Saturday, May 1, 2004

Mission Accomplished! Oh, Wait, That Was Last Year!

How time flies. Last year at this time, the world was treated to the spectacle of Chimperor Junior Caligula prancing around in a flight suit, and then effectively declaring the end of major combat operations in Iraq.

That "mission accomplished" banner couldn't have been more wrong.

Never mind the "Loyalty Day" bollox...

Today's May Day.

If you're curious about the origins of May Day, read here. It may well be the most ancient religious festival worldwide - primarily a homage to fertility goddesses as well as the renewal of life that we see in the spring time.

In more modern times, May Day is significant as the original labor day, and is tied with the struggle by organized labor movements to get the 8-hour work day that many of us take for granted recognized.

So, regardless of whatever a certain buffoon in the White House would have us think, let's celebrate today as a day of renewal and solidarity.


Friday, April 30, 2004

The S&M War?

That's how pessimist at The Left Coaster characterizes it, noting that the pictures and footage are circulating everywhere. As I read the fall-out from the news of the abuse of Iraqi POWs, I have to ask myself, what were their abusers thinking? The images almost seem like are equivalent to something one would encounter at a hardcore porno website. All that's missing is some sex slave named "The Gimp" making an appearance while Sgt. Zed and the gang have their way with the prisoners. And apparently British soldiers had also been engaging in similar depravities.

Suffice it to say the Arab world is generally disgusted with the antics of these Americans, and one can wonder just what the average Iraqi, Palestinian, etc., must think. From one article,Prisoner abuse pictures enrage Arabs, a clip:

The pictures showed US soldiers smiling, posing, laughing or giving the thumbs-up sign as naked, male prisoners were stacked in a pyramid or positioned to simulate sex acts with one another.

“This will increase the hatred of America, not just in Iraq but abroad. It is not just a picture of torture, it is degrading. It touches on morals and religion,” said Saudi commentator Dawoud al-Shiryan.

“Abu Ghraib prison was used for torture in Saddam’s time. People will ask now: 'What’s the difference between Saddam and Bush?' Nothing!” Shiryan added.

Steve Gilliard also has a few things to say, in a post entitled, "A little humiliation and torture:

The thing about the pictures of Iraqi prisoners being humiliated is that it is the result of braindead management and racism.

...What is incindiary are the pictures of a woman humilating Arab men and dogs being sicced on them. These are gross violations of Arab culture and sure to assist the resistance in killing Americans. The idea of a woman humiliating men will go down poorly in the Arab world, as will the idea of dogs being used on prisoners.

...Now, why did these things happen? Why would American, and now British, soldiers, seek to abuse, humiliate and then record their acts?

Because that is what you do when you have a racist contempt for those in your charge.

Omer Bartov, the leading German historian of the Eastern Front, helped create an exhibit of Wehrmacht soldiers abusing Russians a few years ago. The exhibit broke the myth that all of the abuses on the Eastern Front were done by the SS. Of course, this exhibit went down like a lead balloon. People were angry at confronting the lies they had hidden behind for decades.

The guards and the interrogators had a deep racist contempt for the Iraqis. They felt no need to treat them decently. When you can call them hajis and sand niggers, how far is it to allowing an Iraqi translator to rape a teenage boy, who was arrested for whatever reason? The abuse didn't come from thin air, but a casual racism which the US command has tolerated from its soldiers.

...Now, to Arabs, these images are akin to seeing child porn. It couldn't be more offensive or humiliating if you tried. A woman displaying the gentials of Arab men? Dogs? If you wanted a recruiting poster to kill Americans, this would be it.

The soldiers who did this had no clue. Not about Arab culture, the laws of war or the Geneva Convention and the general running the prison was more interested in looking good than running an effective prison. That doesn't mean they aren't guilty of vile abuses, but their superiors shouldn't get a free pass.

God help any Americans captured by the resistance now.

God help them indeed. The racism inherent in the occupation of Iraq is there for all to see, and has been from the beginning. That racism takes many forms, from the relatively "kind and gentle" manifest destiny form of patronizing racism in which we Americans are bringing liberation and "democracy" to our little brown Islam brothers. Then we've seen the "kill all the sand niggers and take their oil" form, that has reared its ugly head ever increasingly as Chimperor Junior Caligula's war has gone sour. Either way, it's clear that a great deal of the impetus for the invasion and continued occupation betrays at best a collossal lack of respect for the people of Iraq and at worst a downright contempt for these very same people.

