...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



Being kind to Palestinians is now a big industry
The Palestinians' dire need for help is indisputable: the PA is virtually bankrupt and has asked for an immediate injection of $200m, just for basic services, between now and next February.
According to the 2004 World Bank report, they are suffering "the worst economic depression in modern history": 75% are impoverished, and unemployment rates are 60-70% in Gaza and 30-40% in the West Bank. Without external support, the Palestinian infrastructure and basic services would not survive. The Palestinians have been robbed of their agricultural land and industry and had their trade devastated by Israel's closure regime. They have fewer jobs in Israel, which plans to stop using Palestinian labour in 2008. They have virtually no independent sources of livelihood left.
for every dollar produced in the occupied territories, 45 cents flows back to Israel
Foreign funded projects for "democratisation", "reform", "capacity building" and other imported buzz words have doubled. In the absence of a Palestinian state or any hope of one, this becomes an exercise in cynicism. The donors' efforts to ensure the Palestinian security services can fight "terrorism" (ie resistance to occupation), while Israel's army freely assassinates Palestinians, bombs them and demolishes their homes, is immoral.
Ghada Karmi/Guardian UK 31.12.05

The harmful effects of these omissions remain
Virtually identified with Arab terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism is anathema throughout the non-Muslim world. Virtually identified with ignorance, superstition, intolerance and racism, Christian fundamentalism is anathema to the cultural and intellectual elite in the United States. The recent significant increase in its number of adherents, combined with its widening political influence, nevertheless, make Christian fundamentalism a real threat to democracy in the United States. Although possessing nearly all the important social scientific properties of Islamic and Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism is practically unknown outside of Israel and certain sections of a few other places. When its existence is acknowledged, its significance is minimized or limited to arcane religious practices and quaint middle European dress, most often by those same non-Israeli elite commentators who see so uncompromisingly the evils inherent in Jewish fundamentalism's Islamic and/or Christian cousins.

from Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel
Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky
Jews Against Zionism 01.12.05
Haaretz: Holocaust survivors go hungry in Israel
...some 40 percent of Holocaust survivors in Israel are living below the poverty line.
And tempering the Spielberg post below, the Angry Arab reviews Munich:
"Before Munich, NOT AFTER - did you get that, Israel placed a bomb under the car seat of Palestinian writer/artist, Ghassan Kanafani and killed him and killed his niece (14). The niece was not plotting the Munich operation when she was murdered by the Israelis; nor was her uncle. That was BEFORE Munich. Kanafani was best friends with my uncle; they both used to write in Al-Hurriyyah magazine during their days at the Movement of Arab Nationalists. Israel also - BEFORE Munich - sent a letter bomb to Bassam Abu Sharif (a writer and journalist with the PFLP), and left him with life-long scars and bodily damage, and they also sent a letter bomb to Anis Sayigh, a scholar and researcher, who was not a member of any group. But he was a really diligent researcher, and Israel did not appreciate it--I am assuming. This is not easy for me; I have shaken the hands--or what was left of their hands--of both of those men, and Abu Sharif never had a military role - I say this although I never liked Abu Sharif or respected him (read my review of his memoir in Journal of Palestine Studies a few years ago). But those were innocent victims of Israeli killing. They never held guns..."

When I read Foxman's praise and defense of it I almost didn't post anything about the movie. Foxman, without some kind of public acknowledgement of a change of heart, isn't someone I'd listen to about anything, except as a kind of negative compass.
But you can't talk to children with the expectations of adults. And right now the power for all this madness is coming from a vast pool of the infantilized. Spielberg has their attention. The sudden confrontational shock of what's really happening would send them into catatonia, or a kind of disillusioned helplessness, and if they didn't give up completely they'd be more than likely to turn even more desperately to the comforting lies and the hands that feed them those lies.
The naked truth is still taboo, but the remedy isn't as simple as a slap in the face.
You could snigger about the hypocrisy of me saying that given the volumes of negative material that's shown up here but the mistake you'd be mistaking is that this is not a Spielberg movie. Life is not a Spielberg movie, and neither is this.
all above links save one Jews Sans Frontieres

I've been venting some irritation about the ID/evolution dust-up, first, in a comments thread at Crooked Timber, and then, even more verbosely, here.
Inspired by this post at Aetiology.
link from Danny Yee.

Spielberg's Munich is one of those catalysts that make hard-to-draw lines get real definite. You want peace, you may have to give a little.
I haven't seen it, only read brief outlines of it. It's pretty obvious though where the real loyalties of its critics lie.
He's a human being, I think we can say that without too close an examination. A lot us who are now the real grownups have realized that what that is isn't immutable or even necessarily permanent. It's shaped by us now the way it was shaped by those who came before us. A living thing. It requires care, and loyalty. Love.
It's possible to be loyal to more than one aspect of one's being. And most of us know now a kind of patriotism that flag-waving scoundrels scorn and deride. It isn't easy.
It must have been unbelievably stressful, the vulnerability and risk of taking that on.
It's likely he's encountering a lot of venom, as protected as he is.
Good thoughts to Steven Spielberg.


Once you get outside the conventional narrative for September 11, 2001; once all the inconsistencies and the anomalies are catalogued - probably the hinkiest thing about it is the simplest.
Every time someone in an emergency calls 911, every time someone tells their children if anything bad happens to call 911, every time you see a service vehicle go by close enough to read the decals and logos - there it is again and again, linked to disaster, catastrophe, trouble, and the presence of authority.


Torture's still coming up here and there as subject for discussion, the central point not fixed anywhere particular that I can see, but floating between the pragmatic - works/doesn't; and the moral - good when it works-bad when it doesn't/always bad.
Something that requires so much preparatory background I can't ever seem to get to it in the limiting spaces available is the constant, and immediate, reshaping of an unnamed thing we are together, that's culture yes, but culture as sculpting breeder of what we'll be, or what that thing we become will be, keeping open the idea, and I think it's more central than any of the already covered main points are, that we can become something so completely other we'll have to shift pronouns and, eventually, nouns to speak of it honestly and accurately. And all that contingent on anything getting through the falling debris of what's obviously beginning to collapse, whatever names it ends up with.
To say torture is over one of those boundary lines that crossed nothing remains of what was, like death, or grievous sin - after there's only what stays behind, and for what's passed over whatever's there - for the dead be it nothing or eternal peace or purgation or eternal hopeless suffering; and for the sinner the arduous return with no possibility of real innocence, only remorse and permanent humility at best.
The change from here, or from innocence, is inalterable. Torture's a Rubicon, but there are people already living on the other shore.
What I wanted to speak of was not the theory and practice so much as the actual torturing of actual human beings, and I wanted to point again to that iconic figure on the cardboard box, with his arms held out like a saint and the wires strung from them and his bare feet splayed on the box and his bare legs above them. That was a real man.
Still, unless he's dead now, a real man.
Where is he?
How many of those whose repugnance at the image - and the vicious decadence that put it in front of all of us, and the hysterical cowardice that defends its creation, or excuses it, or condemns only the almost equally degraded enlisted personnel who put him up there - is fixed only on that, how many of them even think about his life now?
What that is is the infantile rejection of displeasing things. It tastes bad and we get angry. It hurts and we get angry - we're hungry and unfed and we get angry.
That isn't morality it's the demands of childhood dependence, to be cared for and fed and protected from danger. And it's a childish tantrum in response to those demands being thwarted. The screamed "NO!". Or earlier the wail and squall that are the original music of that negation.
Where is he now, what will he do in the morning? How much discipline does he bring to the choices in his path, and what are they?
Does he live in Baghdad, or out in the country? Do you think there's counseling available, of a professional quality like that you'd want for him if he were your son, up there with the wires dangling and sadistic laughter coming at him through the black veil? Does religion heal, or help him mask what he'll always carry with him?
The problem with the real and most cogent and vital argument against torture - that it degrades those who employ it and makes those who accept its use inhuman - is when it's presented to the torturers, the advocates and organizers themselves, degradation and inhumanity are empty terms. Inapplicable.
What the torturers bank on is a critical enough mass of the terrified who'll cooperate with anything and anyone that promises to keep them safe.
What we offer them instead is the great and uncertain risk of moral insistence and refusal to compromise.
The struggle isn't for humanity so much as for the architecture of the human, the actual structure of the hive.
What we are, what's lost when we cross into that darkness - it's naive and dangerous to expect the loyalty of the inhuman to what are human strengths.


from the epilogue to A Maggot:

I have long concluded that established religions of any kind are in general the supreme example of forms created to meet no longer existing conditions. If I were asked what the present and future world could best lose or jettison for its own good, I should have no hesitation: all established religion. But its past necessity I do not deny. Least of all do I deny (what novelist could?) that founding stage or moment in all religions, however blind, stale and hidebound they later become, which saw a superseded skeleton must be destroyed, or at least adapted to a new world. We grow too clever now to change; too selfish and too multiple, too dominated by the Devil's great I, in Shaker terminology; too self-tyrannized, too pledged to our own convenience, too tired, too indifferent to others, too frightened.
I mourn not the outward form, but the lost spirit, courage and imagination of Mother Ann Lee's word, her Logos; its almost divine maggot.
John Fowles
Maggot, Maggoty.

