Saturday, May 29, 2004

Said it before, and I'll say it again:

2004 is shaping up to be 1994 in reverse. A decade ago, we had the year of the "Angry White Men." This year may very well be the year of the "Angry Liberals." It'll be a tough haul, especially with last year's rape of Texas, courtesy of Tom DeLay, but doable.



For House Democrats, a Whiff of Victory



A clip that especially caught my attention:



"In getting up to 218," Mr. Rothenberg said of the number required for a majority in the 435-member House, "you don't just need a wave, you need a tsunami."



Still, he recalls that at this stage in 1994, no one thought the Republican wave would wash aside the Democrats.




Precisely. The 1994 outcome caught a lot of people by surprise. I remember getting to be a fly on the wall at a Los Angeles Democrat Central Committee meeting (at the time I was a grad student who was helping a prof out with some of his work on political ideology and memory) just days after that election debacle, and the look on most of the attendees' faces said it all: they were stunned. It might be equally entertaining to be a fly on the wall at various Republican gatherings this November if the outcome of this year's elections mirrors that of 1994. This much is true, there is a sense that something huge is going down.

Here's a political cartoon: Running Government Like a Business

Click the image to get the whole cartoon:







Mad props to Bill at thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse for the tip.

As the torture scandal continues, our latest chapter

Iraqi Women Raped at Abu Ghraib: Reports





Reports have emerged that Iraqi women held at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison were raped by both US and Iraqi jailers, according to human rights groups, following the reports of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US troops there.



However coalition spokesman Brigadier-General Mark Kimmitt said the prisons department is unaware of any such reports at Abu Ghraib, and the reports have not been confirmed.



The International Occupation Watch Centre, an NGO that gathers information on human rights abuses under coalition rule, said one former detainee has told of the alleged rape of her cellmate.



...And another group, the Iraq-based Union of Detainees and Prisoners, has told of a mother of four, arrested in December, who killed herself after being raped by US guards in front of her husband at Abu Ghraib.



According to the group's head Daham al-Mohammed, the woman's sister who helped in the suicide told of how the woman had been taken into a cell where she saw her husband attached to bars. A US soldier reportedly held her by the hair to force her to look at her husband while he stripped her, then raped her.



...Human rights groups say in a conservative society like Iraq, women are made to feel that rape dishonours the whole family and would prefer to die.

Estimated Prophet has some cool posts...

Like this one:Immersed in a cloud of unknowing?. A nifty rant on religious intolerance, and some antidotes along with plenty of links to expand your mind and get you to think. Check it out.

When your ratings are in a free-fall, your administration is becoming increasingly scandal-plagued, and the birds are coming home to roost,

simply shout, "Look! Terrorists!" Who cares if there's no credible evidence to support the claim. All that matters is that the voters are distracted, right? Heaven forbid if these yokels ever began viewing themselves as public servants rather than as rulers.

From the "Myth Busters" Department:

Fun Facts on Religion and Politics



Ruy Teixeira of Donkey Rising takes on some commonly held myths regarding religion and politics and presents evidence that turns those myths upside down.



A few of the highlights that stand out:



1. Most progressives are religious. For example, in 2000, 81 percent of Gore voters professed a religious affiliation. That’s within shouting distance of the 89 percent of Bush voters who professed a religious affiliation (2000 National Study of Religion and Politics [NSRP]).




This counters the widely-circulated conventional wisdom that conservatives tend to be religious and that liberals/progressives/leftists/etc. tend to be non-religious. The data suggest otherwise, and have suggested otherwise for quite some time.



2. It is true that progressives attend church less than conservatives. In the 2000 VNS exit poll, 33 percent of Gore voters said they attended church once a week or more, compared to 49 percent of Bush voters who said they attended church that often.



...But the whole US population is trending toward less observance, not more. For example, in surveys taken over the last thirty years, it is the ranks of those who never or rarely attend church that have grown the most. According to a National Opinion Research Center (NORC) study, those who said they never attended church or attended less than once a year went from 18 percent in 1972 to 30 percent in 1998.



...Indeed, according to the NORC study, if you add to the 30 percent mentioned above those who say they attend church only once or a few times a year, it turns out that about half the US population attends church only a few times a year or less.




Beginning to think that all the hype about our era being the latest Great Awakening is just hype? I'd say that's a pretty safe assumption.



4. Not all evangelicals are conservative Republicans. ...Early 2004 NSRP data from this spring use a different categorization (“traditional”, “centrist” and “modernist” evangelicals) and also show a progressive group of evangelicals–the modernists, about one-sixth of evangelicals. This group actually supports Kerry over Bush by 9 points (46-37).




How about them apples? I could just imagine some wingnut asking, "why do our evangelicals hate America?"



5. Karl Rove has claimed that there were four million evangelicals who didn’t go to the polls in 2000, but who can be turned out in 2004. This is an urban legend. There is, in fact, no evidence that evangelicals’ turnout in 2000 was particularly low (it was about at the national average) and that, therefore, there are, in any meaningful sense, “missing” evangelicals in the voting pool.



John Green, perhaps the leading academic analyst of religion and politics, has said that these missing evangelicals Rove alludes to are more “mythical” than missing. And, to the extent they might really exist, he believes they are far more likely to be in solid red states than in contested battleground states.




If I've learned only one lesson these past four years it's this: if Karl Rove asserts something as true, it's best to imagine the opposite of Rove's claim if one wants to get closer to the truth.



Ruy ends his post with what I think is a most apt line:



Moral for the GOP: Don't count your (religious) chickens before they've hatched.




Amen!

If you dig the wiki concept, here's one for you:

dKosopedia, a Kossac wiki modeled after the wikipedia. Looks promising.

