July 1, 2008 archive

Not An Essay

Just a video that’s got me hitting “Replay” and smiling and smiling and smiling. Feeling the warmth of love.

A Candidate’s Military Pedigree

You know, this whole thing is interesting, from just a simple statement, of Truth.

For McCain Hasn’t Always Mattered

For the third straight day, Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign has raised a ruckus over comments suggesting that his military service may not, in and of itself, qualify the Senator to be commander-in-chief.

Bad pragmatism in political decisionmaking

This diary was prompted by the debate that circulated here around Senator Obama’s vote on telecomm immunity in the FISA bill, especially in Keith Olbermann’s diary of 6/26, and thereafter.  Olbermann’s rationalization was that Obama’s vote was a pragmatic move to attain power for the greater good.  The debate about Obama’s vote culminated in a defense of “purity trolls” (as such) in a diary listed here: “I’m calling out purity trolls by name,” incl. the Founding Fathers.  Since this “pragmatic” justification is endemic in politics today, I think it behooves us to examine it, and to specify and explain a “bad pragmatism” that comes of the uncritical acceptance of social “reality”.  I will also specify an antidote to “bad pragmatism,” in the concept of utopian dreaming.

(crossposted from Big Orange)

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports Judges cite need for reliable evidence to hold detainees. “A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit wrote in a 39-page opinion released yesterday that tribunals and courts must be able to assess whether evidence is reliable before determining the fate of detainees.” In the case of Huzaifa Parhat, a member of the Muslim Uighur movement in western China, this did not happen and the militay has detained him as a enemy combatant base on dubious, classified evidence.

    The judges were particularly concerned with government assertions that the evidence was reliable because it was repeated in separate documents and that officials would not have included the information if it were not dependable.

    “Lewis Carroll notwithstanding, the fact the government has ‘said it thrice’ does not make an allegation true,” wrote Judge Merrick B. Garland, quoting from Carroll’s poem “The Hunting of the Snark.”

  2. The NY Times reports Sen. Barack Obama would expand faith-based program which allowed federal money to be spent on “religious-based initiatives that are intended to fight poverty and perform the work of social services.” Obama is “seeking support among relatively moderate evangelicals”. In prepared remarks, Obama said:

    “The fact is, the challenges we face today – from saving our planet to ending poverty – are simply too big for government to solve alone. We need all hands on deck.”

  3. The Guardian reports Afghanistan troop deaths outnumber those in Iraq. More U.S. and NATO troops were killed in Afghanistan than in Iraq this June. “At least 45 international troops, including 27 from the US and 13 British, died in Afghanistan last month, compared with 31 international soldiers killed in Iraq, of whom 29 were from the US.”

  4. The Washington Post reports A former CIA agent with a 22-year career says the CIA ignored facts about Iran’s nuclear program. “As a native of the Middle East and a fluent speaker of both Farsi and Arabic, he had been assigned undercover work in the Persian Gulf region, where he successfully recruited an informant with access to sensitive information about Iran’s nuclear program”.

    He says “he tried to warn the agency about faulty intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs now contends that CIA officials also ignored evidence that Iran had suspended work on a nuclear bomb.” He filed a motion in federal court “asking the government to declassify legal documents describing what he says was a deliberate suppression of findings on Iran that were contrary to agency views at the time.”

    According to his attorney, Roy Krieger, “On five occasions he was ordered to either falsify his reporting on WMD in the Near East, or not to file his reports at all.”

Juggling ain’t singing; or, Wes Clark as Simon Cowell

So Former Naval POW John McCain walks into the American Presidential audition room and proceeds to shuck and jive through his entire schtick, twirling his POW flag around while telling you that he’s not, and trying to convince America to vote for him because everybody tells him he’d be a swell president.

Gen. Wesley Clark, sitting in Simon Cowell’s chair, can’t take any more and raises his hand to stop the music.

“You’re a terrific juggler,” Gen. Clark says, “but

your future involves not being president.”

