The River

Friday, May 28, 2004

Ain't that America?

So, you thought I was going to lighten up on a Friday before a holiday weekend? Think again. Besides, aren't we all supposed to be worried about The Terrorists this weekend? We couldn't have a Memorial Day weekend without thinking about the patriotic struggle, could we?

Because, you know, as I guess I keep saying,

Like it or not, this is the reality (or prevailing unreality) with which we are faced. The 2004 elections, regardless of outcome, will not change that. Nor will it necessarily bring ever-tolerant liberals to openly acknowledge what is truly happening in this country, the thing that has been building for a long, long time---a holy war, a covert Christian jihad for control of America and the entire world. Millions of Americans are under the spell of an extraordinarily dangerous mass psychosis.


via Inspector Lohmann

Happy Mo Day.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

9/11 Ruminations

It seems to me that every since Bush has been elected, the official lies have been so blatant as to accelerate what is part of our environment from the beginning -- the truth is always hidden in plain sight.

Case in point: The collapse of the WTC towers on 9-11. Actually, 9-11 in general. But the collapse of the towers never made sense to me except as a controlled demolition.

In The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11, author David Ray Griffin sees it that way too, as pointed out in a book review on the Counterpunch site:

Much of the material Griffin cites has been long circulated on the internet. What is less commonly understood are the strange details of the WTC collapse, implausibly explained as "jet-fuel fire melting structural steel." The pattern of destruction and fall is more consistent with the air attacks plus controlled demolitions. Griffin parses the material, with many notes from firefighting and architectural sources. Times, temperatures, visual and seismic evidence simply do not support the melting of steel as the sole cause of the observed failures. Further, what but explosions can account for reports of same from survivors, and for powdered concrete and building parts being ejected horizontally three times the width of the buildings? Steel in both towers was broken at the joints, and molten steel found at sub-basement levels -- inconsistent with melting from top floor fires whose debris crushed the floors below. The WTC wreckage was spirited away as quickly as possible and no forensics permitted.

Later, the reviewer asks:

2. Most difficult of all, perhaps, is the question of how the administration -- if indeed it was complicit in 9/11 at some or several levels -- could be so incompetent at scripting a plausible story. Why not punish a few scapegoats in the intelligence community, instead of promoting those responsible for "lapses"? Why the needless, obvious lies, and continuingly changing statements? Why such massiveness to the conspiracy, requiring silence from many individuals in the White House, Justice Department, FBI, CIA, NSA, and the Pentagon, as well as in civilian security operations? Why risk demolition of buildings beyond the flight attacks? Why bring down WTC 7? Why order interceptor planes to stand down, and deny SOP readiness? Why have the president play unconcern for half an hour? So as not to upset second-graders? Why claim that human flesh could withstand temperatures which would vaporize stainless steel? There are better minds than Bush's who have been concocting covert operations for many years. Where were they? Or was it just this confounding of critics that was intended?

I think the incompetence that is obvious to those that haven't fallen for propaganda is explained by the fact that those in charge recognize something most people do not: there is no need for this type of competence. If the U.S. were a democracy with an informed citizenry, then, yes, they would need to be more careful, more competent. But while we suspect and fear that democracy in the U.S. is going away, they assume it is already gone. And they act accordingly. For example, is it incompetence that Bush can trumpet his "Saddam's torture and rape rooms are gone" line even after the Abu Ghraib scandal? Or is it the same thing as pretending terrorist-piloted jet planes caused the WTC to fall? i.e. we in the administration know the truth, but we don't operate with the truth; that would imply a democracy, and this is far from that; therefore, we can make the story whatever we want even as your eyes tell you it's the opposite of the truth. This is our great gift. This is our competence. The more blatant, the better. The more you will look upon it and despair.

We keep looking for competence in a world that doesn't exist.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Random Notes
(or: Blogging for Blogging’s sake)

Whenever I bemoan my lack of job security, a good friend keeps reminding me that Haliburton is hiring.

I had an odd vision the other day. It was early morning. I was on the 6-lane highway on the way to work. The sun was coming up. Traffic was heavy but moving at a good pace. I was heading uphill so my horizon was limited. I had the strange feeling that there was nothing beyond the point at which the cars disappeared over the top of the incline. The cars in the six lanes to my left moving in the opposite direction were appearing out of the void at the edge of the horizon. It was all so smooth and mechanical. None of the other drivers seemed to notice. They were dreaming. The clouds were beautiful.

Things are heating up here at work. This could be a good thing for the blog. Or maybe not. It could go either way. Definitely a good thing for job security.

