Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Definition Of Grace

I am not always the nicest person in the world.

I have hurt people at times in my life, both deliberately, and out of ignorance or cluelessness. I've been impatient and snippy when I needed to slow down and be kind.

I've lashed out at people who didn't deserve it. My anger towards one simple transgression carries eons of past unresolved pain. One poor person gets a tornado when all they deserved was a roll of thunder.

I've judged people before I knew them, before I spoke to them, or listened to them speak to me.

At times, I have purposely helped people. At other times, I have helped people without even knowing it, until they told me about it years later.

I have tried to learn both from my mistakes, and from the good things that I do. I try and be better every day. Sometimes I am proud of myself. Sometimes I am not.

Sometimes I hide, and let others take the stage. Sometimes I grab the stage and hold it, selfishly, for myself. Sometimes my jokes kill, and folks are rollin' in the aisles. Sometimes, not so much.

I would hope that people would see me as the sum of all parts, the complete person, who has gifts to give, and many more lessons to learn about humanity. I would hope that when I stumble, people let me know, and that I don't have my head too far up my butt to hear them.

I hope that people listen to me, and watch me, as I fumble through life, with the bigger picture in mind. That would be my definition of grace.

Because I am flawed, I hope that I can offer the same kind of grace to others who are just as flawed.

And maybe I can be just like William A. Von Hoene Jr., whose unknown, but powerful voice spoke clearly through the muck and mire, the flotsam and jetsam of relentless, sensationalist, dehumanizing news, to say something good about Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jimmy Carter On Larry King: Condoleeza Lied

OK, so Jimmy Carter was too nice to say that specifically. But Condi said in the press that "we" told Carter not to go. "We" referred, I assume, to herself and/or the state department. But, announcing in the press that you think Carter is a bad guy for meeting with Hamas, but never actually talking to Carter directly to tell him that, are two very different things. I mean, I'm sure Condi can get Carter's phone number, dontcha think?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Corporate Feudalism: Cradle To Grave

Yesterday was supposed to be the Obama Peace Bridge Meet-Up on Pont Neuf bridge in Paris (Here are photos from similar Obama bridge events). I wanted to go and maybe meet some Democrats Abroad members, as well as some Obama supporters that live here in Paris. That Guy and I were an hour late, because, well, one of us is almost always late, and one of us has rarely ever been late for anything, but the lateness value system has won out over the on-time value system in my relationship. A revolution is brewing. The Bastille might have to be burned. To the ground.

But, I digress.

So...there were no Obama supporters to be found. We had asked our Irish friend Robert if he'd like to meet us there so that we could go for a beer afterwards and maybe some dinner later on in the evening. He arrived on time at 3pm (how...bourgeois of him), and said that he only saw 4-5 Obama people and they didn't stay long. So, we started to look for a place to have a beer, and since we were right there on the Seine, everything is pretty touristy and high-priced. We've become "Snobs of the 18th." We like our funky little ethnic 18th arrondissement better than the slicko, expensive ones.

But, we walked down a side street along the left side of the still-closed Samaritain department store, and found a funky little joint, where we could sit outside and have a cold beer. They even had a silky gray cat called Manuche (Gypsy) who had a stubbed tail. We had an amazing discussion about That Guy's friend Greil Marcus's book Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century. If you know the book, you'll understand why our conversation wandered through Marcel Duchamp, the Situationists and Johnny Rotten.

As the sun began to wane, we took a nice long walk to the St. Denis area, to our favorite old-fashioned cafe, Chez Jeanette on Rue du Faubourg St. Denis. When we finally started to get hungry, we walked down Passage Brady - it's like a street that runs in between or through two buildings. The passage was full of Indian restaurants, and they had tables set up outside in the middle of the passage. We ate a great meal by candlelight.

Before it became too dark, I was able to catch this photo of the graffiti on one of the walls at the far end of the passage:

Of course, I was attracted by the Fuck Bu$h sign (I'm just that kind of girl), but the guy in the middle, wearing what looks like a Christmas hat, was really the focal point of the picture. His sign says, "Aren't I Alive?"

The image above his head says in English, along the top: Corporate Feudalism. Along the bottom it says, "cradle to grave."

Well. I hadn't heard the term Corporate Feudalism before. So, I just went on an hours-long research and know a tiny bit more. I found this interesting article by Manuel Valenzuela. I wouldn't call it a light read. Here's Manuel Valenzuela's blog. This guy writes. A lot. It looks like I need to go on a learning jag. I found the same graffiti image on Flickr, taken in the UK, I believe. I'm still searching for its origin. I'll update this post if I find it. I got lost in my search and need to get this darn post published.

The Situationists would be proud of me for taking such a derive.

Senator Ron Wyden: Vice Presidential Material

Go here to learn how you can sit buck nekked on the Xerox machine and read the paper.

Friday, April 25, 2008

White House Syria Nuclear Propaganda: Timing Is Everything

Yesterday I wrote a post about Syria and Israel brokering a peace deal - Israel gives up the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria.

