Saturday, September 16, 2006

A picture that made my day

Props to Blue Gal!

By the numbers

Graphic found at Left I. The threat of terrorism is way down on the list. Check some of the fatality numbers from the red and orange zones - such as driving off the road or dying from work. Get the feeling we're being made afraid of the wrong things? Personally I'd be more concerned about work safety as well as road safety (and of course adequate testing of driving skills).

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Ballad of Valery Ponomarev. It's Their Way Or It's Their Way.

This is just so important that it needs to be quoted in full. Arthur Gilroy (nom de plume for a jazzer who blogs) writes about an incident at an airport that happened to another jazz musician. Let's read along:
Let me tell you a story...it won't take very long...about how far the Bushist doctrine of fear and power has spread.

How far, how deeply and how dangerously it has spread.

Security people at Charles DeGaulle airport broke the arm of the internationally famous jazz trumpet player Valery Ponomarev

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us last week...an American citizen for over 30 years...because he argued with the gate people at an Air India flight to New York when they demanded that he gate check his trumpet rather than bring it onto the plane. A trumpet that:

A-Fits with no problem whatsoever in the overheads.

and

B-Had been properly tagged as carryon baggage before he got to the gate.

Read on.

Now you must know that that musicians try very hard to get their instruments onto planes whenever they can do so. Baggage handlers are notorious for breaking things, and a broken instrument is painful in any number of ways. So is a lost or misrouted instrument. It's not like you can just pick up another one before the gig and play at your usual level of competence. Even if you are lucky enough to FIND one, every instrument has its own quirks and personality, and most professional musicians own instruments that are not easily replaceable. Older instruments or ones that were custom built or modified to their specifications. And since 9/11 and the whole Homeland Security/Terrorism scare-scam, if you DO carefully pack an instrument in a special ape-proof flight case and allow it to be checked as baggage, the minimum wagers that are doing "security" work in the baggage depeartment are often capable of opening the case, taking the instrument out to see if it's a bomb (Duh...a trumpet or violin REALLY looks bomb-like on an X-ray machine.) repacking it backwards and upside down and then forgetting to close the latches.

I have SEEN this happen.

So Valery...63 years old, maybe 5' 5" tall, 140 lbs...pitched a bitch at the gate when some pissed-off functionary at a loading gate decided to pull rank on him. They called security and four (as he so colorfully put it to me today when he told me the story) "giant asshole cops" took him someplace where there were no witnesses, tried to forcibly take his trumpet away and when he would not let go of it with his right hand, pulled his left arm behind his back and broke it.

And people sniff and moan when the word "fascism" is used to describe what is happening in America and in much of Western Europe as well.

Vaslery did not try to fight these people. As he related today (I wish I could reproduce his great Russan accent) "I grew up in Soviet Union under Stalin and Khruschev. I know enough not to try to hit a cop. Let alone four of them. Big, stupid motherfuckers." (Here he stands on tiptoe and raises his remaining functioning hand as high in the air as he can.) "They were THS BIG!!! FOUR of them!!! I am not THAT stupid."

And indeed he is not.

Here is a man who grew up in Russia when playing "jazz" was almost an act of open rebellion and got so good that Art Blakey hired him to join the Jazz Messengers in the late '60s. And if you do not know how serious THAT was...Blakey was possibly the only equal to Miles Davis in terms of hearing and hiring the best of the best in the post-bop era.

Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter...that level.

The BEST of the best.

So here we have this INSATIABLY positive little Russian guy, authentically playing in an idiom that had its genesis in the riot-torn black ghettos of America during the Civil Rights era. Moving to New York, getting his citizenship, re-starting a life here...a true "American" success story, when there really was such a thing. Now seriously crippled...they had to operate because it was a complex break...and unable to even HOLD a trumpet, because George fucking Bush and his handlers have decided that they are the deciders and we are their subjects.

I just thought I would bring this general "fascism" discussion down to a more personal level. This can happen to ANY of us who do not totally surrender on any level whatsoever to the madness of these people.

It's their way or it's their way.

One way or another.

It's the cop way.

Do as we say...no matter HOW stupid it may be...or we will beat you down physically.

We have seen discussions of what "fascism" is. What the word really means. High level theorizing about the state and corporations, etc. Objections to the supposed trivializing of the word.

Well...I've got news for you.

THIS is "fascism."

It's their way or it's their way.

One way or another.

It's the cop way.

Do as they say...no matter HOW stupid it may be...or they will beat you down physically.

No recourse.

They will beat you down NOW.