The openness of conflict

This essay is about my journey and is very different I’m sure, from others. Its also not meant to be a statement on anything that happened here over the last several days. But as we talk about conflict and comfort, I wanted to share a bit of my experience in that area.

Perhaps like many of you, I grew up in a family that did not allow conflict. My father and mother have been married for over 50 years and to this day brag that they have only had one disagreement…yeah right. They just learned how to do it in passive aggressive ways that made everyone just as uncomfortable as open conflict would have, perhaps more so. There was one exception. That being when my father and brother would scream at one another and it always ended with my brother getting the shit beat out of him. I felt my father’s backhand across the face once…when I dared to challenge my mother. So yeah, I learned very well to keep quiet and keep my thoughts to myself. Of course, that was also good training for an authoritarian personality. My father ruled and we had no voice. And his rules came directly from God, of course.

When I almost accidentally got a job working in a residential program for kids who were chemically dependent right after college, I was ill equipped to deal with the kinds of conflict that ensued as a result of much of the rage these young people were feeling. For the most part, I failed miserably in helping them. Usually that’s because I tried to avoid dealing with conflict or used what I had learned from my father to shut them down.  

Hunter T. Meets George C. and Influences RogerDaddy…or something like that.

Ok, this is weird. A little over a month ago I started a little essay titled “Fear & loathing…Please Bear With Me” wherein I was going to quote extensively from a great HST column in honor of the God of Gonzo himself. This is where it gets weird. Apparently I posted this essay in a very incomplete form while either sleepwalking, drunk or gawd-knows-what and I just now realized it.

A brief explanation: I became involved in the blogosphere extensively around two years ago while looking for work. (No, I wasn't wearing pajamas in my parent's basement during this endeavor but I do blog naked sometimes. You should try it if you haven't already ;-)>

Anyways, I have since become gainfully employed, my daughter is now 4 years old and is the most beautiful creation on this planet and, oh yeah…my wife is still gorgeous, sexy and the world's best mom…period, at least according to me.

This leads me to the conclusion of this opening. I haven't been paying attention like I used to when I had the time and this “essay-ooops” is one example. So, I've decided to be a semi-regular contributor here in my own way…sort of a reminder of how great Hunter S. Thompson and George Carlin were, are and always will be, in their own unique way. Sometimes it comes together with humor…sometimes it comes together in horrific seriousness…sometimes it's a little of both and sometimes it's neither or whatever moves me at the time. Remember, these are called Weblogs for a reason. Call it my online private journal for all the world to read and ponder, if only for a moment.

Come along for the ride, if you want. If not, that's cool too. This will be the first installment. There will be more, or not. I hope there will be…The Noodles, The Sauce & The Holy Meatballs willing.

As Always…Peace ;-)> 

Eating the Bitter

We are who we are…progressives/liberals/radicals/democrats…because we care. Because we feel. Because we have the capacity for empathy, the capacity to feel the pain of others.

This is a curse.

The curse of consciousness.

Like, we don’t have enough pain of our own, we need to have more pain? The pain of others? Puhleeze. But that is just who we are. We want everything to be wonderful for everyone…and are willing to suffer to make that so. Compassion, empathy. We join with others to try to ease the suffering in the world. To some extent. Until we reach our individual limit. Or until someone pisses us off and we bail. Or lash out. Or blow up.

We work hard and struggle to build a Progressive Utopia…until it gets too hard or someone says something we don’t like. We are full of high ideals and noble goals. Until the shit hits the fan.

Then we are just humans again, having to face our own pain, instead of the pain of others. Having to face our own limitations, instead of bemoaning the limitations of the wingnuts or Bush or the enemy du jour.

Working for high ideals and noble causes and making a difference (and believe me, we do) is sweet. Having to face our own limitations, our own pain, our own humanity and all its failings in the course of that…is bitter.

We are good at eating the sweet.

