Saturday, April 08, 2006

Saturday Atom Bomb Blogging

You know they're just letting Sy Hersh live so they can judge whether or not most Americans get upset by the notion of dropping atom bombs on Iraq or if they just shrug and go back to watching American Idol.

America by Allen Ginsberg

America I've given you all and now I'm nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can't stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don't feel good don't bother me.
I won't write my poem till I'm in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I'm sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don't think he'll come back it's sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I'm trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I'm doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven't read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I'm not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there's going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I'm perfectly right.
I won't say the Lord's Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven't told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over
from Russia.

I'm addressing you.
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I'm obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It's always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie
producers are serious. Everybody's serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.

Asia is rising against me.
I haven't got a chinaman's chance.
I'd better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals
an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles and hour and
twentyfivethousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underpriviliged who live in
my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I'm a Catholic.

America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his
automobiles more so they're all different sexes
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they
sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the
speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the
workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party
was in 1935 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother
Bloor made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have
been a spy.
America you don're really want to go to war.
America it's them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia's power mad. She wants to take
our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader's Digest. her wants our
auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him makes Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers.
Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I'd better get right down to the job.
It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts
factories, I'm nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

Actually, I'd Just As Soon He Stays Away

Because he is as dumb as a box of rocks, if we're talking about a really, really dumb box of rocks.

Where IS George Allen?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday Son and Grandson Blogging

Free Trees in Arlington, Virginia

Arlington’s Parks Department is offering community groups FREE TREES to be
distributed for Neighborhood Day in May. There is a limit of one tree per
family for planting on their private property.

Two species of tree are being offered. The first is a smaller, understory
tree—sweetbay magnolia. The second tree is chestnut oak—a major canopy
shade tree. You can google the tree names to find out their
characteristics. The trees being offered are whips 3-4 feet tall and are
potted in one-gallon containers.

If interested in obtaining one of these trees to grow in your yard, call
Vicki Howard, the civic association president, at 703-304-4487. Leave your
name, address, telephone number, and the type of tree you wish. Call within
the next 7 days, since we need to call in the Leeway Overlee order by April
15th. In the event that more groups order trees than the County can supply,
orders will probably be filled on a first-come-first served basis. Vicki
will contact you when the tree arrives—presumably in May.


Do something nice for Mama Earth.

Your Honor, Please Stay Out of Small Planes

CNN reports that: "The judge in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial ruled Friday that families of September 11 attack victims are entitled to the same unclassified aviation security documents the government turned over to the al Qaeda conspirator's defense team.

"I've always been troubled to the extent which our government keeps things secret from the American people," U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said, granting the families' request after a hearing.

"It is amazing what some agencies think is secret," Brinkema added. "As a culture, we need to be careful not to be so wrapped up in secrecy that we lose track of our core values and laws.""

Rock on, Judge Brinkema, rock on.

Now There's a Guy with the Ovaries to Speak Truth to Power

Thanks, Harry Taylor. You were a hell of a lot more polite than I'd have been, but you definitely said what needed to be said.

Go here to thank Mr. Taylor. It's slashdotted at the moment, but keep checking back. This guy's a hero.

Bush Not Interested in Energy Summit -- the Asshole

Today's EEI newsletter reports that:

"Democrats Call for Bipartisan Energy Summit; Bush Not Interested
Sens. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., led an effort of 51 Democratic members of Congress who are calling on the Bush administration to set up a bipartisan energy summit, the Associated Press reported. The White House, the report said, "showed little interest in such a meeting."

In a letter to the administration, the Democrats said: "Developing a serious long-term strategy to curb our nation's dangerous dependence on oil is long overdue." Such a summit "would be designed to produce solutions to move America forward more quickly on a path toward greater energy independence and security," they said.
Associated Press, April 6."

Good political move on Kerry's and Cantwell's part. Not to mention that they're right. We SO need a Manhattan Project-style push to get America off oil.

Friday Frost Blogging

The e-newsletter for my local farmers' market usually comes with a poem. Here's the one for this week. I love it.