And this is not just happening in America. It is now almost worldwide. It is spreading, this attitude. Not diminishing..These people are always with us, waiting for a chance to run their game. I have seen the same hard faces in Holland, in Scandinavia...in the most civilized places on earth. The same faces bolstered by the same weapons.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Waiting.

Slick or crude.

In high positions or in low.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Waiting for their chance to rule.

To TOTALLY rule.

"It's my or or it's my way. Step AWAY from your rights with your hands in the air."

And we have given them their chance, now.

God help us all.

You doubt this idea? OK. Try to imagine the above story happening in 1996. Nope. End of argument. This was not "police brutality." This was not some poor denizen of the lower depths of society being set upon by the bottom feeders that always make their living scavenging down there. This was an internationally recognized artist on tour.

It was a random act of fascist violence, and acts like this function in a fascist system as ongoing warnings to ALL. "Stay in line or else!!! You could be next."

So when lefty theorizers start bitching and moaning about how theoretically imperfect politicians like Hillary Clinton are "no better than their opponents", I get pissed off.

The fish rots from the head, and the soulless functionaries at the top of the international political food chain right now...from CheneyBush on down...are in the process of tearing apart nearly 800 years of attempted civilized progress. Say from the signing of the Magna Carta. They are doing a better job than did their teachers, the Hitler people.

MUCH better.

Because they are stealth stealers.

One little right at a time.

No Blitzkrieg necessary.

No Kristallnacht.

No burning of the Reichstag.

Just taking little bits of our souls.

A right here, a thought there.

Until there is nothing left but obedience.

"It is our way or it is our way."

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

"Whatchoo gonna DO about it, chump?"

Well...what ARE we going to do about it?

Inquiring minds want to know.

What are we going to do about it if the November Dream..."DEMOCRATS WIN!!! DEMOCRATS WIN !!!"...turns into the same wisp of smoke as have all the OTHER Fitzmasses Past?

What CHOO gonna do about it?

Motherfucker.

AG

Wow. That's just one hell of a story. I hope the cat is able to recover and able to continue with his art. I'm guessing that cats like Ponomarev came to the US seeking freedom from the Stalinist-style repression only to find that the US (and apparently the rest of the west) is well on the way to becoming every bit as Stalinist as the old USSR.

Arthur's taunt at the end is very reminiscent of the sorts of taunts one might get in a Last Poets or Gylan Kain rap - "whatcha gonna do about it, mothafucka? whatcha gonna do about it...mothafucka?" Whatcha gonna do when they come after you? Whatcha gonna do when the Knights in Shining Armor® turn out to be the same thugs in different suits and their white horses start spitting bullets from machine gun tails?

The current top ten

There's usually music of one sort or another emanating from my office's cheap cd player. Here's what I've been grooving on lately:
  1. Royal Hartigan - Blood Drum Spirit - (innova Recordings, 2003)
  2. Electric Barbarian - él - (Lowlands Distribution, 2004)
  3. Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid - The Exchange Session Vol. 1 - (Domino Recording Co., 2006)
  4. Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid - The Exchange Session Vol. 2 - (Domino Recording Co., 2006)
  5. Okyerema Asante - Drum Message - (Black Fire, 1977)
  6. Nathaniel Mackey w/ Royal Hartigan & Hafez Modirzadeh - Strick: Song of the Andoumboulou 16-25 - (Spoken Engine Co., 1995)
  7. Evolution Control Committee - Plagiarythm Nation - (Seeland, 2003)
  8. Richard H. Kirk - Meets the Truck Bombers of Suburbia - (Intoned, 2004)
  9. Richard H. Kirk - Fear (No Evil) - (Dust Science Recordings, 2006)
  10. Sun Ra - Nothing Is - (ESP-Disk, 1966)
Lately I've been pretty heavy on percussion and spoken word - perhaps more so than usual.

Okyerema Asante was Oneness of Juju's drummer during the 1970s. His album fits in with the general vibe of the band, but with much more exploration of African rhythms in a jazz context and a bit less funk. Royal Hartigan is drummer and percussionist who's day job is in higher ed (on the music faculty of UMass Dartmouth) & who has been gigging around with a number of jazzers for a while. Steve Reid is a former Detroit-area jazz drummer who now lives in Switzerland and has been collaborating with electronics wiz Kieran Hebden in jazz combo and duo settings lately. Arcturus has been turning me on to the spoken word of Nathaniel Mackey, which is well worth hearing! Sun Ra's Nothing Is pretty much goes along with my current mindset. Of course I've been a Richard Kirk fan since I first discovered Cabaret Voltaire back in the 1980s - he has this way of creating these dub-heavy electronic soundscapes that have wickedly subversive titles. Electric Barbarian is a contemporary jazz outfit that's had the good taste and sense to get former Last Poet Gylan Kain to record and gig with them. And of course, my love of creative remixing leads me to cats like ECC - someone who can layer Public Enemy raps over Herb Alpert tunes in any sort of coherent fashion earns my respect.

