Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

[Inside: Part V of America the Ugly]

State of the Onion XXII

America the Ugly

I do not set aside
the grace of God,
for if righteousness
could be gained
through the law,
Christ died for nothing!”
–Gal 2:21

Shedding Grace

God’s Eye

God sheds grace on us?
The shedding of grace
has a human face
We are graced with hunger
to measure our sense of charity
We are graced with poverty
to challenge us
to solve economic
inequity and despair
We are graced with pestilence
but also graced
with the scientific curiosity
necessary for us
to defeat disease
We are not graced with war
That is our doing
it is our responsibility to end it
We are not graced with greed
which is rather a byproduct
of the rotting
of human souls
We are not graced
with the false profiteers
who use religion
to tear us apart
when its purpose
is to bring us together
to give us common bonds
under our separate roofs

God sheds tears for us
tears of frustration
of shame and contempt
of anger and outrage
of pain and disgust
at what people have done
in God’s name
God sheds no grace now

America Amerika

We have spurned
the grace of God

–Robyn Elaine Serven
–March 30, 2006

I know you have talent.  What sometimes is forgotten is that being practical is a talent.  I have a paucity for that sort of talent in many situations, though it turns out that I’m a pretty darn good cook.  🙂 

Let your talent bloom.  You can share it here.  Encourage others to let it bloom inside them as well.

Won’t you share your words or art, your sounds or visions, your thoughts scientific or philosophic, the comedy or tragedy of your days, the stories of doing and making?  And be excellent to one another!

dubya’s library

Three years ago next month the Clinton library opened.

Three years.

November 2004, some of us had yet to get up from the floor, others seethed while still others moved on to action. “2006” was the cry. There was hope amidst all the bad, Howard Dean and the DNC comes to mind, but then it got really, really bad. dubya was ‘reselected’ and all pretense was dropped, political capital ruled the day. The constitution was shrouded shredded; dissent was suppressed, personal rights disappeared and fear was mongered as never before.

Through it all there remained the image of dubya; dubya dropping the dog, choking on a pretzel, bulging inappropriately or those “WTF” moments like the door in China or the malaprops or all of the unapologetic flights to idiocy (the gynecologists line or “Need some wood”). Ah, memories of a great so-so truly bad president.

Before a site for the bush library was announced I wrote about plans for dubya’s library in November 2004.

As we know the Clinton library was dedicated this past week.  The Clinton Presidential Center will be a treasure trove of documents and, for many Americans who understand good governance, sacred ground.  What will it be like for this President?

The George W. Bush Presidential Library

Plans were announced today for the George W. Bush Presidential Library.  According to spokesman Scott McClellan the building will be housed on a 40 acre tract donated by the Mule Mellon Trust.  The centerpiece of the sprawling complex envisioned by architect Bionda dell’ Adamello will feature a replica of the President’s desk at his ranch in Crawford using wood he personally chopped down during his vacation in August of 2001. 

The twenty thousand square foot main building will include wings dedicated to inspirations that guided the President  The largest, Zalawadi, is dedicated to Karl Rove.  While unwilling to discuss details dell’ Admello did say that his inspiration for Zalawadi was the Art of M.C. Escher.  “I’m attracted to the up is down, down is up concept,” he said. 

The Cheney room features a whispering wall and displays such artifacts as the Dick’s Pacemaker Plus, his first EKG and a scooter of unknown origin. 

Other wings include Angora, Barbari and Kaghani.  Asked as to the significance of the names dell’ Admello alluded to “mythical figures.”  The library’s buildings will be constructed by guest workers.

Landscaping will include colorful gardens and sculpture, such as “Dry Well” by artist Dutch Toggenburg.  World famous sculptor Murcia-Granada is planning a steel and iron piece entitled “Pretzel.” Valais Blackneck, famed for his wood work, has announced he will be donating “Door with Crescent Moon” for the entrance to the Colin Powell building located at the service entrance on the south end of the property.

In addition to the tens of books and documents expected to be housed at the site there will be attractions for young and old alike.  The Bait and Switch CafĂ© will feature such favorites as reconstituted prime steak with rice and pioneer pork chops. Medical staff assures us that the food will be as healthy as the federal budget. Although no details are available yet, there’s talk of a value menu. There’ll be fun for the kids too.  “The Black Hole” will house rides and games such as “Whack the Mole,” and “Drop the Pooch.”

That was then. Now I’d like to see that library in the middle of nowhere on top of a future giant sinkhole or in the middle of Antarctica. Instead of my vision Commander Flight Suit (© 2007 Chickenhead Productions) seems to favor Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Will poor dubya’s project be known locally for the library’s previous tenant Mrs. Baird’s bakery, which SMU acquired in 2003, or for the smoke and mirrors necessary to lionize an empty suit?

Mitt Romney Says Fuck Off to Dying Medical Marijuana Patient

Good Job, Mitt!  Your Cruelty knows no bounds!
More down there…

We know the drug war is working because our prisons keep filling up at exponential rates, and we keep building more!  Good job!
And in useless drug interdiction news:

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 7 – After the biggest opium harvest in Afghanistan’s history, American officials have renewed efforts to persuade the government here to begin spraying herbicide on opium poppies, and they have found some supporters within President Hamid Karzai’s administration, officials of both countries said.

  Since early this year, Mr. Karzai has repeatedly declared his opposition to spraying the poppy fields, whether by crop-dusting airplanes or by eradication teams on the ground.

  But Afghan officials said the Karzai administration is now re-evaluating that stance. Some proponents within the government are pushing a trial program of ground spraying that could begin before the harvest next spring.

  The issue has created sharp divisions within the Afghan government, among its Western allies and even American officials of different agencies. The matter is fraught with political danger for Mr. Karzai, whose hold on power is weak.

  Many spraying advocates, including officials at the White House and the State Department, view herbicides as critical to curbing Afghanistan’s poppy crop, officials said. That crop and the opium and heroin it produces have become a major source of revenue for the Taliban insurgency.

  But officials said the skeptics – who include American military and intelligence officials and European diplomats in Afghanistan – fear that any spraying of American-made chemicals over Afghan farms would be a boon to Taliban propagandists. Some of those officials say that the political cost could be especially high if the herbicide destroys food crops that farmers often plant alongside their poppies.

  A few important issues are not being addressed here:

  1.   1. Herbicides kill everything, even weeds, and create barren soil.  This means that farmers will be unable to have productive land to grow anything for years.
  2.   2. Why has the anti-poppy Taliban suddenly become pro-poppy?  Why doesn’t the US government ask itself this question?
  3.   3. How are these enormous poppy crops leaving Afghanistan, which is currently living in the dark ages, with the majority of transport based around donkey carts?  Where are these crops being processed and by whom?  In Afghanistan and neighboring countries, opium is taken in a virtually pure form, basically unrefined sap. To become marketable, it must be processed, and distributed.  During the Vietnam war, the C.I.A. took care of those issues, processing and distributing the Vietnamese heroin.  Why would it be any different today?
  4. 4. Why hasn’t anyone talked to this guy:

Drug Interdiction–A Losing Strategy
  CSC 1992
  SUBJECT AREA National Military Strategy
  Title: Drug Interdiction — A Losing Strategy
  Author: Major Warren R. Tate, United States Air Force
  Thesis: Direct military intervention into drug trafficking is not
  strategically sound, tactically suitable, or cost  effective.

Cognitive Liberty

Of all the freedoms you have to lose, none is more fundamental than the freedom of thought. 

US Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo wrote:

“Freedom of thought… is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom. With rare aberrations a pervasive recognition of this truth can be traced in our history, political and legal” (Palko v. Connecticut (1937) 302 U.S. 319, 326-27.)

Without freedom of thought, the First Amendment right to freedom of speech is moot, because you can only express what you can think. Constraining or censoring how a person thinks (cognitive censorship) is the most fundamental kind of censorship, and is contrary to some of our most cherished constitutional principles.

~ Richard Glenn Boire, Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics

Cognitive Liberty (CL) means the freedom to choose your state of mind and the right to mental privacy.  Some of the main elements of CL relate to 1) Privacy – your thoughts remain private until you choose to share them, 2) Autonomy – the individual must have free will to determine their state of mind, and 3) Choice – a person should have the right to alter their consciousness by what ever method they choose, as long as they are not harmful to others.  They should also have the choice to refuse drugs or treatments that may alter their consciousness. 

The Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics referenced above is a great resource for news and legal analysis of this subject.  Richard Glenn Boire is a lawyer who founded the CCLE.  When asked why CL is important he replied:

The right of a person to liberty, autonomy, and privacy over his or her own intellect is situated at the core of what it means to be a free person. This principle is what gives life to some of our most well-established and cherished rights. Today, as new drugs and other technologies are being developed for augmenting, monitoring, and manipulating mental processes, it is more important than ever to ensure that our legal system recognizes and protects cognitive liberty as a fundamental right. 

The War on Drugs is an obvious focus of Cognitive Liberty proponents and one of my biggest concerns. There’s much to say, but not tonight – so I’ll use this succinct quote from the late great Dr. Timothy Leary. 

Source: Erowid
    Two Commandments for the
    Molecular Age 

  • Thou shalt not alter the consciousness of thy fellow men.

  • Thou shalt not prevent thy fellow man from altering his or her own consciousness. 

Another main issue is the right to refuse drugs forced on you by doctors and/or courts.  Boire filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the 2003 Supreme Court case Sell v. US.  A dentist accused of Medicaid fraud was being compelled to take anti-psychotic medication so that he would be compenent to stand trial. He didn’t want to take the drug.  In their ruling, the Supreme Court affirmed the authority to administer anti-psychotic drugs to a criminal defendant for purposes of rendering him competent to stand trial.  However, strict criteria must be satisfied and it would be rare to find circumstances that warranted it.  In this particular case, the criteria were not met and so  Sell (the defendant) was allowed the right to refuse the unwanted medicine. 

Finally, as we are learning from Valtin’s essays, there is a very dark side to the issue of mind control – using methods of altered consciousness as a form of torture, interrogation or coercion.  See: Isolation, Sensory Deprivation & Sensory Overload and Still Photos from Edgewood Arsenal:  Human Experimentation Seen Up Close 

With advances in technology and psychopharmacology we are making great discoveries in how the brain works, but we are also creating new ways to read and control the mind. Here are a few examples:

Brain Fingerprinting

According to its developer, Brain Fingerprinting is designed to determine whether an individual recognizes specific information related to an event or activity by measuring electrical brain wave responses to words, phrases, or pictures presented on a computer screen.  The technique can be applied only in situations where investigators have a sufficient amount of specific information about an event or activity that would be known only to the perpetrator and investigator.  In this respect, Brain Fingerprinting is considered a type of Guilty Knowledge Test, where the “guilty” party is expected to react strongly to the relevant details of the event or activity. 

Proponents of this technology would like to use it for solving crimes and catching terrorists. 
Critics are opposed to compulsory Brain Fingerprinting because it violates the sanctity of the mind and the right to mental privacy. 


Researchers looking at ways of curing addiction are starting to develop the means to prevent drug abuse in the first place.  The idea is to use one drug to block the effects of another “high-producing” drug, like methadone does to heroin.  Simliar “antidotes” are being created for cocaine, marijuana, nicotine and alcohol.  That sounds great for someone who already suffers addiction and is voluntarily seeking treatment.  However, one could imagine that courts could also order this to be given to people convicted of possession or selling drugs.  Recipients of public assistance could also be treated with compulsory anti-drug drugs as a condition to receive benefits, e.g. food stamps and public housing.  There have also been proposals of anti-drug vaccinations that would be given to school children…the “Just Say No” shot.

Under the plan, doctors would immunise children at risk of becoming smokers or drug users with an injection. Childhood immunisation would provide adults with protection from the euphoria that is experienced by users, making drugs such as heroin and cocaine pointless to take.
(origninal source – The Independent (UK), July 25, 2004)

Um, but what if it stops you from feeling euphoria at all?  Is this really a good way to stop drug use in children or some kind of reefer madness?

In an article published in the Journal of Law and Health, Boire concluded: 

The development of pharmacotherapy drugs – like drug prohibition itself – is driven at least as much by politics, power, and profits than by genuine public health concerns.” (p.225)
(Neurocops: The Politics of Prohibition, J. Law and Health, Vol. 19, 215-257, 2004) [PDF]

Memory Management

This involves the use of pharmaceuticals to either improve memory, “smart pills”, or to erase memories that cause people to suffer PTSD.  Again, the research is being done with the best intentions. But there are situations where these drugs may be used coercively or without someone’s consent. 

For example, emergency room doctors giving memory erasing drugs to trauma victims to help blank out the scene of an accident or the army giving them to soldiers after battles.  What if you are a witness to a crime? Could the government compel you to take a memory-boosting drug to help you testify in court? 

In conclusion, from a scientist’s perspective, I have to say I recognize this research is important in revealing how the brain works and when it can be used for the common good.  As a cynical citizen who knows the lengths BushCo or any other fascist regime will go to wield power, I am afraid of the Thought Police. I fear we will lose control of our minds.

Pony Party: Music for the gosh oh gee of it! w/poll

With things being so serious lately, what with the SCHIP override coming up and an apparent capitulation on FISA, I thought it was a good time to put some music up for no reason whatever!  🙂

First: Gackt! YAY!

Second: Gackt! YAY!

Third: Gackt with GacktJob (featuring Ren) Live!!!  YAY!!!!!

Just for fun…Gackt dresses up! 🙂 YAY!

Back the music: A Gackt fan vid – I Touch Myself!  YAY!!!

And finally…Gackt doing Black Stone!  YAY!!!!

So, as you can see, I’m in a Gackt mood!  That’s a good thing.

[poll id=”



It’s BUSH who is soft on terror and national security!

I don’t know whether or not the new FISA bill will be a sell-out, a capitulation, or a clever strategy, but I do know what bothers me most about it- the framing of its selling. More important than any particular instance, or possible instance, of Democratic weakness is the rationalization for the weakness. It’s not just about Democrats being weak in confronting Bush as a means of proving that they are not weak, it’s that Bush himself is the weakness!

As noted by BarbinMD, the New York Times reported this:

If it had stalled, that would have left go Democratic lawmakers, long anxious about appearing weak on national security issues, facing an August spent fending off charges from Republicans that they had left Americans exposed to threats.

And, in a different article, this:

As the debate over the N.S.A.’s wiretapping powers begins anew this week, the emerging legislation reflects the political reality confronting the Democrats. While they are willing to oppose the White House on the conduct of the war in Iraq, source site they remain nervous that they will be labeled as soft on terrorism if they insist on strict curbs on intelligence gathering.