A Prayer in Spring
~ Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us hapy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.


In my Reclaiming class tonight we were talking about passion. Not just sexual passion, but all kinds of passion. There are quite a few things in which I have a strong interest, but few about which I am passionate.

In America, as my friend Renee, aka the world's best cook, noted, it's ok to be passionate about, say, a diamond ring your lover buys you. Of course, someone profits from that. We allow men in our society, and, increasingly women, to be passionate about sports. Chomsky said some interesting things about that. And, of course, someone can profit off of that passion.

Is it possible in a capitalist society to have a passion that doesn't make anyone any money? What would that be? What is your passion? Is it any more than a way for someone to sell you something? Is passion a form of mania, of madness? For what are you willing to, literally, go mad? Do our passions help us to thrive? Do they tap into our fears? If so, what's the connection?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

D.H. Lawrence Blogging - Just Because

Beautiful Old Age

It ought to be lovely to be old
to be full of the peace that comes of experience
and wrinkled ripe fulfilment.

The wrinkled smile of completeness that follows a life
lived undaunted and unsoured with accepted lies
they would ripen like apples, and be scented like pippins
in their old age.

Soothing, old people should be, like apples
when one is tired of love.
Fragrant like yellowing leaves, and dim with the soft
stillness and satisfaction of autumn.

And a girl should say:
It must be wonderful to live and grow old.
Look at my mother, how rich and still she is! -

And a young man should think: By Jove
my father has faced all weathers, but it's been a life!

- D.H.Lawrence

Oh, really, D.H., you should bite me. Go find your own comforting apples and leave us old people the fuck alone. Like we have to go on living for you forever. Grow the fuck up. My knee is sore.

Bush Told Libby to Leak Classified Information

"The fact that the president was willing to reveal classified information for political gain and put interests of his political party ahead of Americas security shows that he can no longer be trusted to keep America safe," said Howard Dean.

Howard's right. Now, what are we going to do about it?

Swear to Kali, the next press person i hear mention Cynthia McKinney's hair is going to get a whammy placed on them like they've never seen before. Dear Mainstream Media: THE FRIGGING HOUSE IS ON FRIGGIN FIRE AND YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT CATIE COURIC AND AMERICAN IDOL. STOP IT!

Helicopters on the Roof -- Not a Foreign Policy

Moonbotica pointed me this morning to Sidney Blumenthal's article in The Guardian. Blumenthal reports that, "Since the Iraqi elections in January, US foreign service officers at the Baghdad embassy have been writing a steady stream of disturbing cables describing drastically worsening conditions. Violence from incipient communal civil war is rapidly rising. Last month there were eight times as many assassinations committed by Shia militias as terrorist murders by Sunni insurgents. The insurgency, according to the reports, also continues to mutate. Meanwhile, President Bush's strategy of training Iraqi police and army to take over from coalition forces - "when they stand up, we'll stand down" - is perversely and portentously accelerating the strife. State department officials in the field are reporting that Shia militias use training as cover to infiltrate key positions. Thus the strategy to create institutions of order and security is fuelling civil war."

He also notes that, "The Pentagon has informed the state department it will not provide security for these officials and that mercenaries should be hired for protection instead. Internal state department documents listing the PRT jobs, dated March 30, reveal that the vast majority of them remain unfilled by volunteers. So the professionals are being forced to take the assignments in which "they can't do what they are being asked to do", as a senior department official told me."

Finally, Blumenthal explains that, "Amid this internal crisis of credibility, the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, has washed her hands of her department. Her management skills are minimal. Now she has left coercing people to fill the PRTs to her counsellor, Philip Zelikow, who, by doing the dirty work, is trying to keep her reputation clean.

While the state department was racked last week by collapsing morale, Rice travelled to England to visit the constituency of Jack Straw. She declared that though the Bush administration had committed "tactical errors, thousands of them" in Iraq, it is right on the strategy. Then she and Straw took a magic carpet to Baghdad to try to overthrow Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari in favour of a more pliable character.