Amen

Lenin's Tomb nails it:
Those who remain aboard are either mutinous or are trying desperately to shore up the pop-eyed captain. Harriet Harman, the MP who enacted New Labour's vindictive cuts to single mother benefits and who co-drafted the government's statement that the invasion of Iraq would be legal, is now fretting that foreign policy has destroyed the electorate's trust in the government. She proposes a healthy "debate" at the Labour Party conference, which is rather sweet but too late. You've killed hundreds of thousands on the basis of lies: the time for debate was before that. Now is the time for show-trials and executions.
My emphasis added. Although I'm no fan of executions, I otherwise fully endorse the sentiment as it applies not only to the goons who've been running the UK's "New Labour" but our own rulers in the US.

Yet another reason to steer clear of Starbucks

Not only does the coffee suck, but the company's anti-labor:
The Starbucks "investigation" of IWW member Daniel Gross concluded today with his termination after more than three years of organizing at the company. Daniel's expression of solidarity at a union picket line with co-worker and fellow union member, Evan Winterscheidt, was deemed threatening by Starbucks despite multiple eyewitnesses who confirm that Daniel merely asserted to District Manager Allison Marx that Evan should not be fired. With the termination of IWW members Daniel Gross, Evan Winterscheidt, Joe Agins Jr., and Charles Fostrom in less than a year, Starbucks has demonstrated conclusively its intense hostility to the right of workers to join a union.
Nerdified link.

Commentary on first-person shooter videogames

First things first. It might be worthwhile to check the blog entry titled Meet the Dawson College Shooter. Some things that jumped out:

1. The young man made statements such as "Life is a videogame, you've got to die sometime."

2. Apparently, he had some firearms and was fond of posting pictures of himself posing with firearms on his blog. He apparently also harbored a great deal of violent fantasies which again reportedly made their way to his blog.

3. He was a gamer fond of first-person shooter videogames, such as "Super Columbine Massacre."

4. He was part of a goth sub-culture.

A few thoughts about point #4 - I used to hang out with goths and rivetheads in college. Heck, I still like some of the music that comes out of the goth and industrial sub-genres in rock (though admittedly, my tastes are now really old-school - Bahaus, The Sisters of Mercy, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Skinny Puppy, and so forth are products of the 1970s and 1980s, and I really haven't kept up with any of the newer acts, but I digress). If you meet up with a goth, the thing that will strike you is a love of black clothing and perhaps way too much black makeup. Other than that, the numerous goths I hung out with were a fairly well-adjusted bunch: Maybe a bit cynical & anti-establishment, and prone to gallows humor, which I find to be wonderful qualities. I realize that media pundits and various authority figures will want to immediately bag on the whole goth thing, and I would strongly advise against doing so. Goths, like most of the rest of humanity are as The Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy might say "mostly harmless."

With that out of the way, there is something to first-person shooter videogames that have worried me for quite a number of years now. As someone whose interests in media violence come from a sort of social cognition & personality angle, and who has been involved in some of the research that has found its way into various academic journals over the last few years, I can offer some insights on the potential effects of games like "Doom," "Super Columbine Massacre," and other similar games.

First, there is now ample evidence that violent videogames are causally linked to aggressive behavior. Much of that research is based on lab experimentation using teens and young adults as research subjects, although there are field studies and experiments that yield strikingly similar results. We can say quite readily that violent videogames prime aggression-related cognitions and that they tend to cause subjects to experience negative mood states such as anger. We also have evidence that violent videogames lead to distortions in social perception that can lead to misinterpretation of ambiguous social encounters as hostile.

First person shooter games are especially pertinent to the discussion as they tend to be quite realistic - the gamer sees the virtual world in the game through the perpetrator's eyes, if you will. The violence in the games tends to be quite graphic, and let's just say that the programming technology is so much better today at creating realistic-looking scenarios than was the case even a few years ago. There is tons of research on media violence that suggests that the more realistic a medium is, the more of an effect it has on later aggression.