And this is what infuriates me, because it’s not about weakness, it’s about stupidity. The Democrats need to stop playing political defense on national security issues and start simply referring to the facts. Because the facts prove that it is Bush who is soft on national security, so opposing Bush is not weakness, it is strength.

The correct Democratic response to any such charge should begin with another story in today’s news. As diaried by redhaze, as reported by the Washington Post: A small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, it notified the Bush administration of its secret acquisition. source site It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release.

Within half an hour, intelligence agencies were downloading the video. By mid-afternoon, the video and the transcript had been leaked by the Bush Administration to cable news.

The founder of the company, the SITE Intelligence Group, says informazioni vardenafil originale dosaggio this premature disclosure tipped al-Qaeda to a security breach and destroyed a years-long surveillance operation that the company has used to intercept and pass along secret messages, videos and advance warnings of suicide bombings from the terrorist group’s communications network.

Oh well. It wasn’t done to destroy the career of a whistleblower’s wife, but the effect was the same. “Techniques that took years to develop are now ineffective and worthless,” said Rita Katz, the firm’s 44-year-old founder, who has garnered wide attention by publicizing statements and videos from extremist chat rooms and Web sites, while attracting controversy over the secrecy of SITE’s methodology. Her firm provides intelligence about terrorist groups to a wide range of paying clients, including private firms and military and intelligence agencies from the United States and several other countries.

Is it that hard to explain that the Bush Administration’s incompetence and/or political vindictiveness is destroying important security assets?

I will now, once again, post a handy little guide about the Bush Administration’s record on national security. It would be nice if both the Democratic Party leadership and the national media could manage to understand these facts. The Terrorism Index

Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress conducted a survey on national security issues. They call it The Terrorism Index:

Surveying more than 100 of America’s top foreign-policy experts-Republicans and Democrats alike-the FOREIGN POLICY/Center for American Progress Terrorism Index is the only comprehensive, nonpartisan effort to mine the highest echelons of the nation’s foreign-policy establishment for its assessment of how the United States is fighting the war on terror.

How bad is the Bush Adminstration?

Nearly every foreign policy of the U.S. government-from domestic surveillance activities and the detention of terrorist suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to U.S. energy policies and efforts in the Middle East peace process-was sharply criticized by the experts. More than 6 in 10 experts, for instance, believe U.S. energy policies are negatively affecting the country’s national security. The experts were similarly critical of the CIA’s rendition of terrorist suspects to countries known to torture prisoners and the Pentagon’s policy of trying detainees before military tribunals.

No effort of the U.S. government was more harshly criticized, however, than the war in Iraq. In fact, that conflict appears to be the root cause of the experts’ pessimism about the state of national security. Nearly all-92 percent-of the index’s experts said the war in Iraq negatively affects U.S. national security, an increase of 5 percentage points from a year ago. Negative perceptions of the war in Iraq are shared across the political spectrum, with 84 percent of those who describe themselves as conservative taking a dim view of the war’s impact. More than half of the experts now oppose the White House’s decision to “surge” additional troops into Baghdad, a remarkable 22 percentage-point increase from just six months ago. Almost 7 in 10 now support a drawdown and redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq.


More than half say the surge is having a negative impact on U.S. national security, up 22 percentage points from just six months ago. This sentiment was shared across party lines, with 64 percent of conservative experts saying the surge is having either a negative impact or no impact at all.

They rate the handling of the war as a 2.9 on a scale of 10.


Only 12 percent believe that terrorist attacks would occur in the United States as a direct result of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.

order brand levitra from online pharmacy The Bush Administration’s incompetence and negligence allowed the September 11 terrorist attacks to happen

Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and the National Security Council’s counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke warned Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney and Stephen Hadley in January 2001 that: “You’re going to spend more time during your four years on terrorism generally and al-Qaida specifically than any issue.” They were ignored.

Clarke later testified that “the administration did not consider terrorism an urgent priority before the September 11, 2001, attacks, despite his repeated warnings about Osama bin Laden’s terror network.

Although Predator drones spotted bin Laden at least three times in 2000, Bush did not fly them over Afghanistan for the first eight months of his presidency.

The Bush Administration ignored the two and a half year Hart-Rudman U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century’s warnings about terrorism, choosing, instead, to conduct their own study.

Neither Bush nor Cheney made good on an announced plan to study the consequences of a domestic attack.

Obsessed with missile defense, the Bush Administration thought it was wrong to even focus on Osama bin Laden.

Throughout the summer of 2001, Tenet, Clarke, and several other officials were running around with their “hair on fire,” warning that al-Qaida was about to unleash a monumental attack.

In July, 2001, CIA Director George Tenet warned Rice “that ‘the system was blinking red,’ meaning that there could be ‘multiple, simultaneous’ al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. interests in the coming weeks or months.

On August 6, 2001, Bush received a Presidential Daily Brief titled “Bin Laden determined to strike in US.”

Bush’s response to his CIA briefer was: “All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.”

Meanwhile, Don Rumsfeld was vetoing a request to divert $800 million from missile defense into counterterrorism.

Not to be outdone, just a day before the attacks, Attorney General John Ashcroft turned down “F.B.I. requests for $58 million for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts and 54 additional translators.”; instead, he “proposed cuts in 14 programs. One proposed $65 million cut was for a program that gives state and local counterterrorism grants for equipment, including radios and decontamination suits and training to localities for counterterrorism preparedness.”

click The Bush Administration’s incompetence and negligence allowed Al Qaeda and the Taliban to get away with it, and because of that, both groups are now growing stronger and more dangerous.

Bush Administration incompetence allowed bin Laden to get away, when he could have been caught or killed, at the battle of Tora Bora.

The failure to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban is now complete.

The Taliban in Afghanistan are growing stronger.

They’re also growing stronger in nuclear armed Pakistan, threatening to overrun the government.

Al Qaeda has also regrouped, and is growing stronger in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A recent assessment by the National Counterterrorism Center, was even titled “‘Al-Qaida Better Positioned to Strike the West.”

The failure is so complete that both Afghanistan and Pakistan are now having to negotiate reconciliation with the Taliban

acquistare viagra generico 50 mg a Genova Iraq

655,000 to 1,000,000 Iraqis killed, at least 3818 American and 301 allied military personnel killed, at least 27,753 American military personnel wounded, and some 8,000,000 Iraqis in need of emergency aid.

The war is damaging our image around the world.

According to a Global Market Insite report, it’s damaging our businesses.

It’s spawning a new generation of terrorists.

And terrorism is on the rise, all around the world.

The administration stopped the military from attacking Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, before the start of the Iraq War.

A year later, he founded “Al Qaeda in Iraq” and pledged allegiance to bin Laden.

Our detention camps in Iraq are breeding grounds for new terrorists.

Bush’s overhaul of security at federal buildings may be making federal employees less secure.

“The most successful international team ever assembled to probe suspected WMD activities is shutting down this week, thanks to U.S. and British insistence. The team (the U.N. commission initially acronymed UNSCOM and then UNMOVIC) spent 16 years uncovering and destroying Saddam Hussein’s chemical, biological and missile weapons programs. The U.S. invasion of Iraq proved that the U.N.’s intel-overruled by the Bush administration-had indeed been correct: Saddam no longer had WMD. But late last month, the U.S. and British governments pushed through the U.N. Security Council a vote to halt funding for UNMOVIC.”

The Pentagon has lost track of 190,000 assault weapons given to Iraqi security forces.

