens next, and quietly preparing for the worst.
This is because now, Saddam no longer represents himself or his regime. Through the constant insistence of American war propaganda, Saddam is now representative of all Sunni Arabs (never mind most of his government were Shia). The Americans, through their speeches and news articles and Iraqi Puppets, have made it very clear that they consider him to personify Sunni Arab resistance to the occupation. Basically, with this execution, what the Americans are saying is “Look- Sunni Arabs- this is your man, we all know this. We’re hanging him- he symbolizes you.” And make no mistake about it, this trial and verdict and execution are 100% American.
I urge you all to read the entire post by Riverbend, it’s heartbreaking.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Hack Speaks From the Grave
Your humble Madman found himself wandering in a dream through the Capitol Rotunda, surprised to hear a muffled voice coming from a coffin laid out in full State-funereal splendor.
"Mmmmmm, mmm, UMMM, mmmmm!", he heard.
Nonplussed, yet having read far too much Carlos Castenada when he was younger, the Madman bought into the spirit of the vision and wandered closer, asking, “Excuse me?”
“My throat is a little dry, but that shameless toady Woodward will fill you in on what I want to say!", he heard a rasping voice declare, as a desiccated figure burst up out of the coffin. The Madman had never noticed before how much our only un-elected President looked like the Crypt Keeper.
“Wha?!!?”, he exclaimed, taken aback, only to find a ghoulish man dressed in an ugly suit standing beside the coffin, like magic, with a self-satisfied smirk on his face.
“Oh, Woodward, I recognize you from those circle jerks on Sunday mornings!”, the Madman declared. “What’s up?”
The grave robber began to declaim:
Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. “I don’t think I would have gone to war,” he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford’s own administration.
In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford “very strongly” disagreed with the current president’s justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney—Ford’s White House chief of staff—and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford’s chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.
The flack’s voice was kind of strange, as though it was coming from someone not quite human, which fit, considering it was coming from a soul-less flack. It felt to the Madman like Woodward was speaking to an invisable camera over his right shoulder. He looked back, expecting to find “Tweety” Matthews and “Timmeh” Russert standing beside him. Woodward continued:
"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction,” Ford said. “And now, I’ve never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."
The Madman felt some anger building up inside. He shifted his gaze, looking at the bag of bones encased in an expensive tailored suit, and asked, “WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY IT PUBLICLY?!?!”
The dead golfer was silent, refusing to look your humble servant and astrally-projecting Madman in the eye, only nodding at the circus geek-cum-journalist standing by his side.
"Well, I can understand the theory of wanting to free people,” Ford said, referring to Bush’s assertion that the United States has a “duty to free people.” But the former president said he was skeptical “whether you can detach that from the obligation number one, of what’s in our national interest.” He added: “And I just don’t think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security."
The Madman couldn’t take it anymore. “What about the OTHER corpses, the other coffins?” he declared, full of anger, disgust, despair at confronting yet another cowardly tool of the ruling class, one SO cowardly that he would only speak truth through a circus geek, and from beyond the grave. His rage, in the logic of dreams, brought forth flickering images of the damage wrought.
“What of THIS lost soul?” the Madman demanded, as a ghostly image slipped into view:
“What of the three thousand or more like it? What of the mothers and fathers and wives and husbands and children and siblings left bereft?” the Madman cried!
The Madman continued, tears of rage and grief filling his dreaming eyes, “Or THESE wretched souls, who we don’t even feel worthy of counting, who you and your ilk barely look upon as human?!?!”
“Isn’t it too late to share what passes for your wisdom?” the Madman demanded. “Isn’t it too late, as the casualties pile up, as the crimes spread, as our Constitution crumbles?”
The Crypt Keeper chuckled, settling back down into comfortable repose, knowing that he will be the center of attention for the next several days, knowing that his pet shill will burnish his image as a “statesman” and a “healer”. The dead man knew that he was doing in death what he’d done throughout his public life, providing cover for tyrants and criminals while somehow conning the press into presenting him as an elder voice of reason.
The dry, rustling, disturbing chuckle filled the Madman’s ears as he started awake in a sweat, knowing that even dreams such as those were preferable to the continuing national nightmare.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Dead Party Hacks & the Murder of Accountability
House Republican Leader Gerald Ford stands by as Richard Nixon accepts the GOP nomination for president
I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our Government but civilization itself. That bond, though strained, is unbroken at home and abroad.
In all my public and private acts as your President, I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy in the end.
My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.
Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule.
Fine, pretty words those. Saying that you respect the Constitution and the rule of law sounds very nice, but is rendered empty when followed almost exactly one month later by this, his statement upon pardoning Richard Nixon:
After years of bitter controversy and divisive national debate, I have been advised, and I am compelled to conclude that many months and perhaps more years will have to pass before Richard Nixon could obtain a fair trial by jury in any jurisdiction of the United States under governing decisions of the Supreme Court.
I deeply believe in equal justice for all Americans, whatever their station or former station. The law, whether human or divine, is no respecter of persons; but the law is a respecter of reality.
The facts, as I see them, are that a former President of the United States, instead of enjoying equal treatment with any other citizen accused of violating the law, would be cruelly and excessively penalized either in preserving the presumption of his innocence or in obtaining a speedy determination of his guilt in order to repay a legal debt to society.
During this long period of delay and potential litigation, ugly passions would again be aroused. And our people would again be polarized in their opinions. And the credibility of our free institutions of government would again be challenged at home and abroad.
In the end, the courts might well hold that Richard Nixon had been denied due process, and the verdict of history would even more be inconclusive with respect to those charges arising out of the period of his Presidency, of which I am presently aware.
But it is not the ultimate fate of Richard Nixon that most concerns me, though surely it deeply troubles every decent and every compassionate person. My concern is the immediate future of this great country.
In this, I dare not depend upon my personal sympathy as a long-time friend of the former President, nor my professional judgment as a lawyer, and I do not.
As President, my primary concern must always be the greatest good of all the people of the United States whose servant I am. As a man, my first consideration is to be true to my own convictions and my own conscience.
My conscience tells me clearly and certainly that I cannot prolong the bad dreams that continue to reopen a chapter that is closed. My conscience tells me that only I, as President, have the constitutional power to firmly shut and seal this book. My conscience tells me it is my duty, not merely to proclaim domestic tranquillity but to use every means that I have to insure it.
No, the primary concern wasn’t “healing” the nation, no matter how many times that bromide has been chanted through the years since. He spends a great deal of time worried about BEING FAIR TO RICHARD NIXON, a thug willing to commit war crimes and undermine the very Constitution he swore to protect for political gain. (Some feel Ford may have been given the office with the understanding that a pardon would be offered). The rule of law, preserving the Constitution, maintaining even the illusion that we’re all equal under the law, from the low to the high, paled before concerns for Nixon’s well being and the well being of the Republican Party. In fact, his focus on this reason for his pardon has echoes in the partisan Supreme Court decision that argued that G. W. Bush be handed the Presidency to protect HIS equal protection rights under the law. You have to hand it to the corrupt aristocracy of the Republican Party ... they have a perverse willingness to twist words, reason and legal precedent beyond all recognition.