These games also tend to be fairly addictive, which means that gamers are repeatedly rehearsing violent behaviors. We've learned through tons of research in human cognition that repetitive rehearsals of behaviors (whether in reality or through fantasy) tends to make those behaviors automatic - that is the rehearsed behaviors become habits or "second nature" to the individual. One consequence of that phenomenon is that the rehearsed behavior and related behaviors can be easily primed if the right situational cues are present. Individuals playing first-person shooter games are making interpersonal violence "second nature."

From a phenomenological standpoint, it's very easy to get "lost" in the virtual worlds created by game programmers. The virtual world can become "real" to the gamer - and therein lies the rub. Individuals who exist in difficult social circumstances may find the games as an escape outlet, and one in which to rehearse revenge fantasies and so on in a sufficiently realistic fashion to which the boundaries between the "real" and "virtual" worlds are blurred. Through the eyes of the young man at Dawson College, life may very well have been "a videogame."

Although I am not contending that everyone who plays first-person shooter games will become psycho killers, I am noting that certain confluences of rehearsal of violent behaviors inherent in playing these games, social difficulties, access to firearms, and personalities could be more potentially deadly than the various game programmers would have us believe. The following quote sums it up aptly:
The result is not a mass cultural phenomena (each case like Dawson or Columbine appears isolated in itself ) which allows proponents of gaming to dismiss criticism. Rather it is an individual who lives in their game and acts out in mass culture. Something the defenders of gaming cannot account for. Even though they know full well these games originated in the military and are used for training the armed forces.

Those who would say that this is not so use statstical data on crime rates in relation to violent video games to dismiss the critics.

The North American research seems somewhat oblivious to the (mostly European) social science research on media effects that suggests the importance of particular context in explaining violent behaviour;

The reality is that those susceptible to the emotional plague will succumb to living these games out in reality.
This video computer simulacrum, as Baudrillard calls it, becomes their real life. 

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Avila sez

"You can make a difference by keeping their names up front."
"We'll keep you alive so you can suffer more"

--US interrogator to Mohammed El Gharani, Saudi juvenile detained in Guantanamo. Operation End Your Freedom.

compare with:

"I was beaten and verbally abused in detention. After a few days, the guards asked me, 'Do you know that your name is all over the Internet?'

After that, I was treated better by the guards before being released. The appeals sent by Amnesty members definitely had an effect on my case."

--Rehab Abdel Bagi Mohamed Ali

Also check out The Pony Express.

Russ Feingold sez

“Fascist ideology doesn’t have anything to do with the way global terrorist networks think or operate, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world who practice the peaceful teachings of Islam.”
Nerdified link. I've blogged a bit here and there on fascism before. Just a few highlights:

Some Quotables: Fascism and its Alternatives
"No, Abu Ghraib isn't Auschwitz, but you can see it from there."
Tuesday Thought Piece
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Is America Becoming Fascist? (also check a well-written article by Anis Shivani by the same title)
Kurt Nimmo on Bush, Authoritarianism, and Fascism
Food for Thought.

The bottom line from what I've read and researched over the years is fairly straight-forward: fascism is a modern form of authoritarianism that has at its foundation a merging of capitalist business interests and the modern nation state under the rubric of nation and God. It's a form of government that is highly militaristic and imperialistic. In other words, fascism is essentially a product of the West.

The conditions in what we consider the Islamic world are not ones in which fascism could arise. The necessary large-scale military, state, and corporate structures needed to even make a fascist system a possibility are not there. That's not to say that there aren't authoritarian communities and states in the Middle East and Central Asia - such an assertion would be absurd - merely that a merger of Islam and fascism simply has not and is not happening. Nor is it happening among Islamic "terrorist" organizations as they are generally not statist in the classic sense that one would find among bonafide fascist organizations in Europe and the Americas.

Who's confused?

House Majority Leader John Boner (Republican):
"I listen to my Democrat friends, and I wonder if they're more interested in protecting terrorists than in protecting the American people."

[...]

"I said I wonder if they're more interested in protecting the terrorists," he replied, repeating more than clarifying. "They certainly don't want to take the terrorists on in the field."

Thus spoke Hastert:
"Some Democrats on Capitol Hill seem to be confused about who the enemy is."

Howzabout we take a gander at a real terrorist:

What's this dude's story? Let's find out:

Man in clinic crash thought center was abortion clinic

A man accused of driving his car into a women’s health center and then setting the vehicle on fire thought the facility was an abortion clinic, Davenport police said today.

“He was using his car to torch the building,” detective Mike Bowers said.

David Robert McMenemy, 45, of Sterling Heights, Mich., is charged with second-degree arson. He is accused of driving his car into the Edgerton Women’s Health Center about 4:30 a.m. Monday.

McMenemy remains in the Scott County Jail.