A British commander in southern Afghanistan even asked U.S forces to leave the area, because the high level of civilian casualties is understandably alienating the locals.

A new Cold War?

“Missile Defense” has provoked Russia into ceasing to comply with a treaty on conventional arms.

It’s also provoking Russia to re-target its missiles at Europe.

Destroying our military

As of the beginning of 2006, Stop-Loss policy had prevented at least 50,000 troops from leaving the military when their service was scheduled to end.

Multiple deployments are adding to the troops’ stress.

Nearly two-thirds of polled veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars consider the military over-extended.

Troops stationed in Germany are increasingly going AWOL rather than be cannon fodder for Bush’s insanity.

The army had to revise updwards its understated desertion rate.

West Point graduates are leaving the military at the highest rate in three decades, as repeated tours of Iraq drive out some of the army’s best young officers.

Both Republican and Democratic governors warned Bush that using National Guard troops for his escalation was overburdening units already stretched to their limits.

Two army brigades had to forgo their desert training to accomodate Bush’s escalation schedule.

Deployed single parents are having to fight to retain custody of their children.

In April of this year, tours of duty were extended from 12 to 15 months.

Republicans killed Senator Webb’s attempt to give troops more down time between deployments

A 2006 study showed that eighty percent of marines killed from upper body wounds would have survived, if they’d had adequate body armor.

Troops have been having to improvise their own vehicle armor, because the military hasn’t been providing the real thing.

Even as the escalation began, thousands of Army Humvees still lacked FRAG Kit 5 armor protection.

The Veterans Administration knew as early as 2004 that there were serious problems with the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center- and did nothing.

The Department of Defense also knew about the problems long before public exposure and the resulting outcry forced them to actually do something about it.

Veterans are receiving fewer medical disability benefits now than before the war.

Up to twenty percent of Iraq Vets may be suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

A Pentagon task force concluded that the available medical care for those troops suffering psychological problems is “woefully inadequate.”

Wounded soldiers classified as medically unfit for battle were being reclassified as fit, so they could be sent back into battle.

These reclassifications were done to provide enough manpower for Bush’s escalation.

Even soldiers with acute Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were being sent back to Iraq.

“Soldiers who have served — or are serving — in Iraq are killing themselves at higher percentages than in any other war where such figures have been tracked.”

The army has the highest suicide rate in 26 years.

Bush is soft on terror. Opposing Bush strengthens America. On the war, on Iran, on FISA, on torture- every time the Democrats fear being labeled as soft for opposing Bush, they need just haul out these facts. It’s the correct political strategy, and it also happens to be the truth.

Profiles in Literature: Oulipo

Greetings, literature-loving dharma bums!  Last week we traveled to contemporary Japan to rub elbows with bestselling pseudo-surrealist author Haruki Murakami.  This week I’m taking a slightly different tack than usual and profiling a group rather than an individual author.

Did you ever wish you could break free from the constraints of language and literature and simply express yourself purely?  Well, one group of mid-20th century writers would tell you that’s nonsense, and we’re bound by more constraints than we even realize.  In fact, why not pile on more!

Sound crazy?  Then let me introduce you to the wickedly funny, darkly screwball, surprisingly warm group of radical theorists who started meeting in France in the 1960s: the Oulipo.

Oulipo stands for ouvroir de la littĂ©rature potentielle, or roughly “the workshop of potential literature” (ouvroir doesn’t translate directly into English, since depending on the time period it can refer either to a traveling workshop or a knitting circle, among other things).  It began with an idea of mathematician François Le Lionnais, expanded and put into practice by his colleague Raymond Queneau, and soon attracted a devoted group of writers, artists, and other thinkers.  Among the most famous, and the ones we’ll be discussing in this entry, are Queneau himself, Italo Calvino, Georges Perec, and Harry Mathews.  That’s two French, an Italian, and an American if you’re keeping count (Oulipo knows no national borders).

So what exactly does this “workshop” do?  Oulipo centers on the notion of “constraints”, or unwritten rules that govern what we write.  Some constraints are obvious: a sonnet has 14 lines, a haiku involves a particular number of syllables, etc.  Some deal with more general ideas of structure: longer works tend to be divided into chapters, longer paragraphs into sentences, etc.  Narratives tend to begin with exposition, build to a crisis, and settle down with a brief dĂ©nouement.

Other constraints are so deeply embedded in our collective conscious that we can hardly imagine literature without them, at least until the more radical experiments of the 20th century.  Grammar and spelling are constraints, as are broader notions like psychological unity of characters.

The Oulipians argue that attempting to free oneself of all constraints is a fool’s errand: anyone who thinks you can write without rules is only fooling himself.  Conversely, by being cognizant of the rules that bind you, and by embracing them, you might just find a level of creativity that you never realized existed.  For example, Queneau pointed out that people who attempt to spout out random numbers invariable fall into a common patterns; people who instead construct patterns have better luck creating something that “feels” random.

Let’s take an literary example to show how artificial constraints can nudge the creative process in unexpected directions: Georges Perec scored a succès de scandale with his 1969 novel, La Dispiration (translated as A Void or A Vanishing).  The tale, which concerns mysterious disappearances, was written entirely without the letter E, which is the most common letter in French as well as English.  You’d be surprised how smoothly a well-written E-less text can read: some clever Wikipedia user wrote the entire plot summary of the novel without using E.

Is that a productive way to write, or just a carnival trick?  Oulipians argue the former, because – as the novel’s award-winning translator into English Gilbert Adair noted – being barred a typical path forces you to choose paths that never would have occurred to you.  That may not seem like much, but comb through the last thing you’ve written and notice how many stock expressions are there.  We traffic in commonalities. Harry Mathews explained the value of constraints thusly:

There is no value inherent in the product of a constrictive form, except one: being unable to say what you normally would, you must say what you normally wouldn’t.

That is huge.  As with Queneau’s example of generating random numbers, the attempt to break free of all constraints more typically leads to clichĂ©; meanwhile the artificiality of Oulipo is, as it turns out, the best antidote against clichĂ©.  In effect, Oulipo is anti-surrealist, denying that automatic writing and attempts to tap into the subconscious are in any way productive.  It finds artistic freedom in voluntary chains.

None of this would matter if the writers we’re discussing were lesser artists: theory is fun but the proof, to fall into clichĂ©, is in the pudding.  Let’s talk about a handful of these writers and how they used literary constraint as a way of generating rather than restricting their output.

One sidenote: I should mention that constraints are a way of writing, not reading.  You don’t have to know whether a particular Oulipo-influenced novel has a mathematical backbone, which adds nothing to the experience itself – these novels live or die on their plots, characters, and use of language.  Queneau compared it to scaffolding: you need it to build, but you’d never judge the finished building on it.

Raymond Queneau

The real literary birth of Oulipo came with the 1961 publication of Raymond Queneau’s Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes (that’s “One Hundred Thousand Billion Poems”).  The deceptively simple work is a small book of sonnets – fourteen, to be exact.  But the paper is sliced so that you can peel back any line to read the line underneath it instead, which gives you the possibility of generating 1014 different sonnets, all of which rhyme!  Try it yourself.

Some of Queneau’s major contributions to French literature include his freeing the language from its constraints of spelling and grammar, and introducing a new set: speech and phonetics.  In his bestselling Zazie in the Metro, about a shockingly foul-mouthed little girl on the loose in Paris, Queneau pokes fun at the way French people talk, which is often hugely divergent from the way they spell the things they say.  The opening line is infamous:

Doukipudonktan, se demanda Gabriel excédé.