If I hear another person tell me "I don't understand why they hate us" I'll simply reply that if you treat people like crap you shouldn't be that surprised when they don't take too kindly to you. It's like someone asking a kid who's been tormented by a bully why they hate the bully. The likely honest answer is, "why wouldn't I?" Actions have consequences, not only for those directly involved, but also for those who are associated however indirect that association may be. I can't help but feel a bit dirty, and ashamed that this kind of crap goes on in our names.

From the "Human Rights, American-Style" Department:

This Iraqi POW was told by his US captors that he would be electrocuted if he fell off the box.

Read more of the sick, sordid story here.

Update: Some of the photos are here. Be forewarned....they're pretty graphic.

Updated Update: Still more photos here. Definitely not for the faint of heart. (5-1: please note that some of the images on that final link may be propaganda pics, rather than legit photos of the abuse that's taken place. Reader beware. Thanks to one of my readers for pointing this out!)

The Empty Foxhole

men sleeping in the ground

hoping to escape death

thinking of their children

and loved ones.

bury not the soul

in a hole,

whose life has yet

to exist.

- Ornette Coleman, 1966

Harmolodic Friday

Ornette Coleman's website. You can get a taste of his philosophy, his music, some biographical info, and upcoming gigs. Well-worth visiting. Hopefully this site will continue to develop.

Here's a non-website vignette from the album The Empty Foxhole that I thought was rather cool, as it shares the story of how his son (Denardo) came to be a drummer, and to be the drummer on this particular session:

WHEN Ornette Denardo Coleman became 6 years of age I called him to find out what he wanted for his birthday. He was in California and I was in New York on a gig. Well, our conversation went like this..."Hello Denny"..."Hi Dad." "What would you like to have for your birthday?" "Dad, you know I saw a gun on T.V. for kids called a cannon or something like that. I would like to have that." "Well, I don't know if I can find it here, I'll try. If I can't find it, how would you like a set of drums, in case I don't find the gun?" "Dad, you can forget about the gun, send the drums air mail express!"

Four years later, Denardo was at his first recording session - the first of many as it turned out. A simple phone call, and one birthday gift led to a life's work and a fruitful collaborative relationship between father and son. Most cool.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Feeling a Draft? Be Concerned But Also Be Sensible.

That's the take-home message from Rick Jahnkow's note in a recent edition of Draft NOtices.

Here's the text:

Stories have been flying around the Internet warning us that the machinery for a draft is being "oiled" and will be used within a year. They include statements like the following:

"The Selective Service System has lain basically dormant for decades and now in the 2004 budget, Bush has added $28 million to get the whole thing ready to fly in 2005."

"The Pentagon has quietly begun a public campaign to fill all 10,350 draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board slots nationwide."

"$28 Million to get DRAFT READY BY JUNE 15, 2005!!"

"This website will provide absolute proof that Bush is making plans to reinstate the draft by the middle of 2005."

COMD is receiving copies of these articles or alerts every week, and we've spent a lot of time answering questions about whether or not they are true. Unfortunately, much of the information in them is inaccurate or untrue; and while there are reasons for people to be concerned about the possibility of a future draft, the current hysteria caused by these rumors is diverting attention from other immediate issues that could, in fact, increase the chances of a draft later if they aren't addressed more vigorously now.

One of the "proofs" cited for an impending draft is the fact that a notice was posted on a federal Web site soliciting volunteers to serve on draft boards. One writer for mentioned this in his article a few months ago, and it was soon being repeated by other writers on the Net. Some stories have quoted Ned Lebow, a Dartmouth College professor who once taught at the National War College in Washington. Lebow has claimed, "This is significant. . . . What the Department of Defense is doing is creating the infrastructure to make the draft a viable option should the administration wish to go this route." According to one article, Lebow said it is the first public call to reconstitute draft boards since the compulsory draft was abolished in 1973.

But, in fact, the Selective Service System has been recruiting and training draft board members since the early 1980s, when Congress authorized funds to place SSS in a state of stand-by readiness. Congress must still authorize inductions before a draft can begin, but SSS has essentially been readying itself for the last 24 years.

Another item that is being cited as "proof" that SSS is about to begin drafting people is the SSS Annual Performance Plan, Fiscal Year 2004. This plan, presented to Congress in 2003, is basically the agency's annual justification for continued funding. It states various numerical goals for performance and cites specific amounts of money needed to reach those goals. The 2004 plan is similar to previous ones and describes activities that are merely extensions of the ongoing work SSS has done since 1980. A budget request for $28 million was slightly more than previous budgets, but there is nothing in the FY 2004 plan that is significantly different from other recent years.