A lot of former readers don’t seem to come around anymore. But how would I know. Blogging with no tracking of any kind is a blind man in a lecture room. You take your cues from the amount of throat clearing and chair shuffling.

You can apply this to 90 percent of all schooling: The other day, my four-year-old daughter said, “I don’t think I’m learning anything at (pre)school. We just learn how to do crafts.” [not that it’s a bad thing, if parents and students are aware and fill in the gaps]

Read something good in the paper the other day. It was an article about a movie remake. The writer was quoting from the play Burn This by Lanford Wilson. The nugget, paraphrased here, was: it’s a fluke when Hollywood makes a good movie. It’s not supposed to happen. So they wait a while and then remake it fucked up like it’s supposed to be.

If I was a highway,
I'd stretch alongside you
I'd help you pass byways
That have dissatisfied you
If I was a highway,
Well I'd be stretchin'
I'd be fetchin' you home

-- If You Were a Bluebird, Butch Hancock

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Orwell Rolls in His Grave

Thursday, May 20, 2004


Forty-two celebrating a wedding late into the night in the Iraqi desert massacred by U.S. forces. Surely 60 Minutes II can get its hands on graphic pictures. Surely after broadcasting same, there will be an even larger self-examination of what we are doing in Iraq.

Surely it’s just coincidence that U.S. forces massacred a wedding party in Afghanistan AND Iraq. Surely this coincidence doesn’t point to the fact that U.S. forces LIKE killing Arabs, especially at a wedding party.

Surely this man is an example of a noble military unleashed by a not-at-all psychopathic government: "Asked about witness testimony and footage of children killed or wounded, (Maj. Gen. James) Mattis said: “I have not seen the pictures but bad things happen in wars. I don’t have to apologize for the conduct of my men.”

Surely it is also coincidence that Israelis in Gaza are shooting at ambulances trying to help victims of their atrocities, JUST as U.S. soldiers did in Fallujah.

Surely great leaders in the major political parties of the United States and Israel are working very hard for a peaceful and just settlement of tensions in the Middle East.

Surely we'll wake up from this nightmare when Kerry is elected.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Wealth Bondage hires a speech writer

(a riff on the good cop, bad cop dynamic of Wealth Bondage players Smoky Joe and Captain Blowtorch.)

Smoky Joe: Has he been softened up?

Captain Blowtorch: Yeah, had him under flourescent lights 40 hours a week, sittin in bumper-to-bumper another eight. Gray cube. Standard, really, but usually effective.

SJ: Ok...(affecting the royal page voice) bring in the prisoner. (In comes Bruce, moving stiffly in the unaccustomed three-piece suit, but trying to be nonchalant.)

Ah, Bruce, is it? Hello, welcome to WB Industries. Smoky Joe.

Bruce: Hi. (shakes Joe's extended hand). Nice to meet you. Hey, this is a nice place. Was that Italian marble in the lobby? How do you get these chairs to roll with such plush carpet?

SJ: Heh, heh. We manage. So, Bruce, I guess you know that you were head-hunted. Cigar?

Bruce: Uh..sure.

(Smoky Joe hands Bruce an expensive cigar, whips out gold-plated zippo with embossed "WB" logo, fires his up, hands lighter to Bruce. Bruce lights his cigar, starts to hand lighter back to Joe, who waves it away.)

SJ: Keep it.

Bruce: (after coughing uncontrollably for several minutes). uh, yeah, head-hunted. You need a speech writer.

SJ: Ahem...yeah, our company is spreading rapidly across the globe, but there are a lot of fires that need to be put out, in a variety of creative ways. Legally, I've got it covered...

Bruce: Really? I keep hearing rumors of ethics violations. I think even the Wall Street Journal has mentioned it. With so much heat right now, I was surprised you were hiring.

SJ: (cell phone rings) Sorry....yeah? yeah, I know. Okay. Yeah...Bruce, I have an emergency. I'll be back, but I want you to meet our head of HR, Captain Blowtorch.

(SJ takes leave, shooting Bruce a wink and a thumbs up. In comes Blowtorch)

Capt. (slips behind desk): So...ahem...(looking critically at papers) you think you're WB material?

Bruce: Uh...Joe hasn't really gotten into the particulars...but I guess that's what we're here to find out.

Capt.: You think so? What do you think you're going to find out? Who sent you here?

Bruce: You called me.

Capt.: Who called you?

Bruce: Somebody named Phil something.

Capt.: I don't know any Phil. What do you really want?

Bruce: Just opportunity.

Capt.: To do what? To further your liberal agenda?

