Friday, August 24, 2007

New Blog Format

A lot of past entries are going to look a bit askew because of my changing to a new blog format. Perhaps I can eventually go back and fix them.

Michael Vick, American

I have sent this "letter to the editor" to four newspapers, but I am sure none will publish it, so I am entering it here:

You can make a dark game of reading the obvious personal agenda of each person who comments on footballer Michael Vick, when what we might hope to hear are voices urging the court to require extensive psychotherapy for a man whose behavior is pathological. That is the heart of the matter, not whether he should be allowed to play football again, or what will be the length of his jail time. We don't hear that point of view because the country itself is sick with its addiction to bloodlust sports, indifferent to, or delighted with, how that bloody circus destroys the minds and bodies of the "entertainers." It is only a step away from there to watching Marine juries dismissing fellow Marines for the murder and rape of innocent Iraqis. As football addicts sidestep the true horror of Vick's behavior, we see that Vick and his story is what most Americans want their sons to emulate, innoculating them for the murders they will have to commit while "bringing democracy" to the earth. Urge full psychotherapy for Michael Vick before he moves on from torturing and killing dogs to torturing and killing humans.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Solar Prints, Excerpts, and Unkind Remarks


I receive so much political commentary from so many sources that I cannot begin to keep up, but friend Willie's recommended seems to have made good selections from what is available. From there, I select this comment from Sidney Blumenthal's observations on Karl Rove, "The Rise and Fall of Turd Blossom [Bush's nickname for his buddy, if you haven't heard]: ""Rove's radicalization of government was early described by the first member of the administration to quit in disgust, John DiIulio, a University of Pennsylvania professor and the first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. He discovered that 'compassionate conservatism,' Rove's slogan for Bush's 2000 campaign, was little more than a sham. 'What you've got is everything - and I mean everything - being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis,' said DiIulio."


It is time to face the fact that a great many people are not just uninformed, ignorant of facts, or under the influence of some demented guru. Some know they are ignorant, but cling to the wonderful simplicity of ignorance, rather than open the door to the real world that is seldom simple, but ever-expanding into greater complexities, lively and open to growth. Echoing the remark in the entry above, I might call them those dedicated to remaining backward, the Mayberry Nihilists; they would burn down the house of intelligence than give up the simplicity of their beliefs.

You have heard about the 49-acre, $27 million dollar museum in northeast Kentucky where, contrary to scientific evidence about the timeline of evolution, "Man and Dinosaurs Frolick Happily Together"?

The people behind the museum, and the people who go there, know it glorifies Ignorance (although it is thought that some go there for a laugh): The one true joy of the ignorant is in their knowledge that they irritate the informed and intelligent. Still untouched by taste, they are not too embarrassed to name a food concession "Noah’s Café" or by leading people down a much-abbreviated "Trail of Life." In their Garden of Eden, as described on the Independent/UK, 19 August 2007, "there are Adam and Eve taking a dip, and not far away another dinosaur lurks, and a lion too."

"'It’s a very comforting feeling to be here,' admits Nancy Spivey, 65, who has driven all the way from North Carolina to visit the museum with her husband, Al....'A lot of so-called intelligent people think that if you believe in creationism you are not very bright, but you get away from that here,' Nancy adds. 'Everywhere else, we feel bullied and pushed around,” says Al."

I don't want to be a bully. From now on I am going to respect (the existence of) the ignorant and simple-minded. However, I do hope they will wear blinders on their caps so we might recognize them and not waste time trying to communicate. I wish the ones who wed corporate government with religion would warn potential worshippers by placing dollar signs at the top of their steeples. Let us respect them by keeping our distance and granting them their dark fantasy world. Beware their poison, of course: If one of them mistakes you as a friend, hold up the V sign and chant, "Scopes Trial! Scopes Trial!" If you feel sympathy because they appear to feel "bullied," or have had their feelings hurt, you might say softly, while looking through them, "May their god console the simpleminded and ignorant."

Excerpts from "Failed Prophecies, Glorious Hopes" (1998) by Richard Rorty, included in his book, PHILOSOPHY AND SOCIAL HOPE:

"Memories of the dungeons of the Inquisition and the interrogation rooms of the KGB, of the ruthless greed and arrogance of the Christian clergy and of the Communist nomenklatura, should indeed make us reluctant to hand over power to people who claim to know what God, or History, wants."

