Saturday, June 10, 2006

Those Who Cannot Remember History

Isaac Bonewits has renamed his blog --it's now Cyberhenge, which is a good name for a Druid's blog. [6/12/06 Correction: As Mr. Bonewits notes in comments, I goofed. He hasn't yet changed the name of his blog, but is considering doing so. I regret the error.]

What he wrote this week is so "spot on" as our friends across the pond like to say, that I think it's worth reprinting in its entirety. I'll only add that it's awfully ironic watching America be unable to figure out that you can't defeat an insurgency. We were an insurgency at one time. We defeated the British in a manner not completely unlike that being used by the insurgents in Iraq. You'd think we'd remember. And now, Pappa Isaac:

Hooray! They cut off a few more of the Hydra’s heads!
Ooops! Doesn’t that just wind up making matters worse? Today’s blathering about the killing of Al-Zarqawi in Iraq provided yet more evidence (as if any were needed) that the White House and the Pentagon just don’t understand insurgencies.

Don’t misunderestimate me; I’m glad the son of a bitch is dead along with his so-called spiritual leader. But calling this yet another “turning point” in the war against Iraq seems like complete nonsense to me. Sure, we successfully murdered (that’s what war is) one man and several of his associates (along with an undisclosed number of women and children nearby). By next week there will be two dozen devout fanatics ready to take their places and continue the jihad.

The Pentagon always fantasizes that it can defeat insurgencies with just a few more men and a few billion dollars more of fancy high-tech killing machines. That’s what macho personalities need to believe in order to do their job. History shows them, over and over, that revolutionaries, guerillas, and insurgents fighting from behind cover and using “sneaky, dirty, and ungentlemanly” methods can always defeat guys wandering around their turf in recognizable uniforms.

This Administration’s ability, however, to avoid perceiving “inconvenient truths” (to coin a phrase) has become truly monumental over the last five years. So, as my little part to help out, I’d like to list a few for the examination of those people in our government and military who actually want to win the multiple wars we’re now bogged-down in:

It’s the oil, stupid. Plans to invade Iraq were being made in the late 1990s. Permanent military bases are being built there now so America can (1) control the oil supply and (2) launch invasions into Iran and other nearby oil sources. Revenge for his daddy was just a nice perk for the President. “Promoting democracy” was just a nice sounding excuse. Denying that this is a resource war prevents clear and effective strategy by the imperial forces.

Iraq is another artificial country created by western empires and held together by a dictator we helped put into power (as with the Shah in Iran, as with several other nations). America took out the kingpin without providing another ruthless dictator to replace him. Of course the country’s going to fall apart—the Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds have been hating, raping, torturing, and slaughtering one another for centuries. They aren’t going to stop until everyone they can kill is actually dead. Then the victors will look for someone else to murder. This is the nature of tribal societies, especially when they have dualist religions/ideologies.

Weirdly enough, Al-Zarqawi actually did the American forces in Iraq a major favor: he got Iraqis back to killing each other, just when they were on the verge of uniting against the invading crusaders. As horrible as the results have been for Iraqi civilians, this tactic of promoting a three-way civil war has probably saved a number of American lives.

The so-called “war against terror” is impossible to win and always will be. Terror is a tactic, not an enemy, one that America has used ruthlessly in previous wars. Anyone in the world who wants to strike against a powerful enemy now has the knowledge and the material to blow up innocent victims by the thousands (or millions). This genie is not going back into the bottle.

While the Administration has been religious (so to speak) about denying that the current war against terror is actually against Islam, what it hasn’t said is that it’s in large part a war against fundamentalists with weapons. That’s a meme they don’t want spread, because it then becomes easy to figure out that the unspoken enemies at home, the ones fueling the hate and goading the Administration to “bring on” Armegeddon, are our own fundamentalists, the Christian ones. In this game of Crusaders vs. Jihadists, all the sane people in the world are the losers.

It’s time to start saying it out loud: fundamentalists are crazy. Anyone who believes their scriptures literally is insane. People who are mad should not be running governments, here or anywhere else. They certainly can’t be expected to make clear military decisions about strategy, tactics, or logistics. In the end, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic fundamentalists have more in common with each other in their hatred for and fear of pluralist, open, and liberal societies than they have separating them from one another. Fundamentalisms are ideas; really sick and dysfunctional ones. You can’t kill ideas with guns or bombs, all you can do that way is make more martyrs. Didn’t the Roman Empire make this same mistake with the early Christians?

