Saturday, June 7, 2008

Saturday Cactus Blogging

Here's this afternoon's flower photo. A new bloom appeared just as the old one (look to the far-right-hand side of the photo) had completely faded. Madame, of course, is none too happy to have all these cactus photos invading her hard drive, but thus far she has failed to persuade me to cease and desist from my quest. I'll have another installment up once the next flower or flowers appear.

Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy

Looks like John Kerry now has to contend with a primary challenger, Ed O'Reilly. Dethroning Kerry in a primary would be a coup. I won't bet the ranch on it happening, but hey, one less warmonger in the Senate would be nice.

John Cole has fun at Larry Johnson's expense

Go see for yourself: you'll be shocked! Instaputz gets in on the action, as well. Let's just say this is as close to a "whitey" tape as you'll ever get! Have fun! The joke's on Larry Johnson.


On a side note, I've certainly found the various "whitey" threads at No Quarter morbidly entertaining - under normal circumstances, debunking urban legends doesn't count as trolling, but there, let's just say that I've been doing plenty of trolling on the off chance that a few of the regulars there aren't drinking whatever kool-aid that the rest of 'em are ingesting.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday cactus flower blogging

This is the same flower that I photographed yesterday. One thing that you'll quickly notice about cactus flowers, and this is especially true with pricklypear, is that the blossoms do not last long. My experience with the plains pricklypear is that its blossoms tend to last maybe a couple days. The other flowers should bloom over the next week or so.

Now that the primary nonsense appears over

It's time for some new bumper stickers. Here's a few I find appropriate for this sorry excuse of an electoral spectacle:
All courtesy of Libertystickers.com. Just remember that your "leaders" need you far more than you need them. Power is not a one-way street. No matter how much these goons may wish to play dictator, they cannot do it without your consent. Withdrawing consent isn't especially difficult, and can be as passive or as active as one wants to make it. I'm still all for a boycott of the November election and a general strike come election day. I don't expect too many takers, but a lot can happen between now and then.

By the way, Scary Shit is back. It's about damn time!

Said it before, will say it again:

Neoliberalism kills.

First cactus flower of the season

As I mentioned a couple days back, my cacti are beginning to bloom. This spring, it's just the plains pricklypear that are blooming. If the tree cholla plant ever begins to bloom, I understand its flowers should be purple. This next set of pictures will be the last ones before the plants are re-potted. With three rapidly growing pricklypear plants and a tree cholla that looks like it's going to do okay, their current home is becoming just a bit too cozy. Right now I'm still renting, so I imagine the plants will just have to stay in pots for at least another year or two. The hope of having a pretty nice cactus garden is becoming reality.

I'm a huge fan of xeriscaping, and an advocate of using drought tolerant plants for landscaping - something I got turned on to back as an undergrad at Cal State Fullerton (the university's arboretum is itself a working example of xeriscaping). In my semi-arid corner of the planet, my plants of choice are native: cacti and yuccas work quite nicely, are quite attractive, and require very little watering.

This particular photo was taken around 1 pm Thursday, just prior to a mild dust storm. I'm still experimenting with the camera's settings.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Now that Congress is stating the obvious,

how about putting impeachment back on the table?

Pass the popcorn

The Larry Johnson rumor mill just will not stop. Even if Obama denies the rumor, the rumor-mongers simply cannot accept the answer. Johnson and his kool-aid drinkers simply cannot accept that thus far their pet hypothesis has not been proven, and until Johnson or one of his tertiary "sources" can cough up the alleged "whitey" tape, their claims of its existence are useless. If anything, from reading the comments at Johnson's blog, the tone seems more reminiscent of a lynch mob.

I would strongly suggest that these folks bone up on the various Obama urban legends that have been debunked before embarrassing themselves further. I'm with the skeptics.

Update: When even the über-neoconservative National Review is calling bullshit, it's time to pull the plug. Someone I consider considerably more reasonable, John Cole, is calling this little more than an urban legend.

Anniversaries

Yesterday marked the 19th anniversary of this famous Tiananmen Square moment:

Props to Kai for the reminder, and for the above photo. She also offers up a few lines that I think are more than well-worth sharing:
...it symbolizes the courage to stand up to the power of the machine, everywhere in the world, but especially right in one's own country. Whenever we speak out against imperialism, corporatism, militarism, we're that guy standing in front of those tanks. But we're not alone.
By the time of the student protests taking place in China in 1989, the government had already abandoned Maoism, and could only be called "communist" in name only as its leadership had embraced neoliberal economics. What that ended up meaning was "freedom" only in the sense of commerce, rather than in the sense that was of interest to the Tiananmen Square protesters (i.e., freedom of movement, of imagination, of choice). At the time, I was a 20-something anarchist who found much to admire in what these protesters where doing.