The very next day, propaganda starts flowing from the White House that Syria, in kahoots with North Korea, is a major nuclear threat. Of course, all the MSM jumps on the propaganda like it's a juicy young virgin.

What gives? The US is usually in cahoots with Israel. Especially the neocons, many of whom have dual passports: US and Israel (I have yet to figure THAT one out). Are they saber rattling for an excuse to attack Syria too? I know that Iraq was just a strategic first step for the neocons to develop a base from which they can control the Middle East, but do they plan to attack both Syria and Iran before they leave office? Or will they just get Hillary to do it for them? (snark)

Here's some propaganda via CNN.

Here's counter propaganda via HuffPo.

Juan Cole is asking the same questions in his post Syria Reactor Story A Diversion; But From What?:

The real question is the timing of the announcement, since the bombing happened a long time ago. It is suspicious to me that the announcement was made just after a spy for Israel was arrested in the US who had stolen US nuclear secrets. Is it diversionary?
And it seems like someone else has my theory:

Syria expert Josh Landis discusses a different theory of diversion, having to do with revelations that Syria and Israel are closer to an agreement on the future of the Golan Heights. Check out his article because it offers more insight into the whole Israel/Syrian deal brokered by Turkey, including links to other articles in the BBC, LA Times, Washington Post, etc. This part got my attention:

Syria seems to be making this public at this time because it does not want secret talks and insists that what contacts take place between Israel and Syria be official and open. Syria wants Israel to break the US backed isolation policy toward Syria as a sign of good faith.

One analyst in Washington does not believe this is more than posturing by both sides. He writes:

No durable peace deal between the Israelis and the Syrians is possible without US endorsement. As much as I would like to believe this story, it's a nonstarter. To say the least, the Turks cannot finance the deal, only the US can. The Israelis will ask for a security package from Washington worth more than $20 billion.

Again...velly interestink.

Today Is The Day Of Silence

I had no idea this was going on until somebody in the blog-ess-fear, whom I dislike, posted about it on one of the blogging community message boards. This is a lesson I can learn every single day - that we learn from those we love, as well as from those we love...not so much. is a day of silence to mark the violence and abuse perpetrated on the LGBT community. According to the Day of Silence website, "This year’s event will be held in memory of Lawrence King, a California 8th-grader who was shot and killed Feb. 12 by a classmate because of his sexual orientation and gender expression." This story breaks my heart, not just for the boy who died, but for those who killed him, and whomever or whatever influenced them towards this horrible choice.

May we learn to live with each other, in all of our differences.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Syria: We'll Wait For The Next US Administration

I read an interesting article in France 24, about the negotiations between Israel and Syria over the Golan Heights. They are negotiating through Turkey, and have recently made enough progress that Israel has announced that they are willing to give up the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria. This is a big deal, I think. (I am not a scholar in this area, by any stretch of the imagination.)

But the interesting quote that stood out for me is in bold below:

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert assured Erdogan of his readiness to return the Golan, and this was relayed to Syria a week ago, Assad said.

"What we now need is to find common ground through the Turkish mediator," he said, adding that any negotiations with Israel would be conducted via Ankara.

Direct negotiations may become possible under the next US administration, the Syrian president said.

Huh. It seems odd to me that the current BushCo administration, who is purportedly focused on bringing peace to the Middle East (snicker, snicker, guffaw), would not be interested in, and supportive of, this deal. It is equally interesting that the Syrian president is assuming that the Democrats will win, and will be more amenable to assisting in the peace process. They can't possibly think that John McCain will be any different than BushCo. So, I am assuming they don't expect McCain to win.

Velly interestink...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Obama: Take Us To A Better Place

I've been reading the Invisible Woman - Black Cinema At Large blog for almost a year. She is an expert in black cinema, and I definitely am not. But I like her writing very much, and I have the opportunity to read her often because she is in my feed.

She rarely, if ever, posts on politics. But today I read one of her posts that had a viewpoint of Obama that I had pondered, way back in the recesses of my mind, but had never expressed. It's about the fact that he has, several times, risen above the stupidity and vapid attacks made against him, and challenged us as a community, to join him in his larger perspective.

I made a comment on her blog, something I don't generally do. But my comment expressed how I have been feeling, so I wanted to duplicate it here:

You know...I lurk here all the time because I am a pasty white girl who knows nothing about black cinema, but I like your writing. :-)
I so appreciate this post because I'm not religious either, but I believe that humankind is involved in an evolutionary process towards higher consciousness, and I am always hopeful that this evolution speeds up a bit.

I keep my eyes open for those who set good examples of inclusion, versus exclusion, and who can rise above pettiness, and while still honoring everybody's voice, they gently push us towards being better human beings, both as individuals and as a community.

I am somewhat of a cynic. And what is cynicism but an emotional cover-up of a wounded hopeful soul. So, inside I hope for Barack to be the person I think he is, and on the outside I remain skeptical. May we be delighted with what we learn.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Big Fat Myth: Al-Qaeda In Iraq

Juan Cole's at it again. Acting like the only reliable news source for inside information from the Middle East. Oh. That's because he is the only reliable news source for insider information from the Middle East. That's because he speaks Arabic, Persian and Urdu and reads some Turkish. He's a brainiac. So...he reads all the Arabic papers and tells us what's going on. Nice.