Kissinger, Suharto & Ford
Ford wasn’t a great statesman, nor was he a national hero, or a bipartisan healer of national wounds. He was a party operative, a hack, a water-carrier for monsters. We have him to thank for fostering the careers of Rumsfeld and Cheney, and laying the groundwork for the Republican administrations to follow. He kept Kissinger on, and worked with him to greenlight and support Suharto’s slaughter in East Timor. He was a strong supporter of Pinochet’s fascist administration in Chile. He was Hoover’s source within the Warren Commission. Like the current Republican in the White House, he callously turned his back on an American city in need.
We could go on, but why bother? He was what so many in the leadership of this country have become: landed gentry, a pampered insider willing to befriend anybody, condone anything, to further the agenda of the American right. Insisting that he wasn’t as bad as those running the party now doesn’t mitigate his support, cover and mentoring of these people. He was a friend of despots. Other than the made-up assertion that he “healed” the nation, I challenge anybody to point out a single positive thing he left behind when he vacated any of the offices he once held, or that he left behind when he vacated this life. He may have been a nice man to friends and family, a comfortable companion to the very people he felt comfortable with, but he was a terrible President, a terrible Congressman, a barely there Vice President.
The most disgusting part of the huzzahs being sung in his praise this week is how it demonstrates how completely political propaganda has buried any hope for accountability or an honest historical record being presented to the general public. What matters is the story, not any facts, or photos, or eyewitness testimony, or other points of view. Once more a corpse becomes a fetish to validate a political culture where thugs, fascists and authoritarians can act with impunity. Ford acted in his public roles in much the same way that a forgiving school administration helps cover and protect an out-of-control student athlete accused of rape. He epitomized the soft corruption that enables the powerful to prey upon the weak, that forgives the crimes of the connected while enforcing increasingly draconian controls on those without access to high-level help and protection.
Accountability is dead in this country, and Gerald Ford helped to kill it.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Preordination, Show Trials & Trophy Heads on Spikes
Saddam’s show trial will have it’s preordained outcome, upheld upon its meaningless appeal:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An Iraqi appeals court on Tuesday upheld Saddam Hussein’s death sentence for crimes against humanity and said he should hang within 30 days.
Human rights activists condemned his trial as seriously flawed and called on the government not to carry out the sentence, which comes amid raging violence between Saddam’s fellow Sunni Arabs and majority Shi’ites.
Sunni Arab leaders reacted angrily to the ruling, saying it was politically motivated by Saddam’s former enemies now in power in a U.S.-backed Shi’ite-led national unity government.
“The appeal court has approved the death sentence. They (the government) have the right to choose the date starting from tomorrow up to 30 days. After 30 days it will be an obligation to implement the sentence,” the head of the Iraqi High Tribunal, Aref Abdul-Razzaq al-Shahin, told a news conference.
Thirty days ... I wonder what event is coming up within the next thirty days?
Bush, in his State of the Union address last January, declared the U.S. ``addicted’’ to oil and set a goal of cutting Middle Eastern imports by 75 percent by 2025. House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, has pledged to make rolling back subsidies for oil companies one of her top priorities when Democrats take over Congress in January.
Hubbard wouldn’t provide details of future White House proposals, saying specifics will come when Bush makes his State of the Union speech to Congress and the nation on Jan. 23. While acknowledging that raising taxes on gasoline would cut demand, he dismissed suggestions that Bush would propose any increases.
They wouldn’t be connected, would they? A “victory” symbolized by our former pet dictator’s corpse, in the Middle East, no doubt as a sign of “progress” and “victory”, another show outcome from a show trial, another manufactured event to score political points.
I mean, there couldn’t be a connection between a puppet government affirming the killing of their former overlord only twenty-eight days before their NEW overlord gets up before the Kremlin on the Potomac to lie anew, could there? The “compassionate conservative” would NEVER use the death of another human being for political gain, would he? His handlers insist that he wouldn’t, that the President holds human life to be sacred:
Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died since the invasion in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein, which Bush said was an integral part of the “war on terror” following September 11.
In Washington, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said:
"The president believes that every life is precious and he grieves for each one that is lost. The hardest decision the president has ever made has been to send our young men and women in uniform into harm’s way."
NOTHING says reverence like carpet bombing, white phosphorus, shredded veterans benefits, multiple tours and the hangman’s noose.
Saddam was, after all, a bad man, right? Everyone MUST agree that overthrowing him was a GOOD thing, so how could it be bad to finish him off with a good, old-fashioned public hanging?
When Saddam is hanged, the Shiites and the Kurds will have avenged the enormous number of atrocities that his regime committed against them. The Sunnis will sulk and will get even more bitter than they are today. They are likely to see the development as just another example of their unremitting “humiliation” as a religious sect.
They are likely to hate the Shiites and the Kurds as well as their occupiers, the Americans, even more severely. The Sunni insurgency is likely to intensify its pace, if that is possible given what is already happening in Iraq.
However, the hanging of Saddam is not likely to resolve the internal strife that is tearing apart Iraq as a society and as a polity. He has been utterly irrelevant to the future of his country for a long time. Now Iraq is a place where the United States is battling with Islamists, global jihadis, pan-Arabists and even the Shiites. This battle has far-reaching consequences for the Middle East as a region and for the U.S. itself.
None of that matters to the sociopath/"leader of the free world” who will undoubtedly hold up Saddam’s head (verbally, anyway) aloft on the podium before the next joint session of Congress in four weeks, as conquerors have held aloft the heads of their vanguished enemies from time immemorial. If he could get away with it, Bush would probably love to display the trophy on a spike at the White House gate.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Upon a Midnight Clear
If I could have any Christmas wish fulfilled, it would be to wake up to a world fresh and new, like a field of new-fallen snow that lay unbroken by any footprint or thaw. It is a dream, of course, and Christmas wishes are fairy stories told to children to shield them from a world that doesn’t believe in freshness, in newness, in unbroken dreams.
If I could have any Christmas wish fulfilled, it would be to not see the usual Christmas at war stories, of forced gaity mixed with jingoistic patriotism and earnest militarism, stories telling us that our “boys” are getting little pieces of home while they fight and kill in faraway lands for dishonest, warmongering politicians.
If I could have any Christmas wish fulfilled, I would love to wake up to a media where more voices, more perspectives would be heard, especially from the left. There is little or no presentation of ideas that aren’t coming from the perspective of American exceptionalism, from a position where we look at our history, good and bad, with clear eyes and honest hearts. We, a supposed Christian people who believe in “progress” and second chances, increasingly act in hateful and unjust ways toward people who don’t “belong” here, spending enormous sums to lock many people up while refusing to help our own citizens left bereft and homeless.
