Category: Politics

writing in the raw: live from new york

i was going to write about what i imagine it will be like to live in leiden, the netherlands. but it’s been snowing all day and i have on christmas music. i’ve done a little decorating, have the candles lit, and poured a glass of red wine.

i’ll be out of this place in a few weeks. life or time or whatever it is keeps us moving…  and we seem never to stop making changes. my nephew ryan turned 10 today. on christmas day, i’ll be 53. holy fucking moly.

but tonight, i’m happy. i love how snow quiets things down. slows things down. i love milky night skies and how moon glow backlights falling, floating drop_lets. i love snowstorms and being out with my dog. I love the way the snow catches in his fur and how he rolls on his back. i love the sun coming out after a big storm… and the glint and sparkle of the snow snow snow.

i love the way a house can smell warm when you come back inside. oh… and sometimes it’s so nice to curl up into blankets and take a nap. not really sleep though, but how you feel in those perfect moments between sleeping and waking.

i decided i should take some pictures of my little cottage-like apartment, with my few christmas decorations and the abundance of snow outside, and show you all where i am right now and where i won’t be for much longer.

and yet, right now i’m so fully here. not fully grasping deconstructing all of this. walking away from each part is an odd thing. how it all changes and the things that held you in orbit have disappeared. and you walk away. energy going forward in light years or heavy years. the drag of memory, holding you still. making you think you’re still where you’re not. it will all melt like the snow outside. the landscape. the way it looks right now. it will never be that way again.

big chest-heaving sigh.

and i’m up in five minutes and maybe i’ll just keep writing this in the comments. as i chase after myself. as i try to let go and grab onto something new, all at the same time.

hey. here i am. that’s funny now. here i am. until i melt away.

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my favorite things



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Writing in the Raw

NotPipeRotateYes, that’s correct, I’m one of those anal retentive writers who believe in spelling and capitalization and punctuation and grammar.  Links lend credibility and context.

Sometimes people mistake my style for stream of consciousness.  They would be surprised to learn that almost everything is outlined and constructed.  What I do is tell stories, like Garrison Keillor or Mark Twain or Dashiell Hammett.  Because most of them do in fact come from personal experience while they have a middle, they seldom have a firm beginning or end; though I am always trying to make a point.

In the beginning.  Where is that exactly?  First the Earth was formed, then the dinosaurs came and Jesus rode them like ponies.  Homer started his poems in medias res and at the beginning we are on the shores of Troy or Ithaca and have the great relief for the rest of the tedious tale that our hero makes it that far at least, so we have no serious concerns for his welfare.

Much of the rest may seem mere wandering flashbacks but because the reader has peeked ahead they are assured they will eventually get somewhere.

So every essay is also all about process as long as you learn from it.

Here I’ve been experimenting with form, trying to write shorter, and more political, and shorter AND more political.  An ideal Front Page piece will have 200 to 500 words and at least one graphic or blockquote for visual interest. That’s about 4 or five paragraphs.  Not much time to get to the point.

Step aside, sister

Two articles snagged my attention regarding the role, and the perception of the role, that dedicated black women played in the civil rights movement. The core message was that while women were just as committed and involved as men, they were often shuttled aside for the “big events”. They may have played key leadership roles but were not perceived to be leader with the same stature and credentials as the men. An interesting article also offers recollection about the role that white women played in the Civil Rights movement. It is worth a full read and I think the dynamics of how and why white men and women also felt compelled to add their voices deserves an analysis.

Gail Collins illustrates the tendency of women in the Civil Rights movement to mysteriously disappear during the “big moments.” When Dr.Martin Luther King went to Washing ton to give his most famous speech, prominent female activists had to walk with the wives far from the cameras Obviously, this is a factual statement but it does make me wonder: would wouldn’t the “wives” be considered legitimate spokespersons for the Civil Rights movement? I can’t imagine what sort of courage, patience, faith, and vision it must have taken to be the “wife” of a male civil rights activist. Interesting that Collins did a good job of providing examples of women but didn’t think much about the “wives.” She also makes a bit of an apology for her hero, Susan B Anthony, while claiming that we have all learned to be clear eyed about the flaws of those we admire. Collins states I know she broke her old friend Fredrick Douglass’s heart she lashed out at a government that would give the vote to “S***o” and ignore well educated middle class white women. Hmmm… Broke his heart? No, she revealed herself, apparently Collins believes feminists cannot critique feminists when they cover their disappointment with racist assumptions.

