...But of these sophisms and elenchs of merchandise I skill not...
Milton, Areopagitica

Except he had found the
standing sea-rock that even this last
Temptation breaks on; quieter than death but lovelier; peace
that quiets the desire even of praising it.

Jeffers, Meditation On Saviors



pressure on Damascus

"If, however, you ask me if I'm expecting an armed attack (from the United States), well I've seen it coming since the end of the war in Iraq. It's from then that tensions have been rising," he added.
Asked if a "settling of scores" was imminent, Assad said: "I don't think so, for now it's just skirmishing. True, the White House language, if looked at in detail, leads one to expect a campaign similar to the one that led up to attack on Iraq."
"Will we be the next target of Israel and the White House? All of this has been written for a long time. Iraq was the first phase, then it will be Iran's and Syria's turn. But it's not a given that things will go that way."
The opposition in Lebanon has accused the Lebanese and the Syrian governments of having a role in Hariri's killing, and backed by the U.S. and former colonial power France, has demanded the immediate pullout of Syrian forces from Lebanon.
Assad strongly rejected the accusations, saying: "If we really killed Hariri, that would be political suicide for us. Beyond ethical and human principles, the question is, who benefits from the crime? Certainly not Syria."

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad/La Repubblice(It.)/ 28.Feb.05

the fear in their eyes

Mexico, which unlike its Central American neighbors was never a member of George Bush's "Coalition of the Willing", now has the largest contingent of any Latin nation fighting on the ground in Iraq--8000 Mexican and Mexican-descent troops who voluntarily joined the U.S. armed forces.
Lance Corporeal Andres Raya did not fall fighting the enemy in Iraq. A humvee driver pushing unprotected vehicles in and out of Fallujah for seven months, Raya was exposed to attacks by the resistance and roadside bombs every day he served on Iraqi soil. Home on holiday in the California central valley farming town of Ceres and haunted by rumors that his unit would soon be sent back to Iraq, Raya, 19, snapped, provoking a three hour running gun battle with back-ups from four different California police departments.
Leaping over backyard fences and dashing down dirt alleys in the town where he grew up as an undocumented field worker's son, Raya assured neighbors they were not in harm's way if they were "innocent civilians." Reportedly shaken by Michael Moore's anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11", Raya stopped to ask one witness if he had voted for Bush.
Finally cornered after killing one officer and gravely wounding another with an outlaw assault rifle, the young Marine was cut down by 18 rounds when he charged a police barricade. "Andres Raya died like a true Mexican standing on his feet" a neighbor, Hilda Mercado, shouted out at a tension-packed reconciliation meeting a few days later. "Andy was a casualty of war," Lalo Mercado who grew up with the dead Marine told the New York Times.
Raya's rampage tripwired brown-white rage in Ceres. Andres had grown up in a migrant labor camp here and as a teenager, was often rousted by the local police--as recently as a week before his rampage, he was stopped despite being in uniform. When friends sought to build an altar to Raya in the alleyway where he died, police repeatedly tore it down...

John Ross/Counterpunch 21.Feb.05

The Speed of Dreams / Part Two

Elections pass, governments pass. The resistance remains as it is, one more alternative for humanity and against neoliberalism. Nothing more, but nothing less.

However, consistent with the aversion we profess for dogmas, we will always admit that we could be wrong, and it could be, in effect, as the fashionable hacks are now predicting, necessary, urgent, essential, to deliver ourselves up unconditionally into the arms of those who, from above, are promoting changes which can only be achieved from below.

We could be wrong. When we realize it because stupid reality gets in the way of our path, we will be the first to recognize that mistake in front of everyone, those who are with us and those who are opposed. It will be that way because we believe, among other things, that honesty in front of the mirror is necessary for all of those who, in word or in fact, are committed to the building of a new world.

In any event, we give life to our wise moves and to our mistakes. I sincerely believe that, ever since the dawn of the first of January of 1994, we have won the right to decide for ourselves our path, its rhythm, its speed, its accompaniment, continuous or sporadic.

We shall not cede that right. We are willing to die to defend it.

We shall continue doing what we believe is our duty. And without regard to the "ratings" our actions receive, the space we occupy in the news, or the threats and prophecies which they are good enough - from both sides of the political spectrum - to prescribe for us every time we don't do what they want us to do or we don't say what they want us to say (something which happens all the time).

We will not join in the hysterical clamor of the political class, and of their fans in the "political analysis" columns. Those people who try to impose, always from above, an agenda which has nothing to do with what is happening below in our country, the implacable dismantling of the foundations of national sovereignty.

Nor will we flail about concerning the calendar, hastening 2006 and its uncertainty, its festival of vanities, its cynical squandering of resources and stupidity. Even less will our actions be guided by those who are demanding that we contribute the names of prisoners, disappeared and dead, while they contribute names to the nominating lists.

This does not mean that we do not listen. We do, and we shall continue to do so. From all over the world we receive words of encouragement and of criticism, advice and warnings, support and condemnation. We listen to everything, and we keep it in the collective heart which we are. Anyone, anyplace in the world, can be certain that the zapatistas will listen to them.

But it is one thing to listen and another thing to obey.

Letter to Pierluigi Sullo
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, September of 2004. 20 and 10.

where else am I going to shop?

Not many months ago, polleros (people smugglers) in Tapachula, Chiapas, on Mexico's southern border, wheedled $5,000 each from six Guatemalans and two other undocumented workers whom they promised to deposit safely in the United States.

Moving through Mexico stealthily in an old bus with its curtains drawn and slipping immigration officials the obligatory mordida (little bite, or bribe) to ease through the checkpoints, the smugglers arrived in Chihuahua City, 100 miles south of the U.S. border, drove out to an upscale suburb, and dropped their load off in front of an enormous Wal-Mart, informing the clueless clients they had arrived on "the Other Side." The Wal-Mart shared the gleaming mall with a Wendy's, a KFC, even an Applebee's, and the ten-plex "Hollywood" Cinema.

"It looked just like how it looked on television" a rueful indocumentado told Froilan Meza of the local Chihuahua Herald.

John Ross/Progressive March 2005

How about a war on horror?


A group that wants to assist free speech in authoritarian nations is looking for a technically savvy person -- a CTO or lead engineer type -- who can do a short term study, possibly leading to a longer-term job. This is a paying gig for the right person.

The project is intended, in its intitial form, to make possible blogging that is impossible (or at least extremely difficult) to trace. One of the people involved calls it an "anonymous, anti-tyranny blogging service."

If you're interested, please send e-mail to Jim Hake at
link Dan Gillmor

on the road to Mogadishu

In Brazil's favelas, murder is the leading cause of death for 10-year-olds. In these urban hyper-barrios, police patrol in helicopter gunships. Any delusion of crime prevention gave way to containment and suppression long ago. At night, black children hide from both rogue cops and gang members; the rich venture from their fortress homes nearby only in armored vehicles or private planes. In the midst of Rio de Janeiro's splendor, favelas are at a tipping point — on the way to joining Mogadishu as wholly failed "feral" cities, engulfed by gangs, black markets, rapacious crime and dysfunction.

Could Los Angeles be headed down this road? No, not anytime soon, at least for the vast majority of the city. But the hot spots of underclass Los Angeles are well on the way. If ignored, they will metastasize, and eventually pose a real danger to the larger region.

L.A.'s hot zones are tiny, intensely dangerous areas where nothing works, where law has broken down and mainstream institutions simply fail. Places where mail carriers and meter readers balk when the bullets fly. Where paramedics and firefighters are hesitant to enter because of the crossfire. Where police officers go in only heavily reinforced or with helicopters; in the LAPD's South Bureau there was an 80% increase in sniper fire on police in 2004, according to a report by LAPD Chief William Bratton.

These zones are often found in and near public housing projects, although the worst privately owned slums — like the gang-ridden apartment complex at 69th and Main that was recently ordered evacuated by the city — mirror the conditions.

