Tuesday, March 28, 2006
At the Mountains of Madness (2002)
Sounds like this could be a great story. And it is. From
the horror the horror of Wikipedia:
At the Mountains of Madness is a novella by horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. It was originally serialized in Astounding Stories in 1936, and has been reproduced in numerous collections since Lovecraft's death.
The story is considered by Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi to represent the decisive "demythology" of the Cthulhu mythos.
The story is written in first-person perspective by Professor William Dyer, a geologist from Miskatonic University. On an expedition to Antarctica, the narrator's colleagues discover the remains of ancient half-vegetable, half-animal life-forms, completely unknown to science. Their extremely early date in the geological strata is problematic because of their highly-evolved features. Through a series of dark revelations, violent episodes, misunderstandings, and insanity-producing events, the narrator learns of Earth's secret history and legacy.
According to S. T. Joshi, who included this novella as the central story in the first volume of his Annotated Lovecraft series, Mountains reveals Lovecraft's true feelings on the so-called Cthulhu Mythos that subsequent writers attributed to him, and "demythologizes" much of his earlier work.
Many of Lovecraft's stories involve features that appear to be supernatural, such as monsters and the occult. This is interesting, given that Lovecraft was an atheist and materialist who had no belief in anything supernatural. However, Mountains appears to explain the origins of such elements -- from occult symbols to "gods" such as Cthulhu -- in rational terms. Mountains explains many elements of the "Cthulhu Mythos" in terms of early alien civilizations that took root on Earth long before humans appeared.
I find it strange that the movement of decontructivism, a school of design in which architecture is seen in fragmented bits and pieces, produces buildings resembling the odd structures that Lovecraft describes in At the Mountains of Madness. The narrator describes a building in a section of the alien city like this:
The building which we had entered was one of great size and elaborateness, and gave us an impressive notion of the architecture of that nameless geologic past. The inner partitions were less massive than the outer walls, but on the lower levels were excellently preserved. Labyrinthine complexity, involving curiously irregular difference in floor levels, characterized the entire arrangement; and we should certainly have been lost at the very outset but for the trail of torn paper left behind us. We decided to explore the more decrepit upper parts first of all, hence climbed aloft in the maze for a distance of some one hundred feet, to where the topmost tier of chambers yawned snowily and ruinously open to the polar sky. Ascent was affected over the steep, transversely ribbed stone ramps or inclined planes which everywhere served in lieu of stairs. The rooms we encountered were of all imaginable shapes and proportions, ranging from five-pointed stars to triangles and perfect cubes. It might be safe to say that their general average was about 30 x 30 feet in floor area, and 20 feet in height, though many larger apartments existed. After thoroughly examining the upper regions and the glacial level, we descended, story by story, into the submerged part, where indeed we soon saw we were in a continuous maze of connected chambers and passages probably leading over unlimited areas outside this particular building. The Cyclopean massiveness and gigantism of everything about us became curiously oppressive; and there was something vaguely but deeply unhuman in all the contours, dimensions, proportions, decorations, and constructional nuances of the blasphemously archaic stonework. We soon realized, from what the carvings revealed, that this monstrous city was many million years old.
I have said that Danforth refused to tell me what final horror made him scream out so insanely -- a horror which, I feel sadly sure, is mainly responsible for his present breakdown.
[Image seen on hplovecraft.com]
Monday, March 27, 2006
Inquisition Ad Campaign (2001)
I took in the Wachowski Brothers' V for Vendetta this afternoon. While I had some quibbles here and there, I thought its depiction of an Orwellian future fashioned on perpetual war, the curtailment of civil liberties, and a government-sanctioned campaign to keep citizens in constant fear was uncomfortably close to contemporary America.
It wasn't the terrorist-as-hero motif that bothered me, but the idea that anyone would consider the film subversive. The Man, using public relations firms, has sold the idea of striking a blow against the Man for fun and profit to a naive public eager to feel revolutionary stirrings in an increasingly corporate controlled world. So, hungry to fight the power, we gobble up Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine tunes from iMusic. Even the Man maybe enjoys sticking it to himself in a popular commercial for a cell phone service. E. M. Forster was wrong. The Machine does not stop. It simply sells us the feel-good sensation that we consumers can help grind it to a halt -- for the price of an mp3 or anarchy symbol tee shirt or movie ticket.
But what rang true about V for Vendetta -- and I sense it strongly in American culture as Bush's poll numbers continue to tank -- is that the public is finally seeing through the ongoing loopy bullshit that BushCo catapults as propaganda. In the film, a public, weary of force feed misinformation, begins to doubt the veracity of Pravda-like media spokesperson Lewis Prothero (an O'Reilly/Limbaugh animal-human hybrid) and the busy-screen Fox News imitation talking points as news stratagems. Several characters, with deepening cynicism, spit out a bitter exclamation of Bollocks as the televised hype spews forth. The citizens know, in a gut as deep as George W. Bush's, their leaders are lying to them and that the media is complicit or lazy -- all too willing to soak up and broadcast the party line. In the spirit of Shakespeare-spouting V, their governmental handlers take them "for a sponge."
The filmmakers understand this is a comment on the present. And I think the majority of the American public feel precisely the same way now. Each happy face declaration from BushCo, whether on Iraq or Katrina or torture or gas prices or port security, is met with a collective public shrug and a resounding Bollocks. Who are we going to believe? BushCo or our own lying eyes (and ears)? Did we not see King George playing guitar and eating McCain cake while New Orleans went under? Did we not see the prisoner abuse photographs from Abu Ghriab? This week the Downing Street Memo gets a reprise to reveal again that the Iraq War was green-lighted before 9/11 -- which only served as an impetus to start the engines of the war machine. And the NeoCon snake oil isn't selling so well -- no matter how much Charles Krauthammer froths this week about civil war in Iraq being no big deal because "this kind of private revenge attack has been going on at a low level since the beginning of the insurgency" and smugly reiterating that victory in Iraq is still "doable" -- assuming, of course, we don't listen to "the defeatists."
I hope your response to Krauthammer is a resounding Bollocks. We smell the shit of spin, Chuck. Besides, unlike the vice-president, we don't insist that every television be turned to Fox News before we enter a room. This allows us, Chuck, to actually recall some things you said previously and turned out to be lies as big as your ego. Your essay called "A Second American Century" printed in Time in 1999 might be a record to dredge from the memory pile. We recall you noting that "America bestrides the world like a colossus" and that the world should enjoy its position between our legs for "the main reason for the serious challenge to American hegemony is that it is so benign. It does not exact tribute. It does not seek military occupations. It is not interested in acquiring territory." Later, in 2001, in an essay in the Weekly Standard, you returned to this theme, Chuck. You wrote: "We [the United States] run a benign imperium. This is not mere self-congratulation; it is a fact manifest in the way others welcome our power."
