Monday, October 30, 2006

Anyone Think It Doesn't Matter Who Wins The Election Next Week?

Even more ominously, Philip Giraldi, a former CIA official, reported in The American Conservative a year ago that Vice President Cheney's office had directed contingency planning for "a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons" and that "several senior Air Force officers" involved in the planning were "appalled at the implications of what they are doing -- that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack -- but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objection."

Read this article by Daniel Ellsberg and tell me exactly why it doesn’t matter anymore.

There isn’t anything I can add to what he says about the plans to start a third Bush II war in Iran. I know what your response will be. “The Dems didn’t stop Iraq."

You don’t think it’s worth betting that the minority of Democrats who supported the invasion of Iraq might have learned a lesson from it that the Republicans never will? If you don’t think that’s a bet worth making in 2006, I have nothing to say to you.

The Rewards of Clean Living?

And here I thought my modest little text-only blog would be spared the ravages of Blogger-syndrome. Well, let me tell you the past week has been a struggle to post anything on this and my other blog. So much for the straight and narrow, NOT that this place is going to become an orgy of YouTube and graphics. I'm too incompetent for that, you WILL notice that those attempts to install a blog roll haven't been a signal success.

I will try to post more this week, though as noted below the elections are a priority.

AFTER? Well, after the results are in there'll be some changes made.

I apologize for any disappointment this may have caused you.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Bunnatine Greenhouse sits in a cubicle in a far corner of an office in the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) headquarters in downtown Washington, DC, where, she says, "I am treated like a non-person." Months crawl by yet her immediate supervisor just can't seem to find the time to meet with her to discuss a work assignment. The taxpayers of the United States pay her salary but, oddly, no demands are made of her.

That's a sad plight for a dynamic woman executive who is the cover girl of the July/August issue of Fraud Magazine. She's not written up for being on the wrong side of the law, only on the wrong side of the Bush White House, now a law unto itself. ____

NBC is refusing to air an ad for the new Dixie Chicks documentary, “Shut Up & Sing.” Variety reports, “NBC’s commercial clearance department said in writing that it ‘cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush.’”

Harvey Weinstein, who is distributing the movie, issued the following statement:

It’s a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America. The idea that anyone should be penalized for criticizing the president is profoundly un-American.

ThinkProgress has obtained the ad NBC doesn’t want you to see. Watch it: _____

Ohio GOP Smears Al Franken In Press Release With Doctored Photo, Fabricated Quote

Yesterday, the Ohio Republican Party sent out a news release (full text here) attacking Rep. Sherrod Brown (D) for enlisting the support of comedian Al Franken:

It is not surprising that Sherrod Brown is enlisting the help of a Hollywood liberal, who like him, is so far out of the mainstream of Ohio values. What is troubling is that Brown would solicit support from someone [Franken] who compared conservatives to Nazis “who should drink poison and die.”

The quote used in the news release is taken from Bernard Goldberg book, 110 People Who Are Screwing Up America, in an alleged interview between Goldberg and Franken. But in his book, Goldberg makes it clear that the exchange is completely fictional. The Ohio Republican Party represented it as fact. ____

You know about Limbaugh already. And Coulter, Drudge, .....

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

No Comment Needed

Kerry Healey, running to succeed the race baiter Mitt Romney as governor of Massachusetts had a bunch of her supporters dressed in prison garb picket the home of her rival, Duval Patrick. This letter in today's Boston Globe needs no comment from me.

FINALLY, A brand you can believe in. Sailors wear watch caps and cowboys don chaps. Now we have Republican campaign volunteers in prison jumpsuits. Federal prosecutors must be thrilled to discover that members of the GOP are now coming prepackaged.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Getting Out the Democratic Vote Is All Important For the Next Two Weeks

The smartest politician I’ve ever met recently said that in our home state, Maine, when the election figures from around the state are analyzed the control of the legislature rests on a margin of fewer than 400 votes. That’s all that keeps us from control by right-wing Republicans.

The election next month might be the most important in our life times, deciding if George W. Bush is going to keep his rubber stamp Republicans in control or if he’s going to have to deal with something he never has had, a real opposition. With the record he’s chalked up using his rubber stamp Congress nothing less than democracy is at stake. If he has two more years it will be a lot harder to get the government out of Republican hands, the corrupt judiciary they are appointing will see to that.

Assuming that most of the readers of this blog, minus the Republican trolls, will be voting for freedom instead of serfdom to Bush Co. I am cutting back on my blogging activities until the day after the election. Instead I will be working with my local Democratic Party to try to increase our chances of saving democracy. I will still be posting at Echidne’s blog and here next weekend and will have short pieces in between.

Please, do whatever is needed to defeat Republicans in November. Ask your local Democratic Party how you can volunteer. The goal, the only thing that really matters in the end, is getting out our Voters and making certain that their votes are counted.

Lie Alert

h, yes. The Republican lie machine is spitting out a new one, that “Democrats protest at military funerals,”. I read it printed in the letter column of our local Republican owned newspaper, heard it on a radio call-in and have been told that the august Washington Journal allowed a caller to spread it to a national audience without challenge a few days ago. That last one didn’t surprise me one little bit since back last spring Brian Lamb allowed Larry Craig (R-Idaho) to spread a variation on that theme, only instead of Democrats it was anti-war protesters who he claimed were disrupting military funerals. Funny, I’d always figured Fred Phelps for a right winger who put Ann Coulter’s last screed along side the Bible in his pews. But you know how rumors spread.

This is the bread and butter of conservative politics in our country, lies. We have to put a stop to this one because once it has entered into the realm of Republican talking points it will be repeated endlessly on call-ins and told by hate-talk jocks around the country. It will join everything from “Lady Bird Johnson is the half-sister of Coretta Scott King” to “The JS under Roosevelt on the dime is short for Joseph Stalin,”. Nothing is too clearly untrue or too absurd to not be spread for the political benefit of conservatives.

Unnoticed in this festival of falsehoods, it was Judge Karen K. Caldwell, a Bush appointee, who said that a law barring the Phelps style media stunts from marring funerals was “going too far”. I’ll bet you anything that she been declared a dishonorary Democrat.

Larry Craig, well, no surprise that someone living as big a lie as he has his entire life as a right-wing pol would have any trouble telling one that big. Brian Lamb's willingness to allow it might lead some to wonder why.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

They Want You To Vote In The Dark

One of the odder things in the weeks before the election is the general agreement among our establishment, including the press, that the Baker-Hamilton findings shouldn’t be released now because they might have an effect on the election. What ever could the reason for that be. Are they afraid that the findings won’t reflect reality, don’t they trust these two stalwarts of the establishment to tell the truth and to so deceive the voters? If they don’t have any confidence in their material then that would certainly justify not publishing. If that’s it then how do they feel confidence in hinting at a release just after the election? If they have failed in collecting the information they should resign and announce their inability.

But that is certainly not their reason. Whatever these two release would be treated to the full measure of awed reverence that any product of the DC power structure is given. If it was pure bilge it would be treated that way and it is certain that whatever gets published will not be entirely devoid of facts. So it must be something else.

This reluctance to give The People information about the most important issue facing the country today so they can use it during the election is proof of something quite disturbing. It is a corrupt deal between the power elite and the media. It’s nothing less than a repudiation of government by the People. Baker saying that he wants "to take this thing out of politics" makes that clear. Politics is the process of self-government, it’s not some indecent act. Politics, ultimately, is the only justification for the public life of Baker and Hamilton, the only reason that anyone should pay attention to whatever this group of eminent people produce.

