June 30, 2004

you got gangsters in power and lawbreakers making rules

* "In my experience, when people pontificate about the motives of people they scarcely know, it’s their own motives they display." Gene Lyons of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on the U.S. press corps.

* Christopher Reeve chronology, by Theodore Beck, a/k/a Black Nasty.

* Testimony of Ed Sanders from the Chicago 7 trial. excerpt:

"MR. WEINGLASS: Do you recall what it was that brought you from Jackson County, Missouri to New York?

Sanders: Reading Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" in shop class in high school in 1957.

MR. WEINGLASS: Mr. Sanders, could you indicate to the Court and to the jury what your present occupation is?

Sanders: I am a poet, songwriter, leader of a rock and roll band, publisher, editor, recording artist, peace-creep"
"MR. SCHULTZ: In Mr. Stahl's office on August 7, did you hear Hoffman say that the Festival of Life that you were discussing with Deputy Mayor Stahl and Al Baugher would include nude-ins at the beaches, public fornications, body painting, and discussions of draft and draft evasion? Did you hear that?

Sanders: Nudism, draft counseling, the beach thing, but he didn't use the word 'public fornication.'

MR. SCHULTZ: He didn't use that word. What word did he use in its place?

Sanders: Probably fuck-in."
"MR. SCHULTZ: While you were writing this document, you were also listening to what was going on at the meeting, weren't you?

Sanders: I was keeping an ear into it.

MR. SCHULTZ: Will you read number four of that document, please.

Sanders: Psychedelic long-haired mutant-jissomed peace leftists will consort with known dope fiends, spilling out onto the sidewalks in pornape disarray each afternoon."

MR. SCHULTZ: Would you read eight, please?

Sanders: 'Universal syrup day will be held on Wednesday when a movie will be shown at Soldiers Field in which Hubert Humphrey confesses to Allen Ginsberg of his secret approval of anal intercourse.'

MR. SCHULTZ: Will you read nine, please.

Sanders: 'There will be public fornication whenever and wherever there is an aroused appendage and willing apertures'

MR. SCHULTZ: Did you read thirteen?

Sanders: You want thirteen read? 'Two-hundred thirty rebel cocksmen under secret vows are on 24-hour alert to get the pants of the daughters and wives and kept women of the convention delegates.'"

For additional images head to: stop bush.

I love goodwill cashiers old wrestler ears soda can pipes and life

* The limits of sovereignty.

"Despite the end of the US occupation on Monday, US prosecutors said the Court would continue unchanged after the handover.

"It was created by Mr Bremer last June to hear 'significant security trials' and enable occupation troops to testify without leaving the Green Zone. Saddam Hussein is among the detainees intended to enter its dock.

"Many Iraqis see the Central Criminal Court as a creature of the occupation which must be abolished now the US has handed sovereignty back to Iraqis.

Faisal Estrabadi, an Iraqi lawyer, said yesterday after the refusal to release Mr Kanum: 'If the Iraqi courts have acquitted an individual he must be released. Anything else is a violation of sovereignty.'

"'Iraq cannot be one large Guantánamo Bay.'

"He added: 'The Geneva Conventions no longer apply as of 10.26 this morning. Under UN Resolution the occupation has ended and the laws of war no longer apply.'
"Under laws introduced by the coalition, possessing illegal weapons carries a minimum sentence of 30 years and maximum of life imprisonment, but Iraqi judges routinely sentenced detainees to only six months, they said. 'We have the feeling they're not putting their heart into it,' said Mr Frank.

"The court also sparked recent controversy after it was used to issue arrest warrants for rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and 15 members of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraq National Congress, on charges including fraud and kidnapping. Last week the court issued an arrest warrant for another member of the Governing Council, Karim Mohammedawi, after he expressed support for Mr Sadr."

* The fans are alright: Dick Cheney visited Yankee Stadium last night. excerpt:

"During the singing of 'God Bless America' in the seventh inning, an image of Cheney was shown on the scoreboard. It was greeted with booing, so the Yankees quickly removed the image."

* Deserter: The story of George W. Bush
after he quit the Texas Air National Guard
. [via wood s lot]

June 29, 2004

on the back of a winged horse there is the sky

* Village Voice on Richard Linklater's Before Sunset. excerpt:

"It's no coincidence that early in Before Sunset, Jesse talks about wanting to write a book in the form of a pop song, with a mutable narrative that alternately stretches and collapses time—structural ambitions that match Linklater's. The director has always gravitated to compact durations: More than half his features take place in spans of under 24 hours (the existential head trip Waking Life breaks free entirely from temporal limits). 'Working in real time was the ultimate challenge for me,' says Linklater. 'Our back was to the wall, structurally speaking. You couldn't just drop a scene. There's no way to lessen or elongate a scene, no way to cut geographically. It couldn't have been more intricately planned out. But it was fun to get that obsessed about all those things you never see in movies—like paying the bill, leaving the tip.'

"With virtually no wiggle room, it was a production that hinged on the tiniest of details, from the amount of dialogue covered on a particular stretch of cobblestone to the position of the sun. 'Not only did we have just 15 days to shoot, but on any given day, we only had four hours,' says Linklater. Technically, it was an exercise in self-effacement. 'It was important that the Steadicam moves not draw attention to themselves or to the performances,' he adds. 'The point was to not draw attention to anything.' For the actors, the most daunting task was sustaining the illusion of spontaneity. 'The worst would be fake-natural,' Delpy says. 'To remember the lines and make it feel like it's the first time you're saying them, that's the hardest work.' Hawke adds: 'Rick's line to me was 'No drama.' What will make it dramatic is that there's no drama. It's the opposite of the direction you get for 98 percent of all other jobs, which is to amp everything up.'"

* In anticipation of the upcoming conventions, screen Haskell Wexler's 1969 film about the 1968 Democratic Convention, medium cool.

"At its sharpest, Medium Cool handles the chill of omnipresent violence with the feel of cinema vérité. Haskell Wexler penned his screenplay in anticipation of a blow-up at the Democratic Convention, and in many ways, he is clearly more interested in documenting the mob scenes than in telling a story. The protesters raging in the streets, the army methodically lining up for the counterattack - these are real, captured at the moment of trauma by Wexler’s camera. But Wexler is not creating a pure documentary (if such purity is ever possible), but grafting these events onto a fictional story. The plot itself is rather thin, as Cassellis drifts into a vague relationship with Appalachian transplant Eileen and her son (played naturalistically by Harold Blankenship, a real ghetto kid). Some of the ethical debates on Vietnam-era politics are obviously staged: in one scene Wexler populates the screen with real black militants and lets them make speeches about respect and the visibility of rebellion spoken directly to the camera.

"But when the film’s attempt to fuse its fictional cameras with its vérité surroundings works, it provides a damaging indictment of the objectivity of media. For example, when John and Eileen watch a televised speech by Martin Luther King, Eileen is absorbed by King’s ethical stand, while Cassellis can only admire the camera work and the potential for violence inherent in the gathering itself. These character-driven moments are interesting, and the sense in which the film chronicles the political turmoil of an era is also important - but there does not seem to be a clear sense of story to hang these two things together."

* Don't Let Your Youth Go to Waste, the Galaxie 500 DVD, gets released today.
my eyes fall from my head with all the pages read

* Krugman. excerpt:

"The Iraq venture may have been doomed from the start — but we'll never know for sure because the Bush administration made such a mess of the occupation. Future historians will view it as a case study of how not to run a country.
"What the figures don't describe is the toxic mix of ideological obsession and cronyism that lie behind that dismal performance.
"Defenders of the administration will no doubt say that Christian Aid and other critics have no proof that the unaccounted-for billions were ill spent. But think of it this way: given the Arab world's suspicion that we came to steal Iraq's oil, the occupation authorities had every incentive to expedite an independent audit that would clear Halliburton and other U.S. corporations of charges that they were profiteering at Iraq's expense. Unless, that is, the charges are true.

"Let's say the obvious. By making Iraq a playground for right-wing economic theorists, an employment agency for friends and family, and a source of lucrative contracts for corporate donors, the administration did terrorist recruiters a very big favor."

[via Jesus' General]

* Top Ten Conservative Idiots:

1. Dick Cheney
"There's an exciting new level of political discourse in town, and it's all thanks to Vice President Dick Cheney! For years, partisan activists such as ourselves have remained on the fringes of legitimate political debate partly due to our use of coarse and colorful language. But now it appears that Dick Cheney has blown down the barriers by dropping an F-bomb on the floor of the Senate. At a photo session last week Crashcart got into a heated debate with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) over the Democrats' investigations into Halliburton war profiteering. When Leahy retorted that Cheney was standing by Republicans who accused Democrats of being anti-Catholic, Cheney replied, 'Fuck yourself.' Yay! Fuck yourself! Fuck yourself! Go fuck yourself! Thank you, Dick Cheney, for lowering the bar for all of us partisan outsiders. Because if it's okay for the vice president to tell a senator to fuck himself on the floor of the Senate, it should be perfectly okay for a bunch of political hacks on a website to say it. Fuck yourself! (In an added comic twist, I should mention that the incident occurred on the same day the Senate passed the so-called 'Defense of Decency' act. Ha ha.)"