Someone who misread the 2004 plan distributed an Internet alert declaring that Bush had requested a $28 million "increase" in SSS's budget and that the plan was a blueprint to begin drafting after March 31, 2005. In reality, SSS only got a total of $26.1 million for 2004, and the March date was merely a normal deadline for SSS to report on whether it had reached its annual performance plan goals. If such planning were really an indication of an impending draft, then we would have already had one for two decades.

Another piece of evidence mentioned as "proof" that a draft is imminent is two companion bills in Congress, S. 89 and H.R. 163, which would require men and women to either do mandatory civilian or military service. But this legislation was introduced in January 2003 and has gone nowhere in Congress. It's not likely to, either, because of features that make it impractical overall, especially for the military.

One of the organizations that has been spreading misinformation about the draft on the Internet calls itself the "Democratic Underground," a left-leaning group that isn't officially part of the Democratic Party but urges people to vote for Democratic Party candidates. The DU's interest in spreading fear of an impending draft is boldly revealed when they declare: "VOTE FOR BUSH IN 2004, BE DRAFTED IN 2005!!" The irony is that the current legislation to bring back the draft in Congress is being spearheaded by Democrats in both the House and Senate, and it is Republicans, including the Bush administration, who are saying they oppose a draft. Furthermore, Democratic presidents in the past have shown plenty of willingness to rely on the draft as a source of cannon fodder for their own wars.

There are actually good reasons to be concerned about what might happen in the coming years if military recruiting becomes less successful and/or the Bush administration further expands U.S. military intervention abroad, and it is important that individuals and organizations work to forestall a future draft by communicating with Congress on the issue now. Some groups in Washington, DC, are even planning a national effort in May that would focus on lobbying against draft legislation, and COMD urges people to participate (for details, contact the Center on Conscience and War,, 202-483-2220).

However, a more immediate issue is the fact that many youths — male and female — are already being pressured into entering the military by a poverty draft, and the military is deepening its involvement in K-12 schools — through recruiting and curriculum-based indoctrination programs like JROTC — in order to get more young people accustomed to militarization. This rapidly expanding effort by the Pentagon to influence younger generations will make it more feasible one day to bring back the draft, and a failure to increase the amount of attention focused on this particular problem could make all of the hyperbole about an impending draft a self-fulfilling prophesy.

To help bring more attention to this problem, various local and national organizations have come together to form the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY). It is an effort to bring together grassroots activists and groups that have recognized the danger posed by the growing intrusion of the military in young people's lives. COMD urges activists to get in touch with the groups in this network, which can be reached at, or via the AFSC Youth and Militarism office, 215-241-7176.

Finally, we encourage people to get a copy of COMD's flier, "What You Can Do," which is written for young people, parents and others who are concerned about the possibility of a draft. Write to us or download it at our Web site,

Overall, the above seems pretty sensible to me, although I'm still pretty concerned that some movement is afoot to try to bring the draft back after this year's election cycle is over with. That said, one of our real concerns is that there is a large sub-section of the American population that is already being "drafted" due to poverty and lack of viable job opportunities, namely young people in our inner cities and in rural areas (I can definitely speak of the latter, although I've certainly spent some of my own youth in the former). The military looks to these kids like an attractive option, and with the glitzy ad campaigns and the military's easy access to public schools these kids are targets. Heck, it's no surprise that the bulk of the men and women currently serving in Iraq are from rural America, with another sizeable proportion coming from the inner cities. We really need to be addressing the social and economic conditions in these areas, as well as addressing the issue of the military using our public schools as tools for their own recruitment purposes.

"Take a look into my eyes and tell me that I'm satisfied"

See the rest here

Here's a review of a recent Ornette Coleman Gig

in Ann Arbor Michigan last month

Here's a clip:

At 75, Coleman, dressed with eccentric elegance in a pastel blue suit, is clearly an aging legend. His steps onto the stage gingerly with bassist Tony Falanga solicitously close to his right elbow. He appears even gaunter, if that's possible, than before. Yet unlike other elder jazz statesmen, Coleman doesn't give himself any musical crutches. When I saw Sonny Rollins a couple years ago, it was clear his backup band was carrying more of the weight with the leader strategically planning his spots to give the audience a flash of trademark fireworks. Late in his career Dizzy Gillespie added Sam Rivers—"Yes, THE Sam Rivers", as he would announce—to his lineup to help with the solo load. At Ann Arbor though, it was Coleman center stage, flanked by two acoustic bassists (Falanga and Greg Cohen) with son Denardo Coleman covering his back on drums.