Bollocks. Krauthammer's stay-the-course column this week is as empty as Bush's turning-the-corner speeches last week on a plan for victory for Iraq or Cheney's laughable "last throes" remark. We haven't forgotten what our eyes have seen and what our ears have heard. Benign, Chuck? Sure, as long as we can media-whitewash away the draped coffins, abuse photos, gulag horrors, mourning families, suspended liberties, Geneva Convention violations, vet benefit cuts, body armor yawns, and so much more.
Despite the televised revolution and a blacklight poster of Che, we just aren't buying the daily spiel. Bollocks.
And, as I get off the sofa and turn off the TV, I come to see that I don't have to paint a "V" over my neighbor's mock-elegant, black W -- The President bumper sticker. This blog is my spray can.
I don't want to blow up a building. But I do want to do whatever I can to knock down BushCo's house of cards filled with straw men.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
A Mouthful (2006)
Here's a new one. Let's see. Now who does this image remind me of? Oh, yeah...
From the Political Humor section of about.com: "The Top 10 Bushisms of 2005":
10) "It's totally wiped out. ... It's devastating, it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground." --turning to his aides while surveying Hurricane Katrina flood damage from Air Force One, Aug. 31, 2005
9) "I'm occasionally reading, I want you to know, in the second term." --Washington, D.C., March 16, 2005
8) "This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table." --Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 22, 2005
7) "I'm going to spend a lot of time on Social Security. I enjoy it. I enjoy taking on the issue. I guess, it's the mother in me." --Washington D.C., April 14, 2005
6) "Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based
upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled." --explaining his plan to save Social Security, Tampa, Fla., Feb. 4, 2005
5) "I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?" --in a note to to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a U.N. Security Council meeting, September 14, 20054) "We've got a lot of rebuilding to do. First, we're going to save lives and stabilize the situation. And then we're going to help these communities rebuild. The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter) --touring hurricane
damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005
3) "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." --Greece, N.Y., May 24, 20052) "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." --to FEMA director Michael Brown, who resigned 10 days later amid criticism over his handling of the Hurricane Katrina debacle, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 20051) "You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." --to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005
What he said. A mouthful.
[Blogger slaps forehead. Sighs.]
Friday, March 24, 2006
Ribs of the Wreck (2002)
Yes, lovers of the poetic arts, it's unfortunately time again for that vivisection of verse and parody of prosody I like to call Freeper Poetry.
This poetic mutilation occurs when I take a selected freeper-laced text, cut and paste it into a virtual cut-up machine, click the bells and whistles in a random frenzy, and, presto, out comes a collaged found text that cuts through the verbiage and catapulted propaganda to expose what said freeper really said and meant.
And, in a special appearance, today's guest poet is none other than our Freeper-in-Chief -- Prezdent George W. Bush. Today's poem "Ribs of the Wreck," was deconstructed and reconstructed from his answer to a question posed by veteran journalist Helen Thomas at last Monday's presidential press conference.
Ms. Thomas, whom the prezdent hasn't recognized in a press conference and called on for over three years, asked the following:
I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?
And here, transmogrified through the magic decoder ring mystery of freeper poetry, is the reconstituted poetic text of what the Codpiece in Chief really replied:
Helen. Look. That's a flat plot.
Saddam September 11th. Excuse me?
Excuse why I did what they disclosed
I did and deny. This lifelong life is a war
haven I never planned. Forget we
were wrong and I trained to destroy
what oceans provided. So everything
previous I changed and killed. For sure.
Friday Random Music Shuffle:
1. "Cool Water" -- Laura Viers
2. "Draft Morning" -- The Byrds
3. "Slang King 2" -- The Fall
4. "A Night in Tunisia (Afternoon Take) -- Sonny Rollins
5. "The Mess We're In" -- PJ Harvey
6. "Money" --Laura Nyro
7. "Chrome Injury" -- The Church
8. "With You There to Help Me (Live at Carnegie Hall)" -- Jethro Tull
9. "A Man Called Curse" -- Treble Spankers
10. "Flood" -- Social Unrest
Thursday, March 23, 2006
The King's War Ends (2001)
The slighest return of beauty makes you aware how deep your social wounds are, how painful it is to think continually of nothing but aggression and defense, superpowers, diplomacy, terrorism, war. Such preoccupations shrink art to nothing.
--Saul Bellow, To Jerusalem and Back
I don't think you can win it [the war on terror].
--George W. Bush, August 31, 2004
Art sometimes shows us what we want to see and imagines the world as it should be.
And now it seems that only in art can Bush's war ever end.
In reality: The Long War.
The war which Bush now says will continue beyond his time in office.
Endless. Hopeless. Senseless.
From yesterday's Miami Herald -- "There's No Exit from This Endless War" by Joseph L. Galloway:
The war in Iraq goes on and on as we enter the fourth year, and still the Bush administration cannot define an exit strategy that should have been made plain before the first American soldier crossed the border.
Remember that this was a war urgently ordered because of the threat that Hussein would build a nuclear weapon within a couple of years, and at any minute might slime Israel and his neighbors with chemical and biological weapons. That the war would be short and sweet, or in the words of one official ''a slam-dunk.'' That it would be paid for out of the oil earnings of Iraq. That it would implant Jeffersonian democracy in the heart of the Middle East. That it was the right thing to do.
In truth, Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time against the wrong people. The administration turned valuable resources away from controlling and rebuilding Afghanistan and pursuing al Qaeda to the death.
So far it has cost us 2,300-plus American dead; 17,000-plus American wounded; tens of thousands of Iraqis killed by both sides; a bill to taxpayers of the future, our children and grandchildren, that will reach more than $400 billion this year; and a U.S. military struggling to find and keep the manpower needed for present and future combat tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We will be dealing with the consequences and fallout for a long time to come. They are the gang that couldn't shoot straight, and now they are the ones dealing with a much more dangerous situation in Iran. God help us.
Yes. God help us.
War forever and ever.
War Without End.
Need a verbally cleansing catharsis? Check out this rinse-away-the-blues rant by Will Durst.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
He Lives in His Head (2001)
No wonder the prezdent prefers pre-screened, soma-doused audiences. Thinking on your feet is hard work.
Case in point: the first question Bush was asked yesterday during an appearance in Cleveland. From ABC News:
A woman said some Christians see the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism as signs of the apocalypse the destruction of the world as described in the biblical book of Revelation. "Do you believe this, that the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism are signs of the apocalypse? And if not, why not?"
Bush was taken aback. "Hmm," he started.
"The answer is I haven't really thought of it that way," he continued, to laughter from the audience. "Here's how I think of it. The first I've heard of that, by the way. I guess I'm more of a practical fellow."