In Jordan Downs, for instance, one of three gang-dominated housing projects in Watts, the predominantly African American Grape Street Crips routinely beat Latinos (among others), engage in regular home-invasion robberies and have been known to murder residents who dare report their activities. When the LAPD set up a police kiosk in Jordan to quell rising crime, the gangs blew it up; the LAPD left and did not return for more than a decade. In the Ramona Gardens housing project, the last three black families didn't survive long enough to suffer the perpetual abuse that residents of Jordan have endured: Latino gangsters firebombed them out of their units.

Schools near these complexes boast 70% dropout rates, violence-related lockdowns and children with post-traumatic stress disorder levels as high as those seen in civil wars. The neighborhoods host hundreds of prison-brutalized men wed to cults of destruction and the hyper-masculinity of the powerless. Ex-cons who try to change must defy a dehumanizing dragnet that draws 70% of them back into prison. All face relentless search-and-destroy policing. With job prospects virtually nonexistent and few other exit ramps from the prison-parole hamster wheel, escape is rare.

Years ago I asked gang members what happened to kids who "just said no" to the Bloods or V-18s. They brought me a videotape other gang members had made for a 14-year-old boy who had refused to join them. The tape showed gang members raping his 13-year-old sister. The boy joined the gang so that its members wouldn't return to kill her.

Constance L. Rice
LATimes/AriannaOnline 23.Dec.05


Peter Benenson, the founder of the worldwide human rights organisation Amnesty International, died 25 February. He was 83.
From Benenson's article in the Observer(UK), 28 May 1961:

One story is of the revolting brutality with which Angola's leading poet, Agostino Neto, was treated before the present disturbances there broke out. Dr. Neto was one of the five African doctors in Angola. His efforts to improve the health services for his fellow Africans were unacceptable to the Portugese. In June last year the Political Police marches into his house, had him flogged in front of his family and then dragged away. He has since been in the Cape Verde Isles without charge or trial.

From Rumania, we shall print the story of Constatin Noica, the philosopher, who was sentenced to twenty-five years' imprisonment because, while "rusticated," his friends and pupils continued to visit him, to listen to his talk on philosophy and literature. The book will also tell of the Spanish lawer, Antonio Amat, who tried to build a coalition of democratic groups, and has been in trial since November, 1958; and of two white men persecuted by their own race for preaching that colored races should have equal rights- Ashton Jones, the sixty-five-year-old minister, who last year was repeatedly beaten-up and three times imprisoned in Lousiana and Texas for doing what the Freedom Riders are now doing in Alabama; and Patrick Duncan, the son of a former South African Governer-General, who, after three stays in prison, has just been served with an order forbidding him from attending or addressing any meeting for five years.

"In 1961 his vision gave birth to human rights activism. In 2005 his legacy is a world wide movement for human rights which will never die."

Dionisio Ribeiro Filho, 59, was shot in the head with a shotgun at the Tingua federal reserve, about 19 miles (30 km) from Rio de Janeiro city, after he defended it for over 15 years from poachers and illegal palm tree cutters, police said on Wednesday.
Dorothy Stang was shot four times in the face and head near the rural town of Anapu on the Trans-Amazon Highway (whose very existence made destruction of the rainforest possible).
Stang had worked in Brazil for 37 years, and had been a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur for 56. The death threats--aimed at stopping her work on behalf of the Amazon's beleaguered rainforest and its desperately poor inhabitants--had escalated recently.

Scott Ritter Says U.S. Plans June Attack On Iran

Sibel Edmonds is suing the FBI

Brian Avery has returned to Israel to seek justice


What Prince Charles and Camilla Bowles are are failed celebrities, celebrities whose glamor isn't shiny enough, whose exploits are too mundane, and who have only alienated the God of celebrity and his angels in the media. A key to the intensity of negative reaction to their existence is how often their looks are commented on, by people whose own symmetries and aestethic values are meager. It's because the only community those people know is inside the box, the rest of the world isn't quite real anymore, and in there they're surrounded by nice-looking at worst fellow citizens, and often seem to be sitting close to beautiful and truly glamorous individuals, while those individuals act out their glamorous moments - braving danger, saving the day.
The context is as always the absolute neutrality of the media, which is now in possession of the political infrastructure of the United States and a good chunk of Britain's as well. That neutrality being a sacred principle taught to everyone, by the media itself.
So it's absurd to wonder if Charles hasn't pissed off someone in power, or threatened to, or worse; because even if he had, the media wouldn't ridicule him unless he really deserved it. Because the media is neutral, absolutely neutral - moral, but only as moral as the people it serves, whose values it reflects. Because it can only reflect the values of the people who consume it, who watch it, read it, take it in, it has no moral character of its own; because it is, ultimately and essentially, nothing but a vividly realistic reflection; the media is nothing but a mirror held up to the soul of the public, reflecting their values - it's absurd to suggest the media reflects the values of the people who own the media. Nonsense - there's no money in that, and the media are first and finally a business, even more than a service. The idea that a mirror that is also a business might distort the things it reflects is absurd. The idea - that the media is a brainwashing tool whose efficacy has been refined for decades, controlled by an invisible minority whose disdain for the people is immense - is near treason in its opposition to the common good.
The media simply reflects the values and interests of the people it serves.
Even as it spends all its time and most of its resources shaping those values. And then reflecting them back to the public again. And again. And so on.


28:13 But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

28:14 Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem.

28:15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:

28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

28:17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.

28:18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.

28:19 From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.

28:20 For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.

28:21 For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.

Isaiah - KJV

Voltairine de Cleyre
Exquisite Rebel

"In a time when the law treated women like chattel, "Voltairine de Cleyre's whole life," says Avrich, "was a revolt against this system of male domination which, like every other form of tyranny and exploitation, ran contrary to her anarchistic spirit. "That such a brilliant, unusual woman would be a feminist is no surprise. " Let every woman ask herself," cried Voltairine, "Why am I the slave of Man? Why is my brain said not to be equal of his brain? Why is my work not paid equally with his? Why must my body be controlled by my husband? Why may he take my children away from me? Will them away while yet unborn? Let every woman ask." "There are two reasons why," Voltairine answered in her essay "Sex and Slavery" "and these ultimately reducible to a single principle - the authoritarian supreme power GOD-idea, and its two instruments - the church - that is, the priests - the State - that is, the legislators...These two things, the mind domination of the Church and the body domination of the State, are the causes of Sex Slavery."
"It is the old story: "Aim at the stars, and you may hit the top of the gatepost; but aim at the ground and you will hit the ground."
link path Society of Control

If they kill me

"If, by the hand of the devil, those perverse plans succeed... forget about Venezuelan oil, Mr Bush," he said.
Chavez said he was convinced that Washington was "sketching out the assassination plans" before his Bolivarian Revolution advances in Venezuela and Latin America.
Chavez revealed a week ago that Cuban President Fidel Castro had warned him of a US assassination plot.
"Now, I am going to say it. Neither Fidel Castro nor I talk nonsense."
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently called Chavez "a negative force" in Latin America, and the State Department backed Colombia in a recent dispute between the Caribbean neighbours over the arrest of a Colombian rebel in Caracas by Colombian officials without Venezuela's knowledge or consent.
"If something happens to me, I blame the president of the United States," Chavez said.

Aljazeera 21.Feb.05
- was Chavez who -- a month later-- heightened the situation into a crisis . Perhaps it was an attempt to please his political base and garner some kind of solidarity from an international community more and more sensitive about issues of sovereignty. But his belated reaction did more to highlight his unpredictability than to convince anyone he suddenly had become an advocate for international law.
In fact, Chavez has rejected any assistance from the international community to resolve the crisis, including offers of mediation from Peru, Brazil and Mexico. Instead, Chavez, who sees the dispute in personal terms, would prefer a handholding session only after Uribe has asked him for forgiveness.
Marcela Sanchez

[Sanchez is the sock puppet of Richard Lugar, who is in turn one of the phalanx of petroleum/Jesus/Armegeddon/zombies whatever is behind all this sends out to do its bidding. Sanchez will be more and more prominently placed in the media if and when the plan to take Chavez down is implemented.]