That wonderful word “Doukipudonktan” is a good approximation of what’s otherwise “D’oĂą qu’ils puent donc tant?”  (“Why the heck do they stink like that?”).  I can’t vouch for any translations of the novel, but if you can read French, you’ll find yourself laughing out loud.

The French weren’t his only target of linguistic playfulness.  Queneau was an avid reader and lover of the English language, but he couldn’t resist a fun barb at the expense of English speakers trying to wrestle with the French language.  You’ll have to read this aloud to get the effect:

Ung joor vare meedee ger preelotobĂĽs poor la port Changparay.  Eel aytay congplay, praysk.

That’s from the mini-chapter “Poor lay Zanglay”, one of 99 retellings of a banal anecdote in Queneau’s masterful Exercises in Style.  In the course of the book, Queneau morphs the anecdote in a variety of ways: sometimes he changes the verb tenses or the order of events; next he’ll rewrite it as a three-act comedy or a sonnet; later he’ll imitate 18th century style or postmodernism.  It’s a very funny book.

Italo Calvino

Calvino is undoubtedly the best known of all the Oulipo writers, in part because he staked out a lot of non-Oulipo territory as well.  Like Borges, Calvino was a master fabulist and could spin a slightly askew portrait of modern life into a fairy tale. 

Among his most popular novels is the Oulipo-influenced If on a winter’s night a traveler, a book about the joys and frustrations of reading a book.  The self-reflexive novel begins with You opening the first page:

You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler.  Relax.  Concentrate.  Dispel every other thought.  Let the world around you fade.

After a brief introduction, the “story” begins: a hazy noir-esque meeting in a train station that turns out to be…  But then the story stops, and You realize the book’s been misprinted.  When you return it for another copy, you open to the first page to find it’s now entitled “Outside the town of Malbork” and has nothing in common with book you just started.  What gives?

Do you really need to know that the plot was generated by visually mapping out sets of squares with themes attached to each of their sides?  … Naw, not really!

On the other hand, the outstanding short story “The Burning of the Abominable House” directly addresses its own creation, since it’s one of the first stories that ever used a computer to help with its construction.  In the story, an insurance investigator knows that four recently deceased people have committed sixteen acts against each other (ranging from strangling to blackmailing) and must reconstruct what happened before the house burned down around them.  The number of permutations is huge, but certain ones can be ruled out: if A stabbed B to death, it’s unlikely B later seduced C.  The story begins to shape itself:

Following this method allows me to rewrite my flow-chart: to establish a system of exclusions that will enable the computer to discard billions of incongruous combinations, to reduce the number of plausible concatenations, to approach a selection of that solution which will present itself as true.

Despite the deceptive artificiality, Calvino has a sophisticated point to make: all plots are generated this way, since we weigh a number of possibilities against the plausibility of their occurrence (given the characters, order of events, etc.), and we proceed from there.  The story’s surprising twist ending only underlines how sharp Calvino’s eye is for the implications of writing.

Georges Perec

Once dubbed “the circus flea” of French literature, Georges Perec turned out to be the greatest of all Oulipo writers, and one of the best of all 20th century authors.  He was initially famous as author of Les Choses (Things), a novel about the desire for material objects in which the very grammar plays a subtle role (see Harry Mathews’ essay, “Georges Perec”).  But Perec was also a masterful short story writer, essayist, author of the world’s longest palindrome (5000 characters!) and historian of form: when certain critics decried his E-less La Dispiration as a mere stunt, Perec responded with a article outlining the history of the lipogram, an ancient art form as it turns out.

His Oulipian prowess was most infamously flexed in La Dispiration, but the novel that’s assured his immortality is the monstrous La Vie mode d’emploi (Life a User’s Manual), which is without doubt my favorite novel ever written.

It is the twenty-third of June, nineteen seventy five, and it just before eight o’clock in the evening.

Life sounds as artificial as a novel can possibly get: the author takes one moment in time, strips the façade off a typical Parisian apartment building –  11 Rue Simon-Crubellier – then tells us what he sees in each room. 

That’s all.

But the rooms are people’s homes, and any human being has, in the course of his/her life, have more experiences than can fit in a mere work of art.  So the author flits from room to room, and sometimes a postcard on the dresser turns into a lengthy story about its origins; sometimes a piece of furniture leads us back to the craftsman who carved it a century ago.  Over the thousand pages – including a forty-page index of proper names that appear in the novel, a map of the apartment complex, and a chronology of events – the stories both interweave and explode outward.  If a full life is too complex for literature, what about an entire building’s worth? 

This enormous scope is constructed within the simple (ha!) elegance of a puzzle, and likewise the puzzle becomes both a plot point in the book (one of the characters carves wooden puzzles) and a supreme metaphor for the book itself.  As Perec says in the ominous final words of the introduction:

From this we can deduce something which is undoubtedly the ultimate truth of the puzzle: despite its appearances, it is not a solitary game: every move the player makes, the puzzle maker has made before him; every piece that he picks up and picks up again, that he examines, that he caresses, every combination that he tries and tries again, every trial and error, every intuition, every hope, every discouragement, have all been decided, calculated, and studied by the other.

All this would be enough to make the book pretty dazzling in its own right, but the final chapter’s twist implicates not only the novel, but the author and reader as well.  It is a breathtaking work of fiction, considered alongside Proust as the greatest of all 20th century French novels, and it took Perec years just to develop the intricate system of constraints that governed the novel’s construction.

Harry Mathews

Oulipo has only one English-speaking fiction writer in its ranks, the American-born Harry Mathews.  Mathews was a good friend of Perec’s and is the only writer discussed here who is still alive and publishing.  He gained an invitation to join Oulipo after the debut of his novel Tlooth, a fast-paced, completely bonkers novel that I don’t even know how to describe (it opens with pseudo-Soviet prison camps, battling fake evangelical groups, accidental amputations, and baseball). 

Since then, Mathews has not only been one of Oulipo’s biggest defenders, but also among its most interesting theorists.  He developed a constraint system that now bears his name, Mathews’ Algorithm, a nifty piece of combinatorics that can work at any level, from the individual letter to the chapter arrangement.

Mathews used the algorithm most effectively (and invisibly) in his novel Cigarettes, a 1987 novel which reads like a witty British novel of manners transplanted to American high society, warts and all.  The loves and ambitions of the characters criss-cross through high comedy and tragedy, and whatever artificiality went into the novel’s construction is completely erased in its reading.  Often the dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny, especially given the high society milieu it takes place in:

They had taken refuge under an immense copper beech when lightning transsected the night and revealed Pauline picking her nose.  Oliver couldn’t pretend he hadn’t noticed: “So that’s how you spend your free time.”
  Pauline waited for the thunder to rumble away.  “I couldn’t wait.  It is a basic pleasure.”

A favorite of mine is an earlier novel, 1975’s The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium.  A suspenseful treasure hunt told through the loving letters of a separated husband and wife, the novel’s surprise ending caught me complete off-guard.  The letters of one of the characters, a South Asian woman from an imaginary country who schools her American husband in her language and culture, show that an artificial style is not incompatible with powerful emotion:

WeĂŻ weĂŻ lemö slop. Wo-woe the mysyry of love, we say.  But it has no so bad a soun be-cause weĂŻ is “a-las” and “sad-ness”, OK, but all-so “to-laugh”.  You shall for-ever rememer lemu be cause it is, “love”.


