Friday, March 30, 2007
The Pharisee Got His Sacrifice
Fools! You have no perception!
The stakes we are gambling are frightenly high!
We must crush him completely
So like John before him, this Jesus must die
For the sake of the nation this Jesus must die
Our modern-day Caiaphas got his wish:
There’s no room at the inn, after all, for a chocolate sculpture of Jesus without a loincloth.
The Roger Smith Hotel’s Lab Gallery had planned to display the 6-foot milk chocolate statue Monday evening through Easter Sunday, but stirred outrage from the Catholic League and other religious groups who denounced the exhibit as “hate speech” and a “direct in-your-face assault on Christians.”
James Knowles, the president of the hotel and its artist in residence, Friday cancelled the showing of Cosimo Cavallaro’s piece, “My Sweet Lord.”
He issued a two-paragraph statement that read, “Your response to the exhibit at the Lab Gallery is crystal clear and has brought to our attention the unintended reaction” to the work.
The gallery’s creative director, Matt Semler, resigned in protest of the cancellation.
Semler said the 200-pound work fell victim to “a strong-arming from people who haven’t seen the show, seen what we’re doing. They jumped to conclusions completely contrary to our intentions."
Semler said the hotel officials feared for the staff’s safety and couldn’t continue to support the show.
It’s easy to strike out at that bully, that thug, that agent-of-oppression Donohue and the various Cardinals and other Grand Poobahs ...
Tell the rabble to be quiet we anticipate a riot
This common crowd is much to loud
Tell the mob who sing your song
That they are fools and they are wrong
They are a curse, they should disperse
... for they don’t only ANTICIPATE a riot, they will CREATE one, if it lines their pockets and increases their power.
Cardinal Edward Egan has said the piece was “a sickening display.”
On Thursday, the Catholic League—especially offended that the display was to take place during Holy Week—led a charge to boycott the hotel. The group mailed out letters to hundreds of religious groups—Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu—as well as secular groups urging them to stay clear of the midtown Manhattan hotel.
Hearing that Cavallaro had invited the public to “take a bite” of the sculpture further enraged the group.
Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic watchdog group, called it “one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever.”
The show’s cancellation, however, didn’t completely quell the debate.
Kiera McCaffrey, a Catholic League spokeswoman, said Semler’s description of the criticism as “a Catholic fatwa” was “ridiculously absurd” and said Semler “needs to get his head screwed on straight.”
She said the group would not go out of its way to inform the groups it had asked to boycott the hotel that the show had been cancelled.
Still, McCaffrey said, “We’re very pleased that this is cancelled."
Semler is right. Good on him for quitting. If you’re on the cultural left, if you’re a landlord or Corporate Board or whatever and you approve of something like this artwork, then YOU’VE GOT TO STICK IT OUT. Quit caving, quit acting surprised when the controversy heats up. Stop it ... you empower the right, empower the theofascists, EVERY TIME YOU CAVE IN. As Joan Walsh puts it:
To the hotel owners who say they got death threats and canceled the show because they couldn’t keep guests safe, I have to say: Toughen up. If you really received death threats from Donohue’s minions, I hope you’ll work with police to find the thugs who made them. But I don’t understand people who do provocative things, and then cave when they manage to provoke. It reminds me, a little, of the flap over John Edwards’ feminist bloggers.
What both things have in common is that blowhard Bill Donohue ranted and raved, and it worked. It’s a bad day for the Jesus I personally believe in, the slightly swarthy, all-loving, hardworking guy who realizes he’s going to have to spend yet another weekend not reading or playing golf or watching baseball, but trying to get Donohue to start acting like a good Christian, finally, and not a bully.
Enough already. Stop it. If you want an open society, if you want an open debate, if you REALLY want art and commerce to mix, quit putting commerce before the art. Without the art, there will be no commerce. In a world ruled by the likes of Donohue, you’ll be in a world of repetition and blandness and boredom. If you value art, you must embrace conflict. If you worship beauty, you must be open to ugliness and offence. If you consider yourself to be part of the art world, if you are lucky enough to make your living off the creativity of others, then you’ve forfeited your right to be a fucking coward. Stand the fuck up. Life doesn’t guarantee your business plan will pay off. If you choose this path, if you think you want to cash in on the insights and provocations of others, then you have to hang in there and stand by them when the cowardly and weak and self-righteous lash out. Quit handing small little men, the Caiaphases of our time, such easy victories.
For those of the weak kneed religious bent, you have NO right to demand that the world won’t offend you. The mere fact that you’ve retreated completely into fantasy and wishful thinking precludes you from demanding that the world ease the way for you to travel through it. If you’re like Donohue, and the Cardinals and Popes and putative Saints who travel with him , you’ve already made it painfully clear that actually inhabiting the REAL world is just too damned much to expect of you. Thin-skinned, weak of mind, weak of faith ... a mere hot breeze or un-restrained cock is just too much for your delicate constitution, and you should barricade yourself away from this filthy mortal veil forthwith. Cowardly, yes, but you have no place here, in this world of chocolate gods and virtual sacrifices and iconoclastic artists, singers, writers, sculptures, puppeteers and every and other creative mortal walking, crawling, screaming, whispering, drawingpaintingscribbling ... you need to retreat and wait for the big whatever-comes-next, because plainly you’re of much too fragile stuff to brave this crazy old world.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
HE Melts in Your Mouth
My Sweet Lord
He who is Most Chocolatey has everybody’s favorite uber-nutty-Catholic’s cilice in a twist:
The Easter season unveiling of a milk chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ, dubbed “My Sweet Lord” by its creator, left a sour taste Thursday in the mouths of a Catholic group infuriated by the anatomically correct confection.
“This is one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever,” said Bill Donohue, head of the watchdog Catholic League. “It’s not just the ugliness of the portrayal, but the timing _ to choose Holy Week is astounding.”
The 6-foot sculpture by artist Cosimo Cavallaro was to debut Monday evening, the day after Palm Sunday and just four days before Roman Catholics mark the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. The final day of the exhibit at the Lab Gallery inside midtown Manhattan’s Roger Smith Hotel was planned for Easter Sunday.
