Saturday, June 30, 2007

Still Splashin

Great follow-up to the whole Splasher story in the Times today.

The Wonder of SPACE JESUS

Zee Germans don't like Tom Cruise's religion, and I'm not sure I like HisHolySpace, a MySpace for Christians.

For one, MySpace does not group your profiles by gender; HisHolySpace does. (Though here females are "the women who serve him" and males are "the men who serve him," with an unexplained third category, "seekers of the truth.")

I am most wary of the site's "mission statement," a term usually de-formalized on the internet as "about" or "about us." Here's what I'm worried about (emphasis mine):

Like-minded: means to “Think the same way” this exhortation is not optional or obscure but is repeated throughout the NT (cf. Rom 15:5; 1Cor. 1:10; 2Cor. 13:11-13)

Meaning you're with us or the terrorists. Good guys or bad guys. Christ's personal S.W.A.T. team or the demons, left behind after the Rapture.

I gotta admit, though - they got enthusiasm.

Banner at the bottom of a random page within HisHolySpace reads: "Stop Satan NOW!"

Group I would join if I were Christian: "Jesus' Disciples for SPACE EXPLORATION!"

Of course, other god groups have their own sites (,,,,, etc.), and a study could be made as to how severely different religious factionas EMPHASIZE THE ENDS OF THEIR SENTENCES.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Denver, 2008

Washington Monthly asked Theodore C. Sorensen, President Kennedy's speechwriter, to pen his 'speech of his dreams' for the Democratic nominee to deliver at the Democratic Convention in Denver next year. They asked him not to think about any one candidate, but to simply write the speech he would like to hear the nominee give. I suggest you read it outloud to fully appreciate the rhythm and cadence, but it's quite inspiring no matter what. Enjoy!

My fellow Democrats: With high resolve and deep gratitude, I accept your nomination.

It has been a long campaign—too long, too expensive, with too much media attention on matters irrelevant to our nation’s future. I salute each of my worthy opponents for conducting a clean fifty-state campaign focusing on the real issues facing our nation, including health care, the public debt burden, energy independence, and national security, a campaign testing not merely which of us could raise and spend the most money but who among us could best lead our country; a campaign not ignoring controversial issues like taxation, immigration, fuel conservation, and the Middle East, but conducting, in essence, a great debate—because our party, unlike our opposition, believes that a free country is strengthened by debate.

There will be more debates this fall. I hereby notify my Republican opponent that I have purchased ninety minutes of national network television time for each of the six Sunday evenings preceding the presidential election, and here and now invite and challenge him to share that time with me to debate the most serious issues facing the country, under rules to be agreed upon by our respective designees meeting this week with a neutral jointly selected statesman.

Let me assure all those who may disagree with my positions that I shall hear and respect their views, not denounce them as unpatriotic as has so often happened in recent years. I will wage a campaign that relies not on the usual fear, smear, and greed but on the hopes and pride of all our citizens in a nationwide effort to restore comity, common sense, and competence to the White House.

In this campaign, I will make no promises I cannot fulfill, pledge no spending we cannot afford, offer no posts to cronies you cannot trust, and propose no foreign commitment we should not keep. I will not shrink from opposing any party faction, any special interest group, or any major donor whose demands are contrary to the national interest. Nor will I shrink from calling myself a liberal, in the same sense that Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, John and Robert Kennedy, and Harry Truman were liberals—liberals who proved that government is not a necessary evil, but rather the best means of creating a healthier, more educated, and more prosperous America.

They are the giants on whose shoulders I now stand, giants who made this a better, fairer, safer, stronger, more united America.

By making me your nominee, you have placed your trust in the American people to put aside irrelevant considerations and judge me solely on my qualifications to lead the nation. You have opened the stairway to what Teddy Roosevelt called the “bully pulpit.” With the help of dedicated Americans from our party, every party, and no party at all, I intend to mount that stairway to preach peace for our nation and world.

My campaign will be based on my search for the perfect political consensus, not the perfect political consultant. My chief political consultant will be my conscience.

Thank you for your applause, but I need more than your applause and approval. I need your prayers, your votes, your help, your heart, and your hand. The challenge is enormous, the obstacles are many. Our nation is emerging from eight years of misrule, a dark and difficult period in which our national honor and pride have been bruised and battered. But we are neither beaten nor broken. We are not helpless or afraid; because in this country the people rule, and the people want change.

True, some of us have been sleeping for these eight long years, while our nation’s values have been traduced, our liberties reduced, and our moral authority around the world trampled and shattered by a nightmare of ideological incompetence. But now we are awakening and taking our country back. Now people all across America are starting to believe in America again. We are coming back, back to the heights of greatness, back to America’s proud role as a temple of justice and a champion of peace.