– Articles on Queneau and Perec at the Scriptorium.
– Articles on Queneau, Calvino, and Perec at Kirjasto
– Links, reviews, and resources on Perec and Mathews at The Complete Review
– Huge Italo Calvino site
– Warren Motte, “Reading Georges Perec
Interview with Harry Mathews

The excerpts from Queneau come from the Gallimard/Folio editions.  The excerpt from Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler comes from the Harvest Book edition, translated William Weaver; “The Burning of the Abominable House” from Numbers in the Dark and Other Stories, Vintage International edition, translated Tim Parks.  Excerpts from Perec from the Hachette edition, translations mine.  All the books by Harry Mathews are available from Dalkey Archive Press.  All pictures from Wikimedia commons, linked back to their original sources.  Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Thanks for reading!

Pony Party: it’s an OPEN THREAD

Cost of the War in Iraq
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Through October 15, I plan to devote my Pony Party slots to support International Blog Action Day and its focus on our environment. Tonight, let’s get reacquainted with US PIRG, an advocate for myriad issues from media reform to net neutrality. UP PIRG has a solid record of advocacy for the planet and has great recommendations on actions we can take. Link and intro below the fold.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket  Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket  Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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US PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), takes on powerful interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols and population centers across the country, we stand up to powerful special interests on issues to promote clean air and water, protect open space, stop identity theft, fight political corruption, provide safe and affordable prescription drugs, and strengthen voting rights.

Shocking: Dem candidates have leftist economic ideas!

the Financial Times (Europe’s main English-language business paper), writing about the US presidential campaign,  is shocked – shocked! – that leftwing politicians in the US _dare_ have leftwing programmes:

The grab for a job: Democrats turn protectionist in a drift to the left

Does this mean the Democratic party, which is generally (although not universally) anticipated to be heading to both congressional and presidential victory next year, is abandoning the centrist economic legacy of the Bill Clinton years? The rhetoric, if not always the fine print of the various plans that the candidates have rolled out, would suggest that it is.

Ooh. Abandoning centrism. That’s a criticism hurled at the right all the frigging time right?

And that criticism is focused on one thing only: the supposed protectionism of the leading candidates, pushed by “populist” Edwards (remember that this is a European paper – populist has nastier overtones here than in the US)

Nevertheless, the candidates face a very different world to the one Mr Clinton grappled with during most of the 1990s. Perhaps the biggest contrast is that Americans have become deeply pessimistic about their prospects over the last few years. Some polls show that a majority believe their children will be worse off than they are – a strikingly new and un-American mindset.

In the 1990s, the dissemination of new technology and the rising tide of productivity growth did lift all boats, although some more than others. The median household income rose by 14 per cent during Mr Clinton’s period in office and the proportion of Americans living below the poverty line fell. In contrast, since 2001, median household income has fallen in real terms while the poverty rate has risen.

Over the same period, premiums for health insurance have risen by almost 90 per cent and the proportion of Americans without healthcare has leapt to 47m. Meanwhile, studies estimate that those who lose their job and find a new one are on average paid 13-21 per cent less than in their previous position and are far less likely to have health insurance.

The fact that such trends have occurred during a period in which productivity growth has continued to be impressive explains why Democratic candidates are focusing much less on the Clintonite agenda of boosting innovation and productivity and much more on the politics of widening inequality – or on what Mrs Clinton calls “trickle-down economics without the trickle”.

But being worried by, or reacting to, that widening inequality is “un-American”, and the politicians that focus on this are pandering to voters’ basest instincts, (not so implicitly – not understanding the world we live in, where such things are inevitable, natural and, of course, desirable).

The only thing that seems tolerated in the Dems’ programme is their focus on healthcare, because on that issue the corporations now agree that something needs to be done.

The one area where there is a strong consensus between economists and Democratic political consultants is on the drive for universal healthcare. That partly reflects how much has changed in the US since Mrs Clinton’s notoriously botched attempt at healthcare reform in 1993. Then she was almost universally opposed by business lobbies.

This time round large corporations, such as Wal-Mart, have signed up to reform. “There is a recognition that the existing system is imposing a growing competitive cost on American businesses,” says Jason Furman, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The only constituency of the main stream media is business. Now that may not be so surprising coming from a business paper, but if you look at what other papers say, they in fact seem to parrot what’s in the business papers, who have more money to pay journalists and thus more actual content, reporting and original analysis. The business papers provide lots of facts if you knoxw how to read them, but they also create a very tight narrative which is the nechoed elsewhere (and which is why I spend so much time (i) deconstructing their articles and (ii) scouring their inside pages for nuggets or facts that prove the exact opposite of the official line they peddle).

What strikes me though is how blind they are. The healthcare fiasco in the US is a direct result of “reform” (unregulated market forces gone amok). Stagnant wages have led to the unsustainable support of consumption by debt, whose collapse will leave corporations pretty vulnerable. Lower standards for anything only make it easier for emerging market competitors tocome on the market – if we have any edge, it’s in high quality, high value products to the highest standards, not in commoditized crap. And so on.

Vibrant middle classes create more prosperity than looted ones. Why the business world has lost sight of that basic truth, I will never understand. And thus we see the sorry sight of news articles presenting midly left-of-center policies as almost extremist, and presenting reacting to the obviosu plight of massive chunks of the population as shameless opportunists. It’s depressing.

What Are We Going To Do About The Democrats?

soon to be Orange

How do you address the fact that The Democratic Congress has utterly failed us, the American People and The World….

On a blog dedicated to electing Democrats?

And by extension… supporting them?

Especially with a party apparatchik running around trying to whip people back into line?

Here is our problem….and to diffuse any suspense, I do NOT have a solution.

The Republicans are bent on creating SOME VERSION of a fascist state, using as their necessary enemy/villain/mannequin….Islamo < gasp > Fascists!!! (BURKAS!) Our only ray of hope is that they are just too fucking stupid to be as effective as the Nazis or Mussolini were.

The Democrats…..ah The Democrats!

Our true and shining saviors, the good guys, the folks who talked about how bad Bush was…sorta…before the last elections, but now have been revealed to be totally powerless or unwilling or incompetent (your choice!) to actually OPPOSE him. As one might expect from an …opposition party.

I won’t bother to run through all of the times they have done incredibly stupid things or used bad strategy or tactics or just completely caved, we all know enough to be thoroughly disgusted at this point.

The Usual Suspects point out that not ALL the Democrats are handing the reins of fascism hand over fist to the Republicans and Bushco as fast as they possibly can. It is just a MINORITY of Democrats who are willing to accommodate and abet turning America into a fascist state….well a minority,plus the Leadership….and thus we should NOT speak ill of them….or oppose their non-opposition. Criticizing or giving up on the Democrats after this INCREDIBLY bad run they have been on is…bad…..somehow. They will get better if we just leave them be to give away America as we know it. AND we got minimum wage!!!! (and all we had to do was give Bussh 90 billion dollars to kill Iraqis to get it!)

What we should do, they say is work on our local level to change the Democrats….the solution to fighting a fascist state is to infiltrate the Democratic Party and spend the next twenty years rising to power in the Party structure and THEN we can have …..actual Democrats. Instead of fascist enablers.

Well that is all well and good…it is a valid strategy after all…..IF The current batch of Democrats wasn’t INCREASINGLY handing the keys to our democratic form of government and our Constitutional Rights to the Republican fascist lite regime….Right Now.