“The fact that they chose Holy Week shows this is calculated, and the timing is deliberate,” said Donohue, whose group represents 350,000 Catholics nationwide.
He called for an economic boycott of the hotel, which he described as “already morally bankrupt."
Yes, you read that right ... it’s not the mounting number of poor in the world, nor the ongoing bloodshed in the many wars and criminal occupations around the world, or people suffering in prisons under torture and deprivation ... one of the “worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever” is a big sweet suggestion of Deophagy.
To steal Tom’s coinage, why should the likes of Donohue get to tell YOU that it’s not okay to enjoy an Immaculate Confection? Why are people so willing to lets scolds and bullies tell them who to worship, how to worship, IF to worship? So many people allow bullies like Donohue to tell them where to go, and why, and who to vote for, and where to find beauty or inspiration or a sense of the Divine ... who is he to limit the conversation and experiences people have of the mysteries of life? Instead of allowing the artist’s work to inspire people to look at the imagery of divinity in a new way, to explore, as Joan Walsh suggests at Salon:
OK, I clicked. Admittedly, I’m not getting the full effect of artist Cosimo Cavallaro’s work “My Sweet Lord” looking at a photo on the Web. But somehow, it wasn’t nearly as disturbing as billed. It’s not gory or sadomasochistic or pornographic, as Donohue’s headline suggested. Chances are Jesus was naked when he was crucified, although most Catholic iconography shows him draped with cloth. The real issue seems to be depicting a chocolate Jesus, which to me slyly plays on the near-certainty that Jesus was more chocolate-colored than the vanilla man depicted in Western church art, as well as the commercialization of Easter, in which most Christians eat yummy chocolate eggs and bunnies rather than ponder the troubling mysteries of Christ’s life and death.
Ah, but no troubling mysteries for Big Bill Donohue! No suggesting Catholics and other Christians have commercialized Easter! No suggesting that Jesus was chocolate-colored! There are anti-Catholic bigots to fight, or better yet, to invent. Cavallaro’s “My Sweet Lord” struck me as, well, sweet. It definitely didn’t scream “NAKED JESUS--GENITALS EXPOSED--CRUCIFIED.” But then, like so much art, it’s a bit of a Rorschach test, and Donohue’s horror at the big chocolate Jesus gives us much more disturbing insight into his character than into Cosimo Cavallaro’s.
Donohue insists that you’re an anti-Catholic bigot if you don’t present his God the way he likes, when he likes, how he likes. I wonder if the Deity, when he finally talked His son into getting hung off a man-made tree, knew that such humorless, cold, nasty excuses for upright chimps would spend so much time and effort attacking how other chimps approach life’s Mysteries? I mean, it’s not like His Son didn’t TELL people to eat Him in His memory ... why does it have to be some tasteless unleavened wafer moistened with grape juice? After all, if the religous folks are right, didn’t the Father make the cocao bean too in their elaborate little fairy tale?
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
A Citizen's Job
Here’s Howard Zinn:
That was suggested in a recent message from MoveOn, which polled its members on the Democrat proposal, saying that progressives in Congress, “like many of us, don’t think the bill goes far enough, but see it as the first concrete step to ending the war.”
Ironically, and shockingly, the same bill appropriates $124 billion in more funds to carry the war. It’s as if, before the Civil War, abolitionists agreed to postpone the emancipation of the slaves for a year, or two years, or five years, and coupled this with an appropriation of funds to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act.
When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them.
We who protest the war are not politicians. We are citizens. Whatever politicians may do, let them first feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not for what is winnable, in a shamefully timorous Congress.
Despite what the slavish Big Box Blahgs say, despite what the horse-race-flogging tee-vee pundits say, citizens AREN’T political consultants. They AREN’T political advisors. They SHOULDN’T approach politics the way they follow sports, counting box scores and campaign fundraising numbers and gleefully concentrating on the ins-and-outs of political gamesmanship.
Citizens live their lives. They try to provide for their families, to make a good life for their children. They try to be good neighbors, to find a way to co-exist with others. GOOD citizens, when confronted by a wrong, raise their voices however they can, however they want. They should heckle, they should stop traffic if they feel they must. What they shouldn’t do is calculate and equivicate and dance to the self-serving tune of the politicians and their big money donors. Political parties are NOT the only avenue for political action. Parties often block real politics, obstruct real change:
"I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.” --Thomas Jefferson to Francis Hopkinson, 1789.
STOP playing those games. If the two parties offer you nothing, then offer them no vote, no support, no money. Don’t let them bully you. Don’t let them chide you or threaten you or promise you “protection” from the other, more “evil” party. Your job, as a citizen, is to demand that they do THEIR jobs, as YOU define it. Quit compromising at the beginning of the process. It gets you nowhere but exploited, ignored and ripped off:
I am reminded of the situation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, when the black delegation from Mississippi asked to be seated, to represent the 40 percent black population of that state. They were offered a “compromise” - two nonvoting seats. “This is the best we can get,” some black leaders said. The Mississippians, led by Fannie Lou Hamer and Bob Moses, turned it down, and thus held on to their fighting spirit, which later brought them what they had asked for. That mantra - “the best we can get” - is a recipe for corruption.
“Active Citizen/Passive Citizen"
Many revolutionaries hated this difference, essentially dividing those with property from those without.
The propertied (active) were the only ones who could participate in the political process.
Don’t let them keep you a peasant. You’re a citizen, with a responsibility to stand for what you believe.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Death for Profit
On this day, ninety-six years ago, one hundred forty six people died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Those who died were primarily immigrants, mostly Italian or Central European, the “wetbacks” of their time. “Welcomed” here to slave for someone else’s fortune, providing labor for factories to turn out goods for those already here. The same factories that consumed the cotton produced first by slaves, then tenant farmers, from the South. The people who died in that fire were links in a long chain of exploitation.