"Christianity and Marxism still have the power to do a great deal of harm, but both the New Testament and the Communist Manifesto can still be effectively quoted by moral hypocrites and egomaniacal gangsters. In the U.S., for example, an organization called the Christian Coalition holds the Republican Party (and thus Congress) in its thrall. The leaders of this movement have convinced millions of voters that taxing the suburbs to help the ghettos is an unChristian thing to do. In the name of 'Christian family values,' the Coalition teaches that for the U.S. government to give a helping hand to the children of unemployable and unwed teenage mothers would 'undermine individual responsibility'."

"The bourgeoisie/proletariat distinction may now be as outdated as the pagan/Christian distinction, but if one substitutes 'the richest 20 percent' for the 'bourgeoisie' and 'the other 80 percent' for the 'proletariat,' most of the sentences of the Manifesto will still ring true."

"Most of us can no longer take either Christian or Marxist postponements and reassurances seriously. But both the New Testament and the Communist Manifesto are

expressions of the same hope: that some day we shall be willing and able to treat the needs of all human beings with the respect and consideration with which we treat the needs of those closest to us, those whom we love."

"We should raise our children to find it intolerable that we who sit behind desks and punch keyboards are paid ten times as much as people who get their hands dirty cleaning our toilets, and a hundred times as much as those who fabricate our keyboards in the Third World. We should ensure that they worry about the fact that the countries which industrialized first have a hundred times the wealth of those which have not yet industrialized. Our children need to learn, early on, to see the inequalities between their own fortunes and those of other children as neither the Will of God nor the necessary price for economic efficiency, but as an evitable tragedy. They should start thinking, as early as possible, about how the world might be changed so as to ensure that no one goes hungry while others have a surfeit."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Eat Your Heart Out, Busby Berkeley

If you can, copy the following to your search engine to see a fascinating performance:

as forwarded to me by Ed Kaplan, who explained: "There is an awesome dance, called the Thousand-Hand Guanyin, which is making the rounds across the net. Considering the tight coordination required, their accomplishment is nothing short of amazing, even if they were not all deaf. Yes, you read correctly. All 21 of the dancers are complete deaf-mutes. Relying only on signals from trainers at the four corners of the stage, these extraordinary dancers deliver a visual spectacle that is at once intricate and stirring. Its first major international debut was in Athens last year at the closing ceremonies for the 2004 Paralympics. But it had long been in the repertoire of the Chinese Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe and had traveled to more than 40 countries. Its lead dancer is 29 year old Tai Lihua, who has a BA from the Hubei Fine Arts Institute. The video was recorded in Beijing during the Spring Festival this year."

The Right Kind of Mayor

In May, our Oakland Mayor, Ron Dellums, sent a letter of support to Port Action, the ad hoc group which was organizing a picketing of War Profiteers in the Port of Oakland:

May 18, 2007

Dear Members of the Port Action Coalition:

It has been my long held view that peace is a superior idea. It has further been my view that for the most part the problems of the world do not lend themselves to a military solution. The problems of the world are political, economic, and social in nature and must ultimately be solved in that context. That said, prior to the decision to go to war in Iraq, I took the position that to do so would be counterintuitive, counterproductive, unnecessary, dangerous and unpredictable. I believe that that view has been borne out by the history of this war; therefore it is my honor to join with you in calling for an end to this war that has caused great suffering and death to Iraqi people and men and women of our armed forces. Further, it has caused us precious economic resources that could better be used in enhancing the quality of human life in this country and around the world. I believe that history will record that this war was the greatest foreign policy blunder in the history of America and the sooner we end it the better.


Ronald V. Dellums

Martha has passed along this message spoken by Olympia Dukakis:

Monday, August 06, 2007

All That Needs Help

The list of problems in the U.S. and on the earth is so very long, and you may continously add to the list, and, if someone were facing them with the idea of resolving them, one could begin to prioritize them, but even if there were enough sane and humane political forces to face those problems, action would be blocked in the U.S. as in most of the countries on earth. While we are called a "democracy," we too are under the thumb of one man whose power trumps the will of the people so that we do not truly have a democracy. To mention one issue: The collapse of the bridge in Minnesota is one sign of the deterioration of the neglected U.S. infrastructure, while, at the same time, we watch the U.S. occupation result in the destruction of the infrastructure of Iraq.