According to Collins several women asked that at least one woman be included in the speeches that day. They were told that there was female participation because Marian Anderson and Mahalia Jackson were going to sing. The women wanted Diane Nash to provide a voice.

Nash is the young woman wearing glasses.

Nash was a clever tactician recruiting white women to sit with black men at lunch counters. No doubt she realized the local potential for violence might be diminished.Nash was profoundly influenced by the teachings of Ghandi. She specified in a speech that the idea of “non-violence” did not fully explain the intent of acting peacefully for change. Nash argued that the foundations of the civil rights movement were driven by a Agapic energy which was a force based on a “love energy” that acts to heal of teach the opponent. Years after Diane Nash was relegated to the back of the procession in Washington she received a Distinguished American award from the Kennedy Library. Dr.King himself presented Diane Nash with the Rosa Parks award from the SCLC in 1965. Nash actually helped plan the very march where she wasn’t considered important enough to speak at. In addition, she helped put together the strategy for the right to vote movement in Selma that in itself lead to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Step aside, sister

Two articles snagged my attention regarding the role, and the perception of the role, that dedicated black women played in the civil rights movement. The core message was that while women were just as committed and involved as men, they were often shuttled aside for the “big events”. They may have played key leadership roles but were not percived to be leader with the same stature and credentials as the men. An interesting article also offers recolelction about the role that white women played in the Civil Rights movement. It is worth a full read and I think the dynamics of how and why white men and women also felt compelled to add their voices deserves an analysis.

Gail Collins illustrates the tendency of women in the Civil Rights movement to mysteriously disappear during the “big moments.” When Dr.Martin Luther King went to Washing ton to give his most famous speech, prominent female activists had to walk with the wives far from the cameras Obviously, this is a factual statement but it does make me wonder: would wouldn’t the “wives” be consisdered legitimate spokespersons for the Civil Rights movement? I can’t imagine what sort of courage, patience, faith, and vision it must have taken to be the “wife” of a male civil rights activist. Interesting that Collins did a good job of providing examples of women but didn’t think much about the “wives.” She also makes a bit of an apology for her hero, Susan B Anthony, while claiming that we have all learned to be clear eyed about the flaws of those we admire. Collins states I know she broke her old friend Fredrick Douglass’s heart she lashed out at a government that would give the vote to “Sambo” and ignore well educated middle class white women. Hmmm… Broke his heart? No, she revealed herself, apparently Collins believes feminists cannot critique feminists when they cover their disappiontment with racist assumptions.

According to Collins several women asked that at least one woman be included in the speeches that day. They were told that there was female participation because Marian Anderson and Mahalia Jackson were going to sing. The women wanted Diane Nash to provide a voice.

Nash is the young woman wearing glasses.

Nash was from Chicago and went to school in south where she participated in sit ins, helped organize Freedom Rides and became a founder/leader in SNCC]. Nash was a clever tactician, when she organized student sit ins she [recruited white women who volunteered to sit next to black men at the lunch counters. Nash was profoundly influenced by the teachings of Ghandi. She specified in a speech that the idea of “non-violence” did not fully explain the intent of acting peacfully for change. Nash agrued that the foundations of the civil rights movement were driven by a Agapic energy which was a force based on a “love energy” that acts to heal of teach the opponent. Years after Diane Nash was relegated to the back of the procession in Washington she recieved a Distinguished American award from the Kennedy Library. Dr.King himself presented Diane Nash with the Rosa Parks award from the SCLC in 1965. Nash actually helped plan the very march where she wasn’t considered important enough to speak at. In addition, she helped put together the strategy for the right to vote movement in Selma that in itself lead to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Republican Resignations: read ’em as “Redeployments”

Remember when the blogosphere lit up with comments about the resignation of Karl Rove? Rove Resigns! echoed across sites across the world.

But that was too simple. Too easy.

Rove didn’t resign — he wasn’t going away. He was being redeployed.