If I could have any Christmas wish fulfilled, I’d wake to a country that believes in charity and cooperation and openness, unlike the country I live in now, where one stumble in life, one illness or mistake or arrest or layoff can result in dissolution and hopelessness. It’s not enough for charity and help to be band-aids doled out by the rich and famous to polish their public images and to help us all to feel better about the harsh dog-eat-dog battle to the death that we actually live in, our winner-take-all bacchanal for the haves with scraps for the have-nots. There is an old saw that charity begins at home, yet we don’t or won’t express our belief in this by actually ACTING on it, through our shared public institutions. We don’t believe in public institutions anymore, only greed and separation, a system that creates more need, that fosters more hopelessness, that actually manufactures death and disease, all in the mistaken belief that there is no other way to be.
If I could have any Christmas wish fulfilled, it would be for us to cooperate and work together to find a way to foster peace, to nurture openness, to water the roots of cooperation. I would wish for a world where Christmas wishes weren’t so badly needed, where these quiet whispers of hope weren’t so painfully unfulfilled.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Your Heritage, If You Can Keep It
Watching CBS Sunday Morning, I was reminded during their “Almanac” segment, or perhaps told for the first time, that on this day 155 years ago, the Library of Congress was nearly completely destroyed by a fire:
The Library of Congress was established on April 24, 1800, when President John Adams signed an act of Congress providing for the transfer of the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital city of Washington. The legislation appropriated $5,000 “for the purchase of such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress ..., and for fitting up a suitable apartment for containing them....” The original library was housed in the new Capitol until August 1814, when invading British troops set fire to the Capitol building, destroying the contents of the small (3,000 volumes) library.
Within a month, former President Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library as a replacement. Jefferson had spent 50 years accumulating books, “putting by everything which related to America, and indeed whatever was rare and valuable in every science”; his library was considered to be one of the finest in the United States. Jefferson, who was heavily indebted, sought to use the proceeds of the sale of his books to satisfy his creditors. He anticipated controversy over the nature of his collection, which included books in foreign languages and volumes of philosophy, science, literature, and other topics not normally viewed as part of a legislative library. To satisfy any objections as to the suitability of his collection for Congress’ use, he wrote, “I do not know that it contains any branch of science which Congress would wish to exclude from their collection; there is, in fact, no subject to which a Member of Congress may not have occasion to refer.”
In January 1815, Congress accepted Jefferson’s offer, appropriating $23,950 for his 6,487 books, and the foundation was laid for a great national library. The Jeffersonian concept of universality, the belief that all subjects are important to the library of the American legislature, is the philosophy and rationale behind the comprehensive collecting policies of today’s Library of Congress.
On December 24, 1851, a fire destroyed 35,000 books, an original portrait of Christopher Columbus, portraits of the first five US Presidents by Gilbert Stuart, and statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette.
Included in the destruction were most of Jefferson’s original volumes.
The fact that I can’t remember if I KNEW there had been a fire, or if this is the first I’ve heard of it, points up how important such places are. Mortal, limited in mental capacity, with a mysterious mechanism that preserves our memories in fragile gray matter, it is in others and the records that they create that we can see our world anew, even when we look to the past.
This segment reminded me how fragile is the tether to the very thing that makes human beings capable of growth and adaptation. It is through our collective memory that we can perhaps see where we might be going by looking at what we’ve done in the past. From storytellers around the fire telling us the stories that they’ve been told by THEIR elders, to Lakota Winter Counts, to plays and songs and google searches and even cave paintings, it is through shared history, shared stories, that people make their way in the world. Grand libraries like the Library of Congress and New York Public Library are secular temples, places where we enshrine the lives, observations, records and creations of our fellow human beings. If we care enough to consult them and treasure them, we can take those lives contained there, both past and present, and adapt and find better paths for ourselves.
This year of 2006 will be remembered as the moment Americans got even with leaders who had lied to them in order to garner public support for invading and occupying Iraq. But given the public’s preoccupation with a crucial election and the daily news of a dismal war, few took note of a significant 2006 anniversary: 190 years ago the United States launched its first foreign invasion. The parallels to the present are enlightening.
In July 1816, General Andrew Jackson, Commander of the U.S. Southern District, ordered Army, Navy and Marine units to invade Florida, then under the flag of Spain. Jackson acted, probably on orders from President James Madison, without a Congressional declaration of war. Neither Spain nor its colonial outpost posed a threat to the U.S. or its citizens. Rather, the President and the General--both prominent slaveholders--had concluded that the slave economy and its human “property” were threatened by the several thousand Native Americans and African Americans, including escaped slaves, who had united in the Seminole Nation on Florida soil.
Trying desperately to hold fast to our belief that we are a good people, over and over again we pretend that we didn’t commit the great crimes we’ve committed as a nation. It’s very important for us to remember, to tell the whole story, so that we can avoid becoming criminals anew. The selfish, the greedy, the bigots and warmongerers try and often succeed at wiping clean the collective memory, brainwashing even themselves that unpleasant events never happened. That we do so cheapens us, lessens us, dishonors our ancestors, even the criminals amongst them, as I’m sure most of them were perfectly proud of their crimes and would LIKE to be remembered for them. Hell, look at the continued distorted worship of the Confederacy. Even the monsters in our past should be remembered clearly, so that we can learn from them, perhaps the filter of time and distance will enable us to step back from our own distortions and hatreds and bigotries before we go down very dark roads. We’ve fought the Iraq War several times in our past, and not just in Vietnam.
It isn’t just our individual lives and memories and actions that make people humans ... it’s our collective lives, our collective actions and our collective memories that have enabled the human race to survive and thrive. We forget to our detriment and our peril. Remember what was lost in that fire on a Christmas Eve past and resolve to remind the people around you of the memories they didn’t know they had, the hidden past that threatens us with our ignorance of it.
Friday, December 22, 2006
fri rdm 10 - "Reason's greetings" edition
Only slightly with tongue in cheek, I say AMEN to this sentiment:
The Winter Solstice sign placed by the national Freedom From Religion Foundation in the Wisconsin State Capitol every December
Of course, the superstitious aren’t happy about it:
Along with criticism from state politicians, the sign has also been vandalized and stolen. The sign’s backside has been altered to advise viewers, “Thou shalt not steal,” as a taped-on caveat. It also reminds viewers of the foundation’s message: “State/Church: Keep them Separate.”
Perpetrators of past theft or vandalism have not been found, and according to Gaylor, the FFRF suspects “it was an inside job.” There hasn’t been any trouble for a while, Gaylor said, adding the separation of church and state has improved under Gov. Jim Doyle.
Some critics of the sign, like state Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, say the sign may stay as long as other religious messages are also allowed to remain on display.
“We have to allow expression of those signs,” Suder said. “Either they all stay or they all go.”
Suder said he has received several complaints from his constituents who find the sign offensive.
“Somebody should call the Grinch, because he forgot to take his sign,” he added.
You have to love the way the paper describes the sign as “contentious”.