The worst Democrat still outdoes the best Republican





Notice the two presidents on whose watch jobs were actually lost? That's right, our current Chimp in Thief and good old Herbert Hoover.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Coming to a theater near you...

Michael Moore Film Nears Release as Disney Sells



Looks like Bob and Harvey Weinstein (the founders of Miramax) have managed to purchase the rights to Michael Moore's new film, Fahrenheit 9/11, from that Mickey Mouse corporate conglomerate known as Disney. This is good news, indeed, for those of us hoping to see the film make its way to theaters and DVD shelves before Junior Caligula faces the voters on November 2nd. I guess the Weinsteins are fairly optimistic that the film could be showing by mid-summer. The devil is in whatever details are worked out with potential film distributors. Let's keep the fingers crossed.

If you don't toe the party line in blogtopia, you get delinked

For having the shear audacity to assert that four years of Kerry will be preferable to four more years of George W. Bush (or as I prefer, Junior Caligula), I have managed to offend the sensibilities of Kurt Nimmo (of Another Day in the Empire - see blogroll) and at least a couple of his regular readers & commenters - one of whom poses the question of why folks like me even bother to read Kurt's blog (in addition to pretty much portraying me as equivalent to being a Bushista). I guess I'm simply not worthy, or something to that effect. Coincidentally, I've been delinked. Go figure.



Perhaps it's time for a moment of clarity. The kind of black and white thinking that characterizes Junior Caligula and his followers ("you're either with us or you're against us") has its analog among some of my comrades on the left. And while arguably such rigid authoritarianism among a few of my fellow lefties is less destructive of life and limb, it is just as caustic. A viable political leftist front in the US will be practically impossible unless and until we figure out how to get along with each other. The authoritarian right wing remains potent largely because its members manage to achieve an almost cult-like uniformity of behaviors and attitudes. That won't work for us. We lefties generally suck at authoritarianism (I'll offer that there is data to support this particular assertion). What we'll have to do is different in order to achieve any sort of long-lasting solidarity: that's develop a greater deal of tolerance for each others' differences rather than slagging or cutting ties with those who differ from us on whatever our pet issue happens to be at the time. Unless and until we collectively figure that lesson out, we will remain divided and conquered, and the stakes for remaining divided and conquered will only increase with the passage of time. Mark my words.



So, as a public service to my readers, here's a little bit about me. I am first and foremost a nonconformist and a bit of a lone wolf. Been that way for as long as I can remember. I characterize myself as an independent politically. In just about any European country I would fit in very easily with their Social Democrats, but we have no such option available in the US. My ties to the US Democrat party have been ambivalent at best, in large measure due to its general moderate-conservative leanings. I also have a bit of a libertarian streak, primarily when it comes to the government sticking its nose into individuals' personal lives - I take the old hippie motto of "do your own thing, just don't hurt anyone" as a way of life. Speaking of hippies, most of my friends would characterize me as a hippie who was born about ten years too late. There's definitely some truth to that statement, as those who know me personally can attest in the way I appear and in my mannerisms. Coming of age as a Gen-Xer, I missed out on the hippie counterculture but found a similar vibe among the punk and goth countercultures. I'm a pacifist influenced largely by Gandhi and Lao Tzu, who views violence as strictly a last resort. I was raised Southern Baptist, but consider myself more of a Deist who digs Chinese philosophies (such as Taoism & Zen) and the Gnostics of early Christianity. I inherited a number of hang-ups (sexual and otherwise) from my upbringing, and have spent much of my adult life learning how to (paraphrasing Herbie Hancock's words) "hang up my hang-ups." I view truth as enormously complex (blame or credit that on my training in the social sciences) and I tend to be easily frustrated with rigid black & white portrayals of "reality." I'm very opinionated, but I'm willing to change my mind (albeit kicking and screaming sometimes) if ample evidence is made available to me. If I could bring only one cd to a desert island, I'd probably cheat and bring the John Coltrane Complete Classic Quartet Sessions box set. That's probably a fairly incomplete portrayal, but hopefully gives you, the reader, some idea of where I'm coming from when I write. That's me, warts and all. If the warts are likely to offend you, that's your trip.



Update 5-31-2004: For whatever reason I appear to be in Kurt's good graces again. That's certainly cool by me. I suspect we're all a bit edgier in aftermath of 9-11 and the Iraq war fiasco - I know I certainly am. My main point is merely a reminder that we among the various liberal/progressive/leftist factions need all the friends we can get right now at this point in history. While arguing and debating the theoretical minutia of varying leftist perspectives may be entertaining and even edifying, we simply do not have that luxury until Junior Caligula is deposed. If I learned anything from studying a bit about the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s it's this: if the various anti-Falangist factions had focused on the cause rather than slagging each other, things in Spain might have gone much differently. Perhaps Franco would not have had a several decade reign as dictator, and perhaps Hemmingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls would have been a much different, and far more upbeat novel. My two cents. Take it or leave it, but that's where I'm coming from.

R.I.P. David Dellinger





Lifelong Protester David Dellinger Dies



David Dellinger, 88, a lifelong radical pacifist and one of the Chicago Seven antiwar demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, died of pneumonia May 25 at the Montpelier, Vt., retirement home where he lived. He had Alzheimer's disease.



Mr. Dellinger, who had been protesting since the 1930s, was the oldest of the seven (originally eight) Vietnam War protesters charged with conspiracy and inciting to riot after a massive demonstration in the streets and parks of Chicago turned violent. Among the bearded, beaded and wild-haired defendants, he was balding and wore a coat and tie. He and Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and Rennie Davis were convicted of inciting a riot, but the convictions were overturned on appeal.