(He also said to me, "Nice writing there." about my blog, so, well, I'm a little prejudiced.)

So, we all know that the whole "Al Queda in Iraq" is a bunch o' crap. But Juan just says it so well, backed up with something we can't seem to find a lot of these days: Facts.

McCain can't come out and say we need to crush the Armed Iraqi Revolution, because that would be an admission that the US has been fighting Iraqis for 5 years and still hasn't defeated them. So he and the Republican strategists and the retired generals and their Pentagon handlers make up this "al-Qaeda" business, as though people in Baquba would be gunning for Americans if Americans hadn't invaded their country and turned it upside down.

It is the US military occupation of Iraq that is producing "al-Qaeda" wannabes, and if it is ended the Iraqis and their neighbors will polish those off tout de suite. Keep the military occupation going, as McCain desires, and you are running an incubator for terrorism against the US and its allies that has already produced hits on Madrid and the London Underground.

In other words, elect McCain, my friends, and you are summoning the awful genie of another 9/11. I said it. I mean it. I'm not taking it back. That man's announced policies could well produce a blowback that will lead to the end of democracy in the United States. It is a momentous decision.
You might also want to read Juan Cole's new book, Napoleon's Egypt to bone up on a little history of the invasion of the Middle East. It looks like we Americans weren't the first to be "deeply ignorant of cultural and religious Islam" nor the first country "claiming an intent to transplant liberty."

Holy Shit. I Think I'm Catholic Again

UPDATE: Why oh why oh why oh why did this guy have to be such a dick and denigrate Hillary Clinton at Obama's church while Obama was there? What the fuck? Did he want to put seven more nails in Obama's coffin? I just don't get it. Talk about GOD for fuck's sake.

I need to find Rev. Michael L. Pfleger's church and telecommute. If ever I would come running, running, running back to the Catholic Church, it would be because of him. (Don't tell my parents, however.) This video has really poor sound, but lean in because every single word counts. All I can say is, YOU GO, Father Mike. You go. (If you are viewing this post via email, please click through to my blog to view the video.)

Statement by Rev. Michael L. Pfleger
on Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright's Visit to the Church on March 28, 2008

On Friday, March 28, 2008, I invited Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. to Saint Sabina’s African American Speaking Series, where Dr. Maya Angelou was the guest speaker. I invited Dr. Wright because he is a friend, mentor and hero of mine and because he is someone for whom I have great respect. I also invited him to feel and see the great love and respect people have for him.

As I said on Friday, Dr. Wright is one of the great biblical scholars of our country and the best of preachers in the prophetic tradition. Dr. Wright has been shamefully demonized by 30 second sound bites that have tried to re-define him into someone other than who he is.

I believe the attacks on Dr. Wright are two-fold.

As a back door entrance to attack and try and weaken Senator Barack Obama.

To stifle the freedom of prophetic preaching in the church.

Both of these are unacceptable! I stand with Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. as a friend and as a preacher who I respect.

Statement by:

Rev. Michael L. Pfleger, Pastor

the Faith Community of Saint Sabina

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Awesome Speech, Pope

Later, in the oval office...