Whimsical, full of whims and fancies. Fancy tunes used to be called maggots, hence we have "Barker's maggots," "Cary's maggots," "Draper's maggots," etc. (Dancing Master, 1721.)

When the maggot bites. When the fancy takes us. Swift tells us that it was the opinion of certain virtuosi that the brain is filled with little worms or maggots, and that thought is produced by these worms biting the nerves. "If the bite is hexagonal it produces poetry; if circular, eloquence; if conical, politics, etc. (Mechanical Operation of the Spirit.)

Instead of maggots the Scotch say, "His head is full of bees;" the French, "Il a des rats dans la tete;" and in Holland, "He has a mouse's nest in his head." (See BEE.)

E. Cobham Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898.

An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity
I am very sensible what a weakness and presumption it is, to reason against the general humour and disposition of the world. I remember it was with great justice, and a due regard to the freedom both of the public and the press, forbidden upon several penalties to write, or discourse, or lay wagers against the Union, even before it was confirmed by parliament, because that was looked upon as a design, to oppose the current of the people, which, besides the folly of it, is a manifest breach of the fundamental law that makes this majority of opinion the voice of God. In like manner, and for the very same reasons, it may perhaps be neither safe nor prudent to argue against the abolishing of Christianity, at a juncture when all parties appear so unanimously determined upon the point, as we cannot but allow from their actions, their discourses, and their writings. However, I know not how, whether from the affectation of singularity, or the perverseness of human nature, but so it unhappily falls out, that I cannot be entirely of this opinion. Nay, though I were sure an order were issued for my immediate prosecution by the Attorney-General, I should still confess that in the present posture of our affairs at home or abroad, I do not yet see the absolute necessity of extirpating the Christian religion from among us.
This perhaps may appear too great a paradox even for our wise and paradoxical age to endure; therefore I shall handle it with all tenderness, and with the utmost deference to that great and profound majority which is of another sentiment.
And yet the curious may please to observe, how much the genius of a nation is liable to alter in half an age. I have heard it affirmed for certain by some very old people, that the contrary opinion was even in their memories as much in vogue as the other is now; and, that a project for the abolishing of Christianity would then have appeared as singular, and been thought as absurd, as it would be at this time to write or discourse in its defence.
Therefore I freely own that all appearances are against me.
Swift's Writings on Religion and the Church, Vol. I.
The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, Vol. III


How still we see thee lie
"Our shops - two for home accessories and another two for car mechanics -- are located below in the building. They are closed, there is no business. In front of our house used to be the main street to Bethlehem. It was the richest area of Bethlehem here but now it is a small scary place. We are without neighbors; we just live with two families on our own. We are imprisoned; we are buried alive..."
Toine van Teeffelen/ei 23.12.05

They had no permits
A Palestinian man, said to have been last seen in the custody of Israeli border police, died after being found wounded and comatose beside a mule to which he had apparently been tied and dragged along a dirt road.
Relatives of the man are seeking legal advice on whether they can secure the reopening of the investigation. They suspect the policemen detained him for seeking work in Um Touba, a Palestinian village inside Israel, without a permit, tied him to his own mule and drove it off at a gallop.
Police denied the family's version of events and said an investigation had been completed on 11 December and all border police in the area at the time had been "completely cleared" of acting in any way improperly.
The man, Mahmoud Shawawreh, 45, who had six children, left his home on his mule for the neighbouring village of Um Touba on the day of the incident. Relatives said he refused to join six other similarly detained men, including his brother Daoud, 50, in a journey by police van to a Jerusalem police station because he did not want to leave his mule behind.
Donald Macintyre/IndependentUK 23.12.05


On the phone with a relative last night, she said the snow level where she is, a ski resort that depends on winter trade, is at 9000 feet. I hadn't seen anything about that in the news, TV or online, though my looking is sporadic and not at all methodical, so I might have missed it.
It's not hard to imagine whatever intelligence has decision-making power over the news withholding that kind of information. It won't be good for business, and business is why the news is there.
The illusion we were given, and most of us still cling to, is that the news is there the way it would have been if our entire way of life hadn't been given over to merchants, the way the BBC once was, a conduit for impressions and evidence of the world, something to make a picture of the world out of, a way to know where we are and what's happening there.
The illusion is stories are chosen for their merit as information purely, and not weighed for their impact on the bottom line.
What I imagine now is people going home for Christmas, going to gatherings, being with each other, and talking about the weather where they are, and the weather where they live, and putting it together, getting the big picture. It's a human thing, it's what the news media was supposed to be doing, it's how we were able to accomplish a lot of the things we did early on.
Speaking of early on, there's a program that's part of the Annenberg/CPB Project called Exploring The World of Music that's been on the local educationa channel. It was made in 1998 by Pacific Street Films Project.
It has a lot of good stuff in it. Tuvan guys perfectly mimicing a fly, a river, a fox, and playing a song - on a kind of cello made from parts of a horse - that's about a much-loved horse that died and spoke to his master from heaven, telling him to make the instrument and the song. Everybody in the programs I've seen has been great.
While one of the interviewees was talking about how old music was, talking about the Kung - the Kalahari Bushmen - and how strong a role music has in their medicine, how important medicine is to them because they live so close to the earth, I flashed on some rock art I'd seen lately - pictographs and petroglyphs in the American West, and the Kalahari too, and it struck me that of course even the earliest painters, tens of thousands of years back, had music. Sang. Played instruments, and, as one of the ethnographers says in the program talking about Bosnian shepherd girls asking the stars where their love might be tonight, saying that for girls who lived up that high and were isolated much of the time the stars would be intimate, they would be someone you would ask, the music was made from and addressed to something familiar and close.
Later another narrator talked about the dissonance in Western 20th century music rising out of the noisy disharmony of the industrial urban environment.
So imagining whoever it was that painted the figures on the walls of Lascaux singing from there, then, imagining them bringing what was near them and important to them into the songs they sang...
Robbie Robertson has a tune called "Unbound" it's on his "Contact from the Underworld of Redboy". I don't know where he was coming from when he wrote it, but one time when I was listening to it I saw this guy standing on ground where no one had ever walked before, looking out toward a place no one had ever been before. Real places, in the early time, unknown places without boundaries.
The cave painters' singing is one of those things you can't prove, you can't make defensible statements about, because there's no record of it at all, it's like things in the spirit world - no rational positivist evidence will back up your claims.
But you know they did, you know they sang, and it was scary and strong and beautiful and healing, and real, running through the heart of what we were then, living held in the balanced hand, small and careful and brave.

where a vehicle was in the past and where it is now

Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years.
Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.
The network will incorporate thousands of existing CCTV cameras which are being converted to read number plates automatically night and day to provide 24/7 coverage of all motorways and main roads, as well as towns, cities, ports and petrol-station forecourts.
By next March a central database installed alongside the Police National Computer in Hendon, north London, will store the details of 35 million number-plate "reads" per day. These will include time, date and precise location, with camera sites monitored by global positioning satellites.
Steve Connor/IndependentUK 22.12.05

