Sunday, July 30, 2006


This is how the world sees us, the U.S. and, in particular, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

This is how the world sees the Israeli Defense Force's killing of 55 civilians including 27 children in a shelter.

We Americans have to understand how the world sees us. Such imagery is generally suppressed in our own media.

Israel has paused decided to pause its air strikes for 48 hours so it can investigate what happened. Very possibly they'll come back to the world saying they gave 72 hours warning before bombing the area, dropped leaflets, and Hezbollah had their rockets positioned nearby, "hiding" it among civilians.

I don't think it would even matter were that all true. Billmon has a compelling strategic analysis of the situation:
Consider: The Israelis say they reserve the right to break the deal if they "learn that attacks are being prepared against them." But as long as Hizbullah keeps launching rockets, the IDF will have plenty of leeway to go on doing what it's been doing -- trying to plink rocket sites. And if a few truck convoys or newly discovered Hizbullah bunkers are also taken out? Well, they, too, were "preparing attacks." So nothing really changes.

On the other hand, if Hizbullah stops its rocket attacks, then the Israelis won't have an excuse. They really will have to observe an aerial cease fire, allowing Hizbullah to get on with its resupply. And a resupplied Hizbullah would be an even more formidable Hizbullah.

Common sense and a surfeit of liberal humanism would dictate that the Bush/Cheney Administration would be seeking some sort of peaceful resolution to the crisis, even if they're as tardy off the blocks as they were with Hurricane Katrina. Josh Marshall, however, persuades otherwise:
Israel is trying to assure Damascus that they don't plan or want to expand the war to include Syria. Syria is clearly worried that they will and has their troops on full alert. Israel is also warning in no uncertain terms that Syria getting involved will spark massive retaliation.

But there are persistent signs that the US is egging Israel on to bring the war to Damascus.

Here's a clip from the end of an article today in the Jerusalem Post ...

[Israeli]Defense officials told the Post last week that they were receiving indications from the United States that the US would be interested in seeing Israel attack Syria.

Josh is hooked into D.C. and explains:
But there do appear to be forces in Washington -- seemingly the stronger ones, with Rice just a facade -- who see this whole thing as an opportunity for a grand call of double or nothing to get out of the disaster they've created in the region. Go into Syria, maybe Iran. Try to roll the table once and for all. No failed war that a new war can't solve. Condi's mindless 'birth pangs' remark wasn't just a gaffe -- or perhaps it was a gaffe in the Kinsleyan sense of inopportunely saying what you really think. That seems to be the thinking -- transformation through destabilization.

At the end of the article he links to a prescient piece he wrote way back in April 2003, when the war was young, and then "Undersecretary of State John Bolton told Israeli officials that after defeating Iraq, the United States would 'deal with' Iran, Syria, and North Korea."

Is our civilian military leadership literally in a parallel universe and slightly deranged? Are the neocon ideologists bloodthirsty and insane? Have they just "always been wrong about everything?"

With even Chris Matthews having come around on how disastrous Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and all the neocon plans have gone, maybe Diebold and the GOP will finally be defeated in three months. It's why no matter the distraction, including W. and crew igniting WWIII, it is so crucial that there be an electoral turnover of the House and Senate on November 7th.

Two weeks from now, on Tuesday the 8th, CT will have a chance to deny nomination to one of Bush's most unrepentant enablers in the Senate.

Here's today's dab of hope.

Get sane, America.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mel, bubbe!

For those readers who wonder why Jewish people might always carry a little defensiveness, suspiciousness, or fear of persecution, "Police Describe Seattle Shooting as a Hate Crime":
A day after a gunman killed one woman and wounded five others in the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, the police identified a Muslim man on Saturday as the suspect and said he used the Internet to select the federation as a random target for his anger toward Jews.

Not sure how he feels about the 3 collateral non-Jewish he shot, but:
"He said he wanted the United States to leave Iraq, that his people were being mistreated and that the United States was harming his people," Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske of the Seattle Police said Saturday at a news conference. "“And he pointedly blamed the Jewish people for all of these problems. He stated he didn'’t care if he lived."

The chief said the gunman apparently selected the federation as a target by randomly searching the Internet for Jewish organizations in the area.

I guess you could chalk it all up to the BushCheneyRumsfeld foreign policy debacle, but even I don't hate these guys enough to blame them for all the anti-Semitism in the world.

Even before 9/11, on August 10, 1999, a Jewish Community Preschool shooting in Los Angeles. All that Buford O. Furrow Jr. wanted was for "this to be a wake-up call to America to kill Jews."


I guess an objective like those related above would make sense if you really do believe, as a moral, humanitarian artist, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."


America at its Weakest.


Thursday, July 27, 2006


Nettertainment prides itself on delving into both the crucial issues of our day as well as the creative arts that inspire and enrich our lives.

How fortuitous then that I am able to share this link, forwarded to me today by a fellow cultural scholar, that manages to combine those twin pursuits:

I Am Moving To Japan


John Bolton, our U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, was not originally confirmed by the Senate but snuck in by rules-flaunting President.

He's up for actual confirmation again tomorrow.

White your Senator(s), and read this: "The Bolton Battle 2.0: Confirmation Hearing Tomorrow".

That "tomorrow" means today for those reading this on the 27th.

Nice quote:
Why are we to believe that John Bolton, who has now had a lot of time on the clock, is any good at all at getting what America wants done at the UN? He has had no successes.

He has failed to get America what it wanted on a new Human Rights Council. He failed to be a full and successful strategist and negotiator on other UN reform issues. He has failed to secure the support needed for more effective resolutions dealing with Iran and North Korea. He's known for being more of a tempest than a stabilizer. To many, he is seen as a brilliant architect of American failure at the UN. And remember, essentially, John Bolton seems for the most part to want to set up failure.

Let's hope our Senators have enough good sense and cajones to deal him another one.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


From The New York Times: Senate Restricts Abortion Option for Young Girls.

You know what pisses me off about this bill?
"If they are advertising, then it obviously at least happens," said Senator John Ensign, the Nevada Republican who wrote the measure. "“If it is happening 20 times a year, it is still worth doing to protect those parental rights and to protect those children from being in these kinds of situations."

Way to protect the rights of the minority, John. Man.

And for young girls who are the victims of incest? Hey, this Looking-Glass bill, uh, addresses, well, in opposite terms, that issue:
To stem criticism that the measure protected fathers guilty of incest, Republicans joined Democrats in approving an amendment that says a parent who has committed incest and transports a minor out of state for an abortion will also face a fine and jail time.

Sure, because every American girl who is raped by her stepfather wants to bring that fetus to term.

Welcome to the theocracy, folks!


An Op-Ed piece in today's New York Times by Peter W. Galbraith, former United States ambassador to Croatia, and author of “The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End,” offers a possible End -- the partitioning of Iraq:
For the United States to contain the civil war, we would have to deploy more troops and accept a casualty rate many times the current level as our forces changed their mission from a support role to intensive police duties. The American people would not support such an expanded mission, and the Bush administration has no desire to undertake it.

The administration, then, must match its goals in Iraq to the resources it is prepared to deploy. Since it cannot unify Iraq or stop the civil war, it should work with the regions that have emerged. Where no purpose is served by a continuing military presence — in the Shiite south and in Baghdad — America and its allies should withdraw.

Galbraith, way ahead of this back in 2003 along with Leslie Gelb, who went further than hypothesizing a remaining weak central government with rotating President and actually advocates three entirely separate states -- Shi'ite in the South, Sunni in the Middle (and cut off from oil revenue) and Kurdistan in the North (Kurds are not even Arabs).
This three-state solution has been unthinkable in Washington for decades. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, a united Iraq was thought necessary to counter an anti-American Iran. Since the gulf war in 1991, a whole Iraq was deemed essential to preventing neighbors like Turkey, Syria and Iran from picking at the pieces and igniting wider wars.