Terrorism will only begin to end when wealthy nations and multinational corporations stop giving poor peoples and nations good reasons to hate them. That isn’t going to happen anytime soon. If, as, and when it does, the world will still have to wait until people whose grandparents were abused/raped/murdered by identifiable enemies have grown old and died. So Americans and other westerners will have to decide over the next few decades whether they are willing to give up having totally unrestrained capitalism or would prefer to change their democracies into police states.

We know how Bush and the Republicans have decided this last question. It’s the one damned elephant in the livingroom they have noticed: the only way to protect people from terrorism without inconveniencing the wealthy is to persuade the general public to give up every personal freedom they have. When everyone in the country is being tracked by GPS and filmed 24/7, then it will be hard to smuggle bombs into public places. Of course, the terrorists will just get cleverer. Hatred and fanaticism are great spurs to sneakiness.

Is there any way out of this mess? Possibly, but before we can find solutions, we’re going to have to stop being major parts of the problems. We can start November 7th, by putting sane people into power in Congress and removing the madmen in charge from the White House. Before, during, and after those events, we need to spread anti-fundie memes and strip the Religious Reich and their Islamo-Fascist counterparts of their auras of spirituality. Tolerating bigots isn’t sane or liberal. It’s suicidal.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Guilty Pleasures

It's Friday and time to indulge a bit. One of my newest guilty pleasures is this site: A Dress a Day. Completely shallow. Decadent, even. Enjoy.

The Disease of Materialism

I love Rob Brezny. He's not to everyone's taste, but he always manages to make me smile. Tooling around his web site today, I came across this:


from Jacob Needleman's The American Soul

Our world, so we see and hear on all sides, is drowning in materialism, commercialism, consumerism. But the problem is not really there. What we ordinarily speak of as materialism is a result, not a cause. The root of materialism is a poverty of ideas about the inner and outer world. Less and less does our contemporary culture have, or even seek, commerce with great ideas, and it is that lack that is weakening the human spirit. This is the essence of materialism. Materialism is a disease of the mind starved for ideas.

Great ideas are always part of a living system of ideas, all of which are necessary for the full understanding of any one of them. When we speak of the "idea of America," we are speaking of many interconnected ethical, social, and metaphysical ideas, which all together offered hope to the world. The idea of America, with all that it contained within it about the moral law, nature, God and the human soul, once reflected to some extent the timeless, ancient wisdom that has guided human life since the dawn of history.

America was a new and original expression, in the form of a social and political experiment, of ideas that have always been part of what may be called the great web of Truth. Explicitly and implicitly, the idea of America has resonated with this ancient, timeless wisdom and has allowed something of its power to touch the heart and mind of humanity. It is necessary to recover this resonance, this relationship, however tenous and partial, between the teachings of wisdom and the idea of America.

All the rights guaranteed by the Constitution were based on a vision of human nature that calls us to be responsible -- responsible to something within ourselves that is higher than the all-too-human desires for personal gain and satisfaction; higher than the dictates of the purely theoretical or logical mind; higher than the instinctive loyalties to family and tribe.

We need to rediscover the deeper, 'mythic meaning' of our nation. We need ideas; but we need ideas expressed in ways that touch our feelings of wonder and the sense of the sacred.

Many of us may think of myth as something opposed to fact, as falsehood or superstition. But in the root meaning of the word, the great myths of mankind are representations of cosmic and spiritual ideas, expressed in a way that touches the deeper springs of the mind -- the intelligence of the heart.

The mythic world does not exclude the world of concrete, everyday reality, but includes a greater awareness of the paradox of human existence...a reflection of the mystery of the two levels within human nature -- the divinity within man joined to the all-too-human. We need to reclaim our mythic symbols before they are destroyed by narrow "realism" or naïve "idealism." We need to reclaim them in a way that corresponds to what is necessary for us now in our own era.

Ideas communicated through myth show us a world that is perceived through the vision of wonder, love of truth, and the sense of the sacred, the impulse to serve and to participate in a greater reality----what we may call the inner world.These myths live in our subconscious, and we need to let them come forward and act upon us again. As it is, they are now being covered by a foolish realism that sees only "facts" of the outer world and is blind to the laws of the inner world...