The American people are tired of politics as usual, and I intend to offer them, in this campaign, something unusual in recent American politics: the truth. Neither bureaucracies nor nations function well when their actions are hidden from public view and accountability. From now on, whatever mistakes I make, whatever dangers we face, the people shall know the truth—and the truth shall make them free. After eight years of secrecy and mendacity, here are some truths the people deserve to hear:

We remain essentially a nation under siege. The threat of another terrorist attack upon our homeland has not been reduced by all the new layers of porous bureaucracy that proved their ineptitude in New Orleans; nor by all the needless, mindless curbs on our personal liberties and privacy; nor by expensive new weaponry that is utterly useless in stopping a fanatic willing to blow himself up for his cause. Indeed, our vulnerability to another attack has only been worsened in the years since the attacks of September 11th—worsened by our government convincing more than 1 billion Muslims that we are prejudiced against their faith, dismissive of international law, and indifferent to the deaths of their innocent children; worsened by our failure to understand their culture or to provide a safe haven for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees displaced by a war we started; worsened by our failure to continue our indispensable role in the Middle East peace process.

We have adopted some of the most indefensible tactics of our enemies, including torture and indefinite detention.

We have degraded our military.

We have treated our most serious adversaries, such as Iran and North Korea, in the most juvenile manner—by giving them the silent treatment. In so doing, we have weakened, not strengthened, our bargaining position and our leadership.

At home, as health care costs have grown and coverage disappeared, we have done nothing but coddle the insurance, pharmaceutical, and health care industries that feed the problem.

As global warming worsens, we have done nothing but deny the obvious and give regulatory favors to polluters.

As growing economic inequality tarnishes our democracy, we have done nothing but carve out more tax breaks for the rich.

During these last several years, our nation has been bitterly divided and deceived by illicit actions in high places, by violations of federal, constitutional, and international law. I do not favor further widening the nation’s wounds, now or next year, through continuous investigations, indictments, and impeachments. I am confident that history will hold these malefactors accountable for their deeds, and the country will move on.

Instead, I shall seek a renewal of unity among all Americans, an unprecedented unity we will need for years to come in order to face unprecedented danger.

We will be safer from terrorist attack only when we have earned the respect of all other nations instead of their fear, respect for our values and not merely our weapons.

If I am elected president, my vow for this country can be summarized in one short, simple word: change. This November 2008 election—the first since 1952 in which neither the incumbent president’s nor the incumbent vice president’s name will appear on the national ballot, indeed the first since 1976 in which the name of neither Bill Clinton nor George Bush will appear on the national ballot—is destined to bring about the most profound change in the direction of this country since the election of 1932.

To meet the threats we face and restore our place of leadership in the free world, I pledge to do the following:

First, working with a representative Iraqi parliament, I shall set a timetable for an orderly, systematic redeployment and withdrawal of all our troops in Iraq, including the recall of all members of the National Guard to their primary responsibility of guarding our nation and its individual states.

Second, this redeployment shall be only the first step in a comprehensive regional economic and diplomatic stabilization plan for the entire Middle East, building a just and enduring peace between Israel and Palestine, halting the killing and maiming of innocent civilians on both sides, and establishing two independent sovereign states, each behind peacefully negotiated and mutually recognized borders.

Third, I shall as soon as possible transfer all inmates out of the Guantanamo Bay prison and close down that hideous symbol of injustice.

Fourth, I shall fly to New York City to pledge in person to the United Nations, in the September 2009 General Assembly, that the United States is returning to its role as a leader in international law, as a supporter of international tribunals, and as a full-fledged member of the United Nations which will pay its dues in full, on time, and without conditions, renouncing any American empire; that we shall work more intensively with other countries to eliminate global scourges, including AIDS, malaria, and other contagious diseases, massive refugee flows, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and that we will support the early dispatch of United Nations peacekeepers to halt the atrocities in Darfur. I shall make it clear that we do not covet the land of other countries for our military bases or the control of their natural resources for our factories. I shall make it clear that our country is not bound by any policies or pronouncements of my predecessor that violate international law or threaten international peace.

Fifth, I shall personally sign the Kyoto Protocol, and seek its ratification by the United States Senate, in order to stop global warming before it endangers all species on earth, including our own; and I shall call upon the Congress to take action dramatically reducing our nation’s reliance on the carbon fuels that are steadily contributing to the degradation of our environment.

Sixth, I shall demonstrate sufficient confidence in the strength of our values and the wisdom and skill of our diplomats to favor communications, negotiations, and full relations with every country on earth, including Cuba, North Korea, Palestine, and Iran.

Finally, I shall restore the constitutional right of habeas corpus, abolish the unconstitutional tapping of private phones, and once again show the world the traditional American values that distinguish us from those who attacked us on 9/11.

We need not renounce the use of conventional force. We will be ready to repel any clear and present danger that poses a genuine threat to our national security and survival. But it will be as a last resort, never a first; in cooperation with our allies, never alone; out of necessity, never by choice; proportionate, never heedless of civilian lives or international law; as the best alternative considered, never the only. We will always apply the same principles of collective security, prudent caution, and superior weaponry that enabled us to peacefully prevail in the long cold war against the Soviet Union. Above all, we shall wage no more unilateral, ill-planned, ill-considered, and ill-prepared invasions of foreign countries that pose no actual threat to our security. No more wars in which the American Congress is not told in advance and throughout their duration the true cost, consequences, and terms of commitment. No more wars waged by leaders blinded by ideology who have no legal basis to start them and no plan to end them. We shall oppose no peaceful religion or culture, insult or demonize no peace-minded foreign leader, and spare no effort in meeting those obligations of leadership and assistance that our comparative economic strength has thrust upon us. We shall listen, not lecture; learn, not threaten. We will enhance our safety by earning the respect of others and showing respect for them. In short, our foreign policy will rest on the traditional American values of restraint and empathy, not on military might.