The only thing that made their deaths worthy of notice was the sheer, horrible number of them. The crumpled, broken bodies crushed on the street below after desparate leaps from the flames above, some of them crashing with such violence that they broke through the sidewalks into storage cellars below. Despite the work of unionists and others at the time, it was just another sweatshop among many, a fact of life:
The Triangle Waist Company was in many ways a typical sweated factory in the heart of Manhattan, at 23-29 Washington Place, at the northern corner of Washington Square East. Low wages, excessively long hours, and unsanitary and dangerous working conditions were the hallmarks of sweatshops.
That same factory had been a center of protest for better conditions, the workers there being the first to walk out in the The Uprising of the Twenty Thousands. Despite this and other labor actions in 1909 and 1910, unsafe conditions continued. When fire broke out, the approximately five hundred workers inside, mostly female, some as young as fifteen, were confronted by doors locked to keep them working. Fire escapes collapsed under the weight of too many panicked feet running down them at the same time.
The resulting outcry resulted in strengthened unions, eventually in better workplace safety rules. It took years. Sadly, sweatshops just went a little more underground, and many greedy owners started to use immigrants that they felt most Americans wouldn’t as easily identify with: Asians, Hispanics and others.
The pattern repeats, over and over again, our consumer culture driven by greed, cheap goods for the masses and disposable numbers of indentured servants, their chains provided by immigration laws, language barriers, racism and resentment. Their dying goes on, often in the ungodly heat of the Sonoran Desert.
A controversial new initiative by a Tucson doctor will actually predict, like a weather report, the likelihood of a death among immigrants illegally crossing the border from Mexico when the desert heat hits this spring.
The season of triple-digit heat will be arriving soon, and Dr. Samuel Keim is ready for it, planning to roll out what state officials call a first-of-its-kind prognosticating report stating which days will have “a probability of death” for migrants crossing remote, arid Pima County lands.
“By May, we will have an extreme-heat warning based upon increasing probabilities that deaths will occur among border crossers,” Keim said.
“From four consecutive years of data, we have found that as the temperature on a given day reaches 104, the probability of death among the border crossers in the county reaches 50 percent.”
Border deaths — and efforts to alleviate them, such as installing water stations — are fiercely debated in a state that has become the nation’s busiest area for smuggling illegal entrants. Even getting an accurate toll is contentious; a federal audit recently noted that the U.S. Border Patrol could be undercounting border deaths, which doubled during 10 years to 472 in 2005, mostly in Arizona.
Activists are working hard to combat the racists and jingoists who seek to hunt those crossing burning sands, like those before them crossed oceans, to try and provide for their families. They are in such need that they brave the exploitation, risk the round-ups and cruel incarceration to send money back home to impoverished families. Like the immigrants then, most Americans ignore their plight, paying attention only when a number die, but in the current climate, little changes, other than perhaps more support to lock up more immigrants, to drive them deeper underground, into the arms of even more fierce exploitation.
Ninety-six years ago today a tragic number of hardworking immigrants died behind locked door, to feed greed and consumption, but the dying goes on, and the heat comes in other ways, and far too many of us look away from the suffering. The bosses, the owners of the factories and farms and restaurants and warehouses count upon the resentment and racism of working Americans to keep them frightened, to keep la Migra well armed, to fund the privatized prisons (more profit in the train of exploitation). Exploitation and fear feed more exploitation and fear, and the dying goes on. Dying for greed.
Friday, March 23, 2007
fri rdm 10 - "this is the NEW America" edition
The little peace in me
Will die [This is not a miracle]
For this is not America
THIS is the America eagerly pursued and created by our ruling elites, actively pursued by the theofascist Republicans and enabled by the Vichy-like Donklephants. THIS is the Kafkaesque state we live in now, even if it hasn’t touched you directly, it’s there, a hungry shadow waiting to engulf the unsuspecting who fall within it’s boundaries, often without reason, often for arbitrary design:
Three years ago, I received a national security letter (NSL) in my capacity as the president of a small Internet access and consulting business. The letter ordered me to provide sensitive information about one of my clients. There was no indication that a judge had reviewed or approved the letter, and it turned out that none had. The letter came with a gag provision that prohibited me from telling anyone, including my client, that the FBI was seeking this information. Based on the context of the demand—a context that the FBI still won’t let me discuss publicly—I suspected that the FBI was abusing its power and that the letter sought information to which the FBI was not entitled.
When you blindly vote for hacks and warmongers and protection racketeers in expensive hand-tailored suits who promise to “protect” you, THIS is what you get:
Living under the gag order has been stressful and surreal. Under the threat of criminal prosecution, I must hide all aspects of my involvement in the case—including the mere fact that I received an NSL—from my colleagues, my family and my friends. When I meet with my attorneys I cannot tell my girlfriend where I am going or where I have been. I hide any papers related to the case in a place where she will not look. When clients and friends ask me whether I am the one challenging the constitutionality of the NSL statute, I have no choice but to look them in the eye and lie.
I resent being conscripted as a secret informer for the government and being made to mislead those who are close to me, especially because I have doubts about the legitimacy of the underlying investigation.
THIS is what it’s like to live under a police state. Yes, the bars and locks of that state may only be apparent to souls like the anonymous author of this piece, but it’s little different than what the Stasi demanded of East Germans even after the Berlin Wall had come down. The iron glove, coming down on your life in the guise of a “legal” document:
Rather than turn over the information, I contacted lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, and in April 2004 I filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the NSL power. I never released the information the FBI sought, and last November the FBI decided that it no longer needs the information anyway. But the FBI still hasn’t abandoned the gag order that prevents me from disclosing my experience and concerns with the law or the national security letter that was served on my company. In fact, the government will return to court in the next few weeks to defend the gag orders that are imposed on recipients of these letters.
You MUST spy for the government, and even if you don’t, even if you do find recourse in the courts, you must lie about being conscripted. THIS is the NEW America, the Land of the Formerly Free and Home of the Seldom Brave.