Democracy in its specifically American form was created to allow men and women to seek their own higher principle within themselves. Without that inner meaning, democracy becomes, as Plato and Aristotle pointed out 2500 years ago, a celebration of superficiality.

We need to re-mythologize the idea of America."


"We need ideas; but we need ideas expressed in ways that touch our feelings of wonder and the sense of the sacred."

I've said before and will likely say again that one of the problems that today's Democrats have is that they are either afraid or unable to touch people's emotions. That's not a mistake Karl Rove ever makes. Yes, Rove touches people's base emotions. We don't want to do that. But until the Democrats touch people's emotions -- their love of family, their longing to be part of something bigger than themselves, their love and reverence for nature, their sympathy for others who are not as well off -- they're going to be in trouble.

"Materialism is a disease of the mind starved for ideas." Absolutely. I'd add, and of an unexamined shadow. Both personal and national.

Well, This Sucks

Via Witchvox comes a story that shows precisely how wrong-headed the Bush junta is:

"NASA is canceling or delaying a number of satellites designed to give scientists critical information on the earth's changing climate and environment.

The space agency has shelved a $200 million satellite mission headed by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor that was designed to measure soil moisture -- a key factor in helping scientists understand the impact of global warming and predict droughts and floods. The Deep Space Climate Observatory, intended to observe climate factors such as solar radiation, ozone, clouds, and water vapor more comprehensively than existing satellites, also has been canceled.

And in its 2007 budget, NASA proposes significant delays in a global precipitation measuring mission to help with weather predictions, as well as the launch of a satellite designed to increase the timeliness and accuracy of severe weather forecasts and improve climate models.

The changes come as NASA prioritizes its budget to pay for completion of the International Space Station and the return of astronauts to the moon by 2020 -- a goal set by President Bush that promises a more distant and arguably less practical scientific payoff. Ultimately, scientists say, the delays and cancellations could make hurricane predictions less accurate, create gaps in long-term monitoring of weather, and result in less clarity about the earth's hydrological systems, which play an integral part in climate change."

We've got money to to professionally frame and display ghoulish pictures of dead terroritst. We've got money for an illegal and insane war. We've got money to build permanent bases in a country we're supposedly going to leave soon. We've got so much money that we can give rich people huge tax cuts and provide oil companies with billions of dollars in handouts. We've got money for a Star Wars program that will never work. We've got money to hand over audit-free to Haliburton. But NASA doesn't have money to help predict hurricanes or learn about climate change.

I've got an idea. What about if we stay the fuck off the Moon, which is sacred ground to me as a Wiccan, and spend our money on these needed satellites?

WWJBUOHXB? Who Would Jesus Blow Up On His X-Box?

The Wild Hunt is quickly becoming one of the first blogs I check in the morning. Here's a particularly chilling post:

"Killing for Jesus: the Video Game

Left Behind Games recently announced that Left Behind: Eternal Forces, the first of their Left Behind RTS games, will be released in October, positioned for Christmas sales. Other Left Behind products, from books to movies, merely made me roll my eyes. This one is simply jaw-droppingly, stomach-churningly bad-wrong. It reminds me of the Billy Graham's Bible Blaster game from the Simpsons. 'Keep firing! Convert the heathens!' Except in this game, you control Prayer Warriors who blow away non-believers and shout: 'Praise God!'

Quotes from the creators' game description:

Conduct physical & spiritual warfare

Wield modern military weaponry

Command your forces through intense battles

Control more than 30 units types - from Prayer Warrior and Hellraiser to Spies, Special Forces and Battle Tanks!

Gameplay elements include sending units to evangelize ordinary folks wandering the streets, then sending those new converts to military training to make them foot soldiers in your Jihad. Sure, you lose 'spirit points' for killing innocents in your military missions instead of just your righteous heathen targets, but hey, collateral damage happens. It's nothing a little prayer and maybe building a church won't cure."

Unfortunately, this game is likely to be a huge hit this xmas. As Wild Hunt goes on to note: "One harsh critic of the game is Jack Thompson, Born-Again Christian and anti-game-violence advocate, who severed his ties with the publishing company Tyndale House over its allowing the licensing of the game. He is quoted by the L.A. Times as saying: 'We're going to push this game at Christian kids to let them know there's a cool shooter game out there. Because of the Christian context, somehow it's OK? It's not OK. The context is irrelevant. It's a mass-killing game... You can be the Christians blowing away the infidels, and if that doesn't hit your hot button, you can be the Antichrist blowing away all the Christians.'"