Israel has significantly escalated its campaign against Hamas's participation in next month's Palestinian legislative elections by threatening to prevent voters going to the polls in East Jerusalem.
Donald Macintyre/IndependentUK 22.12.05
"Now, Israel is not only, however, a friend and ally for us, it is a beacon of what democracy can and should mean.
So there is no doubt that America has started down a path, with blood and treasure, to try to create the condition for democracy and freedom in the Middle East -- which has consequences for the entire region, for our security, and certainly for Israel's."
Remarks by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to the 2005 American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference 24.05.05

rogue morticians in Brooklyn


Better than strong coffee is the surge of adrenaline and outrage the television provides nearly free of charge each morning.
Lisa Murkowski on C-SPAN - Lisa who managed through some means or other to become a U.S. Senator from Alaska, explaining to the American citizenry that it's appropriate that the ANWR drilling provision be attached to the Defense Appropriations bill because we will send that oil, those millions of barrels and gallons every single day that we get from drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, that we will send those millions of barrels right straight to the front lines on the War on Terror to our men and women fighting overseas specifically in Iraq.
We're going to send the oil we get from violating our own wildlife refuge to Iraq, a country that sits on one of the largest oil reserves left in the world, a country whose invasion and occupation, now amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars we were told would be paid for by the oil we'd get access to once we had pacified the confused and freedom-hungry Arab population and got things back running shipshape. Possibly the oil underneath Iraq is needed for other, more important things than American domestic use.
Instead we have to send oil to Iraq. Though that's a little facetious, of course what Murkowski meant was we'd have lots extra so it would be more easy to take care of the daily fuel needs of our troops.
Maybe they could find a source for Kevlar in Alaska too. Or a way to make prosthetic limbs from reprocessed tundra and caribou sinew.
Lisa Murkowski threw up some figures about oil consumption - though she never mentioned the absolutely taboo subject of amount, it is not allowed to suggest that the burning of 380 million gallons of gasoline every day might be substantially reduced except in the context of a wistful "someday" - 58% of domestic needs comes from foreign sources, including the unstable Middle... and there she caught herself and went back to Mid-East instead. Evidently there's been a glossary reformat back at hive center. No more Middle East now, only Mid-East. I wonder what that's about.
20 years from now said Lisa Murkowski we expect to be getting or needing to get 2/3 of our domestic oil needs from foreign sources. Said that with a straight face in a sincere tone of voice.
She pointed to Venezuela as an example of how dangerous it is to rely on other countries for our fuel needs.
Venezuela, whose President the alien and demonic Pat Robertson called for then retracted his call for the assassination of, whose state-owned oil company CITGO has struck a deal with aid agencies in Massachusetts to deliver low-cost heating oil to the poor this winter against a backdrop of chuckling silence on the part of American oil companies, who somehow managed to enjoy record profits thanks to the Gulf Coast hurricanes this year.
Social Darwinism is not incompatible with the practice of Christianity, not anymore.
Lisa Murkowski is a smart woman and should know better than to lie like that.
Then over to Scott McLellan. Who in his own words is "not a lawyer". He's the White House Press Secretary. What that means is he's the unelected representative of the Federal government. He explains things to the press who ask him questions and who are thus in that sense representing the people. Ideally.
A brave young woman asked him, quoting the President in 2004 as to his saying the necessity of obtaining warrants or court orders to instigate wiretaps on American citizens was still in place and would remain so, if in fact the President had been not entirely forthcoming when he said that, given what we now know about the government spying on us and having been spying on us for some time.
McLellan recovered quickly because he's a pro, but was stuttering and desperate when he replied that within the context of the Patriot Act specifically the President was being truthful. Context being everything now. And then like a frightened cephalopod he began scooting around and squirting the black clouds of inky 9/11 darkness - "a dangerous and deadly enemy" "sophisticated and deadly enemy that moves with great speed" "a different kind of war", the actual four syllable magic spell "9/11" was uttered at least three times in the few minutes I saw him.
McLellan has the perfect cover for an evil man. He's soft-looking, with the face of a side-kick, he has a harmless, secondary voice, an attitude of junior-varsity willingness and dedication, an ingratiating nice-guy tone with that air of being immensely patient shot through with irritation at being put-upon by the obstinate wrong-headedness of his opponents, and he's absolutely non-threatening - in an immediate and superficial, but ultimately camouflaged way. Camouflaged, because what he is, and what he does, is powerful enough, and harmful enough, to qualify him for the inner circle of those men who could be held personally responsible for destroying the world.
But that's the riddle - after they've wrecked it there won't be any place to stand and make those accusations, and there won't be anyone there to make them.
Unless you believe in that great pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die.
Like the President does, and like his enemies do. So that after all this you could still make a complaint, except that the narrative is that it won't matter in that peace of perfecrt understanding, and what will matter is only the intentions of everyone, and since the intentions of the President and Scott McLellan and Lisa Murkowski and all the other active participants are toward the good - that's okay! Hey!
Burn it down, blow it up, tear the living flesh off the bones of terrified children crouched in their family homes, with bombs that are right out of the hell-visions of the prophets.
What counts is you meant well. Nothing else matters.
Good intentions!
We're on our way!


chastity's shipwreck

"Effeminate, lascivious, amorous dancing, (especially with beautiful women, or boys most exquisitely adorned in an infecting womanish dress on the open stage, where are swarms of lustful spectators, whose unchaste unruly lusts are apt to be enflamed with every wanton gesture, smile, or pace, much more with amorous dances) is utterly unlawful unto Christians, to chaste and sober persons; as sundry Councils, Fathers, modern Christians, with ancient Pagan authors and nations, have resolved.
Amorous, mixed, effeminate, lascivious, lust-exciting dancing, be it of men, or women, on the stage or elsewhere {is} a dangerous incendiary of lust; an ordinary occasion of, a preparative to much whoredom, adultery, wantonness, and such effeminate lewdness: a diabolical, at least a Pagan practice, misbeseeming all chaste, all sober Christians, especially in their Christian festivals and solemnities;
I would our...nation would now at last consider: who for their part spend the Christmas season, with other solemn festivals, in amorous, mixed, voluptuous, unchristian, that I say not, Pagan dancing, to God's to Christ's dishonor, religion's scandal, chastity's shipwreck, sin's advantage, and the eternal ruin of many precious souls.
I would the dancing, wanton (that I say not whorish) Herodiasses, the effeminate, sinqua-pace, Caranto-frisking gallants of our age, together with our rustic, hobbling satyrs, nymphs, and dancing fairies, who spend their strength, their time (especially, the Easter, Whitsun, Midsummer, and Christmas season) in such lewd, lascivious dancing, would...not only abandon all such dancing themselves, but likewise withdraw their children, especially their daughters, from the dancing-school.
Witness their {the Pagans}...dancing priests, who on the solemn festival days of Cybele, Bacchus, Mars, and other pagan deities, danced about the streets and market place with cymbals in their hands, in nature of our Morris-dances (which were derived from them) the whole multitude accompanying these their dancing Morrises, with which they honored these their dancing-idols. Yea, witness the common practice of most idolatrous pagans, who never honored, saluted, or offered any public sacrifices to their idols but with music, songs, and dances; dancing about their temples and altars, to their honor; ...from which practice our dancing at Wakes (a name, an abuse, derived from the ancient vigils) or church-ales...have been originally derived.
Dancing, write they {a host of classical and Christian authorities}, yea even in Queens themselves, and the very greatest persons, who are commonly most devoted to it, hath been always scandalous and of ill report, among the Saints of God; as the...Councils, Fathers, and authors plentifully evidence, who have condemned dancing as a pomp, a vanity of this wicked world; an invention, yea a work of Satan which Christians have renounced in their Baptism, a recreation more fit for pagans, whores, and drunkards, than for Christians."
from Histrio-Mastix: The Player's Scourge; or, Actor's Tragedy
William Prynne
Styles of Belief, Devotion, and Culture
Civil Wars of Ideas
Early Seventeenth Century Topics
The Norton Anthology of English Literature online
A long struggle
, of one kind or another.


The American government is paying 500 million dollars every day in interest on the national debt.
The national debt is 8.1 trillion dollars.
The country as a fiscal entity goes deeper into debt by 907 million dollars every day.
The family-values no-child-left-behind good practicing mostly Christians of the Republican Party have cut 600 million dollars from the budget that would have gone to agencies whose responsibilities are to care for abused and orphaned children.
Abused and orphaned children.
The family-values heroes want to give us a tax cut of $56 billion. Around $17 billion of that will go to the richest 1% of Americans, people who all earn more than a million dollars a year.
None of the abused children who are put into the foster care system and none of the orphans who end up in the foster care system earn more than a million dollars a year, and none will be receiving tax cuts. There are around a half million kids in the foster care system.