  • "Hey Pope, pull up a chair. Ya know, I was really rootin' for ya in that whole pedophile mess. Gotta keep your boys in check, is what I always say. Or, at least, make sure nobody gets wind of anything. But sometimes, word gets out and KABAM! That liberal, commie, dirty hippie press - what's left of 'em...hehe - goes wacko!"
  • "Uh..."
  • "And besides, how 'bout them altar boys? I mean, being so young 'n fresh, apple-cheeked, and wearing a dress. Askin' for it, ya know? There should be a law about that! Hmmmm. I better talk to my advisers about gettin' a law like that. No dress wearing allowed for congressional aides!"
  • "Erm..."
  • "But let's skip the details. Waddaya wanna do, Pope? Should we order pizza? I can call ya Pope, right? Karl Rove asked me not to call ya Popester. I think he's still pissed about me calling him Turd Blossom. Anyway - Wanna see my top secret collection of great torture pictures that never made it into the papers? I know you ex-Nazis can't resist that stuff. hehe."
  • "I think, Herr President, I must, ah, go now und meet mit some people..."
  • "Aww, come on now, Popey. I thought we could spend some time together! You know, do a little hang time. It gets pretty lonely here up at the top of the world. I figured since you head up your very own country, since you're sorta The Decider too, that we'd have a lot in common. I was even thinkin' I'd let you play my very own Private Army game! It's fun! I mean, if you stay and all, I'll even get you your very own Private Army. I just have to call my special friend Erik Prince and BOFFO! you can have your very own Private Army too! They're all good Christian boys. No Catholics, of course, but you won't mind when you see them all decked out in their war gear. They kick ass! It doesn't cost that much either. A couple billion transferred from your top secret Vatican accounts should take care of it. Hey, don't be a cheapskate. You got all that fancy artwork you can sell. Who is it, uh, it's right on the tip of my tongue, uh. God damn! I should've studied more in that artsy fartsy class..."
  • "President Bush, I would appreciate it if you could refrain from taking the Lord's..."
  • "Michael Angelo! That's it! How could I forget? Boy, that guy was really into naked, muscular men. I've been wonderin' about that for years. You reckon he was gay? This is my big chance to ask you. I swear I'll never tell a soul. Well, maybe Karl Rove 'cause he told me I had to tell him everything, no matter what. But...waddaya think?"
  • (Pope frantically texts his Number 2 guy: "Call me! Get me outa here!")
  • "Whatcha got there, Pope? That's one of them strawberry things, isn't it? My people were usin' those things to have their illegal, secret political communications. That's a no-no according to some stupid law. But we got around it. We did a lot of hand wringin' - 'Oh! We LOST all those emails! Oops!' That shut everybuddy up. Hey, I didn't know you Romans had technology. I figured you were still usin' them stool pigeons, or, no, that's not right, romin' pigeons?"
  • "I believe you mean homing pigeons?"
  • "Yes! Hey, I may be backward, but I know you people are still using smoke signals, buddy. I saw it on Fox News. Hey Pope-a-Dope, I was beginnin' to wonder if you ever talk! Here I am, doin' all the talkin'. Takin' up the slack. Story of my life. I mean, you can let your hair down with me. I swear. What goes on in Washington, stays in Washington, ya know? hehe Well, unless of course you're Valerie Plame. But that bitch and her mouthy husband had it comin'."
  • RING! (Pope answers his cell phone and mumbles in Latin, "It's about freakin' time.") "Yes, Monsignor Goebbels? Oh! I lost track of time. Yes, please come in. We're, um, just about finished here."
  • "Aw, Pope. I sure wish you could stay longer. Me and the wife sure are disappointed you won't be here for the big dinner we're throwin' for ya. They're cookin' my favorite meatloaf. Oh, and there'll be all kinds of important people there. Lotsa people with connections in Israel and all. You could use some o' them, right? hehe For later, when you're out of office?"
  • "Danke schoen, mein Herr. But I'm afraid I haf ein oder engagement."
  • "Ah! Ya got a hot date, huh? Well, ok. Maybe I can come see ya at your house some time?"
  • "Uh, why of course, Mr. President. Haf your people call my people. Unfortunately, we haven't had time today to discuss some of the pressing problems of the world."
  • "Ahh, no sweatski, Popeski. My people have a joint statement all prepared. And ya know, we did cover most of that junk. Like the gays and pedophiles. We talked about the Israelis - they're the only ones worth talkin' about when we cover the Middle East. Man, what a mess that place is, phew! Then you agreed with me that private armies are a gas and that you probably want one of your own. I wrote down a task to get you together with Erik Prince. Hey, don't look surprised! I am a great listener, let me tell you. My mind's like a freakin' sieve! Everybody tells me that. Anyway, we didn't talk about any Mexicans but I know you like 'em and I like 'em too, so we're bros in that area. And we talked about torture and you liked the idea. I saw ya! When I said I could show you some photos, your bushy - hey that's funny - bushy! - eyebrows shot right up."
  • "Holy Father?"
  • "Uh...yes Monsignor Goebbels?"
  • "The Popemobile is being ticketed outside."
  • (Pope and Bush stand up. Bush slaps the Pope on his back.)
  • "Hey, Popester! It was great that you stopped by. You're welcome any time. Mi casa es tu casa, amigo! Great talkin' atcha. Next time, don't be so shy! And we'll have that pizza when I come over to your place. I like pineapple on mine!"

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bill Moyers: Journalists As Truth Tellers

Another quickie link, but as always, Bill Moyers is worth the read. Here are some excerpts from his speech in Washington, DC, April 3, 2008, at the fifth annual Ridenhour Prize awards ceremony, sponsored by The Nation Institute and the Fertel Foundation:

The job of trying to tell the truth about people whose job it is to hide the truth is almost as complicated and difficult as trying to hide it in the first place. We journalists are of course obliged to cover the news, but our deeper mission is to uncover the news that powerful people would prefer to keep hidden.

Unless you are willing to fight and re-fight the same battles until you go blue in the face, drive the people you work with nuts going over every last detail to make certain you've got it right, and then take all of the slings and arrows directed at you by the powers that be - corporate and political and sometimes journalistic - there is no use even trying. You have to love it and I do. I.F. Stone once said, after years of catching the government's lies and contradictions, "I have so much fun, I ought to be arrested." Journalism 101.


The quintessential lesson of my life came from another Texan named John Henry Faulk. He was a graduate, as am I, of the University of Texas. He served in the Merchant Marines, the American Red Cross and the U.S. Army during World War II, and came home to become a celebrated raconteur and popular national radio host whose career was shattered when right-wingers inspired by Joseph McCarthy smeared him as a communist. He lost his sponsors and was fired. But he fought back with a lawsuit that lasted five years and cost him every penny he owned. Financial help from Edward R. Murrow and a few others helped him to hang on. In the end, John Henry Faulk won, and his courage helped to end the Hollywood era of blacklisting. You should read his book, Fear on Trial, and see the movie starring George C. Scott. John Henry's courage was contagious.