Go read the entire post, but don't do it on a full stomach. The war on xmas is starting to sound like a better and better idea to me.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Rules for Rural Radicals

Wendell Berry is a wonderful poet and a serious champion of the ecology. I was tooling around the internets that Al Gore created the other day and came across this fragment of one of his poems entitled The Gathering:

At my age my father
held me on his arm
like a hooded bird
and his father held him so ....

. . . . . . . .

My son
will know me in himself
when his son sits hooded on
his arm and I have grown
to be brother to all
my fathers, memory
speaking to knowledge
finally, in my bones.

Brought tears to my eyes, as I'd just been blogging about the line from Pillar to the Sky where one of the builders of Stonehenge suddenly finds himself in the company of his father's father's father and his son's son's son. Seeing Al Gore's AIT makes me wonder if as far forward as I can go is my son's son. Will there be human life on Earth beyond that?

Here are Wendell Berry's rules for sustainable communities, particularly rural communities:

Always ask of any proposed change or innovation: What will this do to our community? How will this affect our common wealth?

Always include local nature - the land, the water, the air, the native creatures - within the membership of the community.

Always ask how local needs might be supplied from local sources, including the mutual help of neighbours.

Always supply local needs first (and only then think of exporting products - first to nearby cities, then to others).

Understand the ultimate unsoundness of the industrial doctrine of 'labour saving' if that implies poor work, unemployment, or any kind of pollution or contamination.

Develop properly-scaled, value-adding industries for local products to ensure that the community does not become merely a colony of the national or global economy.

Develop small-scale industries and businesses to support the local farm and/or forest economy.

Strive to supply as mush of the community's own energy as possible.

Strive to increase earnings (in whatever form) within the community for as long as possible before they are paid out.

Make sure that money paid into the local economy circulates within the community and decrease expenditures outside the community.

Make the community able to invest in itself by maintaining its properties, keeping itself clean (without dirtying some other place), caring for its old people, and teaching its children.

Sees that the old and young take care of one another. The young must learn from the old, not necessarily, and not always, in school. There must be no institutionalised childcare and no homes for the aged. The community knows and remembers itself by the association of old and young.

Account for costs now conventionally hidden or externalised. Whenever possible, these must be debited against monetary income.

Looks into the possible uses of local currency, community-funded loan programmes, systems of barter, and the like.

Always be aware of the economic value of neighbourly acts. In our time, the costs of living are greatly increased by the loss of neighbourhood, which leaves people to face their calamities alone.

A rural community should always be acquainted and interconnected with community-minded people in nearby towns and cities.

A sustainable rural economy will depend on urban consumers loyal to local products. Therefore, we are talking about an economy that will always be more cooperative than competitive.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

They Didn't Sign Up for All of This

I decided a while back that it would be a good idea if people could actually see what Hillary Clinton's been saying, rather than repeating misconceptions about her. Here's a speech that she gave on June 5th to a group of supporters.

There are issues, and there are lots of challenges we have faced as a nation. I know there are strong opinions on issues we've been dealing with and I respect that greatly. I think what is important now is that we stand together and try to change the direction of our country. I don't think anyone can look at our country and not be proud.

Five and a half years ago, we had a lot of challenges that we needed to confront as a nation. And I just getting my feeling in the Senate when September 11th happened - it really changed everything - it changed everything, the extraordinary damage that was done to our city and individual lives. But I think all of us, whether we we're directly impacted or not, knew that NY had an unprecedented set of challenges that we had to respond to. And I'm very proud of the resilience and the patriotism and the courage and the conviction that so many New Yorkers brought to the day, weeks, months and years following 9/11.

Some of you in the crowd, I know have been great champions of the work that we tried to do to take care of the victims of 9/11 and their families to make sure that they we're given the support that they needed. Many people worked with me to try to contend with the health effects that so many of our first responders are confronting because of the toxic mix of the air after the collapse of the buildings.