Our elites don’t believe that before they perform the most important act of government, casting an informed vote, The People are entitled to the best possible information. This is just another symptom of the fact that the elite doesn’t think the people have any business governing themselves. The facts of the War in Iraq are absolutely the kind of thing that a Voter should use in making up their mind.

If Baker and Hamilton are afraid that they will be criticized, too bad. This isn’t all about them. If they have reliable information about this war they have no right to keep it hidden until after The People could have used it. Jefferson was right, a government is only legitimate if it acts with the consent of the governed. An uninformed public cannot give legitimate consent, the government that results from ignorance cannot be legitimate, it will produce a disaster.

How dare these two hacks withhold any facts from the Voters. How dare the alleged news media endorse that decision. The media purports to exist for the purpose of informing the People so they can govern but here we see their real purpose, to shield the elite from information that could result in their replacement. Anyone calling themselves journalists who have supported this decision should be known for what they are, shills for secret government.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Good Man Has Passed From Us

Scoopernicus posted the sad news that the man blogger known to many of you as Pseudolus has died.

I had heard of him, having lived near him all my life, though I'd never actually been introduced.

When I sent out a distress call over my inability to install a blog roll he tried to help me, though I have to confess I never was able to get the thing to work. It wasn't for lack of his trying, that's for certain.

I give Scoopernicus and Lee Plaisted's family and friends my thought.

Raw Comment Whore

from a thread at digby's

his last exchange makes me glad that I've yet avoided Melaine Morgan.

The whole thing leads me to conclude that an electronic media unregulated by requirements for fairness and community service will degenerate into what we've got now. Unless forced to serve the public, for profit media will always serve the basest level of reptilian politics.

I don't much listen to the radio any more, I wonder how many other people don't because they don't want to consume the crap that they serve up. NPR and PRI are little better except they don't use the same language to sell the same lies. The politeness doesn’t mean that fewer people get killed, just that the audience feels calmer about it.

O'Reilly just tells me that cable has to be put under the same fairness and public service requirements because a democracy that doesn't have an electorate sufficiently aware of reality ceases to exist. It is time that the time and attention of the American People is treated as a public property that the cabloids use up to sell time to advertisers. Unlike the airwaves or the cable line there is no technological fix that will allow more time or attention to be created.

Ignoring these facts is one of the biggest mistakes that the left made in the past half century. The major one was in not realizing that not all media is the same. Electronic media is infinitely more powerful and seductive than a newspaper, consumed in an entirely different way and that its potential to destroy democracy is much greater. Pretending that it didn't need to be forced to put local and national interests over it's corporate interests has led to this disaster. FOX being allowed to sell the Iraq war didn't constitute 'free speech', it constituted a license to cheat its audience of the truth and it cost us having the most disastrous president in our history. These things really do matter. It's not fixed by saying "more speech" or "just change the channel". You won't be heard when you tell the truth because cable and hate-talk radio will drown out your pitiful little scribble read by literally hundreds. The people who are listening to lies by the millions won't ever notice.

And anyone who does read the papers knows that they're following the business model of cable TV these days. Media rot spreads over the entire society.

Yes, I know I've said it before but I really mean it this time. And every time I say it.

Anybody Have a Lot of Spare "Crows" To Be Eaten?

by Tom Wieliczka

How on earth can the Media corpSE actually be reporting or saying that the Iraq War has become, err, ahh, "A CIVIL WAR"???
How can that be?

Some good examples of media lies told by a cross section going from old Bob Edwards to cable dross. Worth reminding ourselves of just how bad our media is.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Too Busy Fearing And Hating To Be Friends

Here is a good question raised by Rory O'Connor, why does our media give free advertising to hate groups when they could be focusing on the much more impressive efforts of those who counter hate groups? Maybe in the case he cites from Billings, Montana it is because a display of 10,000 menorahs in the windows of people of many persuasions doesn’t fit in with their theme of what “THE Way-EST” is all about, white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, ultra-cons, strutting around in postures of rugged individualism. The media, once it fixes on a stereotype doesn’t easily change. Too much work involved. That’s about the most innocuous idea that I’ve come up with to explain it. That westerners might be acting progressively might upset the cowboy myth and they might have to actually do some reporting work.

You would think that such a fine display of anti-hatred would fit in with the happy talk news style but that’s so 70s. These days it’s brainless conservative propaganda presented with fear inducement as a motivation to worry, be Republican .

Conservatives have no use for the best of our species. The lesson of conservatives’ activities over the past generation is that they flourish in a climate of irrational fear and resentment. They need people to look on other people as dangers and dross that only the Republican right will protect them from. The idea that there are enough good people in a community to come together and effectively counter the tiny handful of active haters in their midst is anathema to them. It smacks of collective action and who knows where that kind of effort at community betterment might lead. People might find out they actually like their neighbors and the people from across town. They might start thinking of what they can do to improve the lives of their neighbors instead of feathering their gated, locked nests of anxiety and envy.

I know I go on about the media a lot here but that’s because they really are the biggest part of the problem. Americans are media junkies, TV, radio, DVDs, etc. substitute for what used to be a community life.

Could there be, somewhere in the bowels of media central, a study done that shows that if people got out and interacted with their neighbors it would cut down on TV viewing time and so on the network audience share. Would our media actively attempt to destroy community life in the United States in order to increase their profits? Friends, they’ll see the country turned into Fahrenheit 415 with mandatory wall screens on in all places all the time if it means they can charge more to advertisers. Everything is for sale, your time and eyes more than anything else.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Two important items today.
Iraq war despair is not an option

AUSTIN, Texas -- One reason despair is not an option is because things can always get worse, and then what'll we do?

Molly Ivins, the wisest newspaper person writing on politics today, wrote a column vital to thinking about how we go on from where these crooks have gotten us. Not full blown answers but a frame to fill out. The column is mostly about the entire cockup in Iraq, it doesn't even match it with the starveling twin, Afghanistan which is also a tale of incompetence leading to a pile of dead and maimed. In both the focus is on the cockup itself, assuming the reader is fully aware of the personal disaster they have been for millions.

I've given you the first sentence, to show it's good to the last here it is,

Further, we're going to have to spend millions and millions to investigate how we frittered away billions and billions.

If the elections go well and Democrats pick up one or both houses there have to be lots of hearings to investigate where the money went and how to get as much back as possible. The Bush regieme has been all about theft, it's essential to establish that as fully as possible. If Democrats in the house and Senate don't hold hearings and fix the blame on the Republicans they'll take the blame when things fall entirely apart and lose the next election.

There will be the usual Republican media attempt to say, oh, that was in the past, it's time to move on. No it isn't. It's always that way when Republicans screw things up and the Democrats regain power. They always want us to be the patsies that too many of us are entirely willing to be. Well, it's up to we The People, the real owners of this goverment to quash any signs of weakeness and force truth telling on the congress.

Not one of these commissions. No, not on a bet, not ever. These commissions are staffed by establishment wankers who are a part of the coverup. Those should never be used for the work of OUR public servants. The congress which has given up oversight under the Republicans has to be forced by us to take that on AND to report their findings to the people.