Before his death I produced a documentary about him, and during our interview he told me the story of how he and his friend, Boots Cooper, were playing in the chicken house there in central Texas when they were about twelve years old. They spotted a chicken snake in the top tier of the nest, so close it looked like a boa constrictor. As John Henry told it, "All of our frontier courage drained out of our heels. Actually, it trickled down our overall legs. And Boots and I made a new door through the hen house." His momma came out to see what all of the fuss was about, and she said to Boots and John Henry, "Don't you know chicken snakes are harmless? They can't hurt you." Rubbing his forehead and his behind at the same time, Boots said, "Yes, Mrs. Faulk, I know, but they can scare you so bad you'll hurt yourself."

John Henry Faulk never forgot that lesson. I'm always ashamed when I do. Temptation to co-option is the original sin of journalism, and we're always finding fig leaves to cover it: economics, ideology, awe of authority, secrecy, the claims of empire. In the buildup to the invasion of Iraq we were reminded of what the late great reporter A.J. Liebling meant when he said the press is "the weak slat under the bed of democracy." The slat broke after the invasion and some strange bedfellows fell to the floor: establishment journalists, neo-con polemicists, beltway pundits, right-wing warmongers flying the skull and bones of the "balanced and fair brigade," administration flacks whose classified leaks were manufactured lies - all romping on the same mattress in the foreplay to disaster.

Five years, thousands of casualties, and hundreds of billion dollars later, most of the media co-conspirators caught in flagrante delicto are still prominent, still celebrated, and still holding forth with no more contrition than a weathercaster who made a wrong prediction as to the next day's temperature. The biblical injunction, "Go and sin no more," is the one we most frequently forget in the press. Collectively, we don't seem to learn that all it takes to transform an ordinary politician and a braying ass into the modern incarnation of Zeus and the oracle of Delphi is an oath on the Bible, a flag in the lapel, and the invocation of national security.

Please read the whole speech. And...if you've never read any A.J. Liebling, I would recommend it. He wrote hilarious essays about his times in Paris. Many of his works are out of print, but if you can find a compilation of his writings that include his Paris essays, grab it and you'll be taken through a glorious turn through Champagne and oysters on the half shell, all told in great humor.

Banking Regulation History Lesson

Just a quickie link today, but one that is definitely worth reading, if you're interested in why U.S. banks need bailing out by the U.S. government.

This is a really interesting time line and explanation of the history of the separation of, and regulation of, commercial banks and investment banks, by the United States government.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Take A Look At Them Legs

My partner in crime, That Guy, offered a very new, philosophically deep, well-thought-out perspective on the McCain, Clinton, Obama campaigns for president...

"All I know is that if I had to choose between looking at Bill Clinton for 4 years or Michelle Obama, I'd pick Michelle Obama."

There goes the man vote.

This he stated after we watched Mrs. Obama on the Colbert Report. She was poised and lovely, direct and on message. She looked Colbert right in the eye, and I think it made Stephen just a tetch shy. In other words, she was hot.

But a hot wife didn't help Dennis Kucinich now, did it? And Dennis even had big ears. Go figure.

Meanwhile, I had much more profound thoughts. The only kind of thoughts a pasty white girl who was born in Philadelphia, and moved to Arizona when she was 15 would be thinking: "Man, Michelle Obama has an amazing tan! She must be working on that every day......oh....shit. oops."

I'm just glad I didn't keep going down that lonely stretch of suicidal train wreck and think, "It's got to be a spray-on tan. She can't have the time to lie around the pool for God's sake."

Yeah. That's us. The amazing, socially aware, lefty, deep-thinking, political animals. That Guy is a sexist pig, I've decided. But I, like Colbert, don't see colors. I just notice tonal shades of deep, rich, bain de soleil tan.

Here's Michelle Obama, in aqua blue, on the Colbert Report:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Iraq "Success" Mantra Isn't Propaganda

I've been saying this, and saying this, and saying this until I can't say it anymore. But now, somebody else is saying it too.

If you want to understand how BushCo can stand there with a straight face and declare Iraq a success, then read this Truthout article by William Rivers Pitt, a New York Times and internationally bestselling author. It explains PNAC, its founders, its plan, its strategy for total US control of the Middle East.

Then you'll understand why we ain't leaving Iraq. Why our Iraq embassy is jumbo-sized. Why we have so many permanent military bases there. Why we will probably invade Iran before BushCo leaves office. Why nobody in this administration gives a shit about how many Iraqis have died or have been displaced, or whether or not the country has been destroyed, or, as a matter of fact, how many Americans have died in Iraq. All in a day's work.

Unless of course, more people get informed and stop the bastards. Wishful thinking, I know.

Meanwhile, make sure everybody continues to waste an entire fucking weekend arguing about the meaning of bitter. That's what BushCo wants you to do. Just fall in line and do your job, like good girls and boys.