"Did you ever imagine in your wildest dreams that after Vietnam we'd be doing this again?" one top state department official remarked to another last week. Inside the department, people wonder about the next "strategy" after the hearts-and-minds gambit of sending diplomats unprotected to secure victory turns into a squalid fiasco. "Helicopters on the roof?" asked an official. "

Condalezza Rice is in so far over her head that she'll never see sunshine again. Especially since her theory about how to get out of a hole is to keep digging. It's going to take years and years to clean up the mess this administration has made of everything. Including our foreign service.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Go Read This

Anne Johnson just cracks my shit up. Huck Finn, Intelligent Design, and PTA moms.

It's Time for a Taxpayer Revolt!

Via Witchvox:

When are America's taxpayers going to rise up and say enough is enough?. Just exactly how many millions of tax dollars have to get wasted on lawyers fees, rather than spent on text books or athletic equipment or art supplies before America's tax payers put their feet down? When will America's schoolboards focus on educating American children and stop all the nonsense?

Sounds Like a Plan

In today's New York Times, John Kerry writes:

We are now in the third war in Iraq in as many years. The first was against Saddam Hussein and his supposed weapons of mass destruction. The second was against terrorists whom, the administration said, it was better to fight over there than here. Now we find our troops in the middle of an escalating civil war.

Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion. We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do. Our valiant soldiers can't bring democracy to Iraq if Iraq's leaders are unwilling themselves to make the compromises that democracy requires.

As our generals have said, the war cannot be won militarily. It must be won politically. No American soldier should be sacrificed because Iraqi politicians refuse to resolve their ethnic and political differences.

So far, Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines — a deadline to transfer authority to a provisional government, and a deadline to hold three elections.

Now we must set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet.

Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they're probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave.

If Iraq's leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year's end. Doing so will empower the new Iraqi leadership, put Iraqis in the position of running their own country and undermine support for the insurgency, which is fueled in large measure by the majority of Iraqis who want us to leave their country. Only troops essential to finishing the job of training Iraqi forces should remain.

For this transition to work, we must finally begin to engage in genuine diplomacy. We must immediately bring the leaders of the Iraqi factions together at a Dayton Accords-like summit meeting. In a neutral setting, Iraqis, working with our allies, the Arab League and the United Nations, would be compelled to reach a political agreement that includes security guarantees, the dismantling of the militias and shared goals for reconstruction.

To increase the pressure on Iraq's leaders, we must redeploy American forces to garrisoned status. Troops should be used for security backup, training and emergency response; we should leave routine patrols to Iraqi forces. Special operations against Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists in Iraq should be initiated only on hard intelligence leads.

We will defeat Al Qaeda faster when we stop serving as its best recruitment tool. Iraqis ultimately will not tolerate foreign jihadists on their soil, and the United States will be able to maintain an over-the-horizon troop presence with rapid response capacity. An exit from Iraq will also strengthen our hand in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat and allow us to repair the damage of repeated deployments, which flag officers believe has strained military readiness and morale.

For three years now, the administration has told us that terrible things will happen if we get tough with the Iraqis. In fact, terrible things are happening now because we haven't gotten tough enough. With two deadlines, we can change all that. We can put the American leadership on the side of our soldiers and push the Iraqi leadership to do what only it can do: build a democracy.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Random Thoughts

There are a limited number of airwaves. That's why the FCC licenses their use and, back in the good old days, used to require that those who used the airwaves do so for the public good. There's a limited amount of oil in the ground. Why doesn't the government license its use and impose a heavy tax on those who would profit off of it? Why should an accident of property allow the few to control a necessary resource in order to profit off the many?

I'm thinking a lot about balance, lately. How the planet is no longer in balance; how our economy is no longer in balance. As liberals, do we believe that we should live within our means? Why? Why should a single mother working at WalMart live within her means while CEOs live a lifestyle that would embarass a Roman emperor? Had dinner w/ a very old friend last night who was telling me how her son's ex wife is unemployed, driving a Lexus, and sending her son to school w/o lunch money. My first reaction is: that's crazy. I make a very nice salary, and I wouldn't dream of driving a Lexus. But what about CEOs who, figuratively, drive a Lexus while their pension funds go underfunded? Why is it so easy for us to condemn the Lexus-driving mother, but not the CEO?