* Listen to Bobby Bare Jr.'s Let's Rock and Roll.

June 28, 2004

My Fender is just a painted board And if I light it on fire I become such a fucking bore

* The Gothamist interviews Hal Hartley. excerpt:

Q: Please share a personal (and hopefully interesting) NYC taxi story.
A: An old Chinese woman taxi driver explaining why legalized prostitution would be good for the city.

Q: Time travel question: What era, day or event in New York's history would you like to re-live?
A: I would like to be my current age in the mid to late seventies. I came to New York a number of times then but I was too young to know what was happening.

Q: Best celebrity sighting in New York, or personal experience with one if you're that type.
A: Being an apprentice iron-worker one summer in the early eighties and eating my lunch on the sidewalk beside my older brother. Andy Warhol comes around the corner, stops and checks the time on his watch, and moves on.

Q: Where do you summer?
A: In my apartment.

Q: If you could change one thing about New York, what would it be?
A: Car alarms would be outlawed.

* Why some music sounds better.

* Washington CityPaper (and the dust congress) recommends tonight's Bobby Bare Jr. show:

"Rock 'n' roll has never lacked for cocaine inspiration: Sabbath's Volume 4, the Eagles' Hotel California, the Mac's gold-dusted Tusk. There sure are some lameass renditions of songs about the white stuff, though. I for one would rather crawl out a 53rd-story window than have to poison my earhole with Slowhand's mangling of J.J. Cale's blue-flake ode. But Bobby Bare Jr.'s new 'The Terrible Sunrise' might be the best of the genre: 'The sunrise ain't pretty when you ain't been to bed/And tomorrow is today instead..../The devil has crawled inside your nose.' It's a worthy successor to Johnny Cash's version of 'Cocaine Blues.' Bare's From the End of Your Leash is full of great songs about drinking and heartbreak as well, and we can blame his upbringing for that. His daddy was no slouch as a songwriter, and Junior was raised in Nashville among such Outlaw Country royalty as Waylon Jennings—and we all know he was no stranger to the lure of the line. Bare plays with Tom Heinl at 8:30 p.m. at the Iota Club & Cafe, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. $10." See you there?
The cops carry capos in case you want to change your key

Two poems by Jules Boykoff, from his latest chapbook titled: Philosophical Investigations inna Neo-Con Roots Dub Styley.

Frederick "Toots" Hibbert meets U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in the Kingston, JA Hilton to discuss their swervingly divergent views on "Old Europe," the fading charade of sex symbololgy, and the ever-unfolding handcuffery of trumped up charges:

I want you to believe every word I say.
I want you to believe everything I do.

A familiar song of Jamaican
nuptials always in a foreign tongue.
Night is a sweet & dandy
numb-bodied multiplication table
a pressure dropped threat
treadmill exploding into massivity
an alphabet of promises
for you theoretical inventory.
The glimmer of a laughing trove.
The cartography of debt.
Surveillance is just a frangrance
just a silent handshake in 1983
just a de-mimeographed tragedy
of also but not additionally
of sweet & dandy pressure
drop home to say hi.

Peter Tosh meets Herbert Marcuse in the student union at UC San Diego in LaJalla, CA to discuss the so-called curvanture of space, "suplus repression," and "the durability of inequality:"

Everyone's crying out for peace but
which September 11 are you talking about?
"The progress of reaction" reacting
where Buddha meets Bobby Bourgeoisie
or where Jah meets Johnnie come lately
to your natural mystic resources?
Tinderboxed glass house for the
negation of negation of vigilantism.
A strong suspicion of institution.
A counter-hegemonic ketchy-ketchy shuby-shuby
[animosity swivel animosity swivel].
Assumption mongering with a dose
of baroque magical theology or two-
toned legalize-it dilettantish Bush Doctor but
one should not demand too much
theoretical elegance where ownership is
elsewhere & elsewhere is
elsewhere too where
we come to nothing
to nothing we come.

June 25, 2004

I wish I could read what his eyes are sayin'

* Bob Nastanovich on the Ectoslavia days. excerpt:

"When I was there, Gate was the spiritual leader and Chambo had the most poise. When they shut their bedroom doors, I felt the need to respect their privacy. I think they were doing schoolwork. The basement was where we got together to make a horrible racket. I contributed metal percussion. We smoked just enough weed to think what we were doing was amazing in a Trisomie 21/Nurse With Wound sort of way. The next day's playbacks were always disheartening. One afternoon, I came home and was standing on the first floor back porch. David ran by me, didn't say a word and entered the kitchen. Then, he ran back by me with a large knife. He ran across the parking lot, up the hill, across the tracks and into the College Inn parking lot. Naturally, I followed him to see what was up. When I reached the crest of the hill, I watched him slash all four tires of a newish BMW .He ran back by me and into the house. I walked into his room and asked, "what was that about?" He plaintively replied, 'some frat boy called me a fag.'" [via the silver jews bb]

* Review of Streets Chicago show. excerpt:

"Mike Skinner is the Streets, a critical favorite ever since his debut album, a basement tape called 'Original Pirate Material' (Vice), was released two years ago. He is an unorthodox character compared to the large pool of fashion-conscious braggarts that dominate the hip-hop mainstream. Even though his thick accent sets him apart at first listen, Skinner is at heart a storyteller whose first-person narratives move the listener inside the action. He raps conversationally, sounding closer to Lou Reed; and the tales of petty thievery, girlfriend woes and drug malaise on his second album, 'A Grand Don't Come For Free' (Vice), are cinematic in scope with novelistic depth. It is a blue collar coming of age story very similar to 'Quadrophenia,' Pete Townshend's rock opera three decades back."
"The songs were designed to show the sensitivity of a slacker. But onstage, Skinner played up his inner Beastie Boy. A contraption holding ready-to-pour vodka and brandy bottles was on hand so he could dispense drinks for the audience. He also readily handed out backstage passes to front row ladies who caught his eye. And when he struck thug poses and faux break danced, it was intentionally comic.

"He was a clown who realized the joke wasn't on him but on the rigid expectations of his genre. The complexity of his narratives may have been too dense to translate very well onstage, but even when he blew off steam, it felt like a blast of fresh air."

The Streets play the 9:30 club on Thursday.

* Bathroom Improv, by Franz Wright

Book composed of poems no one will ever read
or write if I can help it:
each verse composed of words
I will never cleverly jot,
or transcribe from memory, never
recite in my blood--
e.g., the jagged sonnet which begins
For sure the motherfucker's sober now--
book with hunter
green cover, the beautiful color
of oak leaves in summer,
with no smirking photograph;
color of life, color of death
with no prizes, no trivial biography, no academic
honors earnable by any moron who can read
or write his name. No name
or gloating progeny
of shame, no irrelevant
lies and not one

June 24, 2004

pump it up if you came to get it krunk

* Oklahoma judge caught using 'penis pump' during trial.

"While seated on the bench, an Oklahoma judge used a male enhancement pump, shaved and oiled his nether region, and pleasured himself, state officials charged yesterday in a petition to remove the jurist. According to the complaint filed by the Oklahoma Attorney General, Donald D. Thompson, 57, was caught in the act by a clerk, trial witnesses, and his longtime court reporter (these unsettling first-hand accounts will make you wonder what's going on under other black robes). Visitors to Thompson's Creek County courtroom reported hearing a 'swooshing' sound coming from the bench, a noise the court reporter said 'sounded like a blood pressure cuff being pumped up.' Thompson, the complaint charges, even pumped himself up during an August 2003 murder trial. The AG's petition quotes Thompson as admitting that the pump was 'under the bench' during the murder case (and at other times), but he denied using the item, which was supposedly a 'gag gift from a friend.'
It's a wicked life but what the hell

* On June 24, 1901, the first major exhibition of Pablo Picasso's artwork opened at a gallery on Paris' rue Lafitte, a street known for its prestigious art galleries. The precocious 19-year-old Spaniard was at the time a relative unknown outside Barcelona, but he had already produced hundreds of paintings. The 75 works displayed at Picasso's first Paris exhibition offered moody, representational paintings by a young artist with obvious talent.

* War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. How is the world ruled and how do wars start? Diplomats tell lies to journalists and then believe what they read. - Karl Kraus (1874-1936) [via wood s lot]

* 5th graders discuss Dean & Britta's "Night Nurse."

Alvin: Right away you can tell: it's white people.

Vaughn: Night nurse? Like at a hospital?

Ms Allen: I'm really not sure. I took cold medicine called night nurse a few times. But it could be about anything...you have to decide on your own.

Arda: Music is about what you think, what's in your heart.
Sayed: Yeah.

Josia: No, cause you know if it's a man and a woman, you know they're in love.

Sayed: How do you even know? Maybe they hate each other.

Piedad: If you love someone, ok, and you break up with them, then, you are never supposed to hate each other. (thinks) Because it's like, "Things didn't work out with us, but we are still friends. I don't have no problem with you."

Sayed: Nah, more like, "You gotta get out of here, cause every other girl is better looking than you. So go away, BAY-BEEEEEE!"

Josia: (slaps him) Oh my God, Sayed! That's why you never had a girlfriend. Cause you're stupid!