As the fine folks at the Freedom from Religion Foundation put it on their website, REASON’S GREETINGS!
Meanwhile, on a street in Austin:
On 37th Street, Vice President Dick Cheney honors
the product of his daughter’s immaculate conception.
Photo By John Anderson
Today’s random ten:
- "Sweet Lady” - Queen
- "Once Upon a Time She Said” - Allison Moorer
- "Runnin’ Out of Fools” - Neko Case
- "White Train (Showdown)” - Tito & Tarantula
- "Nice N Neat” - Boomtown Rats
- “Traitor" - Sugarcubes
- "Try a Little Tenderness” - Otis Redding
- "I’ll Be Here for You” - Robert Earl Keen
- ">The Long Way Around” - Dixie Chicks
- “Strangers" - Portishead
Thursday, December 21, 2006
A blog in North Carolina quotes from a story in a local paper (the actual article is not available online):
Robin Hayes has the solution to the Iraq war: have our soldiers convert all Muslims to Christianity.
Having won the election by only a hair’s width and almost getting himself kicked out of Congress seems to have had some profound psychological effects on poor Mr. Hayes. A speech that flip-floppin’ Robin gave last week at the Concord Rotary Club seems to prove he has finally gone off the deep end.
Our local weekly newspaper the “Concord Standard and Mount Pleasant Times” reported on Mr. Hayes speech in his hometown:
First there’s the usual talk of how we’re “winning” over there: “The war in Iraq has got to be won; it’s being won” (A couple of months ago Hayes said that the rise in violence in Iraq was an indication that we’re winning.)
Then comes the real kicker: “Stability in Iraq ultimately depends on spreading the message of Jesus Christ, the message of peace on earth, good will towards men. Everything depends on everyone learning about the birth of the Savior.”
Maybe we can set up a grudge match between returning saviors ... the Theofascists’ Warrior Christ vs Imam Mahdi. (Oh, ignore the idea in Islam that Jesus will return AFTER Imam Mahdi to fight the Antichrist ... what do THEY know?)
It is a serious embarrassment that morons like this man rise to positions of prominance in this country. Of course, considering the sociopath savant in the White House, I guess one more delusional theofascist in the hall of Congress is only adding a small twig to the fire consuming the rule of law and the United States’ standing in the world.
The idea that the "message of Jesus Christ, the message of peace on earth, good will towards men" can be delivered for the Iraqis’ salvation at the barrel of a gun, by the shrapnel and blast delivered by 500 pound bombs, by stress positions and barking dogs and sexual humiliation beggars belief. We have got to be the LEAST pious and peaceful people on Earth. The lessons offered in the Sermon on the Mount are almost utterly absent in THIS country, let alone in the way we treat OTHER countries, a sad fact that’s been true throughout most of our short history. We rape, steal, plunder, kill, torture, denigrate and destroy with a ruthlessness and abandon that would make the most cruel Roman Centurion or European Crusader blanch. Our behavior is ESPECIALLY reprehensible since we do these things while spouting words of love and respect, holding out a hand to shake while we sink the knife in, making sure to twist it for maximum pain, coating the blade with bilious poison. If our actions follow ANY book, it’s more likely the Left Behind serious or some twisted screenplay by Mel Gibson.
As our military flails about, outnumbered in Mesopotamia and undersupported by the superstitious fools running this country, one can’t help but understand that Muslims view us as Crusaders, and one can’t help but see that they will drive us out as they drove out so many occupiers before. We sow the seeds of our own dissolution, while bigots and zealots spout words of hatred and delusion cheering on the disaster.
Emperor George II Makes Another Bad Decree
The Decider-In-Chief proposes yet another blunder. From Yahoo:
The United States will not be “run out” of the Middle East by the Iraq crisis, President George W. Bush said on Wednesday, and he predicted a long struggle against terrorism requiring a bigger U.S. military.
“They can’t run us out of the Middle East,” Bush said. “They can’t intimidate America.” The president said he was “inclined to believe” that there needed to be a permanent boost in the overall U.S. military because of the what he saw as a “long struggle against radicals and extremists."
A bigger military than we already have with more defense spending to deepen the troughs for Bush and his warmongering buddies? Eisenhower warned us about this and it’s 100 times worse than when he left office and it’s still not big enough for our Marshall Dillon wannabee.
Sadly the “radicals and extremists” we need the most protection from are the Neocons that got us knee-deep into this quicksand. What are the odds we’ll be free of them before ‘08? Yeah, i doubt it too.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
"I've always been a believer in second chances."
Thank goodness the wait is over! The suspense was killing me ... was the distaff little hottie from down south going to get a chance at redemption? Would Donald “I’ll spend other people’s money on incredibly ugly buildings" Trump do the good Christian American thing and give Tara Connor a second chance to keep her meaningless crown?
"I’ve always been a believer in second chances,” Trump, who owns the Miss Universe Organization with NBC, said with Conner at his side. Trump said he and Conner had met earlier Tuesday morning.
“She left a small town in Kentucky and she was telling me that she got caught up in the whirlwind of New York,” Trump said at a news conference. “It’s a story that has happened many times before to many women and many men who came to the Big Apple. They wanted their slice of the Big Apple and they found out it wasn’t so easy.”
Conner won the title in April and has been living in New York. Recent media accounts of heavy drinking brought a storm of criticism since she was underage at the time. She turned 21 on Monday.
In a tear-choked voice, Conner said, “In no way did I think it would be possible for a second chance to be given to me.”
Turning to Trump, she said, “You’ll never know what this means to me, and I swear I will not let you down.”
Trump said Conner would be entering rehab. A pageant official said details would be worked out privately with Conner over the next weeks.
“I think Tara is going to be the great comeback kid,” Trump said.
The American dream is reaffirmed! Poor dear, seduced by all of those wanton faggy secular humanists in the big, bad city. After all, why else would she have sunk to engaging in hot teen-on-teen action out in the clubs? That would NEVER have happened if she’d stayed home in her “small town”! Damn you New York, seducing yet another GOOD girl with your demon rum and wanton public orgies!
THIS is the most important story being covered on what passes for our media now ... well, except for the mountain climbers/popsicles lost somewhere on Mount Hood. We are a deeply hypocritical and maladjusted culture, and stories like these are used to sell us the continued lie that we are an exceptionally “GOOD” people, full of forgiveness and selfless charity to those in need.
We like to say that we’re a land that believes in second chances, that if someone is sincere about changing their life we Americans will support and welcome them when they’ve picked themselves up, and we’ll do everything we can to help them. This is, of course, utter bullshit. You get second chances if you’re of the right class, the right race, the right connections. Otherwise the full weight of our government and rapacious tabloid media will be brought down on your head:
Like the bankruptcy bill or these “shaming sentences” this is part of the zero tolerance culture that we see emerging in the courts and elsewhere, where we have ritual public humiliations designed to “send a message” and where people can never escape the mistakes of their youths. This allows the powerful and the sanctimonious to indulge in the fiction that they are morally superior by forcing others to pay both publicly and forever. A zero tolerance society turns into a paranoid society very quickly.