Bruce: What?

Capt.: Are you or have you ever been a liberal?

Bruce: I'm a speech writer! what is this all about?

Capt.: You're the speech writer. You tell me.

Bruce: I'm just looking for a better job.

Capt.: Do you think a better job would be undermining our corporate goals?

Bruce: What!? Why would I do that?

Capt.: If you're in a situation where you see someone breaking the law, tell me how you would handle it.

Bruce: If it was minor, I'd let it slide. If it was major, I'd complain to my cube neighbor.

Capt.: Would you publicize your objections?

Bruce: (shit, do they know about my blog?) No, just, you know, bitch a little at lunch and stuff.

Capt.: So you wouldn't join in the fun?

Bruce: What fun?

Capt.: Do you listen to Rush Limbaugh?

Bruce: uh..yeah, I have before.

Capt.: And....?

Bruce: And?

Capt.: He's the only member of the liberal media who tells it like it is. Him and Fox.

Bruce: Uh huh.(jesus, they better pay really well).

Capt.: Why do you hate corporate America?

Bruce: Huh?

Capt.: Just tell me.

Bruce: I don't.

Capt.: (cracking knuckles) It's best if you just admit it.

Bruce: Because of assholes like you! (knocking over potted plant, kicking chair over, flinging papers at Blowtorch, who sits impassively) There's no limit to what you'll do. It's horrifying! What gives you the right? Why won't you leave me in peace?

Capt.: (shuffling papers) Calm down, Bruce. I think I know all I need to know now. (he leaves Bruce standing amidst the wreckage. Bruce finally uprights his chair and sits. After a few minutes, Joe returns.)

SJ: Hey Bruce. Sorry about that. That Capt. Blowtorch...huh? Don't worry, our compensation packages blow away your current employer's.

Bruce: (staring at now unlit cigar remarkably still in his hand as if he were about to enjoy a leisurely puff. For the first time notices gold and red label, the texture of the tobacco leaves) You're going to hire me, huh?

SJ: Yep. Listen, It's going to be fine. I'll show you the ropes. You'll meet Limbaugh. He's hilarious. You're really going to like it here. With my connections and your wordsmithing, we can do anything.

Bruce: (looks up): That's what I'm afraid of.

Kill your TV

It's not a pre-emptive strike, it's a long-overdue rebellion. Oh sure, it smiles and says, "you have not been mistreated." It offers a million in prizes (worth $20). Nevertheless, says The American Assembler, it is the enemy.

So that you can begin Knowing the Enemy, the fine editors over there have assembled a short, pointed essay:

Make no mistake, the true power in our country, in our world, is the broadcast media and the crony press corp they employ. They are the source of the power and the source of the corruption. George Bush could never have gained the presidency without the compliance of a corrupt press. His complete lack of qualifications for the job should serve as the ultimate marker of the failure of our entire system of governance. His presidency is the canary in the coal mine.

Of course a free, open and engaged press would not make our democracy perfect. But when the people are properly informed, they, on average, tend to make good decisions. This is why democracy works. Its also why the United States has the oldest standing government in the world.

So for us to win the fight against social injustice, environmental injustice, economic injustice, or any issue you want to address, we must first know who the real enemy is, and defeat that enemy first. We must see that George Bush is not the cause but the effect and realize that without attacking the root cause, all of our other battles will be in vain. The bottom line: we have to get our priorities straight.


Friday, May 14, 2004

Take It Where You Find It

(Van Morrison)

Men saw the stars at the edge of the sea
They thought great thoughts about liberty
Poets wrote down words that did fit
Writers wrote books
Thinkers thought about it

Take it where you find it
Can't leave it alone
You will find a purpose
To carry it on
Mainly when you find it
Your heart will be strong
About it

Many's the road I have walked upon
Many's the hour between dusk and dawn
Many's the time
Many's the mile
I see it all now
Through the eyes of a child

Take it where you find it
Can't leave it alone
You will find a purpose
To carry it on
Mainly when you find it
Your heart will be strong
About it

Lost dreams and found dreams
In America
In America
In America
Lost dreams and found dreams
In America
In America
In America

And close your eyes
Leave it all for a while
Leave the world
And your worries behind
You will build on whatever is real
And wake up each day
To a new waking dream

Take it where you find it
Can't leave it alone
You will find a purpose
To carry it on
Mainly when you find it
Your heart will be strong
About it

Repeat Chorus

Change, change come over
Change come over
Talkin' about a change
Change, change
Change come over, now
Change, change, change come over

I'm gonna walk down the street
Until I see
My shining light
I'm gonna walk down the street
Until I see
My shining light
I'm gonna walk down the street
Until I see
My shining light
I'm gonna walk down the street
Until I see
My shining light
I see my light
See my light
See my shining light
I see my light
See my light
See my shining light

Thursday, May 13, 2004

What is America?