The car has been impounded and officials are examining its contents, including whether any explosive-type materials are present.

The center does not perform abortions and does not provide abortion referrals, said Tom Fedje, the president of Edgerton. He said the center does advise pregnant women on the various options available to them.

Bowers said McMenemy has no ties to the Quad-City area and has been driving around the Midwest since August.

“He has admitted looking them (abortion clinics) up in phone books and online,” Bowers added. “I have no idea why Iowa.”

Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa is monitoring the incident, spokeswoman Kathi Di Nicola said. Planned Parenthood is the only agency to provide abortions in the Quad-Cities, performing the procedure at its women’s health clinic in Bettendorf.

Bowers said McMenemy apparently thought abortions were performed at the Edgerton center.

“He drove into the clinic and set his car on fire using an accelerant. He knew what he was doing. He planned it. It wasn’t an accident,” the detective added.

Some commentary to sum up just how fucked up our security priorities really are:

While the FBI directs it’s attention toward so called “eco terrorists” (who attack what this government REALLY cares about, PROPERTY), the Republican party ramps up it’s adoption of the hateful rhetoric of the far right, people who are genuine dangers to the public are treated as common criminals at best, ignored at worst.

Like the white supremicists caught in Texas, an arrest all-but ignored by the media, and NOT trumpeted by the government, we can only call someone a “terrorist” if their attack, plot or violent fantasies encouraged by a government agent provocateur fits the narrative of scary brown people or muslims aching to blow up suburbanites and eat the flesh of their dead children’s corpses. Or who will steal their jobs ... or burn up their SUVs. The “be afraid” story MUST be maintained and stoked.

Luckily, no one in Iowa was hurt physically by this latest domestic terrorist. It’s only a matter of time before someone is, while our politicians and law enforcement professionals continue to look the other way, too busy cashing in on fearful jingoism, prejudice and zealotry.

Let's call these utter wastes of human dna who go around vandalizing and bombing family planning & women's health facilities; who burn crosses in front of houses occupied by people who just happen to have a different skin color; who terrorize immigrants; who burn down churches, mosques and synagogues what they really are: terrorists (and they should be treated accordingly). For the most part, the powers that be - in particular those of Republican persuasion - give these goons a blind eye and a free pass as they go about their business of destroying property (which one would think should be all-mighty in the GOP scheme of things), lives, and livelihoods. Neither the goons nor their enablers will be foregiven nor foregotten. Bet on it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

From the mailbag

Via Kentyah, who had this to say:
Please peep this..

I found it very touching, particualrly the scene with the homeless man...

I beleive in these days the reinforcement of ideas is what needs to occur, otherwise ignorance becomes boss...

Like the Watts Prophets said..."Listen.."

What is Love?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Confucius sez: "A picture is worth ten thousand words."

Case in point:



And that's just the conservative estimate. Via rachaelnoel's blog.

"Who has left this hole in the ground?"


Keith Olbermann nails it better than any of his fellow MSM commentators.

Banksy strikes again:


Artist Banksy targets Disneyland

A life-size replica of a Guantanamo Bay detainee has been placed in Disneyland by "guerrilla artist" Banksy.

The hooded figure was placed inside the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at the California theme park last weekend.

It is understood to have remained in place for 90 minutes before the ride was closed down and the figure removed.

A spokeswoman for Banksy said the stunt was intended to highlight the plight of terror suspects at the controversial detention centre in Cuba.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Poetry time: "Not in my name"

From a few years ago, but well worth repeated readings:
Not in My Name

Before I start this poem, I'd like to ask you to join
me in a moment of silence in honor of those who died in the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon last September 11th.

I would also like to ask you to offer up a moment of
silence for all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared,
tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes, for the
victims in both Afghanistan and the U.S.

And if I could just add one more thing
A full day of silence for the tens of thousands of
Palestinians who have died at the hands of U.S.-backed Israeli forces over
decades of occupation.

Six months of silence for the million and-a-half Iraqi
people, mostly children, who have died of malnourishment or
starvation as a result of an 11-year U.S. embargo against the country.

Before I begin this poem, two months of silence for
the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa, where homeland security
made them aliens in their own country

Nine months of silence for the dead in Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, where Death rained down and peeled back every layer of
concrete, steel, earth and
Skin and the survivors went on as if alive.

A year of silence for the millions of dead in Viet Nam
- a people, not a
war - for those who know a thing or two about the
scent of burning fuel,
their relatives' bones buried in it, their babies born
of it.