If that picture just above had been taken at certain clubs in Brooklyn, Queens or parts of Los Angeles, and if a darker pretty girl in it had been tested positive for drugs, she’d be far more likely to be facing charges than a stay at a celebrity rehab center. Our enormous prison system is bulging with people who did the same things that Miss Perfect American is reported to have done. Unlike her, many who get caught doing drugs or acting out in public are put into the system, and once in the odds of them getting a second chance disappear:
The collateral consequences for people with criminal convictions are already severe. One misdemeanor can significantly diminish or outright ruin your chances for various types of employment, housing, financial aid, higher education, and licensing (not to mention its potential immigration consequences). These collateral effects of criminal convictions --- most severe for people being released from prison --- disproportionately harm the poor, creating a miserable cycle that makes it even more difficult for people in economically and educationally depressed communities to better their circumstances.
To make matters even worse, the FBI now wants to go beyond tracking “severe and/or significant offenses” (felonies and significant misdemeanors) and include on criminal history reports (accessed by employers and licensing agencies) “non-serious offenses” - from drinking in public to teenage vagrancy, traffic violations to urinating in public, loitering to disorderly conduct. As Michelle Chen observes in the New Standard, this “would foreclose employment opportunities for an untold number of people, disproportionately impact people of color, and invite the abuse of sensitive information.”
The majority of employers will not hire someone with an arrest or “infraction” history, and even the most meaningless of follies will cause heightened scrutiny of the applicant. Any negative information, no matter how minor or long ago, will inevitably be prejudicial towards the applicant. Compound the stigma of even a non-criminal record with the fact that numerous state and federal laws have made it increasingly easy for employers to perform invasive background checks, and soon people’s lives could be negatively impacted by the revelation of even the most minor indiscretions.
Tara Connor is just a pretty package around a big lie, the myth we nurture that America is the land of rebirths, a country inhabited by phoenixes rising from the ashes of their mishaps and mistakes, that we are a people nurtured in a culture that makes it possible to make of your life whatever you want to make of it. A small number of people gifted with health, beauty, wealth and connections DO get to have those chances, but many of us are one tumor, one broken bone, one bag of weed or drunken drive or company downsizing away from the immolation of all of our dreams. While Ms. Connor gets the best help that money can buy, we allow children to starve and go without healthcare. We allow cities to drown, repeating urban fables about looting and phantom monsters shooting at rescue helicopters on the one hand, while we spend days and large sums of money and manpower searching for three men who CHOSE to place themselves in danger.
Tear-stained blondes and helicopters hovering over snowy peaks serve to gloss over how unforgiving and hateful we have become toward one another. I have nothing against Ms. Connor, or the thrill-seekers in Washington, but the lack of proportion given to their stories while so many suffer without hope or opportunity is a sign of a deeply broken culture.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
The Willfully Blind Circle of Viciousness
Why is it that far too many people refuse to see the world as it is, to see other people as they are, rather than to act based solely on myths, preconceptions, hatreds, predjudices and subsumed greed and fear? The same racist, ignorant attitudes drive us today as they drove the colonists centuries ago throughout the Americas, tearing apart the families of people just trying to work and find a future for themselves:
The citizenship of people who happen to be brown, therefore, to protect their civil, Constitutional and human rights apparently carries very little weight with the Bush White House and his mindless followers with that little parenthetical “R” after their names.“The illegal immigrants are using intimidation saying, and the media are as guilty as they are of saying this, that their civil rights are being violated,” McGill said. “If you are breaking the law and you are not a citizen of the United States, you are not eligible for any rights. They committed a crime when they walked across that border.”
You know how it is: Republicans are real Americans and then there are those whose ancestors either were brought here in chains or colonized. These are the ones who broke their backs for the ancestors of the real Americans who populate the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Notice that it is the powerless who are using “intimidation”! Nothing more “intimidating” than some poor person trying to feed their family, facing down exploitive bosses and law enforcement officers with body armor and high-powered weapons. If you are not recognized as a “citizen”, in other words, a LEGAL PERSON, then you are due no recognition of human rights, and to raise your eyes and voice and insist on being given your due rights as a human being is to seek to “intimidate”. You are subhuman, beneath the gaze of the woman with the scale and the sword. You deserve what you get, and you should be glad that you’re allowed to leave. You trespass, after all, and in the eyes of these self-styled descendents of the conquistadors and General Custer, you should be glad for the Christian charity of not being shot like a stray dog. How dare you try to intimidate OUR jackboot with the back or your neck?!?!
It’s a pattern that repeats throughout the history of the dominant culture that conquered the Americas. A presuppostion that rights and humanness are conditional things, to be offered or withdrawn at the whim of the paler “us” over the darker “them”. XicanoPwr is of course reacting to the recent raids that took place in Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Iowa and Minnesota:
At least 1,280 workers have been arrested in a series of immigration raids targeting meatpacking plants owned by the company Swift. The raids took place in Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Iowa and Minnesota It marks the largest sweep of its kind ever against a single company.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff justified the raids saying many of the detained men and women were using false or stolen identities.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union has filed an emergency lawsuit in an effort to release the workers who they say were illegally detained and are being held without access to legal counsel. In Iowa, immigration lawyers have accused the federal government of holding the arrested workers at the military site Camp Dodge near Des Moines.
Like any good banana republic, our government is “disappearing” people, spiriting them away without communication, without representation, without concern for the babies left motherless, the families left to wonder and worry:
A priest’s and nun’s mission to find the mother of a nursing baby was thwarted today after they said officials from Camp Dodge would not let them inside to tell their story.
Sister Christine Feagan, from the St. Mary’s Hispanic Ministry, and The Rev. Jim Miller, who is a priest from the St. Mary’s Parish, both said they drove to Camp Dodge this afternoon to find out the status of a nursing mother who was deported and nursing a baby. They were also seeking a father with an ashmatic child.
They didn’t come with papers showing legal status. Instead, they wanted “to show them the need to be free,” said Miller.
Miller said he knows detainees were located there, because they were permitted a phone call from Camp Dodge and some had called the church seeking help.
He said an ICE officer at the facility “wouldn’t tell us anything about anybody.”
The duo returned to Marshalltown this afternoon to deal with the scores of families trying arrange care for children whose parents have been detained.
At the church’s Hispanic ministry, the baby whose mother was arrested was passed among staff and a community activist who had agreed to help care for her.
They said they don’t know when the girl, whose father is absent, will be reunited with her mother.
The child, whose name was not provided by ministry staff, cried little, and stared at the different faces visiting the ministry. Women speaking a mixture of Spanish and English coordinated plans with how they would take care of children left behind.
Carmen Montealegre is one of the women who is taking care of two of her friends’ children with family displaced by the arrests. One of the children, a seven-year-old, asks frequently why her mother was detained, she said.