One of his four surviving children, Michele McDonough, said yesterday that Mr. Dellinger remained actively engaged in issues until just a few years ago. The "last real trip he made," she said, was three years ago when he hitched a ride to demonstrations in Quebec City against the creation of a free trade zone in the Western Hemisphere.



"He felt this is one of the most important times to be active," she said. "He was working on a wide range of things: prisoners' rights, supporting a living wage, demonstrating and writing about foreign policy of this government."



Mr. Dellinger had been to court, to jail and to prison long before the '60s, although that is the era with which he is most identified. He supported union organizing drives in the 1930s and civil rights in the 1950s. He was jailed so often that he had lost count.



"I went from Yale to jail," he said, "and got a good education in both places."



He refused to register for the draft during World War II, even though he could have had a deferment because he was studying for the divinity at Union Theological Seminary. The courts were not in a mood to hear his critique of the "strategic disagreement" between the U.S. imperialists and the Third Reich; he was sent to federal prison in Danbury, Conn., for a year and a day. When he got out, he still refused to register, and was sent to the maximum-security prison at Lewisburg, Pa., where he staged hunger strikes and spent time in solitary confinement. Three years later, he was released.



Mr. Dellinger continued to protest -- against nuclear testing, against the bomb, against the Korean War, for prisoners' rights and for Puerto Rican independence. A critic called him "the Kilroy of radical politics," who appeared at nearly all the big demonstrations. He worked with the radical Catholic priests, the Berrigan brothers, to write a "declaration of conscience" to encourage resistance to the draft, and he was one of the organizers of the National Coordinating Committee to End the War in Vietnam, which staged the huge antiwar marches in Washington in 1970.



He made two trips to China and North Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. He marched on the Pentagon repeatedly. After the Chicago Seven trial, North Vietnam decided to release a few U.S. prisoners of war, and its leaders asked Dellinger, among others, to come to Hanoi to escort them back to the United States, which he did.



At the 1969 trial, just before Judge Julius Hoffman sentenced him, he was offered a chance to speak. But when the judge tried to cut him off, Mr. Dellinger said: "You want us to be like good Germans, supporting the evils of our decade, and then when we refused to be good Germans and came to Chicago and demonstrated, now you want us to be like good Jews, going quietly and politely to the concentration camps while you and this court suppress freedom and the truth. And the fact is, I am not prepared to do that. You want us to stay in our place like black people were supposed to stay in their place. . . . "



His life took him a long way from his start in Wakefield, Mass., where he was an outstanding long-distance runner and high school athlete. He enrolled at Yale in 1933, during the depths of the Depression, and, embarrassed by the elitism he saw, spent vacations as a hobo, which he regarded as on-the-job training.



He graduated Yale as a Phi Beta Kappa economics major and won a scholarship to Oxford University. On his way to England, he slipped down to Spain, then into the middle of its civil war, and nearly defected from academia. But he went on to Oxford, then returned to Yale for graduate study and to the Union Theological Seminary to study for Congregationalist ministry.



Because protests did not pay the bills, Mr. Dellinger was a printer, writer and editor throughout his life. He was an editor of a series of small magazines -- Direct Action, Alternative, Individual Action and, finally, Liberation magazine, from 1956 until it closed in 1975. He wrote six books, the latest in 1993, "From Yale to Jail: The Life Story of a Moral Dissenter."



"Mainly, I think he'll be remembered as a pacifist who meant business," Hayden told the Associated Press. "His pacifism was very forceful. He didn't mind interjecting himself between armed federal marshals and someone they were pushing around."



Colman McCarthy, director of the Center for Teaching Peace Inc. in Washington, called Mr. Dellinger "truly a kind and lovable man, both a natural storyteller about all his decades of jamming the gears of the world's war machines, and an icon of nonviolence who taught that all of us are called to be peacemakers. In an era diseased with war, his arguments for pacifism remain bedrock-sound."



Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Elizabeth Peterson, and four children.




Years ago, during my undergraduate days, I happened along a collection of Dellinger's essays, Revolutionary Nonviolence. As a pacifist, I still consider this book a must read, as a snapshot of pacifism in the 1960s and as a bit of a how-to-guide in the form of a memoir.



Update: Props to Joe at American Leftist for the tip.

If it's Friday, it must be Lie Day

Here's Iraq on the Record, a searchable database of the many lies Bu$hCo have told about Iraq.

And while we're at it, here's a humor graphic:





Courtesy of BAGnews.com. Restoring honor and dignity to the White House, indeed.

Street Art: "Charles Darwin's Theory of De-Evolution"





What the artist says:



My first political stencil... the monkeys look so so uncannily like our three western leaders that you gotta wonder... was Charles Darwin's theory of de-evolution for real? Are our leaders really man or monkey?

Some thoughts regarding a sustainable future

A modest proposal to save the planet



Dr. Mayer Hillman has some ideas for reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that we emit. A lot of it strikes me as quite practical and do-able.

Not good news on the "Free Tibet" front

How the war on terror has left the Dalai Lama in the lurch.



A clip:



A Nobel Peace prize winner and the world's most famous advocate of non-violence, the Dalai Lama ought to have found his standing rising in a world obsessed with the War on Terror but though he remains universally admired, he is on the contrary increasingly ignored.



...China is trying hard to make him an international non- person, the way it has succeeded in doing with the leadership of Taiwan. Even the United States does not dare officially to allow President Chen Shui-bian permission to enter the country for fear of offending Beijing except on a transit visa.




With as much as China's propped up the US dollar, I'm not surprised.

Empire, Shmempire!

This post, And Porcupines Shall Overrun Her Houses is worth a look.