I'm an older woman and I'm invisible in this society. Why do we allow this? Because there are advantages to being invisible. Clear advantages. Sometimes, it allows us to come out of nowhere.

How do you both support your friends and still hold them accountable for what they say and do? When the group agrees about someone's life, does that make it true? When is being "sick" a form of health for someone in a relationship where being "sick" is the only form of power they own? Do we help them or hurt them when we insist they tell us the truth about how sick they are?

A great teacher once told me that working on your own shadows is one of the best things you can do for future generations of your family. Will I find the will to confront my own shadows now that my grandson is here? If not, what can I expect from him? I held him this weekend and tried to imagine all that he may have to confront in what may well be a 120 year lifetime. Impossible. I settled for massaging his back and singing him lullabies. Is it enough

Would the Fundie Nut-Jobs Please Just Stop?

The NewStandard reports that, "Last week, a Texas appeals court overturned the convictions of two women who had used illegal drugs while pregnant, invalidating the prosecution’s controversial reading of a state law protecting the unborn. The decision, which skirted the constitutional issues at the center of the national abortion debate, drew support from a diverse host of both pro- and anti-abortion-rights groups." It goes on to note that, "The Act, primarily intended to protect pregnant women and their fetuses from violent crime and domestic abuse, explicitly exempts "conduct committed by the mother of the unborn child," as well as medical procedures to terminate pregnancies.

However, the district attorney’s office has consistently argued that the Controlled Substances Act, which bars the "delivery" or "transfer" of an illegal drug to a person under 18 years old, applied to the women under the Prenatal Protection Act’s definition of fetuses as "individuals." That law carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

In 2003, then-District Attorney Rebecca King issued a letter to healthcare providers advising personnel to report drug use by pregnant women to law enforcement. She stated that most of the women would "qualify for probation, which will allow [authorities] to legally mandate medical services" to treat the mother and child.

Many health professionals argue that intervention by law enforcement will simply instill women with the fear that those they turn to for help will end up turning them in. Before leaving office in early 2005, King charged eighteen women with delivering drugs to their fetuses.

But last January, after Ward and Smith had already pleaded guilty, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an official opinion declaring that the Prenatal Protection Act’s exemption for pregnant women also shields them from the Controlled Substances Act. The prosecutors in the case nonetheless stood by the original charges throughout the appeals process.

Unlike litigation in other states that has challenged fetal-rights policies on constitutional grounds, the Texas appeals court ruled instead on a technical basis, avoiding the heavier issues.

According to the organization Center for Reproductive Rights, in the first half of 2005, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and Louisiana all enacted fetal-rights legislation expanding child-abuse or neglect statutes to cover newborns testing positive for drugs. On the federal level, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, enacted in 2004 amid intense political controversy, holds that a fetus that is criminally harmed or injured is a separate victim in addition to the mother, though the law does not address conduct by pregnant women themselves.

While generally acknowledging the dangers of drug addiction during pregnancy, many public-health professionals argue that intervention by law enforcement will simply instill women with the fear that those they turn to for help will end up turning them in.

In a statement accompanying National Advocates for Pregnant Women’s friend-of-the-court brief, David Schneider, Chair of the Public Health Commission of the American Academy of Family Physicians, predicted: "When patients know that physicians are required to report patient behavior to the authorities... women will stop seeking necessary medical care, including drug treatment. We will have more drug-addicted babies, babies born with lower birth weights, and stillbirths."

Critics also say fetal-rights prosecutions have a discriminatory impact on minority women. In 1989, for instance, law enforcement authorities began targeting a hospital in a poor, mostly black community in Charleston, South Carolina, to root out women testing positive for drug use during pregnancy. The Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that the intrusive testing, which had led to a spate of arrests and detentions of pregnant and post-partum women, had violated the women’s civil rights."