I tried. But then I saw Bill Frist on C-SPAN, talking about going to Israel. He said he met with his colleagues, and visited some hospitals, and then he said it had "given him a renewed appreciation for the 4000 years of..." and I hit the remote.
So I don't know for sure if he said something about how long the Jews/Israelis had been in possession of the so-called Holy Land, or if some other 4-millennia-long accomplishment was being given its due.
I'm assuming it was the historical residency bit.
It's been a while since I read the pertinent scripture but as I recall the Bible's very clear about how the Jews gained possession of their land, Canaan as it was known - they killed the previous owners and took their property. Nothing unique about that, it's pretty much the founding narrative of everywhere. The difference isn't even in the "God gave it to us" legal aspect, lots of people look on their own material good fortune as a sign of divine blessing.
The difference is that the American people, who are bankrolling Israel, without whom Israel wouldn't be poised to assume the reins of empire, are in the main followers of a religion for which the Biblical story of Jewish Chosen-ness is dogma. This is I believe the context from which Frist is speaking, attempting to confirm and validate that aspect of current Israeli claims to the moral high ground by virtue of essence.
None of the espousers of this idea, that Israel has a documented historical claim to the land it now occupies, will cover the rest of the bases - that the Palestinians didn't come out of nowhere even if they showed up chronologically later; and more directly, if proof of occupation means proof of ownership then the indigenous people of America and Australia and more than a few other places should have their legal due as well.
But of course that's silly. It doesn't matter about how many years anyone lived anywhere, what matters is whether God gave you the deed to your property, and the Bible is very clear on this, God only gives real estate to the Jews. Everybody else is on their own.
Something that sort of ties in with that, it being Christmas and all, is the little campaign that was running last week to set up a "liberals stole Christmas" or "liberals are stealing Christmas", or " liberals want to...", or they will if good and decent people throughout the land aren't vigilant and active in opposing them.
I'm not sure if it's still running, I'm weaning myself from the television. Probably it is a little, along with the campaign to get people to think that the media is now exposing George Bush for a villainous and treacherous boob - so that the next leader they champion won't be looked at askance by weary Americans, who are tired of being lied to, but are also scared to death they might have to see what's really happening, because it's very dark and ugly.
The media didn't support Bush all the way 100%, just until the goal of the destruction of Iraq was reached - now that's been done Bush can be let go, and a newer, cleaner hero brought forward. The American public memory may not be able to recall the foaming at the mouth cheerleading fanaticism the media gave them at the beginning of this. What they will remember is the steady erosion of Bush's image, and soon enough the twinkling presence of their newest savior.
Something that ties in with both of these or all of these points is the very real, and frightening, and ugly, and horrible fact that the city of Bethlehem is now a prison camp.
That would be a sign, in less bizarre times, that something was seriously wrong. It is a sign of that, but it doesn't fit the narrative of helpless desperate Israel battling for its survival, so it's not something the American public will be allowed to know about.

I tried, I wanted to only put uplifting and encouraging things here today, lightening up, a new attitude - but that Frist, man, I tell ya. Torquemada in a $2000 suit, biding his time, just waiting his chance.

She would never, as she thought of it now, have put herself in the firing line where she was determined to remain, fighting for the things she was determined to be loyal to - even if, boiled down, they made pretty simplistic reading: truth, tolerance, justice, a sense of life's beauty and a near-violent rejection of their opposites - but, above all, an inherited belief, derived from both her parents and entrenched by Tessa, that the System itself must be forced to reflect these virtues, or it had no business to exist.
The Constant Gardener Chapter 17
John Le Carre


The President was on TV twice at the same time in two different places tonight. He gave an exclusive interview to Bret Hume on FOX. Hume asked him about the 30,000 casualty figure, when he had decided to throw it out there, and why.
The President kept flashing this half-smile, saying something about sometimes you know you just have to give 'em the unexpected, and then he said a few more things in that line and gave a little chuckle.
The President on television chuckling about the mention of 30,000 casualties of a war he commissioned.
Then I saw and heard Tucker Carlson say confidently in response to what I guess was an email on the subject what is the dominant talking point at the moment about the appropriateness of the execution of Stanley Williams - that he never admitted his guilt, and never apologized for his crimes.
The surface of the matter is the murder of 4 people - the Asian relative of one of whom I mistook for a light-skinned black woman when I saw her on television the night of the execution - who were Asian and white.
It's a virtual certainty that if Williams' victims had been young black males with criminal records he wouldn't have been given the death penalty.
Apologizing is an interesting thing in that circumstance.
To someone like Carlson, or the man I saw interviewed who had witnessed the execution live - who said that Williams had tried to intimidate the press by staring them down - to weaker men who are frightened of the power men like Williams carry naturally and without commodified enhancements, that kind of gesture, an apology in the context of a tribunal, being apologized to in that context, is a near-total transfer of power, and is similar to the ritualized forms of sado-masochistic power exchange practiced by the demi-monde.
It isn't an apology so much as it's a formal act of submission.
Submission is something that transfers a great deal of power, and for someone who's devoting most of their personal strength to resisting evil, or what they see as evil, transferring power to that evil in order to avoid death will be seen as surrender and cowardice.
Of course neither Carlson nor the people he speaks to and for think of themselves as being evil, the idea being so outlandish that saying that Williams might see an apology as something like surrender to evil will be met with scorn.
I can't speak for what was in Williams' mind, I know very little about the case obviously, but it's not unlikely that he knew who Mary Turner was, and that he knew her story.
If Tookie Williams had done to his victims what was done to Mary Turner there would have been no question of clemency, even if he had apologized abjectly and profusely.
Cleaning the slate isn't a one-sided affair, especially when it comes to young black males in the United States.
The assumption that Carlson makes, and the people he represents make, is of their own statutory innocence.
Scorn figures high in their strategies of defense when they're confronted with what some of us see as the undeniably real evidence of their own guilt and complicity. TurnerTucker Carlson almost certainly never killed anyone of his own volition. And most of the people he speaks for feel confident they can stand before God and any man and proclaim their innocence with confidence.
When it's pointed out to them that crimes like murder and theft on a vast scale were committed repeatedly and unapologetically in their immediate collective past and are being committed in the immediate present, and that the things they have that they value, their lands, their resources, their prosperity and security, came to them directly as a result of those crimes of murder and theft, they laugh derisively and get angry.
This is the Hollywood stereotype reaction of a serial killer.
Williams' defenders attempted to make the case that he had become an agent of change, that his books and essays were changing lives for the better.
This was met with the same derision. It doesn't matter how much time has passed was the answer.
It doesn't matter how much time has passed, or how changed someone is, what matters is what they did, and how deeply and sincerely they've apologized for it - how much remorse they display.
What Carlson and those he stands for will insist is that this doesn't apply to them. They don't have to show remorse because they haven't done anything wrong - they're innocent.
So the admission of guilt is one-sided.
That's how heinous acts can be accomplished, and their rewards distributed and enjoyed, without the shame that should accompany them.
It's the same as a man saying he's different now, that you should only punish him then, when the crime was committed, in order to be truly fair, not now, because he's changed now, he's someone else.
Or a psychiatrist testifying to multiple personalities inhabiting the one mind, not all of whom knowingly committed the crime.
The serial killer's rationalizing nonsense.
That is in fact the argument, the only argument that's made against the accusation of bestial inhumanity wholesale in the American past, and still at the margins of the American present.
That was then, it was them, not us, now.
The evidence is tidied up and scattered to the four winds, the witnesses intimidated into silence or removed, the guilty go about their lives in silence and time passes. Until the present is so fully invested in its own innocence it's an attack against the foundations of everything solid and secure to bring the accusation, to point to the symmetries of accusation and guilt, to hold up the mirror of complicity.

On Survival International, [Botswana President Festus]Mogae expressed dismay at some local journalists who seek credibility by joining some international news media in the smearing campaign against Botswana.Mogae
He said that local news reporters should report responsibly. Any negative reporting about Botswana would have long years of clouding the prospects of the countrys development.
Mogae said when Roy Sesana of the First People of the Kalahari and others failed to fund their case at the High Court, he went abroad to discredit Botswana by claiming that the government was on the ethnic cleansing rampage against Basarwa.
The president said that Sesana made claims that officers of the law enforcement agencies have castrated Basarwa who were being hunted like animals.
The president added however, that at least the American public could not buy Sesanas story.
Previous Bushman/diamond related work here and here.
The pertinent facts are that De Beers the international diamond conglomerate were the originators of the apartheid system in South Africa. The company instituted the virtual slavery of apartheid to ensure the profitabilty of their diamond enterprise.
The tradition of mandatory diamond-giving as material proof of romantic devotion, especially among the middle and lower classes, is less than a hundred years old. This isn't widely known. Your great great-grandmother could tell you, but she has no way to talk to you.
Diamonds are expensive because they are in demand. The demand is entirely artificial, and was created in its present form by the diamond industry.
The Bushmen have lived in the Kalahari for over 20,000 years.
(Rapaport...December 5, 2005) De Beers asked Botswana's President Festus Mogae to stop removing San Bushmen from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and to reconsider governmental policy on relocation of Bushmen from the region.

