"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Bad Dreams

I had two very disturbing dreams last night. In the first I was a young father having a backyard birthday party for a little daughter, when suddenly air-raid sirens started going off and we watched a massive arial battle commence above our heads. Planes of many different kinds we zigzagging and dogfighting, and then big planes were streaking through, dropping all-white-clad paracheuters across our neighborhood. Men with guns and masks and bad intentions. "Are they going to kill us Daddy?" Trying to be brave. Get the kids in the basement. Stress. Weakness. Terror. Why don't I own a gun? I woke up seconds later, palatably afraid.

The second dream was of a smilar military nature, but had a more structured plot. I can't recall the details, but it was also highly agitating. It's been a while since I've had bonafide nightmares like that. Am I finally suffering the feedback from the cuture of fear?

Also, it must now officially be spring: I have misquito bites. Any guesses as to how long before the West Nile media distress machine ramps up? Oh God, another flu-like virus that can kill people with feeble immune systems! Damn you Saddam!

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Which Way From Here?

People are quitting. As the war in Iraq seems to be winding down (at least the conventional part of it anyway), witness the fragmentation and dissolusion of the anti-war movement that sprung to life in the run up to conflict. Recently there's been discussion among the more progressive technorati about the validity of protest, hope, and the destructive nature of opposing "certitudes" in politics. Here's a sample:

I also stopped supporting the peace protests when I felt they did little good. And I won't attend the ones this weekend because, to me, they lack focus and discipline. Are we protesting to support Iraq? Or against Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Ashcroft? Are we for UN? Or against the Patriot Act? And before you say the lines are clear on all these issues, they aren't. The 'peace movement' needs to make a decision about what the fight is, develop an effective voice, and then stick with it.

On the one hand I must aggree, and I've been stressing the "develop and effective voice" point for a while. On the other hand, I find the attitude taken here to be quite diseartening. What I find disheartening is that Shelly (the author) has drawn a box around the "peace movement" and then difinitively placed herself outside it, as have many self-identifying progressive people I know. The message is that maybe we'll come back out if God forbid things get really bad or better yet y'all get your act together, but until then I'm staying home. Partly this is due to the nature of the people with juice in the peace movement -- they tend toward dogma -- but mostly it's because this is the easy thing to do, to abdicate responsibility. This is the thing which requires no work, no effort, no sweat, no arguments or struggle. It is a position of material and emotional privilige, predicated on the ability to comfortably abide by the current order.

This is the consumer mindset at work in politics. "Gee whiz, I don't like any of the current flavors of Peace Movement on the market just now, so I guess I'll just wait and see if they come out with something new next quarter. Maybe I'll submit some on-line feedback to help the process along!" I'm being harsh, and I'm not exempting myself from this criticism in any way shape or form, but this wait-and-see attitude will be the utter end to us. Lambasting ANSWER for not being more on-message (as I've done in the past) really is a waste of time and energy. I mean, when was the last time you got 100,000+ people to do anything? We the throughtful, less certitude-full, less likely to ramble off into Marxist rhetoric people need to pick up the slack.

However, I don't think there's a one of us that doesn't want the best for the people of Iraq right now, regardless of the events leading to this moment. Agreeing to this one point is not selling out, or going over to the enemy, is it? And it's a start, a follow up to a belief that there's hope.

And then there's this, which is highly debatable. How much are you (or I) really willing to give up to see that the Iraqi people get "the best"? This is not a pointless question. At what point do we put our money where our mouth is on this one? It's very easy to say you want the best for someone when it's not going to cost you anything.

But then again it is costing us quite a lot. It's costing us billions of dollars and it's costing us allies and it's costing us in terms of world opinion. These costs (deficets, geopolitical factionalization, decreased global security) won't really sting for a few years, maybe even a few decades, and so they're easy to ignore in the face of cheering crowds served up for TV. It's like smoking and cancer. As the carcinogens take root, we tell ourselves we'll quit tomorrow, next month, next year. "Hey I still feel good. No reason to stop now. Come on, let's be hopeful (cough cough cough), by the time I'm 60 they'll have a cure for cancer."

No, they won't. It's time we realized this. I'm not trying to attack Shelly for what she's saying. Most of my fury comes from the fact that I've heard her words echo around in my own head time and time again. It hits close to home. But we need to start seriously working on alternatives to the current swing of the pendulum, or it may be too late to turn back the tide.