Former President Jimmy Carter, who gave his blessing to Venezuelan leftist leader Hugo Chavez's controversial victory in a recall referendum last year, has now come up with a proposal that -- if accepted -- could send Chavez into instant retirement at a Cuban beach resort.
In an address Tuesday to the 34-member Organization of American States (OAS), Carter called for injecting new life into an inter-American treaty aimed at preventing democratically elected presidents from seizing all powers, and becoming de facto dictators. Which is exactly what Chavez seems to be doing.
"Let us strengthen the charter and not be afraid to use it," Carter said, bolstering the idea we suggested in this column a few weeks ago.
The OAS Democratic Charter was signed in 2001 in the aftermath of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori's takeover of Peru's Congress, but it has rarely been used.
The problem is that it calls for collective diplomatic sanctions against Fujimori-styled one-shot attacks on the rule of law, but it does little to address Chavez-styled cases of piecemeal destruction of the democratic system.
Andres Oppenheimer

both of the above pieces courtesy of the honestly and somewhat prophetically named
Petroleum World


Duran subrayo que la denuncia presidencial es "muy grave" y constituye "una escalada de Chavez en su confrontacion con Estados Unidos que es su enemigo estrategico luego de superar la crisis politica interna."
"O en efecto Bush esta planificando un magnicidio lo que seria de una gravedad inconmensurable que todos los venezolanos deberiamos condenar o Chavez miente", sentencio.
El Universal

Rodolfo Frometa, a Cuban, and former Army Captain Luis Eduardo Garcia (a Venezuelan) are named in the article as the leaders of the paramilitary coalition formed by the "F-4 Commandos" and "The Venezuelan Patriotic Junta." Garcia, a former Captain, was one of the leaders of the defeated coup against democratically-elected president Hugo Chavez Frias in Venezuela in April 2002.
The training camps located in the Florida Everglades seem to have escaped the reach of the US Department of Homeland Security ... which was created by President Bush as a way of protecting the United States against terrorist attacks. This oversight seems to come from the fact that this coalition was not set up to attack the United States; instead, it follows the tradition of the Contras and their terror campaign in Nicaragua, and other groups such as Alpha 66 and the F-4 itself and their terror campaigns against Cuba. This time the coalition between F-4 and the Venezuelan Junta has been set up to train paramilitary forces to terrorize Venezuela.
Shortly after the Wall Street Journal article came out, the Venezuelan government made information available to the US Embassy in Venezuela, specifically detailing the activities carried out by these two groups.
The Venezuelan government did not receive a response from the US embassy at that time. It was not until plans to assassinate President Chavez surfaced, during his planned visit to Harlem, New York last September, that the Venezuelan government went public denouncing the plot and the existence of terrorist groups, training freely in Florida, conspiring to overthrow the government. In addition, in a televised appearance before the international media, Chavez revealed that his government is in possession of a video, secretly recorded by his security forces, of a CIA officer giving a class to Venezuelans on surveillance.
*Even though President Chavez did not cite the Wall Street Journal article specifically, the international media picked up the report and have challenged the US government to come forward with an explanation for its double standard on terrorism.
The United States was slow in responding. September 30, a few days after Chavez' statements, US Ambassador to Venezuela, Charles S. Shapiro stated "it is not necessarily a crime ... but we are in the full process of collecting information and we must follow all legal procedures ... if there is anyone to blame, our government knows what to do."
Showing a certain disdain and even annoyance he also stated, "some Venezuelans have been receiving military training in the United States."
He further admitted that the information was also published in a Miami newspaper a year ago, but he was unable to explain why no action was taken by the US Homeland Security Department. "We're not going to take action against anybody ... we haven't been able to make any headway."
The Venezuelan President has been relentless in pursuing the issue. "Who gave the United States government the right to bomb cities, invade countries, overthrow governments?" Chavez asked. "No one gave this right to the United States government. And here, we will keep saying that."

VHeadlines 16.Oct.05

On January 11, Ambassador Brownfield made headlines in Venezuela during a visit to the site of destruction from torrential flooding that occurred back in 1999. He declared that the U.S. Government will always "support the people of Venezuela" and assured assistance in case of any future natural disasters. He announced the donation of $33,000 in USAID funding for a local day care center, a mere fraction of the more than $15 million given by USAID to the political opposition in Venezuela over the past few years to overthrow President Chavez. But Brownfield's appeasing disposition was clearly directed at Venezuelans and not their government. Just a day later, the "good cop, bad cop" game the U.S. Government has been playing with Venezuela became evident. Former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, Charles Shapiro, accredited shortly before the coup in April 2002 and remaining, through rocky relations, until August 2004, published an Opinion article in Miami's Spanish newspaper, El Nuevo Herald, justifying U.S. intervention in Venezuela.
Shapiro, now the Adjunct Vice Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs of the Department of State, affirmed the U.S. Government's commitment to continue financing Venezuela's opposition movement to President Chavez, referring to coup leaders and illegal strike instigators as "Venezuelans seeking to protect their democratic rights". The U.S. Government has funneled more than $20 million to opposition organizations and parties since 2001, through its two financing entities, the National Endowment for Democracy and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Continuing with the media campaign, on January 13, Senator Richard Lugar, head of the international relations committee of the U.S. Senate, made public a letter sent in November 2004 to the U.S. Government Accountability Office expressing profound worry over an eventual disruption in oil supply from Venezuela. Lugar affirmed that the Department of State no longer considers Venezuela a reliable supplier of oil due to "political instability" that threatens oil production. No mention was made of the fact that the U.S. Government has been the prime instigator of such "political instability".

Eva Golinger/Venezuelanalysis 26.Jan.05
Our Chavez problem

Venezuelan strongman's erratic pronouncements and enmity toward Bush unsettle Houston interests.
In the summer of 2003, Luis Marin was picked to be CEO of Citgo, the U.S. refining and marketing arm of Venezuela's state oil company. Marin decided to move Citgo's headquarters from Tulsa, Okla., to Houston.
Now Marin is out and Citgo's parent company, PetrĂ³leos de Venezuela, has put Citgo on the block. What gives?
The answer lies with Venezuela's authoritarian, faux leftist president, Hugo Chavez. Chavez's political support lies with Venezuela's poor, of whom there is no shortage. He cements his support by directing much of the country's oil revenues to social programs, although lately he has sought to spend heavily on warplanes and other weaponry. Chavez's other tactics include muzzling the press, befriending and imitating Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and accusing the Bush administration of having imperialist designs.
Even astute foreign policy analysts have difficulty distinguishing Chavez's propaganda and rants from real policy pronouncements. Chavez recently accused Citgo of paying no Venezuelan taxes, hiring no Venezuelans and sending home no profits.

Houston Chronicle

link 11abril


The parents of Giuliana Sgrena, along with more than 100,000 others
in Rome Saturday, ask for peace and the liberation of all hostages in Iraq

other days


Lawrence H. Summers, on filling the gap
"What does one make of that? I think it is hard-and again, I am speaking completely descriptively and non-normatively-to say that there are many professions and many activities, and the most prestigious activities in our society expect of people who are going to rise to leadership positions in their forties near total commitments to their work. They expect a large number of hours in the office, they expect a flexibility of schedules to respond to contingency, they expect a continuity of effort through the life cycle, and they expect-and this is harder to measure-but they expect that the mind is always working on the problems that are in the job, even when the job is not taking place. And it is a fact about our society that that is a level of commitment that a much higher fraction of married men have been historically prepared to make than of married women. That's not a judgment about how it should be, not a judgment about what they should expect. But it seems to me that it is very hard to look at the data and escape the conclusion that that expectation is meeting with the choices that people make and is contributing substantially to the outcomes that we observe.
"The second problem is the one that Gary Becker very powerfully pointed out in addressing racial discrimination many years ago. If it was really the case that everybody was discriminating, there would be very substantial opportunities for a limited number of people who were not prepared to discriminate to assemble remarkable departments of high quality people at relatively limited cost simply by the act of their not discriminating, because of what it would mean for the pool that was available. And there are certainly examples of institutions that have focused on increasing their diversity to their substantial benefit, but if there was really a pervasive pattern of discrimination that was leaving an extraordinary number of high-quality potential candidates behind, one suspects that in the highly competitive academic marketplace, there would be more examples of institutions that succeeded substantially by working to fill the gap."