One more thing, we have to insist on extensive hearings into the politial use of the public airwaves and the cable systems. Those might be even more important than trying to find out where the money went. It was the corruption of information that led us into this imperial war. They'll be the ones with the post election chorus of "never mind".

Democrats have to expose the corporate corruption that is corrupting everything else. It's time to open the windows and let the light shine on every part of the Bush II years. Tell the story, force it to be told in all its infamy, drown out the media liars and the kept pundits. That's the only way to avoid a return of them.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Point of Personal Ingulgence This Post Is Temporary And Will Be Moved Later

Mr. Olvlz Regrets He’s Unable to Hunch Today.
Revised Authorized Version

So, what about Dawkins, Harris, etc. on religion ?

When people of science stray into the area of religion they shouldn’t expect to use their accustomed tools. Science deals in the physical world as it can be known to the scientist with results that can be verified by other scientists. Science is a human activity that is dependent on the means and limits of the people doing it and on conditions during the time they are doing it. It depends for its existence on what can be defined and known by people through observation, measurement and analysis.

Anything that might exist outside of physical reality, as a matter of definition*, cannot be observed, measured or analyzed. It might be possible to say that the subject matter of science, though not necessarily the scientist, has to be agnostic, excluding questions of religion just as it has to exclude subject matter and materials that it can’t use. Gods, saints, or any other possible supernatural entity cannot in any sense be the subject of science. Trying to use science to investigate these aspects of religion is like trying to do a cranial dissection with a piece of chiffon cake. Until someone comes up with a way to observe and measure things outside the physical universe the entirely non-material claims of faith based on personal experience are untouchable. Please note that this goes beyond the “you can’t disprove God exists” argument which Dawkins’s dismisses with “that’s not very impressive”. This isn’t an argument, it’s a simple statement of fact about the nature of science. Anything to do with the existence or nature of any supernatural entity is unarguable due to this barrier.

Not all questions of religion fall into this unknowable category. When religion makes assertions about the physical world then those are subject to scientific investigation. Science can show that the Genesis account of creation cannot be real because physical creation is subject to scientific analysis. Creationism is superstition because it makes false claims about things that have been successfully studied by science. ** Evolution, though certainly not complete or uncontested in its details, is as sound science as there can be. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge the scientific validity of the evidence for evolution is superstitious.

I don’t remember if I’ve run on about those ‘prayer studies’ here. But if there is an activity that can’t be defined or observed you can not know if it exists as any one thing or if that one thing will be present at any one time so you can’t study its possible effects. To study prayer you would have to accept the testimony of the people doing the praying that they were each doing the same thing, impossible for them to know, or that any one of them was doing the same thing more than once, something I doubt is any more reliable. None of those ‘studies’ lauded in turn by believers or atheists rises past the first hurdle of what is required of science, a phenomenon that can be studied.

The latest, fashionable scientist anti-religionists are dishonest about their anti-religious activities, many of the entertainers pretending to do science as they parrot them are at least as dishonest. They conflate different religions, ignore those that are inconvenient to their purpose, make wild assumptions based on little but prejudice, and often act like religious bigots. Maybe this would be easier to see if we had a term corresponding to “superstition” to deal with that kind of breech of honesty. Extrasentient deception? When confronted by their inaccurate or repeated false statements about history or theology or even stated individual belief, some of them fall on that familiar tactic of the failing side of a discussion, dismissive rudeness. Some insist that their rude dismissal is the real, correct response to react to religious belief. In fact these pop-atheist celebrities don’t just react, they go out of their way to insult people who believe in one or more gods. Not that believers are particularly impressed by that.

The “prove it or shut up” fad among some atheists sets a pretty high bar for conversation. Do they hold themselves up to the same standard? Do they never talk about things they haven’t got the data to back up readily at hand? If someone wanted to hold them to the standard they advocate what range of subject matter could they discuss? Is anyone who discusses any aspect of science, history, literature required to master the entire range of published material on the subject? Just saying “ well scientists say” doesn’t really get you very far. It would be a mighty silent world if we had to really live up to that level of evidence for any assertion.

Scientists aren’t infallible as individuals and even the community of science has held some pretty wrong ideas over the generations. And not even all respected scientists agree on a lot of stuff. Richard Lewontin is as much of a scientist as Richard Dawkins or Stephen Pinker, and considerably more of one that Sam Harris was the last time I looked, not all scientists agree. They are liable to the full range of prejudice, personal preference, reliance on tradition and social convention as anyone else. Some of these fad atheists seem to have more than their share of class and intellectual snobbery added in.

The attempts to explain away religion as the product of genetics and evolution are naive. There is no way of knowing what the implications of evolution and genetics are for religion, for or against. As has been stated by others, if there is a creator who wishes to be known to human beings then it would be expected that the creator, who would have made the physical world, after all, would create physical means of making that happen. It could be that a creator wanted there to be just a possibility of its happening, no one can say. As a part of the physical world those mechanisms might be subject to discovery but any possible design of it can’t be known. That is exactly the same thing that is so stupid about ‘intelligent design’ when fundamentalists pretend it’s science. It’s not science in exactly the same way that denial of an intelligent designer is not scientific. It is possible to hold the belief in a creator and to accept evolution by natural selection in some form. It is possible to believe that natural selection constitutes the mechanism designed by a creator. The evolution is almost entirely objective science, the belief in conscious design of it is outside of science and personal.

The atheist’s hunch might be right but there is no way to prove it. That must be frustrating to some people pushing a career in this burgeoning area of popular culture but that is no excuse for them to pretend that their methods can do what they cannot do. If they insist on making those kinds of assertions and calling it science, they are dishonest. Of course, since it is a matter of belief they are fully entitled to hold and assert their view point just as any religious person does. I would hope that so long as all sides are honest and polite that they can do so with some tolerance. I certainly don’t know the answer to these questions and since no one can find an one, I don’t really care. Their effects on my own belief are nil.*** Religion, likewise, should not pretend to be or to dismiss science. In other words, I agree with Stephen J. Gould.

* I’m not too hot on defining God. Any definition of God will inevitably be inadequate and incomplete and will almost inevitably turn into an idol of the mind, the most dangerous kind. I will, however, point out that just by being undefinable any possible effect, range of activity or motivation of a proposed deity is impossible to know or understand. Harris, Dawkins and others say that this mandates rude dismissal, I think it mandates that personal beliefs shouldn’t be forced on other people against their will. No one knows who might be right, if anyone can be.

**I would argue that creationism is also bad religion because it turns the Bible into an idol and it lies. Creationists lie about the Bible’s text, its history, its authorship, its many different meanings and the enormous diversity of views of all of those. The Bible is a collection of writings from many different authors from many different times. Many of the individual “books” are pastiche in themselves. Many of the words in the original tongues are subject to different interpretations. The Bible is not what fundamentalists pretend it is. I think we can demand that much of any religion, that it not lie.

*** Reading this over again, it occurred to me that I don’t recall any religious believers, not even the most reactionary fundamentalists, who have denied that there might be a biological mechanism producing faith. It would be interesting to hear religious arguments against a biological mechanism since a devout believer, especially one who believed in intelligent design, would seem to expect there to be one. If anyone can point me to some religious objection to biological mechanisms of this kind, please give a link.