A wind that blew so young
For this could be the biggest sky
And I could have the faintest idea
THIS is not America, but a New America, a dark America, where the sky is pinched by unseen clouds and your ideas are subject to government gag orders, at the whim of an iron legal document.
Little comfort, but todays tunes:
- "Like Dreamers Do” - The Radiators
- "Little Wing” - Stevie Ray Vaughan
- "The Show Must Go On” - Queen
- "Big Exit” - P J Harvey
- “Nazca" - Tuxedomoon
- "Sing Me to Sleep” - Allison Moorer
- “Laura" - Scissor Sisters
- "Born Under a Bad Sign” - Albert King
- "Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues” - Buddy Guy
- "Running Up That Hill” - Kate Bush
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Mats Hjelm - 1997 - Installation vidéo
I’m checking them out
I got it figured out
I got it figured out
There’s good points and bad points
Find a city
Find myself a city to live in.
- Talking Heads
Walberg said the returning troops he has talked with “indicate to me that 80 to 85 percent, in a conservative fashion, of (Iraq) is reasonably under control, at least as well as Detroit or Chicago or any of our other big cities. That’s an encouraging sign.’’
Program host Jack Ebling remarked, “I’ve never heard Iraq compared to Detroit before.’’
Walberg responded: "Well, in fact, in many places it’s as safe and cared for as Detroit or Harvey, Illinois, or some other places that have trouble with armed violence that takes place on occasion.’’
Who knows more about how dangerous American cities are, what they are like, than soldiers who often come from OUTSIDE American cities? They learn from TV and movies of course, the endless images of out-of-control cityfolk gunning each other down, thieving and raping each other. Those things, of course, NEVER happen in small towns or suburbs.
I do think that he’s right, in a sense ... Detroit and Chicago, as well as many other cities (think poor drowned NOLA) DO have some things in common with Iraq.
They have in common a rapacious group of people who hate and misunderstand them, but who are only too willing to suck them dry to subsidize their sprawling testaments to human folly. Whites, after being forced by court decree and a reluctant Democratic Party to actually SHARE the freedoms of this country, to share the schools and the vote, hollowed out the cities here after several years of racist hatemongering, red-lining and a media that increasingly focused on crimeporn. Like the oil we want to suck out of the sands of Mesopotamia, suburban whites suck up government subsidies for their roads, for their gas to fuel their cars, to keep more for themselves and less for those hated urban and minority areas.
Am I pushing this comparison too much?
Okay, how about the use of torture by city police forces, like the long-running, disgusting history of abuse and inhumanity in Chicago? If you’re poor or minority, you have to worry about police beating or shooting you down in the street.
Maybe I’m STILL going too far with this comparison? After all, our cities aren’t REALLY war zones ... that’s just hype that the media uses to sell boner pills, and suburban and exurban politicians use to ramp up fear and garner votes. Having lived in many cities for most of my life, I’ve found them to be no more frightening than my times out in the hinterlands (one of the most dangerous things that ever happened to me was in a suburb in Colorado riding my bike, when a pickup full of rednecks threw a beer bottle at my head as they drove by screaming “go back East, hippie"). These people like the bonehead from Michigan, believe the distortions and myths about city life, and they love to support the increasing militarization of police in this country, and the expanding police state.
Try to protest any of this, or the continuing crime in the Middle East, and you risk the police turning and rioting on YOU. Out of control police violence aimed at civilians, spying and surveilance and you might find yourself just another haji. Here on YOUR streets, with people like Rep. Walberg cheering the uniformed thugs on.
There is, of course, no real comparison between our cities and Iraq, but it is telling that so many on the right make that mental connection. While trying to demonstrate that their criminal war for oil isn’t all THAT bad, they reveal once again that many of them look at our cities as war zones. More dangerous, though, they support government policies that TREAT them like war zones.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
LSF Review: Maxed Out
The new documentary Maxed Out has arrived in New York and is on its way to a theater near you soon. It’s a real eye-opener on the state of American personal debt and the folks who facilitate it. The documentary tells the story from many different perspectives, from the people mired in debt to the bill collectors who harrass them to greiving family members of those who felt no other way out than suicide. Obviously this film packs quite a punch as the subject matter hits everyone where they live.
Here is something from the website:
When Hurricane Katrina ravaged America’s Gulf Coast, it laid bare an uncomfortable reality—America is not only far from the world’s wealthiest nation; it is crumbling beneath a staggering burden of individual and government debt. Maxed Out takes us on a journey deep inside the American debt-style, where everything seems okay as long as the minimum monthly payment arrives on time.
One of the many upsetting aspects of this film is watching the credit card companies in collusion with American politicians. MBNA which is Bush’s 2nd largest campaign contributor hires Louis Freeh to “testify” in front of Congress. The footage will make your blood boil. I highly recommend the film, check the website to see where the film will be playing and also remember to put it on your Netflix queue.
You can also see the trailer for Maxed Out HERE.
Monday, March 19, 2007
The Vivisection of a Nation
We’ve got five years, what a surprise
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
We’ve got five years, that’s all we’ve got - David Bowie
We enter the fifth year of this ongoing crime in Iraq, the fifth year of this terrible war. Only it’s only really the fifth year of A war, yet it’s just another year in a long list of American aggressions ... it’s just the fifth year of this latest iteration, another terrible clone, another rampaging golum, just another year in IraqAfghanistanCentralEuropePanamaNicaraguaGuatamala and on and on and on ... an endless series of corpses we’ve cut open and exploited and scattered in our wake. Just another war zone in another VietnamLaosCambodiaEuropeSouthPacificPhilippines, another MexicoCubaSandCreekWoundedKnee ... so many lies, so many needless lashing outs.
So, in this, this fifth year of many years, a fifth year where the Republican Party dresses in the skins and scalps of our victims, and the Democratic Party carries around bloody corpses on banners in the hopes of using them as fetishes to get elected again, the waste and death and evil goes on.