A year of silence for the dead in Cambodia and Laos,
victims of a secret
war ... ssssshhhhh .... Say nothing ... we don't want
them to learn that they are dead.

Two months of silence for the decades of dead in
Colombia, whose names,
like the corpses they once represented, have piled up
and slipped off our tongues.

Before I begin this poem,
An hour of silence for El Salvador ...
An afternoon of silence for Nicaragua ...
Two days of silence for the Guetmaltecos ...
None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their
living years.
45 seconds of silence for the 45 dead at Acteal,
Chiapas
25 years of silence for the hundred million Africans
who found their graves
far deeper in the ocean than any building could poke
into the sky.
There will be no DNA testing or dental records to
identify their remains.
And for those who were strung and swung from the
heights of sycamore
Trees in the south, the north, the east, and the west
... 100 years of silence
...
For the hundreds of millions of indigenous peoples
from this half of right here,
Whose land and lives were stolen, In postcard-perfect
plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Fallen Timbers, or
the Trail of Tears.
Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the
refrigerator of our consciousness ...

So you want a moment of silence?
And we are all left speechless
Our tongues snatched from our mouths
Our eyes stapled shut

A moment of silence
And the poets have all been laid to rest
The drums disintegrating into dust

Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence
You mourn now as if the world will never be the same

And the rest of us hope to hell it won't be.
Not like it always has been

Because this is not a 9-1-1 poem
This is a 9/10 poem,
It is a 9/9 poem,
A 9/8 poem,
A 9/7 poem

This is a 1492 poem.
This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be
written

And if this is a 9/11 poem, then
This is a September 11th poem for Chile, 1971
This is a September 12th poem for Steven Biko in South
Africa, 1977
This is a September 13th poem for the brothers at
Attica Prison, New
York,
1971.

This is a September 14th poem for Somalia, 1992.
This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground
in ashes
This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never
told
The 110 stories that history chose not to write in
textbooks
The 110 stories that that CNN, BBC, The New York
Times, and Newsweek
ignored
This is a poem for interrupting this program.

And still you want a moment of silence for your dead?
We could give you lifetimes of empty:
The unmarked graves
The lost languages
The uprooted trees and histories
The dead stares on the faces of nameless children

Before I start this poem we could be silent forever
Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.

If you want a moment of silence
Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines and the televisions
Sink the cruise ships
Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights,
Delete the instant messages,
Derail the trains, the light rail transit
If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through
the window of Taco
Bell,
And pay the workers for wages lost
Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the
Penthouses and
the
Playboys.

If you want a moment of silence,
Then take it
On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July
During Dayton's 13 hour sale
Or the next time your white guilt fills the room where
my beautiful
people
have gathered

You want a moment of silence
Then take it
Now,
Before this poem begins.
Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand
In the space between bodies in embrace,
Here is your silence
Take it.
But take it all
Don't cut in line.
Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime.

But we,
Tonight we will keep right on singing
For our dead.

- Emmanuel Ortiz 9.11.02
Props to dark daughta.

Other views on the post-9-11 war on terra

The following links (with the exception of the last one) are via Lenin's Tomb. The John Pilger video is an oldie but a goodie, and provides some necessary background.

"It's completely barking mad" - top soldier quits over Afghanistan campaign.
"America's warrior nation" by Gore Vidal.
John Pilger - "Breaking the Silence".
Tortured screams in Abu Ghraib
9/11 was good for capital.
Remembering 11/9.
"The New York City Council's education committee approved a curriculum on Israel initiated by the public relations department of the Israeli Consulate in New York."
US-UK illegal mercenary operations in Africa.
Slavoj Zizek: a failure of cognitive mapping.
62,006 - the number killed in the 'war on terror'

The World Can't Wait - Neither Can We

Saw this and thought I'd pass it along to my readers:
8 days to begin to change how the world sees us!

It's 9-11, and what has been shoved into world news this week? U.S. torture camps, justified by the Bush regime, and about to be accepted by Congress. Do we want to be seen by the world as torturers?

George Bush goes to the United Nations on Tuesday, September 19 to announce "we're doing this all over again" - this time in Iran. What is the world going to see that day? There is the possibility of something different beginning to show itself in this country...

On September 19, the World Can't Wait will publish a full page ad in USA Today, the nation's largest circulation daily, saying "Bring the Bush Crimes to a Halt!" and joining with the protests of Bush at the United Nations, and with people acting around the country on "Bush Crimes Day". The ad will contain the Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime, announce mass protests on Thursday, October 5 to millions of people, and spread the spirit of "history will judge us sharply if we fail to act to stop this."

No one is going to send this message to the world for us. WE must do it.

