Wednesday, April 30, 2003


Sheriff's Deputy Fired For Alleged Sexual Contact With Teen

In addition to two recent friendly-fire shootings of fellow deputies, one resulting in a tragic fatality, the other occuring in my apartment complex's parking lot, and in addition to the illegal, aggressive search of that very same apartment complex, Harris County Sheriff's deputies are now apparently into feeling up teenage girls:

A Harris County sheriff's deputy has been fired and a grand jury has indicted him for allegedly driving a 15-year-old girl around in his patrol car while he was on duty and having inappropriate sexual contact with her.

Click here. As Lisa Simpson once said, "Who polices the police?"



The Boston Massacre, 1770

The "Boston Massacre" as it is called, was really not a massacre in the sense that a lot of people were slaughtered (because only five people were killed), it was a massacre in the sense that the British government's authority was not going to be tolerated. This incident marked the beginning of the end for England and its presence in the United States of America.

For the victim's point of view, click here.

U.S. troops again open fire on demonstrators in Iraq

For the second time this week, U.S. soldiers fired on anti-American protesters today in the city of Fallujah; the mayor said two people were killed and 14 wounded. President Bush planned to speak to the nation later this week to announce that major combat in Iraq had ended.

For the oppressor's point of view, click here.

Get it?



U.S. to end military operations in Saudi Arabia

But the presence of American forces here has long been an irritant for Saudi rulers facing strong anti-American sentiment among a growing and increasingly restive population. Fifteen of the 19 alleged Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudis, and Saudi-born Osama bin Laden cites the U.S. military presence in his homeland as a reason for his hatred of America.

Click here.



American soldiers shot and killed 15 people at an anti-American rally late Monday, hospital officials said Tuesday. Iraqis said the soldiers, who were positioned in a school, opened fire, unprovoked, while the Americans said they were fired on first and then carefully counterattacked.

Regardless of whichever version of these events is most correct, one thing is certain. This "liberation" is starting to sound like it's going the way of the West Bank. Click here.


Monday, April 28, 2003


Three big brokers charged with fraud

In an historic $1.4 billion settlement Monday, the government charged Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse First Boston, and Citigroup's Salomon Smith Barney unit with issuing fraudulent research reports to win lucrative investment banking business.


"Small investors were being led astray by fraudulent research," said Eliot Spitzer, attorney general for New York State, who spearheaded the settlement. "We have seen how crass this system was."


As part of the settlement, regulators are expected to release scores of e-mails and other internal documents detailing how analysts publicly touted stocks while trashing them privately to attract lucrative underwriting business from the companies they covered.

This sort of thing, along with the recent wave of corporate and accounting scandals, is the result of a couple of decades of pro-business-at-any-cost rhetoric and policy--despite the conventional economic wisdom, free, unregulated markets are often extremely dangerous to our national well being. Once upon a time, it was understood in this country that money cannot be trusted to roam freely. After the collapse of the roaring economic bubble of the 1920s, the federal government enacted numerous banking and investment regulations that were designed to keep American wealth from eating itself. It took a little less than fifty years for capitalism's cannibalistic instinct to reassert itself: today we are learning lessons that have been known and forgotten. Click here to learn how Wall Street is now rediscovering common sense.

Thanks to J. Orlin Grabbe.



Western intelligence officials are playing down the significance of documents appearing to show that Saddam Hussein's regime met an al-Qaida envoy in Baghdad in 1998 and sought to arrange a meeting with Osama bin Laden. "We are aware of fleeting contacts [between Baghdad and al-Qaida] in the past, but there were were no long-term official contacts," a well-placed source told the Guardian yesterday. "The documents do not take things further forward"

Click here.

I wonder why these "documents do not take things further forward" when the Bush administration could really use a smoking gun right about now. Maybe they feel like they don't need evidence now that it's all over. Maybe they just don't care. Who knows? I'm still waiting for proof of WMDs and proof of Al-Qaeda links...

Link courtesy of J. Orlin Grabbe.



Revealed: How the road to war was paved with lies

On chemical weapons, a CIA report on the likelihood that Saddam would use weapons of mass destruction was partially declassified. The parts released were those which made it appear that the danger was high; only after pressure from Senator Bob Graham, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was the whole report declassified, including the conclusion that the chances of Iraq using chemical weapons were "very low" for the "foreseeable future".

On biological weapons, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, told the UN Security Council in February that the former regime had up to 18 mobile laboratories. He attributed the information to "defectors" from Iraq, without saying that their claims – including one of a "secret biological laboratory beneath the Saddam Hussein hospital in central Baghdad" – had repeatedly been disproved by UN weapons inspectors.

Click here for more lies revealed.


Sunday, April 27, 2003


The revelation that Saddam Hussein's intelligence chiefs were seeking to establish links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda network is the first concrete proof that the dictator was colluding with the world's most ruthless terrorist operation. The documents discovered yesterday by The Telegraph in the former headquarters of the Iraqi intelligence service, the Mukhabarat, will also reopen the debate about whether Saddam was directly involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Click here. Personally, I'd like to know more. J. Orlin Grabbe (from whom I got the link to the story) asks a series of very reasonable questions and then gives answers quoted from newspaper reports:


Who Found the Documents?
"Iraqi intelligence documents discovered in Baghdad by The Telegraph have provided the first evidence of a direct link between Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda terrorist network and Saddam Hussein's regime.

"Papers found yesterday in the bombed headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Iraq's intelligence service, reveal that an al-Qa'eda envoy was invited clandestinely to Baghdad in March 1998."

—"The proof that Saddam worked with bin Laden", By Inigo Gilmore, The Telegraph, Filed: 27/04/2003

"Top-secret Iraqi intelligence documents, unearthed by the Toronto Star in the bombed-out headquarters of the dreaded Mukhabarat intelligence service in Baghdad, have established the first clear link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization."

—"Documents link Iraq, bin Laden, Star reporter finds terror chief's name in Iraqi dossier, covered with White-Out" by Toronto Star Staff, The Toronto Star, Apr. 26, 2003

How Did the Documents Get to Baghdad?
"The documents were found by correspondent Mitch Potter, the Star's Jerusalem bureau chief. Potter, who has been in and out of Iraq since the war began . . ." (i.e. travelling between Jerusalem and Baghdad). (Toronto Star)

What Function Do the Documents Serve?
"The papers will be seized on by Washington as the first proof of what the United States has long alleged - that, despire denials by both sides, Saddam's regime had a close relationship with al-Qa'eda." (The Telegraph)

Why Didn't the CIA Find the Documents?
"Spies from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who scoured the building after it was bombed into rubble, apparently missed the documents." (The Toronto Star)

Why Didn't Iraq Remove These Documents with the Rest of the Files?
Apparently they were not worth bothering with.

What Super-Encryption Method Did the Iraqis Use to Conceal the Evidence?
"Bin Laden's name appears three times in the handwritten Iraqi file, but each of the references was clumsily concealed with White-Out and then blackened with ink." (The Toronto Star)

How Can You Tell If a Mossad Agent Has Been Using Your Word Processor?
The White-Out on the screen.

Obviously, there are plenty of questions still to be asked. Grabbe thinks this is a Mossad plant. I'm not so conspiracy oriented, but this does seem a bit fishy, if you ask me.


REAL MUSIC (about politics and culture)


We seek wisdom in stupidity; we're such patriotic fascists.
We need more Jesus. We need more money.
All our rock songs must have meaning.
We watch the news, yeah the corporate news;
that's how we distinguish ourselves from the masses.
We're so black and white.
We're so black and white.

We see such simple solutions in all of our Dionysian delusions.
What do you think about OJ? What's the color of your skin?
Do you think he got away with murder?
We love TV; yeah, we love TV.
You know, it's our country's craven custom.
So you really know.
So you really know.