According to the program, most of the music was newly composed for Coleman's brief residency at the university. No matter. It was characteristically Coleman: Taut, keening lines in a grafting of primeval folk blues onto urban bop.

Ornette has been a favorite of mine since I first stumbled upon an early 1960s album, Change of the Century. Coleman is one of jazz music's truly advanced thinkers and composers, and yet his sound remains very down-to-earth. His early work in particular I like to think of as jazz that punks would dig.

His son, Denardo, also gets some mention in the article, by the way. Denardo has been Ornette's primary drummer for many years. One of the most audacious moves Ornette ever made was to record an album with a then-9 or 10 year old Denardo handling the drumming chores (updated note: 1967's Empty Foxhole for Blue Note). The kid already sounded like a pro, and he's only improved with age. He knows his father's music intimately, making him an effective anchor for Ornette's combos.

The state of Texas may have produced some pretty crappy presidents, but at least it has also produced some excellent jazzers - Ornette definitely one of them.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Here's a post on feminism that I thought was cool

Desperately believing that there is a future.

There's a clear free-spiritedness to the clip by Dorothy Allison that I think is precisely what feminism, or any other progressive movement needs in order to thrive.

Here's the clip:

I came to feminism as a lover. Feminism for me was a love affair. I came to feminism as an escaped Baptist. Feminism for me was a religious conversion experience. I came to feminism as a hurt, desperate, denied child, and I would’ve killed for the feminist mama who would take me in her arms and make it all make sense. And I’ve been running after her ass ever since.

I do not necessarily believe that someone can make it all make sense. I am, in fact, in love with the feminist ideal of “get used to being uncomfortable, you’ll learn something.” That is what I need, want, ache for, and I believe absolutely in the future of feminism. [...]

Let me be clear about what I envision as the future of feminism. When they come around to make the movie of your life, when someone comes around to write the biography of you, as that feminist icon or that revolutionary, world-changing activist you are about to become, for God’s sake, make it more than anything small or pretty or over-romanticized. Make it as revolutionary as this tradition in which we speak has been. Make it so dangerous that people will be scared and unnerved when they read it. Take risks. Make illegitimate children. Get lots of lovers. Try some stuff! Make some difference. Without that courage, without that outside agitation, there will be no future of feminism. There will be no change in this country.

Links to the full article on Pacific Views.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Say hello to


Amy's linked to my blog, has much worth reading, and so I say go ye there forth and pay her a visit.

I'm also adding her blog to the blogroll.

If there were one must-read blog post tonight:

this could very well be it.

A clip:

And that really is the bottom line to the problem with Bush's military record: It reveals a young man who didn't think enough of his duty to even live up to his sworn commitment. A man who couldn't be bothered to maintain his flight status even after his political work in Alabama was complete. A man who knew his family connections could fix that problem, just as it had gotten him the plum assignment in the first place.

I recall that a lot of GOP types like to make a big deal about personal responsibility, about owning up to one's choices. Time and time again, we find their words to be empty. Junior Caligula is a prime example, but there are, sadly, plenty more where he came from.

Maybe it isn't so much that Bush failed to finish his commitment to the National Guard. Maybe the issue is broader: that the man has a consistent pattern of behavior that makes him far from presidential material. That pattern: using family and friends' influence for personal gain, failing miserably, and then getting said family and friends to bail him out. Over and over again.

If Republicans want to claim that character counts, that's cool. But, here's the rub: their guy in the White House has an enormous character flaw. He cuts and runs when the going gets tough or if it interfers with nap time or his golf game. And he hides behind his friends, expecting them to fix whatever he broke. In the lingo of counselors, psychotherapists, social workers, and leaders of self-help groups there is a word to describe those who consistently bail this guy out time and time again: codependent. Makes for very dysfunctional family dynamics. As we've seen these last four years, it also makes for very dysfunctional governing.

A libertarian's take on the possible return of the draft

The Ill-Wind of the Draft by Ivan Eland

One of the things I've been trying to point out for a while now is that opponents of the draft (and of course the Iraq war) are a rather diverse lot. Some happen to be libertarians, like the author of the above article. Others are conservatives (like my parents), and still others label themselves as Greens, liberals, anarchists, etc. And although it is a safe bet that on many issues the whole lot of us could find ourselves at odds with one another, on one thing we appear to strongly agree: the federal government has no business forcing young men and women into servitude.

