Sunday, December 31, 2006
I'm a fatalist who believes omens exist only to be misread, but I'd rather see a hawk, especially a relatively rare one, on the cusp of the new year than not because I feel in my bones that 2007 will be better than 2006. It's been a wretched year to be sure, defined on the personal level by my fractured femur on Palm Sunday, attendant surgery and recovery--physical and mental--while also adapting, or not, to the vagaries of Parkinson's Disease. Late summer blew in metaphorically but not literally--we were spared hurricanes this year--bearing the word that a developer planned to plop an 128,000 square foot architectural monstrosity on a parking lot a block from our house. The old anarcho-syndicalist in me merged with the homeowner intent on protecting his primary investment to sound the alarm and organize the resistance, including a blog where readers who want to learn more can do so. In keeping with the nature of the blog as a sounding board for the neighborhood, I let anyone on who requests it. with occasionally curious results that show why editors were invented--self-invented probably. That said, I think of the Save Mid-Beach blog as an electronic wall set aside for graffiti and public announcements, in other words to let people sound off.
At year's end, an impasse exists. The neighborhood and city have told the developer that he must make substantive changes to his seven story design--that's a three-story parking garage surrounded by 7 three-story townhouses, with at latest count 35 condos in 4 stories perched atop, along with a pool---the whole resembling a mutant, top-heavy ferry boat. I'm not even going to count the broken air conditioner or the woeful state of health insurance or the scores of other subcrises that defined the year, I'm sure some people have prospered, and I say, Bravo! But nearly everyone I know is ready to push this one out the door.
Looming over everything, of course, like a toxic cloud befouling every aspect of our lives, is the horror of Iraq. I won't repeat my previous posts except to reiterate that the Bushies have stained the name and spirit of this country, have in their endorsement of torture brought the United States fully into the league of rogue states, and the Senate and House of Representatives are fully complicit, especially the Senate, for the members there could have filibustered the torture bill but did not. Barack Obama was one of those Senators who showed anything but courage. Anyone who believes that he is a different kind of politician, should recall that on the signal issue facing him in his Senate career to date, an issue requiring moral fortitude and political courage, Obama, like all of his colleagues, was AWOL. He voted against, to be sure, but he lacked the basic humanity to stand up in that chamber and say, 'This bill is so vile that it must not pass.' Senate Democrats now have no excuse for not working night and day to repeal that abomination and bring the Bushies to justice. I won't hold my breath. This country can't even pass universal health care for its own citizens, after all.
But the turn of the year provides at least the illusion of a new beginning, and that's enough to say good riddance '06.
Friday, December 29, 2006
I don't know whether cloned food is "safe," and I'm fairly confident that no one else--including the FDA science panel and the cloning companies--knows either. Experts can surmise and predict, but they lack proof and will continue to do so until the carnivorous populace is turned into guinea pigs in a grand, deceitful blind taste test. Remember, many experts saw nothing wrong with feeding animal parts to herbivores until Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease started rotting brains away.
But even if they are safe, cloned meat and dairy products flunk my smell test, which says, "When in doubt, chuck it out.' I wouldn't knowingly but it. In fact, we already stick to organics in order to avoid mass-produced meat and dairy products. I would want to know what came from cloned livestock, just as I would like to know what fruits and vegetables are genetically engineered--so I can avoid them. Unfortunately, the FDA doesn't propose requiring labels on cloned food any more than it--or any other agency--mandates labels on genetically engineered produce. The agency's deny it, but they know that if those foods were labeled, consumers would walk on by; the way they eschewed irradiated strawberries.
That's the point, though. If cloned food is so safe and good, put a label on it--a big, bold label. The stamp can come from the Agriculture Department, since the FDA is clearly spineless on this issue: "USDA Prime Clone," for example. The people can then decide for themselves.
Lost in these discussions of safety is concern for the genetic integrity and diversity of livestock. Breeding practices are already such that popular breeds, like Holstein cattle, are losing their genetic variability. That's primarily because of over reliance on a small number of related bulls for breeding--largely through artificial insemination. Cloning will move that problem to another level and increase reliance on drugs or genetic engineering to correct problems that are bound to arise from a thoroughly 'inbred' population.
Monday, December 18, 2006
It's been known for some time that the Bushy doesn't live in a reality based world; he lives in fantasy land. That's delusional.
The Bushy is incapable of calling things by their proper names. That's delusional derangement.
The disconnect between the Bushy's words and his body language is so extremely and extremely unnerving--the man appears unhinged--that it begs for serious analysis. Instead, Peter Baker tells us in Sunday's Washington Post that the Bushy is singularly stalwart. Baker's analysis illustrates the mainstream media's refusal to question the Bushy's behavior--that is to analyze him psychologically. The failure certainly underscores the extreme deference, verging toward obsequiousness shown people high up the political power tower by those lower down--politicians included. But more significantly, it points to a powerful, unspoken, unexamined taboo against even questioning, much less examining a political leader's mental health, regardless of the harm they are doing.