At the moment, it's not looking good. I'm incensed by the plattitude/critical thought ratio among people I would like to believe are in "my" camp, and don't even get me started on the rest of the country. I've caught myself slipping into -- or passively aggreeing with -- elitest anti-plebian commentary far too often as of late to be really comfortable believing in my countrymen. But this is too damn important to pull the "screw those Ugly Americans" card. The future forks are either turning this country around or jumping ship, and I don't believe that running off into a green corner of utopia and living out the time between now and the end of the world in relative peace is a course of action I'll ever be cool with. If it ends up going that way, I'm going to be one bitter-ass ex-patriot.

I'm not being mellodramatic. From where I'm sitting, a good chunk of my future is riding on how this all plays out, and I don't like the crowd who are setting the course at the moment. Case in point, as hospitals and museums were looted, Marines protected the Ministry of Oil. The best possible spin on this is that we didn't have enough manpower to protect everything, and the Ministry of Oil is sure to be vital to the reconstruction effort. However, that begs the question of why don't they have the additional manpower to protect hospitals, museums, neighborhoods, etc? Why didn't we execute the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force? Why didn't we plan to have 3x as many people on the ground to keep the pressure cooker from exploding when the regime crumbled?

These are legitimate questions, and the only possible answers I can see are that Team Bush is A) incompitant, or B) willing to place personal/political concerns ahead of doing the right thing. Looking at the history and the resume's in play, I lean to the latter. And while I'm all for retaining one's sanity and not getting dragged down into the rhetorical mire that this polarizing course of events has created, I don't feel that I can simply float above it all and reasonably expect a positive outcome.

We can't quit now. We can't abdicate. We can't let someone else take care of this. Have you seen the poll numbers? Who the fuck do you think is going to come to your rescue other than your self? Ain't that America.

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I got a response to a question I posted to a more established personage online, asking about what one aught to do with ones life at a time like this. I talked about this a little last night with new friend (Reed/Portland Connection) Kathrine Sharp. Anyway, the advice that came through was good old human poetry:

Best advice I can give you is to seek the truth, fantasize, know the difference, do art, make love, eat good food, hang with good people, listen to music, practice non-violence, sing even if you can't carry a tune, speak the truth you find, travel, look around you, never be afraid to change your mind.

The whole think is here. While at first I thought this smacked a little too much of the "random acts of kindness and senseless beauty" that I was raised on back in good old Eugene (saw that bumper sticker everywhere), I gave it a second read and I really liked some of the practicals, especially the parts about fantasy, travel, and being able to change ones mind. It's still a little inspecific, but when it comes to asking strangers what to do, this is about as good as it gets.

All this makes me even more want to start meeting with people to talk about a vision, a future, a life worth living. Maybe I'll start asking around, see if other people are interested in meeting once a week or so.

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Daily Optimism/Pessimism

It seems like more and more people in my age bracket are talking about a vision for out generation, something that's authentically different and authentically ours. As I was drifting off to sleep last night I entertained a breif fantasy of starting a simple discussion group, pulling in people with different skills and backgrounds, and doing some salon-style meetings to just get all the thinking out in the open. The notion kind of excites me.

We need something to hang our hats on, dammit. In case you hadn't heard the latest war news -- a telling bit of irony -- one of the only buildings being protected from looters in Baghdad is the Ministry of oil. From this Knight Ridder report:

At the Ministry of Oil, Marines had set up a machine gun and barbed wire to prevent further pillaging. A tank sat behind a steel fence. A handwritten sign next to a machine gun nest said "Looters Lane."

"Why do the Americans go to the Oil Ministry and not the hospital, not the college?" asked Khader Alias, 45, a musician. "They must do something. Believe me, all Iraqi people are not like this."

The Ministry of Industry burned as looters ran off with furniture.

Nice to see we've got our priorities straight. Congradulations liberated people! It's almost enough to make me feel like grumpy bear in this comic by my old friend Eric Murray, escept it's a real spring day and I had encredible brunch at Enids. It's remarkable how good the early brunch vibe is at that place in contrast to the snide hipster one-upmanship that reigns throughout the night. Little bohemian families with little bohemian cherubs, mismatched serving-ware, flowers on every table, copious coffee, good music and lots of freindly faces. Strawberry and Brie cheese pancakes...

