Hersh: Cheney Wants Iran War, But No Order’s Been Given

The new Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker has both good news and bad news, on the Bush Administration’s warmongering against Iran.

The good news?

I was repeatedly cautioned, in interviews, that the President has yet to issue the “execute order” that would be required for a military operation inside Iran, and such an order may never be issued.

Furthermore, understanding that the American public isn’t buying his demonizing of Iran, Bush has realized that he can’t sell an all-out war. He also seems to understand that Iran really is at least five years from having nuclear weapons capabilities, so there is no imminent threat.

The bad news?

Bush realizes that Iran is the big winner of his Iraq disaster. So, he has to do something. As an average adolescent would, Bush seems to have decided that the best way to reverse the victory he handed Iran, by invading Iraq, is to bomb them.

(T)here has been a significant increase in the tempo of attack planning. In mid-August, senior officials told reporters that the Administration intended to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization. And two former senior officials of the C.I.A. told me that, by late summer, the agency had increased the size and the authority of the Iranian Operations Group.

Three points:

First, the Senate’s recent declaration that Iran is a terrorist organization gave Bush nothing, operationally, if he intends to invade Iran. He can do the labeling all by himself. And if he so intends, he certainly will. The Senate resolution was asinine because it helped Bush catapult the propaganda, but it in no way gave Bush powers he didn’t have. He will do whatever he intends to do, and fuck the world. He’s the Commander Guy. The Decider. The Unitary Executive.

Furthermore, Hersh says a lot of people are being moved to the Iran desk. Some of the same people who worked Iraq, in 2002. And as was the case with that war’s disastrous “planning,” the people planning a possible strike on Iran are clueless about some basics. Like about Iran. Like about the Iranians’ possible reaction.

Hersh quotes President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski- in his time, a known hawk:

Brzezinski said that Iran would likely react to an American attack “by intensifying the conflict in Iraq and also in Afghanistan, their neighbors, and that could draw in Pakistan. We will be stuck in a regional war for twenty years.”

And finally, what this all clearly reflects is a desire to attack Iran, no matter the facts. Just as was the case with Iraq. The public isn’t playing along, and the supposed nuclear threat isn’t imminent, so a new justification had to be created: Iraq. Iran is interfering with our occupation of Iraq! Our immoral, illegal, and unjustified occupation of Iraq…

The push to attack Iran is led by Vice President Dick Cheney. Pretend you’re surprised.

“There is a desperate effort by Cheney et al. to bring military action to Iran as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the politicians are saying, ‘You can’t do it, because every Republican is going to be defeated, and we’re only one fact from going over the cliff in Iraq.’ But Cheney doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Republican worries, and neither does the President.”

It should be noted that he also clearly doesn’t give a rat’s ass about some things that are immeasurably more important: people’s lives. Hersh says the Administration has been redrawing its attack plans, now realizing that a full-scale war will not sell with the American public. So, they’re thinking strategic bombing. And we know how well such bombing works out. Should it happen, expect the TV foofs to continually use that insidious phrase “collateral damage.” Cheney also clearly doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the damage such an attack would do to America’s already collapsing standing in the world. Dick Cheney is the greatest threat to our national security.

In other news, on the insane warmongering front, Bush’s former U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, is also a busy man. As the Guardian reports:

John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, told Tory delegates today that efforts by the UK and the EU to negotiate with Iran had failed and that he saw no alternative to a pre-emptive strike on suspected nuclear facilities in the country.

Of course, in a recent Spiegel Online interview, Nobel Peace Prize winning IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei had this to say:

There are hopeful and positive signs. For the first time, we have agreed, with the Iranians, to a sort of roadmap, a schedule, if you will, for clarifying the outstanding issues. We should know by November, or December at the latest, whether the Iranians will keep their promises.

And this:

(T)hose in the West must realize that if all they expect is confrontation, they might as well forget dialogue — and they should not be surprised if the other side seeks retribution.

In other words, negotiations haven’t failed, but are ongoing. And, as Hersh noted, even Bush seems to accept that Iran is not close to actually having a nuclear bomb. So, there would seem to be an alternative to a pre-emptive strike.

But Bolton has his mission:

“I don’t think the use of military force is an attractive option, but I would tell you I don’t know what the alternative is.

“Because life is about choices, I think we have to consider the use of military force. I think we have to look at a limited strike against their nuclear facilities.”

He added that any strike should be followed by an attempt to remove the “source of the problem”, Mr Ahmadinejad.

There’s some diplomatic genius, for you. He knows of no alternative but bombing. He wants to take out another nation’s elected leader. And he seems oblivious to the fact that Ahmadinejad isn’t actually the effective leader in Iran. Removing the real leaders would mean attacking living religious icons, and Bolton probably hasn’t bothered to consider the backlash should such be done.

The narrative is clear: Cheney, Bolton, and their ilk really want to attack Iran. Planning is being fine-tuned, but no order has yet been given. It may never be given! Republican politicos are frightened, but only for their own political futures. Someone needs to stand up to Dick Cheney.

It seems to me that the Democrats could at least attempt to play on those Republican political fears, and craft some sort of legislation or public framing about opposing an actual attack on Iran. With Lieberman-Kyl, they played the game of talking tough, while also insisting that the resolution be purged of language actually authorizing use of force. They can, and should, now back that maneuver, publically. Because they aren’t on board with a war on Iran. Right?

My APA Paper on Isolation, Sensory Deprivation & Sensory Overload

This essay is a reprint of a posting made a while back on my own blog, Invictus, and over at Daily Kos. Given the emphemeral nature of blog pieces, and the importance of this well-researched essay and the material herein, I am reposting it for the readers of Docudharma.

As an added bonus, I’d like to give a link to a site where for a small fee you can download the entire 1977 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Hearings on MKUltra in Adobe format. (Thanks to an anonymous commenter for this link.) For those interested in researching or studying the covert actions of this government, this is not only an important historical document, but a crucial resource for understanding what has happened to the U.S. government since World War II.

In the opinion of myself and others, the move to total war in the struggle against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan initiated a major shift in power within the United States to the Department of Defense, and increasingly, the intelligence apparatus of the government. Both became inextricably intertwined with the scientific, educational, and medical establishments, until today, it seems there is no severing the connection and control of the government over civil society.

When reading what follows, in essence you are studying an important case history — of much significance in and of itself, of course — of this overarching influence of military-government design covertly taking over an entire portion of the intellectual establishment, e.g. the fields of behavioral psychology and psychiatry/neurology.

I hope you will appreciate the reposting of this most significant presentation.


The following is the text of a paper I presented on Sunday, August 19, 2007 to an audience of about three hundred at the American Psychological Association (APA) convention in San Francisco, California. It is, in fact, an abstract of a much longer paper now in the final stages of preparation. Its brevity was dictated by the very short time speaking time allowed. I have included my bibliography here for those interested.

As many are no doubt aware, the APA Council of Representatives passed a resolution on psychologist participation in coercive interrogations that was long on rhetoric, but far short on substance. In essence, the APA legitimized psychologist practice in settings where indefinite detention occurs, along with sensory and sleep deprivation, sensory over-stimulation, and use of drugs (as long as not for the purpose of eliciting interrogation).