Do you see? Do you get it? If not, you haven't been reading nearly enough of those silly pulpy sociopathic gazillion-selling "Left Behind" doomsday books so frighteningly adored by the Christian Right. It's simple, really: The world is gonna end real soon. The End Times are comin'. All the signs are in place -- famine, war, disease, sodomy, fires, hurricanes, Avril Lavigne -- and Bush, by instigating holy wars and inciting more terrorism and burning through the planet's natural resources as fast as humanly possible, is merely hastening the blessedly inevitable. As his fellow fundamentalists say, God bless him.
Hey, it explains a lot, this view. It explain how Bush can just smirk and mumble and, with one big, heartless shrug, dismiss the complete lack of WMD and the loss of 1.6 million U.S. jobs and the nation's staggering $422 billion budget deficit . Pay down the national debt? Bah. Planet's going to hell anyway, people. Stock up on nuclear missiles and get yourself an escape pod. Can't afford one? Whatta shame.
Look at it this way: When you have an angry, patriotic God and the red-hot promise of the juicy apocalypse on your side, there is no such thing as a counter-argument. There is no such thing as competition. There is no such thing as giving a damn what anyone else thinks.
How else do you explain it? How else can you understand the most aggressive, war-hungry, abusive, nature-loathing, isolationist administration in American history? How else can you explain BushCo's overall "F" grade from every environmental organization in the world? How can you explain his mauling of long-term Social Security planning? The decimation of the idea of universal health care? A pre-emptive, attack-first-ask-questions-never, warmongering policy that creates more anti-U.S. hatred by the minute?
How can you explain the fact that every human rights organization on the planet is appalled by Bush's actions? Guantanamo Bay to Abu Ghraib to John Ashcroft to the Patriot Act to gutting funding for international women's health care. Hey, if God had wanted us to care about other viewpoints, He would've made everyone speak English. Can I get a "hell yeah?"
Scenes from the last day of the Bush presidency.
George W. Bush is certainly the plaything of such forces as the geopolitics of oil but it seems that he is susceptible to other even darker archetypal concerns. Let me be blunt. The man is delusional and the shape of his delusion is specifically apocalyptic in belief and intent. That Bush would attack so many vital systems on so many fronts from foreign policy to the environment may seem confusing from the point of view of realpolitik but becomes transparent in terms of the apocalyptic worldview to which he subscribes. All systems are supposed to go down so the Messiah can come and Bush, seemingly, has taken on the role of the one who brings this to pass.
The Reverend Billy Graham taught Bush to live in anticipation of the Second Coming but it was his friendship with Dr. Tony Evans that shaped Bush's political understanding of how to deport himself in an apocalyptic era. Dr. Evans, the pastor of a large Dallas church and a founder of the Promise Keepers movement taught Bush about "how the world should be seen from a divine viewpoint," according to Dr. Martin Hawkins, Evans assistant pastor.
S.R. Shearer of Antipas Ministries writes, "Most of the leaders of the Promise Keepers embrace a doctrine of 'end time' (eschatology), known as 'dominionim.' Dominionism pictures the seizure of earthly (temporal) power by the 'people of God' as the only means through which the world can be rescued.... It is the eschatology that Bush has imbibed; an eschatology through which he has gradually (and easily) come to see himself as an agent of God who has been called by him to 'restore the earth to God's control', a 'chosen vessel', so to speak, to bring in the Restoration of All Things." Shearer calls this delusion, "Messianic leadership"-- that is to say usurping the role usually ascribed to the Messiah.
In Bush at War Bob Woodward writes, "Most presidents have high hopes. Some have grandiose visions of what they will achieve, and he was firmly in that camp."
"To answer these attacks and rid the world of evil," says Bush. And again, "We will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defense of this great nation." Grandiose visions. Woodward comments, "The president was casting his mission and that of the country in the grand vision of Gods Master Plan."
Hell yeah. Never get out of the boat. Now watch this drive. Bring it on...
Hey. Who pre-screened those people? They don't look like
[Photograph seen on pbase]
Next on Fox News: The End of Days -- Could It Be a Good Thing?
Monday, March 20, 2006
It's Curtains (2000)
If there's one thing I cannot stand, especially as an artist and writer, it's censorship -- especially when it comes wrapped in the guise of self-righteous "Christian" morality designed to protect the (censor-defined) moral standards of a community. Nothing kills artistic free expression quicker than puritannical, smut-seeking witch hunts committed in the name of protecting the public good.
When Wendy DeVore, the drama teacher at Fulton High here, staged the musical Grease, about high school students in the 1950's, she carefully changed the script to avoid causing offense in this small town.
She softened the language, substituting slang for profanity in places. Instead of smoking "weed," the teenagers duck out for a cigarette. She rated the production PG-13, advising parents it was not suitable for small children.
But a month after the performances in November, three letters arrived on the desk of Mark Enderle, Fulton's superintendent of schools. Although the letters did not say so, the three writers were members of a small group linked by e-mail, all members of the same congregation, Callaway Christian Church [emphasis mine].
Each criticized the show, complaining that scenes of drinking, smoking and a couple kissing went too far, and glorified conduct that the community tries to discourage. One letter, from someone who had not seen the show but only heard about it, criticized "immoral behavior veiled behind the excuse of acting out a play."
Dr. Enderle watched a video of the play, ultimately agreeing that Grease was unsuitable for the high school, despite his having approved it beforehand, without looking at the script. Hoping to avoid similar complaints in the future, he decided to ban the scheduled spring play, The Crucible by Arthur Miller.
How fitting. The witchfinder generals have axed a play that depicts their culture-killing methods at work. Now, because a few contemporary puritans -- one who never even bothered to attend the performance -- have complained, the students of Fulton dare not speak the name of their past production and find their future one deep-sixed. The morality police have made one thing certain. An empty, bare stage offends no one.
And entertains and moves no one either. No souls are called upward by art when the theater is closed or when its company produces only church (or state) sanctioned art.
One wonders if Fulton's Christian crusaders would have complained if a Mel Gibson-tinged passion play had been produced instead of a 50's musical. Now there's some moral entertainment fit for sadists. Whips cracking. Spears lancing. Blood spurting into the front rows as nails are pounded through flesh.
What happened in Fulton stinks of intolerance. The small-mindedness on display is not endemic to so-called Christian schools or communities. Consider this production of The Crucible
There is either obedience or the church will burn like Hell is burning!
--Arthur Miller, The Crucible
[Image from the drama page of the Emmanuel School]
from London's Emmanuel School -- which, despite its religious grounding, has produced plays by Shakespeare, Stoppard, and Miller. Recent productions include The Crucible (seen above), The Boyfriend, and Sweeney Todd.
