Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Here's a real enchilada

That's my term for a document that's crammed full of hyperlinks and/or footnotes to all kinds of information. I think the author's over-reliance on Wikipedia is a weakness, but not one that is insurmountable for those who are activated when the research imperative shows itself.
What's more interesting is that if you read through the comments, you'll find that people have good arguments for their agreement or disagreement with the points of the article. I wanted to bring some of them to light here.

Now one of the strengths of this essay is early assertion of the thesis and the stated limts of the discussion at the beginning.
Quote: However, a coup seems to be occurring in the United States, but it is a slow coup. It may be culminated by one drastic move that consolidates the plan, but the pieces are being clearly put in place for a coup of the entire government with the eradication of democracy and the Constitution. I will constrain my discussion to three areas: executive power, intelligence, and military reach. end quote.

There is the assertion that knowledge is power-- it's power for the neocons, but it's also power for us.
Quote:
Regardless of the nomenclature, the Bush Administration's commitment to massive data collection approaches zealotry. The old adage that "knowledge is power" has been taken to heart in a twisted way by this group. The power resides in knowing everything about everyone else and not letting anyone know anything about you. end quote.

To that point, I would like to add this.
Those who are gathering information about, oh, Quaker peace advocates and political adversaries, are influenced by the knowledge is power idea certainly. But what they come to know is gutter-level mundane. They fancy themselves the next founding fathers, or the direct descendants of founding fathers, yet all the knowledge they employ is banal, it's the position of the gravel at the curb, it's whatever they might smear. There are no principles at work. Just interest and tactics. It's a very heavy way of thinking, not unlike that one may observe in Hitler's Mein Kampf. The unitary executive is not a principle, it's a tactic for the control of outcomes through the control of the people whether as legislators or judges. It is based only on the assumed supremacy of the president, his arbitrary, that is, unreasoned, authority.
The neocons reach out for knowledge to fuel innuendo, but there are those of us who are thinking not about what people are doing & saying, but thinking about the principles and cultural assumptions underlying the distribution of faith, power, and the freedom of speech. The sovereignty of the people is based on the idea that the capacity to reason is the common attribute of humanity that brings people together and facilitates just societies. The people are sovereign not because they've earned it through loyalty, but because of an intrinsic characteristic that is acknowledged to be universal. The sovereignty of the people in America and the universality of reason have many different implications for our society, our assumptions about what an educated person is, and who should be educated. It dictates a just society-- and yet our society is not just.
I'm convinced that this coup happened not because of what we negate or what we don't like, or even what threatens us. This coup happened because of what we allowed, what we thought we could live with. We let the monster in the door. And like most of the monsters I've read about in fairy tales, this one will not be defeated on its own ground. We must employ the weapons the monster cannot understand, the weapons which ambition and interest have denied it. These are principle, understanding and fortitude in the place of faith.

The headline uses the passive voice

because of the relative powerlessness of the speakers. If the government is paying for stories in Iraq, there's little doubt in my mind that they're paying & planting here too. Not much, but just enough to raise doubt, cloud the waters. All neocons need to create is confusion to serve their interests. The clarity is often classified.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I have finished

reading Mardi today. It is the kind of novel that would take at least half or three-quarters of an academic career to unravel. I'm glad to know just what is in there, but I don't think I'll be doing any intensive work on it segment by segment any time soon. I still need to read more of Melville's canon. My next project is reading Redburn, His First Voyage, and I note that in the Project Gutenberg e-book, there's no statement of the year this novel was written. I think it's probably between 1845 and 1864, but I'll have to do some more research to track down the year. I've read an extended excerpt of Redburn that pertained to immigration in America and the Sea, which is a maritime survey history by Benjamin Labaree.
But before I begin Redburn, I'm going to take a break. I'm trying to re-calibrate the battery in my braille-note, and I've got the machine talking to itself in the other room. I miss it when I can't read from it. I also want to read a few articles first or intersperse the articles with my novel-reading. After Redburn, I'm going to read Israel Potter, 1855. And perhaps afterward "The Lightning-Rod Man." I've also been reading the Harpers magazines I've been receiving over the last few months in braille. I haven't been able to read them because my schedule at school has been so demanding. While there's no school, summer vacation is far from idleness. I like to sleep a little longer and slow my pace, but I think I'd probably turn dull if I stopped reading.
I'm also going to work on using my braille-note as a braille display for this computer, in particular, for the Latin files to practice translation. I would like to take my exams sometime in 2007 or early in 2008. I also need to start creating note & summary files. I need to know narratives, & to master perspectives. The first imperative isn't that difficult, the second will be more work. The dissertation seems like a whole different literary genre-- one that stands by itself.

The law, and then, the law according to . . .

If you live by this, then you must never accommodate this.

Oh, the idols that doth shine

blindingly.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Time to call Winston out

I recently got a simple comment from Winston, whose blog is titled "The Spirit of Man."
His profile statement runs as follows:

Quote:
((On a side note: This weblog is to serve the Neo-con American Right-wing Zionist/Christian Imperialist Conspiracies against the Iranian Mullahcracy. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay. If not, please back off & don't bother - Thnx)) end quote.