Well, I'm tired of all your anti-Yoko Onoism.
Well, I'm tired of all your hard-line, tough-love crap.
I don't want to hear you tell me 'bout the way things are.
'Cause I've learned the truth.
'Cause I've learned the truth.
'Cause I've learned the truth and

Written and performed by me. Click here for MP3 download. I wrote this song during the mid 1990s and looking back on it today, it seems almost prophetic. It's not that I claim any special ability of prognostication; it's just that the writing has been on the wall, for anybody who has cared to look, for a long, long time now.

Thanks to my buddy, Kevin, for providing the bandwidth and recording potential.


Saturday, April 26, 2003


From the UPI article written by Richard Sale:

In the mid-1980s, Miles Copeland, a veteran CIA operative, told UPI the CIA had enjoyed "close ties" with Qasim's ruling Baath Party, just as it had close connections with the intelligence service of Egyptian leader Gamel Abd Nassar. In a recent public statement, Roger Morris, a former National Security Council staffer in the 1970s, confirmed this claim, saying that the CIA had chosen the authoritarian and anti-communist Baath Party "as its instrument."

According to another former senior State Department official, Saddam, while only in his early 20s, became a part of a U.S. plot to get rid of Qasim. According to this source, Saddam was installed in an apartment in Baghdad on al-Rashid Street directly opposite Qasim's office in Iraq's Ministry of Defense, to observe Qasim's movements.

Click here.



In this figurative (and I suspect original) sense, "national solipsism" is a belief, still better an attitude, that the world beyond our borders is just what I want it to be and believe it to be, and nothing more. To Bush and his neo-con handlers, ours is an uncomplicated world free of unintended consequences. This world need not be studied in order to be understood – the opinions of experts are of no interest. Rather, the state of the world is best apprehended by gut feeling. So we are free to violate a batch of treaties, to defy the United Nations, and to invade an unthreatening country. And what will the excluded community of nations think of this behavior? How will the Arabic and Islamic nations react? Can they retaliate in any troublesome way? We don't know and we don't care. Anyhow, we can always bribe or bully our way through, as we did when we collected the coalition of the willing. In brief, in the world of the "national solipsists," our nation is the sole actor; all other nations are completely passive.


Solipsism, or "subjectivism gone mad," is reflected in Bush's attitude toward science, and in the consequent policies of his administration. According to the Bushevik subjective metaphysic, the physical world is also just what we want it to be, scientific expertise and proof be damned. And so, when the threat of global warming is affirmed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change, consisting of 2000 of the leading atmospheric scientists of the world, and when the IPCC findings are confirmed by the National Academy of Sciences, the Bush regime responds by shooting the messenger – by arranging the firing of the IPCC Chairman, Thomas Watson. Furthermore, the Bush EPA then removes a section on climate change from its annual report. Similarly, Bush energy policy is apparently based on the belief that petroleum reserves are infinite – contrary to scientific information and economic statistics. "We don't want to believe what the scientists tell us, so it ain't so."

This is actually a pretty good read. However, I disagree with the notion that the Bush administration is insane. I believe that things are exactly as they appear: the President is a moron; the right-wing extremists who pull his strings know exactly what they are doing and what the consequences are, but feel completely justified in their actions. In other words, these guys are some cold-hearted, hardcore motherfuckers. Not crazy, just bad.

Besides, we don't really want any ideological foundations being laid for any eventual insanity defenses at any future trials, do we?

Thanks to J. Orlin Grabbe for the link.


Friday, April 25, 2003

Attacking Republican Senator Rick Santorum
About His Weird Anti-Gay Views

When the whole Trent Lott racism thing was going on late last year, the Eschaton blog pounded away at Lott's racial gaffes: according to Eric Alterman, Atrios' postings managed to affect some of the mainstream coverage of the story. The same thing may very well be happening again right now with the Senate's # 3 man (if I understand correctly), Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. Here is a link to one of Atrios' early posts on Santorum a few days ago, but the Eschaton blog seems to be continually keeping up to date as the scandal develops. Nothing big may come of it, but Eschaton just might be able to help get this guy crucified. Here's hoping.



Oh my god. I can't believe that this kind of information is coming out so quickly:

To build its case for war with Iraq, the Bush administration argued that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but some officials now privately acknowledge the White House had another reason for war — a global show of American power and democracy. Officials inside government and advisers outside told ABCNEWS the administration emphasized the danger of Saddam's weapons to gain the legal justification for war from the United Nations and to stress the danger at home to Americans. "We were not lying," said one official. "But it was just a matter of emphasis." Officials now say they may not find hundreds of tons of mustard and nerve agents and maybe not thousands of liters of anthrax and other toxins. But U.S. forces will find some, they say. On Thursday, President Bush raised the possibility for the first time that any such Iraqi weapons were destroyed before or during the war.

My prediction is that, if this story goes anywhere at all, which it probably will not, the corporate media will be very forgiving (9/11 and all that); politicians and pundits will be falling over themselves to justify the "emphasis" and Bush gets away with another massive, massive lie, gaining for his cadre another massive, massive victory.

My disgust continues to mount.

Thanks to Eschaton for the link.


The War That We Already "Won"

The area in eastern Afghanistan has been one of the most active in the country, with frequent rocket attacks on U.S. bases. Taliban remnants are believed to have linked forces with al-Qaida fugitives and followers of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former prime minister who has gone underground and vowed to undermine the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Click here.

Iraq Will Follow Suit

Freshly returned from our latest war of "liberation," British journalist Robert Fisk asserted on Democracy Now! that the same thing will be happening soon in Iraq, but it could be worse:

"And all across Baghdad, you hear the same thing, from Shia Muslim clerics to Sunni businessmen, that the Americans have come only for oil, and that soon - very soon - a guerrilla resistance must start."

For streaming audio of the interview, click here.


Thursday, April 24, 2003

From the Austin Chronicle

One of my favorite columnists muses on depleted uranium and the Gulf War Syndrome, Bush budget hypocricy, Bush's failure on the US economy, "liberation" versus empire, the "high ideals" of the American conquistadores, the Syrian front, the spreading thin of US forces, the "liberated" Iraqis, and on those missing WMDs.

What a mouthful. But don't worry; it's relatively short.

Click here for 'Winning' Doesn't Make It Right.



This is not bullshit. This really does seem to be the real deal. Absolutely amazing. Click here.

Thanks to Eschaton for the link.


Wednesday, April 23, 2003


While many have thought that Saddam first became involved with U.S. intelligence agencies at the start of the September 1980 Iran-Iraq war, his first contacts with U.S. officials date back to 1959, when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad tasked with assassinating then Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim."

PLUS references to the CIA agent father of Police drummer Stewart Copeland!

For streaming Real Audio of the Democracy Now! report, click here.


For Keeping UN Inspectors Out of Iraq

The chief United Nations weapons inspector, Hans Blix, has questioned the intelligence used by the United States and Britain to justify attacking Iraq for concealing weapons of mass destruction. Dr Blix, faulted by Washington for not coming up with evidence of illegal weapons, also accused US officials of deliberately seeking to discredit his team in the run-up to the war in a bid to win political support for military action.

Perhaps there were no WMDs in Iraq to begin with. Perhaps allowing Blix and a UN team of inspectors to return to Iraq would make this all too plain to see. Perhaps not. One thing is for sure: the United States continues to play its shady game of geopolitical three card monte; UN inspectors could lend a great deal of credibility to any WMD discoveries--Bush, for some reason, doesn't want that.


Tuesday, April 22, 2003



Perplexing, huh? Now read.

Thanks to my old pal, Lex, for the link.



New nominations for the hotly contested "What Were They Thinking?" title, also known as, "Is There Anybody Here With a Lick of Sense?

Nominees include:

American Airlines' executive team

Donald Rumsfeld and the looting

contracts to rebuild Iraq to Dick Cheney's firm Halliburton and the Republican-connected Bechtel Group

Bush, for lying to Tony Blair...promising the United Nations would have a major role in rebuilding

Fundamentalist Christian missionaries...going to Iraq to convert the hapless heathen.