Gelb explains how Iraq was stitched together, not by its own peoples, but by the English Empire:
The Ottomans ruled all the peoples of this land as they were: separately. In 1921, Winston Churchill cobbled the three parts together for oil's sake under a monarch backed by British armed forces. The Baathist Party took over in the 1960's, with Saddam Hussein consolidating its control in 1979, maintaining unity through terror and with occasional American help.

Some of Gelb's suppositions, like the Shi'ites being unlikely to fall under Iran's influence, are completely opposite, but that much of that might be due to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld bungling is certainly arguable. Since Saddam and his Baathist Ruling assholes were Sunni, no one except the Sunni's would be sad should they get the worst end of the bargain. Baghdad gets treated as a mini-version, with autonomous sections.

Ironically, back in 2003 the three-state solution was actually rightwalignedgned, but that was before the full flowering of Bushism. Check out retired Army officer Ralph Peters, author of "Beyond Terror: Strategy in a Changing World.":
The second stage of the division of Iraq would kick in if the Sunni Arabs still refuse to cooperate: We would declare the interim Iraqi Federation dissolved, creating three fully independent states in its place, with the Kurdish and Shi'ite states meeting along the Iranian border to guarantee the Kurds a corridor to the sea for their oil, gas and trade.

Then leave the Sunni Arabs to rot.

Oh, and there just might be a third step down the road, too. We should not miss any opportunity to support the longing for freedom of the tens of millions of Kurds held hostage behind European-imposed borders in Turkey, Syria and Iran. For Americans serious about human rights and freedom, Greater Kurdistan must be a long-range goal.

Mmm, militant! Any wonder why some analysts predict trouble from neighboring Turkey if Kurdistan becomes its own state?

In our U.S. political arena, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) went public advocating the partition plan, co-writing this New York Times Op-Ed piece on May 1st, touting their five point plan:
Mr. Bush has spent three years in a futile effort to establish a strong central government in Baghdad, leaving us without a real political settlement, with a deteriorating security situation — and with nothing but the most difficult policy choices. The five-point alternative plan offers a plausible path to that core political settlement among Iraqis, along with the economic, military and diplomatic levers to make the political solution work. It is also a plausible way for Democrats and Republicans alike to protect our basic security interests and honor our country's sacrifices.

What's the countdown to this kind of Iraqi Divorce meme to reach and saturate our mainstream media (MSM)? Six weeks? A month? The 1st?

The tragedy for us is, as Timothy Noah wrote over two bloody years ago:
What's most depressing about the Peters-Gelb-Galbraith scenario is that it would create three autonomous governments or independent states that represented only an incremental improvement on what was there before (except with regard to geopolitical stability). It would make us scratch our heads and wonder why we fought a war in Iraq. But that may be unavoidable, too.

By now, the question has been asked, and frequently.

Break 'em up, bring 'em home.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


There's a thought, a philosophical question, a phrase that pops up for myself and my fellow Jewish people when something Jewish makes the news. It returns when Al Gore chose Joe Lieberman to be his running mate, and it's popping up with the Hezbollah-Israel War right now.

Is it good for the Jews?

It's not so often, "Does this advance Jewish prestige in the world?" as, "Will this make more people hate the Jews?" As in, will this ultimately lead to another Pogrom, another Holocaust.

The Holocaust this time would be obliterating Israel from the map of the earth.

So it's the one thing on everyone's mind this weekend, at least every liberal Jewish friend who's even remotely up on current events with whom I spoke.

The fact is that this war is scaring the shit out of everybody. Hezbollah has more powerful missiles and Israel is proving that they can destroy any part of Lebanon they feel like.

In the past there have been typically two American-Jewish positions, that kind of solidified when Israel's rightwing Likud Party took over in the late 70's, with Prime Minister Menachim Begin ironically delivering peace with Egypt through soon-to-be-assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

American "Likudniks", including most of the Neoconservatives who successfully prosecuted for invading Iraq, never ever question even Israel's most aggressive moves.

On the other hand, Liberal U.S. Jews take what at that time was more Labor Party position, and this being the Israeli political party that was in charge during the first 25 years of the Israeli miracle, when Sabras coaxed fruit from the desert and fought off all the attacking Arab states. While precision hits like the raid on Entebbe score big with our crowd, we're also the first to admit that there might need to be a Palestinian state to solve the problem of disproportionate population growth, and hopefully negotiate into eventually becoming regional partners.

But with Hamas winning the Palestinian democratic vote (W.'s democratic Mid-East revolution?) and not renouncing their call for the destruction of Israel, while Iran's Prime Minister calls for the elimination of the Jewish State, the folks on the Left of the "Is it good for the Jews?" question are a little relieved that Israel isn't putting up with Hezbollah's bullshit (to paraphrase, you know who). At the same time they're the most likely to despise Bush and his debacle in Iraq, so the death of over 200 Lebanese civilians, not to mention some ruinous destruction of their infrastructure, is cause for alarm.

On the neocon Likudnik side, all the armchair generals and service-dodging chickenhawks are praising Bush for letting Israel blow up whatever and whoever it wants, receive massive shipments of U.S. weapons, and keep on fighting because at this juncture in history, according to Iraq War architect William Kristol, fighting is good and Bush loves to fight.

Kristol finishes with the usual shameless neocon conflation of Israel's wars of survival and the BushCheneyCo "War on Terror", as if sealed with 9/11. How pathetic it seems in cold light of July 23, 2006.

I can't speak for the Likudniks on the mean streets of my suburbia, but for the Liberal Jews I think the opinion has yet to harden. At the same time, there's a sense that Israel is right in their choice to make a harsh response, maybe even right to seize the moment and fight a short term war. In fact, this pre-planned strategy, designed not to seize any permanent land but to neutralize the dramatically increased threat by Hezbollah, has leaked easily to the media. In fact, it's a bit reassuring to this Liberal Jew. And it's looking like exactly the amount of time Bush/Rice are giving Israel before even meeting someone in the Middle East about it.

The main reason is that, massacres in Sabra and Shatila excepted, if this really is the Israeli plan and they stick to it, we don't expect them to blow it like Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush. After all, we won the Six-Day War.

I think we're all taken aback by the U.S.-style collateral damage, the poor children and other innocents killed or wounded, the decimation of essential freeways and power stations, the mass exodus from the country. Anyone who isn't, well, that's not quite human enough.

There's glimmers of hope. Israel, for the first time ever, is open to a United Nations Peacekeeping Force, Syria wants to talk, and in Iran most Persian citizens don't want their asshole government backing Hezbollah.

Which is where the realpolitics are going on. According to this intriguing Haaretz interview with Professor Martin Kramer -- expert on Lebanon, research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and former director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University:"Hezbollah's hubris has created an opportunity for Israel."
"I doubt Hezbollah expected the Israeli reaction to be as swift, extensive and destructive as it has been. Hezbollah probably believed it would score a few points in Arab public opinion by a cross-border operation, and that it would make one more incremental change in the rules of the game.

"It was a strategic miscalculation. Hezbollah didn't internalize changes in the broader strategic climate. The top regional issue today is Iran's nuclear drive, not the fate of Hamas or the Palestinian issue. If Hezbollah had understood this fully, it would have laid very low until needed by Iran in a mega-crisis with the United States. At that point, its threats against Israel would have been added to the overall deterrent capabilities of Iran, and might have caused the United States to think twice.