But Fulton is not London you say -- and, sadly, how right you are. You know the drill. You know this whole business will end badly in our current stroke-the-base, BushCo-fueled Puritan atmosphere. And, late last week, it did. From the GJSentinel -- "Missouri Drama Teacher Resigns in Play Flap" by Alan Scher Zagier (3-18-2006):
A central Missouri high school drama teacher whose spring play was canceled after complaints about tawdry content in one of her previous productions will resign rather than face a possible firing.
"It became too much to not be able to speak my mind or defend my students without fear or retribution," said Fulton High School teacher Wendy DeVore.
DeVore, 31, a six-year veteran teacher, said administrators told her that her annual contract might not be renewed.
"Maybe I need to find a school that's a better match," she said.
Fulton high school drama teacher Wendy DeVore runs the light board during the dress rehearsal for A Midsummer Nights Dream Monday, March 6, 2006, at the high school's theater in Fulton, Mo.
"We have become a laughingstock," teacher Paula Fessler told The Fulton Sun.
I'm not laughing. I'm sick at heart. And I'm sick of these so-called Christian bullies who insist upon killing all programming offensive to their narrow sensibilities rather than choosing not to watch or changing the channel. A book never read or a play never seen cannot challenge or inspire -- cannot risk offending a few or changing so many for the better.
Then again, maybe the students and community of Fulton do not need to see The Crucible. After all, they are living it.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Chimes of Freedom (2006)
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
And for each and every underdog soldier in the night
And we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing
--Bob Dylan, "Chimes of Freedom"
With the third anniversary of the Iraq War sparking protests around the world yesterday, I thought I'd put up something new today. Commuting to work last week, I found myself repeatedly listening to the Byrds play Dylan -- but especially 12-string tinged "Chimes of Freedom" on repeat. Something about the song seemed to tap into contemporary sentiments about the war -- as if Dylan had been reading today's news. This is no surprise, considering what others have said about the song. Consider
a Rainy Day Woman like Wikipedia:
"Chimes of Freedom" is a song by Bob Dylan . It has been covered many times by various artists including The Byrds, Roger McGuinn, and Bruce Springsteen. Dylan reportedly based the song on "Chimes of Trinity", a song passed along by Dave Van Ronk from his grandmother.
In Chimes of Freedom: The Politics of Bob Dylan's Art, author Mike Marqusee notes that the song marks a transition between Dylan's earlier "protest song" style (a litany of the down-trodden and oppressed, in the second half of each verse) and his later more free-flowing poetic style (the fusion of images of lightning, storm and bells in the first half).
The song has often been used as a template as a near-perfect protest song. Most notably, it formed a strong influence (almost to the point of plagiarism) for Billy Bragg's song "Ideology".
Chimes of Freedom (excerpt) by Jim Moran
[Image seen on Expecting Rain]
I discovered The Byrds in high school, with Vietnam washing over the television, while hanging out at the drive-in and soaking up the Technicolor blood in Hammer films. The Byrds' sound, all jangles and harmony, got turntable time-- but it was the lyrics of Dylan through McGuinn that fired my imagination and got me to start keeping my first notebook. I must not have been alone. Here's a comment by Chucky Ross seen on Things Twice:
I think those chords actually shimmered when they floated out of my speakers ("Chimes of Freedom"). I got into Dylan through the Byrds. I just had to have that jangly, twangly guitar sound in my musical diet, and I simply adored those stratospheric harmonies the Byrds so effortlessly featured. But aside from that, it was the lyrics that really captivated me about that song.
I remember when I heard the lyric, “and for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail…” the hair on my arms stood up—and I was just a kid, what the hell did I know about it, but it floored me just the same.
And the way McGuinn spit out the lyric, “and for each and every underdog soldier in the night…” and just before that when he talks about the “refugees, on the unarmed road of flight.” Well, that hit me real hard; for some reason I could feel that anxiety. I had to put down my saxophone, and clarinet -- and request a guitar.
Yes, the lyrics to "Chimes of Freedom" still bite the collective conscience in these days of torture, lies, manipulated intelligence, rendition, gulags, domestic spying, and whatever new administrative Constitutional abuse this week brings. As the war drags on into its fourth year, and BushCo's polls drop into the lower third, Dylan's song should be playing constantly in the elevators of the U.S. Congress. Maybe then a few more of the Dems would finally hear the tolling, back Feingold on censure of Bush, and learn their "strength is not to fight."
Friday, March 17, 2006
First Glimpse of Cortez (2004)
He came dancing across the water
With his galleons and guns
Looking for the new world
And a palace in the sun...
--Neil Young, "Cortez the Killer"
You can find considerable biographical and political information about Cortez on the Net -- and of differing stripes as to whether he was a liberator or conqueror.
Here's a taste. From
our history could be bunk Wikipedia:
On November 8, 1519, Cortés arrived in Tenochtitlan. At this time it is believed that the city was one of the largest in the world; in Europe, only Constantinople was larger. The most common estimates put the population at around 60,000 to over 300,000 people.
Aztec ruler Moctezuma II, thinking Cortés to be the returning god Quetzalcoatl, welcomed Cortes with great pomp. Meanwhile, other Aztec nobles were in dismay at the royal submissive attitude and planned a successful, but temporary, rebellion which resulted in driving Cortes and his allies out of Tenochtitlan. Popular tales say that he wept under a tree the night of his defeat La Noche Triste. However, Cortes came back and put a naval siege to the city. The siege lasted months. Much of the city was destroyed by smallpox. In fact, a third of the inhabitants of the entire valley died in less than six months by the new disease brought from Europe. Cannons did the rest. Despite the valiant resistance, the city fell on August 13, 1521. Decomposed bodies littered the destroyed city and bloated corpses floated in canals and the lake.
The rest of the city was either destroyed, dismantled or buried as Mexico City was built on top of it. Some of the remaining ruins of Tenochtitlan's main temple, the Templo Mayor, were excavated in the 1970's and are now open to visitors. Mexico City's Zócalo is located at the location of Tenochtitlan's original central plaza and market, and many of the original calzadas still correspond to modern streets in the city. Some of the conquistadores had traveled as widely as Venice and Constantinople, and many said that Tenochtitlan was as large and fine a city as any they had seen.
To the Indians as a mass he was kind. He recognized that their preservation would insure eventual prosperity for the Spaniards, provided the Indians gradually accepted European ideas. Therefore he regarded the Church as the main instrument for the education of the Indian.
In comparison to the British colonization that occurred later in the north, the Spaniards wanted to colonize the entire continent. The British inhabited the continent more slowly and less ambitiously. Cortes viewed the death of Indians as a tragedy, considering they could help the Spanish crown tap the resources of the land. The British, on the other hand, interpreted the death of Indians as divine help to further the English cause.
The Spanish regarded Indians as subjects of the Crown. When possible, they were converted to Christianity and taught useful crafts in order to ensure their contribution to the Spanish colonization efforts. The British viewed the Indians as aliens and made no attempt to accept them into their colonization plans, with the notable exception of colonists William Penn and Roger Williams, two populists who championed religious tolerance, a liberal government and the fair treatment of Indians.