In the final analysis, our nation cannot be secure around the world unless our citizens are secure at home—secure not only from external attack, but secure as well from the rising tide of national debt, secure from the financial and physical ravages of uninsured disease, secure from discrimination in our schools and neighborhoods, secure from the bitter unrest generated by a widening gap between our richest and poorest citizens. They are not secure in a country lacking reasonable limitations on the sale of handguns to criminals, the mentally disturbed, and prospective terrorists. And our citizens are not secure when some of their fellow citizens, loyal Islamic Americans, are made to feel they are the targets of hysteria or bigotry.

I believe in an America in which the fruits of productivity and prosperity are shared by all, by workers as well as owners, by those at the bottom as well as those at the top; an America in which the sacrifices required by national security are shared by all, by profiteers in the back offices as well as volunteers on the front lines.

In my administration, I shall restore balance and fairness to the national tax system. I shall level the playing field for organized labor. I shall end the unseemly favors to corporations that allow them to profit without competing, for it is through competition that we innovate, and it is through innovation that we raise the wages of our workers. It shames our nation that profits for corporations have soared even as wages for average Americans have fallen. It shames us still more that so many African American men must struggle to find jobs.

We will make sure that no American citizen, from the youngest child to the oldest retiree, and especially no returning serviceman or military veteran, will be denied fully funded medical care of the highest quality.

To pay for these domestic programs, my administration will make sure that subsidies and tax breaks go only to those who need them most, not those who need them least, and that we fund only those weapons systems we need to meet the threats of today and tomorrow, not those of yesterday.

The purpose of public office is to do good, not harm; to change lives, help lives, and save lives, not destroy them. I look upon the presidency not as an opportunity to rule, but as an opportunity to serve. I intend to serve all the people, regardless of party, race, region, or religion.

Let us all, here assembled in this hall, or watching at home, constitute ourselves, rededicate ourselves, as soldiers in a new army. Not an army of death and destruction, but a new army of voters and volunteers, in a new wave of workers for peace and justice at home and abroad, new missionaries for the moral rebirth of our country. I ask for every citizen’s help, not merely those who live in the red states or those who live in the blue states, but every citizen in every state. Although we may be called fools and dreamers, although we will find the going uphill, in the words of the poet: “Say not the struggle naught availeth.” We will change our country’s direction, and hand to the generation that follows a nation that is safer, cleaner, less divided, and less fearful than the nation we will inherit next January.

I’m told that John F. Kennedy was fond of quoting Archimedes, who explained the principle of the lever by declaring: “Give me a place to stand, and I can move the world.” My fellow Americans—here I stand. Come join me, and together we will move the world to a new era of a just and lasting peace.

The Semantics of the Word "Feminist"

WCS Director Olivia Greer wrote an interesting article about the word "feminist" for YP4 following our "Why Women Center Stage?" event, at which the panelists (Jennifer Buffett, Gloria Feldt, Aisha al-Adawiya, Idelisse Malave, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, and Carol Jenkins) sparred over the relevance/usefulness/relative "good" of the word "feminist."

"Am I a 'feminist?'" asks Olivia, whose article explores the paradox of being white and an activist in the struggle of women's rights, a struggle in which non-white women feel left behind, estranged from the feminism of Steinem et al.

As a pro-rights-for-women dude, I just want to say kudos to Olivia, and to add that of course every person, man or woman, must internalize their own, idiosyncratically-connotative definition of the word "feminist," like any other word.

But as a semantics buff and serious word nerd, I have to point out that the word itself is not the problem; no one is "not" a feminist nowdays, at least in New York. The word "feminism" means simply "the ideology that men and women should have the same rights," or however you'd like to paraphrase it.

Perhaps some Texas good ole boys or Egyptian polygamists might not label themselves as "feminist," but the vast majority of Americans will, do, can, and/or should.

I was not at all surprised when, during the "Why Women Center Stage?" conversation, panelists argued about race. I agree, white ladies have left their not-white sisters in the dirt, in terms of socio-political advancement, work opportunities, etc.

But I grew confounded as the argument seemed to return again and again to that word - "feminist." What does it mean to be a "feminist" versus "someone who believes in equal rights for women?" Why is there so much confusion surrounding what should be a simple ideological signifier?

Think about this in terms of a different argument: When I tell a conservative that I am "pro-gay marriage," he doesn't ask what I mean. He doesn't say, "do you mean that you are pro-white gay marriage, or pro all-gay marriage?" That would seem ridiculous.

Yet many prominent non-white women feel that "feminist" somehow excludes them; they are not "feminists," could never possibly be "feminists," even if they very much self-identify (whether as social or political leaders, like Jenkins and Pogrebin, or as religious organizers, like al-Adawiya) as "believers in equal rights for women."