When I first hunted, I was not allowed to eat
Hunting is going and talking to the animals. You don't steal. You go and ask. You set a trap or go with bow or spear. It can take days. You track the antelope. He knows you are there, he knows he has to give you his strength. But he runs and you have to run. As you run, you become like him. It can last hours and exhaust you both. You talk to him and look into his eyes.
Roy Sesana
Right Livelihood Award Address, Stockholm December 2005
Qoroxloo Duxee died earlier this month near Metsiamenong, where Bushmen continue to resist government efforts to evict them. Her relatives obtained copies of the official postmortem report last week.
Almost all the Bushmen who had returned to their reserve since the 2002 evictions have been re-evicted since its closure on 1 September. They told Bushman organisation First People of the Kalahari that wildlife guards threatened to kill them if they tried to hunt and gather. They are now living in the bleak resettlement camps. Police fired bullets and teargas at Bushmen who tried to take food and water into the reserve, and then arrested them.



""I just returned from a trip to trip focused on shared security challenges that Israel and United States face...The United States and Israel share deep and lasting bonds...They are bonds forged in a common struggle for human rights, democracy, and freedom...There is no doubt that these strong bonds and values will remain as the lodestar of our relationship with our fellow democracy and ally. And Israel is not only our ally; it is a beacon of what democracy can and should mean...If the people of the Middle East are not sure what democracy means, let them look to Israel.
The first priority of any government is to protect and ensure the safety of its citizens. And that is why I have been a strong supporter of Israel's right to build a security barrier to try to keep those who would do harm to Israel out of Israel. I've taken the International Court of Justice to task for questioning Israel's right to build the security barrier. On this trip, I wanted to see it with my own eyes. I went to Gilo, a Jerusalem neighborhood, and was briefed by Colonel Danny Tirza, who has overseen construction of the fence. He explained how before the construction commenced, residents of Gilo would come under fire. He left a very vivid image in my mind as he talked about how in the kitchens...
Israelis have long had to make sacrifices in order to protect themselves. And we have to understand the significance of those sacrifices. Too many young soldiers have been lost protecting the lives and livelihood of Israel's citizens, protecting the only democracy in the region."
Hillary Clinton, speech at Yeshiva University
Kristen Lombardi/Village Voice 11.12.05
Hillary Clinton went to Israel, and David Duke went to Syria.
For Clinton to say what she said about Israel and democracy is wonderfully bizarre. Israel may be many things in the eyes of the world, but one thing it's provably and dramatically not is a beacon of democracy. Unless by democracy we now mean the manipulation of resources for the sole benefit of a ruling elite. But a case could be made that with the removal over time of the non-voting disenfranchised non-elite, eventually the elite itself would become a whole society, with a bottom and a middle and a top, and could then be said accurately enough to comprise a democracy.
Palestine is a democracy, something Clinton knows. So that when she says Israel is "the only democracy in the region", she's either lying or lapsed mentally.
Bethlehem is now a prison in everything but its famous name.
It becomes harder and harder to withstand the drive of hatred, the pressure to do and say what will only ease it, to vent in anger, to see the world as infested with the hateful everywhere.
Sometimes I think that the creature, or the spirit, or whatever it is, that was or will be responsible for the conflagration of the Apocalypse is desperately trying to get someone else to become its cause. That the hatred and the nihilist frustration are what it wants to see.

Gone to New Orleans

I keep talking about the TV so much because I've been laid up for 3 months and counting with a broken ankle and the television's there.
The other day there were some women from some of the harder-hit New Orleans communities testifying to a Congressional committee or sub-committee of some kind, or reporting to it, I'm not sure what the right term is. They were leaders, responsible to groups of others less articulate or less comfortable with public speech, or less endowed with enough free time to be able to do the things that local grass roots community leaders have to do. Two of them that I saw were inspiring in that full-hearted way so glaringly missing from what I'm coming to think of as commercial politicians.
Real women, whose souls were carrying the sufferings of the people they stand for, speaking bluntly and eloquently, sometimes fiercely but nonetheless politely to the panel and the cameras of C-SPAN.
Somewhere today I read someone talking about the blacks who refused to evacuate and refused offers of rescue and other emergency services during and after Katrina doing so because they were being offered by whites. Not out of racism, reverse or otherwise, so much as fear and distrust. It was in the context of Jamie Foxx moving to LA and calling home to tell his friends and relatives that "We're free out here", though he still wouldn't let more than one white man at a time into his house, once he got one.
So last night there was a post-execution interview with some of the official witnesses to the Williams execution. I saw two of them speak to the camera, against a backdrop of institutional wall close behind them, both were from either television or radio stations, they gave call letters after their names.
The first one was named Michael, I didn't catch his surname, and he had on an interesting horizontally-striped green sweater that may or may not be a Southern California harbinger of elder style so advanced it's indistinguishable from dorky eccentricity. He was bald, fit, grave, and he kept his face at a 3/4 angle to the camera most of the time. He was exhausted-looking and very humbly articulate, moved, a man bearing an immense burden. He described the opening of a small aperture in one of the doors and a paper being passed through it - signalling the governor's refusal of clemency, I guess.
What stayed with me was the humanity in everything about him that the television transmitted - his face, his posture, his tone of voice and the language he used to say the things he said. Even his agitation.
The second man, whose name I missed completely, was wearing what passes for the "blue serge suit" of days of yore in these rapidly changing and stylishly fickle times. That dark blue three-button with a red tie still worn by junior conservatives. He had a full head of trimmed dark hair and wasn't particularly haggard looking.
He said at one point that Williams, as he moved toward his place in the event, had turned and stared directly at the press.
He said it was done to intimidate, that there was an evenness in his look, that he held it for a long time, then abruptly and dramatically turned away.
The man being interviewed said with emphasis that Williams had done it to intimidate, he elaborated on why he thought so and that's when I turned the TV off.
I've started talking back to it, which I don't like to do, not least because the neighbors are literally 15 feet away on both sides.
Not only am I talking back to the TV now, but directly to the people on it. I told the man who'd been talking about Williams trying to intimidate the press that he thought that because he had been intimidated. Seeing the intimidation as done intentionally is a way of diminishing it, a defense against it - "he's doing that on purpose to scare me" is a more comforting way of looking at it.
That he'd been intimidated by Williams' size is a given - all those photos of his thigh-shaped arms, the first interviewee said that you could clearly see Williams breathing because of the size of his chest - that he, the second man I saw interviewed, had been further intimidated by Williams' strength of character as reflected in the levelness and duration of his gaze; and I told him, speaking to the empty room with the TV now turned off, that it was impossible for him to know much of anything about Williams' state of mind in those last minutes before his death, but that it was very likely completely outside his experience.
It probably didn't occur to the man being interviewed until later, if at all, that Williams may have been at least in part silently accusing the press, as a body, for their complicity in enabling and maintaining what his whole life was a reaction against.
So to talk about him making thug moves, with all that implies, even though the man being interviewed didn't use the word thug, is nothing but his own fear projected, and subdued, into and by the event he was there to witness.
A man with Williams' resources of character and intelligence wouldn't go to his own death as an animal, but it was as an animal that he was seen by the people who killed him, and because of it. His execution wasn't an act of justice, not from any but the most naive angle. It was done to make the people who wanted it done feel safer.
Safety, security have become the highest attainable moral good.
There is nothing that can be put above them and placed before the public that won't be cast aside now, in favor of reassurance and material comfort - no matter how backed by violence and injustice it is.
The wonderfully-named Nancy Grace had a woman on for a little post-game color, or maybe it was a pre-game warm-up, whichever it was the question Grace asked her was how she felt about Gov. Schwarzenegger's refusal of clemency.
She was I guess an asian woman though I took her for a light-skinned black woman when I saw her on television, whose son I think it was had been one of the victims in the murders Williams was convicted of and executed for. The woman said she was glad.
She had an open, almost but not quite smiling face.