Currently, as reported, Baghdad has had virtually no running water for days, while daily high temperatures have ranged from 115 to 120 degrees. There is not enough electricity to run Baghdad's water pumps. This in a country with vast energy resources. Meanwhile the U.S. is providing military aid to countries all around Iran that also oppress their populations just because the Bush regime thrives on paranoia. As usual, the "friends" they arm against one selected country, will later be the "enemies" we have provided arms to attack us. That the U.S. is paralyzed by the dictatorial powers of simple-minded George W. Bush -- while there is currently nothing that can alter that fact -- would seem to indicate that something major needs to happen to restore, or bring into being, a U.S. democracy. What is (are) the answer(s)? Impeachment of the president? Changing the constitution? Destroying the power of what Eisenhower called "the military-industrial-corporate complex."

Finding a way to create free and undistorted sources of information? Elected officials are apparently unable to cure our sickening condition. Only a popular ground swell, demanding that there be a true democracy, will effect this change. Bless groups like Code Pink who refuse to be silent as only through many voices speaking out can we hope to lurch the insane machine of state out of its current fatal track. Will such movements not immediately be distorted by one political agenda or another? Would that Shirley Chisholm,

running for president as a solitary woman among men, the single African-American among Euroamericans, could have been elected, as her message was simple and straightforward, that the work of politicians is simple -- Face practical problems -- Cut out the general political posturing and just see that the garbage is collected, that the infrastructure is kept in a condition that would make us an honorable and well-respected nation (If you can find a public restroom here, won't you want to avoid using it?), provide health care for all (as failing to do so is more expensive in the end), treat no-one as human garbage (the homeless), provide a living wage that presumes that "living" includes some notion of everyone enjoying a certain "quality of life," and remember that, while most people espouse a religion, they all seem to forget the principles of compassionate humanity that they learn there. In other words, eliminate hypocracy, and go ahead and look for a society that represents a sane and compassionate humanity. Do not admire the vicious and hate-filled. How does your view of the situation differ

from mine? Will there ever possibly be a touchstone, a reminder, that could keep us on course? I am tempted to say that the only way we can remind ourselves that the only purpose of government is take care of our practical needs, to respect and keep healthy the earth that sustains us, and to fulfill the higher values we supposedly all believe in, is to avoid those who indulge in self-righteous bombast, and look for a simple description such as "We are the Take Out the Garbage Movement." A fine anthem for us would be Leonard Bernstein's "Make Our Garden Grow," perhaps creating a general chorus out of what is a combination of characters singing and a final chorus in his musical CANDIDE:

You've been a fool and so have I,
But come and be my wife,
And let us try before we die
To make some sense of life.
We're neither pure nor wise nor good;
We'll do the best we know;
We'll build our house, and chop our wood,
And make our garden grow.
And make our garden grow.

I thought the world was sugar-cake,
For so our master said;
But now I'll teach my hands to bake
Our loaf of daily bread.

We're neither pure nor wise nor good;
We'll do the best we know;
We'll build our house, and chop our wood,
And make our garden grow.
And make our garden grow.

Let dreamers dream what worlds they please;
Those Edens can't be found.
The sweetest flowers, the fairest trees
Are grown in solid ground.

We're neither pure nor wise nor good;
We'll do the best we know;
We'll build our house, and chop our wood,
And make our garden grow.
And make our garden grow.

I have received this information about U.S. obligation to deal with the collapse of the Iraqi infrastructure:

According to Article 55 of Geneva Conventions (1949) to which the U.S. government is a signatory: "To the fullest extent of the means available to it the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate."

Article 59 states: "If the whole or part of the population of an occupied territory is inadequately supplied, the Occupying Power shall agree to relief schemes on behalf of the said population, and shall facilitate them by all the means at its disposal."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Latest Cartoon

Latest of my "cartoons" published by The San Francisco Bay Guardian (their "Opinion" page): "Bush Bin Laden Brothers" -- CLICK ON CARTOON TO ENLARGE IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO READ THE WORDS!