As my buddy, Kevin, says, "It's funny that Ivins was not seen in the Chronicle for the duration of the war. She's back today slamming 'em down and takin' names!"

Thank you, Kevin, for the link! Click here.


Earth Day Goes Corporate

The same thinking led Tucson Earth Day 2003 to make Raytheon Missile Systems, the largest private employer in southern Arizona, its main sponsor for the ninth year in a row. The festival is also backed by the local electric company, Home Depot and Texas Instruments, which donated between $500 and $2,000 each.


In 2001, several advocacy groups pulled out of Chicago's Earth Day Festival because it was partly backed by corporations that owned nuclear and coal-fired power plants. In Hong Kong, Sony, Shell and Epson helped bankroll Earth Day 2001 when government funding for the day fell through. And in Louisville, Ky., in 2000, environmentalists protesting sponsorship by Louisville Gas & Electric Co. held an alternative festival. Last year, the event was funded by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky.

Corporations keep their friends close and their enemies closer. This is the same kind of strategy used by Enron when they spread the money around to both Democrats and Republicans back during the roaring 90s--they preferred the GOP, but wanted leverage with the donkey butts and they managed to buy it rather easily. Corporate sponsorship has also made such liberal bastions as NPR start to slowly shift right. Earth Day is playing with fire.

Click here.


Monday, April 21, 2003


My buddy, Kevin, writes:

Celebrate Eostre Instead!

Easter is just another pagan/ancient holiday that christianity leeched onto because the proponents of christianity in the west realized that they would never be able to convince western peoples of the validity of their god unless they tacked him onto already held beliefs. Eostre has been celebrated for millennia (especially by the matriarchal religions who worship mother earth over father sky) as the time of year when the earth/mankind/animalkind/*/*/* is reborn. Although there are many names of the goddess who is worshipped at the vernal equinox, they all mostly have to do with birth/rebirth/creation (an exclusively female power hence the modern usage in words like "estrogen"). Beyond attaching christ to this already holy day, the entire christ myth is one that has been repeated over and over again throughout time. King/priests have been sacrificed for the rebirth of the community since before oral histories started being written down. Usually (not always) the king's replacement was thought to be a reborn form of the king but with all the vim and vigor he had in his youth restored. Even the cultures who did not think that the king was reborn still held that he died so that the rest of them could have life.

I've attached a text which makes many connections between jesus and other "godmen."

And I have the link to that text. It's pretty interesting reading, especially if you're into mythology.


Sunday, April 20, 2003

Good and Evil, Heaven and Hell

Unlike Christmas, which I love, Easter always makes me feel a bit weird. I don’t like Easter. Why? Christmas seems to be less important theologically; it is more secularized. It is about birth, hope, and peace on Earth. As a celebration, it has many non-Christian roots. I also feel pretty sure that a man named Jesus was actually born at some point in history and that he went about “doing good.” Of course, he died, too. I have a great deal of difficulty, however, simply accepting on faith that that he came back to life. Easter, you see, celebrates Jesus’ resurrection. This is, philosophically, the BIG DEAL for Christians. His execution and resurrection not only illustrate, but also literally manifest the Christian concepts of both the sacrificial scapegoat (Jesus died for our sins so that we don’t have to: “the wages of sin is death”) and life everlasting as reward for obedience to God (“the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”). The resurrection is the most important Biblical point for Christians. It seemingly supersedes even the first and second greatest commandments according to Christ, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

I just can’t get into the concept of the resurrection and it’s not just because I have trouble believing that it happened. The older I get, the more I experience I gain, the more problematic the notions of good and evil, punishment and reward, and personal responsibility and personal choice become to me.

When I began studying theater at college in the mid 1980s, I was a conservative and something of a fundamentalist Christian. I was homophobic, which is a handicap in the world of the theater, and justified my homophobia by quoting from the Bible. As I befriended more and more gay theater students, my fundamentalist beliefs were somewhat shaken. I came to believe what my gay friends told me about themselves. They were gay for as long as they could remember. They had no more choice in their sexual orientation than I had with my own. I came to believe that God made homosexuals to be what they are. What a big shaft! Exclusion and alienation on Earth and damnation in the afterlife. No just God would do this. This was the theological point that first made me question the Bible and my fundamentalist interpretation of it.

Around the same time, a childhood friend, Arthur, brutally beat a popular middle-aged couple to death with a tire iron in their home. He was once a really good kid, from a really good family. As children, he, his brothers, my brothers and I played football in the street. His older sisters babysat us often. Their mother fed my family. Our mother fed their family. Arthur, like so many other good kids gone bad, fell in with the wrong crowd. He committed a few petty crimes in high school. He started doing heavy drugs like crystal meth that seemingly altered his understanding of himself, others, and the world. And, in a botched burglary, presumably to raise drug money to feed his addictions, he finally committed the greatest of crimes. Arthur eventually turned himself in and cooperated fully with the Keystone-like county constables investigating the crime who had found no leads—his confession saved his own life while showing that he still had a conscience.

Arthur became a murderer, but deep in his heart still existed the good boy that I had played football with when I was a child. Surely, Arthur bears responsibility for his actions and must now live the rest of his life in prison, but I know that his experiences also warped his ability to clearly see the difference between right and wrong. I realized that, given similar experiences, I could be him: under the right circumstances, we are all murderers. As the Apostle Paul writes, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Good and evil are not so cut and dried.

A few years later, I was making what would eventually be an aborted attempt at graduate school in the University of Houston Theater Department. The summer before I started attending classes, a well-liked mime and movement professor stabbed to death a well liked recently graduated actress, with whom he was having an affair. It was a very public crime committed during the daytime in a fairly crowded city park with lots of witnesses. Mondo bizarre. Because both the murderer and the victim were so popular, the killing seemed to heavily affect the mood of both the students and faculty when they returned from their summer vacation. The movement professor eventually managed to kill himself later that semester.

I was taking a class taught by a friend of the ill-fated lovers, department chairman and Shakespeare expert, Dr. Sydney Berger. He weaved the murder into one of his lectures: “I know Claude and he is a good man.” He then asked a question that reverberates in my mind over a decade later, “is evil what a man is or what a man does?” To anyone who is free of Biblical notions of right and wrong, the answer is obvious. Evil is what a man does. All people do good. All people do evil. Humans are neither good nor bad; they are simply humans, capable of both.

Over the years these experiences have coalesced in my mind. I have finally reached a few conclusions. First, it’s pretty easy for me to be good. I’ve had an easy life. I have wanted for almost nothing. I have a loving and emotionally supportive family. I am well educated. Nothing particularly bad has ever happened to me. I deserve none of this. I have gotten this wonderful life because of luck, because of the circumstances of my birth. Second, if my ability to easily be good is, by and large, due to luck, any notions of absolute individual responsibility for good and evil become, at best, problematic. Third, Heaven and Hell, the absolute reward and the absolute punishment for good and evil, become absurdly simplistic, absurdly unfair. As the great philosopher and mathematician, Bertrand Russell writes, “eternal punishment is inhumane.” I have discovered that I can no longer believe in Hell, as no just God would ever condemn souls to such a place. I have realized that I no longer care about Heaven—why should I be rewarded for the circumstances of my birth? I’ve already received ample reward here on Earth. Furthermore, doing good has become to me an end unto itself, with its own rewards. Because I now know that I, too, am capable of great evil, it is now much easier to forgive those who have wronged me. Abandoning the prison of the Heaven/Hell concept has allowed me to become a more enlightened person, a more moral person.

So, this is why I love Christmas, but kind of hate Easter. Christmas is love and hope. Easter is sin and punishment. I am no longer able to conceptualize morality in such a black and white way. Furthermore, I believe that such thinking actually undermines morality. We ought to do good things because it is the right thing to do, because it eases suffering, because it makes us and others happy. Doing good things in order to avoid Hell and gain admittance to Heaven is ultimately self-centered and greedy. See the paradox? Selfishness and greed are widely acknowledged to be evils: the notion of Heaven and Hell necessarily maneuvers people into a very problematic philosophical position. It is difficult for me to accept that good can be motivated by evil.