Here is the crux of the problem: The word will continue to mean just what the word means, for a time, at least. Is is not better to educate people as to the meaning of the word than to abandon the word, invent a new term for the same thing, and thus split the "feminist" old-school white woman-equalists from the "not-feminist" non-white woman-equalists?

I'm not kicking aside the very real problems brought up by those who feel excluded by the F-word; they should absolutely bring their concerns to the forefront of the women's rights debate. But they should also admit that they, too, are technically feminists.

The problem with trying to alter language politically is that, besides from ugly-fying a beautiful natural system of sound and metaphor and meta-metaphor, it doesn't work. In fact, it often backfires.

Think of Russel Simmons' quixotic quest to delete the N-word from the mouths of thugs across America. I still hear the N-word every single day. (Or Germany's campaign to suppress Nazi propaganda, which, while noble in intent, has produced a lot of German neo-Nazis.)

Rather than focus on a problem word, we should focus on problem ideas. Ideological battles cannot and should not be won semantically; that is, if women in the hood feel estranged from "feminism," women in the Upper East & West Sides should explain what feminism, in their view is; the hood women should explain to the rich women their problems with white feminism or what they see as white feminism. I bet the two groups will find more commonality than difference, at least in terms of gender-ideas.

In general, groups fighting for the same important human rights should embrace one another, not divide and subdivide based on, of all things, a four-syllable Latin piece of jargon. New labels and new words should and will pop up, of course. As new ideas come to the front of the collective watercooler debate-circuit, their jargon will replace the previous era's.

But what better option than "feminism" is floating out there right now? Perhaps there is one. If there is, please write to us and prove my earlier argument incorrect (or out of date). But think long and hard: Is being a "feminist" really so much worse than being a "transgenderequalist" or a "equagynovoterist" or a "grrl=boi-er?"

The question could be rephrased: How can we make "feminism" a better idea, and thus a better word, since we all basically agree on what it means and why we will continue to fight for it, in its name, by whichever name it takes?

Boo! Hiss! to the stinky Supreme Court

I know I'm always permalinking articles from the New York Times, and I'm not even a huge Times fan, compared to The Nation or blogs, but the Times has the advantage of a huge staff and a fuckton of money. For coverage of something as depressing as the Supreme Court's actions yesterday, one can't beat their slew of journalistic attempts to put the SC's back-assward-ness in context.

Here's what I want you to read (or at least skim for juicy/juicily depressing nuggets):

The hard news - the Supreme Court in no uncertain terms gives America five pasty-white middle fingers.

The related study - where are we, decades after Brown? (The answer: not anywhere we'd wanted to be.)

The other side speaks out - what the Brown lawyers think about this mess.

The Times editorial

The Dark Side speaks out - because, you know, Brown was so long ago, and so much has changed, it's really not fair to say that it has any relevance to today's America.

Juan Williams makes a good point that desegregating kids doesn't help much if their parents are still holed up in class- and race-centric enclaves. If there are white neighborhoods, black neighborhoods, good neighborhoods, bad neighborhoods, won't the kids grow up racist or classist anyway? I for one believe that desegregating kids is a great and necessary first step towards reaching parents. Of course desegregation isn't the only answer, but it is such an obvious attempt at being one answer.

Until we understand each other, we will not respect each other. At least let us help our kids understand one another... Or come up with better legislation, better programs, some positive idea or attempted answer; don't tear down the icon of progress, inter-racial love and understanding, and hope that has propelled us from the pre-Civil Rights movement Dark Ages into at least a partially enlightened future.

In less bad news (actually, in good news, couched in badness by the news surrounding it), the SC did rule that people with severe mental problems who commit crimes should probably not be executed. Seems like common sense, but it took until 2007 to make it the law.

As I have said before, anyone interested in mental health and the vast, bizarre system of vocations, rules, and prisons surrounding it should read R. D. Laing's brilliant The Politics of Experience.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A sad day in America

Today the Supreme Court, in a 5 - 4 vote (of course) voted to end desegration in our schools. Justice Breyer, exasperated and emotional, made an historic appearance on CNN after the vote (and his anguished dissent) to claim (about Roberts and Alito), "never before have so few undone so much in so little time". And a couple of hours later, the House passed heinous anti-gay legislation as part of a DC appropriations bill. You may ask yourself, how could a discriminatory law be passed in our Democratic House? Because 40 Democrats voted for it. 40. Democrats. Excuse me while I go throw up.

The Gathering

When I walked into the Culture Project theater tonight to see Harry Belafonte's The Gathering, I had no idea what was coming. Project Director Malia Lazu (who ran for President in 2004 as part of RJ Cutler's amazing documentary series The American Candidate) began talking about the need for prison reform. Then they screened a short film about their work. It followed Harry Belafonte and Malia and their colleagues around the country as they tried to teach their communities about the prison industrial complex. The numbers are staggering - in South Carolina for instance, black people make up 35% of the population, but over 80% of the prison population. We are incarcerating children, mostly minority children, at a growing and astonishing rate all across the nation. Mr. Belafonte began this group when he saw a news clip of a 5 year old black girl in Florida being arrested for "being unruly" - and he knew something had to be done. The event tonight was eye-opening and heartbreaking, and I'm incredibly proud that Olivia brought this important message and messengers to our theater. I urge you all to learn more about The Gathering, as well as PMP (Prison Moratorium Project). It will be a long long time, if ever, before I forget the image of that terrified little girl screaming and pleading in handcuffs.