Piedad: Lila had three boyfriends already.

Alvin: White people are always saying, "ooooh, I love you so much, are we going to a movie?, you are so beautiful as a flower..."

Sayed: "So beautiful as a flower?!" (slaps own forehead) man, you sound like a fool.

Josia: You don't love people because of what color they are. Love just happens to you, ok. You could be walking down the street and then all of a sudden you could see an old person who is not your same color and you fall in love and (claps hands) that's it. You're in love. You can't control it, even if you don't know them.

Alvin: Aw, YOU go on and marry some old Papi. That's nasty.

Josia: My mom wants me to marry someone from Puerto Rico, but I'm not getting married. I'm going to be a scientist. If I have a husband, he can make his OWN food, cause I won't have no time.

Arda: If I have a husband, when I get older, I'm making him pay for all the movies we go to.

Sayed: No one is going to marry you girls anyway. You're too short and you talk too much.
Two characters in search of a country song

* Maud Newton, to whom we link with some regularity, has a new short story in Swink Magazine.

* Bob Odenkirk has an excerpt of: HORNSWAGGLED!!! How the Me of Now was Tricked by the Me of Yesterday into Going to War, by President George W. Bush.

"It was in early October, just barely a month after that great, uh, conflagration, uh, destruction, of the two towers. The meeting was held at the pool room of my ranch house in Texas. In the meeting were Colyn 'The C Man' Powell, Condolisa 'The Condor' Rice, and Dick 'Big Dick' Cheney, and of course, 'Stinker', (that’s me), well, the me of a year and a half ago, The Me of the Past, and we were to have a brief briefing uh, on terroristic insurgencies, uh, activities.

"The Me of the Past started the meeting abruptly, seemingly coming out of nowhere with the question; 'What about Iraq?' Condo responded, 'what about Iraq, Mr. President? We briefed you on that, there are no substantial ties'

"I cut her off, whipping out a new nickname, 'Quit your jawin’, Jawbone!' (Because she has a prominent jaw). 'What do you have to say, Chain Gang?'

"Dick Cheney took a moment to realize he had been re-christened with one of my patented 'nick-ers.'"

* Tell Dick: Prove It or Resign.

"Urge Vice President Dick Cheney to either provide any evidence he has that would show material links and coordination between Al Qaida and Iraq under Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 Commission or, if he doesn't have such evidence, to resign."

June 23, 2004

in pick up bars the country stars play Japanese guitars

* Krugman on Ashcroft:

"Even in the fight against foreign terrorists, Mr. Ashcroft's political leanings have distorted policy. Mr. Ashcroft is very close to the gun lobby — and these ties evidently trump public protection. After 9/11, he ordered that all government lists — including voter registration, immigration and driver's license lists — be checked for links to terrorists. All government lists, that is, except one: he specifically prohibited the F.B.I. from examining background checks on gun purchasers.

"Mr. Ashcroft told Congress that the law prohibits the use of those background checks for other purposes — but he didn't tell Congress that his own staff had concluded that no such prohibition exists. Mr. Ashcroft issued a directive, later put into law, requiring that records of background checks on gun buyers be destroyed after only one business day.

"And we needn't imagine that Mr. Ashcroft was deeply concerned about protecting the public's privacy. After all, a few months ago he took the unprecedented step of subpoenaing the hospital records of women who have had late-term abortions.

"After my last piece on Mr. Ashcroft, some readers questioned whether he is really the worst attorney general ever. It's true that he has some stiff competition from the likes of John Mitchell, who served under Richard Nixon. But once the full record of his misdeeds in office is revealed, I think Mr. Ashcroft will stand head and shoulders below the rest."

* Judge calls federal drug sentencing laws unconstitutional. excerpt:

"In a scathing criticism of the system used to punish federal crimes, a judge on Monday called the government's sentencing guidelines unconstitutional, saying they unfairly limit the authority of judges.

"In a series of drug cases, U.S. District Judge William Young said the guidelines put too much power in the hands of prosecutors and give judges too little discretion in sentencing.

"Young's criticisms mirror those of many judges and defense attorneys who have complained for years about the sentencing guidelines, which became effective in 1987."
"'What judges have perhaps most strongly detested has been exactly what Judge Young says here, and that is that the Department of Justice acts, in a manner of speaking, as both prosecutor and executioner,' David Yas, editor of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly said."

* Pictures of David Bowie being hit in the eye by a lollipop thrown onstage during a June 18 show in Norway. [via royalmagazine]
the sunrise ain't pretty when you ain't been to bed

* Art by Sarah Lucas:

self portrait with cigarette

self portrait with beer

self portrait with eggs

christ you know it ain't easy

June 22, 2004

And he came by the way that he walked

* Will Oldham goes to Japan.

Will describes days 2 and 3 in Tokyo:

"Arrive in Tokyo at 4 p.m., tired but stoked. Our hotel is called the Hotel Excellent, and it is. They've got the sweeet heated Japanese toilets that shoot warm jets of water deep into our rectums. The next morning, the old-folks vibe at World of Coffee provides a quiet place for us to enjoy coffee and pervy mags. We walk to the Airs Video shop in the Shinjuku neighborhood and watch a cool Roy Harper and Jimmy Page mountain jam session on video. On the hour-long trip to Yokohama for the show, the drive is all cityscape. Tokyo is endless. Once there, we find the ThumbsUp Club, a gritty "roadhouse" bar located on the third floor of a mall. If T.G.I. Friday's was obsessed with Neil Young and had an unlimited budget for decor, it might look something like the ThumbsUp, which is to say, awesome. A Japanese cowgirl named A Place Called Space opens for us. The Bonny Band spills blood at the show, and the crowd is happy. We are all drunk, thanks to well-crafted, XXL-sized pitchers of beer. Later that evening the Sweeneys stay up and go to the classy Favera bar to meet the great Charlie Brown, the karaoke master (and the man behind Dune magazine) who was exploited in Lost in Translation."

* As I Lay Lying: TMFTML provides excerpts from the Clinton bio.

* Article titled: Drug War 'Ark of the Covenant' is Empty, concludes:

"Fear runs the drug war. True ignorance or superstition are rarely a part of the equation in this day and age. Fear of job loss, of societal demonization, fear of losing votes in an election all stand in the way of truth, progress and freedom. The councilmen, mayor and district attorney all showed their fear, by falling back to faux superstition, feigned ignorance or the silence of the lambs as their defense.

"When the call for change first occurs for marijuana policy, for overall drug reform, it's not likely to come from the mouths of the councilmen, mayor, district attorney or police chief. The call must come from those citizens brave enough to recognize and put forth that "the emperor has no clothes." There is nobody in a position of authority who can defend this abominable drug war.

"It is our job to drive these drug warriors down to the river of reform for baptism. Forcibly, if need be.

"When do we stop putting our children behind bars for little baggies? It's your decision."
We Rarely Practic Discern

* Michael Kinsley, in WaPo: Could there be an emptier claim made on behalf of someone hoping to lead the United States of America than to say that he is "optimistic"?

"As recently as the 2000 election, today's President Georgie Sunshine was eager to spread pessimism and gloom. And apparently he remained optimism-deficient until recently. What else can explain the job losses of his first three years as president?

"We don't want a president who sees the silver lining in every cloud. We want a president who sees the cloud and dispels it. We want someone who will make the objective situation justify optimism, not someone who is optimistic in any objective situation. If optimism is hard-wired into the American character, it should be especially important to have someone sober at the wheel of the car. Of course, such clear-headedness is a hopeless ideal. But it is odd that politicians of every stripe now promise that their vision will be clouded.

"And if forced to choose between a leader whose vision is clouded by optimism and one whose vision is clouded by pessimism, there is a good case that pessimism is the more prudent choice. Another name for pessimism is a tragic sensibility. It is a vivid awareness that things can go wrong, and often have. An optimist thinks he can pop over to Iraq, knock Saddam Hussein off his perch, establish democracy throughout the Middle East and be home in time for dinner. A pessimist knows better."

* Via bookslut: Lazy design:

David Amsden's Important Thing's Don't Matter

Spoon's Kill the Moonlight

* For the Love of Freedom. excerpt:

"Our leaders have done us a great disservice, and have systematically thrown the Middle East into utter chaos in order to further their own craven agendas. But from halfway across the world, the distinction between America and its government is a hazy one at best. Those that subscribe to terrorism against the United States are, in effect, taking part in the same knee-jerk reactionary anger that many Americans are still coming to grips with.

"But by painting this war as a fight between those who support freedom and those who support terror, Bush is able to polarize the issue into that same old cliché 'good vs. evil' garbage that he's been spewing out. It's convenient rhetoric, it fits nicely into a sound bite, but it's patently untrue and absurdly misguided.

"It serves to cover up the ugly truth - that while the citizenry of America is generally in favor of truth and justice, our government has been betraying us abroad for many, many years. This is a hard fact for many people to fully come to terms with. And when the alternative of, 'We're good and they're evil!' is presented, it's very tempting to take that quick and easy route to absolution. But we need to deal with this at some point in order to move on as a nation, and in order to reclaim our nation from this corrupt minority that has perverted the principles of America and desecrated the spirit of freedom that Bush so ardently claims he loves."
"If we ever hope to achieve victory against terrorism, we must change the way we behave on the national stage. We must demand that our government end its support of petty dictators and political hatchet men. We must insist that our leaders use the military as a tool of defense, not occupation and economic insurance. We must force them to bow to our will. The will of the people.