Back off and don't bother to do what, Winston? Write a comment?
Well you thought it was just fine to write a mean-spirited comment on my blog, what do you think it is keeping me from writing a mean-spirited comment on yours? Answering that question will keep you busy because it doesn't require a yes or no.
Your appeal to ridicule is what it is. You can't change it. And as I've said, one error in logic can conceal a thousand lies.

Integrity of perspective

Here is a review of a book titled Reading Leo Strauss, by Steven Smith titled "The Demonization of Leo Strauss."

Quote:
The anti-Semitism behind the current wave of Strauss hatred, like the anti-Semitism that drives so much talk about the neoconservative "cabal" in Washington, is barely even veiled. end quote.

Here is the fallacy of guilt by association. If A, then B. I hope you're not buying it.

This writer tells us that Strauss has not been depicted by liberal & progressive observers, but caricatured by them. That everything you could possibly gather about his work in the here and now is false. Strauss's savior is Steven Smith.

Quote:
The demonization of Leo Strauss, in short, is one of the most dismal signs of the times. The shamelessness and baseness of much of what has been written about him is redolent of the propaganda of the 1930s, Auden's "low, dishonest decade."That is why "Reading Leo Strauss" (Chicago, 256 pages, $32.50), a sober new study by Yale professor Steven Smith, feels so heartening.By returning to the source and examining what Strauss actually wrote, Mr. Smith lets the breeze of reason into the feverish sickroom of ideology. He portrays a Strauss who cherished democracy as the best bulwark against tyranny, and who valued intellectual honesty above all. By the time Mr. Smith is done, nothing is left of the Strauss caricature except the ignorance and malice that fathered it. end quote.

Again, the fallacy of guilt by association, coupled with the fallacy of appeal to experience (the 1930s as the rise of lethal anti-Semitism culminating in Kristallnacht & the Holocaust).
Kirsch asserts that Strauss himself wrote that democracy was "the best bullwark against tyranny," yet there is not one direct quote from Strauss in this review. Not one.
In other words, we see the fallacy of the burden of proof-- he forces the reader to prove the point he himself cannot prove.
In the language that describes Strauss's detractors, one may also say that there is an implied appeal to ridicule.

Is it policy

or is it garden-variety blackmail?

Repression flourishes

not because it's necessary, but because it's easy.
Put together a love of power with a love of convenience encompassing a contempt for law, and repression is bound to emerge.

What will you sacrifice

on the altar of national security?
Gonzales has already sacrificed his soul to the National Security State. He lives, breathes & does the long war.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Today has been cold.

So cold that I haven't wanted to do anything. I've just wanted to get in bed, pull my covers on, and wait for tomorrow when the temp gets up to 60 (hopefully).

Ask yourself:

was this story planted?

Violation, 1st Amendment

The NAACP is not a political party. Its activity is primarily legal.
There has been a backdoor attack on this organization, and recriminations abound.
Governor Ehrlich, abandon hope.

There was smoke in the apartment building

very, very early this morning. Someone had been boiling eggs and left the apartment with the stove on. So the alarms went off between 1:30 & 2 in the morning, and I managed to get out of the building using the stairs I'd rehearsed. What I find strange is that no one on my floor was outside. I'm convinced that a good number of people sleep through the alarms. There were people outside and on the ground floor, but their numbers don't square with the number of people who should be living here. I smelled smoke in the hall, but the apartment in which the pan was going was on the 1st floor. As I walked down the stairs past the second & first floors, I could hear sounds of shouting and perhaps distress. I know that the older tenants become distraught at these alarms.
I got back in about 30 to 40 minutes later. The alarms rang intermittently, but I wasn't worried. They weren't sustained. It's the third time I've had to evacuate the building. The first was in the fall, in the afternoon, the second was earlier this spring, and at about 5:30 in the morning. It was just about time to get up any way. It was cold outside, perhaps in the 40s, and even now I can sense that the wind blowing is still cold. Cold not so much with respect to the range of temps in Buffalo, but cold still.
I might run off later to the coffee shop and to read a little braille. But I want to spend some time with Mardi today. Given the cop I've got on the spindle, it looks like I'll be finishing it sooner than Friday. I'm still pouting over my braille-note.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I should finish

Mardi this week. Carl VanDoren was right to call it the strangest, maddest novel in American literature. It certainly does try to do much more than the sea narrative does. It begins as a sea narrative not unlike Typee, but then turns into a love story, and then when the girl is lost, it turns into a long, drawn-out search. The search is drawn out not by difficulty in finding the object, but rather by a set of philosophical dialogues. VanDoren characterizes it as a string of allegories and I think he's right. I can recognize only a few of the associations, and I would have to go through this work slowly in a segmented fashion to isolate each one and then search carefully for associations in it. I can imagine that working with Mardi has consumed the careers of many literary critics & historians.
Knowing what Mardi is was the objective of this exercise.
I went to the library today to look for some sources for the Antietam project. They have both of the books. One of them is at the central branch, which is in walking distance. The other is too far from here. As for the histories of the poles, I could not find them. I'll go to the school library on Monday.
My machine, the braille-note, has shut down. I can't get it to speak even by plugging in the power cord. I suspect that the battery is no good. So Monday I'll have to talk to the people at the Center for Assisstive Tech about it. I think I let it run until the battery went flat, but having gone flat, it still should have recognized the ac adapter being plugged in. I have tried every kind of reset and it won't come back. So that means something profound has happened with the power supply.