I said everything to them I could to divert them from their idolatries, and draw them to a knowledge of God our Lord.
Some people go even further -- making Cortez out to be saintly compared to the bloodthirsty Aztecs. Always up for a good pre-emptive military campaign while cowering safely behind their keyboards to accuse the vanquished of barbarism, let's drop in and see what scholarly Freepers have to say:
If possible, the Aztecs were even more disgusting than we've been led to believe. Their priests had cloaks of human skin, blood-smeared rooms, sprinkled blood on food like sauce, captured Spanish (after they were sacrificed) would have their faces flayed off to make masks (leaving the beards intact); they also chopped the heads off any horses that they killed or captured for display. Displaying the severed heads of captured Spanish also disheartened many of the Indian allies who were with Cortes.
Well, aside from the small snag of introducing smallpox, this view does seem to mesh well with Ann Coulter's comment that "we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."
[The Spaniards] had a strong sense of supremacy and intended to convert the natives to Christianity. But their ministering methods were radical. The Spaniards gathered the natives together and shouted the essentials of the Gospel, oblivious to the fact that the Aztecs did not understand their language. If the natives refused to fall to their knees and repent, the Spaniards assumed they were rejecting the word of God and killed or enslaved them.
The Spaniards were harsh in their methods and motives, and many people argue that it was not their place at all to encounter new lands and demand control, much less force submission so cruelly. Moreover, virtually all of Aztec culture was carelessly destroyed in the conquest.
What's the loss of a little culture among friends -- as long as the gold is procured and the oil fields are defended? Oranges and apples, you say? And I'm sure this notation, seen on BobGeiger.com, is just a strange coincidence:
Cortez [Colorado] is in Montezuma County, which voted for Bush to the tune of 64 percent in 2004.
Cue Twilight Zone theme music.
Finally, there seems to be more web information (and debate) about Neil Young's song "Cortez the Killer" than about Cortez himself, and here is a site dedicated exclusively to the "use and abuse" of Cortez in Young's song. One writer, Jonathan Clark, who lives in Mexico City, concludes:
Neal [sic] Young writes some good songs, but his Mesoamerican scholarship leaves a little to be desired.
And Matthew Davis, writing in the American Educator, has some quibbles with Young's lyrical/historical record:
"Hate was just a legend, / And war was never known" is more of the same kind of romanticizing, all too common today. The residents of pre-Columbian Mexico were well acquainted with hate and war. In fact, the Aztecs stand out in the annals of history as an exceptionally belligerent civilization: In order to keep their altars supplied with a steady diet of sacrificial victims, the Aztec emperors kept up a perpetual war with neighboring peoples. It would be more accurate to say that "peace was never known."
Young again claims too much for the Aztecs when he declares that modern engineers could never build things as grand as the Aztecs built. But it certainly is true that "they lifted many stones." And here is another unexpected benefit for the culturally literate: Young doesn't tell us what the Aztecs "built up" when they "lifted many stones," and a culturally illiterate listener might be left envisioning a nondescript pile of rocks.
Yes, everyone's a critic. Davis also disses and deconstructs Young's "Ohio." But I like Neil Young (in electric mode anyway -- less thrilled when he de-evolves into Huckleberry Neil) and still dig "Cortez the Killer."
Is that because I blog out with my bare hands / what I still can't do today?
Thursday, March 16, 2006
I was born in South Dakota and have great affection for the state, but I think some kind of industrial agent has contaminated the corn there recently. The poison has leeched into residents and mutated their empathy gene.
Something's definitely stunted. I don't think the compassionate conservatives ever get more than knee-high on the prairie.
Yes, you probably know that South Dakota recently passed a law outlawing abortion that provides no exclusions for rape, incest, or a woman's health. Only a direct threat to a woman's life evokes the one exception clause.
Bill Napoli, state senator and strong supporter of the bill, was interviewed last week on PBS and said that rape and incest might count as exceptions under the bill's provision of protecting the mother's life. When asked to provide an actual scenario to illustrate how such exceptions could be invoked, Napoli clarified by saying:
A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.
Such a big-hearted guy. Let me see if I understand the criteria. In order to qualify for life-endangered status, the rape victim must:
* be brutally (a word Napoli likes since he uses it twice) and savagely raped -- as opposed to being warmly and affectionately raped by a St. Fabio of Assisi gentleman, a sort of Rape Whisperer type who is primarily concerned with the victim's wants, needs, and pleasure. Next on Fox News: Rape -- Could It Be a Good Thing?
*be a virgin and planning to stay one until she says I do -- no doubt necessitating a discovery process to obtain abstinence oaths signed in blood and ordering gynecological strip searches to insure veracity. No volcanoes in South Dakota, so the virgin angle is likely to get heavy rotation. However, there could be a down side. This provision appears to have a built-in Catch-22 factor, since it's an odds-on guess that the rape victim will no longer be a virgin after the violation.
*be religious -- leaving out victims who are atheists and I'd wager wiccans and scientologists, too. And what rubric should the State Board of Theology use here? A forehead squeeze divination from the wacked out Rev. Robertson? The amplified voice of God booming from the Jefferson head on Mount Rushmore? Perhaps the South Dakota ledge can concoct a test modeled after the dunking stools once used to ferret out witches. If the victim drowns, she was religious, and an exception will be granted. Oh. Wait...
*be sodomized in addition to being brutalized and raped -- and not just any run-of-the mill sodomy -- no, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it -- Xtreme Sodomy -- Max X Sodomy -- It's the End of Sodomy as We Know It.
So, to qualify for Napoli's exception, you gotta prove you pray and hit the Survivor Trifecta: Outwit (Brutality), Outplay (Rape), Outlast (Sodomy).
But not every legislator in South Dakota is counting the number of times he can say brutalize in a paragraph. Democratic state senator Elaine Roberts worries about chipping away at slippery sloped cornfields and worries over what new crop of ideas will sprout next
session season in South Dakota:
We already have a law that says that pharmacists by conscience could refuse to fill my prescription for contraceptives. There is already a move from some groups who have worked on this to say that there should be no contraceptives, that sexual intercourse is for the purpose of reproduction.
Onward, Christian Soldiers. Conscience obviously trumps law. No after morning pill. No condoms. No vasectomies. Life begins at masturbation, you serial killer you. Fertility drugs that boost sperm count and egg production must be force-fed and ovulation charts stringently followed. And don't be so quaint as to worry about hormonal side effects. It not like you're going to suffer organ failure.
Yes, they've sure been growing some tiny ears in South Dakota lately -- and I'm not talking about the corn, if you know what I mean...