It is also useful to remind ourselves that just because a person has a D by their name does not mean that they are anti-draft. There is a faction of the Democrat Party that is in favor of bringing back forced military conscription (Charles Rangel comes most readily to mind). It's also useful to recall that there are also some anti-draft Republicans to be found; generally they tend to be on the conservative side of libertarian (or the libertarian side of conservative), such as Ron Paul of Texas.

As always, voters need to make sure they are educated with regards to the positions that candidates are taking on issues such as military conscription. To tweak an old saying: voter beware.

Dad...What's a Terrorist?

A Socratic-style dialog that captures the hypocrisy of the "war on terra."

Via Bill C at American Samizdat.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Finding a satisfying explanation for the Columbine tragedy

It Did Happen Here

It looks like I'm not the only one who found Dave Cullen's recent Slate article, The Depressive and the Psychopath rather unsatisfying. The general thrust of Cullen's argument is that the most parsimonious explanation for Harris and Klebold's mass-murder/suicide is their combined mental illnesses.

I don't doubt that these two boys were seriously troubled, as Cullen states rather persuasively. However, like Luis Toro, I find it more helpful to look at these boys' actions within a broader social context. As someone who studied the social sciences I take a person-situation interactionist perspective. This perspective was formulated and best summed up by Kurt Lewin sometime during the mid-20th century:

B = P + S

Where, B stands for behavior (i.e., what the person does), P stands for person (whatever traits, talents, inclinations and so forth the person brings to the situation) and S stands for situation (whatever environmental antecedents might be currently present).

What Cullen does is to more or less discount the S (situation) part of the equation and focus exclusively on the P (person) part of the equation. Surely a lot of situational explanations for Harris and Klebold's terrible behaviors have been overly simplistic to say the least. Somehow placing the primary onus for the behavior on various forms of mass media ("it's all Marilyn Manson's fault") or firearms or the decline of that old GOP code phrase "family values" misses the point. That's not to say that media violence has no influence on behavioral responses. Quite the contrary, although the best lab and field evidence that I'm aware of (and some of which I've helped to conduct) does show a statistically significant causal link between media violence and aggressive behavior, we should remember that we're talking about relatively mundane aggression (verbal attacks, minor physical assaults). At this point I'd be extremely hesitant to link a mass-murder to exposure to violent music videos, lyrics, etc., as the odds of a causal link is likely to be infinitesimally small.

But I digress. What I think Luis Toro does that's useful is to point to the local culture of Littleton that the two boys grew up in, with its school-sanctioned racial discrimination, and the community's general acceptance of racial and ethnic hatred that no doubt colored Harris and Klebold's view of the world. It was a fertile environment for creating a subset of youths who admire the likes of Hitler and an environment that likely enabled their ultimately destructive fantasies. Having spent a few years in a Littleton-esque suburban wasteland out in Northern California, and seeing somewhat similar cultural dynamics at play, I would be willing to wager that Toro is on to something.

Yes, Harris and Klebold were sick boys. But they were also living in a sick social environment, the combination of which turned out to be lethal.

From the "Oh, So Fair and Balanced" Department:

ABC was running a headline that read "Medal Dispute, EXCLUSIVE: Did Kerry lie about Vietnam War medals?"

I noticed on Good Morning Oceania America that the ticker at the bottom of the tv screen was fairly similar. Kerry did his best to defuse this particular non-controversy, although given the cognitive ineptitude of his interlocutor, a fair amount of his appearance seemed like something out of This is Spinal Tap. I could almost imagine Kerry asking why not have the amps labeled up to "10" and getting repeatedly over and over again, "But our amps go up to eleven." Pretty inane stuff, but sadly par for the course on what passes for morning snooze propaganda news shows these days.

Cracking the GOP Code

Old Politicalspeak Double Plus Ungood, Y'all, as pessimist at Left Coaster puts it.

Ever wonder what in the hell those pillars of salt society who populate the GOP are babbling about? Turns out they speak in code, so that us evil liberals won't figure out what they're up to. Instead of greeting each other with phrases like "the geese fly high" they'll use code phrases like "family values" to convey a shared set of attitudes: pro-homophobia, and anti-premarital sex, probably inter-racial marriage, along with of course a shared sense of outrage over Janet Jackson's boob wardrobe malfunction.

There's more, of course. Fun for the whole family.

I Say Pro-Choice You Say Member of Terror Network

Michael at Musings Musings has plenty to say on wingnut Karen Hughes missive.