A clip:



Looking at the ruins of mighty Babylon, I found myself ruminating on the nature of empire. They rise, they fall, they inspire new iterations and then those fall. Babylon lies in ruins, as does Rome. Rome packed a lot of resonance, though -- Charlemagne in the 9th century, the Ottonians in the 10th and 11th centuries, Fascists in the 20th century...they looked back to Rome and tried to evoke that glory. And where are they now? Empires cannot sustain themselves. Not even in this modern day. Maybe even especially in this modern day.



America is going through its own imperial flirtation now, albeit without the eagle-topped standards, and sure we might be able to keep it going for a while, despite the cost to our reputation. But for how long?




The writer also includes a link to a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias, which left an indelible impression on me when I first read it in high school in the early 1980s. The poem:



I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said -- "two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert ... near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lips, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,

Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away."




Nothing lasts forever. What drives (mostly) men to believe that they can achieve and maintain world domination indefinitely, especially in this day when there is ample evidence that such a quest is destined to fail - and fail spectacularly? And what is accomplished in the vast expenditures of blood and treasure? In time, a collection of ruins, slowly becoming dust in the wind. Bu$hCo's own flirtation with the temptations of empire will end just like all the others.

Stupid Story of the Day

Well, technically published this past Friday, but why split hairs - even if those hairs are dyed black, blue, purple, etc.? Thanks to Jesus' General we learn that $132K of Grant to Combat Goth Returned. I didn't realize that goths were ever a problem. Silly me.



A clip:



BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. - Almost half of a $273,000 grant awarded in 2002 to fight the Goth culture in Blue Springs has been returned because of a lack of interest — and the absence of a real problem.



Blue Springs received the grant two years ago from the Youth Outreach Unit, money the city and U.S. Rep. Sam Graves trumpeted proudly as a way to fight a perceived Goth problem.



But $132,000 of the grant was returned because officials never found much of a problem with the Goth culture, which some students called a fad that most people eventually outgrow.



Slightly more than $118,000 of the money was earmarked for therapy, assessment and case management, and the plans also included a series of town meetings to discuss the issue.



"It never happened because referring someone for looking, acting Goth is not a concept that ever got imbedded in people's heads," project manager Allyce Ford said of the therapy proposal.



The town hall meetings didn't happen, either, she said, because there wasn't enough interest in the community to conduct them.



About halfway through the project, the focus shifted from Goths to counter cultures and negative influences facing children, Ford said.



"You have to admit if you saw one, two, three, four or more people dressed in traditional Goth, it would be discerning," she said. "Those kids have every right to be there. I hope the lessons you're teaching are tolerance and understanding."



Assistant City Administrator Eric Johnson said despite the change in focus, the project helped dispel myths and stereotypes associated with the Goth culture.



"That was part of the goal," Johnson said. "If we were able to accomplish that, we are able to accomplish something effective."




Okay, so I gave you the whole article. File this one under "authorities who manage to completely misunderstand those who come across as different." I have met more than my share of goths over the course of my adolescent to adult lifetime, and as near as I could tell, the vast majority of them were as well put-together as anyone else (in other words, get past appearances and they're just as human as everyone else). Of course I used to think of goth as more of a 1980s phenomenon (the first goth bands got their starts in the mid-to-late 1970s) that would likely die out in the 1990s, but over the years I've noticed that the goth counterculture has had something of a renaissance. It's mostly a youth culture, although there are still some 30 and 40 somethings who are part of the scene, and a quick google search will easily convince one that there there are plenty of goths to be found scattered throughout much of the globe.



I suppose what outsiders - especially those who've led very sheltered lives - find disconcerting aside from the dark clothes and the music (which in terms of sound and subject matter can be quite morbid), are the tats & body mods, along with the s&m and pagan themes that seem to characterize many goth scenes. But as I said, get past the surface appearances and it's a pretty mellow bunch.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Humor and Info

at Dubya's World

Alternative Energy Thursday

And for your reading pleasure, The Oily Boid Fuels The World?



Apparently waste from turkeys at a Butterball plant can be converted to fuel. We humans have a penchant for creative problem-solving. Hopefully more concerted efforts of this sort will make it possible for us to wean ourselves off our petroleum addiction before time runs out. I say hopefully as we humans have another competing penchant for looking at the short-term while failing to consider long-term consequences; and such activities as decimating fragile environments, finding new ways to dredge up a few more barrels of oil, and of course the old standby of using brute force to steal oil from elsewhere are all tempting but fail in one important sense - the oil will run out, possibly sooner rather than later.



An aside: is it just me or is the sheer amount of fossil fuels used to wage wars to secure fossil fuel supplies suggestive of the inherent absurdity of such endeavors?



Food for thought. Happy Thanksgiving, early.

Get Down With Yo' Bad Self, Al Gore!

Al Gore Links Abu Ghraib Prison Abuses to Deep Flaws in Bush Policy



Damn. If only he'd been this spirited in 2000.



A few clips:



George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world.



He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.



Honor? He decided not to honor the Geneva Convention. Just as he would not honor the United Nations, international treaties, the opinions of our allies, the role of Congress and the courts, or what Jefferson described as "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind." He did not honor the advice, experience and judgment of our military leaders in designing his invasion of Iraq. And now he will not honor our fallen dead by attending any funerals or even by permitting photos of their flag-draped coffins.



...And what they meant by preemption was not the inherent right of any nation to act preemptively against an imminent threat to its national security, but rather an exotic new approach that asserted a unique and unilateral U.S. right to ignore international law wherever it wished to do so and take military action against any nation, even in circumstances where there was no imminent threat. All that is required, in the view of Bush's team is the mere assertion of a possible, future threat - and the assertion need be made by only one person, the President.