(Interior, office building, fluorescent ceiling lights, gray cubicles. Bruce sits in cubicle in front of computer, lost in thought. On the blank Word document on the computer monitor in front of him appears the word “ring.” A second later, his cell phone rings.)


I’ve been looking for you Bruce. Do you know who this is?



The South African blogger?


But….you were taken away during the Apartheid wars.

That is the official story, yes. But nevermind, Bruce. You’re in trouble. I’ve been watching you Bruce. I’ve been down this road before. I know exactly where it ends, and I know that’s not where you want to be.

But…what do I do?

Right now, dive into the empty cubicle across from you.


Do it. Now!

(Overhead shot: Bruce lunges across the hallway between cubes. Crouching, phone jammed against side of head.)

What is this all about, Golby?

To save you, Bruce, to save you from dull conversation with the coworker who is doubtless approaching your cube this very minute, cup of coffee in hand.

(Bruce peeks out to see coworker, cup of coffee in hand, looking quizzically into his empty cube.)

How do you know all this?

Intuition, predictability of it all, lots of reading progressive sites, because I care.

That allows you to see my world?

Oh, the cowoker…lucky guess, Bruce.

That is some intuition, especially from all the way over in South Africa. You are in South Africa, aren’t you?

I don’t know, Bruce, am I? Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m both here and there. It’s this ability to imagine that connects me to you, Bruce. It’s why I’ve called. There’s a question, Bruce. It’s been haunting you. It jumps out at you in the lyrics of pop songs, in random signs on the roadway. You feel it like a splinter in your mind.

What is America?

Yes, Bruce. The construct. I’m in it with you, you are in it with me. Everything is being narrowed to one bland product. Greg Brown nailed it: “there'll be one corporation selling one little box/it'll do what you want and tell you what you want and cost whatever you got.” It’s the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. America is the land that pumps it out, produces it like a 24/7 Superbowl halftime show, watches over it like a security camera in the sky.

The truth is, Golby, that I’m proud to be American.

Yass, you’re proud to be American, Bruce, as I am to be South African. It’s what we are. It’s good and it’s natural. But there is a wider culture, Bruce. There is a world to which you belong and for which you stand -- when you do finally, really stand -- as a representative. But the construct, Bruce…are you sure you want me to continue?

What? Is this like the red pill question?

Exactly. The construct has you Bruce. You loosen its grip when you see a true blues artist perform at the Northside Tavern, you feel it drawing you in when you join the morning commute on the highway. You knock it down when you pen a strong post, you feel it rise when you express fear and helplessness.

But….why? How?

Ignorance, Bruce. Acquiescence. But you’re different, Bruce. A seeker. Are you sure you want me to continue? Do you want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes?


Imagine Bruce, just imagine it. Front page news. Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, all telling the American people that it was never Islamic fundamentalists, that their own government murdered 3,000 people on September 11 so that they could launch a global war – with you as one of the enemy. What, then, would happen? Mayhem, Bruce. The control program would be irreparably broken.

Except it won’t happen. TV will never tell them. The revolution, Bruce, will never be televised.

Ask yourself why the Patriot Act was conveniently ready and hustled into place while normal people were in shock. Why your leaders were so ready with the story line, uttering their “us and them” messages immediately, wasting no time shoring up your shaky ground with a war footing. Is this a democracy Bruce? Were you consulted? I think not.

In a sense, Bruce, you are already a prisoner of war, held in captivity through terror. As much as you can stand. Applied judiciously, continuously.


I’m sorry, Bruce.

But…the mall, the happy music, the ads….

No product will save you, Bruce. But there is a way…

The blog?

Yes, Bruce. The blog, for now. It all comes back to the blog, many a post does, anyway. And this one is no different. In one life, you’re a writer for a respectable telecommunications firm. In another you’re a blogger who goes by the alias “Bruce” and who has broken every law they truly care about. Only one of these has a future.

But, the pay…there isn’t any.

I didn’t say this was going to be easy, Bruce.

And this will save humanity from America?

Yours, Bruce. Yours. But we are connected. I’m counting on you, Bruce.