Today, most of America celebrates Easter. This means that America also celebrates its dedication to rigid, absolute concepts of good and evil, reward and punishment. This is no overstatement: “tough on crime,” harshly condemned sex scandals, boot camps for youth, and numerous other American social and legal institutions are the rotten fruit of the diseased tree of Christian morality—the dangerous oversimplification of terrorism as performed by “evil doers” results from this morality. I cannot be happy on Easter Sunday; there is nothing to celebrate. In fact, the reverse is true. Because this wildly popular, yet utterly misguided point of view results in so much unneeded suffering and pain, Easter makes me sad.


Saturday, April 19, 2003


Thousands re-enact Crucifixion

Romero prepared for the role by lifting weights for two hours a day and running while carrying tree trunks. The man who portrays Jesus also must be able to withstand whippings from actors playing Romans.

Whippings? Whippings? Click here.



"This is spring and we have a lot of these calls," Norman said. "They swarm this time of year. A new queen will take off from a hive and a group will follow."

Mad bees? Mad bees? Click here.



Will You Get Smacked?

A Justice Department brief, filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, supports the effort by the Recording Industry Association of America to force Verizon Internet Services to identify a subscriber suspected of offering more than 600 songs from well-known artists.



Friday, April 18, 2003


'Saddam snatch' raid into Syria gets US approval less than the President and my dad have assured me that we will not invade Syria...has the government lied to us? It can't be. It can't be. If we can't trust the government, all is lost.

No wait. I actually mean, it figures: I was wondering how long it was going to take. Click here.

Link lifted from Eschaton comments.



no, that's not about this, instead?


"No to America, no to Saddam," they shouted, and called for unity among Iraq's Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and Kurds. Some carried banners in Arabic and English. "Leave our country. We want peace," read one.

"Cakewalk," indeed. Click here.



Middletown Township police said Colleen Broe, 34, was charged Wednesday with felony counts of endangering the welfare of children and false imprisonment for restraining the children by using duct tape.

Click here.

Thanks again to newshound, bassist, and drunkard, Chris.



CNN blamed human error Thursday for exposing obituary mock-ups that its Web site's designers had prepared for Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope and other prominent figures.

Personally, I think Ronald Reagan actually died in the mid 1970s and that he was a voodoo-animated zombie during his years in the Oval Office. Hence, "voodoo economics." Click here.

Thanks to my buddy, Chris, for the link.



Justice Joke

I have been to many of them. But there is no evidence even that a single British or US forensic officer has visited the sites to sift the wealth of documents lying there or talk to the ex-prisoners returning to their former places of torment. Is this idleness? Or is this wilful? Take the Qasimiyeh security station beside the river Tigris. It's a pleasant villa - once owned by an Iranian-born Iraqi who was deported to Iran in the 1980s. There's a little lawn and a shrubbery and at first you don't notice the three big hooks in the ceiling of each room or the fact that big sheets of red paper, decorated with footballers, have been pasted over the windows to conceal the rooms from outsiders. But across the floors, in the garden, on the roof, are the files of this place of suffering. They show, for example, that the head of the torture centre was Hashem al-Tikrit, that his deputy was called Rashid al-Nababy.


Now I'm sure the marine was not being facetious or dishonest - should the Americans not believe this story, he was Corporal Ted Nyholm of the 3rd Regiment, 4th Marines and, yes, I called his fiancée, Jessica, in the States for him to pass on his love - but something is terribly wrong when US soldiers are ordered simply to watch vast ministries being burnt by mobs and do nothing about it. Because there is also something dangerous - and deeply disturbing - about the crowds setting light to the buildings of Baghdad, including the great libraries and state archives. For they are not looters. The looters come first. The arsonists turn up later, often in blue-and-white buses. I followed one after its passengers had set the Ministry of Trade on fire and it sped out of town.

Just what the hell is going on here? I thought we were supposed to "liberate" the Iraqis. It is clear, given the looting, given the burning, given the curfews, given the US protection of the Iraqi oil ministry to what seems to be the exclusion of everything else, that this is not true. Naive little me. I thought that Rummy and Company would at least try to make their lies more convincing. Bastards.

For more outrage, click here.



Much anger has been directed at U.S. troops, who stood by and watched as Iraq's treasures were carted off. In Washington, the three members of the White House Cultural Property Advisory Committee said they resigned in disappointment that the U.S. military failed to protect Iraq's historical treasures. "The tragedy was not prevented, due to our nation's inaction," Martin E. Sullivan, the committee's chairman, wrote in his letter of resignation.

This is pretty damned irresponsible. American forces easily managed to secure the Iraqi Ministry of Oil from looters; it seems reasonable to assume they could have sent some men to protect these priceless artifacts. Not about oil, indeed. Meanwhile, Rumsfeld jokes about it: "'I mean, how many vases do they have in there?" Rumsfeld asked, drawing laughter from reporters." He's lauging about objects from the very dawn of human civilization. Their value is not measurable; these artifacts are history. According to last night's Nightline, some scholars have literally wept about this loss.

Sigh. Just another outrage.


Thursday, April 17, 2003


Unbelievable Textbook Example

"These celebrities, they choose to enter a profession where they entertain the American public as a whole," said Lori Bardsley, a Summerfield, N.C., resident who set up Citizens Against Celebrity Pundits. "If they open their mouths on political issues, religious issues and moral issues, they should expect a backlash because we all have differing opinions.

Click here. Amazingly, even though it's from Fox News, this article actually seems to be "fair and balanced." I guess they simply have no shame on this topic.

Thanks to my buddy, Matt, for the link and the sub-headline.



With stories taken straight from the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko comics, the cartoon was fantastic. As the first non comic book version of the character to exist outside the medium, the cartoon captured the angst of the Peter Parker wonderfully. Comic book legend, Gray Morrow, served as the show's Art Director, which showed in the trippy watercolored backgrounds which looked as if New York City was in the middle of a nuclear holocaust as Spidey swung through the air.

Cool pics, too. Click here.



'A Chill Wind is Blowing in This Nation...'
Transcript of the speech given by actor Tim Robbins to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 2003.

A chill wind is blowing in this nation. A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio and Clear Channel and Cooperstown. If you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications.

Every day, the air waves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent. And the public, like so many relatives and friends that I saw this weekend, sit in mute opposition and fear.

I am sick of hearing about Hollywood being against this war. Hollywood's heavy hitters, the real power brokers and cover-of-the- magazine stars, have been largely silent on this issue. But Hollywood, the concept, has always been a popular target.

Click here.

Thanks to J. Orlin Grabbe.


Wednesday, April 16, 2003


Tim Robbins Fires Back

"To allow those rights to be taken away out of fear, to punish people for their beliefs, to limit access in the news media to differing opinions is to acknowledge our democracy's failure."

This is really great. I strongly recommend it. In a speech on Monday at the National Press Club, Robbins is both articulate and damning. As a quick observation, it strikes me as absurd that so many Americans should be so dismissively aghast that an actor would speak against the war. The theater, as an institution, since its very beginning, has been rather obsessed with the notion of war and its effects. Plays such as Lysistrata and the Trojan Women explore war from the ancient Greek perspective. War and civil conflict are Shakespeare's bread and butter. Actor, John Wilkes Booth was so impassioned about the Civil War that he killed President Lincoln. In a theater! World War II and the Vietnam War produced reams of playscripts examining how war affects lives, culture, politics, personal relationships, and the individual psyche. Obsessing on war is what actors do--it's what they've always done. Watch this speech! It is easily worth the 16 and a half minutes. It starts about nine minutes into the video.


Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Bush vetoes Syria war plan

The White House has privately ruled out suggestions that the US should go to war against Syria following its military success in Iraq, and has blocked preliminary planning for such a campaign in the Pentagon, the Guardian learned yesterday.