The key statement from Hughes:

"I think that after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life," she said. "President Bush has worked to say, let's be reasonable, let's work to value life, let's reduce the number of abortions, let's increase adoptions. And I think those are the kinds of policies the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy and, really, the fundamental issue between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life."

Other than the fact that Hughes' statement is incredibly stupid, I am appalled that the wingnuts will use 9-11 and the so-called "war on terra" as the backdrop for the repressive policies that they advocate.

From the "Human Rights, American Style" Department:

Terror suspects to be held indefinitely

A clip:

Most of the 595 suspected terrorists detained by the US at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will be held indefinitely, even though there is not yet enough evidence to charge them, a senior Pentagon official has said.

The statement by Paul Butler, special assistant to Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is the first Government acknowledgment that hundreds of detainees will probably be held without facing military tribunals.

Officials have spoken publicly about the prospect of indefinite detentions for some, but had not disclosed most could be held until the war on terror ends.

Held indefinitely. Or until the "war on terror" ends. Amounts to the same thing, I suppose, as those who are waging this rather Orwellian war have no intention of ever ending it. The continued decimation of the Constitution by Bu$hCo is evident in so many ways. In four years' time we've managed to wave bye-bye to the fifth, sixth and eighth amendments to the Constitution. Then I wonder, how do we go about undoing the damage done to the blueprint for our particular republic? Or is it already too late?

Science Monday: The Da Vinci Car

A clip:

A spring-propelled car that Leonardo da Vinci conceived five centuries ago could have paved the way for the Mars rovers, researchers say.

Researchers took eight months to translate one of da Vinci's drawings to build a one-third scale wooden model of the early car.

So there you have it: the "world's first self-propelled vehicle" was conceived by someone five centuries ago, and his model actually does produce a working vehicle (actually it's more like a robot as I understand the article). Pretty cool, nonetheless.

Due to overwhelming public demand I've added a comments and trackback feature

Well, not exactly overwhelming public demand - one person in her comment to my comment on one of her blog posts persuasively insisted that I add a space for comments on this here blog (did you get that? I'm not even sure I do on re-read, but so it goes). But it is public demand nonetheless (thanks, Wanda!). So, I'll experiment, and see how it goes. I come from a perspective that we all possess some portion of the truth, and want this blog to be a safe haven that maybe will turn you on to something new (and hopefully turn me on to something new in the process). That can only happen if we all feel reasonably safe in doing so, hence I do reserve the right to remove any comment that is abusive or threatening in nature. That should should work as a policy, methinks. Otherwise, have fun!

And yeah, I know, my latter-day hippie roots are showing.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Red River Democracy Project

has a website and blog up. Always good to know that there are liberals and progressives out here in Oklahoma.

Lao Tsu Sunday


1. One who assists the ruler with Tao,

Does not overpower the world by military conquests.

2. Such affairs have a way of returning:

Where armies are stationed,

Briars and thorns grow,

After great campaigns,

Bad years are sure to follow.

3. The good person is resolute only,

But dares not take the path of the strong.

Be resolute yet do not boast,

Be resolute yet do not show off,

Be resolute yet do not be haughty,

Be resolute because you have no choice,

Be resolute yet do not overpower.

4. When things are full grown, they age.

This is called not following Tao.

Not following Tao they perish early.


1. Military weapons are implements of ill omen,

Avoided even by natural creatures.

Hence the Taoist does not indulge in them.

2. The princely person in dwelling honors the left,

In military campaigns honors the right.

Hence military weapons are not implements of a princely person.

3. Military weapons, being implements of ill omen,

Are to be employed only in dire necessity.

Better to regard them with lack of interest.

Do not admire them.

4. If one admires them,

One would be rejoicing in the killing of people.

But whoever rejoices in the killing of people,

Will not be successful in the world.

5. Therefore in joyful affairs the left is honored,

In mournful affairs the right is honored.

The Second-in-Command takes the place of the left,

The Commander-in-Chief takes the place of the right,

Meaning that this is his place in the funeral rite.

6. When many people have been killed,

Wail them with sorrow and lamentations.

When victorious in battle,

Mark the occasion with the rite of funeral.

From the Tao Te Ching, translated by Ellen Chen.

"Save our children that are dying..."

This post's title comes from a lyric to the title track of Pharoah Sanders' 1999 album, Save Our Children. The lyric itself is rather simple, in that Zen-like way that haiku on the surface are simple: there are multiple layers of meaning to the statement "save our children," as the above picture suggests one such meaning.