No pressure or anything…

I’m sorry, Bruce. I know this is a lot to handle. Stay strong. Eat well, sleep well, love well. It’s the only way, Bruce. Now that coworker should be coming back by in a minute. Get on with your day. Enjoy her presence. She may be unaware, but that’s not her fault. Keep it simple. Don’t judge. Share what you know in your heart. We’ll talk more later.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

It gets more transparent by the day

Corollary to "there is no war on terrorism": There is a war on stability. Provoke when needed. (Sanctions on Syria in the news today just one example.) Create the chaos, sow the whirlwind.

Manipulate, manipulate, manipulate through the media. What images are broadcast and what images are not? What is a "story" and what isn't? Why is the Berg incident so conveniently timed? Who did it? Al Qaeda? What is that? Where does it end and U.S. (I do not say "our") black ops begin?

None of this is a "failure," none of it is "stupid" or "incompetent" from the Administration's perspective. What they have set in motion is afoot. Full stop.

The Second Coming -- W. B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

In the comments to this post at Whiskey Bar, many are trying to come to terms with what BushCo has wrought. Also affirming their humanity.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

A look behind the mask

From COMMON Dreams:

What the U.S. government did at Abu Ghraib was bad, but what it did to Ammar Muhammad, to Haithem Tamimi, to Ali Ismail Abbas, to Abbas Abdullah’s son, to Rahad Septi, to Arij Haki, to Miad Jamal Abbas, to Zainab Kassim, and to Bedour Hashem was far far worse.

Their stories are but a very few of the tens of thousands that might be told if more complete information were available to provide the details associated with the gruesome statistics on deaths and injuries among the Iraqi population. Relatively few of the people slain were “terrorists,” Baathists, or even insurgents. Most were noncombatants; thousands were women, children, and elderly people. The military euphemism for these deaths is “collateral damage,” but they are actually murders. After all, they did not happen by accident; in the circumstances, they were as predictable as the sun’s rising in the east. By choosing to engage in the kinds of military actions that made these deaths inevitable, the U.S. government thereby chose to cause these deaths. The claim that they were not intended has no substance whatsoever.

The quoted material leaves out the details, but you can read them. It is so much worse than the mobs and mercenaries the Bush supporters love to trot out. Of course, they've been kept in the dark.

It goes to the top

The Utah Sheriff's Association executive director Lane McCotter helped build a "jail, prison, and corrections training system in Iraq." Why is this interesting? Because, as a reader of Left I on the News pointed out, this association published a newsletter that shows Mr. McCotter touring Abu Ghraib with U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Behind them, although not specified in the cut line, looks to be General Karpinski. It proves nothing, of course, but it looks to me like Wolfowitz was pretty hands-on in setting up the U.S. torture chambers. See the photo on page six here.

It goes to the top, as Phil has been pointing out. The latest post at Wealth Bondage points to ex-soldier Vitia:

I'll suggest that the events shown in these photographs are driven by a policy dictated from that same highest level: those who oppose American interests in any way -- from car theft to car bombings -- are terrorists and enemy combatants, and therefore deserve whatever they get, up to and including humiliation, torture, and murder. In other words, the Bush administration set the agenda, the CIA fell in line and dictated policy to Military Intelligence, who ran the prison and made sure that the MPs followed their line. These part-time soldiers, as despicable as they may be, hardly acted alone, but rather did what they did in an environment of comfort and encouragement, as we've seen from other pictures of the prison.

I know that the U.S. employed torture, or rented it out, in its foreign affairs since before I was born, but to be confronted with it this past week is to see something ugly and vile in your basement that you'd managed to ignore while you got on with your life. Something ugly and vile and threatening.

When are we going to stand up and say, "enough"? When are we going to stop pretending? And how the heck did you 60s era activists handle this stuff? Because I, I put it down over the weekend. Here it is. But after you read it, just know that I'm getting stronger, not weaker.

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

It starts with six simple words: this is my country doing this. Where it leads? H. E. double L.

What’s that quote? You hate America because you want to love America. Try being America. This is my fucking country doing this.

This is, well hell, this is the fourth reich. It is out of the bag, folks.

Some of us on the net here have been pointing it out for quite a while now.

I know I have. Reading about it too. Remember that 50s genre called the noir thriller? Thomspon, Goodis, Willeford? Yeah, well here we are. Psychotic, violent, on a road to hell. Only it ain’t some two-bit lowlife. It’s the most powerful criminal organization ever seen.

You know what’s interesting about those novels? It’s that you start down that road, and things go from bad to worse, and then, well, the bottom comes up real fast.

It’s interesting in a horrific cautionary tale kinda way, when you read them. Those authors were brilliant psychologists. But now, this ain’t no storybook. I can’t just put it down and…hell, I can’t remember what I did with my life back then.