"Only once that is done, can we force each and every last one of the sick, murderous bastards that had a hand in 9/11 to take responsibility for their deplorable treachery without behaving like hypocrites in the eyes of the world."

June 21, 2004

Three Poems by Leonard Nathan


Progress Report

The trees won't talk; but we've got instruments
To get the truth. Old omens of the air
Mean birds are hungry, here as everywhere,
And speak, if forced to, in present tense.
This took eternity and some expense
To verify. Gods, never really there,
Reduce to heros dying for a share
In prospects disconnected and immense.

Symbols, like homespun drugs, were handy things,
But facts are good as guns. And then there's you --
No priestess circled by sacramental wings
From Cythea, but a girl well suited to the act;
And what's to be done with nature? Nothing new.
We'll dream in symbols, wake up in cold fact.


Fleets sank, horses went up in smoke,
When you curved around the corner
Of the building, leaving the world flat.

Two dimensions are left. The other
Has run off with a salesman from Cockayne
Where they sip their amber dew from goblets.

This is a book of cut-outs. Im waiting
To be cut out, stood up, then blown over
By the first wind bearing your scent.

Straight talk misses you. So I've bent it.


Through an open window of late summer evening
a woman cries, Ah-ah-AH!

Neighbors pause, blush perhaps, then go on
with their homely chores, smiling to themselves.

What do you do with this—another’s shameless,
lonely ecstasy? Or your own? I put

a tape of Mozart on to cover our confusion.

June 18, 2004

Three poems by Billy Collins

Another reason why I don't keep a gun in the house

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.


Smokey the Bear heads
into the autumn woods
with a red can of gasoline
and a box of wooden matches.

His ranger's hat is cocked
at a disturbing angle.

His brown fur gleams
under the high sun
as his paws, the size
of catcher's mitts,
crackle into the distance.

He is sick of dispensing
warnings to the careless,
the half-wit camper,
the dumbbell hiker.

He is going to show them
how a professional does it.

The Death of the Hat

Once every man wore a hat.

In the ashen newsreels,
the avenues of cities
are broad rivers flowing with hats.

The ballparks swelled
with thousands of strawhats,
brims and bands,
rows of men smoking
and cheering in shirtsleeves.

Hats were the law.
They went without saying.
You noticed a man without a hat in a crowd.

You bought them from Adams or Dobbs
who branded your initials in gold
on the inside band.

Trolleys crisscrossed the city.
Steamships sailed in and out of the harbor.
Men with hats gathered on the docks.

There was a person to block your hat
and a hatcheck girl to mind it
while you had a drink
or ate a steak with peas and a baked potato.
In your office stood a hat rack.

The day war was declared
everyone in the street was wearing a hat.
And they were wearing hats
when a ship loaded with men sank in the icy sea.

My father wore one to work every day
and returned home
carrying the evening paper,
the winter chill radiating from his overcoat.

But today we go bareheaded
into the winter streets,
stand hatless on frozen platforms.

Today the mailboxes on the roadside
and the spruce trees behind the house
wear cold white hats of snow.

Mice scurry from the stone walls at night
in their thin fur hats
to eat the birdseed that has spilled.

And now my father, after a life of work,
wears a hat of earth,
and on top of that,
a lighter one of cloud and sky--a hat of wind.

June 17, 2004

I've learned to live by hate and pain

* An essay arguing that the tortue memos reveal a fascist mentality concludes:

"Using fear and demagoguery after the terrors of 9/11 - an attack they knew was coming but did nothing to prevent or ameliorate - those ideologues manipulated the Congress and populace into giving them a blank check to go after those who perpetrated this terrorist mass-murder, and they've been riding that same horse ever since in service of their other, more extreme agendas. Bush&Co. even invented a non-existent tie-in to 9/11 to justify their invasion of Iraq - and then, much later, with very little attendant publicity, Bush admitted that there hadn't been any such relationship.

"Friends (and any Democratic office-holders reading this), we either stop this pack of wolves here - by forcing them to resign, impeaching them shortly, or in November throwing them out of the offices they've disgraced - or we wind up living in a police-state at home, and carrying out more disastrous imperial wars abroad. Is this the free country so many veterans have fought and died for? Is this the kind of government you want your kids raised under? Is this, finally, what we've come to in America because we didn't pay enough attention to what was really happening under our noses, and permitted ourselves to be snowed and manipulated so easily?

"I think not. It's time for us to raise our voices in a mighty roar to our elected officials, to organize our friends and neighbors, to shout out to the rest of the world that this is not the true America and will not stand. IT WILL NOT STAND."

* The Plain truth:

"Bush is right when he says he cannot be blamed for everything that happened on or before Sept. 11, 2001. But he is responsible for the administration's actions since then. That includes, inexcusably, selling the false Iraq-Qaeda claim to Americans. There are two unpleasant alternatives: either Mr. Bush knew he was not telling the truth, or he has a capacity for politically motivated self-deception that is terrifying in the post-9/11 world."

* Julian Cope rocks.

"Cope is singular. He was the lead singer of post-punk indie band, The Teardrop Explodes, who shone brilliantly for a couple of amphetamine-fuelled years in the early 1980s. He became a cult solo rocker, and author of two critically-acclaimed volumes of autobiography. He may, too, be the only bona fide antiquarian researcher to have performed on Top of the Pops while on acid, and to have posed naked (for an album cover) beneath the shell of a giant turtle.

"More recently, he gave two talks at the British Museum about the norse divinity Odin -an occasion noted for his appearance in five-inch platform shoes and the fact that his hairspray forced the evacuation of the building after setting off fire alarms."
"What of today's archaeologists, picking away at our past? 'They're like fucking mystics,' he says. He loves and respects them, but cannot help winding them up. "I went down to one site wearing my Archbishop Makarios hat. 'I'm here to declaim loudly,' I said. 'You spend 16 hours a day pissing around in the wind and the rain. If that's not mystic, what is?'

"'I think it's essential there's someone like me, if only to wind them up. I'm past the stage of trying to theorise about these places. I know what I believe, but I'm more interested in getting other people to see for themselves.'

"Cope stops for breath and, as if reviewing his role in life, remarks: 'In the end, I'm not a very good rock 'n' roller, but I'm a very good Julian Cope.'"

June 16, 2004

see you gracefully swimming with the country club women

Happy Bloomsday!

* Said by James Joyce:

"Poetry, even when apparently most fantastic, is always a revolt against artifice, a revolt, in a sense, against actuality."

"The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts."

"Irresponsibility is part of the pleasure of all art; it is the part the schools cannot recognize."

"Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an esthetic end."

* A poem by James Joyce:


Gaunt in gloom
The pale stars their torches
Enshrouded wave.
Ghostfires from heaven's far verges faint illume
Arches on soaring arches,
Night's sindark nave.

The lost hosts awaken
To service till
In moonless gloom each lapses, muted, dim
Raised when she has and shaken
Her thurible.

And long and loud
To night's nave upsoaring
A starknell tolls
As the bleak incense surges, cloud on cloud,
Voidward from the adoring
Waste of souls.

* Chapter by chapter guide to Ulysses.[via maud newton]

gasoline horses will take us away

* Bush Sr. calls the Iraq war George Jr's "read-my-lips donnybrook." excerpt:

"The President’s father, George H.W. Bush – 41st President of the United States – disagrees with his son’s decisions in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which is why the former President has not commented in public on the war.

“'The President and I discuss the war privately,' the elder Bush said in an interview earlier this year. 'That is the way it will remain.'

"But sources close to the Bush family say the elder Bush thinks his son has mishandled the war in Iraq."
"In addition, the former President has told his son that he 'messed up big time' in trying to tie Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks against the United States. The elder Bush points out that a State Department assessment released after the September 11 attacks lists 45 countries (including the United States) where al-Qaeda operated and notes that Iraq was not one of those countries."

Regardless of the truth, Dick Cheney is still telling people that "Saddam Hussein had 'long-established ties' with al-Qaida, an assertion that repeatedly has been challenged by some policy experts and member of Congress."

"'He was a patron of terrorism,' Cheney said of Hussein during a speech before The James Madison Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Florida. "He had long established ties with al-Qaida."

* Enron gouged Western customers for at least $1.1 Billion. excerpt:

"The records were uncovered by the same utility that last month released details of profanity-laced conversations in which Enron traders gleefully gloat about ripping off 'those poor grandmothers' in California during the power crisis.

"'Beyond a reasonable doubt now,' says Snohomish P.U.D. General Counsel Mike Gianunzio, 'we've got proof that Enron manipulated the Western markets and stole a billion dollars or more out of California and the Northwest.'"