As to Cheney, I suppose the main question is whether going over to the dark side is criminally insane or merely criminal.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Are the words that keep running through my mind since hearing and seeing the half-wit in Vietnam. I can't imagine anyone, even those in the White House, who are not ashamed of this cretin. As with, but nothing like, Kurtz, we are in a realm beyond language, beyond comprehension.
That's the subject line and e-mail message that arrived from an old friend last Sunday night, as the Emperor Boy George wrapped up his visit to Hanoi, but only after having himself photographed under a bust of Ho Chi Minh. Ho must have taken grim satisfaction from that one, but Mao must have howled in anguish and delight upon hearing the Bushy proclaim, while in Hanoi trying to justify Baghdad, that 'history has a long march." It is axiomatic by now that the Bushy doesn't live in "a reality-based" world; rather, he creates his own reality by unleashing the full power and lethality of the U.S. military on smaller nations, in order to force democracy on them. That's the Bushy version of another Maoism: "Revolution comes from the barrel of a gun."
So Bush is channeling Mao and Ho while conducting a dirty war in Iraq, using the U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights as toilet paper, calling his opponents traitors or worse, presiding over the torture of prisoners, who are denied every fundamental human right. He has bankrupted the country, brought shame and dishonor upon us all. His performance has no precedent in U.S. history for sheer brutal incompetence--same can be said for the Congress that enabled him. The county has repudiated him, yet he persists, like the plague. Unless Nancy Pelosi is a brilliant and lucky strategist, who can get the House and Senate to remove Bushy and Cheney, the only prospect of reining them in, but especially the Emperor Boy George, before they do more damage lies with Poppy George H.W. Bush and James Baker, the family consigliere. Laius rises from the dead. Even the classics that define our culture are shredded, perverted, turned upside down and inside out, their viscera strewn along the roadside, like the victims of Bushy's dirty war.
The Horror, indeed!
[Note: All politics being local, I've found myself in a battle against a Monstrosity. See Save Mid-Beach, Save Miami Beach, my other blog.]
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
Hope you and Gina allowed yourselves some pleasure over the election results. As narrow as the victories were they will give the country a breathing spell before the next election when that mental patient McCain, who's already shown himself to go to the highest bidder, will run his primary against a not much less soulless Hillary Clinton. One can hope they'll beat themselves silly and someone with some intelligence and with no particular allegiance to God (Obama fails for me on that account), runs. Bush & Co. pretty much succeeded in their agenda—stacking the supreme court with the dimmest legal minds and Christian Right to Lifers, stripping away environmental regulations and, in the Park Service, Forest Service, and BLM getting in people who will give away the store. Although the news media proclaimed that voters' concerns over the Iraq war proved that national, rather than local, issues were on the minds of the electorate, the fact is that within the context of the world at large our entire national politic is "local." What goes on in the rest of the world with regard to ideas, opinions, understanding of cultural complexities and interactions is of so little concern here—we are so ignorant of the rest of the world—that our national politics is by its nature "local." It's why we won't elect a woman president or a black senator or have a national health plan or see the world in terms other than our own local yokel concepts. If the Democratic party (notice how Bush continued in his press conference, to call it the Democrat party) remains the weak at the knees group they've been—why did Kerry apologize? Why did it take so long for Hillary to come out against the war? Why is Joe Lieberman still a fucking senator?--two years from now the Republicans get it all back with Rick Santorum leading the charge. The Dems have accomplished the impossible—become both horse's asses and pussies at the same time.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Thus, we have a political class perpetually out of synch in policy, if not talk, with the people. More than Iraq, the most glaring example of this failure is health insurance, where the vast majority of people want a single-payer, national health plan, where study after study has touted its benefits, but where politicians run in the opposite direction. The new Democratic Congress will be no different. Nor do I expect it to do what it should--impeach Cheney and Bush and pack them off to the Hague, along with their subordinates, to be tried for crimes against humanity and war crimes. That's unlikely--equally unlikely is a rollback of the torture bill or even a withdrawal from Iraq.
But impeachment of Cheney/Bush after the new Congress convenes in in January would make the Speaker of the House, probably Nancy Pelosi, president. I don't know how she would do, but I have long maintained that anyone who is anyone in a certain indescribable sort of way has some connection, however tenuous, to Baltimore--if only to know what a "zink" is and what to do when the "sore" ruptures--I'll skip for now the sly commentary on those Baltimore documentaries, Pink Flamingos and Hair Spray. Pelosi's Baltimore pedigree is beyond devo. She is the daughter of mayor Thomas "Tommy" D'Alessandro and the sister of mayor Thomas "Tommy" D'Alessandro, Jr. We can only hope that she has not forgotten white marble steps, painted screens, or Formstone.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
And while I'm at it, I have a simple plan for Iraq. Send Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Rice, Wolfie to the Green zone and withdraw all troops. Let them cut whatever deal they can. Let them clean up their own mess. If they survive, we'll ship them to the Hague to be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
- Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions forbids torture, degrading and humiliating treatment of prisoners. It also mandates that proper judicial procedures be followed in trying and sentencing prisoners.