Remarks at NBER Conference on Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce

Lawrence H. Summers

Rather than the simplistic non-issue - the what: whether girls can do things boys can do just as well boys can - the idea I'd have liked to see explored somewhere is the how, and the why of it. The easiest place to begin that pretty much taboo exploration is at the crux of a lot of these contemporary questions, the place where they all reveal a similar lacuna, a blank place on the page.
You can train a dog to do a lot of things. Some dogs are more trainable than others, but most dogs share that malleable quality to some degree. Working stock dogs, some of them, have a telepathic ability - or what seems like a telepathic ability - to follow the simplest commands into complex activities. But there must have been a time when the trainableness of dogs wasn't a general trait, when they were still close to the original wild canids they came from. So that the dogs who did have that quality were recognizable. And what happened was we selected the trainable, valued them, rewarded them, and in most cases, killed the untrainable.
We also learned to breed the prized examples of one desired trait with others, and to cross-breed for other traits, intelligence, height etc.
The obvious connection is for some reason so taboo it's dangerously groundbreaking to mention it.
I'm suggesting that's so people don't realize that they're being selected, bred, their genetic features shaped and molded, and have been for some time. That the Darwinian process never stopped, not even to this day, it just slowly shifted away from the "natural" world, to the control, conscious or otherwise, of human institutions and human environments.
And I'm suggesting that at some point, after you've raised generations of women to subservience and indirection, to believe they're incapable of certain "masculine" activities, and all the other varying attributes women have been raised to believe about themselves, and men with them, at some point you start breeding for those qualities, bogus as they were to start with.
When Summers says
"They expect a large number of hours in the office, they expect a flexibility of schedules to respond to contingency, they expect a continuity of effort through the life cycle, and they expect-and this is harder to measure-but they expect that the mind is always working on the problems that are in the job, even when the job is not taking place. And it is a fact about our society that that is a level of commitment..."

how old is that society? Where are its roots? What are its founding documents? Because I'm convinced those things become like a set of plans, a template, a standard to which consciously or not the breed is aimed.
So is "our society" this one, now? And what's that?
An aunt I spent childhood time with was a teenager before there were cars on the road as a matter of course. My family didn't have a televison in the house until I was 7. Those are two different societies right there, though they overlap linguistically and geographically. And both are different than the one Summers addresses as "our".
So I think that "our society" business needs particular attention, and definition. The little bit I know about the Iroqouis Confederacy has left me with the impression that at least some of the Eastern indigenous tribes had strong female leadership, not in the celebrity sense of politics and heroic action figures, but in the actual directing of the course of events. Wisdom that was backed up with power and traditions of honor and respect. Certainly that's not "our society".
Maybe President Summers needs to be reminded of the imprisoned women who were force-fed gruel through rubber tubes shoved down their throats, when they went into hunger strikes - after they'd been imprisoned for demanding the right to vote. Is that "our society"? Not as easy to answer, that one.
Because if that's not "our society" when did it change? Where on the timeline did "we" stop being a society that would do that to women who demanded the right to vote?
World War 2 perhaps. Though really it was a slow movement over time from that moment to this. 100 years ago women couldn't vote in "our society".
Things are better now, in some ways. But I think Summers needs to clarify what he means; not because his argument will be clearer and more precise, but so that the fallacy underneath it, and the bias that created it, will be too obvious to need describing, and we can get down to fighting about what's really going on.
When Summers says
"If it was really the case that everybody was discriminating, there would be very substantial opportunities for a limited number of people who were not prepared to discriminate to assemble remarkable departments of high quality people at relatively limited cost simply by the act of their not discriminating, because of what it would mean for the pool that was available. And there are certainly examples of institutions that have focused on increasing their diversity to their substantial benefit, but if there was really a pervasive pattern of discrimination that was leaving an extraordinary number of high-quality potential candidates behind..."
it gets clearer that rather than a good-faith argument what we're looking at is cultural bias trying to preserve itself. Exceptionalism is the current meme for what that is.
True on the face of it, what's deeper in is so obviously not what Summers is saying that you have to start translating. It's as though there's a planet where all the colleges are, and they draw their faculties out of a kind of reincarnation/rebirth process from other nebulous worlds about which we know nothing.
His diagram posits an undescribed but necessary pool of value-neutral cultural nurseries, where the institutions that aren't discriminating can recruit their minority candidates. It's a lot like a more genteel affable version of the reasonable arguments against school integration itself, back in the 50's. Less than 50 years ago there were public arguments, in reasonable tones from men of influence, as to the unnecessary disruption school integration would bring. And those who argued against them were on the margins, getting beaten, and harrassed, and in more than a few cases, murdered. Less than 50 years ago in "our society".
And then there's the petulant shallow aggravation of the anti-affirmative-action champions of more recent times.
The trouble is there's this unspoken concept of "jubilee" - a day where all debts are canceled and the whole cultural group just "moves on". Only it only seems to apply to the powerful.
Slavery, and its less-legislated sisters unjust wages and intolerable working conditions, created fortunes that still exist in "our society", whose returns still support the heirs of the men who made them, and that's seen as well and good. But these social crimes were finally seen as immoral, and legislated against, and condemned legally, and stopped - for the most part. But the harm they caused, the disruption and damage, the altered lives and the who-can-calculate-them effects that made them outlawable, persist. And there you have the largest crack in Summer's edifice of "we're just built that way".
Things are like they are because of how they were, and that was not good how they were, that way was not a good way. He reduces the terms of the argument to things he can safely espouse, and leaves out the context entirely, achieving a calm reasoned tone to run the con, like the professional bureaucrat he is.
He does that with gender issues overall, talking about his daughters playing house with their toy trucks as though all there was in his world at that time was him, his wife, his daughters, and the trucks.
I've worked in daycare, I've seen kid-memes spread faster than you could write them down - among 4 and 5 year olds, ripples of like and/or dislike spreading around the break table like a change of direction in a flock of birds.
And television is what most of those kids went home to, not the cultural heart and arteries of a grandparent's stories.
It's too plain that Summers doesn't want to acknowledge the feedback loop of commercial television's pandering to audience demand while it sculpts that demand toward its own well-being, at the expense of everything else - including the well-being of the children it now raises.
Any discussion of gender differences, innate or cultural, elective or instinctual, that doesn't include the cultural presence of television as a third, and more culturally representative, parent; and, at this point, doesn't place it higher on the scale of influence than working parents in most children's lives, is either wishful thinking or an outright lie.
The short versions: Cultural selection over time becomes genetic selection.
Arguments against altering provably harmful cultural norms that proceed from a premise of genetic inalterability are defensive posturing.


Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel, Jean Donavan, Ita Ford

Killed by a death squad in El Salvador, 1980
images: KryssTal

Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel, Jean Donavan, Ita Ford

"Now what I ask you is to please advise the Guards. Those who did it. Not to tell anyone. No one. Not any superior at the last minute. Do you understand what I am telling you? You can be in deep shit because the command can take you down if they're put in a bind. Do you understand what I am telling you?"