My paper was written with the intent to document the long history of behavioral science collaboration with abusive interrogation research, particularly around the subject of sensory deprivation (SD). I did not have time in this paper to address the strong observational and naturalistic evidence of the debilitating effects of isolation and SD, and readers will have to await my longer, published paper.

It is also worth noting that the negative effects of SD are powerfully amplified by the overall context of the coercive and abusive environment in the prison or detainee environment. In fact, as regards interrogation or conditions of prisoner incarceration, SD is never used alone, but in combination with other coercive techniques.


Isolation, Sensory Deprivation, and Sensory Overload: An Historical Overview

“The abuse of knowledge causes incredulity.” – Rousseau

The use of isolation and sensory deprivation at U.S. foreign prisons, the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay, and the Charleston Naval Brig in South Carolina has been well documented. Physicians for Human Rights has an excellent pamphlet called “Break Them Down” that offers an overwhelming amount of documentation. The important thing to understand about the use of psychological torture is that the conditions of detention are inexorably intertwined with the techniques of interrogation.

This presentation is a historical look at the research project that was sensory deprivation, conducted 35-50 years ago, in which psychologists, psychoanalysts, and psychiatrists worked for the CIA and the Pentagon to understand the effects of sensory deprivation, and which ended in making sensory deprivation, and later sensory overload, an integral part of the U.S. coercive interrogation paradigm. One obvious problem with this research is the lack of any controlled experiments upon actual prisoners. A less obvious but even more serious problem concerns lack of access to classified materials and studies, especially given that much of the research was done by intelligence and military entities and kept secret.

The beginnings of concentrated psychological research into the manipulation of sensory and perceptual stimulation began early in the Cold War in the late 1940s-early 1950s. Donald Hebb, a past president of the American Psychological Association and an important theoretician in psychology, was an early researcher into sensory deprivation’s effects upon adult human beings.

Dr. Hebb explained his involvement at a Harvard symposium on sensory deprivation in June 1958.

The work that we have done at McGill University began, actually, with the problem of brainwashing. We were not permitted to say so in the first publishing…. The chief impetus, of course, was the dismay at the kind of “confessions” being produced at the Russian Communist trials. “Brainwashing” was a term that came a little later, applied to Chinese procedures. We did not know what the Russian procedures were, but it seemed that they were producing some peculiar changes of attitude. How?

One possible factor was perceptual isolation and we concentrated on that. (Solomon 1961)

Marks (1979) describes the atmosphere in behavioral and psychiatric research in the 1950s and early 1960s:

Nearly every scientist on the frontiers of brain research found men from secret agencies looking over his shoulders, impinging on the research.

University of Virginia bioethicist Jonathan Moreno, wrote recently (Moreno 2006):

To a great extent, modern psychology and social science were founded on the financial support they received from national intelligence agencies during and after World War II…. These close ties remained after hostilities against the Axis powers ended. In the early 1950s, nearly all federal funding for social science came from the military, and the Office of Naval Research was leading sponsor of psychological research from any source in the immediate postwar years. The CIA found ways to support a large number of Ivy League academics, often without the professors’ knowledge, as its funds were passed through dummy foundations that often gave grants to other foundations. (p. 65)

Besides Hebb’s research at McGill, other centers of extensive research on sensory deprivation during the period under consideration included many U.S. and Canadian sites, including, but not limited to: Princeton University; the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland; Boston City Hospital and Harvard University; the Naval Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland; the University of Manitoba; the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; the Research Center for Mental Health at New York University; Cornell University; various VA hospitals, and many others.

By the mid-1970s, however, there was a steep drop-off in published literature on sensory deprivation. The reason for this is unknown, but could be due to controversies over revelations of these and other programs by the military and CIA (Greenfield 1977). The decline in research is also coincident in time with the cancellation of the CIA’s MKSEARCH program, the successor of MKULTRA, in June 1972.

In any case, the use of isolation and sensory deprivation was continued by U.S. intelligence agencies, as evinced by the CIA’s 1983 Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual (HRETM) (CIA 1983). What follows is a selection of relevant quotes, presented here as giving an intelligence operational view of the effects of sensory deprivation and overload:

The purpose of all coercive techniques is to induce psychological regression in the subject by bringing a superior outside force to bear on his will to resist. Regression is basically a loss of autonomy, a reversion to an earlier behavioral level. As the subject regresses, his learned personality traits fall away in reverse chronological order. He begins to lose the capacity to carry out the highest creative activities, to deal with complex situations, to cope with stressful interpersonal relationships, or to cope with repeated frustrations.  (CIA 1983, p. K-1)

As regards deprivation of sensory stimuli, the CIA training manual explains:

Solitary confinement acts on most persons as a powerful stressor. A person cut off from external stimuli turns his awareness inward and projects his unconsious [sic] outward. The symptoms most commonly produced by solitary confinement are superstition, intense love of any other living thing, perceiving inanimate objects as alive, hallucinations, and delusions…

Deprivation of sensory stimuli induces stress and anxiety. The more complete the deprivation, the more rapidly and deeply the subject is affected…

Some subjects progressively lose touch with reality, focus inwardly, and produce delusions, hallucinations, and other pathological effects. (CIA 1983, pp. K-6, K-7)

The conclusions of the anonymous authors of the CIA manual are congruent with many of the findings of psychological and psychiatric researchers over the previous three to four decades. Princeton psychologist Jack Vernon examined the effects of sensory deprivation and isolation on a group of 18 volunteer graduate students and reported the results in 1958. He found that sensory deprivation had “a significant and essentially deleterious influence upon the subjects”, as measured by tests measuring rotary pursuit ability, color perception, motor coordination, mirror tracing, body weight, and galvanic skin resistance (Solomon 1961). The longer the period of sensory deprivation, the more marked the influence.

In the early research literature, one outstanding feature was the variability of results across experimental conditions. One important and misunderstood variable concerned the presence or absence of hallucinations in different individuals. This variability was due, in part, to a lack of standardization of variables, of controls, of definitions, in addition to personality and neuropsychological factors.

One finding that held across multiple experiments was the susceptibility of the deprivation subject to suggestibility (Solomon, 1961; Zubek 1969; (Hebb 1970). One researcher, Peter Suedfeld, concluded:

Susceptibility to external influence, including both primary suggestibility and persuasibility, is clearly increased by SD. The data indicate that this phenomenon originates with the lack of information anchors in the SD situation: the subject is at loose ends, without guidelines for his behavior, unable to concentrate, and in a state of stimulus- and information-hunger… (Suedfeld 1969, p. 166)

The question of personality variables and their influence upon isolation and deprivation results was tackled early on. Goldberger and Holt (Solomon 1961; Goldberger 1961) found that the ability to handle primary process internal stimuli, as well as other measures of ego-strength, differentiated individuals better able to adapt to sensory deprivation and isolation environments than individuals who scored low on these variables. The government found the influence of personality variables to be very important in planning interrogations, and a large part of psychologist participation in interrogations is related to personality assessment (CIA 1963).