I am sure that it isn’t the intention of Harris or Dawkins or the others but I am quite confident that if some neural mechanism of belief is discovered some gleeful fundamentalists will muckle on to it and hold it up as proof positive that there is a creator and the evidence of his handiwork is encoded into our very molecules. As I say, their attempts are naive

I don’t take any stand either way. My statement that there isn’t any way to know if this is the product of a creator or random natural selection is, I firmly believe, unassailable.

I am not interested in what people believe, I’m interested in how they act.

Do Mine Ears Deceive Me?

or did I just hear the doyenne of the paranoid, ultra-right, Phyllis Schlafly in a swivet over Social Security numbers NOT being used as a universal I.D. number in the United States. I’d love to have heard Diane Rehm ask her about that one. Is this now officially not a feature of the international, jewish, atheist, homosexual, communist agenda, the mark of the beast and a prelude to us all having our brains destroyed with fluoride? Or is it just that the paranoid right trusts the Bush Junta with that kind of power.

On the intellectual acumen of his boss: "“He reminds me of one of those guys at the gym who plays about 40 chessboards at once." Tony Snowe

Who the world does he think he's fooling? We are in Nicholae Ceausescu, Enver Hoxha, territory here, folks.

Only in a tinpot dictatorship could the President's Press Secretary tell such a bald faced lie about the intellectual abilities of a clearly addle brained, drooling idiot and not have the press ridicule him to the heavens.

Well, that's it, friends. We are officially in a new dark age. The Bush Unlightenment.

It's just a matter of days until they are all announcing that

George W. Bush Is The Greatest Scientific Mind In The History Of The Universe.

They'll risk the Ayn Rand vote but hey, greatness has its costs.

Thanks to Atrios for the link.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Billion Moslems Don’t Care What We Want

The world needs there to be an Islamic Enlightenment in the Middle East and beyond. It needs an appreciation and passion for equality and personal liberty to take root among Moslems. It also needs for that to happen among Christians and others in the West, never more so than as the Bush era Unlightenment threatens to snuff out the small flames of reason here. Enlightenment is too good to be restricted to any particular group. For reasons given below, I doubt the necessary Islamic Enlightenment can come to enough people until the West rediscovers and realizes aspirations for justice and reason, both essential prerequisites for freedom. But this post is about some of the practical consequences for western leftists of this new dark age we live in.

Eteraz and Echidne’s posts this week calling for action to try to prevent the stoning deaths of women in Iran are about the best things I’ve seen on the web in months. Information and exchanging ideas is well and good, but action trying to change reality for the better is certainly the best use of the web. Reality, what actually happens, is superior to any abstract consideration. Who can say if it will work? The only thing that is certain is that not writing those letters to Iranian officials means that you haven’t tried to prevent these deaths and others to come. That attempt has to be made, it is an act of amorality to not try.

But our case would be a lot stronger if the United States hadn’t done so much to destroy any hopes for political and social progress in Islamic countries. When Norman Schwarzkopf ’s father instigated the overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadegh for British and American oil interests, he and those giving him orders probably insured that eventually there would be today’s Islamic government in Iran. The suppression of any democratic opposition to the Shah insured that another force, religion, which it was impossible to entirely suppress or coopt, would become the dominant opposition. That is what happened.

All corrupt governments eventually fall, all oligarchic systems eventually rot out and get kicked in by something else. In Iran that something else was conservative Islam. The desperate and inadequate attempts during and after the Shah’s fall to support a democratic opposition were too little and far too late. Support by the United States or Britain at that point would have only made the democrats’ position worse. Remember the taunts that America was “the great Satan”.* In that climate Iranian democrats in league with the United States might be seen as having made a pact with the devil. American and Britain certainly hadn’t been little angels in that country.

What does it mean for western leftists that our governments seem to have done just about everything they can to insure that westerners have almost no moral credibility in the Middle East? In just the latest and largest example of moral hypocrisy, the Iraq war was abominably sold as a war to bring democracy and womens rights when there was no reason to believe that it could. The moral, political and financial disaster that the people of that country have suffered because of it, has damaged the reputation of democracy itself. As Bush and Rice chanted “rape rooms” they ushered in the anarchy they were warned would result from their invasion. Many people suspected that this would result in a situation much worse for women than the years of Saddam Hussein’s rule, that is just what has come about. And that’s just one of many instances where our credibility has been spent in exchange for corrupt goals over many decades.

All of this is a round about way to get to the central point of this post, what will or does an Islamic feminism look like? Of all the necessary social movements for justice in the Islamic world none is more needed than feminism. In many Islamic countries women are as oppressed as it is possible for them to be. Their oppression carries the full force of the law and the apparatus of the state and official religion. Sometimes even the dominant opposition is fully in accord with this grinding subjugation of women. Half of Islam needs feminism more desperately than American women did in the 19th Century. But whatever else can be known about the possible form that this feminism could take, one thing is certain. It will be an Islamic feminism.

The women who produce and accept it will have to find the defense of their liberty in terms of their cultures and the texts of their religion. Westerners who expect or even demand that the expectations of various secular feminisms be adopted in Islamic countries are wasting their time. Even with the clearest evidence and most obvious reasoning, things alien to Islamic cultures will be rejected. It will be seen as an attempt at covert imperialism and massively arrogant. It will be characterized as immorality and the work of Satan. You might not like these facts but our not liking it has entirely no importance in the matter on the ground in those countries.

Another thing that has to be remembered, enough men in these Islamic countries will also have to fully accept the legitimacy of some form of feminism for there to be any improvement in the lives of women. In some societies women have no legal rights of any kind, they are now treated as the chattels of men. There is not going to be a rising of women against those men, the majority of men are going to have to be convinced. That will be the work of generations, it’s not going to happen during our lives. Development issues which would benefit from women having equal education and financial rights might help make the case. But without dedication to justice the lure of development will not be enough. There has to be enough devotion to the rights of women to literally be willing to die for them. The radical Islamic right has shown it is willing to shed oceans of blood to dominate the majority of the population and the enforced subjugation of women is one of their basic goals.

If Western governments persist with the same policies they have followed, then they and western corporations have handed people in the Middle East and around the globe more than enough ammunition to reject our ideas for social reform. That ammunition consists of wars of conquest, puppet governments, environmental ruin, agricultural despoliation, financial and political and cultural corruption and meddling in their home grown attempts at progress. It has issued a definitive insult to Moslems and that insult is a lot more important than most of us can imagine. Leftists have no reason to expect that we can escape being tainted by this history, not even with the best will in the world. We live in witness to the evil done by our governments’ foreign policy without having prevented it, not even with the tools of democracy securely in our hands.

Where does that leave leftists here? We have to keep petitioning the governments in Islamic and other countries to stop killing and injuring women and others and to reform their legal systems. There is no question of that obligation. But there is more we can do. We can try to understand and support Islamic women and men who are working for justice and freedom. And they do exist ** They must take the lead. They have the necessary knowledge of the actual social and political realities in their countries needed to get results. Trying to impose details that we think are right on them is futile and insulting. It will be rejected, it will fail to change anything. But we have a much more important job, one that is important because it has some chance to change reality in a positive way in the near future.