A clip from the article Children shot dead after bomb blast in Baghdad:

BAGHDAD - Four schoolchildren were killed by gunfire in Baghdad last night, shortly after a roadside bomb ripped through a United States military vehicle.

Some witnesses said the children, all aged around 12, were shot dead by US troops who had opened fire randomly after the blast on Canal St in eastern Baghdad.

Howard Zinn: "Earth to Kerry. Earth to Kerry."

What do we do now?

Some clips:

It seems very hard for some people--especially those in high places, but also those striving for high places--to grasp a simple truth: The United States does not belong in Iraq. It is not our country. Our presence is causing death, suffering, destruction, and so large sections of the population are rising against us. Our military is then reacting with indiscriminate force, bombing and shooting and rounding up people simply on "suspicion."

Amnesty International, a year after the invasion, reported: "Scores of unarmed people have been killed due to excessive or unnecessary use of lethal force by coalition forces during public demonstrations, at checkpoints, and in house raids. Thousands of people have been detained [estimates range from 8,500 to 15,000], often under harsh conditions, and subjected to prolonged and often unacknowledged detention. Many have been tortured or ill-treated, and some have died in custody."

...In light of this, any discussion of "What do we do now?" must start with the understanding that the present U.S. military occupation is morally unacceptable.

..."We can't leave a vacuum there." I think it was John Kerry who said that. What arrogance to think that when the United States leaves a place there's nothing there! The same kind of thinking saw the enormous expanse of the American West as "empty territory" waiting for us to occupy it, when hundreds of thousands of Indians lived there already.

...To those who worry about what will happen in Iraq after our troops leave, they should consider the effect of having foreign troops: continued, escalating bloodshed, continued insecurity, increased hatred for the United States in the entire Muslim world of over a billion people, and increased hostility everywhere.

...What of the other long-term effects of continued occupation? I'm thinking of the poisoning of the moral fiber of our soldiers--being forced to kill, maim, imprison innocent people, becoming the pawns of an imperial power after they were deceived into believing they were fighting for freedom, democracy, against tyranny.

I'm thinking of the irony that those very things we said our soldiers were dying for--giving their eyes, their limbs for--are being lost at home by this brutal war. Our freedom of speech is diminished, our electoral system corrupted, Congressional and judicial checks on executive power nonexistent.

...Kerry does not seem to understand that he is giving away his strongest card against Bush--the growing disillusion with the war among the American public. He thinks he is being clever, by saying he will wage the war better than Bush. But by declaring his continued support for the military occupation, he is climbing aboard a sinking ship.

We do not need another war President. We need a peace President. And those of us in this country who feel this way should make our desire known in the strongest of ways to the man who may be our next occupant of the White House.

The ending two paragraphs resonate very strongly with me. There are reasons why I preferred Kucinich and Dean to Kerry. My main concern with Kerry was his potential to run Bu$hCo-Lite on foreign policy. Indeed, Kerry's recent statements with regard to Iraq and to Israel have only confirmed my worst suspicions. In the process, he's effectively lost his most important card: a proposed clean break from the undeniable miserable failure of Junior Caligula, his cronies, and the GOP more broadly.

As I said earlier, there a tremendous number of people in Iraq who are showing the so-called "Coalition" the door. Why? Look at the mess that's been made as Bu$hCo tried to remake Iraq in the PNAC image. Often times, when one makes a really huge mistake, it's best to back off and let the experts take over. The Iraqis are the experts when it comes to what direction their government and society takes, and are perfectly capable of cleaning up the mess made by the US-led invasion and occupation. To suggest otherwise is rather patronizing at best, and racist at worst. It's their land, their natural resources, their business. Unless our politicians grasp that reality, we're headed for a future of more unnecessarily spilt blood. We all deserve better.

The March For Women's Lives

Hey, since Junior Caligula and cronies treat the world as their personal amusement park,

We bring you Bu$hworld!

For those who can't handle the truth, Bu$hworld is a year-round fantasy land where everything is rosy and Junior Caligula is never wrong (and bloggers who refer to Dear Leader as Junior Caligula become nonpersons).

Hide the Coffins!

The Moon is Down, Again!

A column that takes its title from a Steinbeck novel. Outlines parallels between the Nazi Germany occupation of Norway and the US occupation of Iraq.

Some clips:

It is a story about the German invasion of a small town in Norway in 1940 and the developing reactions of the inhabitants as the Nazis seek to insure that the mines nearby continue to send coal to the Third Reich’s war machine. Readers this year may be tempted to replace the term “Norway” with “Iraq,” “coal” with “oil,” and “Germany” with the phrase “Coalition.” The story even has a “fifth column” Ahmed Chalabi-like character, who sets up the town for an easy occupation, imagining he will be dearly beloved by the people.