But every New Yorker I know has really stood up and spoken up on behalf of not only the survivors, victims of 9/11, not only our heroes, our firefighters, police officers, emergency workers, and all who rushed to down to Ground Zero to conduct the most successful rescue mission in the history of our nation or maybe even the world. But there was the sense that we're all in this together, that we had to support each other. And that's how I tried to make decisions over the last now nearly five years. It has been a very difficult set of issues about how do we protect ourselves, how we remain vigilant, how we deal with those who wish us harm - because make no mistake about it, they are out there, they are here they are no respecter of geographic boundary or sex or race or gender or anything else.

And so, trying to balance off what we have to do to continue to make America a country we can be proud of, to focus on challenges confronting us and to really keep in mind the next generation, to me is a hallmark of what you are supposed to do in public life, while recognizing that as New Yorkers we have to take on the additional responsibility of doing everything we could to protect our city and our state and our country.

There was a great opportunity after 9/11 for the entire country to come together. I had some basic disagreements with the current administration, but more heartbreaking to me was the decision made by the highest levels of the administration to segment our country, to go after specific hot button issues - really divide us - when after 9/11, I think the President could have asked us to do anything and we would have done it.

If he had said, "I wish you would use less gas so that we would be less dependent upon foreign oil," we would have done it.

If he had asked to us to be more cognizant about how we treat each other and to really look for ways that we could work to meet the needs of all children - particularly poor children so that they had the chance to fulfill their God-given potential - we would have done it.

If he had said, "You know, we need to really tackle the health care problem now because we're losing jobs, we can't keep doing what we're doing - it's just not working," we would have done it.

There were so many opportunities, and unfortunately a different kind of decision was made. We're seeing again this week, when I leave here to fly back to Washington, we're going to be debating this week an amendment to the United States Constitution that bars gay marriage.

Now, when I travel around and speak with people who I represent, and hear about everything from terrorism to gas prices to childhood health care to energy independence to global climate change to affordable housing - there's a long list - but this is not on the list.

It is unfortunately on the list for the political machine of the White House and the Republican majority, and so I hope that as we weigh the campaign for reelection and I try to help elect Democrats around the country to take back one or two houses of Congress, we will all stand up and be counted.

We will all stand up for a return to fiscal responsibility that will give us a chance to make the right decisions and investments that will make our country richer and stronger in the future. We will stand against the wrongheaded decisions that are being made by the administration and Congress that are slashing so many of the programs to the most vulnerable among us and not giving people the confidence to make smart investments in energy independence and protecting ourselves against global climate change - and so many of those problems that none of us can deal with individually - we have to work together, and we have to work through our government.

We need to stand up to stand up on behalf of energy independence; it is the most important challenge when you look at where we are economically, from a serious perspective, from the environment. Just in the last few days, we had threats form Iran that they we're going to somehow choke off our oil supply. Well, I hope that doesn't happen. Wouldn't it be a great to be in a position where we could basically say, "Go Jump in the Lake"? -- Where we wouldn't have to be dependent on the theocrats and the autocrats and the dictators that control so much of the oil supply of our nation.

And I hope everybody sees Vice President Gore's movie, because it shows us how to make smart decisions about how we can finally deal with this issue.

And health care, which I mentioned, does not go away as an issue; in fact it is even more because the costs keep going on the number of uninsured people keep going on, the jobs we move keep going up, and yet we are not tackling this problem in a way that we should.

And there are things that we should do right now. I've worked in a bipartisan way every chance I could - obviously there are issues like social security or a women's right to choose where you can't work in a bipartisan way; you have to stand your ground - but when it comes to changing certain things in health care, you can work together. I've worked with Senator Bill Frist to pass legislation that will give us a health information technology program for computerized medical records that will save us billions of dollars, and improve Medicare, and improve quality health care, and that's the kind of approach we need so we can get a good base of information to be able to make the hard decisions about how we're going to deal with our health care situation.

When it comes to education - there are a lot of educators in this room - we still have not figured out how we're going to provide resources so that school districts can help children learn without having to raise property taxes to an unaffordable level. And what we have to do is fully fund No Child Left Behind Program and fully fund special education, so that those funds are available and school districts can use them to equally fund children's education as they need.