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I kind of got a kick out of this religious cartoon. Of course, as a non-believer, I simply enjoy it for the comic value. Still, it's a larf. Got the link off of JT's site, which is back in action and long-winded as ever. Shazam!

For other lovely bite-sized media, try www.freedomads.org. Here's my favorite so far. Thanks to reader Paul Feine for sending the link. Great stuff! Seemlingly connected to the essay contest I linked to a while back.

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Another View

Here's another view on the Iraqi's pull down the statue thing the other day. I have to say, if this is an accurate arial shot, then the propaganda machine is in full swing. I was watching some live satelite feed from Baghdad with my oatmeal this morning, and part of what they had was footage of teenage boys running around smashing just about everything. One of the kids had an RPG launcher and was using it to break windows. Good thing he had no ammo, I suppose.

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Best. Rant. Ever.

This gem popped up in the comments over on Daily Kos in a thread about the Baseball Hall of Fame cancelling an event commemerating the anneversary of Bull Dhuram because Susan Sarandon's statements "endanger the troops."

What rankles me is the non-stop, continuous nature of this thing. If it's not the Halliburton scandal, the AWOL scandal, "with us or against us", "crusade", "axis of evil", "WMD", cutting veterans benefits on the first day of the war, nominating crazy super-loon judges to important positions, defunding the 911 commission, providing virtually no terror defense funds to blue states, fake rioting to stop vote counting, rewarding the fake rioters with government jobs, trying to drill in protected lands, the fucking patriot act, getting caught lying about the existence of patriot act II, gitmo, 'disappearing' of US citizens, the craven disappearance of any sort of trustable American video media, the hiring of Coulter + Hannity + Savage, the continuous lies of Ari Fleischer, the ties between Bush and Enron, "the free market has to work" (to punish California), the fact that we control about 400 square feet of Afghanistan, Ahmed fucking Chalabi, any sentence ever uttered by Donald Rumsfeld, a rainbow of stupid colored alerts just in case we can't understand English words, the Department of Homeland Security, the continued inability to kill one fucking 6 foot 5 inch crazy man who lives in a cave, the continued inability to find a one eyed muslim cleric who likes to rant loudly, the deforestation of our natural forests in the guise of 'forest fire prevention' by loggers, the loosening in 'acceptable levels' of arsenic in our drinking water, the part ownership of voting machine makers by Republican party hacks, fucking Clear Channel whipping up fake rallies in order to (successfully) buy off the partisan FCC, fucking Scalia suggesting that homosexual teachers are a threat and ought to be illegal because they'll indoctrinate our children, Enron and the rest of the evil bastards getting off scot free because they're Cheney's best friends, Cheney getting US$30,000 A DAY from Halliburton as a golden parachute, massive tax cuts for the rich as a way of forcing Congress to cut programs like Head Start and school lunches, 'No Child Left Behind' except those children who don't get to go to fucking private kindergartens because their daddy doesn't have million-dollar stockbroker connections to the guy who heads CitiBank, the covering up of failed missile tests followed by an attempt to secretly rush through a bill so that we don't have to run the embarrassing tests any more and Star Wars can proceed, the attempt to remove all responsibility for declaring war from Congress and concentrate power in the presidency, the attempts to make the patriot act permanent, our continued violation of the letter and the spirit of the Geneva Convention, our flouting of all international law and the attempted destruction of the United Nations and NATO, the crack about "old Europe" that miraculously didn't get Rumsfeld fired, "Fuck Saddam, we're going to take him out" -- even as Bush 'searched for a peaceful way to resolve the situation', "Mr President, Rumsfeld just threatened Syria and Iran on national television" "Good.", the fucking Project for a New American Century -- a concept so crazy that even Pat Buchanan turned pale, "Freedom Fries", pouring out French wine in protest after buying it, it's just a fucking non stop list of shit which not just Democrats, not just Libertarians, but any human being on this planet who hasn't been totally indoctrinated must LEAP out of their FUCKING CHAIRS AND UPON READING, MUST JUST SCREAM OUT THE GODDAMN WINDOW, "WHERE THE FUCK IS THIS COUNTRY GOING AND WHY DID IT GET HERE? AND WHAT IN THE NAME OF ANYTHING THAT IS EVEN REMOTELY IMPORTANT CAN WE DO TO STOP THIS SHIT FROM EVER HAPPENING AGAIN? WHY ARE MY GODDAMN POLITICAL LEADERS PLEDGING ALLEGIANCE TO A BUNCH OF INVISIBLE SUPERMEN WHO LIVE IN OUTER SPACE? IF THEY HAVE TO DO THAT, CAN'T THEY FUCKING READ THE BOOK THE INVISIBLE SUPERMEN ARE SAID TO HAVE LEFT BEHIND, THE ONE ABOUT HELPING THE POOR, NOT BEING BRUTALLY VENAL, YOU KNOW, THAT BOOK? IT'S NOT ABOUT SUSAN SARANDON, IT'S ABOUT THE ENTIRE DISGUSTING MELTING BALL OF PSYCHOLOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE CONTRADICTORY NONSENSICAL BULLSHIT WHICH JABBERS FORTH FROM THE MOUTHS AND MINDS OF THE MILLION-HEADED BEAST THAT EATS OUR FUCKING CIVIC SOUL AND SHITS OUT A NOISOME CONCOCTION OF MONEY, FALLACIES, PROPAGANDA AND LIES, LIES, ENOUGH FUCKING LIES TO FILL THE COFFERS OF A THOUSAND ENRONS, MAKE A THOUSAND VICE PRESIDENTS INTO LORDLY OLIGARCHIC GREY SARCASTIC PRINCES, AND HURL ANY CONCEPT OF REASONABLE PUBLIC DISCOURSE INTO THE SEWERS OF A DOZEN MURDOCHS.