Painterly Mayhem

After a tantalizing article on the Splasher(s) - one or more anti-street artists who use buckets of paint to quickly buff various works of what they consider "mainstream" street art - the New York Times printed this gem about the arrest of one possible Splasher.

Is OBEY/Andre the Giant "mainstream?" Is Wooster Collective? Are they really promoting gentrification and hipsterism, or are they good art, good graffiti, by good artists? How is Swoon hurting "real" or "street" or "non-mainstream" art? Someone, please explain this to me...

From the Times:

Two days after Mr. Cooper’s arrest, a group of people showed up at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery in Chelsea, where a reception was being held for Mr. Fairey. Without identifying themselves, they distributed copies of a 16-page tabloid with the title “If we did it this is how it would’ve happened,” with a cover photograph of an image created by Mr. Fairey defaced with paint.

Inside were reproductions of the communiqués that were pasted next to the sites of many paint attacks and appeared to draw inspiration from the writings by the Situationists, a group of political and artistic agitators formed in the 1950s, and a 1960s anarchist group called Black Mask.

In often bombastic language those fliers condemned the commercialization of art and included statements saying that the wheat paste used to affix the fliers had been mixed with shards of glass. An essay in the paper given out at the gallery scoffed at those who had difficulty understanding the fliers and added footnotes clarifying parts of them. One footnote stated that the tabloids had been dusted with anthrax.

Dear Reader, we beseech you, ask yourself, ask everyone: Are hip white graffiti dudes really worthy of death-by-anthrax, or, as in the recent attempt on Fairey, by bombing? Is there a better way to stop [what is perceived as] artistic gentrification? Is Shepard Fairey really preventing kids from the hood from making art? Aren't we all - Fairey and random graf kids alike - fighting for the right to dissent, to change and improve an ugly, mainstream world?

If any Splashers out there want to be part of our Conversations series, give us a call. I'd love to produce the first no-cops-allowed debate about art. Just... be easy on the anthrax.


That may just be the prettiest number I've ever seen! It's Scooter Libby's INMATE number. Ah, justice.

Protest to Close Guantánamo

Culture Project sends much love to our friends at the Living Theatre (Not In My Name, No Sir!), who are currently staging protests and protest-performances of their latest show, The Brig. Their aims are to close Guantánamo and end the war in Iraq. Details via IN short:

THE BRIG @ Ground Zero -Join us to demonstrate our refusal to be complicit in this unjust war.

Two free street theatre performances of THE BRIG
Ground Zero: Church Street (at entrance to PATH train)

Sunday, July 1st, 4 PM

Wednesday, July 4th, 2 PM

The Living Theatre - 212 792 8050 -

From Living's letter about the protests:

"I don't have to tell you guys about the worsening situation in Iraq, or Afghanistan. Our banners say: Support the troops AND Stop the war. We are inviting lots of friends and reaching out to other groups. We believe also that some press will be there, and some 'friends' from the other side."

Republican candidates imploding all over the damn place!

Um, did you hear the one about Mitt Romney strapping his dog to the roof of his car for a 12 hour drive home from Ontario to Boston?? I guess the dog (in a dog carrier, but still) didn't like it so much and shit all over the roof and windows -and this story was used as a cute little anecdote on the campaign trail. Too bad it's illegal. Romney also is currently employing a campaign chair who has a penchant for impersonating police officers.

Over in the Giuliani camp, Rudy's campaign chair was just arrested for DEALING CRACK (and though not illegal, he didn't like 'the blacks' so much) and his other close personal friend and campaign consultant is staying on the job even after it's come to light that he was accused of child molestation (he's a priest) AND was responsible for stopping investigations into other priest abuse cases.

I wonder how this plays to the Pat Robertson crowd? I mean, they already think Mormons and Catholics aren't real Christians. This should just about put the final nail in that coffin...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lugar Leaves Dark Side; Dark Side Completely Surprised, Consoles Itself With Cherry Garcia While Crying Into Phone To Friend

Great news for those of us who want some sort of withdrawal from Iraq, now:

Republican senator and warmaker Richard Lugar now disagrees with Generalissimo Bush and the current administration's all-war all-the-time no-withdrawal plans, which Lugar had previously backed, on every vote, in every way.

So this is not a wishy-washy person. Lugar supported a policy. He saw that policy steadily go wrong. In his words, "The costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved... We’re talking $620 billion. We’re talking over 3,500 people killed. I have a picture of one of our marines that’s on my desk so I don’t forget, O.K.?"

And now he wants to change that policy. (The policy being America's state religion, Constant Warfare, or more recently Constant Antithetical Counterinsurgency [Generating Endlessly Reinvigorated Insurgents].)