Monday, April 03, 2006

Hugo Chavez Has an Interesting Idea, as Well

BBC reports that Venezuela has taken over oil fields. BBC also reports that, "Last month, BP was slapped with a back tax bill of $61.4m (£35m) covering 2001 to 2004."

Hillary Clinton Has a Damn Good Idea

"Assess the oil companies an alternative energy development fee, taken solely out of unanticipated profits from sky high oil prices, to be put into a new Strategic Energy Fund. The Fund would promote adoption of existing clean energy and conservation technologies; stimulate research and investment by the private sector into the next generation of energy technologies; and help consumers cope with spiraling energy costs. It's not about new energy taxes on consumers - it's about redirecting the hidden 'tax' that middle class Americans are already paying to OPEC and the oil companies in the form of higher prices and harnessing it to secure our energy future."

The Very Essence of a Problem Requiring Government Action

It's a rare day in April when I wake up and say, "You know, that Senator Lugar really makes sense." And if such a day were to occur, you'd expect it to be on April Fool's Day rather than, say, Monday, April 3rd. However, this morning I said to myself, "Self, you know, that Senator Lugar really makes sense."

We've seen, since the dark days of the Reagan administration, a blind insistence that all of our problems can be solved by "markets". Particularly within the field of energy, this faith in the ability of "markets" to solve problems has persisted despite quite a bit of evidence to the contrary. When FERC Chair Kurt Hebert famously told the people of San Diego during the California Energy Crisis that, "If the truth hurts Granny, you have to let Granny die," he meant that if he had to choose between his belief in "markets" and letting old women in California die when they couldn't afford their medicine and their energy bills, he preferred to cling to his faith in "markets" and watch the old women die. The Enron traders thought that was great and enjoyed mocking "Grandma Millie." In the end, FERC was forced to put price caps and must-offer requirements in place -- to regulate -- in order to restore some sanity to California's energy market. Some problems can't be solved by simply asserting blind faith in unregulated "free" markets. Energy is one of those problems. Lugar appears to "get" that.

The March 20th issue of Platt's Inside Energy reports that Lugar gave a speech at the Brookings Institute and said that energy is the "albatross of U.S. national security," and that "the U.S. was risking economic disaster at home and influence abroad by not addressing it with full force." He said given the stakes, the "White House and Congress must reshape the national energy strategy and not simply try to make technologies desirable to the market."

The report continues: "We have entered a different energy era that requires a much different response than in past decades," the Indiana Republican said. "We could take our time if this were merely a matter of accomplishing an industrial conversion to more cost-effective technologies. Unfortunately, U.S. dependence on fossil fuels and their growing scarcity worldwide have already created conditions that are threatening our security and prosperity and undermining international stability.

In the absence of revolutionary changes in energy policy, we are risking multiple disasters for our country that will constrain living standards, undermine our foreign policy goals, and leave us highly vulnerable to the machinations of rogue states."

He added, "Any realistic American foreign policy must redeploy diplomatic, military, scientific, and economic resources toward solving the energy problem."

Lugar goes on to explain that, "By the time a sustained energy crisis fully motivates the market, we are likely to be well past the point where we can save ourselves. Our motivation will come too late and the resulting investment will come too slowly to prevent the severe economic and security consequences of our oil dependence. This is the very essence of a problem requiring government action."

Now, it will be interesting to see if and how the White House responds.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sunday Akhmatova Blogging

"As a White Stone..."

As a white stone in the well's cool deepness,
There lays in me one wonderful remembrance.
I am not able and don't want to miss this:
It is my torture and my utter gladness.

I think, that he whose look will be directed
Into my eyes, at once will see it whole.
He will become more thoughtful and dejected
Than someone, hearing a story of a dole.

I knew: the gods turned once, in their madness,
Men into things, not killing humane senses.
You've been turned in to my reminiscences
To make eternal the unearthly sadness.

Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, August, 2000
Edited by Orit Bonver, August, 2000