So, I guess that's that. Or is it?

Thanks to Tom Tomorrow for the link.


Monday, April 14, 2003


Another reason William Kristol sucks

My buddy, Kevin, sent this email in response to my recent posts, "WILLIAM KRISTOL SUCKS" and "MORE MCCARTHYISM: The Blacklisting of Captain America":

You could also call this "Another reason William Kristol sucks". The Captain America article was prepared as part of a research project for the "Foundation for the Defense of Democracies" (which is funded by...well, "A diverse group of individual philanthropists" of course!), of which Kristol is a member

Thanks for the info, Kevin.



Israel to U.S.: Now deal with Syria and Iran

Israel will suggest that the United States also take care of Iran and Syria because of their support for terror and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Israel will point out the support of Syria and Iran for Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers an important target in the war against international terrorism.

Click here.

Thanks to J. Orlin Grabbe.



US warns Syria not to provide haven for wanted Iraqis

President George Bush added to the pressure, saying: "Syria just needs to co-operate with the United States and our coalition partners, not harbour any Baathists, any military officials, any people who need to be held to account." Speaking to reporters later, he appeared to threaten Syria with possible military action, by pointedly saying that Damascus held chemical weapons, and that the Iraq war showed that "we're serious about stopping weapons of mass destruction". Asked by a reporter whether Syria could face military action if it did not turn over Iraqi leaders, Mr Bush said: "They just need to co-operate."

I guess that's the New World Order: ___________ just needs to cooperate with the United States...


Lawrence Eagleburger, who was US Secretary of State under George Bush Snr, told the BBC: "If George Bush [Jnr] decided he was going to turn the troops loose on Syria and Iran after that he would last in office for about 15 minutes. In fact if President Bush were to try that now even I would think that he ought to be impeached. You can't get away with that sort of thing in this democracy."

Well, Bush has gotten away with quite a bit already in "this democracy." Click here. And while you're at it, get a head start on the impeachment effort by clicking here.

Thanks to J. Orlin Grabbe.


Going the way of LaRouche

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke is expected to report to a federal prison in Texas Tuesday to begin a 15-month sentence on tax and mail fraud charges.

Hahaha. Click here.



Riffing on Bill Kristol's good liberal/bad liberal shtick, I now offer my definition of a good conservative (the same thinking works equally well for liberals, I think, too). A good conservative does not hate other Americans who simply disagree with him. A good conservative is able and willing to distinguish between opposing viewpoints offered from sincere, patriotic, dissenting Americans and viewpoints offered by destructive, hateful, anti-Americans. A good conservative engages in clear, fair debate about the state of the nation and understands that, because we live in (what is supposed to be) a democracy, it is both his and his political opponents' patriotic obligation to do so. A good conservative pursues friendships with both liberals and other conservatives because he understands that we are all Americans.

Such a conservative is my good friend, Stephen. My friend lives up to his Biblical namesake's reputation as a superb debater. He has a keen intellect. He is always a gentleman, and we have had many thought-provoking and enjoyable discussions and debates on art, culture, and politics. He's a pretty good actor, too. To date, he is the only conservative that I have personally asked to read my weblog.

I think he really enjoys trashing my rantings:

I’m confused. Do others contribute to your weblog – answering or confirming your “observations” – or is it just your spot to rant? If the former, it is unclear how one goes about that. Maybe I’m just too new at this to recognize the right button when it floats past my screen.

By the way, I read Medved’s article on NRO about “Captain America”. It displayed a reasonable concern about the moral equivalence of “us” and “them” advanced in a medium aimed largely at children. Or did I miss the part where he demands that the offending “comic” be yanked from the shelves?

Incidentally, Medved is a devoted and observant Jew, not a “[k]ooky Christian fundamentalist”. From my further reading on your blog, I acknowledge that facts are not important, but glaring errors of this type are far worse than just plain wrong: they don’t look good.



Harsh. But fair. That's Stephen. He's actually launched a couple of more sophisticated conservative challenges to my words via email, and I will probably try to post the debate here on Real Art in some way, shape, or form soon. However, I just wanted to quickly respond to his above email because he raises some good, brief points.

Here goes.

This is, in fact, my spot to rant. However, I am very interested in hearing what others have to say, and in sometimes posting their words here, even if I disagree. Ultimately, however, liberal views must dominate Real Art--after all, it is my blog. The main reason I started doing this is both to get my own thoughts in order and to provoke discussion. Given that so few people actually read Real Art, I don't really see much need for one of those commenting systems a la Eschaton. Instead, I would really like people to email any of their thoughts, both favorable and unfavorable to the address in the upper left corner. I don't expect to be buried in email.

As for Medved's views on the questionable Captain America comic, I really need to make a couple more observations. First, Medved contradicts himself: "Especially in a comic book aimed largely at children and teenagers (and rated PG)..." Well, is it aimed at children or is it rated PG? Simply put, "PG" strongly suggests that this comic, in fact, is not aimed at children. At the very least, such a rating means that parents should first be aware of what the book's contents are before allowing their children to read it. Medved ought to know that the comics industry has been producing products exclusively for their adult audience (which, I might add, includes myself) for nearly two decades now. Not that exposing children to such views is that bad of an idea. After all, kids will not be taught such dissenting views in school--young Americans need to understand early in life the oppositional aspects of democracy; schools are awful at getting this point across. Furthermore, the vast majority of super-hero comic books push a black and white, tough on crime, pro-vigilante view of law and order, a view that most conservatives ought to be comfortable with. One or two books that mix up the standard narrative of "truth, justice, and the American way" most decidedly are not going to create a mass of communist youth. Medved's fears are unfounded.

And yes, I overstated when I called Medved's attack "blacklisting." Medved does not demand that the comics be taken off the shelves. However, given that National Review writers such as Medved often appear on television and on the mainstream press's editorial pages, given that such conservative pundit-types often are able to pull mainstream discussion to the right (read Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media? for a full, well-documented discussion on this topic), Medved's essay represents what could very well be a major threat that these comics and others like them are eventually eradicated--it happened in the 1950s; why not now?

Finally, facts are very important to me, but I'm no journalist. I need help. So, thank you, Stephen, for helping me get it right. Medved is not a kooky Christian fundamentalist. However, I put him in the same category for purposes of this discussion. That is, like Joseph Lieberman, I'm sure that if Medved was a Christian, he would go for one of the fundamentalist varieties: Old Testament oriented, pro-Israel, wrathful God, lots of laws, lots of killing, lots of punishment, lots of righteous anger, a place where a conservative Jew can feel right at home. None of this, however, changes Medved's kookiness.

Please, anyone who spots a factual error on Real Art notify me as soon as possible so I can correct the error and 'fess up. The last thing I want is for my ideas to be based on bullshit. And Stephen is right; such errors "don’t look good." Credibility is hard to come by when you're asserting very unpopular views.

So, that's my buddy, Stephen. Expect his views to pop up here from time to time. He really does keep me on my toes. Remind me to tell you about my not really conservative, not really liberal, ex-lawyer pal, Alan. He keeps me on my toes, too.


Friday, April 11, 2003

and on the Blaming of Nader

An on-the-fly argument that I posted on Eschaton comments a couple of weeks ago:

An unapologetic Democrat-turned-Green's two cents worth (and I'm probably overlapping some previously mentioned comments; think of it as agreement rather than original thought):

First, the conservative stealth campaign to shift the ideology of the public discourse to the right that georgebob mentions actually began well before 1992. Read Alterman's words about Richard Mellon Scaife and others of his ilk in "What Liberal Media?"

Second, I've got three points that sum up my reasons for being Green (and lemme tell ya, it's not easy being green).