We have to pressure our governments to end policies that lead to the poverty and oppression of people in Islamic countries. We have to pressure our government to stop trying to manage the Middle East, Indonesia and countries around the world for the benefit of big oil and other corporations. Our governments have to try to force the corrupt families and oligarches who run client states in the Middle East to begin the turn over to real democracies. Just as here, the only guarantee of democracy is an informed and rational pubic. The media and educational systems have to be turned to real education and not propaganda. In a lot of these countries, even those with large oil incomes, real, universal, public education has yet to begin. Pressuring the wealthy rulers to do this isn’t going to be easy but nothing will improve until they do. The change it could bring about is essential so the seeming impossibility is no excuse to not start applying pressure right now.

If the United States hadn’t installed the Shah it is possible we could be dealing with a democracy there today. It would probably not be what many of us would be happy with but it would be a lot better than what our government installed. It is quite possible that with an example of a real democracy dedicated to the welfare of the people, significant parts of the history of that area could be different. The political and social pressures that produced Saddam Hussein might not have happened. There very likely would not have been an Iran-Iraq war or Bush War I. There wouldn’t have been the sanctions of the Clinton years. There might not have been an invasion of Iraq by the arrogant and ignorant Bush II regime. The fundamentalists might never have been able to fill the vacuum left by the suppression of democratic oppositions to the old and decadent rulers. The overthrow of an elected government in Iran certainly didn’t do anything to help the situation. Who knows, Jimmy Carter might have even won reelection.

Western leftists are too used to believing we can get what we want as soon as we want it. The past quarter of a century here should have convinced us that we almost never can. If we can’t pass the Equal Rights Amendment in the United States, we’re hardly in a position to start planning what the liberation of women in Islamic countries will be like or when it will come. Repeatedly demanding the impossible is no substitute for intelligent and constant pressure to change the situation that keeps people everywhere in bondage. Our most intelligent effort will be in changing that situation by changing our own government’s actions around the world.

* And conservatives are shocked and offended when another elected leader of an oil producing country who survived a coup attempt calls Bush “the devil”. You seeing a pattern here?

**A small sample of sites and papers.

The Feminist Sexual Ethics Project Islam Links

Margot Badran Islamic feminism: what's in a name?

Amina Wadud

Irshad Manji

Zeeshan Hasan

Did You Hear This One
ALASKA Needs Fuel Assistance From Venezuela

Oh, thank heavens for those patriotic Inuits who are willing to freeze to death so that the demon Hugo Chavez can’t burnish his image here. Those brave natives of the north will show him he can’t go call George W. Bush the devil at the U.N. and not pay a price. Because of them Bush will prevail, ter’ism will be defeated and, no doubt, oil profits can climb even higher.

But Alaska? Doesn’t it register that this is more than strange? Doesn’t it provide evidence of just how corrupt and screwed up our economics are. That Alaska, which has sacrificed large swaths of its northern territory to oil production, would even need to consider getting fuel oil from another country is just stunning. Why didn’t the crooks who run that state make certain that there would be enough oil supplied in the deal for Alaska’s residents? Is there some commandment of economics that would forbid public servants (and in few places is that phrase more pro forma) from looking after the basic needs of their real bosses, the people? I mean, it isn’t post invasion Iraq.

And most stunning of all it’s not even oil that Venezuela is prepared to give them, it’s money, cash, beautiful dollahs .

About 150 native villages in Alaska have accepted money for heating oil from Citgo. The oil company does not operate in Alaska, so instead of sending oil, it is donating about $5.3 million to native nonprofit organizations to buy 100 gallons this winter for each of more than 12,000 households.

Hugo Chavez was prepared to give money to make up for the Alaskan legislature’s refusal to appropriate enough money for fuel assistance.

An editorial last month in the Anchorage Daily News bashed the Legislature's rejection in March of an $8.8 million state supplement to a federal program that helps poor Alaskans with home heating costs.

Now that issue has been raised by FOX and crocks’ in praise of the patriotism of these few Inuit villages which have so unwisely refused what many other villages have accepted watch for this. As these hypocritical Republicans praise the small group of natives defending with their lives George W. Bush from the slings and arrows of petty name-calling, as the right wing media and slagosphere echo these same talking points none of them are in any danger of freezing this winter. I’ll bet many of them will be staying warm or driving their cars due to oil imported from Venezuela, it’s just that they have the money to pay for it. I’ll bet that sitting in their warm studios and cars they’ll be quite willing to defend the honor of George W. Bush to the last frozen Inuit.

Gov. Frank Murkowski, certainly as corrupt a government official as has ever breathed, has said that Chavez is trying to destroy Americans faith in their government. If that’s the case, why is he lending him such an opportunity to begin with? If he and his cronies were looking after the interests of their constituents instead of themselves and their fellow plutocrats Chavez might have to offer this to some other Republican state.

I bet the Inuit wisely not prepared to freeze for King and oilgarchy will now be known on FOX and the other outlets of Republican bilge as traitors, that is if they dare to bring them up in this entirely shameful story of theft, negligence and hypocrisy.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Self- Described Slut Is The Enthusiastically Endorsed Republican Candidate for Sec. Of State in Wisconsin

Oh deah, indeed! The Republican candidate for Secretary of State in Wisconsin, Sandy Sullivan, whose most important experience of public service would seem to be, uh, getting serviced by football players has the endorsement of two former Republican governors. One, Tommy Thompson, is also that former Bush cabinet member who bailed while the bailing was still good.

Seems that Ms. Sullivan’s resume might be a bit on the non-existent side of things if she hadn’t filled it in with her 2004 memoire, "Green Bay Love Stories and Other Affairs," in which she testifies in detail that her qualifications consist largely of having sex with various football players in the 1960s. As this link says, her website doesn’t seem to contain any policy information. Having seen football players on the college level during this period, I wasn’t aware that getting one in bed would qualify as a skilled occupation. As I remember anyone barely breathing had what it took for that. If what a couple of my acquaintances of the time told me is true there was no gender prohibition for the job either. At any rate she's still got Bart Starr rooting for her.

Yet this is the kind of experience that the “values party” thinks fits someone for a job like Secretary of State for a rather large state such as Wisconsin. Not surprising since they think that a Crime Family prince whose qualifications seem to be as a cheer leader and juvenile rouée is their perfect President of the United States. That seems to be the extent of Republicans new ideas.

Embarrass a Republican moralist with this one at your earliest convenience. Now that they've endorsed her, aren't the big name Republicans even bigger sluts?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Is Kim Jong-il Having The Bomb A Big Enough Fiasco For Them?

For all his short comings, at the end of his administration Bill Clinton had done something to delay the day when North Korea had the bomb. George W. Bush, in what passed as eloquence among the smart crowd of oligarches, put it on his target list as a member of the “Axis of Evil” and jump started what had been under seal before. Wonder if Mrs. Frum is still bragging on her husband’s writing abilities today.

With this one we can safely conclude that there isn’t a catastrophe big enough for the corrupt oligarches to dump Bush, or rather Cheney who is the real power. September 11th, Iraq, North Korea, the recent Israeli-Lebanese war, the impending depression here,... Any two of those would have been enough to sink a Democratic president but the corporate state and its propaganda arm, the media, are still supporting the corrupt Republican one-party state. The media here are still spinning on behalf of the Bush junta. Condi’s trying to push her failure onto the backs of the Clinton administration isn’t being met with the fact-based derision it fully deserves.