More disturbing still was their frequent use of the word "dominance" to describe their strategic goal, because an American policy of dominance is as repugnant to the rest of the world as the ugly dominance of the helpless, naked Iraqi prisoners has been to the American people. Dominance is as dominance does.



Dominance is not really a strategic policy or political philosophy at all. It is a seductive illusion that tempts the powerful to satiate their hunger for more power still by striking a Faustian bargain. And as always happens - sooner or later - to those who shake hands with the devil, they find out too late that what they have given up in the bargain is their soul.



One of the clearest indications of the impending loss of intimacy with one's soul is the failure to recognize the existence of a soul in those over whom power is exercised, especially if the helpless come to be treated as animals, and degraded. We also know - and not just from De Sade and Freud - the psychological proximity between sexual depravity and other people's pain. It has been especially shocking and awful to see these paired evils perpetrated so crudely and cruelly in the name of America.



...What happened at the prison, it is now clear, was not the result of random acts by "a few bad apples," it was the natural consequence of the Bush Administration policy that has dismantled those wise constraints and has made war on America's checks and balances.



The abuse of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib flowed directly from the abuse of the truth that characterized the Administration's march to war and the abuse of the trust that had been placed in President Bush by the American people in the aftermath of September 11th.



...



He has exposed Americans abroad and Americans in every U.S. town and city to a greater danger of attack by terrorists because of his arrogance, willfulness, and bungling at stirring up hornet's nests that pose no threat whatsoever to us. And by then insulting the religion and culture and tradition of people in other countries. And by pursuing policies that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children, all of it done in our name.



...The soldiers who are accused of committing these atrocities are, of course, responsible for their own actions and if found guilty, must be severely and appropriately punished. But they are not the ones primarily responsible for the disgrace that has been brought upon the United States of America.



Private Lynndie England did not make the decision that the United States would not observe the Geneva Convention. Specialist Charles Graner was not the one who approved a policy of establishing an American Gulag of dark rooms with naked prisoners to be "stressed" and even - we must use the word - tortured - to force them to say things that legal procedures might not induce them to say.



These policies were designed and insisted upon by the Bush White House. Indeed, the President's own legal counsel advised him specifically on the subject. His secretary of defense and his assistants pushed these cruel departures from historic American standards over the objections of the uniformed military, just as the Judge Advocates General within the Defense Department were so upset and opposed that they took the unprecedented step of seeking help from a private lawyer in this city who specializes in human rights and said to him, "There is a calculated effort to create an atmosphere of legal ambiguity" where the mistreatment of prisoners is concerned."



...One of the Generals in charge of this war policy went on a speaking tour in his spare time to declare before evangelical groups that the US is in a holy war as "Christian Nation battling Satan." This same General Boykin was the person who ordered the officer who was in charge of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay to extend his methods to Iraq detainees, prisoners. ... The testimony from the prisoners is that they were forced to curse their religion Bush used the word "crusade" early on in the war against Iraq, and then commentators pointed out that it was singularly inappropriate because of the history and sensitivity of the Muslim world and then a few weeks later he used it again.



"We are now being viewed as the modern Crusaders, as the modern colonial power in this part of the world," Zinni said.



What a terrible irony that our country, which was founded by refugees seeking religious freedom - coming to America to escape domineering leaders who tried to get them to renounce their religion - would now be responsible for this kind of abuse..



Ameen Saeed al-Sheikh told the Washington Post that he was tortured and ordered to denounce Islam and after his leg was broken one of his torturers started hitting it while ordering him to curse Islam and then, " they ordered me to thank Jesus that I'm alive." Others reported that they were forced to eat pork and drink alcohol.



...It is now clear that their obscene abuses of the truth and their unforgivable abuse of the trust placed in them after 9/11 by the American people led directly to the abuses of the prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison and, we are now learning, in many other similar facilities constructed as part of Bush's Gulag, in which, according to the Red Cross, 70 to 90 percent of the victims are totally innocent of any wrongdoing.



The same dark spirit of domination has led them to - for the first time in American history - imprison American citizens with no charges, no right to see a lawyer, no right to notify their family, no right to know of what they are accused, and no right to gain access to any court to present an appeal of any sort. The Bush Admistration has even acquired the power to compel librarians to tell them what any American is reading, and to compel them to keep silent about the request - or else the librarians themselves can also be imprisoned.



They have launched an unprecedented assault on civil liberties, on the right of the courts to review their actions, on the right of the Congress to have information to how they are spending the public's money and the right of the news media to have information about the policies they are pursuing.



The same pattern characterizes virtually all of their policies. They resent any constraint as an insult to their will to dominate and exercise power. Their appetite for power is astonishing.




There's more, of course, including Gore's call for the resignations of a bunch of Junior Caligula's cronies, including CondoLIEza Rice & Rummy.

Some street art that sums it up

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Lest we forget: The whole US is a "free speech zone".

Apparently someone forgot to tell a New Mexico high school principal. I've read various iterations of this story, in which a high school English teacher was fired because the content of the poems his students were producing in his classes was not deemed "politically correct" by the right-wingnut principal of the school (being critical of Dear Leader is apparently verboten). Not only that, but the principal has been on such a power trip that he ordered one of the students' poems (apparently the poem that got this guy's panties in a bunch) destroyed by the girl's parent, but since that parent refused and she happens to be a teacher as well she is in danger of losing her job. Suffice it to say there will be no more poetry clubs or poetry slams at that school. The spoken and written word is too dangerous, it seems.



Combine ideological fanaticism with tangible power and one creates a monster. The NM high school deal is merely a microcosm of what we've seen at the heart of our national government these last several years. Whether it's those idiotic "free speech zones" that shelter Dear Leader from protesters, the misnamed "Patriot Act" or the Attorney General's dredging up arcane laws to stifle activist organizations the song remains the same: these cats are on a power trip and they are hell-bent on hanging onto that power, no holds barred.