The central confrontation of the book, however, is between Mayor Orden and the German officer in command, Col. Lanser, a Wehrmacht veteran of occupied Belgium over two decades earlier. Lanser urges cooperation rather than violence, which will lead, he warns, inevitably to more violence on the part of the Germans.

Woven through the plot are the increasingly violent acts of “the people.” Early on, Lanser’s mind wanders back to a friendly, old , gray-haired Belgian lady who killed 12 Germans with a 12 inch hat pin before she was caught and shot. He still retains the hat pin at home.

Of course, the violence begins at once, and the Germans retaliate on a much larger scale on the Norwegian people. At the same time, many of the German troops, yearning to go home and for some companionship, begin to develop various symptoms of psychological stress.

...At the end, the quisling, having obtained authority from the Nazi command in Oslo, orders Col. Lanser to execute the old Mayor and the town doctor if the people begin to use the dynamite, dropped by parachute by British airplanes, to destroy the mine. As the explosions begin, the two are executed as the Mayor repeats an old speech he used many years before - the last words of Socrates to the Athenian people. It is clear the occupiers, despised by the people, are in for a long and bloody time ahead.

Update: It is worth noting that there was also a rather active nonviolent resistance to the Nazi occupation in Norway, as described in the following passage from Gene Sharp's The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Part One: Power and Struggle (pp. 88-89).

1. Norway -- 1942

The Norwegian teachers' resistance is but one of these resistance campaigns. During the Nazi occupation, the Norwegian fascist "Minister-President, "Vidkun Quisling, set out to establish the Corporative State on Mussolini's model, selected teachers as the first "corporation." For this he created a new teachers' organization with compulsory membership and appointed as its Leader the head of the *Hird*, the Norwegian S. A. (stormtroopers). A compulsory fascist youth movement was also set up.

The underground called on the teachers to resist. Between eight thousand and ten thousand of the country's twelve thousand teachers wrote letters to Quisling's church and Education Department. All signed their names and addresses to the wording prescribed by the underground for the letter. Each teacher said he (or she) could neither assist in the promotion of fascist education of the children nor accept membership in the new teachers' organization.

The government threatened them with dismissal and then closed all schools for a month. Teachers held classes in private homes. Despite censorship, news of the resistance spread. Tens of thousands of letters of protest from parents poured into the government office.

After the teachers defied the threats about one thousand male teachers were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Children gathered and sang at the railroad stations as teachers were shipped through in cattle cars. In the camps, the Gestapo imposed an atmosphere of terror intended to induce capitulation. On starvation rations, the teachers were put through "torture gymnastics" in deep snow. When only a few gave in, "treatment" continued.

The schools reopened, but the teachers still at liberty told their pupils they repudiated membership in the new organization and spoke of a duty to conscience. Rumors were spread that if these teachers did not give in, some or all of those arrested would be killed. After difficult inner wrestling, the teachers who had not been arrested almost without exception stood firm.

Then on cattle car trains and overcrowded steamers, the arrested teachers were shipped to a camp near Kirkenes, in the Far North. Although Quisling's Church and Education Department stated that all was settled and that the activities of the new organization would cease, the teachers were kept at Kirkenes in miserable conditions, doing dangerous work.

However, their suffering strengthened morale on the home front and posed problems for the Quisling regime. As Quisling once raged at the teachers in a school near Oslo, "You teachers have destroyed everything for me." Fearful of alienating the Norwegians still further, Quisling finally ordered the teachers' release. Eight months after the arrests, the last teachers returned home to triumphal receptions.

Quisling's new organization for teachers never came into being, and the schools were never used for fascist propaganda. After Quisling encountered further difficulties in imposing the Corporative State, Hitler ordered him to abandon the plan entirely.

I don't know if there is much of a pacifist anti-occupation movement in Iraq. If so (and from what I know of the basics of Islam, I'd consider laughable any efforts to dismiss the notion of Islamic pacifists), perhaps the Norwegian experience could offer some useful lessons on how to make nonviolent resistance work effectively.

In the long run, the sure path to reduce the bloodshed in Iraq is for the Occupational forces to acknowledge the obvious: that a substantial number of Iraqis are collectively showing the occupiers the door, and that it would be best to leave and accept that the Iraqis will organize themselves as a society and government as they see fit.