“She asked me three times, ‘Did she kill someone?’ I said, ‘She was working under another name.’”
The baby left behind has her own problems.
She has been difficult to feed since her mother was arrested, Feagan said.
“The mother was breastfeeding the baby,” Feagan said. “The baby doesn’t want to eat. Another tried to breastfeed, but she knew it wasn’t her.” (hat tip to Man Eegee)
In this age when habeas corpus has been tossed into the toilet and flushed with little care, there is little reason to think that the DHS will even blink at running these people through the meat grinder of some cobbled-together star chamber then shipping them off. Waving the spector of identity theft before the blinkered eyes of the American public, Secretary Chertoff uses a “threat” that could have been dealt with in other ways as an excuse to terrorize thousands of people, entire communities:
AMY GOODMAN: Joining us in the studio in St. Paul, Minnesota, is Mariano Espinoza. He is the executive director of the Minnesota Immigration Freedom Network. The group is working with communities in Worthington, Minnesota. Three guests also join us on the telephone. From Colorado, where the meatpacking company Swift is based, Sylvia Martinez, a leader of the community group Latinos Unidos in Greeley, Colorado. Kim Salinas is with us,immigration rights attorney who was inside an immigration detention center all day yesterday, trying to meet with some of the detained workers. And on the line with us from Washington, D.C., where we’ll begin, is Jim Papian, spokesperson for the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Can you explain the scope of these raids? How did they go down, Jim?
JIM PAPIAN: Yes. On Tuesday morning, 13,000 workers kissed their spouses goodbye. They fixed the lunches for their kids. They took transportation into their meatpacking plants, where they had been working, and they began doing their job. Shortly after that, in the early dawn, in many of those plants, ICE agents surrounded the plants, stormed into the plant, locked the gate, blocked the plant, dressed in riot gear and with military weapons in some of these plants, jumped on tables, began segregating and herding people, terrorizing, you know, 13,000 folks—terrorizing and criminalizing, essentially, 13,000 people who had gone in to do their work that day.
Subsequent to that, they began interviewing and detaining people and then eventually shipping them out to distant cities into other states. Now, why did they do this? Well, they went into federal court, and they got a warrant. They said that there had been some identity theft. People were in effect stealing Social Security numbers from other people and then using those in terms of their I-9 regulation to gain employment.
So, what the ICE agents did was say, you know, ‘We’ve got 170 folks that we suspect of identity theft, but what we’re really going to do is we’re going to terrorize 13,000 people. We’re going to separate parents from children.” Children were left in schools that day, no one there to pick them up. If you see the headlines from around the country, you’ll see from the Des Moines Register, it says “A breast-feeding mother missing in raid.” A Utah headline, “Families ripped apart, communities are ripped apart,” you know, to essentially go in and interview 170 people.
Now, I mean, these plants have HR departments. You know, there is a process for identifying folks for bringing them in for interviews, if that’s necessary, and for the ICE agents to make their determinations. But what the government chose to do in this case was to engage in an act that really can’t be described other than terrorizing an entire work force. So I think that’s—in a nutshell, I think that sums up what happened on that day.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And how many people were actually detained as suspected of being in the country illegally?
JIM PAPIAN: Well, I think that 62 people, I think, were detained for identity theft violations. And I believe somewhere around 1,200 were detained for being here without proper status.
We bring back to el Norte the jack-booted behavior that we exported to the south for decades, mass roundups under the gun. The only thing missing is a bullet to the back of the head, though our military and police state are busy developing other methods to break and discard the unwanted. We come full circle, continuing racist and exploitive policies that have deep roots in the past, all with the certainty that it is our manifest destiny under the watchful eye of God:
Yet it was with visions such as these that a flood of opportunistic adventurers called the Conquistadores began trammeling the shores of the Americas in search of gold. And whenever they encountered these “dark-visaged” natives, they read to them the Requerimiento, by which the natives could swear fealty to the Spanish Crown. It concluded:If you do so, you will do well, and that which you are obliged to do to their Highnesses, and we in their name shall receive you in all love and charity, and shall leave you, your wives, and your children, and your lands, free without servitude, that you may do with them and with yourselves freely that which you like and think best, and they shall not compel you to turn Christians, unless you yourselves, when informed of the truth, should wish to be converted to our Holy Catholic Faith, as almost all the inhabitants of the rest of the islands have done. And, besides this, their Highnesses award you many privileges and exemptions and will grant you many benefits.
But, if you do not do this, and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their Highnesses; we shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their Highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him; and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their Highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us. And that we have said this to you and made this Requisition, we request the notary here present to give us his testimony in writing, and we ask the rest who are present that they should be witnesses of this Requisition.
Stannard notes that in practice, “the Spanish usually did not wait for the Indians to reply to their demands. First the Indians were manacled; then, as it were, they were read their rights."
Imagining barbarity in others excuses barbarous behavior in the mind of the dominant. It’s kill the beast before the beast can kill you. The landscape of this hemisphere is littered with unmarked graves seeded with those who fell before this cultural bigotry, the grass fed by the meat and bone of those who sought to continue to live and breathe and build futures for themselves and their families:
Of all the weapons the Spanish brought with them, these dogs epitomized the brazen cruelty with which they treated the native peoples, wrought by a worldview that held these human beings as being no more than beasts themselves.
This pattern—weakening the populace with disease, then overpowering them with superior arms and an inhuman ruthlessness and brutality—was repeated endlessly throughout Americas in the ensuing decades, first throughout Hispaniola and the Caribbean, then in Mexico itself, then in Central and South America. The Spanish conquest of the Yucatan and of Mexico were only the first steps in Spain’s larger colonization program in the Americas. The result was the near-utter obliteration of the existing civilizations.
Stannard observes [pp. 94-95]:
From the very beginning—from at least that day in 1493 when a “very beautiful Carib woman” fought off the violent advances of Michele de Cuneo, before being thrashed with a rope and then raped by him—the people of the Americas resisted. None did so more successfully than the Maya, who combined retreats into the deep jungle cover of the Yucatan Maya, who combined retreats into the deep jungle cover of the Yucatan lowlands—where, as one historian puts it, the pursuing conquistadors “soon found themselves adrift in a green expanse of forest without food to eat, souls to convert, or labor to exploit”—with relentless military counterattacks that finally led to temporary expulsion of the Spanish in 1638. And neither did any people resist with more symbolism than they Maya, who made a practice of destroying not only Spanish soldiers but whatever foreign things the Spanish had brought with them—horses, cattle, cats, dogs, trees, and plants. In the end, however, the Maya too lost 95 of 100 of their people—a price for resistance that most outsiders, if they know of it, can hardly hope to comprehend.
By the time the sixteenth century had ended perhaps 200,000 Spaniards had moved their lives to the Indies, to Mexico, to Central America, and points further to the south. In contrast, by that time, somewhere between 60,000,000 and 80,000,000 natives from those lands were dead. Even then, the carnage was not over.