Music festival puts a smiley face on killing (Updated)

Peace Action-Wisconsin has launched a campaign to get Milwaukee’s Summerfest, which bills itself as the world’s largest music festival, to shut down an Army recruiting exhibit allowing festival-goers as young as 13 to shoot at life-size targets from a real Humvee.  Summerfest’s logo is a big smiley face.

Peace Action says:

This year’s Milwaukee Summerfest (June 26-July 6) features a “Virtual Army Experience Exhibit”  at the north end of the grounds.  The tent contains a real Humvee mounted with 4 machine guns that interacts with a huge screen.  The screen projects the virtual experience of traveling through a town.  You can shoot the machine guns at people on the street as you pass through. The people are generic-looking – could be from anywhere.  You must be at least 13  years old to enter the exhibit and identification is asked.  They take down that information and it will likely be used for recruitment purposes. They also give away a free DVD video game of a similar virtual experience when you leave the tent.

Call the Summerfest office and demand that the exhibit be shut down now.   414-273-2690

Points to make:

War games should NOT be presented as entertainment.  War is NOT a game.  

Summerfest is meant to bring people together for a good time in peace, not to present opportunities to practice shooting people. The exhibit is totally inappropriate and offensive and should be removed immediately.

The person you talk with will fill out a form with your concerns and will ask for your name and phone number.  You do not have to give your phone number but they will want your zip code.

Please act now.  The more calls of complaint they receive the better. (Please remember to be pleasant to the person on the phone – the exhibit is not her fault.)

While that seems unlikely that the exhibit will be shut down, one activist, Kristina Paris,  who called the festival reports some progress already:

I just got through to a person: they reviewed the situation, have upped the age to 18 years with an ID, stopped handing out free DVD’s but are still allowing the virtual killing.  When I asked if a peace and social justice group could be there with an alternative to killing, they said they would be very open to most groups who pay for the booth space.

Michael Mathias at Pundit Nation writes:

I can’t imagine what the management of Summerfest was thinking in allowing this horror show of death and violence onto the grounds, or how it would help their image as a family-friendly event to let anyone set up something in such obvious poor taste.

The fact that participants are invited to stand aboard a Humvee while playing the game is particularly galling. Scores of US soldiers in Iraq have died riding on Humvees that critics have derided as poorly designed and ill equipped. Among them is Cedarburg native Stephen Castner, whose family, aided by US. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, has been searching for conclusive answers about how he died since 2006.

A small battle in the context of the global war?  Perhaps.  Worth waging?  Absolutely.

UPDATE: Veterans for Peace is involved, too, with this message to its Milwaukee chapter members:

The military has a clear and dangerous presence at Milwaukee’s Summerfest (June 26 ? July 6, 2008).  One exhibit is especially offensive: kids as young as 13 years old can aim automatic weapons from atop a humvee at a large screen to virtually kill people.

We do not want to desensitize our youth to the violence of “war,” nor cultivate the twisted  reality that our aggression in the Middle East is “war,” when the truth is that the overwhelmingly casualties are innocent civilians.  The setting for this bloodshed is a residential area with “targets” of uncertain identity moving through the streets.  This aggrandizement of violence and glorification of our illegal invasions abroad is xenophobic, profane, and undermines the basic values we strive to live by in America.

This Army atrocity is located next to a rock stage as it targets youth; while they ask for an ID to prove age 13 or older, they willingly accept a child’s word and collect their name, age, address, etc.; no doubt for future recruitment.

Summerfest representative Dan Minahan barks that the festival is a place to “forget about the war” where one can “enjoy real high entertainment value.”  War is NOT a game, and this exhibit needs to be shut down immediately.

Giraffes, and Camels and Bee’s…..Oh MY!

The Wildlife is fighting back!

Due to global warming, high oil prices, food shortages, lack of clean drinking water, droughts across the planet and other various doomsday stuff, Mother Nature is on a rampage and may be coming to a town near you soon.

The whole thing started when a Giraffe and his Posse decided to make a break for freedom in Amsterdam.