So what are the kids learning? That school is not a place to learn anything useful, but rather yet another place of paranoia and intolerance? The k-12 scene was prison-like enough for me some 20-plus years ago; I really feel for the kids going through it now. The one lesson I remember well from those years was that respect was something that had to be earned. As rebellious as I was (and I suppose still am), I recall there were some school administrators that I definitely respected and actually grew to like. Why? They were fair, and you could question them and their rules without them flipping out. I moved around a lot as a kid, and got to see quite a few school systems, and some were clearly more fair in their dealings with students and employees than others, but the sort of crap over at Rio Rancho High would have been unheard of.



A sign of our degenerate times.

Every Picture Tells a Story





The battleground states show us that Junior Caligula is in deep doggie doo.



Via Kos.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Junior Caligula Jumped the Shark?

Bush Presidency Jumps the Shark



Personally I figured that had happened a while ago, but hey it's good to see someone's finally noticing.

New York, NY, Protest Style

Permit or Not, Protesters Prepare for Republicans in New York



A clip:



e relishes the idea, and it is just an idea, he says, of linking arms on streets around Madison Square Garden to block delegates and bring the Republican convention to a halt. Getting arrested for civil disobedience, if it comes to that, does not faze him.



"I am not going to have a work schedule for two weeks after, just in case,'' says Jim Straub, 23, who is a part-time dishwasher and bookstore clerk and full-time radical in Richmond, Va.



For Jen Lawhorne, 24, who also plans to attend the convention from Richmond: "This is going to be one of the finer moments of the American left. The sheer numbers excite me.''



They are a band of like-minded activists, many in their 20's, leading a charge to direct protesters from Richmond to New York for the convention, Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.



Linked by indignation over the war and economic and social issues, protesters from Chicago, Santa Barbara, Calif., Cleveland and scores of other places across the country are developing their plans to descend on New York City for the convention.

Climate Monday: The Heat is On

The Independent has a series of articles on the problem of global climate change and possible solutions.



First: 'The ice is melting much faster than we thought'



A clip:



Two recent climatic events are warning signs that climate change may be proceeding much more quickly than previously thought, James Lovelock claimed.



They are the increasingly rapid melting of the Arctic ice-sheet covering Greenland, which will raise global sea levels considerably, and the extreme heatwave in western central Europe in the first two weeks of last August.



The latter, which saw the British temperature record exceed 100F for the first time, produced 20,000 deaths of mostly elderly people in France, where heat levels, especially at night, were highest.



Senior scientists, including a team from the Swiss Met Office and Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, have since said that last year's heatwave was entirely unprecedented in climatic history, and attributed it directly to climate change. "There's no question in any reasonable scientist's mind that that was the first real bad event of global warming," said Professor Lovelock. "




Speaking of Professor Lovelock, here's a feature article on him: Guru who tuned into Gaia was one of the first to warn of climate threat. He's turned into an advocate of switching to nuclear power as a substitute for burning fossil fuels, to the ire of some in the environmentalist community. However, his rationale makes some sense:



The only real solution to replacing the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas that is causing the greenhouse effect, he said, was a massive and immediate expansion of nuclear power. He did not dismiss providing energy from renewable sources such as tides, wind and the sun - the Green movement's solution - but believed it simply could not be done in time.



...Major action on climate change could not wait, he said. "Unless we stop now, we will really doom the lives of our descendants. If we just go on for another 40 or 50 years faffing around, they'll have no chance at all, it'll back to the Stone Age. There'll be people around still. But civilisation will go."




There's also an article by the Independent environment editor titled 'Only nuclear power can now halt global warming', which more or less re-iterates Lovelock's position; and an editorial by Lovelock himself titled Nuclear power is the only green solution.



While I'm not entirely sold on the notion of nuclear power, I do have to wonder what the viable alternatives are. Let's face it: the fossil fuels are running out and continued burning of fossil fuels is clearly harmful to the planet's capacity to sustain life. Switching from an oil-based to a coal-based economy will only serve to exacerbate the latter. I'd certainly like to see a greater emphasis on developing renewable forms of energy for mass consumption, but wonder if that's doable in the span of, say, a couple decades (which may very well be our window of opportunity). I guess it comes down to what our comfort zones are, what sorts of lifestyle adjustments we're willing to make. The thing is, living in denial can only work for so long - eventually a rather radical adjustment in our way of life will be imposed on us from a perfect storm of environmental catastrophes and the depletion of petroleum. Maybe time to dust off that copy of Zerzan's book, Future Primitive?

So what lessons did the Likud really learn from Nazi persecution of Jews?

Likely the wrong ones. The BBC article, Israel wrestles with Nazi insults details the cognitive dissonance faced by Israelis whose government has used many of the same tactics used by the Nazis of the 1930s and 1940s, including the ghettoization, humiliation, and torture of a designated "subhuman" minority.

The culmination of Western Civilization's last 2000 years

To set the stage, first a quote from Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy's The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God? (quoted in Secrets of the Code, Dan Burstein, Ed.):



...Eusebius who, at the beginning of the fourth century, compiled from legends, fabrications, and his own imagination the only early history of Christianity that still exists today. All subsequent histories have been forced to base themselves on Eusebius's dubious claims, because there has been little other information to draw on. All those with a different perspective on Christianity were branded heretics and eradicated. In this way falsehoods compiled in the fourth century have come down to us as established facts.