- Article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights: No one shall be subjected to torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
- Article 7 of the same: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.
- Article 9 of the same: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
- Article 10 of the same: Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
- Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.
- There are also articles forbidding arbitrary arrest and mandating fair trials and to prompt hearings so that a court may decide without delay the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is illegal.
- Finally, for now, there is the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment:
- Part I
- Article 1
- For the purposes of this Convention, the 'term' torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful actions.
- Article 3
- No State Party shall expel, return ('refouler') or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
The phenomenon is clearly on display at Bush press conferences, such as the one on Wednesday, October 11, where he repeatedly asserted that Kim Jong Il's detonation of an atomic device was due to the Clinton Administration's failed diplomacy, as if Bush has not been in power the last nearly six years, the same Bush who, according to Woodward, asked the Saudi Prince Bander--on the eve of the 2000 campaign--why he should care about North Korea. Or there was Bushy declaring that the terriors must be defeated on the battlefield--and not through police work, then without missing a beat, claiming that U.S. investigators were front and center with their British counterparts in breaking up the plot to blow up transAtlantic flights, when, according to reports, the U.S. jumped the gun for political reasons. Police work cracked that "case," if case it was. Or there was Bushy condemning the Senators who voted to deny him the authority--legal cover--to torture and voted to preserve habeas corpus. Bushy claims the dissenters refused to give the CIA interogators the tools they need to protect the "homeland." I won't even talk about his rejection of a new study estimating 600,000-plus Iraqi's dead because of his delusiions
Just as it was the responsibility of those Senators to filibuster the torture bill, so it is the responsibility of the media to pursue truth and accuracy by not blandly repeating lies. Book authors and the best bloggers have been successful in doing so precisely because they are not bound by allegiance to false objectivity. Bloggers operate from an identifiable perspective that, for the best, becomes transparent in a way that enhances their veracity. That's finally why many of the corporate powers who rule the mainstream media fear bloggers--not all of whom, I well recognize, rise above the level of self absorption. The problem with the lag time is that it allows Bushy and his crowd to stay a step or five ahead of being publicly called to account for their perfidy--and I say publicly because the Congress will never do it.
After watching Bushy's performance at his most recent press conference, for example, it seems to me fair and proper for journalists--and long past due--to investigate the man's sanity. Thanks to Suskind, we have known since the last election that Bushy doesn't occupy a "reality based world," and there have long been rumors--whispers, if you will--of continued drinking. If the Mark Foley case shows anything, it is that there is too much "wink, wink, nod, nod" over officials' 'private' behavior, too much pretending that it has no effect on their performance. Bunk. The issue of Bushy's competence is of a paramount importance, yet except when an hhistorian weighs in, it is largely ignored--ignored while people are tortured and are killed in the name of his delusions. Similarly, journalists must stop giving Bushy and his minions, especially his Dark Lords a free pass on their lies and misrepresentations. If reported, a correction should immediately follow in the text--and not as something "Democrats" said. Thee rules apply to everyone, oof course, not just the Bushies. Anyone who follows this route will initially be called biased--look at the opprobrium Keith Olbermann on MSNBC receives--or worse, but there is no other choice.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Re the hypocritical deviant, Mark Foley, I can say that those of us with long memories were waiting for the Bobby Bauman Defense-no links, but I think you can use wikipedia if you don't know--and that I admire the "priest-made-me" defense--i am now following early anglo-saxon non-rules of grammar, which persisted until the 17th century--well eve beyond--blame it on Fowler and now the Chicago Manual of style. [those are parkinsonian double letters.] anyway Gina sd all in a blog
My first and final note is this: Why for five years have Democrats failed to challenge the Bushies on 9/11 and national security, to say, as all available evidence says, "Listen, you bushbuckers. 9/11 happened on your watch because you weren't paying attention. You fucked up"
But then I say, these are the same feebs who can't mount a filibuster against a bill that allows torture and guts the Geneva conventions.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Reporting from the McClatchy Washington Bureau, Jonathan S. Landay, Warren P. Strobel, and John Walcott day that Rumsfeld and Ashcroft received the same briefing on July 17. They continue to report that Rice didn't brush aside Tenet and Black's warning, which, nonetheless didn't specify where or precisely when the expected attack would occur and thus no one knew what specific action to take. That bit of fine parsing can't disguise what can only be called a failure of leadership.
There is no guarantee that ordering increased security at major airports--since there were abundant indications that planes would be involved--redoubling efforts to find and kill bin Laden, and refocusing intelligence gathering and investigative agencies would have thwarted or disrupted the attacks of September 11, 2001. But we know the result of inaction.