* Poet and punk, George Tabb is reading from his new book of poetry at Staccato Lounge, 2006 S. 18th St. NW, WDC, June 17th - 9:00 pm. For those who don't know, Tabb a famous and at times infamous punk rocker, has been writing a first-person column for Maximum Rock n' Roll and The New York Press. Lead singer of the band Furious George and viewed by many as the David Sedaris of punk. Born in Brooklyn, mostly raised in Greenwich, Connecticut.

While attending the University of Florida, Tabb started one of Florida’s first hardcore bands, Roach Motel, who went on to tour with Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys. After departing college rather hastily, Tabb moved to New York where he continued to build his name as a punk rock icon, with bands like False Prophets, Letch Patrol, The Gynecologists, Iron Prostate and Furious George. He also served in The Ramones for a short time. Tabb still plays, writes and tours, not necessarily in that order. His new book, Playing right Field, A Jew Grows in Greenwich, is available from Soft Skull Press.

June 15, 2004

If there's no new wave then there's no fun

* Krugman on John Ashcroft, the worst attorney general, ever. excerpt:

"No question: John Ashcroft is the worst attorney general in history."
We can't tell directly whether Mr. Ashcroft's post-9/11 policies are protecting the United States from terrorist attacks. But a number of pieces of evidence suggest otherwise.
"But most important is the memo. Last week Mr. Ashcroft, apparently in contempt of Congress, refused to release a memo on torture his department prepared for the White House almost two years ago. Fortunately, his stonewalling didn't work: The Washington Post has acquired a copy of the memo and put it on its Web site.

"Much of the memo is concerned with defining torture down: if the pain inflicted on a prisoner is less than the pain that accompanies "serious physical injury, such as organ failure," it's not torture. Anyway, the memo declares that the federal law against torture doesn't apply to interrogations of enemy combatants "pursuant to [the president's] commander-in-chief authority." In other words, the president is above the law.

"The memo came out late Sunday. Mr. Ashcroft called a press conference yesterday — to announce an indictment against a man accused of plotting to blow up a shopping mall in Ohio. The timing was, I'm sure, purely coincidental."

* Pretty much everything you need to know about Mike Watt.

* In DC: Photographs by Sally Mann, at the Corcoran; Bobby Bare Jr. at Iota June 28; John Vanderslice at the Black Cat June 17; and Mclusky, also at the Black Cat, June 19.

June 14, 2004

I'm a dying breed, who still believes

* From the June 2004 edition of Harper's:

-- Days after McDonald's CEO died of a heart attack last April that the firm's ex-CEO for Japan did the same: 2

-- Amount NBC's parent company, General Electric, stands to earn from Iraq's reconstruction: $600,000,000

-- Seconds it took a Maryland consultant to pick a Diebold voting machine's lock and remove its memory card: 10

-- Number of times after prison-abuse photos aired in April that the President boasted of freeing Iraq of torture chambers: 13

* 10 ten conservative idiots:

1. George W. Reagan
And so at long last, George W. Bush has found a flag-draped coffin he doesn't mind standing next to. In fact, Our Great Leader was practically clambering into Reagan's casket last week in a vain effort to get some of that Gipper Goodness to rub off on him. Team Bush replaced their campaign website's home page with a tribute to the ex-president, and when I say "tribute," I of course mean a desperate attempt to confuse people into believing that Little George is the second coming of Saint Ronnie. Fat chance. Somehow I don't think we're going to be seeing Bush referred to in the history books as "The Great Communicator." (Note: the Bush campaign has taken down their tribute, but you can see it here.) Meanwhile, the Misadministration were out in force spreading the word. Colin Powell said "I think there's a similarity," between Bush and Reagan, Martin Anderson (chief domestic adviser in the Reagan White House) said "everything Bush talks about was something Ronald Reagan had tried to do," (what, Reagan wanted to invade Iraq? I thought he was selling Saddam weapons) and don't be surprised if all we hear from now till November is exhortations to "win one for the Gipper" by voting for Bush. Not that the Republicans would ever consider playing politics with Reagan's death, of course. But for all these wonderful comparisons, perhaps we should heed the words of someone who knew Ronald Reagan better than most - his son, Ron Jr. What's Ron's opinion? "My father crapped bigger ones than George Bush." Case closed.

2. The Ronathon
So what's it to be? How are we going to immortalize Ronnie, and what's the most inappropriate way of doing it? Yes, the Ronathon was in full effect last week as right-wingers competed to demonstrate how far they could get their noses up Dutch's backside. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky wants to replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif) wants Reagan on the $20, and Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) prefers to replace John F. Kennedy on the 50-cent piece. Meanwhile Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has suggested renaming the Pentagon to "the Ronald Reagan National Defense Building." (Seriously.) Some in Congress are even trying to get the 25-year waiting period removed so they can place a memorial on the National Mall. But why stop at the National Mall? Grover Norquist and the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project want to put a monument to the Gipper in every county in the United States (there's more than 3000 of them). I hope they're paying for it. And let's not forget putting Ronnie's head on Mount Rushmore, of course, which is a very popular suggestion. Tell you what, why don't we rename the Statue of Liberty after him - or better still, replace Lady Liberty's head with Ronald's, complete with cowboy hat? Or we could carefully set massive forest fires in the west which when viewed from space form a majestic flaming image of his smiling face. We could call it the Ronald Reagan Tree Is A Tree Clean Air Monument. Because you know, I bet that's what Ronald Reagan would have wanted.

Looking for another chance for someone else to be

* Smart bombs are worthless is intelligence is bad. excerpt:

"The American military launched some 50 air strikes designed to kill specific targets during the Iraq war, it emerged yesterday, but none of them found its mark. Instead the air strikes had a high civilian toll, according to military officials serving at the time.

"Until now only a few of the air strikes, such as the use of four 2,000lb 'bunker-buster' bombs in an attempt to kill Saddam Hussein at a farm in Masur on March 19, had been made public."
"Marc Garlasco, a former intelligence official during the war who now works for Human Rights Watch, described the campaign as an 'abject failure.'

"'We failed to kill the HVTs (high value targets) and instead killed civilians and engendered hatred and discontent in some of the population,' he told the New York Times."

* 26 Former U.S. officials oppose Bush.

"'We agreed that we had just lost confidence in the ability of the Bush administration to advocate for American interests or to provide the kind of leadership that we think is essential,' said William C. Harrop, the first President Bush's ambassador to Israel, and earlier to four African countries."

* Discourse.net on the August 1, 2002 OLC torture memo.

June 11, 2004

In one single moment your whole life can turn 'round

* While the police in this country continue to arrest and jail marijuana smokers at an alarming pace, police in Lisbon, Portugal plan to allow English soccer fans to smoke dope before Sunday’s crunch clash with France — to keep them calm.

Cops in Lisbon plan to crack down on drunk supporters while turning a blind eye to those spotted puffing on a spliff. Pot-smoking fans have been assured they will not be arrested, cautioned — or even have their drugs confiscated. Last night experts said the Portuguese police’s “Here We Blow” policy would reduce chances of a punch-up between rival fans.

lan Buffry of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance said: “If people are drinking they lose control, if they smoke cannabis they don’t. “Alcohol makes fans fight. But cannabis smokers will be shaking hands and singing along together.”

* A Song For the Moon
-- by Tina Celona

the moon is more beautiful
when i have gone to bed
with my poem
about the moon

with my beautiful poem
about the beautiful moon
in my poem

the real moon looks real
too real for my poem

the moon in my poem
is better
for poetry

the real moon of poetry
is better for me

* "I don't think the bible ever truly adjusted to electricity." -- Richard Brautigan

June 10, 2004

nodding out to rising bliss

* Art by Paul McDevitt: The origins of Paul McDevitt's work lie in the found imagery of disposable visual culture. Using an approach that is closer to contemporary dance music than the fine arts, these elements are sampled and then forced into a union using digital technology. The resulting structures function in two ways - firstly as a collage of recycled imagery, a nod to the barrage of visuals exposing us daily to a history of 20th century living, and secondly as an act of applying import to the throwaway thoughts of daily activity.

the city is a funny place something like a circus or a sewer

* From a December 23, 1985 dispatch by Hunter S.

"Most nights are slow in the politics business, but every once in a while you get a fast one, a blast of while treachery and weirdness that not even the hard boys can handle.

"It is an evil trade, on most days, and nobody smart will defend it...except maybe Ronald Reagan, who seems dumber than three mules. But he is, after all, the President. He can drop bombs on any town in the world and have anyone who bothers him arrested.

"That is not a bad gig, in this world, and it raises certain questions about dumbness. It is like calling Herschel Walker a fool for earning a million dollars a year for doing nothing at all.

"There is no need for the president of the United States to be smart.

"He can be hovering on the grim cusp of brain death and still be the most powerful man in the world. He can arrest the chief of the Mafia and sell the Washington Monument to Arabs and nobody will question his

* Gore Videl interviewed. excerpt:

"I remember years ago, Time magazine, in one of its numerous attacks on me, on my first book of essays, which was heaven knows when, 30, 40 years ago, I refer to the American empire and things that we were doing that were not very good across the world, and I referred to the empire. And Time magazine dismissed me. It was an awful review. I pointed out that we had troops and so on in over 1,000 other places around the world. That seems imperial to me, but there we are. Ever since then, I have loved the word, because it just drives them crazy.