In reality, it had only begun. North America’s native people had only begun to feel the effects of their contacts with European settlers. And the eliminationist worldview of the Spanish was fully intact throughout most of Europe; indeed, the English expanded upon and perfected it as they settled the northern reaches of the Americas.
The twin infections—rampaging disease and a malignant eliminationism—were proceeding on due course in the rest of the New World.
Today we use neglect, paperwork, economic exploitation and the threat of one of the biggest police states and incarceration complexes in the entire world as assiduously as the Spaniards once used dogs, steel and smallpox. A network of reservations masquerading as carefully redlined neighborhoods in our cities, and the long-neglected reservations set up by insincere treaties across Indian Country continue the work begun in the sixteenth century. The raids this past week are just a new shroud wrapped around the same-old darker corpse. Not wanting to face that we still act this way doesn’t make the truth of it go away, and the protestations about the sancity of the law won’t put milk into the mouth of a baby left bereft. Not wanting to face it makes us blind to how our culture is enriched when we WELCOME new and different people into our midst, and serves only to continue a history of barbarity that will fill our descendents with shame.
Friday, December 15, 2006
fri rdm 10 - "thank you Ahmet" edition
I shudder to think what my collection would look like if Ahmet Ertegun hadn’t been around through the development of Rhythm & Blues and the rapid expansion of Rock & Roll:
The popular notion is that without Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, there wouldn’t have been rock ‘n’ roll. But it may be closer to the truth to say there wouldn’t have been rock ‘n’ roll without Ahmet Ertegun.
The co-founder of Atlantic Records loved to say he was just lucky to have worked with such landmark artists as Ray Charles, Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin and Cream.
Yet everyone who has cared about pop music over the last half-century should feel fortunate to have had Ertegun. The son of a Turkish ambassador to the U.S., he made contributions to the American pop scene that were as passionate and irreplaceable as any of the artists on his label.
You may have seen some lists of how his work as a producer and label executive, not to mention as a enthusiastic supporter of talent, has impacted on the music you’ve heard your whole life. If you haven’t:
Like Phillips in Memphis, Ertegun didn’t just see the blues and R&B sounds of the day as a novelty. He sensed a spirit so liberating that it could appeal to listeners of all races.
After working with jazz and R&B artists from the New York area, Ertegun was drawn increasingly to the rawer sound coming from the South. But most of the New York artists he came across resisted the blues.
“We had urban, very sophisticated musicians who came out of the big bands and singers who were straight pop singers, imitating Billy Eckstine or singing standards,” he once told me.
“What we did was take the best singers we could find and force them to play soul music. As a result of that, we came out with a sound which was halfway toward funk.”
As the label’s reputation grew, Ertegun began finding singers, including Ray Charles and Clyde McPhatter, who had the blues and gospel instincts to sing soul music on their own.
The result was hit recordings that helped reshape the boundaries of American pop — records such as Charles’ “I Got a Woman” and “What’d I Say,” the Drifters’ “Money Honey” and the Coasters’ “Yakety Yak.”
Soon, Atlantic — along with Sun Records and the Chess Brothers’ Chess Records in Chicago — was at the creative center of the music business, and major labels started raiding Ertegun’s talent roster. When Charles, Darin and McPhatter all left Atlantic in the late ‘50s, Ertegun thought the company was finished. But he and his gifted Atlantic team, including producer Jerry Wexler, went on to greater heights in the ‘60s with Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Wilson Pickett and others.
Over the years, the Atlantic roster would include such other distinguished artists as Buffalo Springfield, the Bee Gees, Dusty Springfield, the Allman Brothers and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
Tonight’s random ten:
- "(Keep Feeling) Fascination” - Human League
- "The Song is Over” - The Who
- “Carmelita" - Warren Zevon
- "Crime of the Century” - Supertramp
- "August & September” - The The
- "How Soon Is Now” - The Smiths
- "Los Angeles” - X
- "His Lovin’ Her Is Getting In My Way” - George Jones
- "Under Your Spell Again” - Waylon Jennings & Jessi Coulter
- "Iron Man” - Black Sabbath
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Wrapped in the Flag, Carrying a Cross and a Gun
It is absolutely violative of a mountain of Department of Defense internal regulations, guidelines, core values, instructions, making it very clear that members of the military can not endorse any one particular political position, partisan religious view, they can’t hold up a tube of toothpaste like Colgate and push it. Irrespective of that, it’s also blatantly violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and at least as important it’s violative of Clause 3, Article 6 of the Constitution—you don’t even have to get into the Bill of Rights—which states that we will never have a religion test for any position in the federal government, which was brilliantly prescient of our Founding Fathers.
This, to me, constitutes as much of a national security threat to this country as al-Qaida. In fact, the video itself, to me, would be the No. 1 recruiting tool that I would expect bin Laden, the followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, although he’s dead, Ayman al Zawahiri, Hezbollah with Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, Hamas, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, to get angry young Islamic men and women in Iran, Syria and Lebanon to join the insurrection and jihadi terrorist activities. This would be a perfect accelerant to create even further conflagration.
Now, I was a JAG [judge advocate general, the lawyers who act as prosecutors and defense attorneys within the military] in the Air Force. I spent three and a half years as a lawyer for President Ronald Reagan in the West Wing, I’ve been Ross Perot’s general counsel. I know the religious right would love to vilify me as a tree-hugging Northern California Sierra Club membership chardonnay-sipping liberal—not that there’d be anything wrong with that, to wax Seinfeldian—but I’m not. I’m a Republican. And my family has a very, very long and distinguished military history. We have three consecutive generations of military academy graduates, and my youngest son, who’s at the Air Force Academy now, he’s a senior, what’s called a first classman, is the sixth member of my family to attend the academy. We have 115 years of combined active-duty military service to this country in my immediate family from every combat engagement from World War I to the current one, and this is a pernicious torturing of what our military is supposed to be about.
Of course, I realize people have religious rights. We only have about 2,200 chaplains in each of the military branches; every base has multiple chapels, and these people can pray all they want to themselves, like kids in school can pray to themselves, but when you’re in the military, and you’re coming in like that one person, Catton, whom I knew when I was a kid at the [Air Force] Academy, and he goes, “I share my faith, that’s who I am, and let me tell you right now, the hierarchy as an old-fashioned American is that your first duty is to the Lord, second to your family and your third is to your country.” That is the exact opposite of what is taught, and for anyone who understands anything about the military, it is always the country first. When you’re told, “Troopers, we’re going to go take that hill,” you can’t stop, fall to your knees and see what your particular version of Moses, Vishnu, Satan, Jesus, Mohammed, Allah, whatever they’re going to say, and then quickly make a cellphone call to your family. So it is beyond-the-pale egregious, it is a national security threat every bit as bad as al-Qaida, and these people should be court-martialed.