At the end of this fifth year, this another of many years, what will be left of us, of the angels of our better nature, as the human sacrifices sully our honor and higher natures more and more deeply? Will anybody forgive us a year from now, at the end of this fifth year of just another of many other bloody years? Will we, can we, SHOULD we forgive ourselves?
Your mother, your children.
What are you dying for ?
Its not my reality.
Not even a cold war,
Dont say it in russian,
Dont say it in german.
Say it in broken english,
Say it in broken english.
- Marianne Faithful
Dead Iraqis, dead Afghanis ... dead Americans and Brits and so many others. Good, bad, both ... who can tell? So many layers of so many lies, so many bodies and so much blood. Fifth year on top of so many other years, so many lies told to voters, told to reporters, told to soldiers and their parents and wives and children and friends and officers and people crossing the street to avoid disquieting stumps and burn scars. We wail and cry about the incompetence of yet another generation of vets untreated, unprotected ... another country with shattered institutions and shattered lives ... but none of it is new, none of it is any different than any other war ... the same war, over and over, profit and exploitation and fountains of blood and waves of viscera. All of this to line the pockets of a heartless, greedy few, to advance the careers of politicians of both parties ... the only TWO parties we’re told we’re allowed ... and ours is not to question why, or to oppose, or to try to stop. This is as it should be, must be, this fifth year of so many other years.
The other side
Don’t want to die
Any more than we do
What I’m trying to say,
Is don’t they pray
To the same God that we do?
Tell me, how does God choose?
Whose prayers does he refuse?
Who turns the wheel?
And who throws the dice
On the day after tomorrow?
- Tom Waits
Will it take another Bonus Army encampment on the Capitol Mall to make this stop, before the end of this fifth year, yet another year of so many years? Will we need to see our own militarized police or a theofascist mercenary army gunning down Americans in the street before we shake ourselves awake from this nightmare, this just-another-nightmare in an endless long dark moonless night of nightmares?
Would that matter, if and when it happens, or is this who we are, in this fifth year of so many years? It’s just a photocopy of other grainy horrors, just another naked girl burned by napalm, just another boy with his limbs blown off, just another mother holding a flag folded around a venal profit motive, just another gunner hosed out of a turret ... it’s just another year in so many years, just more words spilled on a digital page, just another Pulitzer Prize, just another five-year contract, just another child driven to despair on top of so many children, children of every hue and color and faith and hope and shattered dream, here in this fifth year of just another bloody year.
So much blood ... when will we have the courage, the FAITH in each other, to finally say ... no more years, no fifth year or sixth year or decade or century or millenium ... when will we, CAN WE, turn our back on this most dark and twisted part of humanity that we fall to when we know that we could be so much better?
Here, in this fifth year, just another year in so many other terrible years, will we finally say STOP?
Friday, March 16, 2007
fri rdm 10 - "due process" edition
John Wayne Gacy was accused of torturing, sodomizing, and assassinating
33 males between the ages of 9 and 20 years. In 1980, a jury resolved his case.
He had due process of law. Why does a Guantánamo prisoner not?
Because Gacy’s an middle-American white male, that’s why.
- "Man Next Door” - Massive Attack
- "Rocky Mountain Way” - Joe Walsh
- "Day Dream” - Smashing Pumpkins
- "The Dreamers” - David Bowie
- "Heavenly Day” - Patty Griffin
- "Under Preassure” - Queen & David Bowie
- "Life is a Minestrone” - 10cc
- "Perfect Sense, Part II” - Roger Waters
- “Eruption" - Van Halen
- "Who Needs You” - Queen
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Here DONKey, DONKey, DONKey, Rollover!! GOOD!! Now, PLAY DEAD!
Democratic leaders are stripping from a military spending bill for the war in Iraq a requirement that President Bush gain approval from Congress before moving against Iran.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other leaders agreed to remove the requirement concerning Iran after conservative Democrats as well as other lawmakers worried about its possible impact on Israel, officials said Monday.
Notice that NOWHERE in those considerations appear any concerns about what is good for the United States of America, what is good for the American people, what is good for the military that is surrounded by what will be a VERY angry population of Shi’a should the US/Israel bomb Iran. Nope, the only things they value is the sharp whistle of the Israeli right and their leash, AIPAC. Well, that, and keeping the seats these non-practicing politicians hold onto so hard even though they do everything they can to do nothing with them.
Pelosi issued a written statement that said the vice president’s remarks prove that “the administration’s answer to continuing violence in Iraq is more troops and more treasure from the American people.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement that America was less safe today because of the war. The president “must change course, and it’s time for the Senate to demand he do it,” he added.
They’ll DEMAND? How? They won’t cut funding, they won’t rein in the ability for Bush to launch new aggressions ... sorry Harry, but hiking up your satin Everlasts and snarling for the cameras doesn’t count as “demanding’. I know you boxers have great fun sitting in front of a camera and talking smack against your opponent, but we can all see that you haven’t laced up your gloves, let alone put in your mouthpiece. Hell, we haven’t seen you so much as brush up against a speedbag in YEARS. No, you’re no fighter, you’re more like a trained dog. You may snarl and bark, but you quickly bare your throat at the merest hint of a raised hand.
No, you’re not willing to do anything more than give the appearance of fighting, of doing your jobs, while chasing around bright, shiny distractions, nothing but empty simulacrums of living, breathing fighters. No, you’re frauds, and you react with whiny complaints or self-righteous, angry dismissals when your constituents demand that you represent them. No, we all know who you DO listen to, who you are afraid of, who you CRINGE before:
In his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Cheney chided lawmakers who are pressing for tougher action on Iran to oppose the president on the Iraq war.
“It is simply not consistent for anyone to demand aggressive action against the menace posed by the Iranian regime while at the same time acquiescing in a retreat from Iraq that would leave our worst enemies dramatically emboldened and Israel’s best friend, the United States, dangerously weakened,” Cheney said.
We can almost see the stain spreading across the front of those pretty satin shorts Harry, with those nice casino sponser’s patches turning yellow as the puddle forms around your shoes.