Under this interpretation, hubris has similarly led Iran, if it gave the green light, to make an error they didn't need in their nuclear brinksmanship.
"Hezbollah now finds itself spending all sorts of military assets that were supposed to serve a much more important purpose than freeing a few Lebanese prisoners or winning a few propaganda points. These are assets it probably won't be able to replenish, and their very use exposes them and makes them vulnerable."

He goes on to talk about how the Islamism narrative replaced the old Arab nationalism narrative, which was finally vanquished in the Six-Day War. He says this is Israel's one opportunity to degrade Hezbollah to an irritant level and make it's leader as publicly ineffectual as Bin Laden currently appears to be.

Look, I don't know exactly how Likud or Labor this guy is, but he considers the right caveat, Israeli errors:
The most obvious pitfalls are too much 'collateral damage' or a reoccupation of part of Lebanon. Either could drain Israel legitimacy, sap American support and leave Israel isolated. Since this is a new government headed by a new prime minister, it's impossible to predict whether they will know how to handle the unexpected twists that are inevitable in war."

So I hope he's right and events will unfold to Israel's advantage. I pray that Israel can make a lasting peace with its surrounding countries, even Syria -- since they want to talk to the U.S., and as a more modern state don't want to be part of Iran's Shi-ite Crescent (including post-U.S. invasion Iraq).

I hope, ultimately, it will be good for the Jews.

That's a tall order.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Come Softly, Darling (1959)

dooby do, dahm dahm, dahm do dahm ooby do
Dahm dahm, dahm do dahm, ooby do
Dahm dahm, dahm do dahm, ooby do
Dahm dahm, dahm ooh dahm
Mm dooby do

In G.O.P. Fund-Raising, Dole’s Star Power Dims
“I’m going to say it’s going well, because at this point in time, that’s what you need to say,” said Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, who earlier this year publicly criticized Mrs. Dole’s recruiting efforts.

(Come softly, darling)
(Come softly, darling)
(Come softly, darling)
(Come softly, darling)
(Come to me, sta-ay)
(You're my ob-session)
(For ever and a da-ay)

ANALYSIS-Gloom descends on Iraqi leaders as civil war looms
"Iraq as a political project is finished," one senior government official said..."The parties have moved to Plan B," the senior official said, saying Sunni, ethnic Kurdish and majority Shi'ite blocs were looking at ways to divide power and resources and to solve the conundrum of Baghdad's mixed population of seven million.

I want, want you to kno-o-ow
I love, I love you so
Please hold, hold me so tight
All through, all through the night...

Afghanistan close to anarchy, warns general
The most senior British military commander in Afghanistan today described the situation in the country as "close to anarchy" with feuding foreign agencies and unethical private security companies compounding problems caused by local corruption.

(Speak softly, darling)
(Hear what I sa-ay)
(I love you always)
(Always, always)

Buckley: Bush Not A True Conservative
Asked what President Bush's foreign policy legacy will be to his successor, Buckley says "There will be no legacy for Mr. Bush. I don't believe his successor would re-enunciate the words he used in his second inaugural address because they were too ambitious. … So therefore I think his legacy is indecipherable"

I've waited, waited so long
For your kisses and your love
Please come, come to me
>From up, from up above

by digby

The Bush administration are monsters. That is not hyperbole. There can be no other explanation as to why the secretary of state, the person in charge of American diplomacy, would be so crude and stupid.

(Come softly, darling)
(Come softly, darling)
I need, need you so much
Wanna feel your wa-arm touch

One of These Days Audiences May Remember John C. Reilly’s Name
A few weeks earlier, at the counter of a greasy spoon called the Apple Pan in the Westwood section of Los Angeles, a woman interrupted Mr. Reilly’s cheeseburger to say, “My boyfriend thinks he’s seen you on TV.’’

Mm dooby do, dahm dahm, dahm do dahm ooby do
Dahm dahm, dahm do dahm, ooby do
Dahm dahm, dahm do dahm, ooby do
Dahm dahm, dahm ooh dahm

Thursday, July 20, 2006


This latest Mideast War is upending hundreds of thousands of lives and seem surely to end thousands before it's all over. Has Hezbollah overreached? Is Israel over-retaliating? Did one try to set up and the other then try to seize an historic point in this long-fought conflict?

If you come down on the side of the innocent Lebanese people, I can't argue with you there. However, if you come down on the side of Hezbollah, as distinct from the Lebanese people, the ones currently firing rockets into Haifa, then you have to ask yourself if you believe Israel has a right to exist.

Since Hezbollah is dedicated to the eradication of Israel, teach hatred of the Jewish people, have never indicated any hint of moderated thought on the issue of recognizing Israel, siding with them is siding with the destruction of the State of Israel.

Hezbollah, like Hamas, is not a nation. It's a terrorist organization and political party, much like the relationship between the IRA and Sein Finn. Only in this case, there's not even a pretense of distance.

I certainly can't claim to know the solution or even all the hidden agendas for what has happened and what continues to unfold. For an even-handed and often updated report, I recommend Professor Juan Cole.

Not to be facetious, tonight I can only offer perhaps a few moments of precious escape.

Show of hands:
Who remembers Newcleus?
Well, Superman looked up at me, he said, "You rock so naturally"
I said now that you've learned to deal, let me tell you why I'm so for real
I'm Cozmo D from outer space, I came to rock the human race
I do it right 'cause I can't do it wrong
That's why the whole world is singin' this song

It seems like such innocent days, NYC back in the 1980's, when rap was young. Now we've got VH1 Hip Hop Honors for the 3rd straight year this October, Africa Bambaataa and contemporaries, all getting hall-of-fame type awards.

Newcleus had only one real big hit, but I'll suggest it's at least something of a tonic for a day like today.

See/hear for yourself.

Jam On It

Hey, Cosmo D, hey Mergatroid. Is there something nostalgic, something small and longing, built into your song?

Is that why I find myself wondering what all these adorable and talented kids in the video are doing today?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I'm wondering if images like this one of Americans (let alone other foreign nationals) fleeing Lebanon is going to do for lil' Presidente Fauntleneck's place in history what the Fall of Saigon did for President Gerald Ford.

And I don't think it will be the last time we see mass movements of people in the Middle East this decade. Maybe the next 18 months.

There's polling that most Americans want the U.S. to stay out of the current Hezbollah/Israel conflict. I'm guessing that's because no one in their right mind trusts the Bush Administration to do anything that won't make matters worse. We don't trust them, the royal "We" as in an unassailable majority of We the People.

Clinton, fine. Bush Sr.? Absolutely. Nixon? Some might wish.

It's Katrina all over again. BushCheneyCo don't really act, not as early as they might, to simply get our fellow Americans out of Beirut. It's the Ownership Society in action -- true to GOP principles, American citizens have to figure out how to flee to safety all by themselves. Great Movie-of-the-Week material, but wouldn't it be better if the U.S. embassy were equipped to handle all the calls?

Still don't know if that will be Bush's main legacy, or if it will be the current and growing Iraq Civil War he ignited. After all, doesn't 6000 over 60 days = 100 Iraqi civilians killed/day = civil war?

Before too long, will our soldiers there have to evacuate themselves from Iraq as well?


This morning "Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that President Bush had personally decided to block the Justice Department ethics unit from examining the role played by government lawyers in approving the National Security Agency'’s domestic eavesdropping program." (New York Times.)

This is personal cover-up of illegal activity.

This is a crime.

But for Gonzales, who began his association with El Presidente as Bush's personal attorney, W. needs more, not less power:
Mr. Gonzales also told the committee that Congress should consider giving explicit approval to the kind of military commissions that the Supreme Court struck down last month.

He also urged Congress to enact a law that would strip federal courts of the ability to consider hundreds of challenges brought by terror suspects being held at the United States naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In its ruling last month, the Supreme Court rejected the Bush administration'’s argument that the law as currently written applied to the hundreds of pending cases.