Reporters are to be privileged persons

in the New World Order. Privileges have supplanted rights for journalists, and they happily comply in their silencing.
Quote:
According to sources who have seen the bill — all of whom declined to speak on the record, citing a request from Senator Arlen Specter's office to keep the bill confidential — the new legislation does not offer protections as broad as those in many state shield laws, or even as broad as those in last year’s “Free Flow of Information Act,” sponsored by Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana. That bill, as well as a companion bill introduced in the House, were shelved following hearings last summer and fall, largely over concerns expressed by the Department of Justice that the privileges they gave reporters were too broad. For example, the DOJ argued that the original bill would have banned subpoenas not only to reporters, but to many third parties who might know the identity of a reporter's sources, and would have covered foreign news agencies, some of whom, the department claimed, might have ties to terrorist organizations. end quote.
The confidentiality of the bill indicates a secretive government, and the concerns of the DOJ indicate xenophobia.
I'm not as frightened as they are. Not frightened enough to climb into the cell.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The trust me government speaks again.

The neocon government is very concerned about our welfare only in terms of security and their capacity to spy, spy, and spy.
They need your trust, your compliance, your obedience, and your medical, financial, library, phone and internet records. Give it all and you're free. That is, free of the 4th & 5th Amendments of course.

Is it crime or is it politics?

Billmon writes, you decide.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Reflecting Absence is fine,

the Freedom Tower is not. Eliminate the skyscraper and the memorial is appropriate. They want to have mourning and hubris in the same space. I just don't think it's going to work.

Here is an update

from Truthout on the Jason Leopold story.
I'm waiting, but not with baited breath, for the other shoe to fall.

The guilty goverrnment is in no position

to judge its guilty representatives.

The salesmanship axiom

comes into use again. The rest of the world isn't buying our lines, Americans themselves are disliked in the rest of the world. And why has the world turned so Anti-American? Well here are the explanations of two conservative "experts."

Quote: "In my judgment, you're going to see a lot of this hostility disappear only when various countries really feel they need friendly relations with the United States, probably for their own security," said Richard Solomon, a veteran diplomat and negotiator who is president of the U.S. Institute of Peace, a federally funded nonpartisan think tank. "It will probably take some major event for that to take place."
...
"We probably deserve a D or D-plus as a country as how well we're doing in the battle of ideas," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said March 27 at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. "We're going to have to find better ways to do it, and thus far we haven't." end quote.

In other words, the first observer believes that the only way to win respect is to create a desperate situation in which the world depends upon the U.S. The second, of Pentagon and Iraq War fame, believes that there is a battle of ideas, and we must fight for approval.
Let's see.
I want you to like me, so I'm going to set your house on fire, or your neighbors' house, and then you'll come to me for help. And then I play hero and you like me.
Or, I make my point with a hard-sell, and I talk about a battle of ideas. I give you the false dilemma, it's up or down, black or white, me or death. And then you choose me and like me.
It's all the same conservative & now neocon tripe; if you sell the idea, the policy, the crime, the evil persistently enough, everyone in the world will buy it.
And our policies and culture are not at fault, it's the perceptions of others that are at fault.
I hate to say it, but we really are like the French. I really don't think Rumsfeld, Solomon or anyone in the power or investor class really gives a damn how Americans and American policies are perceived. As in the Gilded Age, it's interest and interest alone that creates American policy, both foreign and domestic. Principle be damned.

A complex response indicates

a lack of commitment to solving a problem. Do you find that hard to believe? This spring, I was doing a presentation and I wanted to include a discussion of American education. I did not get a chance to include some of the information I found or make an argument about it, so I've decided to write something here.

First of all, there is a crisis in American education. The essence of it is that a substantial number of American children are not graduating from high school, and that even ones who do are often not functionally literate. Colleges and universities encounter students incapable of writing, or students whose mathematical preparation for sciences is not enough. For students on a high school to work track, the situation with respect to intellectual functioning in society is probably much worse. These problems are not new.

They're not new because the U.S., in policy, society and culture, has had a prominent streak of anti-intellectuality. In the culture there is a pronounced contempt for what has been called book-learning in the 19th century. There has always been the sense that life provides two schools, there is the institution for the genius, the urbanite, the rich child, and the ambitious, and then there is life for the rest of us. There is the distinction between life-smart and school-smart, and it is asserted often that the first is really all one needs to be successful.