Over the years, researchers discovered other effects of the sensory deprivation situation. One researcher concluded that the evidence was substantial: “both simple and complex measures of visual and motor coordination are adversely affected by sensory and perceptual deprivation” (Zubek 1969). Cognitive tests show “considerable impairment… on unstructured behaviors” (p. 165).

A fairly robust finding was that sensory deprivation increases sensitivity to pain, at least in its initial stages (Solomon 1961). At a symposium held in April 1956 by the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, researcher Harold Wolff reported:

We also have reason to believe that the painful experience is one that has a highly symbolic significance and is closely linked with feelings of isolation and rejection, especially when imposed by other human beings under hostile circumstances. (Vernon 1956)

In their paper from the 1958 Harvard symposium, Ruff, Edwin and Thaler (Ruff 1961) described various reactions to reduced sensory input. Examining both military and civilian volunteers at experiments done at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, they described a series of experiments utilizing varying levels of sensory deprivation and conditions of isolation. They found that by the last experiment, in which the conditions allowed the least specific amount of structuring of time duration, communication, or other activities, that a high number of subjects terminated the experiment early, unable to tolerate the conditions of the procedure and displaying “impending or partial breakdown of defenses” (p. 76).

In his article for the book The Manipulation of Human Behavior (Biderman 1961), Lawrence Hinkle, Jr. (1961) described how isolation and sensory deprivation could produce a state of disordered brain function (DBF) similar to that produced by disturbance of brain homeostasis through fever, hypothermia, dehydration, blood abnormalities, shock, hemorrhage, vomiting, and starvation. Individuals with DBF experience thinking difficulties, along with “illusions, delusions, hallucinations, and projective or paranoid thinking” (p. 26).

Hinkle concluded:

It is well known that prisoners, especially if they have not been isolated before, may develop a syndrome similar in most of its features to the “brain syndrome” [see also (Grassian 1983)]… They become dull, apathetic, and in due time they become disoriented and confused; their memories become defective and they experience hallucinations and delusions…. their ability to impart accurate information may be as much impaired as their capacity to resist an interrogator…

From the interrogator’s viewpoint it has seemed to be the ideal way of “breaking down” a prisoner, because, to the unsophisticated, it seems to create precisely the state that the interrogator desires: malleability and the desire to talk, with the added advantage that one can delude himself that he is using no force or coercion…. However, the effect of isolation on the brain function of the prisoner is much like that which occurs if he is beaten, starved, or deprived of sleep.

Hebb (1970) succinctly described the effects at a presentation at the 1970 APA convention: sensory deprivation can produce “an acute disturbance of the normal personality”. It is an “atrocious procedure,” which “raises the whole question of the relation of man to his sensory environment”. Hebb noted, “making the isolation more drastic produces motivational and emotional disturbance more quickly”.

Sensory Overload

While there was for many years a multitude of studies on isolation and sensory deprivation, studies on excessive sensory stimulation were far fewer, and less focused (however, see Lindsley, 1961). Lipowski (1975) conducted a literature review of the research extant some 30 years ago. He reported on some of the work of the Japanese researchers at Tohoku University, whose reports echoed the methodological difficulties of the deprivation researchers in the U.S. Their results, however, were significant.

The Tohoku workers exposed their experimental subjects to intense auditory and visual stimuli presented randomly in a condition of confinement ranging in duration from 3 to 5 hr. The subjects showed heightened and sustained arousal, found sensory overload more aversive than deprivation, and had mood changes in the direction of aggression, anxiety, and sadness. Two subjects reported “hallucinationlike” phenomena. (Lipowski 1975)

Other U.S. researchers have replicated these results. Use of sensory overload has been a technique utilized by SERE schools, and has reportedly been transmitted to use by U.S. military and intelligence interrogators abroad (Streatfeild 2007).

In conclusion, sensory manipulation is well studied; its effects on interrogation have been known for over a generation. The belief that we don’t have enough research on these matters is unfounded. The use of sensory deprivation and overload constitutes torture, is outlawed by international treaties and agreements, and illegal under U.S. law. Active psychologist participation at facilities where it exists constitutes a war crime and should be abandoned immediately.

J—— K—–, Ph.D.

San Francisco, CA

August 19, 2007


Biderman, A. D. Z., Herbert, Eds. (1961). The Manipulation of Human Behavior. New York, John Wiley & Sons.

CIA. (1963). “Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation.”  Retrieved August 15, 2007, 2007, from http://www.gwu.edu/~….

CIA. (1983). “Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual.”  Retrieved July 30, 2007, from http://www.gwu.edu/~….

Goldberger, L. & Holt, R. R. (1961). A Comparison of Isolation Effects and their Personality Correlates in Two Divergent Samples. New York, Research Center for Mental Health, New York University: 1-52.

Grassian, S. (1983). “Psychopathological effects of solitary confinement.” American Journal of Psychiatry 140: 1450-1454.

Greenfield, P. (1977). CIA’s Behavior Caper. APA Monitor: 1, 10-11.

Hebb, D. O. (1970). “The Motivating Effects of Exteroceptive Stimulation.” American Psychologist 25(4): 328-336.

Lipowski, Z. J. (1975). “Sensory and Information Inputs Overload: Behavioral Effects.” Comprehensive Psychiatry 16(3): 199-221.

Moreno, J. D. (2006). Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense. New York Dana Press.

Ruff, G. E. L., Edwin Z.; & Thaler, Victor H. (1961). Factors Influencing Reactions to Reduced Sensory Input. Sensory Deprivation: A Symposium Held at Harvard Medical School. P. Solomon, et al. , Eds. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press: 72-90.

Solomon, P., Kubzansky, Philip E., Leiderman, P. Herbert, Mendelson, Jack H., Trumbull, Richard, & Wexler, Donald , Eds. (1961). Sensory Deprivation: A Symposium Held at Harvard Medical School. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.

Streatfeild, D. (2007). Brainwash: The Secret History of Mind Control. New York, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press.

Vernon, J., M. Meltzer, D. Tyler, Weinstein, E. A., Brozek, J., & Woolf, H. (1956). Factors Used to Increase the Susceptibility of Individuals to Forceful Indoctrination: Observations and Experiments. Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, Asbury Park, NJ, Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry.

Zubek, J. P., Ed. (1969). Sensory Deprivation: Fifteen Years of Research. New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, educational division.

The Top Tier on the Near-term Future of Geopolitics: I Got Nothin’.


I really can’t say what we’ll inherit.  Sure, I spent 8 years in the White House with Bill, but I wasn’t really paying attention to geopoliltics and shit.  And that was a while ago, anyway.  Besides, my head is full of rocks.  You saw my vote on the AUMF.  That Iran vote was pretty mindless, too.  [Cackling noises].