Where's the outrage? Let's elect a Democratic Congress and see. Maybe we'll get straight-talking leadership like Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., per Murray Waas:
In a phone interview today, Hinchey said that he was "not terribly surprised by the news" that it was President Bush who stymied the Justice probe by denying the clearances. He questioned whether Bush took the action to protect his own attorney general from the inquiry.

"It was the president of the United States himself who prevented this investigation from going forward. In obstructing the investigation, he was protecting the people around him, and not protecting the Constitution," Hinchey said.

Or Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA who, with devastating politeness, tore apart hack lawyer Gonzales in the hearing today. (A fun watch thanks to Crooks and Liars -- see Gonzales lose and recover his unbearable smugness.)

Or Sen. Russell Feingold, D-WI, who makes it clear that the Emperor is, as we discussed yesterday, one naked bastard:
Hamdan underscores how this Administration has played fast and loose with the Constitution and the law, and why the President should be censured for authorizing the illegal wiretapping program, for misleading the public both before and after it was revealed, and for failing to inform the appropriate members of Congress about it, as required by law. We have to demand that this Administration, and this President, protect our Constitution and our values as we protect our country.

Fat chance to ever have Bush protect our Constitution when today Gonzales actually insisted that the president "has the inherent authority under the Constitution to engage in electronic surveillance without a warrant."

There's only one word for an elected leader who personally, personally blocks investigation into his own illegal actions. That's dictator, with emphasis on the first syllable.

Your voice will count -- let your Senator or Congressperson know you're angry, that you want them to defend the U.S. Constitution like they swore and like the oath Bush breaks daily.

And keep your eyes and ears open for what our other leaders, particularly our minority Party, does or tries to do in the weeks and months ahead.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Of all the recent impressions of our Presidente, I think the strongest must be how pathetically ineffectual he is. At the G8 Summit of industrial nations, he gets caught on tape cursing (a reported regular Bush habit away from cameras). But the big deal isn't that Bush said the s-word, the big deal is how impotent it makes him seem.
"What they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over…"

They need to do. Not George, his ass is covered. George doesn't need to show assertive diplomacy, not like Clinton or Daddy Bush or even Reagan and Nixon.

Back in those days, when there was a government, we had shuttle diplomacy, Kissenger or Baker or Albright going from Middle East capital to capital, making "shit" calm down. Per Slate:
Yet six days into Israel's most violent border conflict in nearly a quarter-century, President George W. Bush seems in no hurry to put Condoleezza Rice on a plane. At the G-8 summit in Moscow today, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told Bush (in a private conversation picked up by an open mic) that things in the region could quickly "spiral out of control." Bush interrupted him. "Yeah," he said, "she's going. I think Condi's going to go pretty soon."

Okay, maybe the U.S. needs to be careful dealing with repugnant regimes, but in the past we dropped the posturing and acted as honest broker. Thanks to BushCheneyCo, now we can't:
Because Bush tends to cut off contact with regimes he doesn't like, the United States has no diplomatic ties with Syria (or Iran), no way to strike a deal or to communicate formally.
With whom does Bush have leverage? Seemingly not with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the strong-armer about whom Bush said in 2001:
"I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul."

His soul, dude, you can't even get a deal at the G8 to sell them U.S. beef and pork. And Putin earns laughs rejecting Bush's lecture on democracy. "We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy that they have in Iraq, quite honestly." Some pundits have taken Bush's under-the-breath "Just wait" as a sign he's thinking of meddling in Russia, or maybe some grand change is going to happen there, but what it really seems to mean is what Bush and his fellotravelersrs have been saying to the American people. Someway, somehow, somewhere waaaaaay down the line, Iraq is going to be a success of democracy. Just wait.

What is the #1 achievement of El Presidente Georgie Bush this past week? The U.S. doesn't have to increase it's emission control standards. Now there's something to be proud about, pissing off the Greens and increasing global warming. Well done. As in, my children by the sun.

Meanwhile, the Emperor is losing his clothes by the day. Newly elected Italian Prime Minister Romano Pradi avoids appearing in a group photo with Bush. He's, uh, "on the phone" lol.

Back in the U.S., a normally MOR NPR roundtable has a journalists unable to keep up the charade, calling the Emperor out for his total and complete foreign policy collapse:
It looks to me what we're seeing is a possible total failure of what looked like a very promising - at least from the administration eyes - approach to the middle east which was to go to Iraq, forget the crisis in Israel and Palestine, and put it on the back burner with benign neglect and focus everything on Iraq. If you could change Iraq, democratize Iraq, make it a model for all the Arab world that it was going to spread and you'd have a much more positive result. It looks like 5 years after we started this, we really have a very negative result, the whole area is in flames, the balances of the equations, as you pointed out, between the Sunnis and the Shia have shifted. We're seeing more turmoil here than we've seen in decades.

Frank Rich explains it so we all can understand why:
Only if we remember that the core values of this White House are marketing and political expediency, not principle and substance, can we fully grasp its past errors and, more important, decipher the endgame to come. The Bush era has not been defined by big government or small government but by virtual government. Its enduring shrine will be a hollow Department of Homeland Security that finds more potential terrorist targets in Indiana than in New York.

Writer Juliette Kayyem about Bush coming into the G8 Summit expecting to isolate Putin:
Literally, in less than a few hours, the G7 leaves Bush as odd man out over the crises in the Middle East. And it is a crises. Iraq, perhaps gratefully, will be off the agenda, and Iran may be so subtley smart that even their nuclear ambitions pale in comparison, but what was to be Bush's moment can't be given the world's strong sense that but for Bush's agenda (both not being involved with the Israeli/Palestinian peace process and then of course Iraq), we wouldn't be in this crises.

Those ratty old armchair Neoconservatives, led by Weekly Standard editor William Kristol and even Newt Gingrich are using the current unrest as a last ditch call for Total War, the kind we would need a draft and War Bonds to precipitate at this point. But do they even feel anything when forever Conservative George Will delivers a smackdown, in Tuesday's Washington Post:
As for the "healthy" repercussions that the Weekly Standard is so eager to experience from yet another war: One envies that publication's powers of prophecy but wishes it had exercised them on the nation's behalf before all of the surprises -- all of them unpleasant -- that Iraq has inflicted. And regarding the "appeasement" that the Weekly Standard decries: Does the magazine really wish the administration had heeded its earlier (Dec. 20, 2004) editorial advocating war with yet another nation -- the bombing of Syria?

Jonathan Chait deserves credit for asking the most Emperor's New Clothes of all questions this past Sunday:
Bush's supporters have insisted for the last six years that liberal derision of the president's intelligence amounts to nothing more than cultural snobbery. We don't like his pickup truck and his accent, the accusation goes, so we hide our blue-state prejudices behind a mask of intellectual condescension...

...But the more we learn about how Bush operates, the more we can see we were right from the beginning. It matters that the president values his gut reaction and disdains book learnin'. It's not just a question of cultural style. The president's narrow intellectual horizons have real consequences, sometimes cataclysmic ones.

When I went to college at Michigan, I occasionally played pickup basketball with varsity football players. They obviously felt athletically superior to me. I didn't resent them for it — because they were.

Dumbfuck + authoritarian asshole. The worst combination.

Want a final image of Bush at G8, the last one folks will remember?

Bush as half-assed masseur.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review section has a nice little review by Adam Hill of a new translation of the first modern sci-fi totalitarianism masterpiece, the 1921 Soviet novel We by Yevgeny (Eugene) Zamyatin.