A year later, I would stumble upon a book of poetry by Bei Dao, The August Sleepwalker (an anthology published by New Directions, 1990), that can perhaps be thought of as Chinese Existentialist literature. It seemed serendipitous to find the book right around that anniversary, and there was so much to treasure in that one slender volume. To give you an idea, here's an English translation of a poem he wrote after the 1976 Tiananmen Square protests, "The Answer" (p. 33):
Debasement is the password of the base.
Nobility is the epitaph of the noble.
See how the gilded sky is covered
With the drifting twisted shadows of the dead.

The Ice Age is over now.
Why is there ice everywhere?
The Cape of Good Hope has been discovered.
Why do a thousand sails contest the Dead Sea?

I came into this world
Bringing only paper, rope, a shadow,
To proclaim before the judgement
The voice that has been judged:

Let me tell you world,
I - do - not - believe!
If a thousand challengers lie beneath your feet,
Count me as number one thousand and one.

I don't believe the sky is blue;
I don't believe in thunder's echoes;
I don't believe that dreams are false;
I don't believe that death has no revenge.

If the sea is destined to breach the dikes
Let all the brackish water pour into my heart;
If the land is destined to rise
Let humanity choose a peak for existence again.

A new conjunction and glimmering stars
Adorn the unobstructed sky now;
They are the pictographs from five thousand years.
They are the watchful eyes of future generations.
I come back to this moment in history nearly two decades older, perhaps more steeped in Situationist and Zapatista thought than anarchy per se. In that photo, I see the sort of action that would inspire the Zapatista uprising in 1994 (which has met with a far better fate thus far), which in turn would spawn various other anti-globalism and anti-authoritarian actions. That moment has had something of a ripple effect - one which we'll be watching and hopefully participating in for some time to come. Food for thought.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Big Brother Is Watching You

Here's more evidence of a drift toward a police state.

Where's the outrage?

Good question. There is certainly enough reason to be outraged - more than enough reason to be outraged. If you're not already outraged, you should be. You really, really should be. While I'm sure that there are plenty of folks who are all abuzz about Obama and "change", I can't help but wonder if there's any consideration of the genuine suffering that is occurring, and seems likely to continue occurring for the foreseeable future, at the hands of the US government. Did you really believe that the Dems would somehow stop the war and torture in the aftermath of their 2006 victories? Do you really believe that in spite of their abysmal record thus far that they'll somehow manage to do the right thing this next time? Do you still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny? Like Jim Branum, I want to be hopeful. I just see very reason to have "hope" as long as the status quo remains intact.

The quest for The Grail continues


It's quite sad, really. If nothing else Larry Johnson and his cult have managed to unite the rest of blogtopia (even the 9-11 truthers), albeit not in the way they would hope. Unless Johnson and has ilk can deliver the goods, avowals of its alleged "existence" from tertiary sources are entirely worthless - and I'm saying this as someone who has absolutely no use for Obama.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Those memoirs keep coming out

I guess Gen. Sanchez is now cashing in. I guess I'm too jaded to be shocked these days by the revelations in these various tell-alls that are making their way to bookstores everywhere. That said, the revelations, while not "shocking" are still damning. This passage alone (including the quote of Bush) speaks volumes:

Let me briefly set the scene, as Sanchez tells it on pages 349-350 of Wiser in Battle. It's April 6, 2004. L. Paul Bremer III, head of the occupation's Coalition Provisional Authority, as well as the President's colonial viceroy in Baghdad, and Gen. Sanchez were in Iraq in video teleconference with the President, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. (Assumedly, the event was recorded and so revisitable by a note-taking Sanchez.) The first full-scale American offensive against the resistant Sunni city of Fallujah was just being launched, while, in Iraq's Shiite south, the U.S. military was preparing for a campaign against cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia.

According to Sanchez, Powell was talking tough that day: "We've got to smash somebody's ass quickly," the general reports him saying. "There has to be a total victory somewhere. We must have a brute demonstration of power." (And indeed, by the end of April, parts of Fallujah would be in ruins, as, by August, would expanses of the oldest parts of the holy Shiite city of Najaf. Sadr himself would, however, escape to fight another day; and, in order to declare Powell's "total victory," the U.S. military would have to return to Fallujah that November, after the U.S. presidential election, and reduce three-quarters of it to virtual rubble.) Bush then turned to the subject of al-Sadr: "At the end of this campaign al-Sadr must be gone," he insisted to his top advisors. "At a minimum, he will be arrested. It is essential he be wiped out."

Not long after that, the President "launched" what an evidently bewildered Sanchez politely describes as "a kind of confused pep talk regarding both Fallujah and our upcoming southern campaign [against the Mahdi Army]." Here then is that "pep talk." While you read it, try to imagine anything like it coming out of the mouth of any other American president, or anything not like it coming out of the mouth of any evil enemy leader in the films of the President's -- and my -- childhood:

"'Kick ass!' [Bush] said, echoing Colin Powell's tough talk. 'If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can't send that message. It's an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal.

"There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!'"