You want me to project 4 years into the future?  Hillary spent 8 years in the White House, and she’s coming up with goose eggs. Unlike them, I didn’t vote for this shit!  So why are you asking me?  Sure, I could look into my crystal ball and conjure-up a story, but we all know I’d be making shit up.  I haven’t a fucking clue.  I do, however, have something no one else seems to have, something pure, unadulterated by gritty facts: the AUDACITY of hope.  I give you my AUDACITY!


A commitment on Iraq in my first four years?  Whoa, dude!  That’s a Sunday Punch!  Fucking ambush me, why dontcha?  Talk about out of left field.  I mean, I wanted this war, but not that much.  I am drawing a total blank.  I can commit to that much over my first 4 years.  I’m solid on that.  Hell, make that an 8-year commitment.



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Waxing Nostalgic – “I want to interview your nigger son that beat up the White boy…”

A Docudharma Exclusive — The Sixties were an exciting, revolutionary, turbulent time of great social and technological change — front-page fashions, unique musical styles, a call for sexual freedom and gay rights, a controversial and devisive war, a strong anti-war movement, civil rights confrontations….

Hold on a minute! Did I say the Sixties?

Well… they’re back!

October 1, 2007 — JENA, LA. — Things went from bad to worse for the Blacks of Jena and especially for the Jena 6 the day following the rally where more than 20,000 Blacks converged on the little town in LaSalle Parish, La.

Friday, just one day after the rally, Tina Jones, mother of Bryant Purvis, began receiving phone calls from individuals claiming to be from the KKK and other hate groups.

“This is Michael Burks. I’m with the American National Socialist Workers Party,” said one caller, bold enough to leave his name. “I want to interview your nigger son that beat up the White boy with a gang, just like a coward. So you can call me at 502-474-5373. White Power.”

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains,
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways,
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests,
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans,
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard,
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard,
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

You know what bugged me the most about the Iraq War?

History repeating itself — without a single deviation in the details. The outcome was already pre-destined — a bunch of dead soldier-kids, their wasted lives memorialized in a 5×7 photo sitting on their parent’s television set.

We had already been there.
We had already done that.
Hell, we invented the fucking tee-shirt as an art form.

Why is America recycling the worst decades of its history. And why now?

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it,
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’,
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’,
I saw a white ladder all covered with water,
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken,
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children,
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

The American National Socialist Party was founded in 1958 by U.S. Navy Commander George Lincoln Rockwell, who died on the heels of the civil rights movement in 1967, leaving a legacy of hatred and ignorance behind. The party was initially known as the American Nazi Party, but the name was changed in 1967. The party became virtually non-existent soon after his death, but resurged in 1990s. The party’s worldview is predicated on White supremacy and the fear that the White race will someday be eradicated.

Michael Burks is the Midwest Regional Leader and heads a branch in Louisville, Kentucky with five branches beneath him, Kansas, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. The organization also has leaders in Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Montana and Utah.

Attempts to call Burk back were not successful. However, another caller actually left his correct number. The caller admitted calling and repeated his desire to see Bryant Purvis one of the Jena 6. Tina Jones, Purvis’ mother, gave all of the caller’s names and numbers to State Troopers who had been called the day before, but did not show up.

Additionally, an Anglo man wandered into Caseptla Bailey’s home asking for Robert Bailey. When Ms. Bailey asked what he wanted with her son, he said he heard he could buy some crack from him. He was promptly escorted out by a male guest present at the time.

According to CNN, the sheriff stated they had no intentions of increasing security for the families of the Jena 6 who became the subject of a White Supremacist website. However, later, District Attorney Reed Walters, along with Sheriff Carl Smith issued a statement condemning the violent threats and warning, “Such vile and cowardly acts will not be tolerated in Jena or LaSalle Parish.

The editor and commander of this well-known White Supremacist website has threatened to have the boys of Jena 6 murdered if attempts to have charges lessened against them are successful.

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’,
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world,
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’,
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’,
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’,
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter,
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley,
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

Names, numbers and addresses for the boys were listed on the [Supremist] website, which has since been temporarily dismantled. However, addresses were posted to at least two other websites the same day. Overthrow.com and a private forum, Vanguard News Network, listed the phone numbers and addresses of each of the members of all but one of the Jena 6. The so-called “leader” was unable to locate information for the juvenile involved in the case, however, he wrote he was, “working on it.”

A member of the forum, whose user name is Ron Doggett, stated ANSWP Commander was, “the only White leader in this cause who has done anything for bringing at least some pressure from our side on the Jena 6 who attempted to murder a White student.”

“Tell me about it,” the ANSWP Commander responded. “I am astonished there is no White counter-action being organized in Jena. I wish we had an organizer somewhere around there … We’re working on an action from a distance, but I wish something was set up on the ground.”

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony,
I met a white man who walked a black dog,
I met a young woman whose body was burning,
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow,
I met one man who was wounded in love,
I met another man who was wounded with hatred,
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

Members of the forum congratulated ANSWP Commander, calling him “Bill.” William A. “Bill” White, who is located in Roanoke, Va., was listed as the previously mentioned Web site’s editor and commander of the ANSWP.

“Thank you,” he responded, adding, “It is my sincere, personal belief that if the justice system fails-which it has not done yet-but if the justice system fails and these niggers are acquitted, that they should be drug out of their homes, hung in the town square and set on fire “until the black smoke from their black skin blackens the sky.

“This is why there have been lynchings in America’s past, and why there may be again.”

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’,
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest,
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty,
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters,
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison,
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden,
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten,
Where black is the color, where none is the number,
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it,
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’,
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’,
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (along with law enforcement personnel in Louisiana) is investigating. The Feds commented…

“Since these investigations are ongoing, we cannot comment any further.”

A Love Supreme

I remember when I first heard Coltrane blowing on “A Love Supreme.”  Was in the courtship phase with my ex-husband, went over to his apartment uptown in Spanish Harlem for the first time, we smoked some pot and he played me some music.

Up till then, although I knew almost all the standards from listening to Billie and Ella during my early adolescence, I had been sucked into the disco age with its hypnotizing mechanical beats and desperado misfit desires to dance oneself right out of reality.

This was quite a different scene, and one I took to immediately.  The first record my ex played for me was John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.”  I had never heard anything like it.

My ex told me that all the musicians were tripping when they first recorded the tune – well that is an apocryphal tale, but perhaps it’s true.

I am not any kind of authority on jazz — even as I’ve listened to so much of it, heard the jazzmen talk endlessly about it, I don’t remember half the names of the folks or half the anecdotes I heard.

So this is a personal reflection on Trane.

I wish I could find a video of the entire piece, but that was not to be.  It’s probably sacreligious for me to post only a portion, but better something than nothing, imo.

Here’s part 1:

And here’s part 2:

Coltrane played with Miles, I heard Miles used to punch him out when he didn’t play right or was late to a gig, heard that Coltrane woodshedded more than anyone, hours and hours playing his saxophone.

Something changed him from being a junky saxman, a transcendant experience, and his music changed, changed into a flight of sound that transfixes the listening ear.