New York--In a letter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Human Rights First urges the State Department to request the appropriate US authorities to conduct an immediate investigation of how the former Director General of the Salvadoran National Guard was permitted to become a resident of the United States despite authoritative finding that he was involved in a cover-up of the 1980 murder of three US nuns and a lay missionary.
Human Rights First also requested release of previously undisclosed information in the possession of the State Department, including "special Embassy evidence," that would shed new light on the case.
"We were shocked by the recent revelation that Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, the Director General of the National Guard at the time of the murders of the churchwomen, has been permitted to reside in this country," said Scott Greathead and Robert Weiner, who are representing the families of the dead women.
Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel and lay missionary Jean Donovan, were brutally raped and murdered in El Salvador on December 2, 1980. In May 1984, five enlisted members of the National Guard of El Salvador were convicted of the crime, and sentenced to thirty years in prison.
Greathead and Weiner traveled to El Salvador last week to interview the four National Guardsmen who said for the first time that they acted on orders of higher ups.
"The statements of the convicted Guardsmen we interviewed last week are consistent with significant circumstantial evidence, as well as testimony in the court record, indicating that they were acting pursuant to higher orders to murder the churchwomen," said the letter to Secretary Albright.
"It has been over seventeen years since the churchwomen were murdered, and nearly fourteen years since the five Guardsmen were tried and convicted of the crime. We do not believe any compelling reason exists to justify any further delay in releasing the (evidence)," said Human Rights First.
tortured by Salvadoran security forces
During a four-week trial that began on June 24 the plaintiffs told of being detained and tortured by Salvadoran national guardsmen and police under the command of the two generals. The jury began deliberations on Thursday afternoon, and deliberated for a total of some 20hours.
In addition to receiving electric shocks and other forms of brutal torture, Romagoza had been shot in the arm and suspended from his fingers so as to damage his hands and thus ensure that he would never be able to perform surgery again. Gonzalez, who was eight months pregnant at the time she was tortured, was raped and stomped on. Her son died two months after birth as a result of the injuries. She was forced to watch the torture and execution of another prisoner and drink his blood, and was left for dead by the national guardsmen. Mauricio was subjected to horrific beatings and was strung up with his hands over his head for long periods of time.
The case is one of the few cases since the Tokyo trials following World War II in which a foreign commander has been held liable under the doctrine of command responsibility for war crimes committed by his troops.
Global Policy Forum
John Negroponte wasn't running things when these particular nuns were killed, but he was running things when their murders were being covered up, and he was running things when thousands of other, equally innocent, people were killed. Not in the name of freedom, or democracy, or Christianity, but in the name of the opposite of those things, the precise opposite.


to the party injured by such illegal conduct

Section 10

And be it further enacted, That when any person held to service or labor in any State or Territory, or in the District of Columbia, shall escape therefrom, the party to whom such service or labor shall be due, his, her, or their agent or attorney, may apply to any court of record therein, or judge thereof in vacation, and make satisfactory proof to such court, or judge in vacation, of the escape aforesaid, and that the person escaping owed service or labor to such party. Whereupon the court shall cause a record to be made of the matters so proved, and also a general description of the person so escaping, with such convenient certainty as may be; and a transcript of such record, authenticated by the attestation of the clerk and of the seal of the said court, being produced in any other State, Territory, or district in which the person so escaping may be found, and being exhibited to any judge, commissioner, or other office, authorized by the law of the United States to cause persons escaping from service or labor to be delivered up, shall be held and taken to be full and conclusive evidence of the fact of escape, and that the service or labor of the person escaping is due to the party in such record mentioned. And upon the production by the said party of other and further evidence if necessary, either oral or by affidavit, in addition to what is contained in the said record of the identity of the person escaping, he or she shall be delivered up to the claimant, And the said court, commissioner, judge, or other person authorized by this act to grant certificates to claimants or fugitives, shall, upon the production of the record and other evidences aforesaid, grant to such claimant a certificate of his right to take any such person identified and proved to be owing service or labor as aforesaid, which certificate shall authorize such claimant to seize or arrest and transport such person to the State or Territory from which he escaped: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed as requiring the production of a transcript of such record as evidence as aforesaid. But in its absence the claim shall be heard and determined upon other satisfactory proofs, competent in law.

Approved, September 18, 1850.

The Fugitive Slave Act 1850

The Avalon Project - Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy
Yale Law School

one moiety thereof

SEC. 10.

And be it further enacted, That the captain, master, or commander of every ship or vessel, of the burthen of forty tons or more, from and after the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and eight, sailing coastwise, and having on board any negro, mulatto, or person of colour, to sell or dispose of as slaves, or to be held to service or labour, and arriving in any port within the jurisdiction of the United States, from any other port within the same, shall, previous to the unlading or putting on shore any of the persons aforesaid, or suffering them to go on shore, deliver to the collector, if there be one, or if not, to the surveyor residing at the port of her arrival, the manifest certified by the collector or surveyor of the port from whence she sailed, as is herein before directed, to the truth of which, before such officer, he shall swear or affirm, and if the collector or surveyor shall be satisfied therewith, he shall thereupon grant a permit for unlading or suffering such negro, mulatto, or person of colour, to be put on shore, and if the captain, master, or commander of any such ship or vessel being laden as aforesaid, shall neglect or refuse to deliver the manifest at the time and im the manner herein directed, or shall land or put on shore any negro, mulatto, or person of colour, for the purpose aforesaid, before he shall have delivered his manifest as aforesaid, and obtained a permit for that purpose, every such captain, master, or commander, shall forfeit and pay ten thousand dollars, one moiety thereof to the United States, the other moiety to the use of any person or persons who shall sue for and prosecute the same to effect.

APPROVED, March 2, 1807.

An Act to Prohibit the Importation of Slaves into any Port or Place Within the Jurisdiction of the United States, From and After the First Day of January, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eight

The Avalon Project - Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy
Yale Law School