What non-answers will you give if the bombs fly, if the NUKES drop? What will you hacks and cowards say when pictures of Iranian women and men and children appear in the world media, with their skin burned away, their hair gone, their flesh sloughing off as they die suffering? Will you shake your heads sadly, will you complain that you “didn’t know” or claim that you would have bombed it better as the world completely turns their back on us? What will you say as Israel is being “impacted” by a Middle East and Southwest Asia that have erupted in righteous rage?
The Iran-related proposal stemmed from a desire to make sure Bush did not launch an attack without going to Congress for approval, but drew opposition from numerous members of the rank and file in a series of closed-door sessions last week.
Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said in an interview that there is widespread fear in Israel about Iran, which is believed to be seeking nuclear weapons and has expressed unremitting hostility about the Jewish state.
“It would take away perhaps the most important negotiating tool that the U.S. has when it comes to Iran,” she said of the now-abandoned provision.
"I didn’t think it was a very wise idea to take things off the table if you’re trying to get people to modify their behavior and normalize it in a civilized way," said Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y.
Get that, read that endorsement of death and flame in their braying? We’re going to "modify their behavior and normalize it in a civilized way", that “civilized way” being the threat of bombers and a couple of carrier groups in the Persian Gulf threatening them with a repeat of “shock and awe”, maybe this time with the “awe” of nuclear fire. Nothing says “civilized” like threatening life and limb. It worked really well in the American West ... well, for the conquering warmongerers, anyway.
The Iranian programs are mostly in accordance with international nuclear agreements that THEY ACTUALLY SIGNED, a bit of “modified and normalized behavior” that the Israelis have consistently refused to do.
We shouldn’t be surprised, or even bother to be disappointed. You Vichy cowards have done nothing for years. Even when you had the White House all you could bring yourselves to do was expand our empire and take away welfare from hungry families. You won’t stop this criminal war, or take measures to cut funding for it, or stop the next war, or stop the erosion of our civil liberties. Maybe you all think you can run out the clock and get the newly expanded Executive’s powers for YOUR party. Yes, your party, not OUR party. Your party, the Defense Industry’s party, Wall Street’s party, AIPAC’s party, Big Oil’s party ... you’ll allow more and more Americans to sink into poverty, go without healthcare. You’ll do nothing, no impeachment hearings, not even for Bush’s pet lawyer ... no you’ll whine that he should resign and do nothing.
If the Donks were dogs, they’d be little puppies of some toy breed, with one of those nippy barks, sinking their tiny little teeth into your shins. That’s all they are, nothing more. They let Bush destroy Iraq, they let Bush destroy our Constitution, they let Bush destroy numerous federal agencies, they let Bush destroy one of our oldest, most unique cities, and they will let him start another war if he wants to. They will do nothing more than bark in a pitch so high that most of us can’t hear them.
Monday, March 12, 2007
How Our Neighbors See Us (Updated)
This is the face of America. Not just the protester reinacting our illegal acts of torture, our black-hole “secret” gulags ... no, not just him. America’s face is on green bills, stacks of money poured in not to help the poor, not to foster good will ... no, it’s poured into brutal police forces to fight the “drug war”, to build brutal prisons and maintain armies with long histories of abuse. America’s hard face is that wall of riot shields paid for with Yankee dollars.
This is the face of America, this is how our neighbors see us. Is this how you want your children, your children’s children, to be seen?
America’s empire must be abandoned, unless this is the country we want to be. Hated as the British were once hated, hated as the Soviets were once hated, hated as so many empires have been hated, and eventually fought, throughout human history.
George W. Bush: bullying, arrogant, uncouth, militaristic George W. Bush, HE is the face of America. If that isn’t the way you want people to see your country, he MUST be impeached, he must be resisted. If the cowardly Democrats continue to insist that they can’t do their duty, by removing this tyrant or stopping his criminal war, if they continue to dismiss their constituents with arrogant, withering contempt, then they too must be abandoned.
This is the face of America. Do we have the courage to change it?
Adding this update Monday evening, as we begin to see that same face, hidden behind helmet and riot shield, turned toward our own fellow citizens:
Later in the evening one of the activists was arrested for trying to enter the protest zone with a backpack full of food and medical supplies. Police said Tom McCarthy of Tacoma had violated a police ban on backpacks in the area, and they confiscated his backpack. A large crowd gathered, challenging the arrest just before 11:37 pm. Police continue to refuse backpacks inside the designated “protest zone” even after repeated admonitions from at least two attorneys citing Ninth Circuit legal precedent determining that such bans violate Fourth Amendment privacy rights.
According to Mark Jensenof Pierce United for Peace and Justice, “Around midnight, the crowd was still growing. As police donned gas masks and distributed ammunition for crowd control, an additional unit of about 70 riot police made up of personnel from various nearby police departments arrived by bus. Massing near a fence on 11th Ave around 1:00 am, a few young people tested its strength, causing it to swing wildly. Police fired what one person believed to be pepper spray, briefly scattering the crowd while police moved quickly to reinforce the fence.”
Demonstrators then began walking away from the fence and south on Thorne Ave. Mike Pinson of Tacoma reports that “We went on a long march back around to another access point. There were at least 250 people chanting the entire time while a police car in reverse and one moving forward paced the head of the pack as we advanced.”
When demonstrators reached the other access point following a one mile walk, they were met with a large police presence. The police were in full riot gear, including gas masks.
Some of the demonstrators crossed a yellow tape-line police set up, sat down and began chanting and singing songs. According to Phan Nguyen, a member of Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, “At this point riot police responded by launching multiple volleys of tear gas and rapid firing rubber bullets into the crowd.”
Independent media videographers were present, and films of the event have already been posted on http://www.youtube.com. Local television stations that have been covering the Port of Tacoma demonstrations were not present Friday night.
As the right and the Military Industrial Complex comes under increasing pressure, as the Democrats continue to refuse to offer a political way out of this horror, we are heading inexorably toward blood in the streets.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Lock 'Em Up, Cut 'Em Up, RAWHIDE!