The jazzman in New York City I met were the next generation, the “tweeners” according to some music writers, they were hooked on Bird and Diz and Miles and Trane and Monk.  They played in the loft scene in the 70’s, they endured the cabaret laws which were really race laws, to keep black folks out of midtown, downtown, you could have only a few players at a gig, so many musicians suffered during that time.

They played like demons, always under the shadow of the greats of the 50s, upstaged by the newcomer youngsters with their hip suits, Berkeley degrees and big record contracts.  They never seemed to say much about that, they played whenever and wherever they could.

Coltrane played A Love Supreme, the music changed, his spirit soared and his sound changed me that evening, in Spanish Harlem, listening to a record, wondering where this music came from.

Just a little Sunday reflection … and appreciation … for those guys.

Four at Four

This is an OPEN THREAD. Here are four stories in the news at 4 o’clock to get you started. An egg cannot break a stone.

  1. John Solomon and Juliet Eilperin report for the Washington Post that Bush’s EPA is pursuing fewer polluters and probes and prosecutions have declined sharply. “The Environmental Protection Agency’s pursuit of criminal cases against polluters has dropped off sharply during the Bush administration, with the number of prosecutions, new investigations and total convictions all down by more than a third, according to Justice Department and EPA data. ¶ The number of civil lawsuits filed against defendants who refuse to settle environmental cases was down nearly 70 percent between fiscal years 2002 and 2006, compared with a four-year period in the late 1990s, according to those same statistics. ¶ Critics of the agency say its flagging efforts have emboldened polluters to flout U.S. environmental laws, threatening progress in cleaning the air, protecting wildlife, eliminating hazardous materials, and countless other endeavors overseen by the EPA.” What did people expect when they voted for Bush?

  2. Okay, it is Sunday, so I’m putting in some lighter fare. If you’re looking for the Blackwater summary, it’s below the fold. First from The Observer, the BBC is set to screen lost film charting Bob Dylan’s performances at 1960s Newport Folk Festivals. “Music history will be made as reclaimed footage of Bob Dylan’s fabled performances at the Newport Folk Festivals in America is broadcast. ¶ The filmed sequences from the three key years 1963, 1964 and 1965 have been released from a Dylan film archive for the first time and will demonstrate the bodyshock delivered by the young singer’s arrival on the folk music scene. The footage also shows the extraordinary change that took place in his performance style. On 14 October, BBC4 viewers will at last be able to witness the power of his quiet initial appearance in front of an eager crowd and to contrast it with the confidence of the rock star who takes to the same stage with an electric guitar in hand in 1965.”

  3. The New York Times has a fascinating look at what positive things technology can achieve in A Painting Comes Home (or at Least a Facsimile). “Can — and should — technology right a historical wrong? That’s a question Italians have been asking since a facsimile of Veronese’s 16th-century ‘Wedding at Cana’ was installed on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore a few weeks ago. ¶ At the heart of the debate is the digital re-creation of this vast 1563 painting, which Napoleon’s forces removed from the refectory in the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore 210 years ago and took back to France as war booty. ¶ The facsimile, by the Madrid enterprise Factum Arte, is a stunningly accurate replica of the 732-square-foot canvas. Details are reproduced down to the most minute topography, including the raised seams rejoining the panels that Napoleon’s troops cut the painting into when they transported it to France in 1797. (The original hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.)”

  4. The Los Angeles Times brings the tale of the ‘lost’ Siqueiros mural. Argentina has pledged to restore a ‘secret’ work by the famed Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, “in which his revolutionary zeal gives way to ‘an obsessive and desperate love'” Siqueiros met the poet Blanca Luz Brum in Uraguay.

    “I don’t believe that other human beings, man and woman, have loved each other with so much force, so much pureness and magnitude,” Blanca Luz Brum, whose given name means “white light,” later wrote of her early days with Siqueiros.

    After four tumultuous years of la vie bohème in Mexico, Los Angeles and South America against the backdrop of the political and artistic upheaval of the 1930s, jealousy and mistrust would devour their grand passion. But Siqueiros left behind a startling homage to Brum: a kaleidoscopic mural showcasing multiple voluptuous incarnations of her body with Betty Boop eyes.

    This vibrant paean to passion has endured decades of assorted indignities — defaced with acid, smeared with whitewash, sealed away from view and eventually divided up and deposited in metal containers. Now, almost three-quarters of a century later, Argentine authorities vow that the singular work will be brought out of storage, reassembled, restored and displayed publicly for the first time…

    Siqueiros painted the mural in the basement poker room of the mansion of a shady publishing tycoon who reigned in the political and cultural hothouse of 1930s Buenos Aires…

An extensive summary of Blackwater news and op-eds is below the fold…

  1. Here is today’s Blackwater news and opinion pieces, plus a few stories I had missed from earlier in the week.

    • The Los Angeles Times has an editorial on ‘Blackwater and the business of war‘. “The dream of managing the government more like a business is central to some of the Bush administration’s most disastrous mistakes. It was at the heart of the decision to browbeat the generals into agreeing to invade Iraq with a “light footprint,” which allowed the insurgency to flourish. Contempt for the bureaucratic process doomed serious postwar planning — after all, governmental decision-making is political, collaborative and agonizingly slow, and the result is almost always a compromise that may avoid disaster but stifles innovation. To run the occupation of Iraq, President Bush chose a man who promised to make decisions like a CEO, which is why L. Paul Bremer III made the fatal mistake of disbanding the Iraqi army without consulting the cumbersome Washington bureaucracy. And corporate thinking about efficiency led to vastly expanding the outsourcing of functions traditionally performed by the military. The biggest beneficiary has been Blackwater USA, a private security firm with powerful political and personnel ties to an administration that has awarded it more than $1 billion in contracts since 2002. ¶ A handful of prescient Democratic lawmakers trying to review the scope and nature of security outsourcing were ignored until Sept. 16, when Blackwater personnel killed at least 11 Iraqis… ¶ But Congress should also debate the overarching issue: Which military and security functions should be outsourced in the first place? And which pose the potential to harm the national interest if delegated to the private sector? ¶ The Blackwater debacle suggests that at the very least, outsourcing the protection of U.S. diplomats operating in war zones — a national security imperative — is a bad idea. Mercenary firms must be outlawed and disassembled. They are a huge threat to our democracy.

    • The German magazine, Spiegel, ran a story on September 19 titled the ‘Whores of War’ Under Fire. Among other things, the story has a few interesting quotes including: “Then came Sept. 11, 2001. Shortly after the terrorist attacks, [Blackwater CEO Erik] Prince told the conservative news [Republican propaganda] channel Fox News, ‘I’ve been operating in the training business now for four years and was starting to get a little cynical on how seriously people took security.’ He added that ‘the phone is ringing off the hook now.'” Plus this — “‘It’s a very murky area,’ complains Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a member of the Democratic Party who has long been fighting in the US Congress for the regulation of private security firms — so far unsuccessfully. ‘Under what law are these individuals operating, and do the Iraqis have the authority to prosecute people for the crimes they’re accused of committing?'”