Says Lugar:

"The administration and Congress must suspend what has become almost knee-jerk political combat over Iraq. Those who offer constructive criticism of the surge strategy are not defeatists, any more than those who warn against a precipitous withdrawal are militarists."

Also in the news today, a poll (though we are suspicious of polls) indicating that America's youth are increasingly progressive-minded, and that Obama and Hillary are the only candidates that register in their immediate consciousnesses.

This surprises no young person I know: I grew up in an predominantly black area, and I was raised to believe that women and men deserve the same rights. I would much rather vote for - or are at least am much more intrigued by the thought of being a citizen during the presidency of - a black or woman president than another white man. Seems about time.

Of course, the psychology behind voter-volition - who we vote for and why - is more complex than race, gender, party, or individual charm, though it is certainly influenced by all of these factors. I would never recommend voting on someone purely because that someone is black or a woman. I simply note that the succession of white men who mired America in small-to-medium wars with real, really impoverished people during the latter half of the twentieth century have left something of a bad taste in the mouths of many.

The psychology behind torture - much discussed today in a New York Times article about the CIA, now-and-then (meaning of course 'Nam and 'Raq), as well as in an older call-to-arms for the mental health community on Alternet - is not so complex. Torture is wrong; the use of torture indicates, as William James would say, a "sick soul."

The Times' CIA article includes a graphic comparing tactics used in the seventies to tactics used today; the side-by-side, tale-of-the-tape effect is chilling: While it is true that there is no evidence of the government monitoring peace groups the way it did during Vietnam, tactics still in use against anyone Bush considers a terrorist or possible terrorist include eavesdropping, "waterboarding, heat, cold, and sleep deprivation."

Meaning that there are still three classes of Enemy, in the minds of the priests of Constant War. There are national criminals, who are arrested and tried in an Enlightened manner. There are extranational soldiers, who, if captured, are treated as honorable combatants to be held accountable for their non-American government's actions according to international law. And then there are the Really Bad People, the ones who can be disappeared (under Pinochet in Chile), or spied upon or poisoned (see the CIA vs. Dr. Rev. M.L.K., Jr., or Castro), or tortured (Gitmo).

These last can be tortured indefinitely in good conscience because they are not fellow capitalists on a mission from a power whose thoughts on market regulations differ from those of the GOP's; these enemies are Satans who must be Crusaded against, kept from view, and finally expunged from the record of gentlemanly combat.

And the war can never end against these Enemies, who are as Protean as they are numerous: For every defeated insurgency, for every toppled Soviet Union, there comes a Bin Laden, an Al-Qaeda of Mesopotamia.

Roses to Lugar; thorns to the military psychologists who should know better than to condone - much less operate - torture operations at Gitmo. And thorns finally to CIA agents who, in the course of defending freedom or whathaveyou, cross a stark line and become the very icons of those who least embody freedom, least embody nobility, peace, or justice.

Words about WCS on Women's eNews; Women on Words

Women's eNews has assigned a blogger to cover Women Center Stage. Thanks, guys.

Also, I ran into a wonderful lit-blog about women authors the other day called Modern Matriarch. Cheesy name; wonderful content.

Concerning literary ladies, all modern supporters of equal rights for both genders should read Woolf's very short, somewhat depressing A Room Of One's Own. (It's free.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Shame On Colonel Morris Davis

The New York Times today published a rebuttal not only of justice but of moral practice in its most forgiving sense.

The article, an op-ed piece by Morris Davis, an Air Force lawyer, generously and insipidly defends the existence of and practices within America's Guantánamo Bay detention facility.

Culture Project does not stand for everyone. But many, many people stand with us in our fight to close Guantánamo, now, and to end the Bush regime's suspension of habeas corpus ("Latin: [We command that] you have the body") that has kept hundreds of men locked in cages in Cuba, wondering why they are there and when they are going to go home, go to jail, or even die.

The questions we continue to have with regard to Guantánamo and all attendant persons and practices are not, are emphatically not: "Are the prisoners kept there particularly comfortable; do they have the Qur'an [not 'Koran,' Mr. Davis]; are their meals hot enough, fibrous enough, etc.?"

The lingering question that we have is this: Is it right to keep men detained for indefinite periods of time without charging them, in a foreign country, on the pretext that they are or may be "terrorists" or "enemy foreign combatants" or some other jargon, as opposed to ordinary, respectable criminals? If a man commits a crime - if the government thinks a man commits a crime - that man should be jailed, according to the rule of law, and given a swift and fair trial. He should not be detained forever in another country, no matter how hot his meals are (now, after our play and others like it and a general shitstorm of media attention).

Mr. Davis seems uninterested in justice in the grand, ideal, popular sense - the sense of "justice" that we think many of you out there are most interested in. Not the justice of which Geneva Conventions article specifies what number of hot meals must be provided for which class of "enemy combatant," but the kind of justice that would never hold so many men without trial for so long.