Don’t think the rest of the world is gulled, though. Hugo Chavez’ speech to the UN might go down in history as the Declaration of Independence for the rest of the world from domination by a super power gone stupid. Here he is to be regarded as a corrupt dictator but it is clear that Chavez was speaking on behalf of most of the planet when he fingered George W. Bush for as Excess of Evil. Anyone who has stood up to Bush and especially any one who successfully defied a coup instigated by Bush will gain leadership status. That speech might be seen as the definitive moment marking when the United States began to ebb as the dominant power in the world.

I would welcome the United States not being the world’s boss. There shouldn’t be one dominant country, it’s not good for the world or for that country. Democracy can’t exist in a country busy with trying to dictate to the world and democracy is the only legitimate form of government. This fact might be lost over the brilliant jurists of the Supreme Court but it’s an absolute truth. Unelected government will always become bad government and our system has been so corrupted that a truly elected government is becoming impossible. We might have one chance.

The only hope for salvaging the situation for the United States is if the elections next month produce a Democratic majority in either or both houses of Congress. If they do and, especially, if they are the forerunner of a Democratic replacement for the Bush regime the United States might escape its future as a pariah state. If the electorate has been successfully propagandized by the media and keeps Republican control in the face of the massive corruption, criminality and monumental incompetence then the world will be forced to deal with us as a rogue state.

It used to be that we had corrupt and unscrupulous elites who, nonetheless, were informed and adult enough to manage the United States to avoid these kinds of disasters. At worst, as in Vietnam, when it was clear that it was about to bring the country down, they could be forced to pull out. Today the elites and their media mouthpieces are so ignorant and cynical that they don’t really care if the entire thing is sacrificed. Maybe they imagine themselves as the liege lords of a new dark age, maybe Conan the Barbarian was the model of their brave new world. Or Pol Pot.

The People are the last hope. If at least a plurality of us can’t get rid of the Republicans in the face of these multiple disasters then it’s beginning to look doubtful that any domestic force will. In that unfortunate circumstance it is likely that, eventually, the rest of the world will eventually be forced to pressure a change in our government. The best we will be able to hope for in that unfortunate circumstance, is that they find non-violent means to do it. We used to have adult oligarches but they’ve gone soft in the head through inbreeding, as elites can be counted on to do. They’ve given the country over to their idiot sons as a play thing.

If the People don’t save the situation, prepare for the worst. When the People have been corrupted it all rots.

The Fall of Rome

The piers are pummelled by the waves;
In a lonely field the rain
Lashes an abandoned train;
Outlaws fill the mountain caves.

Fantastic grow the evening gowns;
Agents of the Fisc pursue
Absconding tax-defaulters through
The sewers of provincial towns.

Private rites of magic send
The temple prostitutes to sleep;
All the literati keep
An imaginary friend.

Cerebrotonic Cato may
Extol the Ancient Disciplines,
But the muscle-bound Marines
Mutiny for food and pay.

Caesar's double-bed is warm
As an unimportant clerk
On a pink official form.

Unendowed with wealth or pity,
Little birds with scarlet legs,
Sitting on their speckled eggs,
Eye each flu-infected city.

Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.

-- W.H. Auden

Sorry for the pause,

Got sick, then my family got sick. But everyone's back in school, for now. And I'm not running a fever, finally. Hope you all managed to avoid it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Ok, Let me put it this way, a proposal.

A Pledge By Candidates to The Voters Whose Nomination They Want

If Democrats who legitimately cast a vote in the Democratic primary or in caucus choose another candidate to be their nominee, I pledge that I will not run as an independent or as the candidate of another party for that office in the general election.

The people who cast legitimate votes in the Democratic primary determine their candidate, candidates who ask for their nomination are honor bound to abide by their decision. The Democratic nomination for any office belongs to the enrolled members of the party, not to any candidate, office holder or official of the Democratic Party.

I can’t see any reason that a group or coalition of Democrats can’t ask a candidate for their nomination to sign this pledge as soon as they have filed to run. If the candidate won’t sign it they will have announced that they don’t consider their loyalty to Democrats binding. Democrats will know what to expect of candidates like that. If the candidate does sign and then reneges on that pledge then the voters in the general election will know that their word isn’t to be trusted. I can see either becoming an important election issue.

We have to reclaim the Democratic nomination as the property of enrolled Democrats, we have to reclaim all political offices as the property of the voters at large. We might lend them to people but that doesn’t make them their property. Joe Lieberman doesn’t have ownership rights over the Senate seat he’s been borrowing, no matter how much he might think so.

Ok, Let me put it this way, a proposal

A Pledge By Candidates to The Voters Whose Nomination They Want

If Democrats who legitimately cast a vote in the Democratic primary or in caucus choose another candidate to be their nominee, I pledge that I will not run as an independent or as the candidate of another party for that office in the general election.

The people who cast legitimate votes in the Democratic primary determine their candidate, candidates who ask for their nomination are honor bound to abide by their decision. The Democratic nomination for any office belongs to the enrolled members of the party, not to any candidate, office holder or official of the Democratic Party.

I can’t see any reason that a group or coalition of Democrats can’t ask a candidate for their nomination to sign this pledge as soon as they have filed to run. If the candidate won’t sign it they will have announced that they don’t consider their loyalty to Democrats binding. Democrats will know what to expect of candidates like that. If the candidate does sign and then reneges on that pledge then the voters in the general election will know that their word isn’t to be trusted. I can see either becoming an important election issue.

We have to reclaim the Democratic nomination as the property of enrolled Democrats, we have to reclaim all political offices as the property of the voters at large. We might lend them to people but that doesn’t make them their property. Joe Lieberman doesn’t have ownership rights over the Senate seat he’s been borrowing, no matter how much he might think so.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Why do NPR and Cheryl Corley think that whatever Newt Gingrich has to say about the Foley scandal has any news value? Why does National Public Radio think that what a disgraced ex-speaker who left congress under a cloud of scandal has any relevance to the scandal being slowly revealed today.

Why does NPR think that airing the completely non-factual speculations of disgraced, ex-speaker, under a cloud of ethical taint, Republican mouthpiece and known propagandist, Newt Gingrich that the fact based Foley scandal was a dirty trick brought by "Democrats and the media" to effect the November elections is anything but an attempt by Newt Gingrich and the rest of the Republican propaganda machine's attempt to cover up a major scandal in the Republican leadership of the congress?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Got What's Going Round

Drinking Gingerale By the Bucket. Hope You Don't Get It.

No Long Writing Tonight.

he CBS Evening News was awful before. Bob Schieffer, brother of Bush business associate and Ambassador to Japan, was driving it into the ground, the Katie Courwreck* hasn't done anything to improve that situation.

This doesn't surprise me, neither the value of a woman's thoughts in Free Speech being tied to her status as a parent nor the pathetic ratio**. The Evening News is the total retreat of CBS away from the news and into the depths of cabloid "news". It took them fifty years to do it, but the corporate state won.

I hope it's a flop.

* Now that's one I'm pretty sure I've got dibs on.

** Echidne analyzed it and puts it at Men 18 Women 5. And the women were generally there due to their status as mothers.

Can't Borrow Fast Enough To Keep Up With The Stealing

There is fresh evidence, if any more were needed, that excessive borrowing during the Bush years will make the nation poorer.

For most of the past five and a half years, interest rates have been low, allowing the government to borrow more and more — to cut taxes while fighting two expensive wars — without having to shoulder higher interest payments.