    • The Boston Globe has an op-ed by Janine Wedel called ‘The shadow army‘. “If there is a quagmire in Iraq, it was created more than a decade ago when the United States instituted a flawed system governing the use of contractors to perform governmental functions. Now, despite Iraqi fury at Blackwater USA, some of whose employees are accused of fatally shooting Iraqis, Washington is so reliant on the firm that it dare not order it from the field… ¶ All too often this private army has been unmanageable and unaccountable, its interests dangerously divergent from those of the US and the Iraqi governments. The troubles exposed by the Blackwater debacle provide a glimpse into a much larger, systemic problem that pervades military, intelligence, and homeland security efforts alike. ¶ The Bush administration came into office bent on privatizing as many government functions as possible and threw billions into the mix in its Iraq venture. It was changes in the contracting system, instituted during the Clinton administration, though, that transformed the contracting rules and undercut oversight, transparency, and competition… ¶ The Iraq war has exposed the dangers of contracting out vital state functions to private actors. Such massive privatization renders government more susceptible to the influence of unelected private players with their own interests – players who are far removed from the oversight of government and the scrutiny of voters. ¶ Inherently governmental functions, such as the direction of military and intelligence operations, ought not to be privatized. It is vital to reverse Clinton-era procurement ‘reforms’ and to restore effective government oversight – and Bush-era extensions of them. Otherwise, the public can be more easily mislead, and America’s interests, along with its moral standing, will be repeatedly undercut by a shadow army.” It is good to be reminded that it was the Clinton administration that set us out on the path to using mercenaries.

    • Jeremy Scahill has an article in the October 15, 2007 issue of The Nation titled ‘Making a Killing‘. The piece is an excellent overview of Blackwater’s connections and the September 16 massacre. Here’s an excerpt:

      But getting rid of Blackwater would not prove to be so easy. Four days after being grounded, Blackwater was back on Iraqi streets. After all, Blackwater is not just any security company in Iraq; it is the leading mercenary company of the US occupation. It first took on this role in the summer of 2003, after receiving a $27 million no-bid contract to provide security for Ambassador Paul Bremer, the original head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Since then, it has kept every subsequent US Ambassador, from John Negroponte to Ryan Crocker, alive. It protects Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she visits the country, as well as Congressional delegations. Since its original Iraq contract, Blackwater has won more than $700 million in “diplomatic security” contracts through the State Department alone.

      The company’s domestic political clout has been key to its success. It is owned by Erik Prince, a reclusive right-wing evangelical Christian who has served as a major bankroller of the campaigns of George W. Bush and his allies. Among the company’s senior executives are former CIA official J. Cofer Black, who once oversaw the extraordinary-rendition program and led the post-9/11 hunt for Osama bin Laden (and who currently serves as GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s top counterterrorism adviser), and Joseph Schmitz, the Pentagon Inspector General under Donald Rumsfeld.

      So embedded is Blackwater in the US apparatus in Iraq that the incident in Nisour Square has sparked a crisis for the occupation that is both practical and political. Now that Blackwater’s name is known (and hated) throughout Iraq, the bodyguards themselves are likely to become targets of resistance attacks, perhaps even more so than the officials they are tasked with keeping alive. This will make their work much more difficult. But beyond such security issues are more substantive political ones, as Blackwater’s continued presence on Iraqi streets days after Maliki called for its expulsion serves as a potent symbol of the utter lack of Iraqi sovereignty.

    • In Back in Iraq: The ‘Whores of War’, “America’s hired guns in Iraq have been called ‘the coalition of the billing’, but Blackwater mercenaries are accused of more than just taking the money. Investigations Editor Neil Mackay examines the links between the security firm and the US political elite.” The article begins, “Even for Blackwater, it was an atrocity too far.” And then references Jeremy Scahill’s book, Blackwater: The Rise Of The World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. “Scahill went on to call Prince a ‘neo-crusader, a Christian supremacist, who has been given hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts this is a man who espouses Christian supremacy, and he has been allowed to create a private army to defend Christendom around the world. He refers to Blackwater as the FedEx of the Pentagon. He says if you really want a package to get somewhere, do you go with the postal service or do you go with FedEx? This is how these people view themselves.'” “At least 22 Blackwater mercs have died in Iraq. To date more than 428 contractors working for more than two dozen firms have died there. ¶ In January this year, five Blackwater mercs died when one of the firm’s helicopters (Blackwater has a private fleet of 20 planes and helicopter gunships) was shot down in Baghdad. It later emerged that four of the five crew were found with execution-style bullet wounds to the head. On April 21, 2005, seven Blackwater mercs died in two separate attacks in Baghdad and Ramadi. ¶ The Fallujah murders turned Blackwater into a kind of patriotic poster boy, with the war lobby portraying its mercs as heroes fighting for America in the face of bloodthirsty killers. By the end of 2004, Blackwater had grown by 600%… ¶ Blackwater has also hired at least 60 Chilean commandos trained under the Pinochet regime. The irony for the US army is that many of its best soldiers leave to join organisations like Blackwater where the pay is as high as $1000 a day. This then puts more pressure on the government to use private contractors due to military staff shortages… ¶ US officials went into overdrive in a bid to persuade the Iraqis not to throw Blackwater out. With 30,000 mercs working for 28 firms contracted by the US government in Iraq, the Blackwater incident could have wide-reaching ramifications.Get rid of Blackwater, the Bush administration will be forced to decide to reinstate the draft or leave Iraq.

    • On Friday in The New York Times, Paul Krugman had an op-ed, ‘Hired Gun Fetish‘. “As far as I can tell, America has never fought a war in which mercenaries made up a large part of the armed force. But in Iraq, they are so central to the effort that, as Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution points out in a new report, ‘the private military industry has suffered more losses in Iraq than the rest of the coalition of allied nations combined.’ ¶ And, yes, the so-called private security contractors are mercenaries. They’re heavily armed. They carry out military missions, but they’re private employees who don’t answer to military discipline. On the other hand, they don’t seem to be accountable to Iraqi or U.S. law, either. And they behave accordingly… ¶ Which raises the question, why are Blackwater and other mercenary outfits still playing such a big role in Iraq? ¶ Don’t tell me that they are irreplaceable. The Iraq war has now gone on for four and a half years — longer than American participation in World War II. There has been plenty of time for the Bush administration to find a way to do without mercenaries, if it wanted to.”

    • News from The New York Times that the State Department has started a third review of mercenaries in Iraq. “The State Department has begun three separate reviews related to its use of private contractors for diplomatic security in Iraq… ¶ Patrick Kennedy, the State Department’s director of management policy, is leaving for Iraq this weekend to lead a team to conduct a broad review of the use of private security contractors, he said on Friday… ¶ The Kennedy review is in addition to a joint American-Iraqi investigation of the Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad involving Blackwater security personnel guarding a diplomatic convoy, which left at least eight Iraqis dead. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense and the American Embassy are handling that inquiry. ¶ Another investigation of the Sept. 16 episode is under way by the regional security officer in the American Embassy in Baghdad, to determine exactly what happened. Mr. Kennedy said the regional security officer, through the State Department’s Diplomatic Security service, had the ability to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department if the investigation found evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Blackwater contractors.” The U.S. Justice Department is also investigating “the killing last December of an Iraqi guard for an Iraqi vice president by a Blackwater contractor who was drunk. After the killing, Blackwater flew the contractor out of Iraq”.