To be or not

"Being Jewish has always mattered to me, though I have never been religious. I think of myself in the category of the 'non-Jewish Jew' discussed by Isaac Deutscher. It is an identification reinforced by the consciousness, acquired at an early age, of the Jewish tragedy in Europe and, more generally, of anti-Semitism. These things have had something to do with my attachment to a Marxist universalism in ways I am aware of, that is, by a familiar, generalizing route. They may also have influenced me towards it in ways I was unaware of, since the association of Jews with the left has been a common one. In any event, my secular Jewish identity informs a more particularist concern too, a concern for the future of the Jews."
Norman Geras
interview in Imprints Vol.6 no.3
An obscure Marxist professor who has spent his entire academic life in Manchester has become the darling of the Washington right wing for his outspoken support of the war in Iraq.
Despite his leanings Norman Geras, who writes a blog diary on the internet, has praised President George W. Bush and says the invasion of Iraq was necessary to oust the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein.
His daily jottings have brought him the nickname of "Stormin' Norm" from the title of his diary, Normblog. The Wall Street Journal has reprinted one of his articles in its online edition and American pundits often cite his words.
But the British left has turned on Geras, a veteran of demonstrations against the Vietnam war. He has been denounced as an "imperialist skunk" and a "turncoat" in e-mails to his blog, which has up to 9,000 readers a day.
Most mornings Geras, 61, the author of such obscure books as Solidarity in the Conversation of Humankind: The Ungroundable Liberalism of Richard Rorty, sits in the upstairs study of his Edwardian semi in Manchester to type his latest entry.
Last week he gave thanks to Bush, quoting an Iraqi who wants to build a statue to the American president as "the symbol of freedom".
Norman Geras profile
in The Times of London online 06.Feb.05
"The opinions of the paleos [paleoconservative - as distinct from neo-conservative] matter if for no other reason than that they've largely been appropriated by the hard Left - Eric Alterman, Edward Said, The Nation - and increasingly by liberals like Michael Lind, Joshua Micah Marshall, Chris Matthews, Maureen Dowd, and Paul Krugman who shape popular perception through the elite media. All of these writers harp on a repeated theme, a small group of mostly Jewish intellectuals are manipulating a conservative president, the Republican party, and the American people for the sake of Israel and an ideological crusade. They don't all cite Trotsky's "theory of permanent revolution," but they all suggest the same thing. "What I fear is the neoconservatives," Matthews told an audience at Brown University. "They want to fight the North Koreans again. Iran. Iraq. Syria. Libya." Before long, "they'll go after China." Dowd: "Everyone thinks the Bush diplomacy on Iraq is a wreck. It isn't. It's a success because it was never meant to succeed." Marshall: "Ever since the neocons burst upon the public policy scene 30 years ago, their movement has been a marriage of moral idealism, military assertiveness, and deception."
Eric Alterman writes, "the war has put Jews in the showcase as never before. Its primary intellectual architects - Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle...and Douglas J. Feith... - are all Jewish neoconservatives. So, too, are many of its prominent media cheerleaders, including William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, and Marty Peretz. Joe Lieberman, the nation's most conspicuous Jewish politician, has been an avid booster." More Matthews, this time on Hardball: "Is there a neoconservative crowd operating within the Bush administration advancing the objectives of the neoconservative movement?" And: Why is President Bush "buying this neoconservative case doesn't seem like an American kind of foreign policy." This isn't much different from Buchanan's much pithier references to "(Ariel) Sharon and the neoconservative War Party."
Jonah Goldberg
National Review Online 20.May.05
"For centuries "Jew" was the preferred pejorative term for Jewish people. For example, "Don't Jew me" meant don't haggle me down to the lowest possible price. "Dirty" or "filthy Jew" were standard parings. Benjamin Disraeli the 19th century British Prime Minister offered perhaps the most famous defense of the word when he was taunted about being a Jew in parliament. "Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon."
Jonah Goldberg
Jewish World Review August 15, 2000
"Which brings us to a third problem with the neocon label: the Jew thing. The problems with the all-too-popular perception that Jews are running American foreign policy are all too obvious. Abroad, America's intentions are distrusted by those who see Israel lurking in the shadows (the Arab press certainly hasn't missed the Jews are running the White House stories). At home the Jews are disproportionately blamed for unpopular moves, as Rep. Jim Moran's finger pointing demonstrated. And, of course, when things go well, the neoconservatives aren't so Jewish anymore. That's when Tom Delay and Newt Gingrich become neocons too. But when things go badly, when the neocons are to blame, suddenly they're all Jewish or pro-Israel fanatics.
Ultimately, there's literally no defining attribute one can ascribe to neoconservatism which cannot be easily and substantially falsified with numerous counterexamples. If neoconservatives are hawks who favor democracy, then most conservatives and Republicans are neocons and therefore the term is too broad to be useful. If neocons are Jews, then stop calling Max Boot, Dick Cheney, and Newt Gingrich neocons. If neocons are ex-liberals stop calling Bill Kristol a neocon and start calling the founders of National Review neocons. And so on and so on. If you mean "hawk" say hawk. If you mean "Wilsonian" say Wilsonian. If you mean "Bill Kristol" say Bill Kristol. And, if you mean "Jew," for goodness sake, say Jew.
But if you mean neoconservative, you should know what you're talking about."
Joanah Goldberg
National Review Online 21.May.05
"Juan Cole claims to be a major scholar. He is a tenured professor at the University of Michigan and the president-elect of the Middle East Studies Association. You wouldn't expect such a guy to be so thin-skinned and intellectually insecure. But that's the only conclusion I can draw from his tantrum this weekend. He insists that I'm a nobody, a "maroon," and, of course, an extreme right-wing warmonger. Yawn. All of this sturm and drang was the result of a one-paragraph substantive criticism of his position. I quoted him fairly and accurately, which he does not deny and which is a courtesy he does not return. His response contained a great deal of name-calling and chest-puffing about his C.V. He didn't have the courtesy or courage to even link to my answer to his screed.
Cole seems particularly keen on reminding people that he speaks Arabic (although he doesn't speak Arabic well enough to, well, speak it). Indeed, he seems generally keen on "proving" how smart he is. What's striking about this is that most serious scholars are more interested in showing, not telling. And the irony that I'm taking the higher road in our exchanges has not been lost on some people."
Jonah Goldberg
National Review Online 07.Feb.05
"Of course, even if Cole is right, it's not as relevant as he thinks, since the salient issue was not what the reality was, but whether the U.S. could take the chance that people like Cole were wrong. Cole is very comfortable, it seems, relying on the goodwill of America's enemies. I am grateful George W. Bush isn't."
Jonah Goldberg
National Review Online 07.Feb.05
"Let us see what has been established. First, I alleged that Goldberg has never read a book about Iraq, about which he keeps fulminating. I expected him at least to lie in response, the way W. did when similarly challenged on his book-reading. I expected Goldberg to say, "That is not true! I have read Phebe Marr's book on modern Iraq from cover to cover and know all about the 1963 failed Baathist coup!" But Goldberg did not respond in this way. I conclude that I was correct, and he has never read a book on this subject.
I am saying I do not understand why CNN or NPR would hire someone to talk about Iraq policy who has not read a book on the subject under discussion. Actually, of course, it would be desirable that he had read more than one book."
Juan Cole
Informed Comment 08.Feb.05
Not once in the Times profile of Geras cited above is it suggested that Geras is a Jew, and that that might have some bearing on his support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the U.S. military. His position is presented as a cuteness, it has a darling quality, the article bubbles with good cheer. But it's not unthinkable that Geras' Jewishness had a large part in his support for the death and destruction visited on the people of Iraq. It's possible that it didn't, but the glaringly obvious omission of the possibility of it, in an article exploring the public aspect of his support for the Bush Administration, goes far to proving it in absentia.
The gamble is that things will fall apart quickly enough there won't be any power behind the rage of those who were duped into supporting this war of aggression and revenge.
The Times is unable or unwilling to mention Geras' Jewishness, and Cole was unable to mention Goldberg's Jewishness, though in his case it isn't quite as germane, yet it seems central to the larger context in both cases. Just as Jewish control of the American media was central in the creation of public support for the invasion of Iraq - see Goldberg's last quote above, where he talks of "America's enemies"; because it is too dangerous to speak of "Israel's enemies" or even "America and Israel's enemies"; it's too clear that way, but just as with Geras' profile, its absence makes it even more obvious once you realize what's missing - and the election and re-election of George Bush.
Perle and Wolfowitz and Feith and their larger cohort are built from the wreckage of the Holocaust, by their own admission. What this makes them is something they're blind to, ultimately. They have no meaning without it, and they need it in order to be what they are - they carry it with them, they perpetuate it, and they make it necessary.
"For those of us who are involved in foreign and defense policy today, my generation, the defining moment of our history was certainly the Holocaust," former Defense Policy Board (DPB) chairman Richard Perle, a central figure in the U.S. neoconservative network, told BBC as U.S. forces drove toward Iraq two years ago.
To Perle, who like many neoconservatives is Jewish (although most U.S. Jews are not neoconservatives), the Holocaust is irrefutable proof of the existence of "evil" – a word that recurs frequently in their discourse. World events are viewed as a perpetual battle between, as one of their heroes Reinhold Niebuhr called it, "the children of light" and the "children of darkness."