The 9/11 commission missed the importance of the July 10 meeting because it chose to, is my guess, in order to produce a consensus report. It published a corking good narrative that nonetheless obscured the full depth of the Bushies' failure and thus helped to keep the man in power, doing great harm.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
But Rice seemed more interested in the missile defense system--which still works only rarely in rigged tests--and, like her boss, Bushy, had no interest in "swatting flies." The 9/11 commission's executive director, Philip D. Zelikow, who as a University of Virginia professor had once collaborated on a book with Rice, knew of the meeting, Woodward says, but apparently did nothing with that knowledge. Cryptically and suggestively, he adds that Rice hired Zelikow as a "top aide at the State Department" in 2005.
Writing in Think Progress, Peter Rundlet, former counsel for the 9/11 commission says it was never told of the meeting. Something smells foul.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Art. 3. In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions: (1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: (a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment; (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. (2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for. An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.
Just to be clear; 'cruel treatment and torture' are but part of what is prohibited. Also included, as I have noted before are 'outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment,' which should cover all 'rough' interrogation techniques that fall short of the Congress's definition of torture. It also seems patently clear that these special military commissions and the denial of habeas corpus fall well short of the injunction in (d), mandating that prisoners be tried 'by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensible by civilized peoples."
"Civilized peoples,' indeed. Our fearless incompetent leaders have removed us from that company.
Friday, September 29, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Forget who votes yes or no in the Senate on this one. The crew who spinelessly approved the Iraq fiasco agreed not to filibuster this moral and legal atrocity. That's right, not a man or woman among them could muster the strength to rise from their supine positions and howl. Not one in 100. They all joined in making a mockery of the Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in shredding them and their own countries best traditions. Why? Because they were afraid of being called soft on terriors. None dare call them courageous.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
The bill the Bushies and his three pet mice want to push through Congress codifies the Bushies' criminal violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. War Crimes Act, and the Supreme Courts ruling in June, throwing out the bogus Bush tribunals and saying the al-Qaida captives had to be treated according to the law. The NewYork Times produces an elaborate chart--in this article --showing the list of banned practices, as if there were no others or no new ones would be developed. The list is like having a list of banned performance enhancing drugs, along with a statement supporting penalties for their use, and then allowing the athletes to decide what new drugs are "performance enhancers." In fact, the bogus tribunals are back in only slightly modified form, as is denial or habeas corpus and the use of coerced testimony, the denial of a prisoners' right to appeal their treatment in U.S. courts under the Geneva Conventions. Americans are granted immunity from prosecution for previous torture. The Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith presents a starkly different view from that of the NYT.
Human Rights Watch has weaseled on this one; Amnesty International has not. The military's judge advocate generals have taken the lead in government, fighting attempts to gut the Geneva Conventions; I hope they hold the line. But it's really gut check time for the rest of the Congress, and when this Congress faces those situations, it buckles. Far better than even one courageous soul should filibuster this thing to death, but courage and Congress don't belong in the same sentence. Oskar should be pounding his tin drum to scrap on this one, but Oskar....No good as ever come of torture.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Thursday, September 21, 2006
To be repetitive: Consider the ticking bomb scenario. If you know that W knows where the bomb is and where it is going off and if you know that W will only spill that information through torture, then you are justified in torture, the argument goes. I leave it to my few faithful readers to figure how many fallacies are wrapped up in that specious logic, but I will say that if you know all those things from the start, which is to say you know the outcome already, you have no need to capture, much less torture W.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
On another front: U.S. and Iraqi forces have begun to seal themselves inside Baghdad. As strategies go this one would seem to be the equivalent of besieging yourself in your capital thereby surrendering the countryside. That's a sure sign the Bushies are winning hearts and minds.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Being a land of social-climbing, freedom seeking immigrants, America has a strong tradition of individuals wiping the slate clean and starting over, theoretically if not practically leaving their former selves and lives behind. The 'born again' religious phenomenon is one aspect of that. On the societal level, Jefferson believed in a self-renewing political revolution every generation, and many other revolutionaries have embraced some form of permanent revolution, only to run afoul of the propensity of individuals, governments and societies to maintain and build upon their power and privilege. That deep conservationism promotes stability, which is widely perceived as a positive attribute until the society becomes so corrupt and unjust that the people rise up--in myth, anyway. In reality, a minority makes revolution--and it's not usually the most downtrodden--and it sweeps away the good and the bad.
The Russian anarchist, Mikhael Bakunin, no commoner he, said: "Bloody revolutions are often necessary, thanks to human stupidity; yet they are always an evil, a monstrous evil and a great disaster, not only with regard to the victims, but also for the sake of the purity and the perfection of the purpose in whose name they take place." It's not that Bakunin disapproved of revolution; it's that he saw the outcome, most obviously that the high drama and purpose of the French Revolution produced senseless mayhem and slaughter and ultimately the opposite of what it was intended to create. Napoleon managed to marshall and unloose that destructive fury on Europe for reasons, Tolstoy, for one, tried desperately to understand, without much success, and I'll not try here.