From The Peoples Republic of CNN:

Giraffe gathers troops, leads great escape from circus

Fifteen camels, several llamas and a potbellied pig broke out of a circus near Amsterdam on Monday. The ringleader? A giraffe who bolted, too.

Police said the giraffe kicked open a fence and walked out.

“The other animals walked out with him,” said Amsterdam police spokesman Rob Van Der Veen.

The animals were part of a traveling circus that had set up its tents in the city of Amstelveen, six miles outside the Dutch capital.

They made their break about 5:45 a.m., wandering about a residential street and riling up a neighborhood dog, police said.

Officers and circus employees rounded them up before they could get too far and returned them to their pens.

What they didn’t tell you in this story is that the “Wild Thang Gang” almost made it to the shipyards and were planning on boarding a ship bound for Madagascar!  

Too bad it didn’t work.  That would have made quite a movie, someday…..

Docudharma Times Tuesday July 1

We’re Having An Olympics

Please Stay Away

Tuesday’s Headlines:

McCain’s energy record is on/off

Human toll yet to be counted in Zimbabwe

Rwanda: Anger over failure to hold genocide fugitive

Italy: Court inflames Roma discrimination row

Body to be dug up to solve mystery of film-maker’s killing

Iraq opens oilfields to international deals

U.S. forces to hand over hard-won Anbar Province

China tightens visa restrictions as Olympics near

Afghanistan deadlier than Iraq

Wounded Iraqi Forces Say They’ve Been Abandoned


Published: July 1, 2008

BAGHDAD – Dawoud Ameen, a former Iraqi soldier, lay in bed, his shattered legs splayed before him, worrying about the rent for his family of five.

Mr. Ameen’s legs were shredded by shrapnel from a roadside bomb in September 2006 and now, like many wounded members of the Iraqi security forces, he is deeply in debt and struggling to survive. For now, he gets by on $125 a month brought to him by members of his old army unit, charity and whatever his wife, Jinan, can beg from her relatives. But he worries that he could lose even that meager monthly stipend.

African leaders stay silent on Mugabe

By Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Africa’s leaders have failed publicly to condemn Robert Mugabe for stealing Zimbabwe’s presidential election by proceeding with a run-off vote in which he was sole candidate at the height of an officially orchestrated intimidation campaign.

At a summit of the 53 member states of the African Union – in which stable democracies remain a minority – Mr Mugabe was praised as a “hero” by the veteran President of Gabon, Omar Bongo.

Although he was not addressed as “Mr President” by fellow summiteers gathered in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, the embattled Zimbabwean leader was comforted by speeches in which few spoke out about the political violence in his country.


Evidence Faulted in Detainee Case


Published: July 1, 2008

In the first case to review the government’s secret evidence for holding a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a federal appeals court found that accusations against a Muslim from western China held for more than six years were based on bare and unverifiable claims. The unclassified parts of the decision were released on Monday.

With some derision for the Bush administration’s arguments, a three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.

The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a character in the Lewis Carroll poem “The Hunting of the Snark”: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

State of the Onion XIX

Art Link

Landscape of the Mind

The Candy-colored Clown

In my dreams

the eagle transforms

into the dove of peace

every soul is sparked

by precious pieces

of Martin and Coretta

their essence permeates

the landscape

of my mind

fairness prevails

people are kind

nice caring helpful

human warmth flows

toward everyone

through everything

replenishing the fabric

of this mortal coil

There’s always fair weather

where justice reigns

the justice that Martin

saw from the mountain top

Then I awake

let out a gasp

and cry out

in despair

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–February 17, 2006

◊  ◊  ◊

I could not stop before publishing this one.  Some of you have made your disdain for me quite plain.  If you were trying to harm me with your words, you accomplished your goal.

pf8 thinks I can still be an effective communicator even after the damage that some of you did to whatever respect and credibility I may have earned.  I’m extremely doubtful.

Consider this an attempt to help foster unity and aid the healing.  At least that is my intention.

Be excellent to one another, for their sake.

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