It is right that the United States should respect international law regarding the detention of prisoners. It is more right that we should not detain them indefinitely, caged like dogs, and call ourselves heroes for closing Camp X-Ray five years ago, or for admitting that not every inmate is guilty, or for handing out Qur'ans.

From wikipedia and

Most of the detainees still at Guantánamo are not scheduled for trial. As of November 2006, according to, out of 775 detainees who have been brought to Guantánamo, approximately 340 have been released, leaving 435 detainees. Of those 435, 110 have been labeled as ready for release. Of the other 325, only "more than 70" will face trial, the Pentagon says. That leaves about 250 who may be held indefinitely.

Gracias Mamacita

Hi everyone - Check out Mamacita's blog ( for a nice little post about Women Center Stage. (And while you're at it, take her advice and get a ticket for tomorrow's show - "Beauty on the Vine", with Olivia Wilde - at 7pm.)
Hey Folks!
So WCS kicked off the festival last night with "why women center stage?" where five different women addressed the question of "why women center stage?". The event was a blast, setting up quite well what is to be the event of the summer. That being said, here are some other exciting events you can expect from WCS this coming week:

6/26: EMANCIPATE at the Knitting Factory (7:30 pm) EMANCIPATE is a series of musical performances done by women who are activists in their communities.
ST. JOAN (8:00 pm) A reivention of Brecht's savage masterpiece featuring original live music by Kelley McRae

6/27: BEAUTY ON THE VINE WITH OLIVIA WILDE (7:00 pm) BEAUTY ON THE VINE is a reading of Zak Berkman's Beauty on the Vine done by Olivia Wilde.
ST. JOAN (8:00 pm)

6/28: HARRY BELAFONTE'S THE GATHERING (8:00 pm) THE GATHERING is a pannel of activists and youth organizers organized to discuss the criminal justice system.
ST. JOAN (8:00 pm)
LENELLE MOISE (9:00 pm) An evening of jazz, queer theory, hip-hop, and movement in which Lenelle Moise speaks out about childhoon, masculinities, sexualities, AIDS, cultural hybritity, and reclaiming f-words.

6/29: STACEYANN CHIN (7:30 pm)"Def Poet" Staceyann Chin brings excerpts from her new book for TWO NIGHTS ONLY.
ST. JOAN (8:00pm)

6/30: STACEYANN CHIN (7:30 pm)
ST. JOAN (8:00 pm)

7/1: AFTER INNOCENCE (5:00 pm)
BECOMING NATASHA (8:00 pm) A four-woman play that explores and exposes the economic and cultural influences behind the human trafficking industry.

Come and check out some, or better yet, all of these events: they are going to be spectacular. A calendar of all events this summer can be found at the

Two Interesting Points...

By our Board Chair Colin Greer - essentially noting that there is no American "center," no "mainstream" voter base. There aren't a million-million Joe Blow McAverage Republicrackers out in Iowa or Idaho or wherehaveyou, voting for evil Supreme Court fuckers who would prefer to overturn the social progress we've made in the last century. America instead consists of individuals who will vote sensibly if they're not confuzitized by the Republicans. Not that every victory would go to the Dems - far from it. Greer notes (and I think many at CP would agree) that truly Independent candidates are the goal...

And by some dude named George Lakoff who Greer doesn't really like - but has a great point about Prez. Bush's perceived "incompetence," which I've long said is a mask for the competence of his evil. Lakoff's whole "how to speak to conservatives" thinking points are interesting just because - like Colin's quite funny, easy to take in but hard to disagree with notes about who really votes for what, when - they provide us not-so-scholarly, perhaps not-so-eloquent progressives, radicals, reformers, etc. with new ways to combat old challenges.

And both articles ultimately give us cause for hope: Eventually, sense will prevail, as long as we aren't intimidated by the Bushes of the world. He may be a competent tyrant, but we can't let ourselves be incompetent voters or bad thinkers. As Larry Wright pointed out, America isn't going to fall to some Outsider with an alien agenda. But America might fall because of greedy, competently immoral Americans.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tony, Tony, Tony

Is Tony Blair converting to Catholicism? (More about this sparklingly unimportant issue here.)

The writer wonders why anyone converts to the Old Skygod Religions these days... They don't like my gay friends, for one.

There are alternatives. Yoism's been around for a while, and some former mainstreamers have taken note, forming Open Source Judaism, which is an intriguing a concept with a seemingly decrepit website.

Forgetting post-prime ministerial-conversion woes, one wonders how different this country will be when its rulers cease to be primarily Episcopalian WASPs, not that the Kennedy or Kerry Catholics are all that different.

If Mos Def (or Lupe Fiasco) isn't president at some point in my lifetime, I'm going to be one cranky, cranky ghost. That's all I'm sayin.

Multi-Zooform Rapture Means Wythe [And His Tummy] Sad

All the tuna are disappearing along with the bees! It's a multi-zooform Rapture! WTF!

Without these delicious animals to eat, we'll have to eat meat-flavored chocolate like in Matthew Derby's brilliant Super Flat Times.

The upside of this madness, for omnivores, is that we get to eat horses and shit; from the NYTimes:

If worse comes to worst, he said, he could always try horse and deer again. The only drawback he remembered was customers objecting to red meat in the glass display case on the counter of his sushi bar.