Debra Sweet
National Coordinator
The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime

Be part of acting, wherever you are, by donating. $104,000 needed by Friday September 15. $500,000 by Thursday, September 21.

Forward this email to 10 of your friends with a personal note on why you are contributing.

Hold a fund-raising house party. Show a DVD of the Bush Crimes Commission hearings. Order here [janet@nion.us]

Do you have the resources to make or raise larger donations of money or stock? Contact World Can't Wait Development Director Samantha Elena Goldman. [elena@worldcantwait.org]

1300+ organizers for regime change gathered last Thursday to plan October 5 protests in 50 cities.

24 days until October 5! Join in Innovative and Bold Outreach and Massive Fund-raising

Props to Betsy Angert of Be-Think.

A prayer for peace

Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people's plight.

Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.

Help me take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.

Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.

Give me honesty and patience;
So that I can work with others workers.

Bring forth song and celebration;
So that the Spirit will be alive among us.

Let the Spirit flourish and grow;
So that we will never tire of the struggle.

Let us remember those who have died for justice;
For they have given us life.

Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world.

-- Cesar Chavez

Found in the comments to the diary Working Together VIII: Cesar Chavez - Working Class Hero.

Seemed an appropriate sentiment for today.

9-11 Means Different Things to Different People

I've been doing a variation of the following since September 11, 2003, which at the time marked the 30th anniversary of the US-assisted overthrow of the democratically elected Allende government in Chile, and the beginning of Pinochet's reign of terror against his own people. The idea was to offer a reminder to my readers that what 9-11 means or "should mean" has a great deal of variability among individuals across the globe.

This year I'm modifying my statement just a bit, as I like to keep it fresh as I wish to keep it real. There is no doubt in my mind that terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers and the Pentagon were a terrible tragedy. However, let's not forget that September 11 marks the anniversary for numerous other events: some tragic, some inspirational.

1. We shall also remember that 33 years ago, the democratically elected government of Chile and its President Allende were overthrown in a US-backed coup that resulted in Allende's death. Countless thousands of people were executed or "disappeared" during Pinochet's reign of terror that subsequently followed this tragic day in history. Let's remember the victims of the coup and its aftermath.

2. On this day in 1959 the US Congress authorized food stamps for Americans living in poverty. For those congressional leaders who voted to aid those in need, let's remember them.

3. On this day in 1851, in Christiana, Pennsylvania there was a stand-off between several ex-slave families (led by William Parker) and a posse of several armed white men led by a slave owner (Edward Gorsuch). This was one with a somewhat happy ending, as Parker and the remaining ex-slaves prevailed, and Gorsuch paid for his attempt to re-enslave these families with his life. That day was a stark reminder of the struggle that lay ahead for those endeavoring to break the bonds of slavery in the U.S. Let's remember Parker and those brave families who were willing to stand up for their human rights and dignity by any means necessary. The same day that was rife with tragedy at the beginning of our current century marked the sesquicentennial of what was truly a day of triumph for Parker and his crew.

4. On this day in 1945 retiring Secretary of War Henry Stimson sent a letter to then-President Harry Truman urging that the Truman administration follow a cooperative path with the USSR as the Soviet government worked to develop nuclear energy and weapons capability. Said Stimson:

“I believe that the change in attitude toward the individual in Russia will come slowly and gradually and I am satisfied that we should not delay our approach to Russia in the matter of the atomic bomb until that process has been completed.... Furthermore, I believe that this long process of change in Russia is more likely to be expedited by the closer relationship in the matter of the atomic bomb which I suggest and the trust and confidence that I believe would be inspired by the method of approach which I have outlined.”
Stimson reasoned the Russians would at once pursue obtaining such a bomb for themselves. It was not a secret, as Americans were for years led to believe, but an industrial technology being explored before the War, and which the Soviets would obtain in, say, four to twenty, years.
In a reference to the US "having this weapon rather ostentatiously on our hip," Stimson noted, "their suspicions and their distrust of our purposes and motives will increase. It will inspire them to greater efforts in an all out effort to solve the problem."
"The chief lesson I have learned in a long life is that the only way you can make a man trustworthy is to trust him; and the surest way to make him untrustworthy is to distrust him and show your distrust."
Tragically, his advice was ignored by the Truman administration, and what followed was a protracted "Cold War" that served only to inflate our elites' Military-Industrial Complex and sense of paranoia at the expense of much more humanitarian endeavors. Let us remember Stimson's words, as our current White House (p)resident threatens to pursue a belligerent reaction to Iran's efforts to become a nuclear power in its own right.