"But we are a world empire, hated by all, and not to mention the least, our own people, since we don't have any money left for anything. So, you started to go somewhere and I had written about Bush that he's like a kind of crazy kid in a dream, and he thinks he's invulnerable, and he's marching along through a dry forest, and he's lighting matches, dropping them, watching the fires, dropping another one. I had always assumed, like all good Americans, that he was a hypocrite, particularly on religious matters. Suddenly, it began to hit me, he may be another Reagan. He may really believe these are the end of times. What difference does it make? The world's going to end anyway. Why save the environment? Save it for what, you know? We're all going to be upstairs as sunbeams for Jesus. If he's one of those – well, those of us who can afford it will emigrate, and the others will be with Jesus in a higher sphere.

June 9, 2004

The Coffin is Coming, The Coffin is Coming

* The coffin that President Bush and his administration want you to see is on its way to Washington. While the Republicans co-op Reagan's death for political gain, the coffins that President Bush and his administration don't want you to see -- those of the dead Americans returning from the administrations various wars -- continue to stream into the United States.

If Bush really respected Reagan, wouldn't he at least [give the appearance that he might] consider Nancy Reagan's plea to President Bush that he support stem cell research, rather than dismiss it outright during her initial week of mourning?

* Enough of Reagan: How 'bout we play Craigslist matchmaker for a moment.

You see, this "incredibly well-educated Ivy League kind of lawyer, with a brilliant future, a family, an incredible career" is looking for "for a hot asian woman to basically just go out and do fun things with me, chat, relax, and be my fuck buddy. In exchange she'll get an education in the ways of Washington and just the experience of good company."

Good luck you might say, unless you scan some more of these hilarious ads and come across this ad, titled "I like lawyers," written by a 37 year old asian women, who "loves looking at a cool lawyer as he strides about the street in his fine suit and shiny shoes. If you are such a man, I would love to hear from you!"

They would get along famously, don't you think.

* The Washington Post rails the Bush administration:

"The Bush administration assures the country, and the world, that it is complying with U.S. and international laws banning torture and maltreatment of prisoners. But, breaking with a practice of openness that had lasted for decades, it has classified as secret and refused to disclose the techniques of interrogation it is using on foreign detainees at U.S. prisons at Guantanamo Bay and in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a matter of grave concern because the use of some of the methods that have been reported in the press is regarded by independent experts as well as some of the Pentagon's legal professionals as illegal. The administration has responded that its civilian lawyers have certified its methods as proper -- but it has refused to disclose, or even provide to Congress, the justifying opinions and memos.

"This week, thanks again to an independent press, we have begun to learn the deeply disturbing truth about the legal opinions that the Pentagon and the Justice Department seek to keep secret. According to copies leaked to several newspapers, they lay out a shocking and immoral set of justifications for torture. In a paper prepared last year under the direction of the Defense Department's chief counsel, and first disclosed by the Wall Street Journal, the president of the United States was declared empowered to disregard U.S. and international law and order the torture of foreign prisoners. Moreover, interrogators following the president's orders were declared immune from punishment. Torture itself was narrowly redefined, so that techniques that inflict pain and mental suffering could be deemed legal. All this was done as a prelude to the designation of 24 interrogation methods for foreign prisoners -- the same techniques, now in use, that President Bush says are humane but refuses to disclose.

"There is no justification, legal or moral, for the judgments made by Mr. Bush's political appointees at the Justice and Defense departments. Theirs is the logic of criminal regimes, of dictatorships around the world that sanction torture on grounds of 'national security.' For decades the U.S. government has waged diplomatic campaigns against such outlaw governments -- from the military juntas in Argentina and Chile to the current autocracies in Islamic countries such as Algeria and Uzbekistan -- that claim torture is justified when used to combat terrorism. The news that serving U.S. officials have officially endorsed principles once advanced by Augusto Pinochet brings shame on American democracy -- even if it is true, as the administration maintains, that its theories have not been put into practice. Even on paper, the administration's reasoning will provide a ready excuse for dictators, especially those allied with the Bush administration, to go on torturing and killing detainees.

"Perhaps the president's lawyers have no interest in the global impact of their policies -- but they should be concerned about the treatment of American servicemen and civilians in foreign countries. Before the Bush administration took office, the Army's interrogation procedures -- which were unclassified -- established this simple and sensible test: No technique should be used that, if used by an enemy on an American, would be regarded as a violation of U.S. or international law. Now, imagine that a hostile government were to force an American to take drugs or endure severe mental stress that fell just short of producing irreversible damage; or pain a little milder than that of 'organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.' What if the foreign interrogator of an American 'knows that severe pain will result from his actions' but proceeds because causing such pain is not his main objective? What if a foreign leader were to decide that the torture of an American was needed to protect his country's security? Would Americans regard that as legal, or morally acceptable? According to the Bush administration, they should."
All houses dream in blueprints

Three Poems by Charles Simic:

Paradise Motel

Millions were dead; everybody was innocent.
I stayed in my room. The President
Spoke of war as of a magic love potion.
My eyes were opened in astonishment.
In a mirror my face appeared to me
Like a twice-canceled postage stamp.

I lived well, but life was awful.
there were so many soldiers that day,
So many refugees crowding the roads.
Naturally, they all vanished
With a touch of the hand.
History licked the corners of its bloody mouth.

On the pay channel, a man and a woman
Were trading hungry kisses and tearing off
Each other's clothes while I looked on
With the sound off and the room dark
Except for the screen where the color
Had too much red in it, too much pink.

Private Eye

To find clues where there are none,
That's my job now, I said to the
Dictionary on my desk. The world beyond
My window has grown illegible,
And so has the clock on the wall.
I may strike a match to orient myself

In the meantime, there's the heart
Stopping hush as the building
Empties, the elevators stop running,
The grains of dust stay put.
Hours of quiescent sleuthing
Before the Madonna with the mop

Shuffles down the long corridor
Trying doorknobs, turning mine.
That's just little old me sweating
In the customer's chair, I'll say.
Keep your nose out of it.
I'm not closing up till he breaks.

Hotel Insomnia

I liked my little hole,
Its window facing a brick wall.
Next door there was a piano.
A few evenings a month
a crippled old man came to play
"My Blue Heaven."

Mostly, though, it was quiet.
Each room with its spider in heavy overcoat
Catching his fly with a web
Of cigarette smoke and revery.
So dark,
I could not see my face in the shaving mirror.

At 5 A.M. the sound of bare feet upstairs.
The "Gypsy" fortuneteller,
Whose storefront is on the corner,
Going to pee after a night of love.
Once, too, the sound of a child sobbing.
So near it was, I thought
For a moment, I was sobbing myself.

June 8, 2004

You have a devastating point of view

* J.C. Christian on Reagan:

"Now is not a time for mourning; it's a time for celebration, because Ronald Reagan is with Jesus. My guess he's sitting on a golden throne right now regaling the hosts of heaven with folksy stories about his Hollywood days.

"Scattered throughout his audience are people whose lives he touched; folks he helped send to heaven. Guys like the homeless man who froze to death as the Gipper was telling the world that the poor had only themselves to blame.

"I'm sure that the thirty-two women who, in May of 1982, were tortured, raped, and then thrown from helicopters by the Honduran Secret Police are sitting at Ronnie's feet as he spins his yarns. Certainly they're grateful that the Gipper's Ambassador, John Negraponte, lied to investigators about his knowledge of the incident, thereby sparing their families the heartache of knowing their wives and daughters were dead.

"The grandfatherly Reagan is surely the object of affection for the countless children he helped send to Jesus. There's Qadaffi's daughter who was killed when the Gipper tried to assassinate the Libyan leader with a missile--she certainly recognizes how vital the Gulf of Sidra is to American interests.

"And we should not forget the many Mayan children who were killed by the Guatemalan Army as their villages were razed. They probably enjoyed being swung by their ankles--at least until their tiny skulls were crushed on impact with nearby poles. These kids understand it was all part of the "positive improvement" the Administration said was being made by our surrogate army in that Central American nation.

"But then again, maybe none of these people are in the same place as Ronnie. He may trading tales with other great Americans like Patrick Edward Connor, James Forsyth and John Chivington, instead.

"posted by Gen. JC Christian, Patriot"

* There is a whole new look at arm sasser. check it out.

* Support he who can stop Bush: A friend is sponsoring a Kerry fundraiser Thursday June 10 from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm at Staccato Music Hall & Lounge, located just north of Dupont Circle on 18th and Florida Avenue (2006 18th Street). As you know, The Bush-Cheney reelection campaign has a war chest of $170 million or more and is using it to construct its attack machine against John Kerry. Without your contributions to the Kerry campaign, we will not be able to combat these attack ads in key battleground states. Contribute what you can at the door ($ 25.00 min. donation – checks only, please).
The River is More Beautiful Without the Bridge

* Everybody's weighing in: Morrissey on Reagan's death. excerpt:

"MANCHESTER music legend Morrissey sparked controversy when he announced Ronald Reagan's death live on stage during a concert - and then declared he wished it was George Bush who had died instead.

"Thousands of fans at Dublin Castle, in Ireland, cheered when the ex-Smiths frontman made the announcement that the former American president, who had battled with Alzheimer's Disease, had passed away.