We, sometimes translated as My, is a purported influence on Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (although according to Hill Huxley claimed never to have read it) and George Orwell's 1984 (Orwell did indeed review Zamyatin's book in print before writing his own masterpiece).

Thanks to a life-changing high school English teacher, Jocelyn Jerry of Bethlehem Central in Delmar, NY, I read We as part of her half-year "Literature of the Future" course. We read it before 1984 and the plotting is unmistakably similar (and, to a lesser degree, Huxley's novel):

Single-rule state that controls all media and forbids spontaneity, typical educated bureaucrat protagonist (1st person diary entries) who always toes the line, enter the subversive romantic interest who rocks his world, protagonist becomes enemy of the state, betrayals and punishment...all written in much more sparse and poetic style than Orwell or Huxley, more in keeping with some of what was happening in Modernist literature circa 1921.

The one fascinating element in We that makes it cerebrally unique among those novels is the emphasis on mathematics, not just in the names given to all the characters, but in the fundamental organization of the society itself:
Central to the functioning the One State is the great Table of Hours. This table is the schedule which lays out the entire workings of the State machine. "Every morning, with six-wheeled precision we -- millions of us -- get up as one. At the same hour, in million-headed unison we start work; and in million-headed unison we end it." (Third entry, p12) This brings to mind scenes from the early silent movie Metropolis, where columns of workers march in lockstep from their homes to their places in the factory and back. The coordination of society described sometimes verges on the absurd, for example specifying the exact motions required for each morsel of food; "fused in the same million-handed body, at the same second, designated by the Table, we lift our spoons to our mouths." (Third Entry, p12) It is the presumption the Table that it is a formula for (near) perfect happiness: calculated, derived, distilled, pinned down and figured to mathematically elegant exactness. In computer science terms, it is an optimal schedule. Everything has been accounted for; there exists no better way for society to function. People are gears: how they mesh with others is predetermined by the Table. The guardians exist to keep the gears well oiled and replace them when they break.

Kinda speaks to an age where our Federal government is seriously considering national identity cards. How do you feel about being in BushCheneyCo's database?

Although over time (er...three decades) the details have slipped away, I've never forgotten the novel and occasionally recommended it although I'm guessing with little result. Now that the new translation is out and Americans are concerned about the line between democracy and tyranny, I'm hoping the novel gets more renown. Much like the recently deceased Stanislaw Lem, Zamyatin brings a particularly resonant voice to his science fiction, the resonance of Soviet-era fascism and its direct effect on people's lives -- and thoughts.

Hill writes in his review:
Zamyatin had been a notable Bolshevik: He had been punished and persecuted as such by the czarist authorities before the revolution succeeded in 1917. But quickly he became disenchanted and then disgusted with the authoritarian tendencies that emerged under Lenin. A true revolutionary, Zamyatin could not abide by the stifling conformity and prescriptive controls placed upon artists. And so he became a sharp critic, and soon thereafter a silenced dissident.

Zamyatin was never allowed to publish in Russia again, accepted exile to Paris and died there with an unfinished manuscript, poverty-stricken, in 1937. He fell victim to the same dystopian society he based his book on.

Was it worth it to become father of Orwell and Huxley, and granddaddy to Lem and Philip K. Dick?

Saturday, July 15, 2006


With a heated Democratic Senatorial Primary contest less than a month away (8/8), Arlen Spector about to offer a bullshit compromise with BushCheneyCo on their illegal domestic spying, and the November 2006 Congressional election now a Quarter away, I've been thinking Sun Tzu. It's time for Dems to starting thinking Sunny:
One who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be in danger in a hundred battles. ?

One who does not know the enemy but knows himself will sometimes win, sometimes lose.

One who does not know the enemy and does not know himself will be in danger in every battle.

Some Democrats still seem slow to comprehend what kind of war the GOP is engaging with them.

Last month Nettertainment warned its readers about Senator Specter, another key Administration enabler albeit in "Moderate" Republican clothing, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. As we surmised then, the bill has just been revealed as a complete capitulation to Bush/Cheney/Rove, with all kinds of amnesty and unprecedented Presidental powers to invade your privacy. Per Friday's Washington Post lead editorial:
Mr. Specter's bill began as a flawed but well-intentioned effort to get the program in front of the courts, but it has been turned into a green light for domestic spying. It must not pass.

Josh Marshall gets it right (as usual):
Democrats seem to have a highly evolved (and perhaps misplaced) sense of sportsmanship: magnanimous in victory; chastened in defeat. Whereas Dems will rise to a political fight when they deem circumstances warrant, Republicans consider politics nothing but a fight, with peace the exception, not the rule.

And so it is that many Democrats are unprepared to face an adversary who has a fallback position situated just inches behind the frontline, and a fallback position just inches behind that, and so on indefinitely.

When the Dems overrun a Republican position, they celebrate like drunken Hessians, only to sober up and realize they have gained very little ground at all and that the Republicans are still fighting.

He goes on to talk about Hamden, which to the Repuglicans is just a starting point for negotiations, ditto Specter's bill. It's a very corporate lawyerly approach to governing. Like Sun Tzu told us, you've got to know the enemy, and I still think some Democrats don't:
"Many Democratic activists and bloggers have concluded that some of the party's most visible scars are self-inflicted,"” said Ari Melber, a former staff member for Senator John KerryÂ’s presidential campaign who writes regularly for The Huffington Post, a Web site with political commentary. "“When prominent Democrats regularly capitulate to Republicans, they undermine the rationale for an opposition party. Lieberman is seen as the serial offender."”

Don't most of us have the sneaky suspicion that by the time we go to the polls in November, Bush and the GOP will have started another war or fixed another couple states or wiretapped their Democratic rivals?

I urge you, fair reader, to think of the current political climate in the U.S. not as somehow overly "partisan", since that's a Fox News code and club for not toeing the corrupt Bush/GOP party line, think of it as all-out "war"...for the soul and future of America.



This is bad and this is bad.

Here's what might be going on, and here's what might be going on.

This article from the Wall Street Journal, who's editorial page is staunchly in favor of anything King Crazygeorge is doing. In contrast, it's entitled, "Mideast Violence Darkens Bush's Policy Successes".

With Iraq plagued by relentless violence, the White House has cited Israel, Lebanon and Afghanistan as places where the administration's foreign policy had paid off. Though Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip was unilateral, it allowed Mr. Bush to claim progress toward his goal of a two-state solution there. Afghanistan, meanwhile, appeared to be in far better shape than Iraq: a relatively violence-free country with a popular leader and a populace grateful for the presence of U.S. and other troops.

Now, all three countries appear to be sliding toward chaos.

Bush thrusting us back to the 1970's, his snow white days, first with Vietnam 2.ouch and now with an oil-soon-to-be-gas crisis.

What's next, Iraqsploitation?

A little later in that decade, John Doe & Exene Cervenka set to music these psychotically applicable lines:
No one is united
All things are untied
Perhaps we're boiling over inside
They've been telling lies
Who's been telling lies?
There are no angels
There are devils in many ways
Take it like a man

The world's a mess it's in my kiss

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


At what point does sheer unmitigated shameless gall (chutzpah?) turn into fascism?

Here's our U.S. Deputy Attorney General, the #2 official in the country in charge of safeguarding our Constitutional Rule of Law, saying in Congressional testimony, for heaven's sake, that:

“The President is always right.”

What's funny is that you could actually make a good case for the opposite.

President Bush is always wrong.

If not yet fascism, John Dean makes the case for authoritarianism. And per this Bush profile written three prescient years ago, it all makes sense. Wild man turned bossman, power in the hands of one least equipt to wield it wisely. And all those he has assembled around him all march to his authoritarian beat.