when are we going to fucking wake up

wake up



Sounds like something my friend Nick might summon forth.

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Holy Shit, Blogs Save Lives

Yeah, I'm a day or so behind on this, but it takes some time for memes to work their way around the world. I've got a few Koenig Originals in the hopper, but for now please enjoy this story about how a dude with an accordion was warned off from dating a complete psycho by someone who read his weblog. It's quite a harrowing tale. And if after that you're still hungry for more nail-biting first-person accounts, I gladly refer you (again) to back-to-iraq.com, possibly the best $20 I've ever spent.

Another thing to stare at: Come on, Dow, support the troops (theonion.com)

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Ah, Shit... Here We Go

It's hard not to be happy for the people in Iraq they show us on TV and talk about in the news. They're psyched, pulling down statues of the dictator, smacking his face in murals with their shoes -- I've seen this every time, but the specific meaning has never been explained (ohh! here it is! found by total accident...) -- and really greeting American GIs as liberators. On the one hand, it's hard not to be pumped about all of this, but it does give me the Fear. Two reasons. The first -- small -- reason is that we didn't kill all the bad men with guns. Maybe they just decided to give up. Maybe they're waiting for the Marines to let down their guard. Hard to say at this point.

Here's the second reason to be afraid. Conservative writers are already writing pieces with titles like "Syria and Iran Must Get Their Turn." This scares the living crap out of me. Anyone who thinks America can handle more of the liquor of empire than any other nation in history had better think again. We may be the fattest fucks around, but that shit packs a much bigger punch than Cuervo. Let's hope Team Bush has the sense to rein in this animal quick. On the other hand, since back home the economy is still in the crapper, another jolly war might look pretty enticing to Dr. Rove. Watch for some rehetoric about Iran/Syria (probably Syria as they're the softer target) supporting terrorists and maybe (*gasp*) having WMD. Maybe if we don't find any significant WMD in Iraq, they'll float the story that they bad juice was moved to Syria. Oh, shucks! It isn't here: must be in Iran...

Yeah, we need to stop. If the freedom of Iraq is for real, then let's just lead by example, ok?

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Globalize yr Thinking

I'm somewhat obsessed with the future, how things are going to be, how the world works and so forth. A reader sent me an invite to this free conference on Globalization, which due to Best Coast travel plans (monkey 4th of July and OCF) I cannot attend. But I pass the link along so anyone with an interest can take a gander. I'm seriously thinking about submitting an essay though. I like writing essays (nerd!) and I might win a few bucks while I'm at it.

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