That’s over now. For the first time during President Bush’s tenure, the government’s interest bill is expected to rise in 2006, from $184 billion in 2005 to $220 billion this year, up nearly 20 percent. That increase — $36 billion — makes interest the fastest-growing component of federal spending, and continued brisk growth is likely. According to projections by Congress’s budget office, the interest bill will grow to $249 billion in 2007, and $270 billion in 2008.

All of that is money the government won’t have available to spend on other needs and priorities. And much of it won’t even be recycled back into the United States economy. That’s because borrowing from foreign countries has exploded during the Bush years. In 2005, the government paid about $77 billion in interest to foreign creditors in China, Japan and elsewhere.

You Vill Not Diss Der Viz Prezidnt!

According to the lawsuit filed at U.S. District Court in Denver, Howards and his son walked to about two-to-three feet from where Cheney was standing, and said to the vice president, "I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible," or words to that effect, then walked on.

Ten minutes later, according to Howards' lawsuit, he and his son were walking back through the same area, when they were approached by Secret Service agent Virgil D. "Gus" Reichle Jr., who asked Howards if he had "assaulted" the vice president. Howards denied doing so, but was nonetheless placed in handcuffs and taken to the Eagle County Jail.

The lawsuit states that the Secret Service agent instructed that Howards should be issued a summons for harassment, but that on July 6 the Eagle County District Attorney's Office dismissed all charges against Howards.


Someone asked if I intended to continue writing this blog since I have started another blog and am writing for Echidne's blog on weekends. Yes I do. The purpose and tone of this blog is entirely different from the new blog and I hope to continue with both.

Some pieces will be posted at two or all of these blogs, I hope that you can excuse any duplication.

Yes, I Would Rather Be Talking About Iraq Too

A used comment with modifications.

A comment on another blog calls us to task for focusing on the Foley affair, well it's a real news story, one with important implications. The cover up by the Republican leadership is the real story. It's not one I'd like to be focusing on a month before what might be the most important elections in my life time but it's here. If Foley was a Democrat you can be certain that it would eclipse everything, getting blanket coverage.

I'd love it if the press and most especially the cabloids would focus on the Bush wars, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the coming one in Iran, the war against the constitution, the war on the poor and middle class, essentially the war on reality. But the fact is they don't. The media in the United States broke the dam of sensation and sleaze in its attempts to drive our last elected president, Clinton, from office. The disaster of a TV trial of O.J. Simpson didn't help either.

Phony "news" drives out real news, it degrades the public discourse. Profit and so ratings driven "news", propaganda for the corporate super-state, celebrity "news" all for the profit of the "news" corporations are to blame, not those of us who have to deal with the political consequences of this distraction.

When I advocate strict requirements for the electronic media people complain but there isn't any way to have a democracy with people being as ignorant and propagandized as the American Public is today. You work with the tools you are given, even if you don't like them.

I'd say I sound like a broken record but am finding that ever fewer people understand what that means. The intimations of geezerdom.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Don’t Say Tragedy, Call Selfish, Cowardly Hate Crimes What They Are

The news readers keep saying that the murders of Naomi Rose Eversole, Marian Fisher, Lina Miller, Mary Liz Miller, and Anna Mae Stoltzfus, and the attempted murder of other, still endangered girls is a tragedy. It isn’t a tragedy. Tragedies are not planned in detail, they are not planned with everything including toilet paper for the comfort of the murderer taken into an Amish school from which adults and males are released before the murderer begins to carry out his plans. This was a hate crime planned and committed by a man who felt he was entitled to murder little girls he didn’t know. He felt that his gender entitled him to terrorize, humiliate and murder them.

This wasn’t a tragedy, this wasn’t a story set into motion for the entertainment or revenge of the gods, this was one man who believed his being born with a penis gave him the power of life and death over these girls. Maybe over all girls. He could have chosen any girls to murder. This man choosing to murder girls from what he would certainly have known was a pacifist sect is everything anyone needs to know about his sense of entitlement and his cowardice. His name and identity are useless except as a study in that particular type of cowardly, selfish man. After what there is to know about him has been collected and studied he deserves to be erased from the collective memory of the world.

Lynchings are not tragedies, they are crimes, sordid murders by self-centered cowards who believe that their gender, race, religion, ethnicity or class entitles them to murder other people. Knowing the murderers for what they are is all anyone needs to know about them. Using that knowledge of their taste in entertainment, their hobbies, their upbringing and their other pathologies in order to avoid producing more of these defective human beings is all that they are good for. None of this should be anything but a scientific study in pathology.

Dwelling on the names and lives of these cowards risks turning them into something they aren’t. While studying their psychological flaws the fact that they were selfish and cowardly should never be forgotten. People with mental illness can sometimes be selfish slime too. Normal people might see them memorialized on TV as examples of evil, potential killers will see them as heros to be emulated or topped. Ignoring that possibility even as the programs talk about the “copy-cat” nature of a lot of these crimes is a crime in itself. It is the same crime the neighbors of Kitty Genovese committed when they ignored her as she was being murdered. It is cynical indifference. It is time to put an end to sensation murder used as profit driven entertainment and entertainment posing as news. It is part of the problem in the age of TV and video.

Call these crimes what they are. Don’t memorialize the criminals. Don’t instruct their admirers and fellow degenerates.

Love your work, Harry Bliss, but your website takes forever to load on dial-up.

Worth the wait, though.

In early 1950, Congressman Harold Velde of Illinois, rising in the House of Representatives to oppose mobile library service to rural areas, told his colleagues:

“The basis of communism and socialistic influence is education of the people.”

That warning was uttered in the special climate of the Cold War, but education has always inspired fear among those who want to keep the existing distributions of power and wealth as they are.

Howard Zinn, How Free is Higher Education? 1991

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Every day four women die in this country as a result of domestic violence, the euphemism for murders and assaults by husbands and boyfriends. That's approximately 1,400 women a year, according to the FBI. The number of women who have been murdered by their intimate partners is greater than the number of soldiers killed in the Vietnam War.

Source: National Organization For Women

The Lynching Campaign Against Women Doesn't Come Out of Nowhere

The epidemic of violence against women and girls in the United States and the terror that results from it is a form of lynching as practiced in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is time to fight against it and the media and social milieu that tolerates and promotes it. And it is promoted. Through TV and movies and video games.

Watching my nieces get on their school bus a few minutes ago and thinking of how they keep repeating that this murderer had no connection to the school or community who knows how safe any girl is in their school today? Listening to them talk about how he copied the murderer in Colorado I've got to imagine that this piece of slime found that as a worthy model for his obviously planned act of attention getting.

We have to realize that in the cable and TV audience, among those who are watching, trying to get the news, there is a lynch mob savoring every detail, every speculation that the on-air voices are broadcasting. The news conferences with the police, seen by normal people as news are like Entertainment Tonight for these degenerates.

We have to put an end to this kind of unintentional glorification of these monsters because there are other monsters looking at them as role models.

Thinking about Echidne’s post on the murders in school of the Amish girls last night, maybe we need an Internet equivalent of this.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Murders in the Amish School

It's not possible to know if there is any sense to be made of these acts of violence, to find something that could help prevent another one but it's got to be tried. They should look at everything they can about these murderers and see if they can find anything that might have inspired them. Hatred of women, or females seems to be common, glorification of violent masculinity. I heard that there is evidence that this guy today was inspired by what they said on TV about the last one in Colorado, he seemed to copy what that one did.