"And an even bigger cheer followed when Morrissey - who is no stranger to controversy - then said he wished it had been the current President, George W Bush, who had died.

"Fan Tony Murray said: 'He commented about the death of Ronald Reagan and when he wished that it was George W instead the crowd went wild.'

* Make sure to read this Billmon post on Mary L. Walker: Christian, Republican, Patriot, Torture Attorney.

* Krugman on the tax cuts of Reagan and Bush. excerpt:

"Over the course of this week we'll be hearing a lot about Ronald Reagan, much of it false. A number of news sources have already proclaimed Mr. Reagan the most popular president of modern times. In fact, though Mr. Reagan was very popular in 1984 and 1985, he spent the latter part of his presidency under the shadow of the Iran-Contra scandal. Bill Clinton had a slightly higher average Gallup approval rating, and a much higher rating during his last two years in office.

"We're also sure to hear that Mr. Reagan presided over an unmatched economic boom. Again, not true: the economy grew slightly faster under President Clinton, and, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the after-tax income of a typical family, adjusted for inflation, rose more than twice as much from 1992 to 2000 as it did from 1980 to 1988.

"But Ronald Reagan does hold a special place in the annals of tax policy, and not just as the patron saint of tax cuts. To his credit, he was more pragmatic and responsible than that; he followed his huge 1981 tax cut with two large tax increases. In fact, no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people. This is not a criticism: the tale of those increases tells you a lot about what was right with President Reagan's leadership, and what's wrong with the leadership of George W. Bush."

June 7, 2004

This summer I hear the drumming

* 66 Things to Think about when flying to or from Reagan National Airport. [via skimble]. excerpt:

"The firing of the air traffic controllers, winnable nuclear war, recallable nuclear missiles, trees that cause pollution, Elliott Abrams lying to Congress, ketchup as a vegetable, colluding with Guatemalan thugs, pardons for F.B.I. lawbreakers, voodoo economics, budget deficits, toasts to Ferdinand Marcos, public housing cutbacks, redbaiting the nuclear freeze movement, James Watt.

"Getting cozy with Argentine fascist generals, tax credits for segregated schools, disinformation campaigns, 'homeless by choice,' Manuel Noriega, falling wages, the HUD scandal, air raids on Libya, 'constructive engagement' with apartheid South Africa, United States Information Agency blacklists of liberal speakers, attacks on OSHA and workplace safety, the invasion of Grenada, assassination manuals, Nancy's astrologer.

"Drug tests, lie detector tests, Fawn Hall, female appointees (8 percent), mining harbors, the S&L scandal, 239 dead U.S. troops in Beirut, Al Haig 'in control,' silence on AIDS, food-stamp reductions, Debategate, White House shredding, Jonas Savimbi, tax cuts for the rich, 'mistakes were made.'"
Why Didn't I Ask Why Didn't I Ask

* Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan, a 1970 essay by J.G. Ballard.

* Top 10 Conservative Idiots. excerpt:

1. George W. Bush
Remember Ken Lay? George Bush doesn't. When Enron imploded back in 2002 (more on that later in this issue), Our Great Leader pretended that he had no idea who this so-called "Ken Lay" was (see Idiots 50) despite the fact that Ken Lay was one of his best buddies. And now he's at it again - since it was announced that the Pentagon's top man in Iraq Ahmed Chalabi was reportedly spying for the Iranians, Bush has done his level best to "distance himself" from his former pal. At a news conference last week he said, "My meetings with him were very brief. I think I met with him at the State of the Union and just, kind of, working through the rope line, and he might have come with a group of leaders." Oh really? I guess you must have been shitfaced every time he exercised his Oval Office privileges then. Or perhaps you didn't notice him sitting behind your wife at the State of the Union Address this year. Or perhaps it slipped your mind that you've been paying his group hundreds of thousands of dollars a month for the last several years (see Idiots 145). In fact, it kinda makes you wonder whether Bush will be denying the existence of Donald Rumsfeld before long. "Hmm, yeah, the name rings a bell. I think I may have spoken with him once or twice..."

2. The White House Mystery Drunk
CIA chief George Tenet quit last week, and the question on everyone's lips is "Did he fall or was he pushed?" Why the CIA director would resign "for personal reasons" five months before a general election is a conundrum to most people, and obviously we shall see how this plays out politically in the coming weeks. But Tenet's resignation wasn't the biggest conundrum of the week. Since it was revealed that Ahmed Chalabi passed secrets to the Iranians, a fascinating guessing game has gripped Washington: who was the mystery drunk that told Chalabi that the CIA had broken the Iranian spy service's secret communications code? The New York Times reported last week that in a cable to Tehran, an Iranian official "recounted how Mr. Chalabi had said that one of 'them' - a reference to an American - had revealed the code-breaking operation, the officials said. The Iranian reported that Mr. Chalabi said the American was drunk."

* Robert Quine has passed away. No additional details available at this time. RIP. Quine is best known for his work with Richard Hell, as well as for playing with Lou Reed and Matthew Sweet. [via chromewaves]

A 1997 interview of Quine. excerpt:

Q: What led you out to the New York scene?

A: I started seeing the stirring of things happening here. I saw Suicide in '74 and it was pretty horrifying. I saw one of Television's first gigs. They were really ragged and sloppy. They were all playing cheap instruments, which I liked. You could hear there was a Velvet Underground thing there. I quit the tax job then and decided that I was going to play in a band. I answered ads in the Village Voice and went through two days of auditioning for bands. It was the most devastating thing. They were bad, terrible. They hated me because I didn't have long hair. By then I was in Brooklyn and drank my way through that summer. I stopped when I got sick of that and got a job at the Strand bookstore, which was a little better than the tax job.

I got sick of the Strand and applied for a job at a place called Cinemabilia- movie posters and books- around '75. Just by chance, the people working there were Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell. Within a year, I got to be good friends with Hell. We'd talk about music. His biggest influences were Rolling Stones Now, Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home and Basement Tapes, the Stooges, the Velvet Underground. I would bring in tapes to work with old '50s stuff- I know some really surreal things that are wilder than anything that happened in the '60s. He really appreciated that, seeing where my roots were.

June 4, 2004

Life stinks, I can't think, I hate the Kinks, I love the Kinks

artistic selfishness
--- by Charles Bukowski

what's genus?
I don't know
but I do know that
the difference between a madman adn a
professional is
a pro does as well as he can within what
he has set out to do
and a madman
does exceptionally well at what
he can't help

now I am looking
into this unshaded lightbulb
at 11:37 p.m. on a Monday night
tiny names
Van Gogh


in this cage some songs are born
--- by Charles Bukowski

I write poetry, worry, smile,
continue for a while
just like most of us
just like all of us;
sometimes I want to hug all
Mankind on earth
and say,
god damn all this that they've brought down
upon us,
we are brave and good
even though we are selfish
and kill each other and
kill ourselves,
we are the people
born to kill and die and weep in dark rooms
and love in dark rooms,
and wait, and
wait and wait and wait.
we are the people.
we are nothing

The Luxury of Sitting
--- by Chris Stroffolino
As if life is the box at the wharf
for those who need surgery to feel--become splendid
and grateful as the wave's happy sacrifice.
Ah, the power we have when the water recedes!
No more the voyeur borrowing moon
now that the jackhammers have peeled our clothes
and the rooster's caught redhanded
by the sun that seconds its smile
if you stoop to think about it
near the grass factory where invitations incubate.
On the other side, no one can see you.
The reason: they think it's their duty to be attentive
and cannot live the lie of laziness.
We are animals in search of whiffs or flames.
The precise ants and out of tune bulls.
Dualism sends urgent warnings, reminders.
A fool is a formletter but there's a still hill somewhere
and it takes two or time to find it.

June 3, 2004

Turn me loose, set me free, somewhere in the middle of Montana

* The Idiot Son of a Asshole, a flash project about Bush. [via jilly]

* The Lying Game: An A-Z of the Iraq war and its aftermath, focusing on misrepresentation, manipulation, and mistakes. excerpt:

"F The claim that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction could be deployed within forty-five minutes of an order was a key plank of the Government's pro-war argument and appeared in its September dossier of 2002. We now know that the discredited claim - which applied only to battlefield munitions in any case - came from the party of the caretaker prime minister of Iraq: Iyad Allawi."

"P The Pentagon hawks, Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz and senior adviser Richard Perle took their country to war on a false prospectus."

"R Karl Rove, president Bush's political adviser, is accused of 'outing' the CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame amid the furore over the Niger uranium claim. A grand jury is investigating the leak."

"S Bush and Blair insist there will be a transfer of 'full sovereignty' to a caretaker government. But the appointment of Iyad Allawi, who has close US and British links, as Prime Minister raises questions over its independence."

"Y Yesterday, denials by Dick Cheney that he no longer had any association with the Halliburton oil services company, where he was formerly CEO, were under new scrutiny."

"Z Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, accused of beheading the American Nick Berg , was said to be the link between Saddam and Bin Laden. No such link has been proved."