I'll show you bitter, baby.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Penal Doesn't Work For Me

My friend Richard over at The Foothills Opinion Post had a funny fantasy post about a conversation between George Bush and Dick Cheney. George addressed Dick, with many a creative Dicklish nickname, about his well-thought-out and articulately-expressed (as always) solution to the undocumented worker problem in the US: ship all the illegal brown people to Iraq to replace our troops.

I'm surprised the real Bush/Cheney cabal haven't decided to empty our prisons of all the non-violent drug offenders and send them over to Iraq. Oh, I forgot, their buddies in the multi-billion-dollar prison industry would have a conniption fit if they lost all those bodies that represent a huge amount of ka-ching. (Is it just me, or do you think that incarceration shouldn't be a for-profit business? I mean, isn't that just asking for graft and abuse?) There aren't any lobbyists or corporations or politicians making money off the backs of undocumented Mexicans to defend them. So, those illegal brown people become a "problem," not all those cash-cow imprisoned people.

I'm pretty glad that I'm not illegally brown. There were times in my youth that I spent slathered with iodine-infused baby oil, stretched out for hours on greasy poolside chaise lounges, plastic floating rafts, and nude beaches in Greece filled with gay men. (I wasn't filled with gay men. The beaches were. Although, I'm not against gay men. Many of my closest friends are gay men. [I know some Negroes too. And Jewish people. And Lesbians. I've seen Transvestites, but haven't befriended one yet. Give me time.] I'm just not sure I would like to be filled by gay men, as it was quite enough to see them slathering iodine-infused baby oil on each other's asses. That was too much information.)

Anyway, I'm sure at least some of my brownification was faintly illegal. Especially if I had been smoking some of that great Mexican pot (which I only obtained from rich, green-eyed, Spanish-blue-blood, WHITE Mexicans, ok?). But luckily, I've outgrown such youthful desires as having an all-over deep coffee-with-cream designer (versus genetic) brownness, and drifting off into pot-infused, hippie, communist fantasies of overthrowing the government, or at least taking down the local Saks 5th Avenue, emporium of excess and free makeup bags with every perfume purchase. I'm happy to say that I no longer know people who sell pot (damnit) and I am searingly white.

Now, if only I were a searingly white man, I could rule the world. And meet people who sell pot, or at least heroin, especially if I'm working for the US government and paying off the poppy growers in Afghanistan.

But I digress, again. I am just one big, formerly-brown, now cancer-ridden, wishing I were high instead of watching my country crumble, digression.

Anyway. Richard's post made me remember my problem with all the bitching and victim talk I indulge in on this blog, because, well, we are all victims of the atrocities of the current administration. If not directly, by losing our lives or the lives of our loved ones to the war, then at least indirectly, by paying taxes that support this administration's disastrous policies. Or are we actually tax-paying and voting collaborators? Ugh.

It's hard not to stamp my feet, get all insulted and red-faced, and whine, "Look what they're doing noooooooowwwwwwwuh! How can they get away with that? Again? Where is the main stream press? Where are the Democrats? Where is the outrage? Somebody stop themmmmmm!!!"

All to no avail.

It would be more productive (and quite possibly more mature) if I tried to come up with some solutions to the problems that face our country today. Richard's post was a snarky joke, but at the root of it was an attempt at a solution.

But I have a problem with calling illegal immigration a problem, since I don't actually believe it is a problem, until some politician or fundamentalist nut case decides to make it a problem. (Or they have buddies who want to make bazillions building a wall along the border which will be completely useless, or supply an electronic alien monitoring system called a Virtual Border Fence which, so far, doesn't work.) But, let's pretend it is a problem, for a second. What exactly is the solution to this "problem" of unauthorized immigration? (I prefer that unauthorized term. The US government actually came up with it. It means that you either entered the US without authorization, or you had authorization but overstayed your visa.)

First, you have to wipe away the politicization of the issue. Maybe we can do that after the election? (I know, wishful thinking.) You also have to get some wet wipes out, and clean off all the false fear. The made-up story that there are a few Arab extremists walking through the Arizona desert, pretending to be Mexicans, on a mission to blow up the Carefree, Arizona town hall, or more symbolically, the sun dial. (If Osama is reading my blog, which by some people's assertions, is a fact, then if I can help you find the sun dial, don't hesitate to ask.) You might need some industrial-strength Mr. Clean (or as it's called here in Paris, Monsieur Propre, or Don Limpio in Spain, Mastro Lindo in Italy, Meister Proper in Germany, and Flash in England) to scrub off the stench of prejudice and xenophobia from this made-up issue. But I forgot. Mr. Clean wears an earring. He must be gay! How can some dirty rump rider be the leader of the cleanup crew?

Wow. This solution stuff is hard.