But no one else has to.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Go read a blog written by a real young woman, using the pseudonym "Riverbend" to protect herself and her family, Baghdad Burning. She only posts a couple times a month but has a collection of her first year blogging out in book form. Here's a taste:
It's like Baghdad is no longer one city, it's a dozen different smaller cities each infected with its own form of violence. It's gotten so that I dread sleeping because the morning always brings so much bad news. The television shows the images and the radio stations broadcast it. The newspapers show images of corpses and angry words jump out at you from their pages, "civil war...death..killing..bombing...rape..."

Rape. The latest of American atrocities. Though it's not really the latest- it's just the one that's being publicized the most. The poor girl Abeer was neither the first to be raped by American troops, nor will she be the last. The only reason this rape was brought to light and publicized is that her whole immediate family were killed along with her. Rape is a taboo subject in Iraq. Families don't report rapes here, they avenge them. We've been hearing whisperings about rapes in American-controlled prisons and during sieges of towns like Haditha and Samarra for the last three years. The naivete of Americans who can't believe their 'heroes' are committing such atrocities is ridiculous. Who ever heard of an occupying army committing rape??? You raped the country, why not the people?

I wrote about the pillage problem a recently, and the worst part is that while the overwhelming majority of U.S. soldiers I read about are deserving of the highest respect, it makes out legitimacy irrecoverable.

Riverbend seems driven to write today in reaction to the murder of her friend, his death a strange result of the inability of the U.S. occupying force to provide common electrical service:
At nearly 2 pm, we received some terrible news. We lost a good friend in the killings. T. was a 26-year-old civil engineer who worked with a group of friends in a consultancy bureau in Jadriya. The last time I saw him was a week ago. He had stopped by the house to tell us his sister was engaged and he'd brought along with him pictures of latest project he was working on- a half-collapsed school building outside of Baghdad.

He usually left the house at 7 am to avoid the morning traffic jams and the heat. Yesterday, he decided to stay at home because he'd promised his mother he would bring Abu Kamal by the house to fix the generator which had suddenly died on them the night before. His parents say that T. was making his way out of the area on foot when the attack occurred and he got two bullets to the head. His brother could only identify him by the blood-stained t-shirt he was wearing.

When I read something like this, real people that are hurt because of our actions, or the war begun by our quasi-elected leaders in our name, I could care less about Joe Lieberman's precious ego or any other politician. Harold Meyerson is the first mainstream media columnist to get it right:
No great mystery enshrouds the challenge to Lieberman, nor is the campaign of his challenger, Ned Lamont, a jihad of crazed nit-pickers. Lieberman has simply and rightly been caught up in the fundamental dynamics of Politics 2006, in which Democrats are doing their damnedest to unseat all the president's enablers in this year's elections. As well, Lieberman's broader politics are at odds with those of his fellow Northeastern Democrats. He is not being opposed because he doesn't reflect the views of his Democratic constituents 100 percent of the time. He is being opposed because he leads causes many of them find repugnant.

Read the rest to see how deluded or self-deluded Lieberman is on Iraq, and the other issue Bush is planning to bring back like a zombie next year, gutting Social Security.

I'm not sure that any callow politician coming into office this year on an anti-Bush enablement platform is going to have the solution for our repugnant war crisis, but it sure as hell seems there absolutely has to be a change for anything better to happen.

Is that same feeling sweeping enough of the U.S.A. to make a difference?

Does it matter even if they fix the vote?

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Looks like I was just in time with a Deadwood post as tonight's episode was hands-down the best of the season thus far. Intimidation, narcotics, wanton murder, and the best hand-to-hand fight in recent memory, TV or features.

Right afterwards I tuned to another vision of the American West, in this case the Western part of the White House where the staffers sit, and played the final West Wing episode off the TiVo. I've always been a spotty viewer, usually tuning in for the beginnings and ends of seasons, and had obviously saved this one for a month or so since it aired.

There's no doubting it's one of the great shows of all time, celebrating with many warts and some requisite melodrama service to our great nation at the highest level of our democratic government. Casting Martin Sheen was a stroke of brilliance, and his leadership through decision-making is always, as I've written about Kirk on Star Trek, at the core of the most major and compelling conflicts.

So why not be a completist? It's a little wariness at the Liberal wish-fufillment aspect of the show, which on one hand provides a startling and instructive contrast with the one we're stuck with -- perhaps the lessons of President Josiah "Jed " Bartlet will be of use to a future and more circumspect real world President -- but which I worry blinds the eye to the actual horrorshow that's going on, an all too comforting fantasy that might in the end soften the fighting sense needed, say, for the fast-approaching autumn blood-battle.

In that realpolitik sense the American construct of Deadwood is maybe more to my taste, American fighting it out in the mid-street mud, mano-a-mano, dirty and to mortal conclusion.

But what The West Wing provides in this final episode is powerful closure, seven years in the making, a hell of a lot of sweep.

This is a closure where one where real life loss, the death before the last episodes were filmed, of series anchor John Spencer as Leo McGarry, Bartlet's Chief of Staff and incoming President Santos' VP running mate, adds unassailable heft to the story and performances.

The show's staff writers have now acknowledged that the GOP candidate, Alan Alda as Senator Arnold Vinick, was originally scripted to win the election, but when Spencer died last December they decided that the double-dip tragedy of Santos (Jimmy Smits) having his running mate die and also lose the election wouldn't work for the audience dramatically, or maybe be too much of a crushing blow to bring down the curtain on.

I like the look inside the workings of the White House and the humanizing of the details. I guess I'm glad it was a Democrat they portrayed, certainly the kind I'd like to see, someone with wisdom but humility, someone who cares for common folks but is respected by heads of state, someone who know great literature but can quote chapter and verse from the Bible, someone with the greatest grasp of diplomacy but without fear using -- prudently but unequivocally -- our military might.

The last moments of the series has a dramatic resonation back to the moment Leo McGarry proposed to Jed Bartlet that he run for President. Then when asked by his wife, the now First Lady emeritus (Stockard Channing), what he is thinking about, Bartlet answers as he gazes out the window of Air Force I for the last time, "Tomorrow."

Here's to November, baby.


The Los Angeles Times has an unusual article in the front section today about how populist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is using Charlie Chaplin's mega-classic film Modern Times as a tool to teach workers all about the abuses of capitalism. Thousands of workers have seen the film in industrial locations, and some results have already come:
Chavez's adversaries in the business sector scoff at the Chaplin film screenings as an example of the president's simplistic, outdated and decidedly business-unfriendly economic policies.

But for poultry plant worker Maldonado, Charlie Chaplin has made a difference at work.

Inspired by the film and the talk from Labor Ministry officials, he demanded gloves and soap from his employer — and got them. But the assembly line still goes too fast, he said.

Metalworker Miguel Moreno also has seen some improvement. "We have more power because we know more," he said. "They've given me earplugs for the noise, at least."

For those who want a taste of the film itself, here's a trailer from the recent Kino restoration:

Chaplin still genius

I'm always impressed with how Chaplin's movies transcend time, how his Little Tramp character speaks simply and directly to any audience, virtually any age, even 75 or more years later.

And Chaplin always sided politically with the Proletariat worker, leading to his exile from America during the Red Scare era. As film critic/historian Richard Schickel says in the article:
"Chaplin would just love that his film is still relevant to modern social conditions, that a modern-day leftist politician in Latin America would find this film to be a useful tool."

Even if one might argue with Hugo Chavez's politics, there's no disputing his taste.

Friday, July 07, 2006


I did a lot of TiVo catching up from some travel a few weeks ago and I can't get this fucking theme song from HBO's cocksucking Deadwood out of my head.

If you want to know what I'm talking about, this rhythmic fiddle and banjo and some other tension-provoking instrument theme is here. Click on (stick with me now) "Theme From Deadwood".