Now in some cases, that's true. But not in all. There are certain enrichments to life conferred only by intellectual development in school. These facilitate happiness through the ability to solve problems, and give the individual an active sense of agency in his or her life. It is one thing to know what one needs to do, it is another to feel one can do it confidently. Intellectual development gives people a life in which thinking is as important as doing, a life in which dreams are not killed by the exhaustion of subsistence. Intellectual development also allows people to see themselves not as family members & workers alone, but as citizens who know their responsibilities, and needs in the context of the community. Citizens are not convenient to political leaders who love power and employers who want cheap labor, silent compliance, and more money to line wallets that bulge already to the ripping point. So education is necessary, but a threat to power.

The educated person demands an authoritative relationship with his or her leaders.
The ignorant one bows to power because he knows if he doesn't, he won't be fed or housed.
One country, two relationships. This is the United States.

In 1983, the Department of Education wrote a report with specific policy recommendations titled A Nation At Risk.

Quote:
Our Nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world. This report is concerned with only one of the many causes and dimensions of the problem, but it is the one that undergirds American prosperity, security, and civility. We report to the American people that while we can take justifiable pride in what our schools and colleges have historically accomplished and contributed to the United States and the well-being of its people, the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people. What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur--others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments. end quote.

The chief virtue of "A Nation At Risk" was its brevity and simplicity. When you skim or read it through, you will find that it is written with the sense that the problems are severe, but not insurmountable. As policy, this document is eminently useful. If I were a political leader, business manager or administrator of any stripe, this kind of writing and structure is what I would desire for policy-making. It works because it encourages thinking on the part of the reader about solutions instead of just making imperatives. "A Nation At Risk" is not legislation. It is policy. It is an expression of authority and a document to provide guidance.

Now take a look at "No Child Left Behind," which is so ponderous it requires an entire website to encompass its material. There is no central preamble document here, no precise mission statement. Yet what we are seeing here is not policy, but law. In the overview there are four points that emphasize local authority and testing, but the authority of testing far outweighs the other. Testing determines the merit of the teacher, and the kind of teaching methods said teacher will use. The word "accountability" is used much, but only in the sense that it takes authority away from the teacher and invests it into the test. There is much accountability from the student to the teacher, from the teacher to the government. The relationship of parents to education is recognized, but their obligations or imperatives are not clearly enunciated.

The program is unfocused and uses the problems of the past to create an atmosphere of distrust between teachers & students, & teachers & administrators. If one looks at the site index or the tables of contents of the No Child Left Behind legislation, one is overwhelmed. And that feeling is what I think the regime wanted to create. If people are confused and overwhelmed, one may rest assured that nothing will be done to solve whatever problems exist. No Child Left Behind is the most blatant expression of anti-intellectualism I have ever encountered in American culture.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Would Bush be militarizing the U.S. border

to keep illegal immigrants out or to keep Americans in?
As this country becomes more fascist, I'm convinced that many Americans will quit it out of common sense.

Monday, May 15, 2006

It sounds like Bush

is projecting all the problems spawned by poverty onto immigration.


Quote:
Once here, illegal immigrants live in the shadows of our society. Many use forged documents to get jobs, and that makes it difficult for employers to verify that the workers they hire are legal. Illegal immigration puts pressure on public schools and hospitals, strains state and local budgets, and brings crime to our communities. end quote.

Poverty forces people to live in the shadows of our society.
Poverty puts pressure on public schools & hospitals, strains state & local budgets, & brings crime to our communities.
So I wonder, what is the immigration issue really all about? The immigrants or their poverty?
Or perhaps, the poverty that is becoming endemic and unshakeable from one generation to the next.

Iraqi poverty and instability

is very likely, the wave of the future.
Read and compare, because the contrast may be harder to distinguish in the coming years.

Quote:
Torturers believe that when electrical shocks are applied to various parts of the body simultaneously subjects are rendered so confused about where the pain is coming from that they become incapable of resistance. A declassified CIA “Counterintelligence Interrogation” manual from 1963 describes how a trauma inflicted on prisoners opens up “an interval—which may be extremely brief—of suspended animation, a kind of psychological shock or paralysis. . . . [A]t this moment the source is far more open to suggestion, far likelier to comply.” A similar theory applies to economic shock therapy, or “shock treatment,” the ugly term used to describe the rapid implementation of free-market reforms imposed on Chile in the wake of General Augusto Pinochet’s coup. The theory is that if painful economic “adjustments” are brought in rapidly and in the aftermath of a seismic social disruption like a war, a coup, or a government collapse, the population will be so stunned, and so preoccupied with the daily pressures of survival, that it too will go into suspended animation, unable to resist. As Pinochet’s finance minister, Admiral Lorenzo Gotuzzo, declared, “The dog’s tail must be cut off in one chop.” end quote.

Quote:
By collapsing the dollar, Bush can shift the wealth of the American middle class to corporate mandarins in the blink of an eye. Industry profits will soar while working class people drown in an ocean of red ink.