But, see, I have a family now. How badly are these fawned-over media heroes going to fuck it up for them? What, exactly, am I supposed to do? Where, exactly, am I supposed to go? Just how hard will we hit bottom?

I feel shitty. S. H. I. TT. Y. Love, hate America. It's not important. We are citizens of the globe, people. You are American, Iraqi, South African, Korean. Japafuckingnese.

Fuck. This is just a wail of pain. Forgive me. I thought maybe it could be instructive. But I’m not that smart. I have a pretty good bullshit detector, that’s about it. The only problem with that is, well, you can’t be too enamored with it. Having kids will remind you of that. Theirs is ten times better than mine.

It comes back to this, and I’m just gonna say it. These are crimes against humanity. This is daylight robbery of the soul.

Am I talking about this screwed up soldier or that one? No. It could be me, it could be you, shoved into the right heinous circumstances, like never, ever having any grounding in love.

But this, godamn it, this system. This ability to turn a human being into a thing to be used for an end, and to cover it all over with glamour, and bullshit, and righteousness. To make it look….reasonable. To completely lose sight of the consequences.

There is no ground. We are falling.

And we will finally see it. The ground. It will, at some point, come up fast.

Godamnit. This is my country. And I feel so helpless.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Smells like victory

John Robb describes the methodology of the criminals in the White House:

Victory in 4GW [fourth generation] warfare is won in the moral sphere. The aim of 4GW is to destroy the moral bonds that allows the organic whole to exist. This is done by reinforcing the following (according to Boyd):

Menace. Attacks that undermine or threaten basic human survival instincts.

Mistrust. Increases divisions between groups (ie. conservatives and liberals in the US).

Uncertainty. Undermine economic activity by increasing [I think he means "decreasing" -- ed.] confidence in the future.

Friday, May 07, 2004

After this dark and dreary week (although, in truth, it's been gorgeous outside), it was nice to stumble across a Slightly Stunned Pidgeon named Shem. Rather like having a beer with a really good friend after a rough week. Yeah, the subject matter is our alienation, but at least we're not alone. Thanks, Shem. Keep flying.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

You must understand the art of democracy

The mask is slipping. Photos of Abu Ghraib were broadcast on television.

The mask is slipping. Photos of Fallujah were also broadcast on television.

But that was Arab television, and was, therefore, only anti-democratic propaganda.

But the mask IS slipping.

So President Bush calls for more pancake makeup. And a new TV special.

You must understand, in a democracy, we pretend.

And Rumsfeld questions whether to call it “torture.”

You must understand, in a democracy, we always find the correct terminology.

Still, the mask is slipping.

But in a democracy, you must understand that the mask will be readjusted.

Until such time as it is no longer needed.

We now return you to your regular programming.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


Let’s check in with little eight-year-old Glenn Reynolds again. Last time we looked in, Glenn was all excited by the news of Saddam Hussein’s capture.

It’s recess again. Schoolmates Jack and Joe are hangin by the swings.

Joe: Hey Jack, there’s Glenn.

Jack: Hasn’t he moved to Tennessee yet?

Joe: Next month.

Jack: Good. We’ll have a few extra chewies to celebrate.

Joe: You hear about what he did?

Jack: Yep. Beat up his neighbor, little Timmy, then locked him in a basement closet.

Joe: Guy’s an unbelievable tool. Let’s go give him shit.

Jack: Ah Joe, will you never learn? He deserves our pity, even our compassion.

Joe: No way. The fucker’s dangerous. He actually has people believing the shit he’s always spoutin off about. And look what he’s done now. And that’s just the stuff we know about…HEY GLENN. Here he comes.

GR (strides up, unshaken by the scandalous news): I know what you’re going to say, but you don’t know anything. A) He hit me in the arm once. He’s guilty, not me. B) It was for his own good. C) This was an isolated incident, and I’m looking into better ways to modify his behavior. D) He has more Hot Wheels than I do, even though I’m bigger and better than him.

Joe: Dude, you’re just so clueless I don’t know where to begin.

GR: No, you are.

Joe: I know you are, but what am I?

Jack: Joe! jeezus. Look, Glenn. You make a lot of basic assumptions that conveniently overlook your own character flaws.

GR: Well, Jack, I never heard you say anything when Joe rearranged all the heads on his little sister’s dolls. And you wouldn’t sign my petition calling for the removal of a card-carrying communist from the school board. And THEY HAVE USED TORTURE.