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired

No, those are not my words. This is not one of those essays where I declare my vast and eternal disenchantment with Blogtopia, the net roots, America, western civilization, the Democratic party, or french fries that aren’t crispy. When I need a break, I will take one. Until then, I need to engage in the tremulous task of saving my brain from impending calcification and trying to look for sources of inspiration.

No, those words were spoken by Fannie Lou Hamer, a brilliant, compassionate, and straight talking Black woman from Mississippi who was a grass roots civil rights activist and anti-poverty worker. She was born poor and she died that way. Americans all seem to want their political/historical struggles to have a happy ending, a conclusive convergence of harmony, perhaps so they can hang on to their myths.

A few other things Mrs.Hamer said:

Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.

There is one thing you have got to learn about our movement. Three people are better than no people.

With the people, for the people, by the people. I crack up when I hear it: I say with the handful, for the handful, by the handful, cause that’s what really happens.

If the white man gives you anything-just remember when he gets ready he will take it back. We have to take it for ourselves.

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Here is a selection of biographical material about her if anybody is still intrigued after my inevitably inadequate introduction to her. Fascinating people just cannot be presented fairly in an essay.

Naturally there is no irony in the fact that Fannie Lou Hamer’s name was specifically attached along with Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King to the Voting Rights Reauthorization Bill thus recognized and canonized but was so poor right before she died that she could not afford a post mastectomy prosthesis that she had to stuff socks in her clothing. When she died she and her husband had no money friends had to raise money for the funeral. She chose to stay in Mississippi and continue as an anti-poverty crusader rather capitalize financially through being recognized. It seems we love agitators most when they are gone and we merely tolerate them or seek to mold them when they are with us. We wish to harness the raw power of those who step beyond the the accepted battle lines in order to push our won agenda and then they are often discarded. Many Black women played crucial roles in the civil rights movement. Lynne Olson, an author who looks at the significant role women played in that era notes that Rosa Parks was often depicted as being very deferential when she was actually a careful planner who had put much thought and effort into her actions. And further once the Montgomery bus boycott was initiated, and Martin Luther King was involved, Parks was not allowed to speak at the first mass meeting.She asked to speak, and one of the ministers there said he thought she had done enough. It was time for the men to drive the movement apparently.

Are You Inspired? Leadership and African American Politics III

   

You can fool some people sometimes,

   But you can’t fool all the people all the time.

   So now we see the light (what you gonna do?),

   We gonna stand up for our rights! (yeah, yeah, yeah!)

   So you better:

   Get up, stand up! (in the morning! git it up!)

   Stand up for your rights! (stand up for our rights!)

   Get up, stand up!

   Don’t give up the fight! (don’t give it up, don’t give it up!)

   Get Up, Stand Up-Bob Marley and the Wailers

WITR-Rattlers

Although I had lived, and hiked, and backpacked in the Southwest for twenty or so years, encounters with rattlesnakes were pretty rare. If one sees snakes at all, they’re usually stretched across a trail or road.  I had sure never encountered one where it posed a problem, like crawling into someones sleeping bag. The closest anyone I knew ever came was when I was hiking with my nephew, he once sat on a large large rock that had a rattler underneath.  When it rattled, he moved.  This is generally considered appropriate behavior.  He might have been maybe a little too excited,  and ran much farther than he needed to, but the move-away–leave-it-alone strategy is all one really needs to do in most cases.  The people that do get bitten are usually young, drunk, and male.  

Most people in rural areas with great hideouts like barns and woodpiles, will usually handle rattlesnake encounters with matter-of-fact blowing them away with a shotgun.

I somehow got a job at a nature sanctuary near a small town and moved there from Tucson.  I had been a volunteer for a few years and Jerry, the manager, finally had the funding to hire some help.   Meetings with rattlesnakes increased.

Euphemisms: In War & Peace

When I took my last long trip, I took along George Carlin’s “When Will Jesus Bring the Porkchops.”  I’ve been a fan for years, but was particularly struck by his treatment of the prevalance of euphemisms.  For a long time, I’ve noticed sanitized language used to talk about war (eg. “collateral damage” or “precision bombing”).  It’s not hard to find it when reading history (eg. “Indian removal” or “internment camps”).  I’ve been thinking about the propaganda and the framing of messages we’ve seen in the more recent past, and it all fit.