For the uninitiated or who know about the show but haven't dipped in, the show is a revisionist Western, the bad old days, created and run by David Milch, of NYPD Blue fame. He's the guy who channeled Sipowicz.

The show is based on some history of the actual frontier town of Deadwood in South Dakota, and creates kind of a John Ford meets Thomas Hobbes state of olde time panic. The real Deadwood never quite made past the boomtown phase, although now a couple thousand citizens and tourists roam the town with that name, on that spot.

Season One focused on the town as "camp", with few permanent structures and a state of capitalist anarchy. The main characters were established through their coming to grips with each other for the first time. Men were killed over gold, families slaughtered for what they carried, Wild Bill Hickok (an iconographic Keith Carradine -- not only for McCabe & Mrs. Miller, but his dad was in John Ford's Stagecoach) shot at a gambling table. Starts in 1876.

Season Two became, more interestingly in my mind, a building critique of capitalism, as operatives for legendary monopoly miner and later industrialist George Hearst began to infiltrate the camp and buy up gold claims -- by hook or by crook. Hearst himself (Gerald McRainey, in a great performance) showed up in that season's final episode.

Season Three is underway, and I'm not sure you can't just start watching this week and get what's going on, but basically it's the town's last stand again Hearst and the big money that always drives out the small. There's a real town now, with wooden buildings where tents once stood and property being sold at a profit. We're deep into 1877 now.

Without getting into the details of the serpentine character interrelationships or praising all of the fine actors that make up the sprawling cast, I do want to single out three faves.

The magnetic center of the show is Al Swearengen, played by Brit thespian Ian McShane, who's worked forever over there and only occasionally over here, until he broke through at age 58 as the steely, brilliant, vicious mob leader Teddy in Sexy Beast.

Based on a real saloon/brothel owner from Deadwood history (he was a real asshole and ended badly), Al spent the first season as the cutthroat villain but after passing a kidney stone the first half of Season 2 emerged as the main rival to Hearst, maybe the only balwark and now he's motivated by revenge.

Indeed, Al is the silent political leader behind the town's rise to legitimacy, manipulating competing states and kingmaking all the town officers. And, every season, he has long soliloqies where we learn about his troubles and his past while he has one of his prostitutes servicing him.

You can see how Swearengen's most famous epithet works kinda metaphoric-like.

McShane rules with a performance simultaneously dark as night and astonishly vibrant. Think of those frontier times, those risks, the type of people it took to pioneer. The big question is whether Al survives after the frontier is domesticated. Or is he just roadkill for George Hearst is his search for "the color?"

The most underrated female actor on television must be Paula Malcomson, born in Belfast with a thick Irish accent off the show, who plays the endlessly profane prostitute, Trixie, who has steadily become the moral conscience of the show. Malcomson bites into her lines and spits them out like arrows, piercing all in their path.

Trixie has gone from Al's consort to unmarried shadow wife of a Jewish businessman now running for Mayor. She's left the brothel for the hardware store and now bank, been schooled in accounts from her non-judgmental man.

I predict great things for Malcomson. She has the ring of truth and fiery good looks.

To my mind the third revelation of the cast is William Sanderson (Blade Runner, Newhart) as weasely innkeeper and current Mayor E Farnum, who gets to spout perhaps the most Shakespearean of the much lauded period dialogue.

Farnum is a nosy little bastard, and best of all his entire re-election campaign speech was a blatant anti-Semitic smear, replete with references to large noses and circumcision. A wholesome platform.

Maybe the theme song gets me with it's rollicking nature of the tension, like there's a good time somewhere in this mess, something hopeful and transcendent just by nature of the community building steadily from scratch, another John Ford theme echoing throughout the show. Maybe it's just the excitement, the anticipation it brings to mind, of another cocksuckingly good episode.

Most of all, the super-objective of the series, way past concerns of Alma losing her fortune to Hearst or Bullock making his obligatory marriage work or Al ending up face down on his barroom floor with Hearst's hired bullet in his back, is whether the town itself survives.

This fortune-making hellhole, this experimental incubator of unbridled capitalism, it may not make it out of the series let alone the 19th Century. HBO and Milch recently announced agreement to do two more 2-hour "movies" after this 13-episode season and tie up all the loose ends.

After that, no more new Deadwood.



A pause from U.S. internal, political, narcissistic navel-gazing for a moment to image how we look to the world outside our borders.

Back in the good old days, I mean from the dawn of time until, maybe, the signing of the Geneva Conventions so desecrated by the Bush-Cheney-Rove-Rumsfeld Administration, soldier who fought on the winning side of a battle were rewarded with free reign to rape and pillage the vanquished foe's city or town or farmhouses as their rightful due, their pay.

In the 20th Century, some just took what they wanted without asking their commanding officer. Horrorshow experiences. Mercilessly treated victims.

So how horrible to have one of our soldiers -- I guess one troop no one will ever be bullied to say they support -- charged with a heinous rape and murder of a 15 year-old girl, the murder of her 5 year-old sister, mother and father. And there were 3 other soldiers involved as well.

Private first class Seth D. Green, a living advertisement for U.S. out of Iraq ASAP was discharged for mental problems, but not before he raped, murdered, and covered it all up for awhile by blaming "insurgents."

Hello, blowback.

Maybe he was just getting some for himself since, after all, the GOP operatives and enablers who came in as the Coalition Provisional Authority got their rape and pillage a more refined way. Can you say, "kleptocracy?"

Or maybe it's just part and parcel of this wildly unpopular Iraq War's effect on military recruitment, and subsequent gap-filling by the lowering of recruitment standards. You know, to allow convicted criminals to represent America over there.

Criminals in the U.S. military. Is that a cause for alarm?

Because it's not only confined to Iraq.

* * * *


This just in from The New York Times: "We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad..." Why, you ask?
A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" to infiltrate the military, according to a watchdog organization.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and right-wing militia groups, estimated that the numbers could run into the thousands, citing interviews with Defense Department investigators and reports and postings on racist Web sites and magazines.

It's another Bush-Cheney Admin rollback of a Clinton Administration policy cracking down on extremists in the military after ex-Army gunner Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. In the words of one neo-Nazi American scribe:
"Light infantry is your branch of choice because the coming race war and the ethnic cleansing to follow will be very much an infantryman's war," he wrote. "It will be house-to-house, neighborhood-by-neighborhood until your town or city is cleared and the alien races are driven into the countryside where they can be hunted down and 'cleansed.'"

He concluded: "As a professional soldier, my goal is to fill the ranks of the United States Army with skinheads. As street brawlers, you will be useless in the coming race war. As trained infantrymen, you will join the ranks of the Aryan warrior brotherhood."

You want to send your well-intentioned, patriotic son or daughter into that U.S. Army?

Thursday, July 06, 2006


When I first heard that Kenny-boy Lay had bought the farm, or maybe the ultimate pension plan earlier today, my first question was, "Miscarriage of justice or goodbye to bad rubbish?"

At first I thought, yeah, everyone's gonna be upset he didn't serve all his maximum jail times (he would have had appeals, no doubt, maybe even have gotten sprung before too long), he didn't have the heart attack in the slammer, no real penalty for having ruined the retirements of all his employees and gamed the energy markets to the point of screwing over who swatches of the country, his henchmen laughing about grandmothers going cold.

I just thought, maybe no big deal, better to be rid of him for good. I'm not saying let bygones be bygones, I'm saying the reaper takes him and now we don't have to have him polluting our world with his immorality.