Long term strategy is great.

If you have a long term.

Which we don’t.

It is not just the specifics of how they are spelunking our country away. That is bad enough.

But at each fork in the road where a decision can be made about what this country is, they are handing The Balance Of Power to the Republican Totalitarians. They are ceding The Battle Of Ideas over what this country is and is supposed to be. They are accepting, granting, and even embracing the Idea of America as a fascist state.

We are…as these things are measured…..still relatively high up on the slippery slope. But it is not called a slippery slope for no reason….we are steadily sliding downward.

It is now The Accepted Reality that America starts and wages aggressive wars, It is now The Accepted Reality that America tortures, It is now The Accepted Reality that America spies on its own citizens, It is now The Accepted Reality that government officials are not subject to the rule of law. Even if found guilty, they are pardoned.

This IS what America is now. This IS what America stands for.

Because the Democrats have not stopped these things. Because they have not used whatever drastic and extreme powers of legislation, prosecution, obstruction and public relations at their disposal to stop them.

These are ALL Republican Ideas. But the Republicans are brainless idiots who have no clue that they are creating a fascist state. They are to stupid to see past there own ideology and loyalty to their party to even really CARE what they are doing, as long as the can defeat the Dems and get them to cave it doesn’t matter what the result is. They are happy to introduce fascism to the country….just to make the Dems look bad. They are too stupid to face the fact that they have started a juggernaut of injustice and totalitarianist policies that are destroying everything America is supposed to be. They are almost reflexively instituting fascism. Creating their reality faster than even they can react to it. Or reflect on what reality they are truly creating.

But these things only truly become reality when the Democrats do not do EVERYTHING in their power to stop them. And they haven’t. They have instead embraced the notion that they are powerless until ’09….and then a Golden Age can begin.

Pelosi’s recent interview is just shameful. Hold them accountable indeed.

By giving them everything they want every time they ask for it….accountability.


I said at the beginning here that I have no solutions. That is not strictly true. I have no solutions that will work without the Democrats leading on those solutions.

The list of solutions itself is fairly clearcut.

Do NOT bring Republican legislation to the floor, make the Repubs use parliamentary procedure.

Make the Repubs actually filibuster.

Obstruct, obstruct obstruct…even if it means closing down the government.

Arrest and prosecute those who are defying subpoenas.

Cut off funding the war.

Bring articles of Impeachment to the floor, successful or not.

And finally…..go on the frikkin television and tell the American People what is happening and ask for their help in stopping it.


But they will not oppose.

Because they are afraid to be called Soft On Terror, or Unpatriotic, or Cowards.

Well, Congressional Democrats…..YOU ARE Soft On Terror, and Unpatriotic, and Cowards. Because you have become accomplices to Bushco….who is all of those things and more. Of course….you don’t CARE when your base says that to you, do you? You only care when Fox news or Dick Cheney says it. Not US.

All that it takes is for good people to do nothing.

And they can’t even do nothing.

They are actually HELPING the evil that is Bushco.

What are we going to do about the Democrats?

We simply CAN’T not vote for them, then the REAL fascists win. Not voting is NOT a protest…it is only a way to become another ignored entity in the process. All the politicians care about is winning with those who DO vote. They don’t pay ANY attention to those who don’t vote. Not voting is not a protest, it is just giving up on the process….they DON’T CARE if you don’t vote.

We can do what we can to dry up their coffers by not contributing, but part of the problem is the vast amounts of money they get from K Street and corporations.

We CAN March. And keep Marching

We CAN Protest. And keep Protesting

We can STRIKE!And keep Striking.

We CAN try to make them more scared of us than they are of ‘them.’

We COULD flood their offices with phone calls e-mails and faxes. But I learned through all of my attempts at that with impeachment that too few people actually DO that. It would take thousands of calls a day to actually affect anything and we don’t seem to have the collective will to do that…..or do we?

If the 2000 active Kossaks and Dharmaniacs….and the thousands of more lurkers reading right now ACTUALLY WENT TO THEIR PHONES AND CALLED PELOSI and their Congressmember RIGHT NOW….it could make a difference.

If we actually JOINED TOGETHER to call them or fax them to say, I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore…it WOULD have an effect. Especially if we did it every day.

It might not work….

But it WOULD have an effect.

It MIGHT make them just a little bit MORE scared of us…and a little less scared of them.

And that, my fine friends, is what we are down to.

If we want to stop the madness….including attacking Iran, we….YOU actually have to DO something about it.

I don’t know what to do about the Democrats. This is the best I can come up with. But I can guarantee you this….thousands of calls and faxes a day WILL make a difference. IF we do it together.

ALL of us doing it together will make a difference.

ALL of us uniting in the same effort will make a difference.

In point of fact….the only thing that has a CHANCE to make a difference is US….ALL of us…joining together as one voice and yelling the same message.

If the phone is busy, send a fax, if the phone and fax are both busy send an e-mail….but keep calling.

Think about it …please….if thousands of people a day actually called and said the famous line “I Am Mad As Hell And I Am NOT Going To Take This Anymore,” it will have an impact. It’s not much of an idea…as I said, I have no solutions….but it is SOMETHING, some kind of direct action.

We have to make them care, we have to scare them.

Or we slide farther and ever faster down that slippery slope.

It’s up to each one of us…it’s up to YOU.

Take back America, while their is still something left of it.

One thing is now CERTAIN…..The Democrats aren’t going to save us. It is up to We The People to save ourselves. And we can only do that by uniting in action. Even an action as small as a telephone call. The RW Fascists Lite count on US to be just as craven and ineffectual as The Democrats.

Let’s prove them wrong. Because I for one….Am as mad as hell and I am not going to take this anymore.

Toll Free Contact Congress!  1-800-828-0498

Office of the Speaker
H-232, US Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
FAX 202-225-8259


Four at Four

This is an OPEN THREAD. Here are four stories in the news at 4 o’clock to get you started.

  1. The Guardian reports Aung San Suu Kyi has rejected talks with Burma junta. “The prospect of a meeting between Burma’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the military ruler faded today, after she refused to accept preconditions for the talks set by the junta.” In a statement today, she said: “The success of a dialogue is based on sincerity and the spirit of give and take. The will for achieving success is also crucial and there should not be any preconditions.” China has again rejected sanctions against the regime.

  2. The New York Times reports that Turkey has said its troops can cross Iraq border. “Turkey took a step toward cross-border military action in Iraq today, as a council of the country’s top political and military leaders issued a statement today allowing troops to cross to eliminate separatist Kurdish rebel camps in the mountainous northern region.” The announcement that “parliamentary approval normally needed for cross-border movement of troops was not needed for special units’ in hot pursuit” of Kurdish separatists from the PKK (Kurdish Worker’s Party) came after 13 soldiers were killed Sunday by a landmine that exploded 15 miles from the Iraqi border in Sirnak Province.

    Reuters reports the U.S. State Department has warned against Turkish action in Iraq. “If they have a problem, they need to work together to resolve it and I am not sure that unilateral incursions are the way to go, the way to resolve the issue,” said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. However, “asked whether Washington had urged restraint on both sides, McCormack said sovereign states had to make their own decisions about how best to defend themselves.”