I've been working on this post for so long I've nearly lost my way, but I'll try to wrap it up...I invoked Bakunin because I think his comment about revolutions--I took the quote, I believe, from Camus's The Plague but am unable to find the source in Bakunin's oeuvre--applies to destruction of any sort. Destruction obliterates everything associated with that which is destroyed. Oh yes, I hear it said that there are records and artifacts and, among the living, memories, but finally they, the living, must rebuild around the emptiness left by the vanished. That, as I've said, takes time.
Bringing it to Iraq, then, not to mention Afghanistan, shock and awe overthrew the prevailing order and, in so doing, unloosed forces of destruction that the Bushies' never even tried to imagine. Clearly they have not yet played themselves out. The Bushies, "the wannabe berserkers," who keep insisting they can affect a revolution from outside and above, in fact, simply wanted to throw Saddam out. Judging from their actions, they believed Iraqi society would smoothly reconfigure itself under new leadership. They were wrong on all counts, as we know, because the destructive force had not played itself out. So now, the Bushies are trying to put that force back in the bottle, and they can't. Indeed, as nearly as I can tell, if the Bushies really want a unified Iraq, they should be backing Muqtada al-Sadr and the nationalistic Sunnis who, of course, want the Bushies out. So there's the final irony no one here wants to face.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Bushy's been scrambling since Katrina to persuade people that the overwhelming evidence of his incompetence is a lie. The latest campaign is designed to convince people that his trashing of the law---especially his approval of kidnapping and torture--produced valuable information that saved lives, at the very moment that the military has finally and forcefully forebade torture, admitting in the process that is doesn't work. David Johnston in today's NYT exposes the lies surrounding the torture of Abu Zubaydah--lies Bushy repeated in a speech justifying torture and promoting the very same secret trials the Supreme Court rejected. Whatever Abu Zubaydah revealed of any worth, he appears to have spilled during standard interrogation, before he was tortured. Mark Mazzetti dissects every case Bush cites in the September 8 NYT --bottom line--torture doesn't work. In both stories, CIA officials are quoted claiming the opposite, but they provide no evidence. Indeed, every bit of evidence obtained from these tortured prisoners was apparently already known or useless
I'm beginning to sound like a broken record on that. My initial thought was to point out that it appears that Bushy is openly losing large chunks of the military. The revised Army field manual forbids virtually all the techniques Bushy was seeking to justify. The man's disconnect from reality seems to be increasing, and that makes him all the more dangerous.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
I agree: That is the wrong approach unless you want to alienate and radicalize people, and then it is spot on.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Of course, I'm talking here of a matter of degrees, because, as Marx observed, artists and intellectuals belong to the superstructure of society. By default, even the most radical among them will go only so far in their quest for artistic and intellectual freedom, although in certain contexts that far may be far indeed. Nonetheless in America it is an article of faith among the cultural elite--excepting the religious right--that ideology, morality and politics should not drive art or shape intellectual discourse, until the state of the nation or the world becomes too fucked up to be ignored. Then, it is time to bear witness.
Arguably, we have been in such a state since the Great War (I) and the advent of Modernism, although one would never know that by looking at contemporary American letters. There is much to do, even on these shores, over Samuel Beckett--the centennial of his birth, it is--and how he ripped what was left of narrative, plot, and character from the novel, which I applaud--Gina, too--that makes the sound of two hands clapping. But in America, narrative reigns supreme, as if Beckett and those other Europeans never happened--and by narrative here I'm talking about the simple story line running the length of the book, so beloved in fiction and non-fiction. Now, that reflects a society that doesn't want complexity or subtlety or paradox or, since September 11, 2001, barely irony. It's a society that wants the world to be a certain way and wants to be entertained.
Speaking of paradox and irony, Dog Bytes' readers will long since have commenced muttering to themselves that one high priest of Modernism was the virulently anti-Semitic, Mussolini propagandist, Ezra Pound, and another was the politically indifferent, at best, Picasso, Guernica not withstanding. I've long admired the poetry of Ezra Pound while finding abhorrent his bigotry and politics, but there are many people who won't pick up a book by him. Pound paid for his decisions, too--incarceration in a makeshift, open-air cell following the war and then impoundment at St. Elizabeth's as a nut case too incompetent to stand trial for treason. Still, believing that the responsible artist, writer, intellectual, human will always be in opposition to power, I tend to look askance at any writer or artist, Pound included, who touts the party line. Without endorsing a Gardneresque argument for moral fiction, I must nonetheless confess that I'm no fan of "literature" that preaches hate--misanthropy is another matter. That's finally why I'm not going to declare Pound my favorite poet or even place him high in the pantheon, despite the occasional brilliance of his verse--too much of the other crap washed into it, and he placed himself and his talent in the service of an evil that caused great suffering.
Gunter Grass has long stood in opposition to Germany's Nazi past, demanded confrontation with it in his fictions and in his public posturing. I initially read him in part because of his reputation and in part because the so-called Danzig Triology is an important cultural document, but I don't find him the best of the post-war German writers, who nonetheless were born under Hitler. I rate more highly Hans Magnus Enzensberger--Grass's exact contemporary--better as a thinker--he's an essayist and poet, not a novelist--and W.G. Sebald (this link's to his obituary in the Guardian) flat better, although his body of work is considerably shorter. Enzensberger, as the linked to interview reveals, caused his own flap in Germany, when he endorsed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, even while disavowing Bush's foreign (non) policy and the carnage that has followed. He simply hates all dictators, Enzensberger said.
