Monday, January 26, 2009

From Around California

"Though the mills of God grind slowly,
Yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience he stands waiting,
With exactness grinds he all."
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Democracy is coming to the U.S.A." –Leonard Cohen
"Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold." –Helen Keller

"Divorce isn't caused because 50% of marriages end in gayness." -Jon Stewart

"When the pupil is ready to learn, a teacher will appear." – Zen Proverb

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

From San Diego

"We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it "bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East."
-- Harold Pinter

"What kind of message is this sending to the world, and to the citizens of the United States? If you commit a crime and you are important enough, it's not prosecutable in America? That no one is above the law, except for presidents, vice presidents and their top staffs?" -David Lindorff

"President Bush and Vice President Cheney are guilty of war crimes, especially for their authorization, condoning, encouraging, protecting, and failure to halt and to punish the practice of torture by American forces under their control." - David Lindorff

"On its face, I would submit that if as president Obama blocks prosecution of Bush/Cheney administration war criminals, it will be the wounded American soldiers and their relatives, and the relatives of Americans who died in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hands of fighters in those countries who were recruited into battle by the images of the torture and abuse who will make his decision "politically fraught." -David Lindorff

Former Chief of the UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, in Iraq told Aljazeera that he and the Head of the IAEA, Mohamed Al-Baradei, were subjected to direct threats from Vice President Cheney before the war.

Blix said that Cheney threatened to defame both men's reputations if they didn't come up with the "required" answers. Blix also added that he is ready to be a witness on the United States' false allegations before an International tribunal.

Bush and Cheney demanded pro-war lies under one threat or another - being defamed, getting fired, and even outing covert CIA operatives. The Bush Administration was nothing more than a mafia operation. -Bob Fertik

The full impeachment articles and their supporting documentation can be read here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Rise and Fall of Bunny Racing: An Allegory

The Rise and Fall of Bunny Racing

My love affair with the automobile began when I was about six. My little brother and I discovered we could give our stuffed animals mobility by putting them in Kleenex boxes and shoving them across the floor, quickly turning the entire house into a raceway. There were generally around eight or ten drivers – stuffed bunnies, teddy bears, a couple of stuffed doggies and a mama and baby Koala. It was a simple game, like golf except instead of hitting balls we were pushing around stuffed animals. Each racer got one push at a time, with performance depending largely on weight and center-of-gravity differences along with the skill of the shot. In the early days of animal racing, it was all about the race: devising various courses around the house and customizing shoe and Kleenex boxes to accommodate each of the various animals and maximize their performance.

There were crashes, of course: devastating pile-ups where bunnies would go smashing into parked dogs or teddy bears and be hurled from the impact. Given that we were about six and four years old respectively, it’s safe to say that many of these crashes were not entirely accidental. All the competition remained strictly between the animals: neither my brother nor I played favorites or were too interested in who won, it was just a fun thing to do. As the courses grew longer and more complex, it seemed fair that the winner should get something for their efforts, which at first was usually a new car. A lot of effort was going into making the pole positions as well though, and we decided to give cash awards of monopoly money to the second and third place winners. We had no way of knowing it at the time, but the addition of the monopoly money proved to be the downfall of our stuffed animal racing utopia. The money, after all, was worthless unless you could spend it on something, so from that point on things like Kleenex box customizing, which had once been free, now came with a price. Technically speaking, my brother and I were doing all the work, but pretended it was being done by the animals, each of whom now needed jobs.

Before, the animals had all lived communally in a large wicker basket, but with the addition of private property they started needing separate residences just to keep their accounts straight. Predictably things began to fall apart from there. Once all the animals had jobs, generally in the field of automotive customization and design, it became necessary for them to actually do them, and the once purely functional racecars gradually became overloaded with unnecessary accessories for no other reason than to keep the economy going. The animals housing too became more elaborate, once we’d decided that the teddy bears were now homebuilders.

It took about a day or two for our stuffed animal kingdom to degenerate into a capitalist hell: nothing but animals buying and selling cars, houses and services. My brother and I seemed to tacitly understand that things had gotten out of control, and that the various details of managing an entire economy had effectively drained the game of all its fun. Once though, it had all been about the racing.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Operation Peace on Earth

The Peace Movement should really start advertising.

(All signs placed on public property in accordance with the First Amendment right to free political speech.)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Stealing Gaza

STEALING GAZA: An Experiment In Provocation

It's a tragedy that the Israelis - a people who must understand better than almost anybody the horrors of oppression - are now acting as oppressors. As the great Jewish writer Primo Levi once remarked "Everybody has their Jews, and for the Israelis it's the Palestinians". By creating a middle Eastern version of the Warsaw ghetto they are recapitulating their own history as though they've forgotten it. And by trying to paint an equivalence between the Palestinians - with their homemade rockets and stone-throwing teenagers - and themselves - with one of the most sophisticated military machines in the world - they sacrifice all credibility.

The Israelis are a gifted and resourceful people who fully deserve the right to live in peace, but who seem intent on squandering every chance to allow that to happen. It's difficult to avoid the conclusion that this conflict serves the political and economic purposes of Israel so well that they have every interest in maintaining it. While there is fighting they can continue to build illegal settlements. While there is fighting they continue to receive huge quantities of military aid from the United States. And while there is fighting they can avoid looking candidly at themselves and the ruthlessness into which they are descending.

Gaza is now an experiment in provocation. Stuff one and a half million people into a tiny space, stifle their access to water, electricity, food and medical treatment, destroy their livelihoods, and humiliate them regularly... and, surprise, surprise - they turn hostile. Now why would you want to make that experiment?

Because the hostility you provoke is the whole point. Now 'under attack' you can cast yourself as the victim, and call out the helicopter gunships and the F16 attack fighters and the heavy tanks and the guided missiles, and destroy yet more of the pathetic remains of infrastructure that the Palestinian state still has left. And then you can point to it as a hopeless case, unfit to govern itself, a terrorist state, a state with which you couldn't possibly reach an accommodation.

And then you can carry on with business as usual, quietly stealing their homeland.
- Brian Eno

Eno/U2 - One