Jack: Damn it, Joe. Why’d you have to call him over here? (deep breath) Okay. First, just because I didn’t publicly condemn Jack doesn’t mean I approve of what he did. It was creative, but still. He talked about it with his parents, because it was THEIR BUSINESS. Joe isn’t perfect, but we have to let him work it out with his family. Second, at least Joe wouldn’t presume to do harm to other people and property in his neighborhood.

Joe: Not that I ever thought I had that right. I lost control. I’ve admitted it, and have tried to put my own house in order since.

GR: You poor deluded liberals. You just don’t get it. (sigh). You just don’t care about the rest of the neighborhood like I do. I am only trying to help.

Jack: Haaaaaaaa. By using torture.

GR: But you don’t care about torture. You never condemned the school board communist like I did.

Joe: Jeeezus. Is everything a morality pissing match with you? Is that as far as you ever take anything? At least I learned this lesson from my experiences: Before you start preachin to the rest of the world about what’s right and what’s wrong, look to your own neighborhood.

Jack: No shit. Especially if you think violent force is justified.

Joe: I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m not saying the school board is perfect. But I speak from my own authority, which is all I can do.

Jack: Whereas your attitude seems to be: I was born into a rich family, so my moral authority is self-evident.

GR: It is. All I have to do is look around to see how good and blessed I am, and how evil other parts of the neighborhood are. You two aren’t realist, you’re apologists.

Joe: I know you are, but what am I?

Jack: An imprisoned mind cannot see the rest of the world.

Joe: If you’re so great, how come you lost the annual neighborhood Hot Wheels Loop-De-Loop challenge last year? I think that’s what this is really all about. Your way of ensuring “the correct” outcome next year is to use pre-emptive force against your competition, and then hide behind some ridiculous moral high ground.

Jack: Which is all too obviously phony. Especially to the rest of the neighborhood that you are so clueless about. Especially now.

GR: Many in the neighborhood are EVIL!

Jack: Oohh. We must have hit home, Joe.

GR: EVIL. I only want to rid the neighborhood of EVIL. It will be glorious. It will be amazing. It will by MY NEIGHBORHOOD. We will all live in goodness because of ME and MY GOODNESS. Because….of…..MY….GOD.

Jack: Look to yourself, Glenn. Look to yourself.

GR: I’m not as bad as they are. God smiles on me. I know he does. I know it. I will be redeemed in the end. I WILL. You’ll see, someday, when God casts you into hell.

Jack: Right. That’s it. I’m outta here. Nice work, Joe. You’ve done it again. I hope you’re satisfied. Later, Glenn.

(they walk away)

Joe. You were right, Jack. I feel sorry for him. Let’s go play with Timmy. I hear he has some new Hot Wheels.

Jack: Sure. We can use my playroom. We could invite your sister. And I think my Mom has enough milk and cookies for all of us.


(postscript: This probably isn’t entirely fair to Glenn or his blog, but he seems so very proud of it and America’s phony war on terrorism, and he really does need to get a clue. Glenn, it just ain’t gonna work, man. I’m sorry.)

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

NP Argghhh

I found it interesting this morning that in two separate reports on the Abu Ghraib revelations on NPR, the reporters mentioned that the torture and rape (that is nothing like what Bush has repeatedly brought up about Saddam, cough) is inflaming public the Arab world.

Nothing to see here. Go back to sleep. We'll notice your public opinion when we decide what it should be.


The horror of the situation is almost beyond our ken. This is supposed to be a movie. These things aren’t really supposed to happen.

I read about Rwanda recently, the tenth anniversary of the genocide there. The madness. I saw The Killing Fields and Swimming to Cambodia. Vietnam, Panama, El Salvador, it goes on and on.

Now we have the American’s gleeful slaughter for oil. The horror of Fallujah and Abu Ghraib.

I was in Lexington, Kentucky, visiting friends in early April. I was at a bar and I saw the news scroll on the TV behind it: soccer stadium used as makeshift mass graveyard. The ground flew away for just a moment, and my stomach turned.

And we have had columnists in every major newspaper calling for more, literally asking the military to execute the 200,000 residents of an entire town – we can’t be squeamish. Do we need anymore proof that those in power in America have completely lost their moorings? One word keeps coming to mind: sick.

I remember September 11th. I remember coming home early from work to find my pregnant wife watching the news. Naturally, I went straight to her and hugged her. I hugged the baby inside her. I think my first words were, “what kind of a world are we bringing this child into?”

Little did I know the answer would be, here in America, somnolent.