Eusebius was employed by the Roman Emperor Constantine, who made Christianity the state religion of the Empire and gave Literalist Christianity the power it needed to begin the final eradication of Paganism and Gnosticism. Constantine wanted "one God, one religion" to consolidate his claim of "one Empire, one Emperor." He oversaw the creation of the Nicene creed, the article of faith repeated in churches to this day and Christians who refused to assent to this creed were banished from the Empire or otherwise silenced.



This "Christian" Emperor then returned home from Nicaea and had his wife suffocated and his son murdered. He deliberately remained unbaptized until his deathbed so that he could continue his atrocities and still receive forgiveness of sins and a guaranteed place in heaven by being baptized at the last moment. Although he had his "spin doctor" Eusebius compose a suitably obsequious biography for him, he was actually a monster just like many Roman Emperors before him. Is it really surprising that a "history" of the origins of Christianity created by an employee in the service of a Roman tyrant should turn out to be a pack of lies?



History is indeed written by the victors. The creation of an appropriate history has always been part of the arsenal of political manipulation.




Now from an interview with one of the authors of the above quote, Timothy Freke:



The legacy of Literalist Christianity has been horrendous. It has been the Holocaust for the sake of God on the one hand, and on the other hand it has been the Holocaust of women, the witch trials. It has been what happens through the rejection of the feminine...and we've lost the divine feminine, which is not just bad for women, it's bad for men...




Finally a quote from Dan Burstein:



With the benefit of more than sixteen hundred years of hindsight, some experts now see those Gnostic "heretics" denounced by early church officialdom as having been on a more humanist, more meaningful, more feminist, and more "Christian" spiritual path than those who ultimately triumphed. If ever there were a case of the winners getting to write history the way they saw it, this is it. Out of this epoch-defining process came a small number of Gospel truths on the one side, and a great many heretical documents on the other.



The extreme extension of the church's arguments against the heresies of sixteen hundred years ago would be recycled a thousand years later in the Inquisition. Malleus Maleficarum, written in 1487 as the political platform of the Inquisition, has its roots in the earlier battles against alleged heresies..




Now, read Brian Flemming's post "Do we have something to fear?" in light of the above quotes. Flemming reposts this from the LA Times:



"George sees this as a religious war," one family member told us. "He doesn't have a PC view of this war. His view is that they are trying to kill the Christians. And we the Christians will strike back with more force and more ferocity than they will ever know." Critics charge that the president is blindly engaged in a crusade, propelled by a belief in Armageddon that will end in a geopolitical disaster. One has compared his faith to the fundamentalists of Islam. Another calls it downright "frightening." Do we have something to fear from Bush's obviously strongly held convictions?




Flemming follows with a series of quotes that places Chimperor Junior Caligula's own Crusade or Inquisition in sharp relief. One can see that the same Literalist mentality that sowed the seeds for Inqusition, the Crusades, and the Salem Witch Trials has culminated in the current Crusade waged by Literalist Christians against Islam. The Literalists of the Roman and Medieval eras were nothing if not highly right-wing authoritarian in outlook, and simply could not tolerate world views, ways of life, that differed from their own. If they can't be converted, then they must be silenced by any means necessary - no matter how violent or cruel those means may be.



As I think about it, it becomes increasingly clear to me that cultures that completely jettison the sacred feminine as the cultures comprising "Western Civilation" have done end up being little more than cultures of death. Indeed, that seems to be the Western legacy. In the past two thousand years we've compiled a historical record (albeit one largely written by the victors) of increasingly violent and destructive wars, the genocides of indigenous cultures, etc. - all in the name of a God that the Literalists have pumped up with steroids.



Food for thought.

Eliminationist Rhetoric a Go Go

There's nothing like the thinly-veiled threat to get the average right-wingnut to feel all "manly." In today's episode, Crooked Timber has fun with Professor Instahack and USS Clueless with some primo quotes. Repression is the American way. Watch the playoffs and reality TV, go shopping, and shut up - that's the right-wing message. That stench of bovine fecal matter you smell is the foul odor of fascism.

And still more street art: "The Martyr"





I dig the quote: "Freedom cannot be given - it must be taken." It captures a fundamental truth about power: those who lead or rule can only do so with the consent of their subordinates. You don't have to comply. Their legitimacy depends upon you.

Some more street art: Hallibacon stencil





The cat who posted it had this to say:



not mine, but this was at the anti-halliburton protest on wednesday M19 in houston texas. figured i might as well post it

Some Street Art: A Coupon Beyond Redemption





Get the feeling some neo-con hawks have a bunch of these yet to be used? Definitely captures the mentality of the pro-war crowd.

Human Rights American Style: One Picture is Worth Ten Thousand Words





The caption from Truthout:



Another photo, released Friday by the Washington Post: An Abu Ghraib prisoner, ankles crossed and bound, is ordered to walk towards a baton-wielding U.S. soldier. The prisoner is covered in a brown substance, very possibly fecal matter.




While you're at it, here's some sworn statements by Abu Ghraib detainees.



This is the result of the sort of racist "manifest destiny" that our leaders have been selling us for much of our nation's existence. The planet deserves so much better.

Libertarians hosting anti-war rally

The Western Libertarian Alliance will be hosting a Memorial Day weekend anti-war demonstration in Atlanta. Although my own views diverge from the Libertarian crowd on matters of economics, I do find that many of these cats have been most vocal on matters of civil liberties and foreign policy - heck I can recall about 20 years ago when I first voted and found that the only candidates talking seriously about nuclear disarmament were candidates affiliated with the Libertarians. As an already avowed pacifist at 18, that left quite a mark on me.

Moore, Moore, Moore...How do you like it? How do you like it?

Michael Moore's Candid Camera, a NYT review of the new film and Cannes sensation, Fahrenheit 9/11.