1. Assuming Nader gave Bush the election is to assume that everyone would have otherwise voted for Gore if they even would have voted at all. If I understand correctly, the Greens drew heavily on a disillusioned population made up of sporadic voters at best. Surely, many progressive Democrats crossed the lines to cast a "protest" vote, but, just as surely, some Democrats, myself included, have permanently left the party, believing that it is in its final days. The real questions here are in determining not only how badly Nader hurt the Democrats in actual numbers of "protest" votes, but also in determining how badly the Democrats have hurt themselves by driving away progressives. I don't really know that it's safe or fair to say that the Greens were, in fact, siphoning off significant numbers of voters from the Democrats.

2. Blaming Greens for Bush Triumphant reminds me of the sour grapes displayed by the pro-war demonstrators that spend more time and energy blasting their anti-war fellow citizens than they do blasting Saddam Hussein.

Just who is to blame here?

Let's just assume that everybody here first blames the conservatives; I'll move on to secondary blame. Instead of blaming Nader, who was the only candidate doing what he was supposed to do, that is, addressing issues (Nader was also the only candidate to have appeared on "Sesame Street" but that's another story), it's much more fair to blame the utterly ineffectual gang of Republican-enabling Democrats in the House and Senate. In short, they suck. Beside a very few ignored speeches, Democrats in Congress have seemingly not even attempted to play their role as the "loyal opposition." As a party, they are useless. Surely, they bear a great deal of the responsibility for this fine national mess we're in.

And I am expected to vote for this party? No way.

3. For years, people have been telling me, “Vote for the Democrat, or women will lose the right to choose,” or “Vote for the Democrat, so that the Republicans can’t screw the poor,” or “Vote for the Democrat, so that we can hold on to important environmental protection laws.”

I’m sick of and disgusted with voting my fears.

I’m going to vote my hopes from now on.


The Blacklisting of Captain America

Amid the anti-communist hysteria of the early 1950s, right-wing psychiatrist Dr. Fredric Werthman released his anti-comic book treatise Seduction of the Innocent. Amazingly, his book generated enough public controversy to spur the ever vigilant US Senate to hold hearings on the issue. Much like the recording industry in the 1980s and the film industry in the 1930s, the comic industry, fearing government intervention, created its own censorship rules known as The Comics Code. E.C. Comics' fantastic horror line, which was much later resurrected in the forms of the Creepshow movies and the Tales from the Crypt TV program, was an unfortunate casualty, smacked down like the numerous Hollywood talents who were seeing their careers destroyed at around the same time.

That sort of menacing weirdness is all in the past, right? Wrong.

Kooky Christian fundamentalist film critic (and I use the term "critic" very, very loosely) Michael Medved now takes on Captain America. It seems that Marvel Comics is trying to get some progressive views out there (which is incredible enough by itself) and it's making the neo-McCarthyites wail. I'm not even going to dignify Medved's rantings with a response: I think his lunacy speaks for itself. However, I think this essay should be read, if only to see just how bad things are getting.

Jesus, they're going after Captain America, for Christ's sake!


Thursday, April 10, 2003


The executive producer of a CBS miniseries about Adolf Hitler's rise to power has been fired after giving an interview in which he compared the current mood of Americans to that of the Germans who helped Hitler rise to power.

The really sad thing is that this fired producer is absolutely right.

Thanks to Atrios's all-seeing eye.



For providing the last three posts!



That is, the decade-old plan to create an American empire. Also, more reasons to hate William Kristol:

Drawn up by hawks in the waning days of the first Bush Administration, and recirculated by William Kristol and other leaders of the neoconservative movement in the last several years, these blueprints are revealing for two basic reasons. First, they show that September 11 served as pretext for ripping up the old designs of U.S. policy. And second, they demonstrate that the Iraq War is no aberration but merely a test case of the new policy. More wars are on the way.

MUST READ! Click here.



And I thought the note anonomously given to me was creepy.

As is customary, the TSA put in Goldberg's suitcase a "Notification of Baggage Inspection." But there was something unusual on the sheet: a handwritten note that said, "Don't appreciate your anti-American attitude."

Click here.



United Way Ditches Sarandon

Sarandon called the decision "disturbing."

It's short. Click here.


U.S. warplane misses target; bomb kills 11 in Afghanistan

Afghan government ministers predicted that the errant bomb, which fell as Taliban fighters are regrouping and launching attacks along the Pakistan border, will spawn new acts of terrorism aimed at destabilizing the U.S.-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.


"There is a lot of trouble in this area," Jalali said. "That's why our forces and the U.S. forces maintain a strong presence there. They are regularly being attacked."




That is, if you really want to. I sure don't.

To take on the network Goliaths, Drudge, who declined to be interviewed for this story, figured that all he needed was an e-mail address, a website, and a flashy persona. He cast himself as a fedora-wearing newshound working for the people, not the Man. His audience would double as his reporting staff: "Matt and I realized that every one of our readers was also a potential source," Knowles says. So Drudge amassed a vast network of independent sources.

Click here.

Thanks to J. Orlin Grabbe for the link.


Wednesday, April 09, 2003


In the April 7, 2003 issue of the conservative pseudo-intellectual rag, the Weekly Standard, William Kristol analyzes liberalism which is probably good because he is such an expert. No, wait. I meant to say that he's not an expert on liberalism at all and has absolutely no business pretending to explain it. Sorry, I get a bit dazed whenever I read far right-wing lunatic rantings: Kristol's essay amounts to little more than propaganda rhetoric.

First things first. Kristol praises the American public. He bashes what Eric Alterman calls the "so called liberal media" for its doubts about Rumsfeld's war plans. He summarizes the Bush administration's rationale for the war. He comforts conservatives by letting them know that the media is not damaging the war; rather, it's just making itself look bad. He cites polls showing America's support for the war.

Kristol is nothing if not efficient. In two short paragraphs he makes five propaganda scores before he even addresses his essay's main subject. This allows him to start analyzing liberals from an ideologically constructed moral high ground.

The next paragraph presents what is essentially his thesis: there are good liberals and bad liberals; the good ones agree with conservatives about the war and the bad ones don't. But Kristol is an intellectual (oops, there I go again; I mean, pseudo-intellectual). His argumentation must be less plain. So he takes his thesis to the test of time, examining a history of liberalism through his pundit-goggles, pushing conservative buttons all the while. He first invokes the split between Wallace and Truman in 1948 using the always dependable red-baiting tactic. While it is not an original ploy to make communists of the anti-war left, Kristol deftly and back-handedly slips in the thought. His next jab stokes the fires of conservative anti-1960s hatred, identifying today's peace movement with the "poet pansy" defeated presidential candidate, George McGovern. He then reminds conservatives that they hated the smug, Democratic Congresses of the liberal 1970s, and throws in a bit of anti-French sentiment for good measure with his reference to France's Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin.

After marginalizing the anti-war left as a bunch of homo, hippie, France-loving Communists, Kristol praises the good liberals. Good liberals understand the need for war. Good liberals are tough guys, like conservatives. It is interesting to note that his list of liberal tough guys includes Hillary Clinton.

(What's up with that? My theory is that conservatives, being perverts, secretly long for and admire the tough feminists that they despise. Rush Limbaugh, I'd bet, desperately longs for Gloria Steinam.)

Then Kristol returns his lizard-like claws to the anti-war left. He lists hated liberal icons such as Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Hollywood, and the New York Times. He uses the flash-word "leftists." He accuses the anti-war left of hating US leaders (hmmm, he might be right about that one), and of quietly desiring an American defeat. Then, and this is pretty weird, he condemns the peace movement by comparing it to the conservative Clinton haters of the late 1990s. (What's with this Clinton stuff, anyway?) Finally, he praises the good liberals once again.

All in all, Kristol's essay is simply a propaganda statement gussied up to sound like an argument of some sort. There is no analysis. He simply defines liberalism by dividing it into two camps, a rhetorical attempt to "divide and conquer." This definition is clearly offered as what will most likely be a successful attempt to shape the boundaries and terminology of mainstream media discussion. It also serves to rally the conservative faithful. But there's no real thought, only emotionally charged images. Sad, huh? What's even worse is that so many people take this bunch of crap to be somehow legitimate. There are real ideological divisions on the left, but Kristol has no interest in that. Because his voice and the voices of so many others like him carry so much weight in the corporate news media, liberal views and arguments are not accurately portrayed. Democracy is undermined.