Then I read this:

Lay's Death Complicates Efforts to Seize Assets


Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Our annual celebration of U.S. Independence Day is drawing to a close, and by the time most of you read this it will be July 5th, more a celebration of Tylenol and its hangover healing powers, so in these waning hours I just wanted to hum a few bars of:

"God Save the Queen"
Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh Lord God have mercy
All crimes are paid

A mere two hundred and thirty years ago we, the American people, said hell no to kings. We didn't try to build in a figurehead royal family in our new country, the Presidency is not permanently owned by one family, although we all know there are pretenders to those thrones. In fact, since 1908, we don't even dip our flag as we pass an Olympic host country's king during opening or closing ceremonies.
"The Battle of Shepherds Bush"” began almost immediately, when the U.S. delegation noticed that there was no American flag among the national flags decorating the stadium for the opening ceremonies. U.S. flag bearer and discus champion Martin Sheridan responded by refusing to dip the Stars and Stripes when he passed King Edward VII's box in the parade of athletes. "“This flag dips to no earthly king,"” Sheridan said. And it hasn't since.

One of the inspirations for starting this blog is uber-blogger and old school Conservative, Andrew Sullivan. I've agreed with him a lot lately.

Looking ahead over the next weeks and months we'll see a full on battle by the Cheney Administration to try and stonewall, circumvent, or pollute in the public mind the meaning of last week's landmark Supreme Court Hamdam ruling, which said the President can't be the sole policeman, judge and jury in Guantanamo or any other military prison. Andrew, who was born under a monarchy, okay Constitutional Monarchy, has been right on top of ol' King George starting when he realized he was a fool to back this knave on the Iraq War.

From one of many bull's-eye posting, this one late last week:
There is also clear evidence that much of what this president attempted was not simply a good-faith attempt to protect American civilians. It was a deliberate attempt to expand executive authority, promoted by radical theorists of state power, and fomented by a cabal of dead-enders, bent on avenging Nixon. The intent of Rumsfeld, Cheney, Addington, Cambone, Yoo, and the other advocates of an untrammeled executive was the acquisition of unaccountable power. In wartime, such dangerous characters are even more of a threat, because they can use the cover of security to seize new prerogatives.

While this restoration of the Nixonian imperial presidency is undoubtedly a Cheney/Rumsfeld fueled killing spree, El President Bush himself "joshed" about becoming dictator way back as Presidente elect (video):
"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier - just so long I'm the dictator."
- December 18, 2000

So what would make any informed person think they weren't planning this long before 9/11/2001?

Here's your call to action from July 4, 2006. Think of it as the new Declaration of Independence and we're all Minutemen -- Minutepeople, to be politically correct.

Remember this moment as these oligarchists and their henchmen work tirelessly to subvert this rejection of monarchal powers, this reaffirmation of our people's Constitution.

The Founders knew that democracy could at certain times be seized by tyrannical forces. There's no automatic protection that snaps into place, but there is remedy, over time, if effort -- and outrage -- is applied.

You and I have to remain vigilant, vocal and persuasive. Read the news, talk to friends, even if your too busy to march or write letters, it doesn't hurt to just be on top of it and have an opinion.

This isn't flag burning; it's just the opposite.

This is everything you can do to make sure our flag dips to no earthly king.


There's been so much written on An Inconvenient Truth that I want to keep it brief, but I did see the picture last night and it's pretty much the best one I've seen this year. Just a few points:

1. Al gives a performance. Think Spaulding Gray with more rehearsals, over 1000 of them, and less ennui. It not like he's Best Actor, but it is the most impressive performance so far this year. Between his lecture captured on film with theatrical flair, and the voice interviews covering key moments in the life of this 40-year quest, it's a terrific portrait of a Great American. Very nice for 4th of July.

2. The subject matter is staggering. And in communicating it to us so fluidly, so effectively, we see a guy with a huge vision, huge humility, and huge commitment. His friends are scientists who drill deep into glaciers to find out what our planet was like 600,000 years ago. George W. Bush's friends are...Ken Lay.

3. As art/entertainment, the movie works on a lot of levels, not just as clarion call-to-action or biography/hagiography, but as political criticism, as somber lessons on life's journey, as humanist manifesto, and as double-sided campaign brochure. It's got drama and a deft touch of mythmaking. Al in silhouette. Al telephoto, humbled by airport security just like the rest of us. It works as a breath of fresh air, so that when you see the images of Gore vs. Bush 2000 the eye is blinded; the miscarriage of history is too much to process, how the actual evil guys get to fiddle while the planet burns.

4. Mainly the film is a real deal historical document. If he manages to spearhead and/or inspire the saving of our planet, what other movie would you watch in 150 years. How Green Was My Valley?

Here's my take on Al and 2008. I think he's testing the waters, but unlike a typical pol he's not doing it with poll numbers, he's doing it with a real issue. After seeing this flick you'll say a real big issue.

I'm betting that if Gore finds he really changes the public's thinking on saving the planet within the next 18 months, he's have the proof that he can effectively make a difference in public policy and go for it. But if he ends up feeling that he can only really be effective on this crucial commitment issue by remaining in the private sector, he'll hold back.

Gore never comes across as powermad, not like Bush or Cheney or Rove. He may not be insane enough to be President. He draws a clear line between the public service and now private life, and it feels like the step back into public life after all this history would be a gravely considered one.

I take him at his word that he has not yet made any plans to run for office. However, he has made it clear he isn't closing off that path, and one imagines that if all portents were good, should it feel right at the time, should there be enough party and public and media clamor for him to enter the race, he'll take the Nestea plunge.

As of this moment, he sure seems like the best man for the job.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Lying Fascists

So El Presidente Bush's permanent war means that they have to tap our phones without the loincloth of a warrant.

Wow, that walk down the hall to FISA is just too much for BushCheneyCo's NSA. A warrant might mean...oversight by someone who isn't part of the machine.

My guess has always been that they are spying on their political opponents, since in their rhetoric their political opposition would indeed be counter to their "War on Terror". The justification, as always: 9/11.

That is, of course, unless they were already planning to monitor calls before 9/11.

Say hello to:

Pioneer Groundbreaker

Saturday, July 01, 2006


There's a ton of bad news piling down, from El Presidente Bush's apparatchiks saying they basically won't follow the Supreme Court ruling against them earlier this week (el fascista Gonzales!) to the nightmare between Israel and Hamas-led Palestine. However, in keeping with the theme begun last night on Nettertainment this holiday weekend, I'm just going to recommend a movie.

The sweet and original comedy Nacho Libre seems to be getting the same weak or mixed reviews that Napoleon Dynamite suffered upon its release.

Look where Napoleon ended up: over $40 million box office on a $400,000 budget and a spot in so many family DVD collections. The big shock of Nappy D was that it was both an outrageous comedy and, imagine this, family entertainment.

I took my two boys, ages 6 and 3, and while the 3 year-old was indeed the youngest in the theater, it was all fine. Jack Black, in his best role since School of Rock, is hilarious in a sort of transformation for him, the luchador aspect provides action, and some absurd moments -- a crazy tunnel in the rich man's house -- provide smiles in recollection two weeks later.

Director Jared Hess may not have caught zeitgeist lightning in the bottle as he did with his independent feature, but with Nacho he enters the studio system with his voice fully intact, and one that should continue to deliver for audiences as his career grows.

Here's my favorite Manohla Dargis review of all time, wherein she writes:
Here, then, is a true rarity: a Hollywood comedy in which a man with a thing for the ladies (O.K., nuns) makes nice, sometimes in tights, and no one even thinks to call him a sissy because no one in the film thinks in such stupid terms. As Nacho explains matter of factly, "When you are a man sometimes you wear stretchy pants in your room. It's for fun." Well, of course.

I agree with everything in the whole review. After all, who couldn't love a hero who looks like this?