Human Organs, by Dimitry Tsykalov, mixed media, 2003
Here in America, a “Christian” land ... you know, the faith that preaches about forgiveness and love ... we have one of the most brutal and large, highly populated prison systems on the planet. We cram them in, provide minimal security, maybe use them to pick vegetables after we tire of exploiting migrant workers and lock THEM up. Hell, maybe even using convicted sex offenders to pick fruit (madman: and who, I ask, knows more about picking it when it’s ripe? Shame on me!). While you’re there, perhaps locked away after getting caught with a little weed or after some petty burglary, perhaps you will face a brutal rape from other inmates, left to police themselves through gang turf wars and trading in contraband and human misery. (Andrew Vachss maintains a resource page for those who’ve suffered from one of these assaults here at The Zero as part of his work advocating for juvenile justice.) After all of that, perhaps you’ll be willing to give into state-sponsored extortion and “donate" an organ:
Inmates in South Carolina could soon find that a kidney is worth 180 days.
Lawmakers are considering legislation that would let prisoners donate organs or bone marrow in exchange for time off their sentences.
A state Senate panel on Thursday endorsed creating an organ-and-tissue donation program for inmates. But legislators postponed debate on a measure to reduce the sentences of participating prisoners, citing concern that federal law may not allow it.
“I think it’s imperative that we go all out and see what we can do,” said the bills’ chief sponsor, Democratic Sen. Ralph Anderson. “I would like to see us get enough donors that people are no longer dying.”
The proposal approved by the Senate Corrections and Penology Subcommittee would set up a volunteer donor program in prisons to teach inmates about the need for donors. But lawmakers want legal advice before acting on a bill that would shave up to 180 days off a prison sentence for inmates who donate.
South Carolina advocates for organ donations said the incentive policy would be the first of its kind in the nation.
Federal law makes it illegal to give organ donors “valuable consideration.” Lawmakers want to know whether the term could apply to time off of prison sentences.
“We want to make this work, we really do,” said Republican Sen. John Hawkins. "But I want to make sure no one goes to jail for good intentions." (madman: WHA?!?! ... do you have to be a fucking delusional GHOUL to be a member of the Republican Party?!?!)
Mary Jo Cagle, chief medical officer of Bon Secours St. Francis Health System in Greenville, urged senators to find an allowable incentive.
"We have a huge need for organs and bone marrow," Cagle said. (madman: then she smacked her lips and ran her tongue along her dripping canines.)
Yup, that’s a DOCTOR joining in on the chorus. Hell, they help the military and CIA torture, so why not set up organ factories?
It’s a brave, brave new world. If you’re not poor and powerless, that is. Why is this country making real every horror of every dystopic novel I’ve read?
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Fortification and Empire
Empires are expensive to expand and expensive to maintain. They require the spending of piles of treasure and fountains of blood, not just the blood of those being absorbed, but also the blood of soldier and citizen. Over time, this fact will cause not only resentment from the conquered, but also unrest and dissent from within. Those who profit from empire ... the wealthy, the merchant classes (in our time the corporations), the mainstream clergy, the politicians ... will need to take more and more precautions to protect themselves. They will set up fortifications and enforcement mechanisms to protect themselves, wrapping them in promises that these moves are for everyone’s security. This has been going on in this country for decades ... the gated communities, private security forces, expanding corporate campuses ... so it’s funny that the New York Times seems to think this is one more thing about our lives that changed since 9/11:
Things didn’t turn out that way. After 9/11, a craving for the solidity of walls reasserted itself. And the wars on terror, and fractious peaces, enforced it. The Green Zone in Baghdad, Jerusalem’s separation barrier, the concrete bollards that line corporate headquarters on Park Avenue — all are emblems of an unintended new mentality.
Four years after the American invasion of Iraq, this state of siege is beginning to look more and more like a permanent reality, exhibited in an architectural style we might refer to as 21st-century medievalism.
Oh, those long sweeping steps, with indirect lines to doorways, those bollards and massive planters and security cameras, those are NEW? A fortress is a fortress, even if it is masquerading as an office building or government installation. This trend is nothing new.
The most chilling example of the new medievalism is New York’s Freedom Tower, which was once touted as a symbol of enlightenment. Designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, it rests on a 20-story, windowless fortified concrete base decorated in prismatic glass panels in a grotesque attempt to disguise its underlying paranoia. And the brooding, obelisk-like form above is more of an expression of American hubris than of freedom.
But even the most thoughtful solutions, like the gracefully curved steel tubes that defend the plaza of Thom Mayne’s Caltrans District 7 headquarters building in Los Angeles or the faceted bronze bollards on Wall Street, suggest the fragile balance today’s architects are struggling to reach between assuring the freedom of movement that is vital to a functioning democracy and bolstering security.
To some, compromise may be preferable to surrounding our cities with barbed wire and sandbags. The notion that we can design our way out of these problems should give us pause, however. Our streets may be prettier, but the prettiness is camouflage for the budding reality of a society ruled by fear.
That’s the Freedom Tower above, next to a castle built to protect the eleventh-century Bishop of Durham. The thing they have in common isn’t their relationship to the hoi polloi dwarfed by their imposing walls, but the fact that their primary reason to exist is to protect power and wealth. Power and wealth that maintain their power and rule by fear ... that is where we are, but the fear isn’t just of outside attackers, the fear is of the unwashed, unappreciated and potentially dangerous majority. No matter what mechanisms and walls they erect to protect “us”, there will always be a more powerful, more heavily defended redoubt to which that privileged few can retreat, firing down on the desperate mobs below.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Liberty's True Face
What exactly is the face that we offer the world, this “free” country? What darkness has so infected us, what damnation’s flame burns within us to act toward each other and toward the rest of the world with such a paucity of compassion? Take this statement by a former Speaker of the House, a rumored Presidential candidate:
How can you have the mess we have in New Orleans, and not have had deep investigations of the federal government, the state government, the city government, and the failure of citizenship in the Ninth Ward, where 22,000 people were so uneducated and so unprepared, they literally couldn’t get out of the way of a hurricane.