I guess that's just another day for the American media.


Monday, April 07, 2003


A new paper by University of Utah physicist Lior Burko, building on earlier work, raises the possibility that black holes may not annihilate everything, and that the potential for hyperspace travel is still open.

So, it's been like, what? Six weeks since the last time the universe changed? Remember the Einsteinian universe and how cool that was? The astronaut twin brothers, one young and one old? Oh well. Hyperspace, huh?

Thanks to J. Orlin Grabbe.



Taliban Reviving Structure in Afghanistan

"It's like I am seeing the same movie twice and no one is trying to fix the problem," said Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of Afghanistan's president and his representative in southern Kandahar. "What was promised to Afghans with the collapse of the Taliban was a new life of hope and change. But what was delivered? Nothing. Everyone is back in business."

Click here.

Thanks to J. Orlin Grabbe for the link.



This morning I found this note posted under an anti-war sticker that I have on a filing cabinet next to my desk in the classroom where I teach:

What about freedom for the Iraqi People. What about stopping a mad mad man from killing his own people. Maybe, just maybe we could stick to the curriculum and not try to form political opinions, and using your classroom to do it.

Have a great day!

"Have a great day" indeed.

I'm not sure who did this--I think choir or orchestra was using my room over the weekend which explains how my room was accessed. The handwriting looks like an adult's, but it could be a well-bred teen's. The grammer and punctuation are also sloppy, but so are mine, depending on the circumstances. So it was probably some hawk student or some hawk teacher.

What the hell's up with this? I'm sure it's harmless, but it's a bit creepy, too.

Like I'm gonna stop talking about my anti-war stance at school. I mean, as far as I can tell the entire faculty is pro-war except for me. They're not quiet about their political views: why should I be? The truth is that from time to time I try to engage my students in debate about the crucial issues of the day, all the while, trying as hard as I can to show respect for their views. Sadly, it's pretty exciting to find the few students that are informed enough to have a political point of view; I'd be a fool to alienate any politically minded student, including the conservative ones: such people are kindred spirits. As far as I can see, my students understand where I'm coming from and often show a willingness to share opinions and views that they would not share in other classes. Attempting to indoctrinate anybody at all would make me like a conservative....ugh.

So anyway, the mysterious note-hawk's got it all wrong. On the war, too, but that goes without saying.

I'd like to say I'm not disturbed about receiving this message. But I can't.



Fundamentalist Christians have a lot of enemies. My experience growing up as a Southern Baptist has made me, I'm sure, much more fascinated with these enemies than I probably would be if I had come of age in, say, an agnostic home. How could I not be? The fundamentalist's rougues gallery is made up of some of the most interesting kinds of people in America: homosexuals, athiests, drug users, pornographers, artists, rock stars, movie stars, film directors, scientists, university professors, feminists, Communists, Satanists, Pagans, Wiccans, Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Unitarians, Hindus, Buddhists, and a whole lot more.

Jews, of course, are a special case. "Children of God" and all that. Otherwise, I'm sure they'd be right up there with the Secular Humanists.

Yes, that's right. The Secular Humanists. I heard that name uttered with scorn and contempt many, many times when I was a Baptist youth. I was never quite sure why we were supposed to condemn them other than that they were apparently opposed to everything good Christians believe. After I had pretty much quit the Southern Baptists, I remember thinking that perhaps there were no Secular Humanists as some sort of social force or organization; rather, I suspected that the name was some sort of blanket church term encompassing objectionable contemporary thinking used to instill fear in the faithful.

Lo and behold, in 1992, at the Undergraduate Library at the University of Texas, I saw a copy of The Humanist magazine. Given my Baptist background, I was drawn to the magazine as if it were pornography. While not in the least bit titillating, it was pretty damned interesting. I read a lengthy essay on Humanism and postmodernism that finally gave me an intellectual handle on PoMo. The Secular Humanists, in fact, do exist. And they're cool.

Anyway, to make a long story short, they have a website that appears to be updated pretty regularly. It seems to be full of cool essays on culture, politics, ethics, and philosophy. I now post a permanent link (near the top of the left column) to the American Humanist Association site as an affront to fundamentalist Christians.

Here's a taste:

The philosophy of Humanism constitutes a profound and passionate affirmation of the joys and beauties, the braveries and idealisms, of existence upon this earth. It heartily welcomes all life-enhancing and healthy pleasures, from the vigorous enjoyments of youth to the contemplative delights of mellowed age, from the simple gratifications of food and drink, sunshine and sports, to the more complex appreciations of art and literature, friendship and social communion. Humanism believes in the beauty of love and the love of beauty. It exults in the pure magnificence of external nature.


Over the years, many women and men who embrace Humanism and who have worked closely with the AHA have contributed greatly toward the betterment of our world. Among them are:

Novelists Margaret Atwood, Kurt Vonnegut, and Alice Walker Environmentalist Lester R. Brown Women’s rights proponents Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem Elder citizens advocate Maggie Kuhn Economist John Kenneth Galbraith Entrepreneur Ted Turner Evolutionary scientist Edward O. Wilson Abortion rights champions Faye Wattleton and Bill Baird Director Oliver Stone Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg.

Earlier Huamnists included Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Andrei Sakharov, Erich Fromm, A. Philip Randolph, Margaret Sanger, Gene Roddenberry, Julian Huxley, Brock Chisholm, John Dewey, Bertrand and Dora Russell, and Albert Einstein.

I don't really know about goofy Ted Turner, but I'm impressed with dropping Carl Sagan's and Kurt Vonnegut's names. Anyway, I don't even really know what the Humanists are all about. Maybe they're a front for terrorists. Probably not. But I do think they're thought provoking. So, surf on in sometime, if only to piss off the fundamentalists.


500 HITS

Hooray! Yea! 500 hits since I've started monitoring! And I'm currently averaging ten hits per day! Thank you, one and all, for encouraging my crazed rantings! Hooray!



Laid-off professionals take low-paying jobs to make ends meet

Wilkins is one of a growing number of professionals who've been forced to take low-paying, often part-time, jobs to make ends meet while dealing with the stress of hunting for work in a labor market that no longer demands their skills and experience.


Home Depot expects to hire 178,000 people this year. The anticipated number of applicants? Between 1.5 million and 3 million, says Cindy Milburn, senior director for staffing at the retailer's Atlanta headquarters.

Sounds a lot like 1991. Welcome to Dick Cheney's America.


Sunday, April 06, 2003


"You can support the troops without supporting the president." - Trent Lott

Read the quote in its original context here.

Or, if you prefer, go to Eschaton for a list of damning quotes from other prominent Republicans during a time of war.


He's making a list and checking it twice...

In many cities, political surveillance was specifically banned, often by federal courts, in the 1980s in response to revelations that law enforcement agents during the civil rights movement and Vietnam War protests were tapping phones and spying on groups including Quakers, the ACLU and the League of Women Voters...under the proposed Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, the Justice Department would support communities in terminating state law enforcement consent decrees from before Sept. 11, 2001, that limit police from gathering information about individuals and organizations. it a war on terror or is it a war on law-abiding American citizens fulfilling their patriotic obligation to participate in the "marketplace of ideas?" You decide. Click here.


Saturday, April 05, 2003


CNN's bigtime anchor, Aaron Brown, falls on his sword defending the corporate news media during Friday's broadcast of Democracy Now!

FAIR's Steve Rendall: Aaron, will you consider hiring a paid anti-war analyst for Newsnight?

Aaron Brown: Uh, I, uh, uh, I, I honestly don't think it's a particularly relevant's not...uh...we're in a war...mmm...

To hear Aaron Brown's usually chipper tone turn pissy click here.