Jim Lobe 28.Jan.05
The madness of their position is that to them evil is not an abstractly describable thing, it's not definable by either actions or their effects, and in a spooky inside-out way it's a return to the original, pre-religious idea of evil, as a biological threat - the predator leaping from the darkness. Evil is what attacks us, and anything we do to stop it is by definition good, even if that means destroying the world.
What's being practiced is an ending to universal morality, to the idea of human rights, to the idea of morality as centered outside the self.
The Christian sins, the Seven Deadly Sins of Christian theology, can be distilled to one thing - selfishness. All of them, Pride, Envy, Lust, Greed, Sloth etc. are an elevation of the self. Statute crime can be simplified that way as well. The placing of the self above something outside the individual, something that is greater, and of greater importance.
It's the mystery of reproduction, too. Maternal care, paternal sacrifice. The present individual package of genetic material surrendering its chances for immediate gratification to ensure the continuity of a larger self.
The miracle of that gratifying surrender of the individual desire to the less definite but very real continuity of existence is easily dismissed, now - after three or four generations of pandering assault and in-home seduction. In Christian tradition selfishness is the consummate evil, and it's embodied in the persona of Satan, a Jewish word meaning "enemy".
Moral systems have goals, all of them do, and the goal of Christianity is the reunion of the individual with God, or it was, and the official institutional goal still is. So it's telling that much of contemporary Christian proselytizing is based on an appeal to the self, stressing the benefits to the individual of Christian practice. The idea that someone could sacrifice themselves, entirely, for the good of others, or something other, is anathema to that contemporary Christian morality. Except that that's the essential nature of the Christ. The idea that people might be called upon to sacrifice now, and that the longer it's delayed the greater the sacrifice that will be required, is foreign to most American Christians, who've been convinced that nothing of this earthly existence matters.
The money-changers have driven Jesus out of the temple, in Barbara Erhenreich's apt phrasing.
Morality is slipping away from the center of things, turning into something more atavistic, biologically-oriented and focused on the present, even as people clamor for its spiritual reassurances; and it's getting easier and easier to see morality as a kind of system, an invention that makes things easier for those who use it. But as with any system - capitalism or communism for instance - there are those who use it, and those who are used by it as well.
That Christianity has been seen by some Jews as worship of "vapor" - or as a franchise of Judaism for the less-endowed - is another taboo aspect of all this.
"One Nitel custom in the Diaspora was to recite the entire "Aleinu Leshabe'ah" prayer out loud. The prayer includes the phrase "those who bow down before vapor and emptiness," customarily uttered in a whisper throughout the year, so that gentiles would not hear the words. On Nitel Night, it was customary, after it had been ascertained that no non-Jews were around, to loudly utter the forbidden phrase."

Shahar Ilan
It can't be mentioned or discussed publicly, just as Geras' Jewishness can't be mentioned publicly as a cause of his support for Bush; or when it is mentioned, when any of these taboo things are mentioned, they're immediately transformed into a blanket condemnation of all Jews - anti-Semitism! - and the discussion stops.
The important thing is that the discussion stop, or better yet, that it never begin.
But it's clear that the disdain for the audience that permeates most television programming, the cynical disregard for the well-being of the great majority of "common" Americans shown by the elite generally, and the enthusiastic, albeit strategic partnering with fundamentalists the Zionist/neocons have pursued - even as fundamentalist end-time prophecies call for the extinction of all but a relative handful of Christianized Jews - all have in common an hypocrisy, the duality of an expendable preterite and a manipulating, invisible elect, and a moral compass calibrated only to the self.


Bush and Gonzales live on TV
" address terrorism and other threats to our nation..."

"...your mission to extend equal justice for all Americans goes far beyond the war on terror...

...a model of courage..."

"...the cries of those powerless souls...
...whose pleas for help echo powerfully within the halls of justice..."

" be a champion..."

"...first allegiance must always be to the constitution..."

" address terrorism and other threats to our nation..."

The first allegiance of any true champion would be to the things the Constitution was crafted to protect, to the aspirations of the men who wrote it, and not to the document itself. It's this assumption of the sanctity and totality of the rules that makes the complete failure of these erstwhile "champions" so plain.
Preserving the rules is much easier than preserving what the rules were crafted to defend; and most importantly, it protects the transgressions in principle that the necessarily limited rules enable.
Great fortunes and massive powers have been amassed by working around the letter of the law; an allegiance to the law and its letter that ignores and refuses to honor the things the laws were designed to preserve protects instead transgressors whose crimes aren't yet statutory.
Another assumption, one that goes unspoken, is that there are no crimes worth the bother that haven't already been documented and legislated against. As the Kyoto Protocol stumbles into practice and the world turns toward the inhospitable.
The idea that there are crimes, and great crimes - not-yet codified awful acts whose results are nightmare - that we can't articulate, is ridiculed not for its illogical premise, but because it is impractical and destructive of the existing boundaries of power; and because it blasphemes the purportedly God-given commands of religion and the by-extension God-given laws of men who profess to be godly.
Rule-worship will eventually create an insect presence out of what it began within, organic imprecision and fecundity replaced with sterility and pragmatic exactitude. As the hive expands to all available surface swamps become concrete tanks, the stench and decay rising from the muck and fetid chaos that shelter the pristine eggs and new life-forms in the womb of life get replaced with aerosol poisons and the metallic tang of exhaust gases rising above the birth-vats of genetically-tuned slave-organisms.
Rule-worship now creates its mirror-twin, a reverence for the gaps between the regulations. An insistence on adherence to the letter of the law is an insistence on excusing the formally permitted non-illegalities that enrich the clever opportune. Within that architecture shelters the truly evil, protected by the mechanical enforcement of our incomplete codes; enforcement done mostly by the well-intentioned but incompetent semi-champions Gonzales and his masters dupe and manipulate.
The Constitution has carried to this time because it was envisioned as protecting those who hadn't yet become - it wasn't intended to preserve the status quo, though its failings lie in that direction. The best laws, the best rules, preserve the process of becoming by incorporating things that haven't yet happened into their mandate.
The Constitution, like the best inventions of human governance, is more about the future than the present - not about grasping control of the future, but about allowing the best possibilities room to become, to grow into existence. It is the great crime of these men to use the incomplete strengths of our given laws to thwart what those laws were originally inspired to protect, and make possible.