Sebald died in 2001, age 57, a great loss to literature and the world. The Guardian began its obituary with a quote that seems pertinent now: "I don't think you can write from a compromised moral position," he told an interviewer shortly before his death.
Through concealment of his service in the Waffen SS, Grass put himself in a compromised moral position. It didn't stop him from 'writing,' but it perhaps did stop him from writing anything that will endure that will ultimately be considered immortal. In Sebald's poshumous Campo Santo is an essay "Constructs of Mourning,' devoted to Grass and Wolfgang Hildesheimer and the collective failure of postwar Germany to confront the devastation of the War--not just the destruction of Jews, Russians, Poles, Gypsies, political opponents, and social deviants but also the annihilation of German civilians in the firebombing of cities and the disappearance of German armies in POW camps. Writing about Grass's Diary of a Snail, a fictional account of the 1969 campaign that brought Willy Brandt, who actively resisted Hitler, and the Social Democratic Party to power, Sebald praises Grass for telling the story of the deportation of Danzig's Jews by the Nazis--while slyly emphasizing that he took the history from someone else--but Sebald also criticizes him for creating a "good" German, Hermann Otto, aka "Doubt." Sebald gives chapter and verse, but his point is to ask, politely but firmly, "whether the dominance of fiction over what really happened does not tend to militate against the recording of the truth and the attempt to commemorate it."
That raises the question of whether Sebald was writing fictions, as most American critics claim, or something closer to essayistic prose poems, my choice--and, yes, it's hardly a poetic phrase. But I digress.
In today's New York Times, Daniel Kehlmann, the young German novelist, writing from Vienna, suggests that at a certain point, Grass withheld public confession because he knew news of his service in the Waffen SS would keep him from ever receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature [this link takes you first to my sign in page, for some reason, but click in]. After he received the prize in 1999, he remained silent to preserve his reputation, coming forward now as a pre-emptive strike, Kehlmann says. That's to wrap hypocrisy in venality, but who's to say it's not true, since Grass himself is sayig little. He is further proof, however, that one can be a "moralist' without being moral; indeed, that's the story of our age. Sadly, as Sebald said, you can't "write [my emphasis] from a compromised moral position." You can tell stories, for sure, and they can even amuse and achieve great popular success, but they will finally fall short of what writing is about. The task of the writer in this age is to find the way to speak what must be spoken.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Friday, August 18, 2006
And the ever changing back story has changed again. The Daily Express and Guardian cite unnamed intelligence sources in Pakistan as claiming that al-Qaeda number 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, "probably"--the Dog loves these qualifiers--sanctioned the airline plot of Rashid Rauf and his gain of feebs--who hides their bomb-making equipment in a suitcase in a park? At least al-Zawahiri's not in a secret prison, like the putative mastermind al-Libbi.
Meanwhile, the various bomb scares on board planes remind the Dog of mass-hysteria driven witch hunts past. The Bushbuckers and their opposite numbers in al-Qaeda have succeeded, it would appear, in dragging us down the rat hole into the cesspool of all that is vile about humans and their culture--and they have done so in the name of their 'noble' causes.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
--The timing of the bust, hard on the heels of primary election setbacks, most notably, it would appear, the pompous Joe Lieberman, diehard supporter of the slaughter in Iraq, not to mention continued bad news out of that American colony and the battering the Bushies were taking over their approval of the Israel attacks on civilians in Lebanon and the 5th anniversary of the Emperor Boy George's first August briefing, which he ignored, the timing sucks. There are indeed scattered reports that the arrests came when they did at the behest of the Bushbuckers. This detail alone is enough to make the Dog discount the whole sordid deal, but there is more.
--The beauty of using British agencies MI5 and Scotland Yard, which still have some credibility in the eyes of many Americans, who have no faith in their own FBI, the gang that spawned the Liberty City 7. Is that faith well placed? Consider that the Brits themselves seem skeptical of the threat posed by the "liquid bombers" and that Tony Blair is widely and correctly perceived as the Emperor Boy's Boy. In the excellent Seymour Hersh piece in the current New Yorker on the Bushies' approval of and collusion with Israel in its misbegotten attack on Hizbollah, a British offiicial is quoted that Blair "drinks the White House Kool-Aid as much as anyone in Washington." (For those who don't remember or were too young, here's the Wiki entry on Jim Jones and the People's Temple.) Every indication is that Bushy and Blair worked together on this one.