A clip:



Perhaps the most damning sequence in "Fahrenheit 9/11" is the one showing American troops as they ridicule hooded detainees in a holding pen near Samara, Iraq, in December 2003. A male soldier touches the erection of a prisoner lying on a stretcher underneath a blanket, an intimation of the sexual humiliations that were happening at Abu Ghraib at that same time. Besides adding further corroboration to Seymour Hersh's report that the top command has sanctioned a culture of abuse not confined to a single prison or a single company or seven guards, this video raises another question: why didn't we see any of this on American TV before "60 Minutes II"?



Don Van Natta Jr. of The New York Times reported in March 2003 that we were using hooding and other inhumane techniques at C.I.A. interrogation centers in Afghanistan and elsewhere. CNN reported on Jan. 20, after the Army quietly announced its criminal investigation into prison abuses, that "U.S. soldiers reportedly posed for photographs with partially unclothed Iraqi prisoners." And there the matter stood for months, even though, as we know now, soldiers' relatives with knowledge of these incidents were repeatedly trying to alert Congress and news organizations to the full panorama of the story.



Mr. Moore says he obtained his video from an independent foreign journalist embedded with the Americans. "We've had this footage in our possession for two months," he says. "I saw it before any of the Abu Ghraib news broke. I think it's pretty embarrassing that a guy like me with a high school education and with no training in journalism can do this. What the hell is going on here? It's pathetic."



We already know that politicians in denial will dismiss the abuse sequence in Mr. Moore's film as mere partisanship. Someone will surely echo Senator James Inhofe's Abu Ghraib complaint that "humanitarian do-gooders" looking for human rights violations are maligning "our troops, our heroes" as they continue to fight and die. But Senator Inhofe and his colleagues might ask how much they are honoring soldiers who are overextended, undermanned and bereft of a coherent plan in Iraq. Last weekend The Los Angeles Times reported that for the first time three Army divisions, more than a third of its combat troops, are so depleted of equipment and skills that they are classified "unfit to fight." In contrast to Washington's neglect, much of "Fahrenheit 9/11" turns out to be a patriotic celebration of the heroic American troops who have been fighting and dying under these and other deplorable conditions since President Bush's declaration of war.




I doubt it'll show in my community, but I'll be grabbing a dvd as soon as one becomes available.

From the "But why do they hate us?" Department:

The AssPress has this story: AP Exclusive: Video Film of Wedding Party Captures Revelers Dancing, Singing. Some clips:



The U.S. military says it is investigating the attack, which took place in the village of Mogr el-Deeb about five miles from the Syrian border, but that all evidence so far indicates the target was a safehouse for foreign fighters.



"There was no evidence of a wedding: no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said Saturday. "There may have been some kind of celebration. Bad people have celebrations, too."



But video that APTN shot a day after the attack shows fragments of musical instruments, pots and pans and brightly colored beddings used for celebrations, scattered around the bombed out tent.



The wedding videotape shows a dozen white pickup trucks speeding through the desert escorting the bridal car - decorated with colorful ribbons. The bride wears a Western-style white bridal dress and veil. The camera captures her stepping out of the car but does not show a close-up.



An AP reporter and photographer, who interviewed more than a dozen survivors a day after the bombing, were able to identify many of them on the wedding party video - which runs for several hours.



...Four days after the attack, the memories of the survivors remain painful - as are their injuries.



Haleema Shihab, 32, one of the three wives of Rikad Nayef, said that as the first bombs fell, she grabbed her seven-month old son, Yousef, and clutching the hands of her five-year-old son, Hamza, started running. Her 15-year-old son, Ali, sprinted alongside her. They managed to run for several yards when she fell - her leg fractured.



"Hamza was yelling, 'mommy,'" Shihab, recalled. "Ali said he was hurt and that he was bleeding. That's the last time I heard him." Then another shell fell and injured Shihab's left arm.



"Hamza fell from my hand and was gone. Only Yousef stayed in my arms. Ali had been hit and was killed. I couldn't go back," she said from her hospital bed in Ramadi. Her arm was in a cast.



She and her stepdaughter, Iqbal - who had caught up with her - hid in a bomb crater. "We were bleeding from 3 a.m. until sunrise," Shihab said.



Soon American soldiers came. One of them kicked her to see if she was alive, she said.



"I pretended I was dead so he wouldn't kill me," said Shihab. She said the soldier was laughing. When Yousef cried, the soldier said: "'No, stop," said Shihab.



Fourteen-year-old Moza, Shihab's stepdaughter, lies on another bed of the hospital room. She was hurt in the leg and cries. Her relatives haven't told her yet that her mother, Sumaya, is dead.



"I fear she's dead," Moza said of her mother. "I'm worried about her."



Moza was sleeping on one side of the porch next to her sisters Siham, Subha and Zohra while her mother slept on the other end. There were many others on the porch, her cousins, stepmothers and other female relatives.



When the first shell fell, Moza and her sisters, Subha, Fatima and Siham ran off together. Moza was holding Subha's hand.



"I don't know where Fatima and my mom were. Siham got hit. She died. I saw Zohra's head gone. I lost consciousness," said Moza, covering her mouth with the end of her headscarf.



Her sister Iqbal, lay in pain on the bed next to her. Her other sister, Subha, was on the upper floor of the hospital, in the same room with two-year-Khoolood. Her small body was bandaged and a tube inserted in her side drained her liver.



Her ankle was bandaged. A red ribbon was tied to her curly hair. Only she and her older brother, Faisal, survived from their immediate family. Her parents and four sisters and brothers were all killed.



In all, 27 members of Rikad Nayef's extended family died - most of them children and women, the family said.




This is liberation? Give me a break.