Old Man Weather

Crichton the novelist was on C-Span just now. I didn't get all of it, so there's gaps. But the gist I think was clear.
If we have to lie to each other to pave the way for the ascension of the New Masters, we must certainly do so. This is too urgent a moment for the truth to hold full sway, our moral compasses must be set toward that one goal only - the apotheosis of the...
Well, I'm not sure what it is exactly that's being apotheosisized, that's the problem; and I think that obscurity's part of the campaign - hide behind the women and kids until it's safe to proclaim your collective New Masterhood, then assert it when it's too late for the deadwood to raise an objection.
So we/they have to do these things, follow these moral directives, absorb these pragmatic pseudo-facts and act on them, to protect our women and kids.
Crichton never came near saying anything even remotely close to that of course. What he did say that first caught my ear was that the computerized climate-modeling that has produced the electrifying news releases of the last few weeks - that we're in the beginning of a cycle of climate disruption right now and that it's going to get much worse than has been predicted - Crichton says those studies are trivial and inaccurate, they've been flawed into triviality, and gives as his reason that they lack the "double-blind" controls of proper experimental research.
As Crichtom explains it, all these climate guys know each other and use the same computer programs, plus they hang out. So they're influencing each other, and the bad news they come up with is politically-motivated - the result of a consensus, an agenda - not unbiased research.
Later on in his talk, he turned to the subject of human "manipulation of complex systems" - by which term he seems to have meant human domination of everything - starting with so-called "nature" and moving on to the weather and gathering up all the loose ends in between.
He asks the rhetorical question "Can we manage complex natural systems?" and answers in the bold affirmative. Can-Do!
To prove this arrantly hubristic assertion he cites the work of Dieter Somebody [I couldn't get the surname], in Germany, using a bunch of computers and working very very hard. Sadly, Crichton neglected to cite the double-blind controls Dieter S. used to come to his anti-mainstream-climate-science conclusions. We'll be taking that on faith I guess.
Somewhere in the firmly-bounded smoothly flowing irrigation canal of his C-Span presentation Crichton asked "Is there a 'balance of nature'?" And answered himself firmly - "No."
Asserting that Earth Day was the result of this core belief in a harmony of forces being necessary to sustain life, he proceeded to lay waste to it with his terrible calm sword.
He said the idea that "leaving nature alone" in damaged natural landscapes - withdrawing human presence to allow the return of non-anthropocentric dynamics - is good - is bad. He said that there are more old-growth forests in California now than there were in 1850.
He did say that, on national TV, and he said it very very clearly.
Rather than approaching that controversial fact-o-rella from an arboreal, or sylvan, perspective, but coming from more of a logical kind of a take on it - is Crichton saying we can say that old-growth forests may be only 150 years old? Or less? Or is that the minimum? Can they be 100 years old? 75?
Because otherwise how did California get more old-growth forests in 150 years? Were they imported? From another dimension?
He said that the Yellowstone area is a worse place now than it was before it became a national park. He said raw sewage oozes up from the ground there. He didn't explain how the withdrawal of human presence would worsen the conditions in Yellowstone - a tenet of his faith again, something you believe or you don't - logic is not central to this; but then at the same time Crichton's whole trip is about him being Mr. Logic.
Then he said the natives had hunted the buffalo and elk there at Yellowstone to near extinction. That that's why Yellowstone was looking so good, to humans, at the beginning, when they decided to make it a park, he said. The meta-point being that the "natural"-living Indians had disrupted the ecology in a very damaging way, but a cute way just the same - pleasant to look upon it was.
I'm assuming the Indians he's talking about had guns and horses. I'm also assuming he can't possibly be asserting that bison were nearing extinction on the Great Plains before the arrival of Europeans.
He also said that it doesn't work to manage complex systems according to a philosophical point of view.
I think what he really meant by that is - approaching the management of complex systems with a prejudicial view formed by untested and unproven received ideas - doesn't work.
The trouble is I don't believe human beings are capable of acting without a philosophical p.o.v. Anytime.
Identifying the operant philosophy may be difficult or impossible, the humans in question may have no clear idea what their philosophy is, they may shift their phil. p.o.v.'s to suit their appetites and desires, but there will always be a philosophy working there, and it will always have shaped their point of view.
What Crichton really means is: approaching complex systems with a philosophical p.o.v. that is not aligned with the dominance of the universe by a power to which he is himself aligned and to which he has consecrated his children, won't work.
Crichton's philosophy seems to be out of the Ayn Rand School of Triumphalist Exceptionalism - relatively genially-explained, but potentially violent sociopathic responses to anything that threatens their agenda of total world domination.
Or, put more calmly - men and women who want to run the world and won't tolerate anything getting in their way.
Seeing morality as transcending biology allows this manipulation of philosophy to take place mostly out of sight. But as Cricthon makes all too plain - morality, which is a kind of philosophic point of view, has no place in something as crucial as the domination/management of complex systems such as the weather, or the oceans, or, come to that, the entire planet and all its myriad, and potential, lives.

Spam of Interest:

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Ward Churchill tests positive for
Indigenous genetic markers

Genetic material belonging to Professor Ward Churchill underwent the following three testing protocols:

1)The mtDNA Test: A test of female lineage. mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) is passed down from mother to child. Men have their mother's mtDNA, but do not pass it on to their children. The mtDNA test can tell a man or a woman about their maternal lineage and the geographic origin of that lineage.

2) Y Tests: Only men carry the y-chromosome, which is inherited through the paternal line. Analysis of the DNA on the y-chromosome tells a man his paternal lineage and the likely geographic origin of that lineage.

3) Genome-wide Test: Is essentially an analysis of autosomal DNA that gives you a general idea of your ancestry among broad groups (ie. African, Asian, European, Native American).
The genetic test results of Professor Ward Churchill show that he is a descendant of Creeks through his father and of Cherokees through his mother. A copy of the test results was forwarded to La Voz de Aztlan under conditions of confidentiality. Because of credible death threats to an east coast college where Professor Churchill was scheduled to speak, it was requested that the name of the genetic laboratory not be released.

Children In The News:

Gannon/Craig Spence profile with innuendo and accusations of child prostitution and entrapment and extortion at rigorous intuition
Freedom Matters
Do You?

using children to make political hay, or to turn political straw into political gold

Palestinian children slain by ultra-precise bomb accidently set off by incompetent terrorists who didn't exist exactly in those precise time/space co-ordinates yet managed to somehow incompetently but ultra-precisely accidently kill two of their own children. According to the Israeli Defense Force spokesperson assigned the task of explaining why and how these two children were killed, they did.
The Palestinian doctor who examined their bodies said they were killed by bullets - the size, angle, and pattern of the wounds leading to the suspicion rifle-fire was the causative action, IDF rifle-fire more precisely, but you'd expect that.
much, much more scurrilous and anti-something invective/dispassionately-recorded facts at Lawrence of Cyberia
Eyes Wide Open, at Live Oak Friends Meeting Grounds in Houston, Texas, graphs the human cost of the war in Iraq - Beth Moore/Axis of Logic was there.
Many, many children have died in Iraq. Children, except maybe Palestinian children, being almost a sure bet to be non-combatants and thus qualifying as "innocent". Though, as someone once said, "Nits make lice."
Innocent now, guilty later - why wait? being one rationale for excusing the deaths of children in or near combat zones, war zones, "hot spots", scenes of invasion/occupation and consequent resistance.
Rich people, no matter what their taste in food, clothing, shelter, or sexual gratification techniques, are generally lice-free:
The Omaha operation, described in the film as a "large ring of rich and powerful pedophiles," appears to have been in business for several years - with the knowledge of, and for the perverse pleasure of, a variety of city, state and federal authorities. Jerry Lowe, the first investigator assigned to the case by the Franklin Committee, reported back: "The allegations regarding the exploitation of children are indeed disturbing. What appears to be documented cases of child abuse and sexual abuse dating back several years with no enforcement action being taken by the appropriate agencies is on its face, mind-boggling." The investigation revealed that many of the child victims had been recruited from one of America's most revered charitable organizations - Boy's Town, with which King had maintained close ties since 1979. Senator and committee member Loran Schmit has said that Boy's Town was mentioned frequently during the investigation, "but we found it difficult to get information about Boy's Town." So too did the film crew from Yorkshire Television.
Accusations aplenty at the somewhat hysterical and undispassionate, and therefore potentially dubious, 7th fire.
As opposed to both rig. int. and Lawr. of Cyb., whose dispassion and controlled outrage make their work credible in the extreme.


I am a pharmacist in the central clinic in Rafah

We also face another kind of difficulty when I go to the main stores in Gaza to receive the medicines and come back to Rafah. This problem is the checkpoints on the way. The soldiers stop thousands of people for long times without reason, most times for hours and often for days. So, anyone moving from city to city in the Gaza Strip cannot know when he will return to his family or to his work again. Sometimes the municipality of health arranges with the IDF to let its cars pass, but during invasions, there is no way to open the road, which affects our services in Rafah for both the normal people and the injured people.

Normal people cannot move during the invasion as well as I can. It is my personal responsibility to try to open the pharmacy. During invasions I feel it is very risky to try to go there, but I feel I should be there to help the needy people, as all areas face a severe shortage of medical aids and no one can move, not even the ambulances. I try to go, but sometimes I cannot. One time when we were living in Al Brazil camp, I left my family to go to work, and after that the IDF sieged the area and held my family until the next day. I could not get back to them. I heard from the news that there were many killed in the area, I was afraid it was my family, but I was not allowed in there to find them.

After many hours being afraid, I tried to enter the area to bring back my family, even though any attempt to enter this area would result in killing, but neighbors stopped me. The next day the IDF withdrew and I found them well thank God. It was a very emotional moment.


helping an Eskimo to eat with a fork, 1952



Using U2's "Sunday, Bloody, Sunday" as transitional audio from commercial time to program identification has to be the most wonderfully creative application of theme music to a media event in my lifetime so far.
Equating the gunning down of unarmed citizenry by an occupying military to the choreographed professional athleticism of the Super Bowl is a unique achievement, like striking the center of the earth. You can't go any lower no matter how hard you dig.
The "Eagles" versus the "Patriots".
Brought to you by "Ameriquest", whose logo is a bunting-draped dirigible.
And it just happened to be tied 7-7 at the half.

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