We also know that when you look at the various issues that we're confronting as a nation, that it's not enough for us to just hope that we're going to have better relations around the world. We need to get back in the business of building alliances, not alienation, because we need friends and allies. We need people who we will pick up the phone and call one of our government officials, or their government, to support suspicious activity. We need people to go out rooting for freedom and democracy and decency, not rooting against us. And we can't do that unless we have an attitude in our country that reaches out and includes people, not pushes them away. And we're gong to have to be changing how we relate to the rest of the world if we expect it to be successful in the future.

We also know that as we look around the world that there are so many people who are suffering from diseases like HIV, AIDs, malaria, tuberculosis, who are suffering from environmental degradation and the lack of clean drinking water, who are easy prey for those who take the damage of them. The United States has been a beacon of hope and opportunity. The number one country in the Islamic world that has the highest opinion of the United States today is Indonesia. Why? Because after the tsunami, we were there to help, and that's how we need to be seen to win the hearts and minds of people around the world.

We need to be willing to stand up and fight up for those values. And here at home, we need to continue to protect and nurture that which had made America great and has made it the envy of the world.

Now there is a way to track down terrorists that is within the rule of law and not outside of it. We know that our civil liberties and our right to privacy and our individual freedoms are not a luxury - they are what set us apart from the rest of the world. Our respect for the rule of law is what makes America unique and gives us the confidence to defend against our government, to be politely active and fight for causes that we think are important. We cannot allow our constitutional democracy to be eroded. We can have global security and liberty.

Our founders did that and we can be smart enough to do it as well. I also believe that we protect a woman's right to choose. We have to ensure that abortion is legal, safe, and rare. My good friend Nita Lowey and I, introduced a resolution in Congress - she in the House, I in the Senate - asking Congress to go on record in support of family planning. We want to get people to register their votes, because this is not just about abortion, this is also about contraception. There is a concerted effort to turn the clock back on the women's law. And we all need - Republicans, Democrats, and Independents - we all need to stand together and make it very clear that we will not go back. As I travel around our state, I'm encouraged by the number of the people who come to my events who say they didn't support me last time and tell me that they are Republican, and I always say, "We're glad you're here. Welcome." And I also ask them, "Well, why are you here?" And they always say something like, "I didn't sign up for all of this."

They didn't sign up for a government that interferes with personal, private, intimate relations.

They didn't sign up for a government that's sending us into debt.

They didn't sign up to be the largest debtors in the history of the world where we have to borrow $60 billion a month from China, Japan, and others.

They didn't sign up for Terry Schiavo to be turned into a tragic, political problem.

They didn't sign up for the United States government who totally dismantled the Federal Emergency Management Agency and battled with colleagues and didn't know what to do.

They didn't sign up for the mean-spirited divisiveness against gays and lesbians and tried to make it somehow a political issue as to the life you lead and who you are.

They didn't sign up for the politicization of fining; they didn't sign up for the Environmental Protection Agency - which has turned into a misnomer - to tell people mercury in the air and arsenic in water won't hurt you.

They didn't sign up for an FDA that refuses to make a decision about the emergency contraception known as Plan B.

They didn't sign up for a president who denies global climate changes and refuses to deal with reality of what is happening in our world that has far-reaching consequences for our children and our children's children.

There's a long list why people are suddenly saying, "We didn't sign up for this." You know, this is not a conservative administration; there is nothing conservative about it. It is radical; it is undermining our constitutional democracy. It's turning back years and years of our constitution.

I think we've got the potential for a very positive election in this November if we all work together. We have races right here in New York where Democrats are running for Congress in traditionally Republican districts and finding a lot of support.

We have races all over the country where people run for the Senate, run for the House, are finding that they have a receptive audience, because if we don't take back one or both houses of Congress, we cannot change the direction of the country; we cannot convince the administration of the Republican majority to make decisions based on evidence, not ideology. We can't deal with what we need to do in Iraq if we don't have a Congress that can conduct investigations and make it absolutely clear that the administration, that their failure in Iraq has endangered not only our men and women in uniform, not only the Iraqi people, but the entire region.

I'm very optimistic not only about the election but about our country. You know, I really believe that we do fit into what Winston Churchill once described where he says, "You know the American people, they always do the right thing after trying nearly everything else," and I believe that. I know that. We're dealing in a real tactical manner with the challenges that we face, when we elect new people who will be open and willing to work together to seek common ground, but to have more citizens involved as well, because we are a enjoying them in our country.