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Night of the Long Knives (2002)
anyone can conjecture about history at Wikipedia:
The Night of the Long Knives is the name Geoffrey of Monmouth gave to the (possibly apocryphal) slaughter of British chieftains by Jute, Angle and Saxon mercenaries at a monastery (or perhaps Stonehenge) on Salisbury Plain in ca. 460.
The Night of the Long Knives, according to Geoffery of Monmouth, took place at a banquet in modern-day Wiltshire ostensibly arranged to seal a peace treaty, which may have been the cession of Essex and Sussex in exchange for intermarriage between Rowena of Kent, the daughter of Saxon chieftain Hengest, and Vortigern. As told, the story claims that the "Saxons" -- which probably includes Angles and Jutes -- arrived at the banquet armed, surprising the British, who were slaughtered. Variously described as the only escapee are Vortigern himself, and St. Abbas.
The historical existence of any of these events or persons is conjectural. Textual evidence is weak and begins in the 7th century.
I love that last remark about the historical evidence of all of this being conjectural. Perhaps the Bush Administration can better catapult propgaganda by seizing the phrase and applying it (pardon the pun) liberally and with Orwellian effectiveness -- just as they have done with so many others like extraordinary rendition and enhanced interrogation techniques and healthy forests initiative. Soon, everything from missing WMDs to allegations of torture to unchecked domestic spying can be delegated to a conjectural status.
I think the title to today's image probably calls up a different event for most people. From
could be true could be conjectural Wikipedia:
The Night of the Long Knives (June 30 and Sunday July 1, 1934) (German, Nacht der langen Messer), also known as Reichsmordwoche or "the Blood Purge", was a lethal purge of Adolf Hitler's potential political rivals in the Sturmabteilung (SA; also known as storm troopers or brownshirts). The SA was the paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party that had helped the Nazis rise to power in the Twenties, culminating with Hitler being named Chancellor of Germany in 1933.Occurring over a weekend, the purge targeted SA leaders and members who were associated more with socialism than with nationalism, and hence were viewed as a threat to the continued support for Chancellor Adolf Hitler within the Army and conservative business community that had supported Hitler's rise to power.Official records tally the dead at 77, though some 400 are believed to have been killed.
"They Salute with Both Hands Now" (1934) by David Low
[Image seen on Spartacus Educational]
The Night of the Long Knives represented a turning point in the conduct of German government. From that point on, a number of things were clear: The Nazi party was in unquestioned control of the state, Hitler was in control of the Nazi party, and both were fully prepared to use raw, brutal violence to accomplish their political objectives. In the post-war period, this first round of fratricidal bloodletting would be seen by some as a presage of the Holocaust.
Monday, March 13, 2006
No Silver Lining (1999)
"We do not torture."
--George W. Bush, November 7, 2005
"We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President..."
--Sandra Day O'Connor
Don't miss a terrific article by Jane Mayer in a recent issue of The New Yorker. The piece centers on Alberto J. Mora, General Counsel of the Department of the Navy, and his considerable efforts (until his departure) to bring to light the internal machinations that lead to codifying the Bush Administration's use of torture as a policy. The connections between operatives in the Pentagon and the Office of the Vice-President are spelled out. The article leaves no doubt that upper-level Bush insiders at the Justice Department ignored concerns expressed by Mora and others and actively implemented cruelty against detainees in violation of the Geneva Convention and international treaties approved by Congress.
A few highlights:
Mora was shocked when [Head of the Naval Investigative Service, David] Brant told him that the abuse wasn't “rogue activity” but was “rumored to have been authorized at a high level in Washington.” The mood in the room, Mora wrote, was one of “dismay.” He added, “I was under the opinion that the interrogation activities described would be unlawful and unworthy of the military services.” Mora told me, “I was appalled by the whole thing. It was clearly abusive, and it was clearly contrary to everything we were ever taught about American values.”
Mora thinks that the media has focused too narrowly on allegations of U.S.-sanctioned torture. As he sees it, the authorization of cruelty is equally pernicious. “To my mind, there's no moral or practical distinction,” he told me. “If cruelty is no longer declared unlawful, but instead is applied as a matter of policy, it alters the fundamental relationship of man to government. It destroys the whole notion of individual rights. The Constitution recognizes that man has an inherent right, not bestowed by the state or laws, to personal dignity, including the right to be free of cruelty. It applies to all human beings, not just in America -- even those designated as ‘unlawful enemy combatants.' If you make this exception, the whole Constitution crumbles. It's a transformative issue.”
In his meeting with [the Pentagon's general counsel and protégé of Cheney's influential chief of staff, David Addington, William] Haynes, Mora told me, he said that, whatever its intent, what Rumsfeld's memo [giving formal approval for the use of “hooding,” “exploitation of phobias,” “stress positions,” “deprivation of light and auditory stimuli,” and other coercive tactics ordinarily forbidden by the Army Field Manual] permitted was “torture.”
According to Mora, Haynes replied, “No, it isn't.”
Mora asked Haynes to think about the techniques more carefully. What did “deprivation of light and auditory stimuli” mean? Could a prisoner be locked in a completely dark cell? If so, could he be kept there for a month? Longer? Until he went blind? What, precisely, did the authority to exploit phobias permit? Could a detainee be held in a coffin? What about using dogs? Rats? How far could an interrogator push this? Until a man went insane?
Mora drew Haynes's attention to a comment that Rumsfeld had added to the bottom of his December 2nd memo, in which he asked why detainees could be forced to stand for only four hours a day, when he himself often stood “for 8-10 hours a day.” Mora said that he understood that the comment was meant to be jocular. But he feared that it could become an argument for the defense in any prosecution of terror suspects. It also could be read as encouragement to disregard the limits established in the memo. (Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired military officer who was a chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, had a similar reaction when he saw Rumsfeld's scrawled aside. “It said, ‘Carte blanche, guys,' ” Wilkerson told me. “That's what started them down the slope. You'll have My Lais then. Once you pull this thread, the whole fabric unravels.”)
The authorization of harsh interrogation methods which Mora had seen was no aberration. Almost immediately after September 11th, the Administration had decided that protecting the country required extraordinary measures, including the exercise of executive powers exceeding domestic and international norms. In January, 2002, Alberto Gonzales, then the White House counsel (he is now the Attorney General), sent a memo to President Bush arguing for a “new paradigm” of interrogation, declaring that the war on terror “renders obsolete” the “strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners” required by the Geneva conventions, which were ratified by the United States in 1955. That August, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which acts as an in-house law firm for the executive branch, issued a memo secretly authorizing the C.I.A. to inflict pain and suffering on detainees during interrogations, up to the level caused by “organ failure.” This document, now widely known as the Torture Memo, which Addington helped to draft, also advised that, under the doctrine of “necessity,” the President could supersede national and international laws prohibiting torture.