The growing and pernicious influence of the American Taliban in ALL aspects of American life is a very grave danger. This is first and foremost a political movement, more concerned with power than redemption and with a penchant for eliminationist rhetoric directed at ANYBODY who doesn’t conform with their particular heresies. As Mr. Weinstein relates:
But I can tell you that I get—I don’t think I’m in double digits, but it started at about 10 o’clock last night; after the press conference in the morning, I’ve had nine death threats since about 10 o’clock last night. I usually get about two or three a week. They’re very grotesque, everything from wanting to gas all the Jews in America and send the corpses back to Israel to threatening to blow me up, threatening my house will be blown up, raping my wife, blowing up my house. We’ve had our tires slashed, we’ve had feces and beer bottles thrown at the house, we’ve had dead animals placed on the front door of the house.
I was in Topeka, on a book tour, and the local Episcopal priest came out to support me and five hours later his church was burned down. And the local synagogue in Topeka, where I was to speak that night, was desecrated with spray paint saying, “Fuck you, Jews” and “KKK,” all that stuff.
So if this is a nice, Christian response, my response is take a number, pack a picnic lunch and stand in line, because we’re not going to stop, we’re not going to ever stop, we’re going to lay down a withering field of fire and leave sucking chest wounds on these people that are trying to destroy our Constitution. This is not a Christian-Jewish issue, and it’s also not a political spectrum, left or right issue, it’s a Constitutional right and wrong issue. These officers, and what’s happening in that video, simply by appearing in a video that is blatantly and vociferously sectarian, by simply doing three things in that video, they should be court-martialed. That would be circulating blood, reflecting light and breathing. That’s all they had to do and that alone would have been enough. You’re not Jewish, are you?
These people are a deadly serious threat, and they are increasingly placing their hands upon the extensive weaponry of our huge and VERY dangerous military machine. Mr. Weinstein is absolutely right, these people must be held to account, they must be brought before courts martial and be drummed out of the service. They are much like General Edgeway in Sinclair Lewis’s "It Can’t Happen Here":
They were all listening, agape. General Edgeways was completing his manly yet mystical rhapsody on nationalism:
“. . . for these U-nited States, a-lone among the great powers, have no desire for foreign conquest. Our highest ambition is to be darned well let alone! Our only gen-uine relationship to Europe is in our arduous task of having to try and educate the crass and ignorant masses that Europe has wished onto us up to something like a semblance of American culture and good manners. But, as I explained to you, we must be prepared to defend our shores against all the alien gangs of international racketeers that call themselves ‘governments,’ and that with such feverish envy are always eyeing our inexhaustible mines, our towering forests, our titanic and luxurious cities, our fair and far-flung fields.
“For the first time in all history, a great nation must go on arming itself more and more, not for conquest--not for jealousy--not for war--but for peace! Pray God it may never be necessary, but if foreign nations don’t sharply heed our warning, there will, as when the proverbial dragon’s teeth were sowed, spring up an armed and fearless warrior upon every square foot of these United States, so arduously cultivated and defended by our pioneer fathers, whose sword-girded images we must be . . . or we shall perish!"
Right now, with their fingers on triggers, on buttons and with access to classified material, in a Pentagon that is increasingly spying on American citizens, in concert with a messianic President who thinks he can at a whim snatch American “enemy combatants" off the street and then disappear them into military gulags to be tortured, there are real live General Edgeways working hard to destroy everything this country stands for, to bring about a religious dictatorship. They must be stopped.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Happy Fucking Holidays
No, not just those things, though they all make me want to throw Bill O’Reilly under a bus. I’m sick of the whole fucking sick season. The fake expressions of love and community. The relentless pressure to shop, the shaming of people if they don’t get with the “spirit of the season”. American Christianity has utterly sickened an already sick, twisted distortion of a time of year when communities and families used to get together to celebrate the return of longer days, to feast and dance and be thankful that they’ve survived the darkest, coldest days of the year.
After many years of living away from my family, of having worked through about 20 years of retailing during this odious season, (I can tell you, NOTHING will show you the true face of your fellow Americans more than standing behind a counter at this time of year ... it’s an UGLY view) it’s the simple pleasure of getting together with my family that I enjoy, of seeing my nephews, my mother, my sisters ... of chatting and reminiscing about my departed father and sledding in the snow when I was a kid.
I’ll let Linus sum up how the “spirit” of this season is ACTUALLY expressed in this country:
“When we were babies, our parents made a conscious decision to deceive us,” Linus announces. “They created a bunch of fairy tales like Santa Claus and baby Jesus to give us kids false hope, and to comfort themselves as they approached death.” And Linus is just getting warmed up. “It’s all a bunch of bullshit. When we die, our bodies lie rotting in the earth, and worms and bugs eat at our remains, and shit us out into little bits of nothing.”
Wait, wait, there’s more. Linus is building up to the true true meaning of the holidays. “Christmas isn’t about giving love or the birth of a savior. It’s about moving merchandise, and false sentiment. It’s about dumbass cocksuckers like Charlie Brown running around all night trying to buy a goddamn tree…”
How I wish that we could actually celebrate what the pagans celebrated. Being alive for another year. Having food to eat, a glorious world to live in, to learn about, to share with family, with friends and even with our enemies. I wish we could celebrate that every solstice is a symbolic time to put old darkness behind us and celebrate brighter days ahead. I wish we’d actually act as though we actually wanted peace on Earth, and NOT just more oil from the sand and more blood, death and elevated stock prices.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Congress in Action-- Run for Cover
Maybe the idea of a “do-nothing Congress” is a good one because when they get down to business it can be downright frightening. See what they did before they adjourned last week at THIS LINK:
It extended through the end of 2007 a deduction for research and development initiatives, and renewed a deductions of up to $4,000 for higher education costs. There were breaks for teachers who pay for supplies out of their own pocket and for taxpayers in nine states with no income taxes - allowing them to deduct state and local sales taxes.
“All Americans should be treated equally and given the opportunity to deduct their state taxes, regardless of how those levies are assessed,” said GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. In her state, which lacks a state income tax, sales tax deductions are worth some $1 billion.
The popular tax breaks became a magnet for contentious and expensive bills. The package included legislation to open up 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling and to prevent a 5 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors from taking effect Jan. 1. The GOP-crafted solution to the problem was criticized as an accounting gimmick because it would double the cost of fixing the problem again next year.
The legislation also contained measures to permanently normalize trade with Vietnam and extend trade benefits for four Andean nations, sub-Saharan African countries and Haiti. The Haiti act was the toughest to swallow for some lawmakers from the South; they said it would further erode jobs in their states’ textile industries.
The bill also renewed, with increased federal contributions, a program dealing with abandoned coal mines and the health issues of former miners.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H., said the legislation would shift $4 billion in health care costs from the coal companies to the taxpayers, and criticized his own party for failing to check indiscriminate federal spending. “We’re supposed to be the party of fiscal discipline and we haven’t been,” he said.
Read it and weep, the ordinary tax payer just got screwed royally yet again by the Republicans and what’s left of a Democratic Party.