Hitherby Dragons does the ticking bomb

Small songbirds were by far the most common in the beam


Niall Ferguson in the LATimes poking at Harold Pinter
through the bars of his cage:

"First, a few truths about torture. Torture is bad. It's bad because it's wrong to inflict pain on defenseless captives. It's bad because it breaks international conventions. And even if you don't give a damn about either of those things, it's bad because the costs outweigh the benefits of any intelligence it may elicit.
First, the true part. Thousands of people were killed by U.S.-backed dictatorships, especially in Central and South America. What's demonstrably false is that this violence is comparable in scale with that perpetrated by communist regimes at the same time.
It's generally agreed that Guatemala was the worst of the U.S.-backed regimes during the Cold War. When the civil war there was finally brought to an end in the 1990s, the death toll may have been as high as 200,000. But not all those deaths can credibly be blamed on the United States.
By comparison, the lowest estimate for those killed on political grounds in the last seven years of Stalin's life is 5 million, and the camps of the gulag - which only a fraud or a fool would liken to U.S. prisons today - kept on killing long after his death."
First the true part. It's wrong to inflict unnecessary pain on anything.
The swamp of rationalizations that opens up once that's been pretty much agreed on isn't central here, but it's a vital part of the currently dominant ethical system. Anything not specifically against the letter of the law is permissible.
This seems to be because humans are supposedly incapable of moral sight and action on their own. We can only receive the law and act accordingly.
So men like Ferguson and his masters will say publicly that some heinous act they or their friends are accused of is technically not illegal. This is a defense because being heinous has nothing to do with the rightness or wrongness of anything.
Secondly, torture isn't wrong because it "breaks international conventions". Those international conventions are there because torture is wrong. Even if they weren't there it would still be wrong.
Ferguson's third term, the erstwhile liberal rationalization against torture - that it isn't effective - is morally bogus and immaterial. The "costs" of torturing anything, let alone fellow human beings, are immeasurable and can't be weighed against the benefits of elicited intelligence, or scientific knowledge, or pleasure, or any other gain. The loss of humanity, of human-ness, can't be offset by the survival of the thing that results from that loss.
This is a human perspective on things, though, and will sound like gibberish to the non-humans amongst us.
Ferguson throws his viscid stool at Pinter and dances around gleefully because the "U.S.-backed Latin and South American dictatorships" didn't kill as many individuals as "the communist regimes at the same time".
There's something grotesque about comparing body counts as a test of virtue. Pinter's not doing that, Ferguson is. Pinter's offering an "example of America's view of its role in the world, both then and now" and proving that it's false - untrue and hypocritical.
Someone pretending to be morally innocent who isn't is a hypocrite, and their pronouncements on morality are suspect because of that, whether or not there are worse people around. It's the pretending, Niall, not the numbers.
The point is that invading another country in order to bring them "freedom" - and killing thousands of them while you fail to bring them anything close to actual freedom - looks even more empty when the freedom you're attempting to bring them has bloodstains all over it.
Blood that was shed for the preservation not of liberty but economic license, and by the innocent poor. Greed, not freedom, is what America has been exporting to Iraq.


Head-exploding weirdness of Mary Kay Letourneau's Strange Family/Bush Gov. Connections at R.I. message boards.
Jeb Bush's wife's sister is married to Letourneau's brother. Letourneau's brother Joseph is COO of Blackwater, the private security firm that keeps showing up in places like Fallujah and New Orleans; he was Pentagon Inspector General from Mar. 2002 - Sep. 2005.

President George W. Bush nominated Joseph E. Schmitz to be the Inspector General of the Department of Defense (DoD) on June 18, 2001. The Senate confirmed him on March 21, 2002.
Letourneau's father was a right-wing politician. Seriously right-wing. Way over there right-wing.
At the time of his daughter's scandal, Schmitz had left politics, and was selling souvenirs at Washington, D.C.'s Union Station. He had also bought the home of his hero, Senator Joseph McCarthy.
He was a bigamist and a champion of family values at the same time. One of the children of his bigamy was the infant victim of what may or may not have been an intentional injury to his penis by having a hair tied around it in what may or may not have been a ritual exercise in mind control through the administration of traumatic pain.
Mel Sembler, subject of the R.I. post, founded Straight, Incorporated.

Yet still they avoid

...the often-surreal, always-harrowing fallout she experienced for raising questions...

For twenty-five years, Mary Mapes has been an award-winning television news producer and reporter-the last fifteen of them for CBS News, primarily for The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and 60 Minutes II.

In 2004, her last year at CBS, in addition to the George W. Bush National Guard story, she broke the stories of the existence of Strom Thurmond's unacknowledged bi-racial daughter, Essie Mae Washington, and the Abu Ghraib prison tortures, for which she won a Peabody Award in 2005.
from Truth and Duty:
In order to conclude that the documents are forged or utterly unreliable, two questions must be answered: 1) how could anyone have forged such pristinely accurate information; and 2) why would anyone have taken such great pains to forge the truth?

The casinos moved back into the country

from Harold Pinter's Nobel lecture:
"The tragedy of Nicaragua was a highly significant case. I choose to offer it here as a potent example of America's view of its role in the world, both then and now.
I was present at a meeting at the US embassy in London in the late 1980s.
The United States Congress was about to decide whether to give more money to the Contras in their campaign against the state of Nicaragua. I was a member of a delegation speaking on behalf of Nicaragua but the most important member of this delegation was a Father John Metcalf. The leader of the US body was Raymond Seitz (then number two to the ambassador, later ambassador himself). Father Metcalf said:
'Sir, I am in charge of a parish in the north of Nicaragua. My parishioners built a school, a health centre, a cultural centre. We have lived in peace. A few months ago a Contra force attacked the parish. They destroyed everything: the school, the health centre, the cultural centre. They raped nurses and teachers, slaughtered doctors, in the most brutal manner. They behaved like savages. Please demand that the US government withdraw its support from this shocking terrorist activity.'
Raymond Seitz had a very good reputation as a rational, responsible and highly sophisticated man. He was greatly respected in diplomatic circles. He listened, paused and then spoke with some gravity.
'Father,' he said, 'let me tell you something. In war, innocent people always suffer.'
There was a frozen silence. We stared at him. He did not flinch.

Innocent people, indeed, always suffer."

The Bethlehem Ghetto is now a reality



First thing this morning the President on his knees. It was horrifying, but like the scene of an accident through the safety glass of the family minivan it was distant, or seemed distant, unconnected, far away. Other.
He said at least 5 times in 3 minutes the phrase "terrorists and Saddamists".
This was so rote and intentionally done, and so woodenly read it was scary, like seeing your father humiliated in public, made to say something that humiliated him by the saying of it, like hearing him apologizing to a thug for something that was not his fault, that he hadn't done, just because the thug was threatening and willing to hurt him if he didn't.
Later he quoted Senator Joseph Lieberman extensively as to Lieberman's position on the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Very extensively considering how often things are displayed as the sports-analog contest of two opposing teams now.
Lieberman evidently said things about the country not "losing its will" and not "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory".
Lieberman's support for the invasion, what we're supposed to be calling the "War in Iraq", part of the larger "War on Terrorism", isn't too hard to understand, but it's taboo - you can't talk about why he would betray the principles of social justice and humane concern that have been traditional characteristics of Democratic politicians.
Later Bush talked about a letter that someone almost magically intercepted from the head of Al Qaeda, written by someone named I believe Zarhawi, who had written it to someone named Zarqawi, detailing in moronic and stilted clarity the goals of Islamic terrorists generally and Al Qaeda specifically.
It had something to do with Iraq, and with jihad, and Somalia was in there, and the Americans were evil - but there was no mention of Israel. At least by the President. Maybe there was a mention of Israel in the moronic and stilted letter he quoted from and paraphrased but he didn't feel it was as important as the mention of Somalia.
I could see that in some senses because Somalia was a kind of American failure and the President might have wanted to remind his people of the possibility of failure now, again.
But since it's well-known that the Israeli government's vicious and inhuman treatment of the Palestinians was and no doubt is still one of the principle accusations of Al Qaeda, and a source of grave concern to Arabs and Muslims generally, it seems incomplete to talk about the aims of Al Qaeda without mentioning it.
On FOX the post-game show was interesting, it had someone whose name I didn't catch saying nothing of importance other than "Hurray for the forces of good!" and "Go big guy!", and then it had for much longer and more in depth William Kristol, doing that lob/smack batting exercise with the mediagenic hostess.
William Kristol was doing his best to project confidence and control. He also used the key phrase "Saddamists and terrorists", probably in an effort to solidify the effect of the President's hammering that phrase into the public vocabulary. Though Kristol followed it up with "rejectionists" which I guess was supposed to mean those who aren't supportive of the destruction of Iraq in the name of Judeo-Christian military supremacy.
I'm not real clear on exactly what Kristol meant by "rejectionists" all in all, I didn't get to hear him expand on it because by that time my scalp was so tight with shocked dismay I had to get up and hobble around some, to keep my head from exploding.