The wheezing housing bubble and the steadily rising interest rates are a warning sign that time is running out for the dollar. America is being readied for economic "shock therapy" and "structural readjustment", the vile remedies for ailing economies. When the bottom drops out, the dozy American middle class will finally stir from their slumber and get their first good look at the new world order. end quote.

The pronouncements of Milton Friedman have become self-fulfilling prophecies. Behold, a regime of, by and for the corporate citizen, the people be impoverished, uneducated and without legal, institutional, or social recourse against their suffering. The only hope of the people is themselves and principle.

The use of information

is the regime's biggest stumbling block concerning intelligence. The military has a tremendous capacity to collect intelligence.

Quote:
Eighty percent of the national intelligence budget goes to the Pentagon, which contains the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, and the intelligence branches of each of the armed services. end quote.

And the CIA, a civilian agency,

Quote:
coordinated all of the other intelligence agencies and packaged the resulting information into the president's daily intelligence briefing . . . end quote.

In other words, the power of the CIA came not from its funding or its strength, but from its capacity to manipulate the president. I don't mean to sound like the resident of a totalitarian state, but that's how I feel when I write about these matters. The distribution of power is not the simple fruit of principle or institution, but rather the heavily-doctored product of manipulation, advertising, and of what one person is capable of making another person perceive and think.

But the Pentagonians have had all they can stand of legwork and silence. They get 80% of the funding, it's time for the CIA to know its place and back down. This plays beautifully into neocon objectives because

Quote:
For one thing, the Pentagon's intelligence activities largely escape congressional scrutiny. ''Rumsfeld and Cambone claim that everything they do is a military operation," says Richard Clarke, the former head of counterterrorism at the National Security Council, ''[and] that therefore nothing that they do should have oversight by the House and Senate intelligence committees. But they are doing things that are clearly intelligence." end quote.

I've said before that the U.S. intelligence establlishment, military & civilian, has no trouble gathering information. They can gather information on anything. Even though the NSA insists that it's only been "data mining" it really could listen in on every conversation, every internet transaction and every conversation in the nation and in many parts of the world if it wanted to using both tech & humans.
The problem is that once they have their pound of flesh, they don't know how to analyse it. The considerations involved in analysis and the direction of critical method goes either toward questioning the information to sell panic, to sell weapons systems, or to push or pull. The analysis, I believe, has been done with the end of manipulation in mind, and manipulation is not the same as a realistic assessment of possible actions.

Quote:
The NSA, the NRO, and the NIMA, while technically part of the Pentagon, have a national mandate, but the DIA (the CIA's closest competitor) and the military intelligence arms have traditionally focused on the sort of information that would be of interest to a military commander-troop levels or weaponry or target locations. The CIA, on the other hand, sees itself as having a broader field of focus, taking in political and diplomatic concerns as well as military ones. end quote.

We possessed all the information we needed to head off 9/11.
The reason we did not use it correctly was a failure of analysis.
Our problems were not in intelligence gathering, or in the size or funding of intelligence.
They were all in the analysis area. And they remain in the analysis area if you read this article.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A whisper isn't news

I think it's important to put a recent article by Jason Leopold into perspective.
First of all, this story has not been confirmed by a press release issued by the office of Patrick Fitzgerald. I will not be satisfied that an indictment exists until it is publicly announced. Leopold may be a journalist, but he's not (as I've written elsewhere) Seymour Hersh.
In this story, there is a gulf between what is and what the evidence suggests. Journalists should write what the evidence is, rather than what it suggests. Or if they write what it suggests, they should qualify the sentences.
The White House press office has stated that there is much "wild speculation" about Rove, Fitzgerald and possible indictment. I believe that there is speculation, but to call it wild is another appeal to ridicule. The appeal to ridicule is the most common logical error this regime uses to defend its image against inconvenient facts. Again, inductively the evidence is suggestive.
The second most common logical error in use is the appeal to fear, followed closely by changing the subject, and the construction of straw men.
Learn your logical fallacies people. Learn to spot them the first time you hear them. Because the use of flawed logic exposes the liar time & time again. Your ears & what's between them are your best weapons against the irredeemably corrupt regime ruling now.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Today was a simple day

I'm starting to feel like a person unstressed. I spun yesterday and today, and finished the spindle I had started a little less than a year ago in Virginia. I've got no idea how much yarn I'll produce in yards this summer. I know that it's Corriedale & it makes good sweaters, and so I'm just going to keep spinning colors I think might be harmonious together, and then knit a sweater when I can.
I was making a gauging piece today, and I must use size 6 needles to make the 5 stitch to the inch I'll need. That's a pretty loose hand, but I'm satisfied.
Today, I made a wrap for lunch. I made it with tomato-basil bread, cottage cheese, zucchini, a large tomato slice cut in half, fresh parsley, seasoning & ranch dressing (just a bit). Now that was good. I can survive on that.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Reality strikes

I know that larger numbers of bankruptcies is not good news, but I'm pleased that a dose of reality is being injected into economic interactions.