Friday, April 04, 2003


ROSENBERG--A Rosenberg police officer was arrested today after a Fort Bend County grand jury indicted him on a charge of theft by a public servant for alleging taking money from a man who had been arrested following a traffic accident.

You know, when I first asserted that police brutality and corruption happen all the time, I felt pretty sure that I was telling the truth. Since I have been making an effort to post whatever instances of cop misbehavior I come across, however, I am moving out of the realm of "pretty sure" and into the realm of "oh my god; it's really, really true."

Click here for garden variety, all too common, cop graft.


Thursday, April 03, 2003


What is it good for?
Absolutley nothing
Uh ha haa ha
What is it good for?
Absolutley nothing...say it again y'all
War..huh...look out...
What is it good for?
Absolutley nothing...listen to me ohhhhh

WAR! I despise,
'cos to me destruction of innocent lives,
War means tears to thousands of mother's eyes,
When their sons gone to fight and lose their lives.

I said WAR!...huh...good God y'all,
What is it good for?
Absolutley nothing...say it again
War! Huh...What is it good for (Edwin sings 'Wohh oh Lord' over the top)
Absolutley nothing...listen to me

WAR! It ain't nothing but a heartbreaker,
War. Friend only to the undertaker.
Ohhh! War is an enemy to all mankind,
The thought of war blows my mind.
War is caused and raised within the younger generation,
Induction then destruction...who wants to die? Ohhh

WAR! good God y'all huh
What is it good for?
Absolutley nothing...say it say it SAY IT!
WAR!...uh huh yeah hu!
What is it good for?
Absolutley nothing...listen to me

WAR! It ain't nothing but a heartbreaker,
War! It's got one friend that's the undertaker.
Ohhhh! War has shattered many a young man's dream,
Made him disabled, bitter and mean,
Life is much too short and precious to spend fighting wars these days.
War can't give life, it can only take it away!

Ohhh WAR! huh...good God y'all
What is it good for?
Absolutley nothing...say it again
War!...huh...woh oh oh Lord
What is it good for?
Absolutley nothing...listen to me

War! It ain't nothing but a heartbreaker,
War. Friend only to the undertaker...woo
Peace lovin' understand then tell me,
Is there no place for them today?
They say we must fight to keep our freedom,
But Lord knows there's got to be a better way.

Ohhhhhhh WAR! huh...good God y'all...
What is it good for? tell me!
Say it say it say it saaaay it!
War! good God now...huh
What is it good for?
Stand up and shout it...NOTHING



Poul Ruders' opera The Handmaid's Tale is a terrifying vision of the United States run by fundamentalists

What, in 2000, seemed a shockingly unimaginable introduction to a dystopian vision of an America in the grip of a totalitarian theocracy has gained a potency in the years since that could not have been anticipated. With conflict raging in the Gulf, the 45-year-old British theatre and opera director Phyllida Lloyd feels that Poul Ruders' powerful, moving work – hailed as a triumph by the critics at its unveiling in Copenhagen – feels even more relevant to the modern world than when Atwood's book was first published in 1985 (and shortlisted for the Booker prize).


"What seems particularly potent is this fundamentalist, Old Testament rhetoric that is coming out of America and has been coming out of it in spades since Bush became president," she says.

This sounds much better than that "Urban Cowboy" musical that just opened in New York. Click here.


Wednesday, April 02, 2003


Framed black victims of racist drug sting in Texan town should be freed, says judge

More than 10 per cent of Tulia's black population was caught up in the sting, including half of the town's black males, even though the charge that they were dealing in powder cocaine was not supported by any material evidence.

Here's some British coverage of my home state.


Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Make Fun Of The Cheneys Day Links Galore!

Okay, Dick and Lynne are, in fact, pretty funny if you think about it...

Click here. And here. And here.

Links courtesy of Neal Pollack.



From the Dunwitch Times, 4/1/03

WASHINGTON, D.C. . - Vice-President (Appointed) Dick Cheney revealed a new twist in the war effort when he announced he would beseech the Great Old Ones to assist in the capture and/or devouring of the essence of Saddam Hussein and associates.

"It's a special task force,' said Cheney, "the sort of reality destroying work the government can contract out. The Old Ones have resources that are not only more cost efficient but are beyond human reason."

Cheney made the announcement in a joint press conference with GOO liaison Nyarlathotep, known to associates as The Crawling Chaos. The Chaos has been a consultant with previous Republican administrations, but the official capacity is unprecedented.

"I've already given an enormous amount of freedom and funding to the most terrifying organizations in the government," said Cheney, "It is time to unleash forces we cannot imagine."

Unnamed Democratic sources have questioned the bidding process for the soul-eating project. They pointed out that when Cheney was CEO of Halliburton Co. from 1995 to 2000, Houston had an unprecedented number of mysterious deaths. The deceased were discovered with thousands of tiny unexplainable holes in their skulls. Occasionally bodies were found turned inside out. These deaths always followed a display of lights above Halliburton headquarters, accompanied by keening and ululation no human or earthly throat could produce.

"Obviously the company had contact with Yog-Sothoth. I doubt Cheney compared the toll on our very existence with the consequences of using other unholy forces which lurk just past the threshold of human perception. He's been in the thrall of GOO since his lust for transgression led him to perform unspeakable rites as an undergraduate at Arkham University." said once source, who was later flayed alive by the talons of an invisible creature.

Others point out that Lynne Cheney, VP Cheney's wife, hails from Innsmouth and is beginning to show signs of the taint. "Her relatives tend to the master In dark Ry'leh, beneath the rolling waves. Of course they have access to the White House decision making process." said one observer, who spontaneously ignited into flames.

When asked about the selection process which lead to choosing GOO, Cheney cited executive privilege, quipping, "Some things are unknowable."

When questioned about the wisdom of calling upon mysterious beings outside of space and time, Cheney admitted to "some potential for blowback." He said he was prepared for complications, pointing to the elder signs etched in various corners of the White House.

With a chuckle he continued, "I can't, however, speak for the security of the sanity and lives of the press corps - if you insist on asking about what you weren't meant to know."

Cheney then concluded the conference by exclaiming, "Cthulhu Fhtagn! Ia! Ia!"

No one can speak of what happened next.

Well, Bob Dole reportedly opens Republican National Committee meetings by reading from the Necronomicon. Supernatural story lifted from Fengi.


i want to be embedded with lynne cheney

• I'd learn that her euphemism for urinating is "Pissazzing."

• I'd learn that she is driven by a deep hate of innocent little woodland creatures.

• I'd learn that when she eats Asian food she likes to talk in a comical Chinese accent.

• I'd learn that she believes in fostering independence and cultivating self-respect in rich, white kids.

• I'd learn that her pet name for Ari Fleischer is "Bitch Cakes."

Learn more.



"This busload of sailors is protected by the Bill Of Rights to go down on anyone they choose, as long as it is a willing and enthusiastic partner of the type represented by Mrs. Cheney."

Hee hee. Click here.


Make Fun of the Cheneys Day

I understand that today is Make Fun of the Cheneys Day. It seems that the parody site, WHITEHOUSE.ORG, has been sent a cease and desist letter from the Vice President's lawyer. This is all according to Eschaton (and Tom Tomorrow). Anyway, I'm going to participate.


Dick and Lynne just aren't that funny. But I'll try:

How many Lynne Cheneys does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Two. One to screw in the lightbulb and one to denounce the intellectuals.

Here's another one:

Dick Cheney.

Heh. Get it? "Dick." Hee hee.

Tom Tomorrow's gag is much funnier.



Blogger server has been down for some hours now...

But now it's back up! Yea!



Here today, raw nerves were obvious as officers compared Mr. Rumsfeld to Robert S. McNamara, an architect of the Vietnam War who failed to grasp the political and military realities of Vietnam.

One colonel, who spoke on the condition that his name be withheld, was among the officers criticizing decisions to limit initial deployments of troops to the region. "He wanted to fight this war on the cheap," the colonel said. "He got what he wanted."

Click here.

Link swiped from Eschaton.