You know I can see very clearly, we can go on one path where we ignore our problems, where a very small percentage of people - like my husband and me, we do very well - but where the rest of the country kind of marches in place or is glued to the ground because we're not creating the rapid opportunity; we're making it more expensive for kids to go to college than we did 25 years ago, we're shutting the door on working young people who want a better a life or come down on pre-school programs when we know if we don't give kids a good head start, they'll never catch up. We're turning our backs on how give people decent opportunities for housing and transportation.

We know what the pillars of the middle class look like; we've been taking advantage of them for more than 50 years in our nation, and we are the beneficiaries of that.

So I don't want to go down the path where we undermine the quality of the seniors living in our country, where we have a college needed in the community, where the nation venture forth from our world recreational travel because we're not wanted. That does not have to be the picture. Instead, we can begin working together again - rebuilding the consensus we had in this country until relatively recently about what we needed to do, to build a strong America at home and aboard. And when we do that, we will know how the resilience and energy came from right here in New York. The example that was set by New Yorkers on 9/11 and in the weeks since is the example set by my friend Lauren Manning, who is here today and so many others who have suffered.

That's what makes America great, and we will once again reclaim our greatness. Thank you all very much!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

We Are Coming to a Period of Consequences

Went yesterday to see AIT, Al Gore's movie on climate change. I've been trying since then to organize my reactions into something coherent, but, really, how do you do that? How do you watch a documentary about the end of your own civilization, not to mention thousands of other species, and then organize your thoughts? So, here are some reactions, although not necessarily integrated into anything resembling an essay or an article.

First: Go. Don't wait for the DVD. Go tonight. Go today. Go this week. Go. Pay people if that's what you have to do to get them to go along with you. Go. I fancy myself a rather well informed eco-feminist, but I've never seen this information presented this clearly, this starkly, this compellingly.

Second: I wish this had been Gore's campaign. This slide show. This is his passion and that comes through in every single frame. And Americans who won't go see the movie really need to see this.

Third: For a very long time in my early adult years, I would read things written by mystics and just throw up my hands. I wanted rather desperately to understand what they experienced and how they managed to get to that point, but nothing that they wrote made any sense to me. I was recently reading something in a book that Prior Aelred sent to me that reminded me of how I used to feel. This passage would have made NO sense to me at one time:

"The ultimate reality that is known in contemplative experience and in unitive wisdom has been called simply the center. It is the metaphysical center of all reality and also the center of the human person. Corresponding to the presence of this reality at the center of the human person is a unitive Self: atman, true self, Christ-self. This is the human person, fully participating in the unitive divine Source; it is, therefore, being-in-communion, the person as essentially relational. This unitive reality, as the center of the person, is also the ground of human consciousness. Human consciousness and all of its operations are grounded in a unitive participation in the absolute divine Reality." Second Simplicity: The Inner Shape of Christianity by Bruno Barnhart.

I'd have had no clue what Barnhart was going on about. How DO you "participate fully in the unitive divine Source"? What does it mean to say that "Human consciousness and all of its operations are grounded in a unitive participation"?? I'd have given up.

But, like having sex or eating oysters or finally really dancing instead of "doing dance steps" -- once you have had a mystical experience, then all the descriptions of mystical experience and instructions for how to "get there" suddenly make sense. Until then, no one can really tell you in a way that will make any sense.

Which is a long way round to say that one of the first descriptions of a mystical experience that ever hit a chord with me comes from a novel about Stonehenge called Pillar in the Sky. In that book, one of the builders of Stonehenge looks at the structure that is being erected and says, "I am with my father's father's father and with my son's son's son's." So many writers about mystical experience say that the mystical experience is "timeless," that "time ceases to exist," that "time stands still." But I like the Stonehenge description better.

Watching AIT yesterday, I felt as if I were having the mirror reaction. Suddenly, instead of time not existing, I felt that time not only exists, but is, for the purposes of our civilization and possibly our species, coming to an end. I can't be with my son's son's son because, within the lifetime of my son's son, the world may end.

I'll end this part of the discussion by noting that my first mystical experience involved really seeing sunlight on tree leaves. Watching Gore's slides about deforestation just made me incredibly, incredibly sad.