Quote:
Bankruptcy filers are required to undergo credit counseling before they can proceed with their cases, but many arrive at the counselors in such sorry shape that they can't pay the nominal fee the agencies impose, said Bob Ensinger, marketing director for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Each pre-bankruptcy counseling session costs the agencies an average $50.96, Ensinger said, but the average amount collected is just $37.71. Losing $13.25 on each session is bad enough, but the agencies complain that a larger-than-expected number of applicants is forcing them to redirect resources to bankrupts that might otherwise be used to help consumers who still have a fighting chance to pay their debts.

Surely, this is not what Congress had in mind. end quote.

Congress did not have this in mind because they are paid too much to live in the real world-- the world of the American majority. And now it's hitting them in their overfed faces. Pity them? Hell no. They deserve the shock and the realization that such poverty will last a long time, given their policies. They wrote the ticket of corporate exploitation, low minimum wages, high infant mortality, hunger, homelessness, debt and war, now they'd better swallow the meal. There is no cure in marriage and family here. These are systemic problems that make the U.S. a third world country.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

My furniture is augmented

by one piece. The first chest I've owned as an independent person. It's solid wood too, and may be tough enough to survive an 8.0 earthquake intact. Not that it will need to, but I like tough rather than tender in furniture.
And the price! <200!
I've been reading Mardi, and a Voyage Thither, by Herman Melville. I read Conrad's Heart of Darkness last week. Mardi is extremely important in Melville's development. It is not read much by undergraduates, but there is much in it that is experimental. There are the short chapters, and the modular way in which they're constructed. There are the rhythms and associational patterns he uses. So far, Mardi has not been a waste of time. It is a novel that wishes to be a sea narrative and then to encompass more forms and dialogues than are "native" to the sea narrative.
Heart of Darkness was fascinating and terrifying. Last week was the first time I've ever read it. Conrad's novel (or more properly novella or novelette) is not about Africa specifically, but about the experience of the imperialists in Africa. I am sure that there are plenty of people who are mightily offended by the language in it, but Conrad must employ such language to be true to his message. And that message is certainly, "the horror, the horror."
The film "Apocalypse Now" is loosely based on Heart of Darkness, I've heard, but about the only similarities between the two are the direction of the narrative, the fact that it takes place on a river, and that the lost man in both is named Kurtz. Beyond that, there is little these two expressions have in common. Captain Willard, the character in the film, has earned his rank, he is a man whose career is established. Captain Marlowe is a character whose position comes to him through privilege and the agitations of a woman, his aunt. Whatever reputation he has is rumor and bluster. Marlowe is much like GW Bush-- only slightly more capable.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

More evidence of

prevalent and endemic social neglect.
I'm sure the conservative response will be facile: blame the poor, the mothers, ignorance and "feeble-mindedness."

Quote:
"Our health care system focuses on providing high-tech services for complicated cases.
end quote.

That is, complicated cases WITH THE MONEY TO PAY FOR THEM.


Quote: We do this very well," Thorpe said.
end quote.

FOR THOSE WHO CAN AFFORD IT.

Quote:
"What we do not do is provide basic primary and preventive health care services.
We do not pay for these services, and do not have a delivery system that is designed to provide either primary prevention, or adequately treat patients with chronic diseases." end quote.

Why?
Because we privilege profit over compassion. Every time I hear someone popping off about how wonderful American health care is, I remember to qualify their remarks with the ones above.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Hello, and Happy Mothers' Day.

Happy Mothers' Day, everyone.
I have two names, Bald Eagle and National Symbol. I'm sick and tired of the horrible reputation my nation is getting as a result of neoconservative policies. I live a simple life. I want, like you, to survive. I need my living wage, even if I'm not protesting for it.
The neoconservative government that appropriates my image negotiates in bad faith with the people and with other nations, ally & adversary alike. It even negotiates in bad faith with the United Nations-- an international organization it joined voluntarily.
In my world, we don't negotiate in any kind of faith. If you are the small mammal and I am flying overhead & am hungry, well, it's over for you. Granted we don't negotiate, we also don't lie.
My image is supposed to be one of clear sight, understanding of reality, and honest dealing. The day may be over for the small mammal, but I also realize my days are numbered. Even I must obey international, transnational, and universal instruments. I keep my commitments.
As a bird of prey, I know what predatory power is, and I can tell you that it is not arbitrary and infinite.
No power, if conferred by nature or by human institutions, is arbitrary. We all have to account to the rest of the world for what we do.
I want to symbolize a nation aware of that reality. A nation that takes responsibility for all the blood it sheds and a nation that requires rectitude in its relationship with the rest of the world.
I'm a simple bird. I want my living wage. I want accountability from the more powerful to the less powerful. And I want Americans to stop using me and other national symbols as a substitute for the serious study of American history, enlightenment, and founding documents. I have the eyes to see that too many of you have fallen under the spell of ritual, robe and scepter. When the appearance of civility becomes more important than individual dignity and democracy, even I can see that something is wrong.

Sansfoy, sansjoy, sansloy

This is the disposition of the U.S., which is being called to its account by the United Nations Committee Against Torture. It's high time for American officials to see Geneva again.