5. On this day 100 years ago Mohandas Gandhi began his famous Satyagraha in opposition to British imperial rule. Although requiring decades, Gandhi's efforts at nonviolent resistance begun on 9-11-1906 would prove successful. Let us remember Gandhi and those he's inspired to follow a different, nonviolent path in the struggle for freedom and dignity.

6. On this day three years ago, the world lost one of the truly great slapstick comedians, John Ritter, who died of a heart attack. Ritter is likely best known for his role as Jack Tripper in the late 1970s & early 1980s sitcom Three's Company (based on the British sitcom Man About the House). Let's remember Ritter and others like him who've shared the gift of humor in these troubled times.

This day marks the anniversary of numerous events, some tragic, some uplifting. But bear in mind that ultimately today is merely another day on the calendar. We need not be straight-jacketed by the events of the past, nor need we forget them. There are many lessons to be learned from the events mentioned above with regards to human freedom and dignity. Let's spend some time today pondering those lessons.

For me personally, September 11, 2001 will be remembered as a day when we saw the schizophrenic character of American society in sharp relief. The acts of courage and helpfulness by countless individuals, their willingness to reach out to others was truly inspiring. On the other hand, the American tendency to engage in belligerent jingoism and to immediately blame and attack people, nations, and cultures for the bombings reared its ugly head that day and in the aftermath, which to me was truly sickening. Sadly, the latter won out in the aftermath leading to an America that is on the warpath, with little regard for the consequences - either at home or abroad. Although our hope of the tide turning may be faint, that hope is the one candle we do possess in the darkness of the early 21st century.

Peace

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Where's the disconnect?

Something over at Lenin's Tomb that captures the essence of our situation:
The cost to the average working class American for this enforced dependency is therefore going to be enormous. And not only in their wallet. The attempt to control the oil spigot is going to involve the US army in an increasing number of interventions around the world, and almost every expert in the field anticipates that this will expose Americans to an increased risk of being targeted by militant groups.

Americans are increasingly aware of the consequences of those policies, and report growing support for different policies. The American government doesn't care, as why should it? It is not beholden to the fraction of the population that bothers to vote for it. Even where states try to research and implement alternatives, powerful lobbies block it. To move as fast as we would need to on environmental terms would involve a massive restructuring of the economy which, while certainly in the interests of working class Americans (as well as almost everyone else), would involve an unthinkable challenge to the interests and priorities of capital. Not only oil, oil-processing and car companies, but all derivative economies resist such moves. In fact, throughout the 20th Century, oil multinationals have worked extremely hard to roll back alternatives wherever they have emerged, often to the great detriment of the hated consumer, as when in 1940 GM, Standard Oil and Firestone acquired and dismantled electric rail links in parts of California. They also ripped up and dismantled the electric rail and car system in Los Angeles and motorised downtown - they were all convicted of criminal conspiracy in 1949, but fined so little that it hardly mattered. Now, Los Angeles has beautiful smog sunsets. Even on such piddling matters as Kyoto, the Global Climate Coalition - an axis of oil and car companies including Shell, Texaco and Ford - has been working overtime to block even the slightest shift, bribing politicians and parties to achieve this. This sort of thing is referred to as 'corporate greed': it is the competitive accumulation of capital and those who run the system couldn't do otherwise if they were self-abnegating puritans who preferred the lifestyle of ascetic monks.
In a recent book by Chomsky, the author lists a number of pieces of evidence that the US is at bare minimum a failing state - if not an outright failed state. For our purposes, the main point to highlight is the disconnect between the government and the very people whom the government is supposed to represent. When it comes to energy policies, health care, stewardship of the environment, and on and on we find ample evidence that the ruling elites who control the government have absolutely no interest in what the rest of their fellow Americans actually want. What Lenin cites is but one example.

If Americans can be accused of any sins, it's of complacency and naivete. These two sins seem to be in direct proportion to the extent that individual Americans accept the notion of American Exceptionalism - or the belief that we're somehow a special and benign giant doing God's will to make the world a better place. You believe something along the lines of exceptionalism, you'll believe about anything - such as changing who dominates the Congress will lead to an actual change in policies - in any substantive sense. I seriously doubt that the elites who run the Democrat party will be much more sane than the inmates currently running the asylum (perhaps a bit less paranoid and delusional - perhaps). As a good friend from my college days would periodically write in his zine, Pressure, "so, where's the change?" My guess is that for many Americans who really believe that this time things will be different, the disappointment come the next couple years will be palpable.

And I'll ask them once again, "so, where's the change?"