Keep in mind that the bloodlusty rhetoric of this "pep talk" wasn't meant to rev up Marines heading into battle. These were the President's well-embunkered top advisors in a strategy session on the eve of major military offensives in Iraq.
My emphasis added. The whole "war on terra" has been an exercise in pagan bloodlust complete with propaganda; outright lies; mass slaughter, displacement and social death that can only be called genocidal; mercenaries run amok; widespread corporate looting and corruption; torture; and a complicit Congress that even as more and more of these revelations filter in to the collective conscious of the American public cannot bring itself to do the right thing and begin impeachment proceedings. A commenter to the article I just quoted made a great statement:
Lets see how tough they are while standing trial for war crimes.
I wish that there were the necessary political will for the US government to do so on its own. As I have expressed elsewhere, if these folks ever do stand trial for war crimes, it will likely have to be imposed from some entity outside the US. The conditions that would allow that to happen are difficult to imagine, but my guess is that those conditions would include some sort of spectacular economic and military meltdown of the Empire, thus emboldening those who have sought justice for so long. Sadly, the best we seem to get for now is the occasional isolated effort to arrest one of these perps during overseas junkets.

Monday, June 2, 2008

RIP

Today seems to be a day for death. Was just reading that Bo Diddley passed away.

On a much more personal note, my wife's biological father passed away this morning after battling terminal cancer. He'd called to say his goodbyes this past weekend, so we knew the end was quite near. My wife said that he looked awful when she visited him for his 65th birthday. There's something about folks who are self-taught that I tend to admire, and Rog was one of those cats who taught himself sufficiently in areas such as chemical engineering to invent and patent products he hoped would help save the environment. We'd had a couple conversations during my grad school days regarding Kuhn's writings on normal science and the role of outsiders in changing paradigms, and I know he hoped that he was one of those outsiders. Of course I also got plenty of the usual unwanted advice that in-laws tend to give the spouses of their offspring, but that goes with the territory.

The relationship between my wife and her dad was contentious, but I know that they both loved each other a great deal, and I was thankful that we were able to come up with the needed cash to send my wife to see him one last time. You'll be missed, Rog.

My take:

There's no "there" there. This is one of those occasions where I'll actually agree with Booman. Here's what Booman says that I suspect is what Larry's "bombshell" amounts to:
From what I understand, it is a tape of Michelle Obama criticizing the Bush administration.

How you'd write it:
Why did Bush cut folks off medicaid?
Why did Bush let New Orleans drown?
Why did Bush do nothing about Jena?
Why did Bush put us in Iraq for no reason?
How you'd say it:
Why'd he cut folks off medicaid?
Why'd he let New Orleans drown?
Why'd he do nothing about Jena?
Why'd he put us in Iraq for no reason?
How Larry Johnson wants you to hear it:
Whitie cut folks off medicaid?
Whitie let New Orleans drown?
Whitie do nothing about Jena?
Whitie put us in Iraq for no reason?
Going from "why'd he" to "whitey" is too much of a leap of faith for my comfort. Unfortunately, there are plenty of folks who simply cannot stomach the potential of a black man getting the keys to the White House, and I'm guessing that's what's going on with Johnson and the rest of the No Quarter regulars. The bias has, shall we say, colored Johnson's perception.

The usual disclaimer applies here: I'm boycotting this year's election, for reasons I've explained elsewhere. I would suggest that if one lives in a state that will actually allow a Green on the ballot, Cynthia McKinney would be the way to go - and all that assumes that one's vote would be counted, or that one is willing to believe that the system isn't irreparably broken.

Also, beware of bloggers who advertise their sites as spin-free.

One more update, and as far as I'm concerned, the last word: When even the National Review thinks the whole thing's a hoax (and those folks would be itching for something that juicy to make its way onto the cable news networks 24/7), it's past time to say "enough is enough." When making a claim as politically and as racially charged as Larry Johnson was making, the onus was on him to put up or shut up. He has failed miserably to produce the alleged videotape in question, and the repeated claims that tertiary sources have allegedly seen it just doesn't cut it any more than Linus continuing to whinge that the Great Pumpkin really exists. Johnson might as well put it to rest. His particular imperialist candidate is probably not going to get the Dem nomination. Boo-hoo. Personally, Johnson & Susan Hu's schtick got pretty tiresome back when they were still primarily calling Booman Tribune home. It's pretty obvious that their current blogging endeavor is nothing but a one-trick pony appealing only to the lowest common denominator in US political discourse.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A realignment in the US?

That remains to be seen, but one can hope. As an aside, if you follow Cernig's links to the No Quarter site, it becomes crystal clear that any portrayal of that bunch as "leftist" truly misses the mark - there's nothing stand-up about John McCain, no matter how much that blog's regulars may claim. That many of these folks will end up voting for him come November (assuming their beloved Clintonista doesn't get the Dem nomination) says it all as far as I'm concerned.