    • The Washington Post reports that Five witnesses to the massacre at Nisoor Square insist Iraqis didn’t fire on Blackwater. “The eyewitnesses and a senior Iraqi police official close to an investigation of the incident contradicted initial accounts provided by [Blackwater] and the State Department…. ¶ ‘The Iraqi security forces had the right to shoot at them when they saw the [Blackwater] convoy shooting at the people, but they did not shoot at the convoy,’ said Ahmed Ali Jassim, 19, a maintenance worker who saw the incident. ‘When they see Iraqis getting shot like that, their blood would be boiling. But no one crossed the limits.'” … ¶ Eyewitnesses also disputed the Blackwater guards’ account that civilians were firing from a red bus. Hussam Abdul Rahman, 25, another traffic policeman who was near the bus, said passengers were kicking out the windows in a desperate attempt to escape the firing… ¶ The senior Iraqi police official also rejected Blackwater’s account of being ambushed by gunmen. Nisoor Square, he said, sits in front of the National Police headquarters. There were checkpoints, Iraqi army and police, nearby in nearly every direction, making it hard for gunmen to take positions to ambush the convoy. ¶ The police guards in the square, he added, would not shoot without orders. The square is a common route for dozens of heavily armored U.S. military and embassy convoys. Anyone planning an attack would use heavy weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades — not guns, the official said. ‘To attack body-armored vehicles with bullets? No one can believe this,’ the police official said.”

    • Finally, from a discussion with author Naomi Wolf gave to the readers of the Washington Post on Thursday about her new book, The End of America, this brief synopsis of the danger Blackwater poses to the United States.

      I have a whole chapter called “Develop A Paramilitary Force” which centers on Blackwater. You are so right about this threat. No one can take over a democracy, no matter how badly it is weakened, without a paramilitary force that bypasses the people’s representatives and I am sorry to say no democracy can resist the pressure on it of a would-be despot that has developed such a paramilitary force. Again, Mussolini was the innovator with his black-shirted Arditi and Hitler as so often picked this up by deploying his brown-shirted SA. If you want another historical parallel, you should look at how these leaders directed groups of angry young men to intimidate people counting the vote in southern Italy and in Austria. Blackwater is in superficial trouble right now for shooting civilians in Iraq. What most Americans don’t know is that Blackwater is already here at home – Homeland Security gave them a massive contract to patrol the streets of New Orleans after Katrina – and Jeremy Scahill reports that unnamed contractors did fire in the direction of civilians there. Blackwater’s business model calls for more and more deployment here at home – in the event of a natural disaster or in the case of a “public emergency.” Scarily, the President now has the power to decide what a “public emergency” is all by himself. This is exactly what the Founders were terrified of because they knew how abusive a standing army was to the colonists; King George’s men went through their possessions and raped colonial women. This is why the Founders swore that Congress should regulate military activity and why they made the National Guard answerable to the people. Blackwater’s close ties to the White House strip all of us of 2nd Amendment protections and endanger us all in a very personal way.

Thanks for reading. So, what else is happening?

Rights for everyone, yes, everyone

crossposted from dailyKos

Recently, the historically important Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) had one important clause part removed: It no longer protects transgender people.

To this straight, white person, that’s a bad idea.  It goes in exactly the wrong direction.

We need more voices, not fewer.  We need to sing a chorus, not a bunch of solos. 

When does an orchestra sound good? When each instrument is tuning up, alone, or when all of them are playing together?

more below the fold

In this diary (also here on docudharma on the front page)  about ENDA my good friend Robyn is angry.  Justifiably angry.  And she is calling on people to do something.  This is my something.  I’m writing it quickly.  Cause when my friends are angry, I get angry.  And when my friends ask for help, I try to provide it.

Here’s my point:

deliberately I shout that. 

I’m a Jew.  Used to be, not that long ago, Jews could be denied jobs, just because they were Jews.  It happened to my dad, and he wasn’t the last.

I’m learning disabled.  We used to get called retarded or brain damaged and shunted to institutions and denied educations.

But, more than that, I’m a progressive.  I believe people have rights.  *ALL* people.  Transgender people make some other people uncomfortable.  Too damn bad.  Gays and Lesbians make some people uncomfortable.  I don’t care.  Jews and Blacks and Indians and Muslims and atheists and the Mormons and the odd looking and the disabled and the learning disabled and the retarded and the flamboyant make some people uncomfortable.  F**k them! 

So, here’s what I propose as a new ENDA.  It includes everyone.  It’s only a sketch, because I don’t know how to write legislation.  Some people here do.  Go for it in the comments.

No person shall be hired, fired, promoted, demoted, or in any way have their employment affected by any action, belief, behavior, creed, attitude etc. that is not directly and demonstrably related to job performance, and this explicitly includes all behaviors, speeches, pronouncements, publications etc made away from the job.

Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective

Society’s Child

We met Janis in Fayetteville, AR, at a women’s conference.  I have an autographed playlist somewhere.  And a guitar pick.  I like Janis.  I hope you do as well.

I’ve seen more recent videos of her and she looks much older.  But I selected ones where she looks as I remember.

Janis Ian

At Seventeen


On The OtherSide

Please do not recommend a Pony Party when you see one.  There will be another along in a few hours.

Plots, Characters, Novel Writing and Politics

(FP’ed 3:15 AM, EDT, October 1, 2007

Middle of the night bookmongering. I love it.
– promoted by exmearden

Novels tell a story lived by characters. These characters? They pull us into their worlds. They show us their worlds from the inside. Any good novel has to have some exceptional character development otherwise it will lack multidimensional characters and may be left with uninteresting ones who fall flat and ultimately let the novel down.

Some fictional characters stick with us for a variety of reasons. Characters like the Wife of Bath, Captain Ahab, the white whale, Alice, Holden Caufield, Gandalf, Jay Gatsby, Celia Garth, Beowulf, Hamlet, and so many others inspire us to ask questions about the worlds that exist both within and around us. Some, like Rosencrantz and Guilderstern offer us bits of humor amidst the darkness and tragedy. Others, like Peter Pan, Charlotte, and D’Artagnan, offer us insight into our better angels while still others–Voldemort, Big Brother, Cardinal Richelieu remind us of the darker shadows that surround us.

I still remember the night I sailed the high seas with Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver in Treasure Island. It was raining, storming actually, as I read that book from cover to cover when I was 13. The wind and rain lashing against the window only added to the feeling I got as I read the book.

J.R.R. Tolkien pulled me in as well as I walked with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf headed off on their quest. Same with C.S. Lewis and the Narnia series. Each one suggesting that in spite of all the bad shit going on in the world, someone somewhere still had hope.

Sometimes we read to escape the world we within which we live. Other times, the books we read highlight the wonders of our world or reflect the deep fractures present in our social fabric.