Wolf Blitzer interviewed Ramsay Clark on CNN tonight. Saddam Hussein threatened to walk out of his trial today. Clark is serving on his defense team.
It was an exercise in dissonance to see Clark interviewed, because you wouldn't expect that in a totalitarian state, he wouldn't have a voice in the national media.
But then the manner of the interview was part of the smugness of the elect.
But then there were all these crafty little aspects.
Clark had a relatively long say-so on the importance of the trial, not to Saddam, but to us and for the fate of humanity. If it's not seen as a fair trial, Clark said, there'd be a tearing apart of the Arab world,with obvious dire consequences.
For quite a bit of the time he was speaking, especially when he spoke the longest during the interview, the split screen was 3/5 devoted to a silent image of Saddam speaking in the court room, gesticulating with his hands, while the sound was Clark, speaking from an image in the upper left corner of the screen, making a reasoned and sincere attempt to point out that the presumption of innocence is the baserock of our system of justice. The effect was a Satanically precise almost lip-synch.
The rest of the time the imagery cut back and forth between Blitzer and Clark. When Clark was onscreen during that part of the interview, under his image in white letters on a red background it said "Saddam's Lawyer". Not "Ramsay Clark, Saddam's Lawyer".
Blitzer asked Clark how he felt about Saddam having gassed the Kurds, and Clark pointed out calmly and reasonably that that hadn't been proved, that that was in fact the purpose of the trial, and that if you're going to go into it convinced of his guilt beforehand, it's all about punishment first and then a trial - which is the standard-issue mockery of justice.
Clark made the point almost in passing that the legitimacy of the court itself was in question, that when Bush announces that Saddam will be getting a fair trial it's deceptive, because Paul Bremer created virtually everything about it, from the constitution to the judiciary. And Paul Bremer was appointed by Bush.
Clark repeatedly said that he believed in the concept of innocent until proven guilty, and that he was trying to keep an open mind.
That's as American as anything can be.
Blitzer also interviewed David Ensor, CNN's intelligence, or security, or intelligence and security, correspondent. The subject was the revelations of CIA-run secret prisons and the extra-legal detaining and torture of unknown numbers of people in those secret prisons. Khaled El-Masri, the German citizen now suing the CIA for torturing him was, in Mr. Ensor's words, not a snow-white character. [The Khaled El-Masri who's suing George Tenet as head of the CIA was evidently picked up simply because he had the same name as someone on one of the lists such people keep of those they want to imprison and torture to make the world safe from people who would imprison and torture innocent people. So Ensor's saying that he may not have been the targeted Khaled El-Masri, but he was no angel.]
That would be pertinent only if the morality of torturing people functioned on a sliding scale.
Ensor pretty much delivered the party line for the entire interview, smacking line-drive soundbites off Blitzer's lobbed-in questions.
One point that seemed pertinent was Ensor's manly rebuttal of European criticism of the now openly practiced "extraordinary rendition".
Ensor said that the European governments questioning the morality of the US were hypocritical because they were themselves directly involved in it through their own security agencies and, key point - they were benefiting from the detaining and torture of potential terrorists, however secretly done, because the lives of Europeans had been saved by these means.
The assumption I guess is that it works. No proof was offered, possibly because none exists.
But that would only be important if the morality or immorality of extraordinary rendition depended on whether it works or not. Something that the 20th century returned to repeatedly was the idea that some actions are so immoral they can never be justified. The Geneva Accords, which the current players seem to want to use as a training manual, were an attempt to codify that idea.
I don't recall the universal adoption of the principle that anything that saves your life is preferable to anything that takes it.
This completely undermines the concept of nobility and heroic sacrifice, and makes the refusal of the righteous to pollute themselves with cowardice and treachery a kind of tactical mistake.
It places the self at the center of the moral universe.

The suit does not say where the home is

A suit filed by actress Jennifer Aniston accuses a paparazzo of invading her privacy last month by using a powerful telephoto lens to take photos of her topless or partially undressed in her home.
The suit filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court is the latest counterattack by Hollywood's top stars against paparazzi, who are accused of becoming increasingly aggressive as competition for images and the number of celebrity magazines has increased.
Two years ago, Francois Navarre, owner of the largest Los Angeles paparazzi agency, X-17, admitted no wrongdoing but paid the actress $550,000 to settle an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit over photos of her sunbathing topless in her backyard.
Those photos were taken by a photographer with a telephoto lens who scaled a neighbor's 8-foot wall, according to court records. The photos ran in several publications known for racy celebrity images.
Winton/LATimes 06.12.05
At the heart of the argument is the taboo area of demand. The demand for images of Aniston naked. That just exists all by itself, a force of nature.
Talking about the creation of demand infringes on the right to conduct business which is the most sacred right enjoyed by free people, more central and sacrosanct than the rights to vote or speak freely or travel unimpeded.
It's the same sniveling rationalization that's been used by the television's puppetmasters all along. There is no responsibility for shaping the public's will, that exists on its own, out in the real world somewhere. This is what's allowed the election of Bush and the invasion of Iraq to continue as unchallenged, almost naturally arising phenomena.
Because the tools and techniques of that shaping are so subtle and have been consistently unexamined in the public sphere, the pretence is allowed to continue, even as the public's been shifted and turned and rolled around in its great bed like a patient in the back ward of a bottom-rung convalescent home.
Television responds to the desires and appetites of the public, politicians respond to the desires and will of the public, and only the public itself can be held accountable for the debased quality of its desires, and for the damage and ramifying harm of its gratification.
Especially in addition I would like to point an accusing finger at those who would scornfully say that because Aniston's risen to the top of a dogpile of ambitious self-interest she owes her privileged lifestyle to the public whose demands for her substance (because that's what it is, the nakedness is virtual only because the logistics make it impossible for people to purchase her actual naked body on their proletarian budgets), and therefore she has no complaint when that demand gets out of hand and cruelly invasive.
The public's blindness was intentionally created, and its desires are intentionally cultivated, and the symptoms of that pathology are everywhere, only more obvious here.
Cheap karmic laughter to the contrary, this is a bad thing all around.


Idle thoughts:
In order for a democracy to mean anything it has to have a reasonably well-informed demos, or public. Because obviously a public that thinks the moon has an atmosphere like earth's will be more inclined to vote for a tax-funded project to build cities there, than a public that knows the moon has no real atmosphere to speak of will.
So controlling the information the demos, or public, has access to would be a way of controlling how the public voted - voting being democracy in action, as I understand it.
Presenting a "debate" about the moon's atmosphere with two equal sides represented and having the narrator/moderator sneer ever so slightly whenever the no-atmosphere side is introduced, for example, if it's done subtly enough, will work.
Controlling how the public votes is not democracy, though.
And so again we come to the media, and its role as bottleneck of the news sources it purports to represent. To maintain the illusion of democracy the demos, or public, has to be constantly assured they have access to unbiased information from which to form their opinions, and the biased information they do receive has to be presented in a way that instills confidence in the opinions it forms, opinions that the public should believe rise directly out of the information they get.
In that sense the information the media delivers is very much like the information the eyes and ears deliver to the brain, and in that sense the demos, or public, is very much like a great crowd of Helen Kellers.
This gets more complex as the not-yet critical mass of willing receivers grows - those who don't want to form independent opinions, who are in fact very nervous about having opinions of their own, but instead watch for the cues and clues that let them know what the god-like presence inside the television wants them to believe, and to say they believe.
These two elements - those whose confidence in their own opinions is generated by the media that supplies those opinions ready-made, and those whose opinions are nothing more than call-and-response chanting led by the same media - are not democracy in action.
This is the scam, to make you think you've chosen something on your own, when really it was chosen for you.
And so once again we have this chilling irony of the very undemocratic control of opinion used to get the demos, or public, fixated on the creation of democracy in a foreign country, Iraq, because that seems like a good ideal, a worthwhile goal, and at this point the only possible even slightly moral reason to justify the body counts there; when in fact there is no interest in creating democracy in Iraq, on the part of those who engineered and expedited the invasion and occupation, and there never was.