OK, so after you shovel all the horse and bull shit off of this issue, maybe we can take a mature, non-emotional approach, and look at the issue pragmatically. First of all, is it even possible to stop people from wanting to live in another country, something that has been going on since God made border crossings? (You see, if I say that God made borders, then that means they're legal. If I told the truth and said that man just made shit up about borders and who "owns" the land, then this already too long post becomes, well, more than already too long.) And if it's not possible to stop immigration, then what is the actual economic and cultural impact of illegal immigration, not only in America, but in the country from which the immigrants came? (I never do answer this question, but there are so many words below, that it kinda looks like I answered it.)

Let's pretend that, as long as the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, that human beings (and certain species of cows, not including gay cows, or those shameless mixed-race black and white cows that decorate a certain computer company's shipping boxes) will want to jump over that fence. Some will have enough money to pay their way, some will not, but hope that they can make enough money to pay their way later, or at least have some kids who will be documented and grow up on the greener side of the fence and support their parents.

A tiny percentage (must I back this up with a statistic?) just want to jump the fence so they can go to sleep under their overly-large sombrero against a less prickly cactus, and otherwise goof off and suck the country dry of all of its cactus shade (and fermented cactus juice) and rape all the white women and never learn the language and build dirty bombs that will blow up the sun dial. Then those mother fuckers will inevitably clog up all the waiting rooms in all of the hospitals in America. I swear. I've seen it. Haven't you?

Just as an educational aside, we might want to expand our navel-gazing outside of our purported "Mexican problem" and look outside of the United States (I know it's hard, but try) and take a broader historical view than, oh, maybe last week, and you will quickly see that nomadic people have been moving around the world since 1000 BC (or thereabouts). As the shameful Arizona legislators and their clueless constituents continue to vote xenophobia into law, the Roma people, better known as Gypsies, suffer as we speak from the same kinds of prejudice and abuse perpetrated by supposedly sophisticated and worldly Europeans. Just a short train ride outside Paris, if you visit the Champagne region, you will see the Gypsy caravans out in the fields, because they are the primary source of migrant workers during the grape harvest season.

At least Arizonans haven't voted to sterilize the illegal immigrant women, like they were doing to the Roma women in the Czech Republic and Slovakia as late as 2004. Well, not yet. Give them time.

I'm sure there are as many Al Queda jihadists hiding in Gypsy grape picker clothes in the vineyards of France as there are bearded Shiite Iranian killers (let me be clear, these are killers from Iran, not people who kill Iranians, otherwise, we wouldn't care) hiding amongst the Mexican cotton-pickers in Arizona. At night, the baddies in France hook up their Mac Air to the satellite dish on top of their Gypsy wagon and beam important nuclear wine-making secrets to Osama's cave in Pakistan. The super-baddies in Arizona go to WalMart and get all their bomb-making paraphernalia. They don't stand out at all. They blend right the fuck in. Be afraid when you shop at WalMart. Be very afraid.

So, where was I? Spewing again, I see. I guess all this hatred of human beings just because they're different makes me angry. Go figure.

But, back to the solution.........................If you can't STOP them, then REGULATE and TAX them.

(Didn't I say this very same thing about legalizing marijuana? Is this a broken record? Are we still in Kansas, Toto? er, Mohammad?)

When I say that we shouldn't try and stop them, but we should regulate and tax them, I'm referring to both the people who wish to come to the US to work, and the companies that wish to employ seasonal, or less-expensive labor.

So...Create a guest worker program. The one Bush proposed wasn't that bad. (Although, as usual, he added a bunch of money for his buddies in the prison system, and he added biometric tracking of immigrants, which I think is fucking terrible.) But it's still full of penalization. It differentiates between the people who abided by US immigration law, and those that didn't and snuck under the fence. It requires that illegals have to go home first, and then come back. And it requires them to pay a fine. Both of these things aren't affordable by most unauthorized immigrants. So, we're back to where we started. With people remaining unauthorized because they can't afford the trip home or the fine. Bush doesn't think it's "fair" to let people who broke the law to be citizens without paying some fine. I think that if there were any real victims to this supposed crime, he might be right. But I'm not sure there are a bunch of immigrants out there that went through the legal process, who will get angry because other people could get in through a blanket amnesty. If they do object, well, then they're assholes.

Make it safe for people to register themselves as they enter the country. Create a legitimate industry that finds work for guest workers. By making this all above board, fewer guest workers will be enslaved or abused. (I know that some people don't give a shit about this, but I do.) Incentivize employers to utilize the legitimate guest worker program, versus taking risks with cheaper, but undocumented workers.

I didn't say PENALIZE, I said INCENTIVIZE. What does that mean? Maybe it means that guest workers will work for a lower wage until they become citizens. Not an abusively lower wage, but a wage that is somewhere in between minimum wage and current illegal wages. They'll be incentivized to gain citizenship in order to qualify for a higher minimum wage. If they have proven themselves at their job, and their employer likes them, then their employer should be happy to up their wages. If the employer doesn't up their wages and ditches them for a new low-wage worker instead, well, then they're small-minded, short-term-thinking, assholes. Maybe if we provided them with tax incentives for hiring people from the guest worker program, they could turn into lesser assholes.