Just a few months ago, Mora attended a meeting in Rumsfeld's private conference room at the Pentagon, called by Gordon England, the Deputy Defense Secretary, to discuss a proposed new directive defining the military's detention policy. The civilian Secretaries of the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy were present, along with the highest-ranking officers of each service, and some half-dozen military lawyers. Matthew Waxman, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, had proposed making it official Pentagon policy to treat detainees in accordance with Common Article Three of the Geneva conventions, which bars cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, as well as outrages against human dignity. Going around the huge wooden conference table, where the officials sat in double rows, England asked for a consensus on whether the Pentagon should support Waxman's proposal.
This standard had been in effect for fifty years, and all members of the U.S. armed services were trained to follow it. One by one, the military officers argued for returning the U.S. to what they called the high ground. But two people opposed it. One was Stephen Cambone, the under-secretary of defense for intelligence; the other was Haynes. They argued that the articulated standard would limit America's “flexibility.” It also might expose Administration officials to charges of war crimes: if Common Article Three became the standard for treatment, then it might become a crime to violate it. Their opposition was enough to scuttle the proposal.
In exasperation, according to another participant, Mora said that whether the Pentagon enshrined it as official policy or not, the Geneva conventions were already written into both U.S. and international law. Any grave breach of them, at home or abroad, was classified as a war crime. To emphasize his position, he took out a copy of the text of U.S. Code 18.2441, the War Crimes Act, which forbids the violation of Common Article Three, and read from it. The point, Mora told me, was that “it's a statute. It exists -- we're not free to disregard it. We're bound by it. It's been adopted by the Congress. And we're not the only interpreters of it. Other nations could have U.S. officials arrested.”
In Mora's view, the Administration's legal response to September 11th was flawed from the start, triggering a series of subsequent errors that were all but impossible to correct. “The determination that Geneva didn't apply was a legal and policy mistake,” he told me. “But very few lawyers could argue to the contrary once the decision had been made.”
Mora went on, “It seemed odd to me that the actors weren't more troubled by what they were doing.” Many Administration lawyers, he said, appeared to be unaware of history. “I wondered if they were even familiar with the Nuremberg trials -- or with the laws of war, or with the Geneva conventions. They cut many of the experts on those areas out. The State Department wasn't just on the back of the bus -- it was left off the bus.” Mora understood that “people were afraid that more 9/11s would happen, so getting the information became the overriding objective. But there was a failure to look more broadly at the ramifications.
“These were enormously hardworking, patriotic individuals,” he said. “When you put together the pieces, it's all so sad. To preserve flexibility, they were willing to throw away our values.”
I apologize for the long passages, but it's easy to see why this article is so crucial. The abuses documented in U.S. detention facilities are not due to the actions of "a few bad apples." Instead, they are explicitly the result of calculated policy undertaken in the highest echelons of the Bush Administration.
Please tell Cheney and Rumsfeld I'm sorry if my organs fail...
[Photograph from Salon]
and much much more, was done in our names. So here's today's quiz. Does the picture above depict:
a._____ A war crime
b._____ Official Bush Administration policy
c._____ Rumsfeldian carte blanche
d._____ All of the above
I'd make a joke about Fox News spinning torture with a silver lining as "a good thing" -- but, as you probably could guess, that imbecilic claim is a regular straight-faced talking point:
Next on Fox: The up side to genocide.
[Screen shot seen on Think Progress]
Friday, March 10, 2006
The Angel of Death (2001)
'Twas early in the morning at four.
When death knocked upon a bedroom door.
"Who is there?" the sleeping one cried.
"I'm Izrael, let me inside."
--G.H.E. Vanker, "Conversation with the Angel"
The top U.S. envoy to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday saying the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 that ousted President Saddam Hussein opened a ”Pandora's box” of ethnic and sectarian tensions. Pointing to the disputes over forming a national unity government and the sectarian violence, he said the “potential is there” for a full-blown Iraqi civil war.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 80 percent of Americans believe that recent sectarian violence makes civil war in Iraq likely and more than a third thought it was “very likely.” In addition, 52 percent of those surveyed said the United States should begin pulling out troops.
Asked whether a civil war was possible, Army Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told reporters on Friday it was unlikely but, “Anything can happen.”
Meanwhile, according to Media Matters, back at
Rancho Pravda Fox News:
A segment about escalating sectarian violence in Iraq on the February 23 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto featured onscreen captions that read: " 'Upside' To Civil War?" and "All-Out Civil War in Iraq: Could It Be a Good Thing?"
Next on Fox: "The Silver Lining of Nuclear Annihilation"
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Despite folklore, the proper way to remove a tick is using a tweezers and gripping the tick as close to the skin as is possible. The use of a smoldering match or cigarette, nail polish, Vaseline, or kerosene should be avoided, since they may irritate the tick and cause it to behave like a syringe, injecting organism-bearing bodily fluids into the wound.
Okay. Check. Now what other bloodsucking creatures behave in a similar manner and should be promptly removed?
Yet who would have thought the old [wo]man to have had so much blood in [her]?
William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act V, Scene I
[Image seen on resist.com.au]
And what's being sucked dry? America the Beautiful. The very idea of what our nation is and should be.
From the Village Voice -- "The End of Democracy" by Rick Perlstein:
Ever since the days of Joe McCarthy, the claim that a made-up charge by one side is no longer an outrage if the wronged party gets a chance to refute it has been an easy refuge for journalistic scoundrels. When Republicans accused someone of being a Communist, newspapers reported it, true or not; then they reported the victim's outraged denials, the day's work done -- no matter that the person's life might now be ruined by the merely invented accusation. With a setup like that, the side willing to say anything to win will win every time.
[Jeff] Greenfield disagrees. "McCarthy won for about two years, and then the tide turned," he says. Nowadays, it would happen even faster, what with blogs and all. "When somebody starts really playing with the facts, there are so many people on every side of the issue ready to jump on you," he says. "Call me an optimist."
I call him an idiot. This is a country where 42 percent of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was behind the 9-11 attacks, where telling lies before the truth has time to put on its shoes -- lies that won't have time to get exposed before the votes, whether the electorate's or the Supreme Court's, get counted -- has been Karl Rove's modus operandi since he stole the election for chairman of the College Republicans National Federation in 1973. Punks like Greenfield are Rove's best friend: He's already decided in advance that both sides are equally bad.
It's hard to take any protestations of good faith from a conservative seriously these days.
"Evangelicals are trained to recruit from the cradle," observes one witheringly astute expert on Christian conservative culture. Call this informant Deep Faith: A Ph.D. student in divinity, he grew up in the rural South in an intensely pious Pentecostal community and still believes its creeds after five years at an Ivy League university. He has not, however, kept faith with his ministers' injunction that evangelicals must devote themselves to building a Republican America. The notion, in fact, horrifies him. In college, the first time he spent extended periods outside evangelical circles, he says, "I realized the main thing that separated us evangelicals from them was that they believed in dialogue and compromise. And we believed in taking no prisoners. . . . Democracy can't function in an environment where one party will not sit down and play by the rules."