--Thanks to Wikipedia, I can provide some material and links on liquid explosives--acetone peroxide, aka "Mother of Satan" and hexamethylene triperoxide damine. Both are described as easy to manufacture favorites of terriors. Either or neither might have been used in last July's attack in London's tube. But "easy to manufacture" does not mean safe. They are highly volatile, which is why amatuers regularly blow themselves up, at least partly. Acetone peroxide is apparently best made at cold temperatures. Because they are unstable, it's a little hard to see all of these 24 bumblers conducting their chemisty experiments successfully on the fly. They were more likely to blow up the toilet than down the plane. In other words, they made a bad choice of weapons.
--But then, there is scant proof that these 24 people in England and some 26 more elsewhere actually had the capacity to do more. It increasingly appears that they were at best wannabes, perhaps slightly more together than the Libery City 7, perhaps. More than a few didn't even have passports.
--The purported mastermind in Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the putative al Qaeda number three whom the Pakistanis arrested last spring and turned over to the Americans for water boarding. It's been reported numerous times that the U.S. has the wrong dude. I suppose he masterminded this thing through telepathy with Rashid Rauf, as the Guardian reports today. So what, if the right al-Libbi's in isolation, he set this thing in motion more than a year ago and left it to Rauf, who seems largely feeble, but al-Libbi didn't spill the beans on this one despite torture. This trail gets too hard for the Dog to follow, but then all he's expected to do is follow the police and intelligence work of our friends in the UK and Pakistan.
--The terriors don't have to launch attacks anymore. They can scare the hell out of people simply by talking about an attack.
I'll post this draft, proof read, and add to it later. Now the Dog must see to the Dogs.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
The Dog has to play catch-up here with bits and fragments. We watched the other night Occupation: Dreamland, the understated, devastating portrayal of part of the 82nd Airborne in Fallujah, Iraq, by Ian Olds and Garrett Scott. Several things batted the Dog over the head. First, US forces in full battle regalia resemble the Empire's storm troppers in Star Wars. Second, watching young American soldiers in English asking several older Iraqis, who only spoke Arabic, where such and such a suspected 'insurgent' was, the Dog was reminded of a certain type of exchange between De Soto and Coronado's forces and Native Americans in Florida and New Mexico, respectively. The Spaniards bulled through the countryside until they came upon an Indian town or village. Then they would demand treasure and, after finding there was none, or not enough, an inquiry that often involved unimaginable brutality, would demand to be told where was the 'city of gold' they, the Spaniards, knew was out there. The Indians understood enough to point the brutality toward the home of their enemy, off the Spaniards marched. So too, the Iraqis and Americans.
And then there are Israel's assault on Lebanon and the liquid bombers, which the Dog promises to get to tomorrow.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Of course, the failure is not one of strength; rather, it is one of character. Those leaders want war, mayhem, bloodshed, chaos, butchery. They thrive on it; indeed, they live for it. On a moral level--not one of fire power or wealth, but strictly of the morality of war--Hezbollah, Hamas, Israel, their backers--are the same. They are murderers of innocent people--no matter whether one or thousands or more--hypocrites who profess a faith they deny by their acts. The Dog is sure that this slogan has appeared somewhere before, but he can't find it and so offers it here--War is the Ultimate War Crime.
The Dog's modest proposal is to take every leader involved in the current wars that afflict the world--from Iraq and Afghanistan through Southern Lebanon and Gaza and on to Darfur--including the Bushbuckers and the Osama--take them all and stick them some place like Bikini Atoll for a steel cage death match for the duration. The winner gets to call the cage home for eternity.
That's only slightly less likely to become reality than that the Bushbucker-in-Chief and his puppet master will be delivered to the Hague to face trial for war crimes. The Dog won't repeat himself on this score, except to note that having been beaten in court, the Bushbuckers now ask Congress to resurrect their illegal tribunals for terrior suspects. Should Congress go along, everyone voting with the majority, to the Dog's mind, would also be open to war crimes charges, just as those who supported the invasion of Iraq already have.
Dream on. The Dog promises to attempt to be more regular.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
If the lapdogs and Bushbuckers read anything, they would know that the terriors have turned to traditional 'informal money transfer systems,' as they are sometimes called, like the Indian hawala, precisely to avoid scrutiny. This February 2005 Congressional Research Service report on terrorist financing, one of several done since September 11, 2001, lays it out, chapter and verse. Martin A. Weiss, the report's author, calls them 'informal value transfer system,' and gives different names for different countries. He also talks about cooperative efforts the U.S. is engaged with to monitor financial transactions including those passing thorugh the infomal ones.
The Bushbuckers know where the action is in terrior financing, and it ain't the formal system.
But why not exaggerate and bash the Times, unless the rabid lapdogs on it. That's much easier and more fun than facing reality.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Saturday, June 24, 2006
In his role as house cynic, the Dog must ask whether this whole fiasco was intended to goose up someone's poll numbers? He also wonders what happened to the search for the real terrior who sent anthrax to people. While he's about it, he would remind the attorney general that the U.S. has long and painful experience with home grown terriors, many of them recently of the white supremacist variety. Perhaps, he should refocus on those 'warriors.'