Quote:
The committee also wants a list of all these secret prisons. So do I—along with every major human rights organization and some members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. However, Kansas Republican Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, rigidly keeps refusing to authorize an investigation into these "black sites," as they are called in CIA internal communications. (The United States is a faithless signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and is now being called to account.)

Meanwhile, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte said the prisoners in these hidden gulags will be there as long as "the war on terror continues." He added, in an April 12 Time interview: "I'm not sure I can tell you what the ultimate disposition of those detainees will be."As far as their families are concerned, these "detainees" have vanished from the face of the earth. end quote.

I remember the "dirty war" in Argentina, the disappeared there and in Chile.
No difference here. None at all. Every official, appointed and elected, in the United States government is a criminal. Not one of them is innocent.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The earth: 4 billion + years old

& still renewing itself.
This is the Mt. St. Helens Volcano Cam.
Enjoy.

These cowards

have chosen to endanger monkeys instead of confronting criminals themselves.
Quote: Using a tactically trained primate (monkey), you have the ability to bound up stairs, open closed doors, quickly respond to noises in the room and maneuver in very tight areas. Since they are a biological entity, there is no need for an auxiliary power supply. end quote.
Dammit. The poor monkeys. They deserve protection from the more petty, stupid and cowardly members of our species.

Anti-republican, anti-democratic

concentration of power is present, what is it then?
Why it's fascism of course.
I observe a replication of functions from department to department, the suppression of diplomatic avenues for solving international disputes, and the resulting rivalry between heads of departments and agencies. It all looks very much like Nazi Germany, where people who acted like trained dogs in the presence of the fuhrer and public turned on each other in situations involving information and power.
My thanks to Whiskey Bar.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

My agenda is set

next time I attend a born-again neocon screaming session.
Prior to the appearance at which he was challenged by Ray McGovern, Rumsfeld had flyers handed out with this message.

Quote:
DONALD H. RUMSFELD
Secretary of Defense
________________________________________
Donald H. Rumsfeld was sworn in as the 21st Secretary of Defense on January 20, 2001. Before assuming his present post, the former Navy pilot had also served as the 13th Secretary of Defense, White House Chief of Staff, U.S. Ambassador to NATO, U.S. Congressman and chief executive officer of two Fortune 500 companies.
A Note About Secretary Rumsfeld’s Atlanta Visit
Today’s event includes a presentation by the Secretary, followed by Q & A. If you plan to ask the Secretary a question, please adhere to the following guidelines:
1. Refrain from using the word “liar” in relation to the war in Iraq.
2. Do not question the Secretary’s personal responsibility for the torture of prisoners in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, or elsewhere.
3. No discussion of plans for first use of nuclear weapons against Iran will be allowed.
If you violate these guidelines, you will be immediately removed from the auditorium, flown to an undesignated prison location somewhere in Eastern Europe, and tortured. Thank you for your cooperation. end quote.

That's it. I'll call him a liar at least once, assert his personal responsibility for war crimes and discuss plans for first-strikes with nuclear weapons against Iran.
Because I'm sure that
1. he is a liar in relation to the war in Iraq.
2. he is personally responsible for the torture of prisoners in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib & elsewhere, and
3. first use of nuclear weapons against Iran is being contemplated.
This is the truth as it is defined in opposition to Dumsfeld's guidelines.

And the judge said unto

Mousaaoui: "You will spend the rest of your life in prison and you will never again get to speak, and that is an appropriate and fair ending."


Doesn't she realize that this is what's happened to anti-Bush progressives in America since Dec. 2000? M. was nothing more than a scapegoat, the trial was a waste of time & public money, and people who are genuinely concerned about the power of elites are still silenced. M. feels no progressive impulse, just petty vengeance for circumstance. What an exercise in futility.
I've also heard that the dear leader has called this war on terrorism ww3.
I've also heard that it's supposed to last for the duration of my lifetime (like prison for M.) and that I'm a member of the body subordinate, that does everything the government tells it to. The expressed defiance of the American people against their corrupt government is the only way out of this.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The senate is on record . . .

as being against permanent U.S. military bases or control of oil in Iraq.

It's too late. The Bush Regime had them beaten to the punch in 2001.
The regime will never carry out the Senate's mandate.
There will be permanent bases in Iraq.
There will be a long war.
And yes, the U.S. will control all the oil, refined & reserved, in Iraq by way of its corporations.
Now those realities were sewn up years ago and it's taken them this long to figure it out.

I thought conservatives

supported free market capitalism, that is commerce free of controls.

Quote:
Horne and farmers like him say they have to sell everything they produce to make a living, especially after lean years such as those in the early part of this decade, when some farmers were forced out of business. end quote.

Of course, if it fights poverty, it isn't in the elites' interest. Even free enterprise is the enemy in Bushworld.


Prayer and pocket change



are all this regime offers to the people Christ, Elijah, Ezekiel, Isaiah and many other biblical prophets spoke about.