Those who are willing to do anything to win can win.
George Bush is not a fascist. He really isn't. And thank goodness for small favors. For what if he were? The people who run Democratic campaigns might dismiss his suspension of constitutional provisions as yet another boring old "process story," not fit to upset the voters with. The talking heads would assure themselves that the truth would out in a couple years anyway-- faster still, now that we have the Internet.
Many among our Republican rank and file would have a hard time noticing anything amiss. These are the people who can say, as Richard Viguerie told the Voice, "If there's vote suppressing, nine times out of 10 it's going to be Democrats."
A coup? Deep Faith is convinced some might even welcome it. "It makes me wonder, if something really bad happened, and the Bush administration was able to have a coup and be in permanent charge," he tells me, sinking into his living-room couch, scaring the hell out of me, "who among my folk would seriously protest, if they could get a slice of the pie? 'We could go in there and reverse all this judicial precedent we don't like!' "
That Kingdom of God they keep talking about, he reminds us, the hunger for which is now the fuel of the Republican engine, "is not a democracy."
There's a Watergate every day in BushCoLand. And a public perception of journalistic balance (like bogus claims that Dems took bribes from Abramoff or stacked deck televisual yin yangs like wimp Colmes complementing pit bull Hannity) just allows each fresh outrage to play out under the radar. Fox News spins. Nancy Grace chatters on about missing white women. Curious minds want to know who fell down in the Winter Olympics or during Dancing with the Stars?
What's truly frightening is that each new outrage seems normal and is met with a shrug of the shoulders.
Take yourself back to the late 90s at the height of Blowjobapalooza. If someone had said to you that in a few years the United States...
*would not honor the Geneva Convention.
*would hold prisoners indefinitely without charging them.
*would openly advocate torture to the point where the president would threaten to veto anti-torture legislation.
*would set up gulags in foreign countries and fly prisoners there to more aggressively torture them.
*would launch a first-strike invasion of a non-threatening nation based on manipulated intelligence and lies.
*would force National Guard reservists into combat situations.
*would allow the president to admit if not brag about spying on citizens without any judicial restraints.
*would allow federal agents unfettered access to library and bookstore records and to search engine searches.
*would not blink an eye when an administration openly paid "journalists" to ask softball questions and publish articles favorable to the ruling party's policies.
*would allow a Pravda-like television network to blatantly champion administration policies and daily make unchallenged idiotic statements like civil war could be a good thing.
*would not challenge a president who primarily speaks to only pre-screened audiences partial to his political agenda.
*fill in other BushCo atrocities here.
...well, what would you have said? Something like you're out of your fucking mind or get the torches and pitchforks out?
You can see how far we've fallen. And we still have three years left -- longer than JFK's time in office.
Do not doubt that Rove and his minions will do anything to keep power and understand how to stroke the fanatics in the GOP base. If Bush is not a fascist, as Perlstein notes, our president does consistently show signs of craving a kingdom. He and his faithful will leave no throat unsucked while burying the Constitution and draining our nation dry. You want to pull the parasites out -- heads and all -- with your zirconium-plated tweezers? Speak up and vote against them -- each and every one.
And take a page from their playbook. Work to avoid the next overt coup and do whatever it takes to ensure that all votes are Diebold-free and fairly counted.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Blog with a View, at heart, is a digital art photoblog. Each Wednesday, I present an image without the usual discursive claptrap about outrages like making the nosy Patriot Act permanent on the same day partisan GOP brown-nosers kill any hearings into BushCo's illegal domestic spying. You know. Head-shaking observations that witness just another day of the usual suspects lining up for more torturing and spying and lying in
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
The Mole People (2001)
Coming to you from deep under the ground -- or from a secret undisclosed location...
can't tell shit from shineola Wikipedia:
The Mole People is a 1956 science fiction film directed by Virgil W. Vogel. This film was parodied on the television show Mystery Science Theater 3000.
In this movie, archaeologists stumble upon a race of Sumerian albinos living under the Earth. They are afraid of light of any kind, and keep mutant humanoid mole men as their slaves. The Sumerian albinos' descendants moved into the subterranea after the cataclysmic floods in ancient Mesopotamia. Elinor the High Priest is the leader of the Sumerians in the movie.
Think The Time Machine's Morlocks only more dim-witted -- but better at digging.
Dr. Roger Bentley sez: "Do you think anybody's ever tried to smoke dried mushrooms?"
Or...from a realm darker than Cheney's Batcave...
we make it up as we go along Wikipedia:
"Mole People" is a term used to refer to the indefinite number of homeless people who live under New York City in abandoned subway tunnels. Estimates of the number of individuals living in this way are hard to obtain, but a 1989 survey suggested they numbered around 5,000. While it is generally accepted that some homeless people in large cities do indeed make use of accessible, abandoned underground structures for shelter, urban legends persist that make stronger assertions. These include claims that "mole people" have formed small, ordered societies similar to tribes, numbering up to hundreds of people. It has also been suggested that these have developed their own cultural traits and even have electricity by illegal hook-up.
Joseph Brennan isn't buying that subterranean hooey in his essay "Fantasy and The Mole People":
I didn't read Jennifer Toth's book The Mole People when it came out in 1993. Despite my interest in subway tunnels, the focus of her book, the homeless people who live in them, was not a topic I was eager to read more about.
But several people who have read my Abandoned Subway Stations web page have asked me by email about tunnels other than stations, sometimes specifically about ones that do not exist. Finally, one correspondent, in quoting a really astonishing description from The Mole People of an imaginary underground line, pointed me to the source where the misinformation was coming from. So I read it.
Here's the problem in a nutshell: every fact in this book that I can verify independently is wrong [emphasis his]. I'm referring to her descriptions of the tunnels.
Of course, other astute observers of popular culture feel that Toth did not go far enough...like the rationalists at the World Weekly News. Could this actually be the secret hidey-hole of Dick Cheney?
Evil Mole People Found in Wyoming
University of Wyoming geologists claim to have found a race of super-intelligent "mole people" living in caves, holes, lairs and tunnels under the Bighorn Mountains. But unlike their finger-sized animal cousins, the mutant creatures stand 6 feet tall, walk upright on two legs and seem to be at least part human.
Not only that, say the experts, they're extremely dangerous, too.
Because not only do they speak and read English with surprising fluency, but their lairs are littered with books and manuals on waging biological warfare and making crude nuclear weapons -- and they hate Americans.
"The war on terror just got tougher," says a senior source at the Office of Homeland Security in Washington.
That's right. They hate us for our sunlight.