But the Dog knows that this bust of the Liberty City 7--hereby named for the poor, historic black section of Miami where they apparently lived in a run-down warehouse--fits in with a pattern in the Bush War on Terriors of picking up groups of ethnic men and charging them with conspiracies that always prove less than advertised. These acts have a precedent in American history--and here I thank Jeff Donnelley, historian and teacher--the Palmer Raids of 1918 to 1920, when the feds under Woodrow Wilson's attorney general, Alexander Michael Palmer, used the newly enacted Espionage and Sedition Acts to attack, incarcerate and deport socialists, communists, and radical union workers, particularly those in the IWW, by the thousand. A very young J. Edgar Hoover led the shock troops.
The War on Terriors might be a new kind of war, as the Bushbucker-in-Chief says and the press echoes, but to this old Dog is has the putrid smell of past fear-and-hate inspired campaigns.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
This Dog has howled at that change of thinking line bfore, but now comes Ron Suskind's book, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11, to amplify. Suskind says outright how hard it is to get face time with uncurious George, especially when he's in Crawford. There he was in August 2001 when on the 6th, he was handed a memo, "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US," followed by several other visits by CIA analysts, all telling him something big was coming down. Suskind reports that after one such briefing, the Bushbucker-in-Chief, the Decider who trusts his gut, "looked hard at the panicked CIA briefer.
"'All right,' he said. 'You've covered your ass, now.'" [The misplaced comma is in the text--or if it's not misplaced, something is elided. "You've covered your ass, [pause] now [do x, y, z, all of which, if history is a guide, spell, 'bugger on off out of here']."
Now flash to Vienna or one of the other recent, everything changed after September 11 performances and look at the gestures and listen to the voice again. Here is a man who knows at some primal level that he fucked up bigger than ever before--thus the disappearance down the rabbit hole--and the only way around that is to convince himself--the world is secondary--that September 11 was a history-alering event beyond what anyone could have imagined. Recognizing that, he, W, has seized the moment, seized the time, to fight a new kind of war, and he is egged on by Cheney and company purusing a distinctly old agenda. In fact, the war looks like the old types with the same themes. But the Bushbucker-in-Chief believes it's new and is too ill-informed to ever learn otherwise. (As the Dog has previously noted, W followed the same pattern with Katrina, only it didn't sell. Indeed, maybe Katrina helped expose the fraud surrounding Iraq and September 11, if only because it awakened the MIA press.)
The horror is that he is the Decider, and how to end that horror before more innocents suffer, I haven't a clue.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
The problem is that under the Emperor Boy torture was and is an accepted American form of 'interrogation.' The practitioners can call it hard questioning, harsh questioning, or whatever else they want, but by every extant definition, the Bushies are torturing people. It's proper and necessary to call for an immediate end to the practice. It is inhumane. Since study after study has shown that torture is ineffective as a way to extract information, it can only be seen as cruelty and burality exercised to inflict pain and suffering
But, as this Dog has said before, it is also necessary, if America wants to call itself a civilized nation of laws--even, take note religious fanatics, a moral nation, by any definition of morality--it must allow all those who are party to this torture, including and especially those who ordered it, to be brought before an international court of justice for crimes against humanity. "Allowed"--wrong word: America must itself bring those people to court, and the sooner the better.
Note: The Dog thanks his loyal readers for their concern in the face of his silence. He's been busy attempting to manage his comeback, and although he is progressing, he is still considerably slower than his previous slow. He promises to try to be more regular.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
1. take the huge, under utilized golf course at the center of the beach--the miami beach golf club--and turn it into a tropical urban park, which includes a large off-leash dog area, indigenous plantings, water, jogging, biking paths and so on--the central park of miami beach.
2. put mega parking garages at the end of each causeway, where all cars are left. people move around the beach by electric golf cart, bike or other human-powered conveyance, or foot.
do those two things and watch property values go through the roof.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Friday, June 02, 2006
so we be gonna try this word processing program works on wysiwyg or so says but not clear it does footnoes but it do colors, and who can complain about, and it does hyperlinks, and then it publishes the damn things, says you can post to blog too, so i'll be goddamned on that one, nearly 8 weeks into my fractured femur with its tricked out titanium rod, i'm finally physical therapy and trying to fix my shoulder (right) that went all spastic with the walker and now has knots the size of golf balls and let me tell it like it is as howard cossell used to say, when he would drive nuts those who couldn't tell it like it was and knew that howard wasn't either that had he done so he'd have been driven off the air, never to return for speaking truth is seldom rewarded--we all want approximations, some of us closer to the bone than others and some want only the deceits and deceptions that portray for them the world they want, and i think we all--me and the few readers of this blog know who i'm talking about, but i'm not here to kick the bushbucker-in-chief, but rather to ask who comes next from the putative other side--gore looks best if he be gore but he didn't fight for it the last times--hills be a weasel --obama a disappointment--and the rest--please--and let's not do the 'anybody but' routine, fact is american politics be bankrupt--duh--questions are how to fix it, who will fix it--and let's not say 'the people,' though clearly they play a part....