that pillow is a metaphor

I[John Seigenthaler Sr.] phoned Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder and asked, "Do you ... have any way to know who wrote that?"
"No, we don't," he said. Representatives of the other two websites said their computers are programmed to copy data verbatim from Wikipedia, never checking whether it is false or factual.
Naturally, I want to unmask my "biographer." And, I am interested in letting many people know that Wikipedia is a flawed and irresponsible research tool.
John Seigenthaler/USA Today 29.11.05
"At my request, executives of the three websites now have removed the false content about me..."
- John Seigenthaler
He could have removed it himself. How many other information sources can you say that about?
Posted by: keith
to a post on the Seigenthaler/Wikipedia incident
by Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly
Aside from the assumption that there's no substance to the accusation - it passes without even a smidgeon of proof, just the statement that there's no truth to it - there's the venue from which Siegenthaler shouts his innocence. It may be unfair to lump USA Today in with the NYTimes and CNN and FOX and the LATimes and MSNBC, because they are distinct news media, each with a kind of character all its own - still it's a pretty natural response. Them. Those guys. The ones who are only now beginning to step away from Bush and his sinking ark of iniquity.
Last night one of the brunette news goddesses did a hit piece on Hugo Chavez that was more nuanced than Siegenthaler's bio, but it was, considering the power and influence it had over a far more credulous audience than Wikipedia's, far more damaging in impact and a much greater threat to Chavez' person. It was nominally a story about Telesur, the Latin American response to the thoroughly lapdog CNN, but what it really was was an exercise in Orwellian hate-building. And of course there was no mention of CITGO's providing heating oil to the poor in the US Northeast.
The difference between "a flawed and irresponsible research tool" and the virtual eyes and ears of the people that the media are now is very great.
Research is one thing, but the media are creating the will of the people, and that translates into life and death decisions. People are dying in Iraq every day because of deceitful impressions created in the public mind by the media.
So the context isn't what I'd call an atmosphere of unbiased reporting, but exactly the opposite - a climate of sly deception, insinuation, and virtuoso propaganda in which the vulnerability of Wikipedia to short-lived, easily correctable inaccuracies, intentional or not, is among the least worrisome threats to truth, justice, and the American way.
The media now stands back from the President as though the problem was between him and the people all along, they were only running messages back and forth. Poor gullible people, bad incompetent President. Innocent chirpy newscasters.
But the fact is the President was nothing without the complicitous media - they elected him, they created his support, they spread his untruths - and they did it at the bidding of the same men who were pulling Bush's strings, and who've now jerked the whole country into a ditch.


"...someone whose life features a sordid personality, ugly career, vicious politics, and extremist religion."
Daniel Pipes on Muhammad Ali at JWR

T-shirts and bumper stickers, for foreign audiences
An article in the American Prospect blog notes that in February a couple of local staffers of President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney headed to Iraq to work with Iraqex, the company that in March rebranded itself as The Lincoln Group to match that of its corporate parent, the Lincoln Alliance Corporation, a DC-based "business intelligence" firm.baghdad
Also, famed New York ad man, Jerry Della Femina, is on The Lincoln Group's advisory board.
But in late 2003 or early 2004 the Lincoln Alliance Corp became Iraqex. In October 2004, it won a $6 million contract from the Multi-National Corps-Iraq (formerly known as Combined Joint Task Force-7, which had operational control of all troops in Iraq) to design and execute an "aggressive advertising and public relations campaign that will accurately inform the Iraqi people of the coalition's goals and gain their support", according to the contract's August 2004 request for proposal.baghdad
Lincoln Group executive vice president Christian Bailey, a British venture capitalist, was involved with Lead21, a Republican business organization registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 527 committee, which is a tax-exempt organization that engages in political activities
Asia Times
Iraqex at SourceWatch.
Lincoln's intimacy with the Pentagon at common dreams
and CorpWatch
and especially Whiskey Bar

"Norman Kember is a man who cares deeply for the people of Iraq and his kidnap and continued detention is completely unjustifiable."
Christian Peacemaker Teams:
CPT initiated a long-term presence in Iraq in October 2002, six months before the beginning of the U.S. led invasion in March of 2003. The primary focus of the team for eighteen months following the invasion was documenting and focusing attention on the issue of detainee abuses and basic legal and human rights being denied them...
CPT has worked as "an alternative voice to the reporters 'embedded' with Coalition forces," have used "their bodies to protect critical civilian infra-structure such as water treatment facilities, electrical plants, and hospitals," have documented "abuse of detainees by Coalition forces," and "have ventured forth in response to urging from Iraqi human rights workers in Karbala."
It makes absolutely no sense for the Iraqi resistance to kidnap Kember and his associates. Kember worked directly with the Iraqi people and chances are slim to none he had any significant contact with the legitimate Iraqi resistance. It is absurd to think the Iraqi resistance - a movement drawing operational strength from its decentralized and secretive "cell" structure - would compromise itself by dealing with CPT or any other organization and thus possibly falling victim to spying. On the other hand, it is safe to assume there were indeed spies in CPT...
Kurt Nimmo
The video was apparently shot by a previously unknown group called the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, who accused the four of being spies masquerading as Christian peace activists.
The Swords of Righteousness is a hitherto unknown group. However, US and Iraqi officials said that they appeared to be Sunnis.
A senior Iraqi government official said that no demand had been made by the group and no specific threats had been issued against the hostages. "We believe this indicates room for negotiations," he said.
Independent UK

body and soul

A German woman who has been abducted by gunmen in Iraq has devoted her life to uncovering Iraq's cultural treasures and fiercely criticised Washington for not preventing the looting of its archaeological sites.osthoff
The hostage is Susanne Osthoff, a Bavarian archaeologist who spent decades studying and excavating sites in Iraq to uncover the mysteries of ancient Mesopotamia, often referred to as the "cradle of civilisation".
In May 2003, two months after the United States and Britain invaded Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein, Osthoff brought reporters to the site of the ancient city of Isin to show them how Iraq's most important sites were being stripped clean by looters.
Osthoff had worked on a German excavation of the 4,000-year-old Isin from the mid 1970s until the late 1980s, when UN sanctions forced most foreign experts out of Iraq.
"In two weeks, they have ruined all the work that was done over 15 years," Osthoff was quoted by the New York Times as saying at the time.osthoff
In other media, she voiced disbelief that the US and British invaders had virtually ignored the sites.

TVNZ/Reuters 30.11.05

Mit dem Appell an die irakischen Entfuhrer von Susanne Osthoff, ihre Geisel freizulassen, wurde Angela Merkel sehr konkret und zeigte sich von einer menschlichen Seite - mehr als die meisten Kanzler vor ihr. In der Sache blieb sie dennoch hart und auf der Linie ihrer Vorganger. Deutschland werde sich nicht erpressen lassen.

a private event

"Members of the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac and the saxophonist Kenny G played until 3am. At one point, Mr Brooks, dressed in a black-leather, metal-studded suit, joined Aerosmith on stage."
The bill for the party is small change for Mr Brooks, the chief executive officer of DHB Industries, a bullet-proof vest manufacturer which takes its name from his initials. Last year, Mr Brooks made 44million in salary and company stock options.

- Telegraph UK 01.12.05


Become a drug dealer
Don't give up
link Wooster

Baby you can drive my car

Bush, in a ceremony, announced a New Partners Initiative, which he said will solicit help from organizations affiliated with churches and other faith-based groups to offer health care to the developing world and make sure they have access to American assistance. "We will reach more people more effectively and save more lives," he said.
At the core of the U.S. contribution to fighting AIDS globally is a program called A-B-C, which stresses abstinence, being faithful in marriage and using condoms correctly, Bush said.
"American[sic] stands behind the ABC approach," he said.
An estimated 40.3 million people around the world are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and 90 percent of those people live in developing countries, according to UNAIDS, an alliance of six United Nations agencies.
AIDS killed 3.1 million people last year, most of them in poor countries, according to the World Health Organization.
More than 25 million people have died worldwide since it was first recognized in 1981, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history.

Bloomberg 01.12.05
Worldwide deaths from traffic accidents since 1981 are around a million per year, closer to 1.2 million.
So since 1981 there've been approximately 28-30 million deaths, making it even more deadly than AIDS, if you want to look at what that is as a disease.
Throw in the injury stats and there's been around a billion lives seriously damaged by current methods of transportation since 1981.
"...nearly 1.2 million people die in road traffic crashes each year, and between 20 and 50 million are injured or disabled. Ninety per cent of road traffic deaths occur in low- or middle-income countries..."
The difference is obvious in some ways, obscure in others. Sex and transportation haven't got much to do with each other.
The Puritans would say you don't have to have sex, especially unprotected sex with someone who is not your life-partner, but evidently you do have to go 80 miles an hour down the road wrapped in a hurtling ton of steel in order to have a decent life.
Also the disproportionately affected groups - third-world nations, gays - will see AIDS as more menacing than the use of cars and trucks.
The numbers are there, though.
And the one that should be most disturbing, but somehow isn't, is that in the US car wrecks are the single greatest killer of children, year after year.
I'm not suggesting AIDS is trivial, I'm saying the slaughter accomplished by the automobile is suspiciously invisible, and has been for far too long.

Blog Archive