Crime flourishes. Cruelty is “worth it” for our continued “way of life.” Honesty, love and caring are mocked. The truth is irrelevant. It can’t stand against the “partisan” accusations. Or a disinformation campaign is launched. Seeds of doubt are sown. You can’t be certain, so why bother. And look at the prices at the mall!

People are herded. It’s the inevitable conclusion of the mass market mindset. If a significant number can be convinced that hula hoops are great fun, than a good many can be convinced that they must, figuratively and sometimes literally, support a mission to murder the residents of some other town in some foreign country. It’s all for coke and cheeseburgers, apple pie, and Chrysler minivans. What could be better? And who won on American Idol?

It takes effort to look at it. And who wants to see it? I have a wife and two little girls. I can’t imagine how ruined their – our -- life would be if we lived in Iraq. I don’t want to. And yet, this is the world they were born into. They will come to face it, in one way or another. As we all must.

But right now, I’ll come home and I’ll hug my family, all three of them. And I’ll play the Rolling Stones or Buddy Holly, and while Leigh finishes cooking dinner, me and those shinning, intelligent, innocent little girls will dance around the den, lost in the movement of our bodies and the primal rhythm. Leigh will sing the chorus while stirring vegetables in the skillet. I’ll pick up Audrey, born in December of 2001, and twirl her around, hug her close and sway. At times, I can think of no better response.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

The great molecular comedown

Hello again. It's Saturday. Audrey is napping, Eleanor is on a play date, and Leigh is out of town. I am in our newish home office, or study as we call it. I'm quite literally, except for the large double window in front of me looking out on a dense canopy of green leaves, surrounded floor-to-ceiling by hundreds of books, all Leigh’s.

I just noticed the book Bomb Culture by Jeff Nuttall on the shelf to my left and behind me. I didn’t even know she had (we had) this book. Anyway, I just glanced up, was intrigued by the title, and opened to the table of contents (Pop, Protest, Art, Sick, The Underground, Index) and turned to “Sick," and found the following material quoted from a Jack Kerouac piece called “The Time of the Geek”:

Everybody in the world has come to feel like a geek…can’t you see it? Can’t you sense what’s going on around you? All the neurosis and the restrictive morality and the scatological repressions and suppressed aggressiveness has finally gained the upper hand on humanity – everyone is becoming a geek! Everyone feels like a Zombie, and somewhere at the ends of the night, the great magician, the great Dracula-figure of modern disintegration and madness, the wise genius behind it all, the Devil if you will, is running the whole thing with his string of oaths and hexes…

You feel guilty of something, you feel unclean, almost diseased, you have nightmares, you have occasional visions of horror, feeling of spiritual geekishness – Don’t you see, everybody feels like that now…

It’s the great molecular comedown. Of course that’s only my whimsical name for it at the moment. It’s really an atomic disease, you see. But I’ll have to explain it to you so you’ll know, at least. It’s death, finally reclaiming life, the scurvy of the soul at last, a kind of universal cancer. It’s got a real medieval ghastliness, like the plague, only this time it will ruin everything, don’t you see?

Everybody is going to fall apart, disintegrate, all character structures based on tradition and uprightness and so-called morality will slowly rot away, people will get the hives right on their hearts, great crabs will cling to their brains…their lungs will crumble. But now we have only the symptoms, the disease isn’t really under way yet – virus X only…
Listen! You know about molecules, they’re made up according to a number of atoms arranged just so around a proton or something. Well the just-so is falling apart. The molecule will suddenly collapse, leaving just atoms, smashed atoms of people, nothing at all…as it was in the beginning of the world. Don’t you see, it’s just the beginning of the end of the Geneseean world. It’s certainly the beginning of the end of the world as we know it now, and then there’ll be a non-Geneseean world without all the truck about sin and sweat of your brow. He-he! It’s great! Whatever it is, I’m all for it. It may be a carnival of horror at first – but something strange will come of it, I’m convinced.

It was the psychopath, the ted, the mod, become policy. It was the post-Hiroshima evils stripped down and acknowledged. It was the napalm-scorched world. It was the filth of our humiliation, and it was the point of cultural development at which all three previously separate traditions of pop, protest, and art began to merge. We heard the sound Ginsberg had prayed for:

Your clean sonnets?
I want to read your filthiest
secret scribblings,
your Hope,
in his most Obscene Magnificence,
My God!
[from "To an Old Poet in Peru"]

-- ppgs 124-126, Bomb Culture by Jeff Nuttall, copyright 1968, Dell Publishing Co., Inc., Trade paperback, $2.25.

(well, there's another one for the nightstand pile...this one goes to the top)