* Kevin J. Shay's Democratic Underground column concludes:

"Americans today are bigger targets for the growing number of terrorists because of the lies of Bush & Co. We are not safer because of those lies.

"If Clinton got impeached by the Republican-controlled U.S. House over a lie that killed no one, Bush should be banished from the country for life for his lies. But that won't happen because Republican hypocrites control Congress. Such is among the many problems when Americans allow one party to dominate our political functions.

"I'm old enough to clearly remember the lies of Reagan and Bush Sr., many of which were more "honest" lies - if there is such a thing - than the present filth emanating from the White House. Reagan Iran-Contra player Oliver North was honest enough to admit he lied to Congress during that scandal. Today's Bush administration not only refuses to admit its lies but spins them around as a positive course for our nation and world. John Dean, White House counsel under Nixon, wrote in 2003 that Bush's lies "are almost never justifiable... They are typically of the most serious kind - lies that misinform the public in such a way as to disrupt the proper functioning of the democratic process."

"I lived through Nixon and Reagan and Bush Sr., and I'm sure I'll live through Bush Jr., even if he steals another election.

"But I refuse to observe the lies told by Bush and not raise my voice against them. I refuse to go along with this policy. I will risk being branded unpatriotic and worse by Bush-supporting liars and hypocrites.

"The future of my kids playing in the tub where the president who reportedly could not tell a lie bathed depends on it."

June 2, 2004

* Happy Birthday to Charlie Watts

"Charlie is incredibly honest, brutally honest. Lying bores him. He just sees right through you to start with. And he's not even that interested in knowing, he just does. That's Charlie Watts. He just knows you immediately. If he likes you, he'll tell you things, give you things, and you'll leave feeling like you've been talking to Jesus Christ. They say he's a dying breed, but with people like Charlie, they must always have been rare. Genuinely eccentric in the sense of having his own way of doing things. Just to put it on a very physical plane: At the end of the show, he'll leave the stage, and the sirens will be going, limousines waiting, and Charlie will walk back to his drumkit and change the position of his drumsticks by 2 millimeters. Then he'll look at it. Then if it looks good, he'll leave. He has this preoccupation with aesthetics, this vision of how things should be that nobody will ever know about except Charlie. The drums are about to be stripped down and put in the back of a truck, and he CANNOT leave if he's got it in his mind that he's left his sticks in a displeasing way. It's so Zen. So you see what I mean about who the hell can I possibly play with after this guy with such a sense of space and touch. The only word I can use for Charlie is deep. - Keith Richards, 1988

* Jessica Cutler, aka washingtonienne, talks with the Guardian.

* Not surprising: Enron traders caught on tape.excerpt:

"Four years after California's disastrous experiment with energy deregulation, Enron energy traders can be heard – on audiotapes obtained by CBS News – gloating and praising each other as they helped bring on, and cash-in on, the Western power crisis.

"'He just fucks California,' says one Enron employee. 'He steals money from California to the tune of about a million.'

"'Will you rephrase that?' asks a second employee.

"'OK, he, um, he arbitrages the California market to the tune of a million bucks or two a day,' replies the first.

"The tapes, from Enron's West Coast trading desk, also confirm what CBS reported years ago: that in secret deals with power producers, traders deliberately drove up prices by ordering power plants shut down."

My ideals have got me on the run

* The Art of Denial. excerpt:

"Since the launch of 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' fourteen months ago, over 800 American troops have been killed and thousands more injured. Not that you'd know it from the conservative pundits and politicians.

"In their world, no one is dying, and America is building infrastructure, schools and hospitals. Conservatives look at Iraq through rose-colored glasses, all the while refusing to acknowledge the reality on the ground, and blaming liberals and Democrats for 'politicizing' the war.

"Conservatives have also politicized the war, but in a different way. When the footage of Nick Berg being murdered by terrorists was released to the world on May 11, the conservative pundits quickly latched onto that horrible footage to justify war.

"The footage was also used to minimize photographs released from Abu Ghraib prison, photographs showing Iraqi prisoners being sexually abused by American guards. While the photographs from Abu Ghraib were bad, many a conservative pundit said, they were not as bad as the footage of Nick Berg's murder.

"To conservatives, the death of one American at the hands of terrorists is bad, but the deaths of almost 800 Americans because of war is something not to be discussed. The pro-war conservatives know that showing any images of flag-covered caskets returning to the United States could change public opinion of the war. And they don't want the war to end.
"It's time for conservatives to remove the rose-tinted spectacles and recognize the reality of war. They wanted war more than anyone, these conservative pundits and politicians. And it's about time we stopped sweeping its ugly reality under the rug."

* New edition of the Land-Grant College Review features stories by Arthur Bradford, Alan Chuese, and Nelly Reifer. Pick yours up today.

* On this day in 1976, John Sebastian's themesong for Welcome Back, Kotter, hit number one.

June 1, 2004

Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself

* George Saunders on How to Leave Iraq, in three easy steps. excerpt:

"To implement this exit strategy, we will have to practice running quickly. It is further recommended that, while running, the eyes be cast down, to avoid witnessing any last-minute people trying to kill us. We will have to establish excellent communications so that the moment that final person begins dying, we can all begin running quickly at the same time, eyes cast down, quickly, to our vehicles, to get to the airport and get out of the country.

"This exit strategy will demand a high level of coordination, dedication, and planning.

"But our leaders have already shown the way by showing that, if one has a vision, and refuses to betray that vision by modifying it, or becoming distracted by small details, such as, for example, the confusing data emanating from the non-theoretical world, filled with actual people, pets, clothes on clotheslines, nuanced loyalties, etc., mountains can be moved, nations can be changed, great things can be accomplished.

"It is clear that the fate of Iraq now rests in the hands of Iraqis.

"People of Iraq, I say to you:

"Stop trying to kill us, so we can leave. But also, do not fear. We are in it for the long haul, although we cannot stay with you indefinitely. No, as soon as you stop trying to kill us, believe us, you will never see us again. Therefore, trust us, people of Iraq, have faith, we assure you: As long as you continue trying to kill us, we will never abandon you."

* 12 questions for President Bush.

* "I have nothing to say / and I am saying it / and that is poetry / as I needed it" --John Cage
Father logic sometimes gets cosmic, you know

* From an interview of Bruce Cockburn, published in this months issue of The Sun.

Interviewer: Officials at the World Bank and the IMF also say, "We're lifting countries out of poverty. We're helping them to join the world market."

Cockburn: The short answer to that is: "Bullshit." The longer, more truthful answer is that there are some benefits for some people. It's just being done the wrong way. People's choices are being taken away. The issue is not whether business is being conducted in Third World countries, but how it's being conducted. At the moment, corporations control everything: scientific research, the movement of populations, political choices -- and this is in supposedly free countries. Through pollutants and genetic manipulation of food, corporations control what we eat and the hormonal structure of our bodies. It's all about greed. It's a scam, yet it's making some people comfortable, so they get away with it. Nations that take exception to it are made very uncomfortable for as long as it takes to get them to play ball.

* "Each instant is a place we've never been." -- Mark Strand

* A note from an American journalist in Baghdad. excerpt:

"This is not to engender sympathy for me specifically but to increase your understanding of how journalists have to work here. You can’t just call up a source — unless you know them well. And even then, there’s a good chance the phone won’t work. The threat of capture or worse is very real. Two Japanese journalists were killed yesterday trying to do their job. An NBC crew was captured in Fallujah earlier this week but — mercifully — released unharmed. There are a lot of kidnappings and detention going on that aren’t reported for very valid reasons: If journalists are captured, there needs to be some time to allow the negotiations to work, and also, no one knows what story the journalists have told their captors. If they say they are Canadian, and it’s all over the news that they’re Americans, it will go very badly for them.

"So to the people who think they’re being fed a stream of lies from the press corps here, I’m going to disagree. To those who think the reporters aren’t aggressive enough in sticking it to The Man and reporting on the abuses, you have no idea what it’s like trying to get accurate and verifiable information here. Often it just doesn’t exist, and you can’t just take Iraqis’ words for it. They’re very passionate and have very strong opinions about the current life in Iraq and frankly, they’ll exaggerate, repeat and amplify gossip until it’s conventional wisdom, even though it has only a fleeting resemblance to the truth.

"To those who think that reporters aren’t supporting the war effort enough and 'refuse' to report good news, well, here’s a shocker: There isn’t much good news to report. The security situation is growing worse. The power is still bad (three hours on, three hours off, or so.) Major U.S. contractors are bypassing Iraqi companies, leading to growing resentment. What kinda sorta good news there is is being pretty well covered. The (maybe) truce between Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army and U.S. forces in the south, the coming together, however shakily, of a caretaker government. I refuse to reprint the press releases that pour out of the CPA on any given day. Most of the “good news” they release has to do with passing out free soccer balls to kids. Is this what should be reported when U.S. troops and Iraqis are dying every day?
"My point in all of this is that the reporters I’ve met so far are smart, talented and very good at what they do. Many of them most emphatically do not stay in the Green Zone. Most live and run around Baghdad in constant fear for their lives. All of us are trying to a do a job and stay safe at the same time, which is the same thing Iraqis are trying to do every day. And like Iraqis, the journalists I’ve met are frustrated with the security situation."