From the site:
Quote:
Today, 3.5 million Americans have no place to call home. end quote.

Quote:
The great news is that this year President Bush proposed in his budget to increase funding for homeless assistance programs by $174 million. Now it's up to Congress to make that happen-and up to us to make sure they do. end quote.

Quote:
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration and Congress have targeted these programs for severe funding cuts that will jeopardize affordable housing support for tens of thousands of people. What's more, Congress and the Administration are pushing proposals to devastate the Section 8 Housing Voucher program. We know we can stop these cuts and make sure Congress strengthens the affordable housing programs, but we need to mobilize public support. end quote.

So we give a little money, and destroy all institutional recourse these individuals have; there's compassionate conservatism certainly.
Since today is the national day of prayer for our state religion, let us hear the words of the king:
"In the stillness and peace of prayer we surrender our will to God's will, and we learn to serve His eternal purposes. By opening ourselves to God's priorities, our hearts are stirred and we are inspired to action -- to feed the hungry, to reach out to the poor, to bring aid to a widow or to an orphan or to the less fortunate." GW Bush

There is no stillness in Iraq and Afghanistan, where we have brought only chaos.

There is no stillness in the prisons in Eastern Europe, Guantanamo and everywhere else we torture, maim and murder people.

That voice in your head to which you have surrendered could just as easily be your own ambition. It is hard to distinguish between one's idea of God, and one's idea of earthly greatness because the earth, the world, is our only point of reference. So when you hear glory, don't visualize.

After all, the Bible tells us that these people, those who have little or nothing now to possess or hope for, are the heirs to God's glory, and the unregenerate wealthy are the heirs to eternal torment. Let Bush and his family and their friends pray about that.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The refusal to extend national health insurance

is a crime against humanity. The government stands indicted, indicted, condemned.
Anti-humanitarian reprobate trash, the lot of them.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

English, right your majesty?

Quote:

Q Mr. President, a cultural question for you. There is a version of the National Anthem in Spanish now. Do you believe it will hold the same value if sung in Spanish as in English?

THE PRESIDENT: No I don't, because I think the National Anthem ought to be sung in English. And I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English, and they ought to learn to sing the National Anthem in English.

end quote.

People (plural subject) who want (reflexive pronoun, verb, plural agreement) to be a citizen(infinitive verb with singular object disagreement with subject and verb) . . .
I think anyone who wants to be president of this country should learn English and learn to speak and write coherently in English.
So get the usurper out of here.

The political theater

aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln about three years ago was a staged event.

Quote:
10). The control of images. The event itself had more planning than a Superbowl half-time show. The former ABC television producer, Andrew Sforza, who had become Bush's Leni Riefenstahl, arranged all of the details: the multiple camera angles, the lighting, the staging of the sailors, the direction of each shot, the mise en scène, nothing was left to chance. Sforza had a team of nearly one hundred production technicians on the ship preparing (or "advancing") for the President's triumphal landing. Sforza, who is famous for contracting expensive lighting rigs from Europe set on barges that bathed the Statue of Liberty in light as a backdrop for one of Bush's photo-ops, hired associate producers, set builders, grips, lighting and sound specialists, assistant directors, and managers who worked with the major television networks to provide direct feeds and other accommodations. Sforza's set designers dictated the specific colors each of the lines of sailors would wear, the colors of the air deck smoke that was used, the monumental music played. end quote.

So the dress of the sailors was dictated, and that indicates that their presence was ordered because, and this follows.

Quote:
They also made sure there were plenty of black, Latino, and female faces in the frame.
end quote.

What is indicated is that this event was one sailors were forced to attend. I wonder what would have happened if even one had said: this is political theater and I am a sailor or military person. I don't play political games. Period. I'd love to see what happens.


Through signing statements,

we are told, the president interprets the law.
The signing statement is unconstitutional.
The practice should be criminalized.

I've been reading

some of the messages over at Thank You Stephen Colbert.
One of them said that true humor doesn't hurt or offend anyone.
That's not true.
True humor, when it is satirical, can be extremely unsettling.
It can cause reflection and spur a decision-making process.
I don't think anyone who attacks the pretender in the White House is a bully. He is the one with the goddamn tanks, bombs and will to kill.
Fuck his mean-spirited little cabal of "journalists."

Concerning the moral caliber of neocons

& the motivations of the 100 dollar rebate, there's a gem at Whiskey Bar. The elites that control this government tried to buy the public in 2001 with the 300 dollar tax rebate, I'm just surprised no one saw through it to the morality of the government then.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Loyalty Day, your chance

to stand up and be counted as a traitor or a patriot.

Quote:
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
end quote.

The creation of loyalty day, the forcing of its "celebration" on the American public, is a de-facto loyalty oath on the entire population.
I'm not loyal to the government that views the public as the body subordinate.
I will be loyal when I have proof positive that the government is subordinate to the body politic.
That means the destruction of all that claims and uses power in the here and now.
To all neoconservatives and new fascists, you're on notice. I am not your friend.

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