I wonder if it's a good idea to have so much about these on TV. The details repeated over and over. To normal people it might just seem like TV but I'll bet to a lot of marginal people like these it seems like a celebrity news. It would be easy to imagine these creeps fantasizing about the A&E segment about the crime they're committing, about the lurid details and sensational acts described. It's not possible to know but TV or video must have some role to play in some of them.

It's not a good tradeoff. The police shouldn't reveal details to the press or the general public unless they need to know. There are some things it's too dangerous to reveal and which the public doesn't really have any need to know. The police shouldn't talk to the media while something is going on.

That said, this is so disturbing, the third time since school started this year. I don't know an America that watches these things happen over and over again and doesn't do anything about it.

My brother had a phone call the other night, a solicitation from the NRA. He doesn't own a gun and doesn't have any idea how he got on their list. The NRA huckster told him that they had to raise money to keep the U.N. from taking all our guns. They're Murder Incorporated as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Nice, Normal, Poor People What Could Be A More Subversive Concept?

ostcards From Buster, the PBS children’s show, is most famous for the suppressed episode in which he visited a two-mother family in Vermont during maple sugaring time. I saw the episode when it finally aired. After the big buildup Margaret Spellings and other mouth pieces of the radical-Republican right gave it I was expecting something like a daughter in Future Longshoremen of America or a son who aspired to be a Radical Faerie. But no, the most controversial thing about the episode was the promotion of tooth decay and that was due to Buster’s sugar addiction, not anything to do with the non-animated people. Being a kid’s show, the parents were almost invisible.

There is another episode of Postcards which did a lot more to undermine the corporate state than that perfectly nice, though typical, middle-class family in Vermont. The show which presented the unremarkable lives of clearly poor children who live in a trailer park was far more subversive. I loved it. The lives of poor children not as young thugs, not as problems to be jailed in a few years but as entirely likeable, normal children with normal, non-pathological, fantasy lives. That is something that is just not seen much on TV.

Nor were they presented as tragic figures. The children were presented as having normal problems, some due to their financial condition but not as hapless victims of their circumstances or as an implied threat to the slightly more fortunate. Happy, nice, poor kids.

The idea that an oligarchy needs to have poor people and their financial condition as a threat to keep the working class in line is an idea that I’ve never seen much to contradict. That certainly is the most common use the oligarches’ kept media puts them too. As a number of people have pointed out, it’s the major theme of “COPS” and where else do you see poor people on TV these days? Jerry Springer?

If there was no destitution then the demands of the working class for a better deal would be a lot stronger. The threat of poverty drives wages down for the near poor. In order to make maximal use of this resource for social management the poor have to be despised. The never far away condition that they could fall to if they get too aggressive has to be shown to be a living hell with little chance for escape. Working stiff is better than the other roles assigned to the poor, criminals, junkies, prostitutes, violent psychopaths, drunks, etc. And that most despised role of all, victim, don’t forget victim. Some of this hatred of our untouchables even bleeds through to the left, “trailer trash” is a term that is sometimes even used on the most leftist blogs.

All of this hurts poor people, they suffer from the attitude of other people and from the damage it does to their opinion of themselves. It would be useful to know how much of the inertia of ingrained poverty is caused by people being convinced that it is hopeless to try to achieve a better life. It might give insights into other problems poor people sometimes have.

If poor people were depicted on TV as good people the social order could truly be endangered. The class system could really fall. If the United States really acted as if it believed the children of poor parents were the equal of the richest of the rich it would have to feed, take care of and educate them as if they were something other than a threat to distract the middle classes with. The neo-Malthusian view of them as surplus population would become unfashionable again.

What would happen if Postcards and other TV programs presented a lot more positive images of poor people*. Could America handle it? Would it be allowed to handle it? If poverty in itself wasn’t seen as a despicable thing a good part of the fear factor in middle class politics would lessen and with it the downward mobility pressures on wages and services. The assumption, built so rigorously by the corporate state and its organs of media, that all of the destitute were lazy, degenerate, “undeserving poor” could give way to the more idealistic American response of the New Deal era. The truly American way as opposed to the class snob way. What would happen to an oligarchy whose children were discouraged from being class snobs? Heavens, the young of the ruling class, itself, might someday fall in love and marry them! How would they feel if their daughter wanted to marry some nice, poor boy? Or girl?

* Running this by my nieces they tell me that there was an episode showing positive images of families in the barrios of LA. If their account is accurate all I can say is keep those kind of postcards coming, Buster.

Note: digby at Hullabaloo has this link to look at what is respectable among the best people. I'll take the trailer park residents, thank you. They have a lower crime rate.

Sunday Night October Heavy Gothic Poetry Blogging


The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped and sere-
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year;
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir-
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Here once, through an alley Titanic,
Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul-
Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
There were days when my heart was volcanic
As the scoriac rivers that roll-
As the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek
In the ultimate climes of the pole-
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
In the realms of the boreal pole.

Our talk had been serious and sober,
But our thoughts they were palsied and sere-
Our memories were treacherous and sere-
For we knew not the month was October,
And we marked not the night of the year-
(Ah, night of all nights in the year!)
We noted not the dim lake of Auber-
(Though once we had journeyed down here),
Remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,
Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

And now, as the night was senescent,
And star-dials pointed to morn-
As the star-dials hinted of morn-
At the end of our path a liquescent
And nebulous lustre was born,
Out of which a miraculous crescent
Arose with a duplicate horn-
Astarte's bediamonded crescent
Distinct with its duplicate horn.

And I said- "She is warmer than Dian:
She rolls through an ether of sighs-
She revels in a region of sighs:
She has seen that the tears are not dry on
These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
And has come past the stars of the Lion,
To point us the path to the skies-
To the Lethean peace of the skies-
Come up, in despite of the Lion,
To shine on us with her bright eyes-
Come up through the lair of the Lion,
With love in her luminous eyes."

But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
Said- "Sadly this star I mistrust-
Her pallor I strangely mistrust:-
Oh, hasten!- oh, let us not linger!
Oh, fly!- let us fly!- for we must."
In terror she spoke, letting sink her
Wings until they trailed in the dust-
In agony sobbed, letting sink her
Plumes till they trailed in the dust-
Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.

I replied- "This is nothing but dreaming:
Let us on by this tremulous light!
Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
Its Sybilic splendor is beaming
With Hope and in Beauty to-night:-
See!- it flickers up the sky through the night!
Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
And be sure it will lead us aright-
We safely may trust to a gleaming
That cannot but guide us aright,
Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night."

Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
And tempted her out of her gloom-
And conquered her scruples and gloom;
And we passed to the end of the vista,
But were stopped by the door of a tomb-
By the door of a legended tomb;
And I said- "What is written, sweet sister,
On the door of this legended tomb?"
She replied- "Ulalume- Ulalume-
'Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!"

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
As the leaves that were crisped and sere-
As the leaves that were withering and sere-
And I cried- "It was surely October
On this very night of last year
That I journeyed- I journeyed down here-
That I brought a dread burden down here-
On this night of all nights in the year,
Ah, what demon has tempted me here?
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber-
This misty mid region of Weir- :
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber,
This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir."

by Edgar Allan Poe

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