  3. There have been reports of ongoing heavy fighting in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan. Most of the fighting is centered around Miral. Casualties have been difficult to confirm, but “soldiers, civilians, and militants” have all been killed reports The New York Times. The Pakistani military has said at least 45 soldiers have been killed and another 50 are missing. The AP reports at least 250 people killed in the fighting. “Pakistani aircraft bombed a village bazaar packed with shoppers near the Afghan border… The attack on Epi village in North Waziristan tribal region killed dozens of militants and civilians”.

    In related news, Reuters reports the White House is saying that Al Qaeda is trying to boost efforts in U.S.. “Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al Qaeda senior leadership, the group likely will intensify its efforts to place operatives here in the homeland,” said a report titled “National Strategy for Homeland Security”. The report also noted that al Qaeda had protected its leadership, found new “operation lieutenants” and “regenerated in a safe haven” in Pakistan.

    The deaths are likely to intensify opposition within Pakistan to Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s government and alliance with the Bush administration. Musharraf is also trying to secure another term as president. He awaits the decision from the Pakistani Supreme Court if his re-election is valid. The AFP reports that an extra Pakistan judge was added to hear Musharraf election case.

  4. The Washington Post reports Dragonfly or Insect Spy? Scientists at Work on Robobugs. People attending anitwar rallies and other political events in New York and Washington have claimed to have spotted “mechanical” dragonflies or “little helicopters” hovering over them. “Some suspect the insectlike drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps deployed by the Department of Homeland Security… No agency admits to having deployed insect-size spy drones… But the CIA secretly developed a simple dragonfly snooper as long ago as the 1970s.”

    This story seems specifically written to increase paranoia. It comes right after news of the Myanmar junta soliders rounding up people, shouting “We have photographs. We are going to make arrests!”

Today’s “Guns of Greed” is below the fold…

  1. Another two people were killed in Iraq by “private security contractors” today. Here’s today’s “Guns of Greed”, a rundown of mercenary and Blackwater news.

    • The Washington Post reports that security guards opened fire in Iraq leaving two women dead. “Two women were killed in central Baghdad on Tuesday, Iraqi police said, when private security company guards opened fire on their car after it approached a convoy they were protecting. Iraqi Interior Ministry officials [said] the security contractor was Australian-owned Unity Resources Group, based in Dubai.”

      “Relatives of the victims who gathered at Karrada identified the two slain women as Armenian Orthodox Christians living in Baghdad. The driver, Marony O’Hanis, was born in 1958, and the front-seat passenger was Geneva Jalal Entranic, who was born in 1977, relatives said.”

      An early report from Reuters had an witness account.

      Shopkeeper Basim Mohammed said four or five vehicles were driving down the road when the shooting happened. “An Oldsmobile came out of this side road and it had two women in the front and children in the back,” he said. “They fired a warning shot when they were about 80 metres away, which probably made them panic because they went forward a little bit, and (the security guards) started firing at her from all directions,” Mohammed said.

    • Reporting for the AP, Steven Hurst and Qassim Abdul-Zahra report Iraq seeks Blackwater ouster. “Iraqi authorities want the U.S. government to sever all contracts in Iraq with Blackwater USA within six months. They also want the firm to pay $8 million in compensation to families of each of the 17 people killed when its guards sprayed a traffic circle with heavy machine gun fire last month.” In addition, Iraq wants the “U.S. authorities to hand over the Blackwater security agents involved in the Sept. 16 shootings to face possible trial in Iraqi courts.”

      The total compensation for the 17 victims is $136 million, high compared to that of that paid by the U.S. military is “because Blackwater uses employees who disrespect the rights of Iraqi citizens even though they are guests in this country.”

      The Iraqi government maintains that “Blackwater’s license to operate in Iraq expired on June 2, 2006, meaning it had no immunity from prosecution under Iraqi laws” and that “Blackwater guards also had killed 21 Iraqi civilians and wounded 27 in previous shootings since it took over security for U.S. diplomats”.

    • Here’s a Blackwater tidbit that was lost in the coverage of the Baghdad massacre. In September, Blackwater announced they have a navy, er a training vessel — the McArthur. Bill Sizemore of The Virginia-Pilot reports that Blackwater was showing off new training ship at Nauticus, the city-owned maritime science museum in Virginia Beach, VA. “Blackwater’s maritime division will operate vessels suitable for training, disaster response, law enforcement, surveillance and security, including anti-terrorism and anti-piracy activities… the McArthur is equipped with state-of-the-art navigation and communication systems, command and control labs, medical capabilities and a helicopter deck.” The 153-foot ship, built in 1966, is a former NOAA research vessel.

      The article makes note of their plans to buy Brazilian ‘Super Tucano’ fighter planes and that the Blackwater has also “developed a remotely piloted airship, equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and communications gear, and is marketing it for use in combat, coastal patrol, and port and border security.” (Hat tip Wired News.) Doesn’t make that dragonfly story seem so far-fetched…

    • According to the Canadian Press, Canada is urged to review private contractors guarding embassies and diplomats. “The Foreign Affairs Department quietly relies on a host of private security contractors to protect Canadian embassies and diplomats across the globe – a small army that needs more supervision, say opposition critics and defence experts.”

So, what else is happening?

The Dolphins are laughing at us. (Trojan Dolphin!)

This was an elaborate trojan dolphin to make a statement on a well-known blog that supports Chevron. Snuck one past the goalie for Burma.

One of the greatest tricks mankind has every played on himself is convincing himself that he is not animal. Of course, he had to create God, and/or Gods, to pull this feat off, but for some reason he thinks he is not only at the top of the creature pyramid, but he built it himself. Of course, from his perception, it all seems to be true.

But these cleverest of monkeys, who call themselves humans, because knife-wielding homicidal earth-wrecking primates didn’t sound so nice, have only a limited skill set when it comes to truly seeing the world around them. In their quest to fill so superior to all other creatures on the planet, their hubris blinds them from the other way animals see, talk and live.

Take birds, who can see the magnetic fields of the earth. They use them to navigate thousands of miles for their summer and winter homes. They appear like overwhelming colorfasts in the sky, highways in the skies man will never be able to see.

There are also cats, who can peek around the veils of time and dimensions to see spirits and transistent beings, which is why the Egyptians kept them around. So while felines get a bad wrap for hanging around witches and what not, they will forever hold the secrets to transdimensional vision because of man’s arrogance that such things can exist if man is not able to do so.

Which is why the dolphins are laughing at us.

Besides the pleasuredomes the Dolphins have made at the furtherest deeps of the oceans, they have also completed incredible portals that allow them to go off-world at their leisure. Their complex world is full of intergalactic adventures, dialogues with other worldly beings and more mundane stuff like trying to convince the clever monkeys they are full of shit.

The dolphin missionaries have had little success in their dealings with man, usually forced to try and convey they are intelligent by doing backflips for tuna. While man considers this his dominance over the dolphins, the dolphins view their work in aquarium shows as nothing more than tent revivals to help the ignorant unwashed natives understand that all animals have abilities beyond the imagination of other creatures.

So while man debates if dolphins can communicate with each other, the dolphins are involved in full discourse with alien life forms about how to save our planet. While man debates what dolphins could do with opposable thumbs, the dolphins are moving things with their minds. While man considers exactly where dolphins sit in the chain of command on earth, the dolphins have agreed man is above canines, but definitely below parrots.

But the dolphins do know, if man gets to much more uppity with his wars, his famines, his pollution or his inability to control his species population, they will step in and bring him down on a notch like they did to Atlantis.

Because he who laughs last, laughs best, and the dolphins will be laughing at man.

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