Meanwhile, everybody's paying their taxes, like good boys and girls. And because they're paying taxes, they get health care.

So, what about the supposed problem that guest workers take jobs away from American citizens? I have never, ever believed this myth, but I'll play along. If the youth or poor or the poor youth or the elderly of America want some of the guest worker jobs, then they can register with the guest worker program and they have first dibs on those cotton-picking, burger-flipping, hotel-cleaning jobs, but at the standard minimum wage rate. If they are better than the less-expensive worker, because they speak English or have previous cotton-picking, burger-flipping or hotel-cleaning skills, then they might be preferred by and hired by the employer.

So, I just pulled all of this out of my ass. I have no idea if it will work. It's probably full of holes. But it's a start. I just think that above board is best, and incentivizing instead of penalizing is best. In general. In life.

Anyway, anything with penal in it has to be suspect. N'est-ce pas?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

This Makes Me Sick To My Stomach

Because Congress gave him the right to do so, Michael Chertoff of Homeland Security waved 30 laws that obstructed him from doing whatever it takes to build that fucking fence along the border of the US and Mexico.

The secretary of homeland security was granted the power in 2005 to void any federal law that might interfere with fence building on the border. For good measure, Congress forbade the courts to second-guess the secretary’s determinations. So long as Mr. Chertoff is willing to say it is necessary to void a given law, his word is final.
I hate the country in which I no longer live. It is a horrible place, run by hooligans. I'm sorry for the rest of the nice people that still live there.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

This Beats Them All

This video even beats It's Raining McCain. Well, I guess that's like comparing apples to oranges. The raining McCain one was horrifying, this one is delightful.

Thanks to Le Meg, Le Paris Blagueur, I just found this Mariachi video for Obama:

Friday, April 4, 2008

Diego Garcia: Britain's and America's Ongoing Shame

What Britain and America did to the Chagossian people on the island of Diego Garcia - kicking them out of their homes, sending them off their island to live in poverty, GASSING THEIR DOGS (for some reason, killing animals pisses people off more than displacing human beings) - is an abomination.

Dick Cheney would shrug and say, "So?" Hey, we decided we needed that island to fight wars and practice rendition and have secret CIA detention centers. What's the value of some stupid old natives compared to that?

Luckily, and I'm not sure how these poor people have been able to rise up and defend themselves (probably with dirty hippie commie pinko aid), the Chagossians are making headway in British courts and getting some long-needed attention. Of course, their lawsuits in the US have fallen flat, go figure.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Jor-juh Boosh

Most days, we have FIP radio on in the background. It's the best radio station I've ever listened to. You can listen to FIP online here, and you'll know what I mean.

In between the amazing variety of French chanson, American blues, manouche jazz and other familiar and exotic, contemporary and nostalgic music, they sometimes have a brief newscast in French. I usually ignore it. But today I heard them say, "...Jor-juh Boosh..." That Guy heard it at the same time that I did. We looked up at each other and he said, "Oh boy, what's he done now?"

I'm afraid to look at my newsreader. Maybe I'll put that off for another hour...or nine.

Meanwhile...I watched the video of George Bush being booed when he made the first pitch of the baseball season. You would think that I would enjoy such a thing, seeing how much I despise the Bush administration in general, and Shrub Junior in particular. But it saddened me to no end.

It reminded me of a friend that I have back in Arizona who is in the Secret Service. He disappears from time to time and then when he shows up, he has gifts for his wife and daughter from Baghdad or Dubai or wherever else he and the president happened to be. I met this friend casually and socially, because he is the next-door neighbor of another one of my friends. When I found out he was in the Secret Service, I avoided him like the plague. But he is such a tall, gracious, quiet and funny guy, that I was constantly drawn to him.

Finally, one evening after a few mojitos, I took him aside and told him why I avoided him. He astonished me with his response. His eyes teared up, and he said, with the utmost sincerity, "I think that you and That Guy are some of the brightest people I have met in a long time. It would break my heart if I couldn't have a relationship with you just because of my job. I want you to know that I protect the office of the president, not the personality. I worked just as hard for Clinton, as I do now for Bush."

Well now. Needless to say, before That Guy and I moved away, we enjoyed many more neighborly events, and deep, intellectual conversations with our new friend. He is brilliant, with a degree in philosophy, and I loved talking to him.

I also realized that I deeply respect the office of the president, but I deeply disrespect the man that holds that office. This may appear to be a problem, but actually, if you think about it, each person we meet along our path is a human being, regardless of the differences between my values and theirs, my morals and theirs, my actions and theirs. If George Bush was in trouble as a human being, based on my own values, I'd be compelled to reach out and help him. As does my friend who protects him when he travels.

And so, when the office of the president does the game of baseball, that so very American symbol, the great honor of making the first pitch, it is a momentous and important event. Everyone, from the sports casters, to the players, to the audience, should be honored. Yet...the man that is the president has made it very difficult for us to honor him.

I know that if I had been sitting in that stadium, I would not have cheered for the man who is president. I am not sure I could have made myself boo. I probably would have just remained silent, and very sad, that I had to make such a choice.