Fourth: What you have to realize as Gore discusses much of the land mass of India disappearing and large sections of the Earth experiencing water deficits is that there will be massive social disruption. We saw how, even on the scale of New Orleans -- which will be as nothing compared to, say, India -- people showed up with guns at bridges to keep all "those others" from coming into "their" territory. Now imagine India with hundreds of thousands of homeless refugees needing somewhere to go.

India has the atom bomb. So does China. We're seeing wars now over oil. We'll soon see wars over land and water. People will look for an "other" to blame for "God's wrath." Women, gays, minorities can expect to be persecuted on an increasing basis. Times of social upheaval often cause people to turn to authoritarian leaders. Civil rights and human rights are going to suffer.

That's the logical consequence of driving Hummers, refusing to join Kyoto, leaving George Bush in the White House, and allowing Enron and the oil companies to meet in secret with Dick Cheney. In the end, Gore's quote from Churchill is spot on: "The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing, and baffling expedience of delays is coming to a close. In its place, we are coming to a period of consequences."


If you live in California, the MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO TODAY is to go to the polls and vote for the Democrats. Do it for your grandchildren who need the Greenland ice shelf to stay in place. Do it in honor of Califia, the Amazon Queen for whom your great State was named. Do it to piss off Bill O'Reilley and Rush Limbaugh. Do it to scare Joe Lieberman. Do it to make Dick Cheney snarl and shoot people in the face. Do it because Bush and Cheney told California they didn't care how many black outs it suffered. Do it because it's the right thing to do. I don't care why you do it. But, please, do it.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Via Wild Hunt comes this fascinating post about the frappin Pope Ratzi the Nazi calling the Nazis "pagans" and "neopagans." And, you know, at first blush, you'd be tempted to say that he ought to know, having been a Hitler Youth himself.

But no, it's just an attempt to smear today's Pagans and NeoPagans.

I dislike this man more and more every day.

Shiny Chapeau

Chas Clifton links to a great study on tin-foil hats.

Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Grandson Blogging

Three months old today!!! His Nonna loves him sooooooooooo much!

American Exceptionalism

"It's disturbing to see how neatly nationalism dovetails into fascism. While we must not allow the fascists to define what the nation is, or who it belongs to, it's worth keeping in mind that nationalism, in all its many avatars—socialist, capitalist and fascist—has been at the root of almost all the genocides of the twentieth century. On the issue of nationalism, it's wise to proceed with caution."

Arundhati Roy, April 2002

Mote in Your Neighbor's Eye, Log in Yours, Etc.

You know, the reaction of the Chinese government to Tiananmen Square sucked ass.

But, I've got a great idea for the catholic church. Before you run around "strongly criticizing the Chinese government and calling on it to hold a full and open review of the killings," HOW ABOUT IF YOU strongly cirticize YOURSELF and "hold a full and open review of the killings" that occurred in the FREAKIN' INQUISITION THAT YOU FREAKIN' STARTED FOR THE SAME FREAKIN REASON THAT BUSH IS GIVING A SPEECH TOMORROW AGAINST GAY MARRIAGE, YOU FREAKIN HYPOCRITES?

Full Moon Performance by My Brilliant Friend Amy to Benefit Cecelia Fire Thunder


Sunday June 11 7:30-10:30pm
249 4th Avenue (between President & Carroll)
(R to Union St or F to 4th Ave/9th St.)
Brooklyn - Park Slope, NYC

MC'd by the Missile Dick Chicks

Special Guest: Jennifer Baumgardner
Music by Amy Clarke
Stand-Up by Courtney McLean
Video Clip of the film "Speak Out: I Had An Abortion"
Raffle, and More!, $10
RSVP appreciated:

All proceeds go to Cecelia Fire Thunder, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and Planned Parenthood of South Dakota. Fire Thunder announced that she would start an abortion clinic on tribal lands, if the draconian ban that was passed in SD is not repealed by the referendum.

Sunday Akhmatova Blogging

I don't know if you're alive or dead

I don't know if you're alive or dead.
Can I look for you on earth,
Or, only when the sunsets fade,
Mourn you serenely in my thought?
All is for you: the daily prayer,
The sleepless heat at night,
And of my verses, the white
Flock, and of my eyes, the blue fire.

No-one was more cherished, no-one tortured
Me more, not
Even the one who betrayed me to torture,
Not even the one who caressed me and forgot.