These books? They make us laugh, cry, smile, shiver, scream, gasp, recoil. The writers write…the characters live…the worlds exist…and the readers, we take it in and process the story in our brains looking for implied messages or just a damn good story.

And so even as we growl about lame resolutions vs. rejected amendments, worry about troops who haven’t had a break in ages, futz about leaders who negotiate temporary extensions kick the can down the road, and rail against politicians who seem to not to be doing their jobs in the Real World…1 October is coming.

That, dear friends, means that the new site for the National Novel Writing Month will be up and running.

Sign up! Chris Baty’s reminders starts some time tomorrow.

Me? I have a ship, a car, an old school used bookstore, and a couple characters (or at least the basic sketches of who they might be).

There’s a bit of a plot in my head. But it’s still more than a little bit sketchy.

Anyone else planning on spending the month of November typing out a 50,000 word novel in a caffeine stoked haze while listening to the novel’s soundtrack running through your head?

Feed Your Head!

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Since I have found myself in the midst of such brilliant people such as yourselves here at DD, I would like to take a few moments of your time to share with you some  excellent ways to improve and strengthen the most important muscle in our bodies-the brain.  While at the same time curbing depression, better bodily function, and improving immune system responses.  I feel it is just as important to feed your brain through certain amino acids and nutrients  for better neuro-transmitter synopses as reading is to learning.

Since I feel the need to do both just to keep up with this group and my general over-all need to contribute something to the community I offer you my findings on my search to increase the brain-power/thinking capacity.

Healthy Neurotransmitters

While nerve cells may be the “building blocks” of the brain, how they communicate with each other determines our behavior. Nerve cells, or neurons, “talk” with each other by sending out chemicals called neurotransmitters. Acting as messengers, these neurotransmitters carry important messages from cell to cell. Nerve cells don’t actually touch each other, but instead are separated by a “gap” called a synapse. Within each nerve cell are tiny packets of neurotransmitters that when released, bridge the gap and carry a message to a neighboring cell, called the target cell. The neurotransmitters create changes in the target cell that transform it from being a target cell to a cell that is now ready to send the message it received to yet another cell.

A target cell must receive messages from numerous cells simultaneously before it is induced to change. This is how information is transferred throughout the nervous system.

Taken from NeuroScience Research Center

I’m sure most of you already know this, but a good refresher course never hurt anybody, right?

Amino Acid Neurotransmitters

From David G. Nicholls
Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience, University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland; and Cerebrovascular and Neuroscience Research Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

Amino acids are the most abundant neurotransmitters in the brain. Nichols suggested: “amino acids synapses exceed those of all the other neurotransmitters combined…amino acids are responsible for almost all the fast signaling between neurons, leaving predominantly modulatory roles for the other transmitters.” If you’re not eating food that provide you with necessary amino acid to stimulate the brain, you can always opt to take amino acid supplements, which are better than not taking anything at all. Your health should be your top priority and it is important to maintain that in the best way possible.

A free-form Amino Acid Complex seems to be the best bet when it comes to dosage and for efficient absorption and uptake.  I’m sure there are many other great supplements available, this is the one I happen to be interested in.

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Serotonin is similar to catecholamines. It is made from the amino acid, tryptophan. Serotonin is converted to melatonin in the pineal gland. Tryptophan, derived from food, is transported to the brain to make the neurotransmitter serotonin.  At the appropriate place inside a brain cell, two enzymes and vitamin B6 transform tryptophan to serotonin.  Serotonin is then transferred to the sending end of the neuron (the terminal bouton of the axon), where it is used as a molecular messenger to carry information across the synapse to the receiving neuron. The serotonin synthesis equation is:

STEP 1. Tryptophan—-> 5-Hydroxytryptophan

STEP 2. 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5HT)—-> Serotonin

However, you cannot buy trytophan supplements in the US, food sources include brown rice, cottage cheese, meat, turkey, peanuts, and soy protein. The precursor between tryptophane and serotonin is of course 5-HTP, which is widely available, and is an excellent resource.  I find the purest form to be the most available for uptake here.
Small amounts of 5-HTP, as well as serotonin, are found in food sources, including bananas, tomatoes, plums, avocados, eggplant, walnuts and pineapples.

Of course those whom take anti-depressants should ALWAYS consult with their physicians before taking any supplement, especially those supplements which interact with brain activity.  Research any supplement BEFORE taking it and read the label, try to stay away from any additional ingredients or fillers unnecessarily added to avoid problems with absorption. 

Because these times call for extraordinary measures, we must rise to the challenge to save our planet, our country, and our government.  WE must start with ourselves.  I take this challenge seriously and I am willing to better my mind, and I thank all of you for your contributions to this end.

This is the first of two essays I will submit to you on this subject, I will try and get the next essay up by next Sunday-about the same time next week.

A Complement to Armando’s….

The Importance of Not Discussing What We Have Faith In

The following essay is re-posted to Docudharma from July 22, 2007 posting on my own blog.

Is the One Required of the Other?

I am intrigued by the gulf between God and religion.

Can anyone doubt that a superior intelligence must have created the sun, the stars, the planets, the entire universe, life …the forms notwithstanding?  But what is the origin, the source of the intelligence powerful enough to create the Creator?  This is a mystery much greater than the sequence within the chicken or egg controversy.  Maybe in the terms of that great warlord, Donald Rumsfeld, the answer to that mystery is unknowable.

The religions of the world describe our provenance in various ways …usually with a direct relationship to the respective religion’s dogma.  Science and Religion are frequently in direct conflict on the origin of the universe, the derivation of our species, the evolution of animal and plant life on the earth and the possibilities of life elsewhere.

The origin of life remains a mystery …the scientist would argue evolution from the microbic while the religious argue creation in God’s own image.

Science bases its findings on empirical data, on observation of evolvement in plant and other species over time …the visible, the repeatable experiment.

The religious place their chips on the literature of the Bible, the Quran, the Tanakh, Bhagavad Gita (Bhagavadgiitaa) other religious publications, learned authors, practitioners, and academics …the power of the faithful.

The mystery of us all, our planet, our universe …will it ever be explained?  Is it explainable.  Could we believe the explanation?  The religions would have us believe that if we follow their respective teachings, our reward will follow in the afterlife …all will be explained.

For me, I will continue to trust that a superior intelligence (God, if you like) has a handle on all that we do, sees us as individual human beings (souls or other identifiers), treats us fairly, either gives us an eternal place in the Cosmos, Heavens above, Hell below, or not.  I doubt that performing to the norms of one or another religious doctrine while on earth matters much to our prospects for eternity.  Organizing into one or the other earthly religious “unions” seems an affront to an all-seeing super intelligence.  I don’t think that I will go there.

When politicians claim their great faith in their religious beliefs, I can only sigh and doubt that their faith will do much in helping them to perform their governing duties. Certainly, it will be of little benefit to us, the governed.

I just saw Nancy Pelosi

on Wolfie’s Show.

Is she on something?

Just though she looked sorta weird. I don’t watch TV that often anymore. Does she always come across like that?

Sorry, short essayette, but it’s midnight thirty here.

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