No, it wasn’t decades of grinding poverty, of racism, of disinvestment in public works, of inequitable application of the rule of law ... no, it was the victims’ fault. How dare they leave their bloated corpses for the rest of us to clean up? Sadly, Gingrich seems to represent the way far too many Americans think. Is this the face of Liberty?
Perhaps they should be punished, locked up, these lazy failures at good citizenship. We might need them to pick our fruit and vegetables, since we’re busy trying to send the desparate migrant workers home to the countries our corporations are bleeding dry, trying to replace the poor indentured slaves who replaced the founding slaves:
Tough laws passed last year against illegal immigration have created a need for farmworkers.
Denver - Ever since passing what its Legislature promoted as the nation’s toughest laws against illegal immigration last summer, Colorado has struggled with a labor shortage as migrants fled the state. This week, officials announced a novel solution: Use convicts as farmworkers.
The Department of Corrections hopes to launch a pilot program this month - thought to be the first of its kind - that would contract with more than a dozen farms to provide inmates who will pick melons, onions and peppers.
Crops were left to spoil in the fields after the passage of legislation that required state identification to get government services and allowed police to check suspects’ immigration status.
“The reason this [program] started is to make sure the agricultural industry wouldn’t go out of business,” state Rep. Dorothy Butcher said. Her district includes Pueblo, near the farmland where the inmates will work.
Prisoners who are a low security risk may choose to work in the fields, earning 60 cents a day. They also are eligible for small bonuses.
The inmates will be watched by prison guards, who will be paid by the farms. The cost is subject to negotiation, but farmers say they expect to pay more for the inmate labor and its associated costs than for their traditional workers.
Advocates on both sides of the immigration debate said they were stunned by the proposal.
“If they can’t get slaves from Mexico, they want them from the jails,” said Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, which favors restrictions on immigration.
Ricardo Martinez of the Denver immigrant rights group Padres Unidos asked: “Are we going to pull in inmates to work in the service industry too? You won’t have enough inmates - unless you start importing them from Texas.”
Farmers said they weren’t happy with the solution, but their livelihoods are on the verge of collapse.
The South DID rise, and we’ll have the chain gangs to prove it. So much for those fine, grand words on Liberty’s pedestal ... we don’t want any huddled masses, and if you’re poor or made a mistake you have no right to ask to be allowed to breathe free.
WE do have plenty of prisons, many of them privately run businesses trafficking in human debasement in the pursuit of profit. These wonderful places are perfect reflections of our version of Liberty, a land where there can be no second chances, no fair hearings, even if you are an innocent child:
Even if you try to look past the eight-metre-high chain-link fence, beyond the scores of uniformed guards patrolling the perimeter and away from the cameras, metal detectors and lasers, there isn’t the slightest evidence of children inside the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center.
No one is playing outside; there are no sounds of laughter.
But inside the thick, whitewashed walls of this former maximum-security prison in the heart of Texas are about 170 children — including a nine-year-old Canadian boy named Kevin.
Call it international limbo. Detained by U.S. Customs officials after their flight to Toronto made an unscheduled stop on American soil nearly four weeks ago, Kevin and his Iranian parents, Majid and Masomeh, feel they are being held hostage not only by the physical parameters of Hutto, but by the politics of nationality.
“We can’t go home because I am Canadian but my parents are not,” Kevin said in a telephone interview with The Globe and Mail — no personal interviews have been granted.
Oh yes, we treasure the children, even though we leave so many without access to healthcare, without adequate shelter or education or enough food or even safe products to use to eat the food. We treasure children so much that we will enslave women to their wombs, denying them autonomy even though, as Dr. Bill Roy reminds us:
In the 1950s, all states had prohibitive abortion laws. Nearly all had been passed between 1850 and 1875. So-called (Anthony) Comstock laws were meant to stamp out forever obscenity, contraception and abortions, among other human transgressions.
Such laws were also supported by the then-insecure, fledgling medical profession that didn’t want non-medical personnel doing abortions. Nor did it want to do them itself. This attitude was to change among physicians in one fell swoop in the turbulent 1960s, and more conclusively by the Supreme Court on Jan. 22, 1973.
Before the 1860s, there were few state abortion laws. The courts pretty well followed old English common law that generally held abortion was a crime only after “quickening,” which is when the mother feels the baby moving; that occurs at four to five months gestation. [...]
So there you have it: for about a century, states had abortion laws adequate to keep physicians from doing abortions and losing their licenses but not adequate to discourage anyone else who wanted to get into the abortion business.
Where were all the pro-lifers then? What were your parents and grandparents thinking about? One could say, abortion was simply out of sight and out of mind. But subsequent experiences lead me to believe “out of mind” doesn’t quite ring true. [...]
So, it can be generally said, for years there were abortion laws, but no one enforced them. Because Kansans, among others, didn’t respect such laws and had their own occasional needs.
Good thing for Liberty that she doesn’t have a uterus under those faded copper robes.
image from HELLBLAZER: DAMNATION’S FLAME
thanks to moiv for Dr. Roy’s piece and several other links
Saturday, March 03, 2007
The Real Face of the Republican Party
Via UPI we get the quote:
right-wing author Ann Coulter, speaking to a conservative audience in Washington Friday, called former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., a “faggot.”
Coulter was a featured speaker at the 34th annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Following her prepared remarks, televised on C-Span, Coulter was asked to talk about Edwards.
“It turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I’m kind of at an impasse—I can’t really talk about Edwards,” she said.
This is the face of the Republican Party. Almost every major candidate for the GOP nomination was there and it took 24 hours before the Damage Control Patrol started to refute her disgusting comment. There was laughter in the audience and hoots of approval when she spoke so we know the real reception to her comment. Now they will try to distance themselves from who they really are.
Is anyone buying it? Of course not, but there will be exceptions, most likely the Beltway insiders who run the Sundy morning lobby-fests. Prepare to hurl your morning orange juice. It should be an adage that behind every Adolph Hitler sits an Eva Braun.