As George points out, euphemisms obscure meaing rather than enhance it; they shade the truth.  They may replace words that people are uncomfortable with or simply put a better face on things that sound too negative.  They may also dress up something that seems too ordinary.  “Thighs” become “drumsticks,” “crow’s feet” are “laugh lines,” and “pimples” are “blemishes.”

“Toilet paper” is “bathroom tissue,” and “sweatpants” are “active wear.”  “Second-hand clothing” is now “vintage apparel.”  “Toupees” have been referred to as “hair appliances” or even a “hair replacement system,” much as an “answering machine” is an “answering system” or a “mattress and box spring” is a “sleep system.”  Cars now have “braking systems” rather than just brakes, and the seat belts and air bags are an “impact-management system.”  We watch “animation” rather than lowly “cartoons” or “daytime dramas” rather than “soap operas.”  

Theaters have become “performance spaces,” and arenas are now “event centers.”  Hospitals are “medical centers,” libraries are “learning resource centers” and so on.  “Profits” are “earnings,” “criticism” is “feedback” and “special delivery” is now “priority mail.”  “Trailers” are “manufactured homes,” “mouthwash” is a “dental rinse,” “soap” is a “clarifying bar,” and “hair spray” is a “holding mist” or “sculpting gel.  “Cough drops” are “lozenges,” and “constipation and diahrea” are “occasional irregularity and lower gastric distress.”

Euphemisms have been used to “soften the language” when it comes to the condition in combat where a soldier’s nervous system has reached the breaking point.  In World War I, it was called “shell shock.”  In World War II, it became “battle fatigue,” definitely less harsh-sounding, though two syllables became four.  

By the Korean War, the condition became known as “operational exhaustion,” nice and sterile sounding, like something that might happen to your car.  Finally Vietnam, and “post-traumatic stress disorder.”  It still has eight syllables, but has been hyphenated.

Published also today at Democracy Cell Projectand Silenced Majority Project

Krongard Brothers Update – Meta

After our Monday Morning News Drop story appeared here and on Kos, Keith Olbermann and John Dean ran with it as documented on Raw Story.

“It is a component of a larger investigation,” Dean asserted, “and I cannot escape the metaphor that has been running through my head, that we might see Waxman running into a cookie that is starting to crumble because it’s run into a buzzsaw brother. … Waxman isn’t one who will turn away from digging this entire matter out.”

Since then it was discovered that Mother Jones has been doing their own research on the issue where we learn some of the corruption charges:

Krongard stands accused of inadequate oversight of construction contractors at the new, $600-million U.S. Embassy in Baghdad; refusing to pursue procurement fraud charges in a case related to a DynCorp contract; intervening in an ongoing investigation of former Broadcasting Board of Governors Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson; questionable auditing of State Department financial statements; and an “abusive management style” that has contributed to an almost wholesale revolt against him by his own staff.

“It’s self interest” said Buzzy Krongard

On Friday at 4:43 pm this report,  regarding conflicting accounts from a State Department official and his own brother,  hit the news wires.  The most interesting part of this article is that Krongard, the official in jeopardy,  “had begun the hearing by denying the “ugly rumors” that his brother was associated with the company, which is under scrutiny for a September 16 shooting incident in Baghdad in which 17 Iraqis were killed.”  According to the article he then took a break and came back into the same exact room and recused himself from the probes into Blackwater.

This is a clear example of a Public Official  so used to doing things the Bush/GOP way that he didn’t even bother to check his facts before taking part in a hearing of this magnitude.   I’ll say that again,  this is a clear example of a Public Official  so used to doing things the Bush/GOP way that he didn’t even bother to check his facts before taking part in a hearing of this magnitude.

Did it sink in?

writing in the raw: the velveteen rabbit

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“What is a LEADER?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“A LEADER isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. It’s realizing that every experience develops some latent force within you.1 You begin to understand that vision is the art of seeing the invisible2 so that when you want to build a wagon, you don’t gather the other toys to collect wood or assign them tasks, but rather you teach them to long for ways to traverse the endless immensity of the backyard.3 Then you become a LEADER.”

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