"One customer pointed and said: ‘You have something four-legged in your fish case? That’s eerie!' "

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Best headline of the week

Firefighters inhaled as ton of pot burned, chief says

Favorite headline of the week

Firefighters inhaled as ton of pot burned, chief says.

Women Center Stage arrives!

It's here! It's here! With great fanfare and excitement, I present to you all...

...drum roll please...

...Women Center Stage!

WCS is our multi-disciplinary festival that brings together women artists, activists and thinkers whose work calls attention to human struggles globally.

Through July 17 we'll present Pulitzer Prize-winner Samantha Power, spoken word poet Staceyann Chin, Eve Ensler, Carol Gilligan to Azar Nafisi, a play about human trafficking, a film about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and a concert series featuring women artists who are activists in their communities.

What we're really looking to do here with Women Center Stage is to vehemently promote women’s work – in art, in action, and in imaginative and vibrant visioning of the future.

While I usually feel relatively icky about singling women out as "nurturers" or having more capacity for compassion than men, it has historically been true that women play a unique and potent role in innumerable struggles for social change - in large part because they tell stories that don't otherwise get told, they hold community memory, wisdom, and culture; and they bear witness and engage us all to respond.

Not to mention the fact that women remain consistently underrepresented in all arenas. So we're using this festival to gather artists, activists, thinkers and other important voices for justice - to build community and solidarity, share stories and ideas, and challenge one another to act and react.

Democracy is about action, and we are looking for a diverse audience of those who take action and those who will take action, who as audiences will take what they see, hear, and experience away with them - to carry the call further out into the world.

Thank you Wythe, for your fantastic appreciation of the Men's Equality Congress (who I would like to thank for giving me a good laugh last week), and thanks to Alternet for their kind words about us:

This summer, at a time when the media is dominated by bombastic male voices, New York City's Culture Project's multidisciplined festival of women voices provides a welcome antidote.

Tings Happenin, On Stage & Off

In just over a month, Culture Project opens, Tings Dey Happen, a great one-man show about Nigeria and oil politics by Dan Hoyle.

But the news isn't waiting a month. Check out two recent BBC stories about Nigeria, one about the mess that its government is fast becoming, the other about oil prices and the strikes they create.

A lot of people don't know that Nigeria is the largest oil-producer in Africa and one of its most populous countries (and few democracies), nor that its oil industry and economy in general are increasingly fucked up, as foreign powers (the US and China) loom, warlords grab power, oil company unions go on strike, and beleaguered politicians and average Nigerians struggle to keep their gars gassed, their dinner plates full, and their heads attached to their bodies.


My previous post mentioned credit card debt. Chris Kelly of the Huffington Post writes quite a little ditty on predatory lending you can read here.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Nicely done.

While I agree with my friend Wythe that Gore/Obama 2008 is indeed not only a dream ticket, but one we can make happen, I must disagree with his character assessment of John Edwards.

For one thing, while Edwards is indeed a rich, white male, he came from nothing and he earned every dollar, many times by defending the poor. There's nothing wrong with being rich (he's worth $30m - Al Gore is probably worth more than 10 times that). Edwards took some major flack in the Times today - in a gigantic front page story, no less - that his non-profit only benefitted he and his campaign. Of course the mainstream media will not provide the many rebuttals from the campaign and the organization - in fact, the Edwards camp issued a statement saying that the Times refused to interview any of the thousands of people who have been served by the org's work. I also think Edwards is only boring if you believe that issues like poverty reduction and credit reformation are boring. He's not getting much attention on tv or the radio, but he is putting forth serious, thoughtful economic proposals that could benefit millions of poor and middle class Americans. His calls for universal health care are better than the others. He also has a thorough recovery and reconstruction plan for New Orleans. It's not sexy to talk about the serious damage the heinous Bankruptcy Bill did to average people who were preyed upon when they were in untenuous situations like unexpected catastrophic illness, or sudden unemployement. But credit reform is crucial to reclaiming some semblance of class equality in this country.

And Elizabeth Edwards is marching in SF's gay pride parade this weekend and speaking at the largest GLBT function in the city (I believe it's named after Alice B. Toklas - won't Glenn Beck's head explode!). She is the first candidate or candidate's spouse to affiliate in such a major way with gay rights since this campaign cycle began. Good for her!!

That said, I still believe in Gore/Obama.

Tipping Power's Scales

Our free speech-defending Wilton High Schoolers are in The Nation. Nice.

Also in the news, check out a great little summation of how our current administration has undermined the balance of power that has--in this country and, in many ways, in this country alone--kept the fragile candle-flame of democracy burning for over two hundred years.

We are appalled at Mr. Bush's actions, as usual, though we can't say we're particularly surprised.

The New York Times, June 22, 2007, Editorial, "Don’t Veto, Don’t Obey"

President Bush is notorious for issuing statements taking exception to hundreds of bills as he signs them. This week, we learned that in a shocking number of cases, the Bush administration has refused to enact those laws. Congress should use its powers to insist that its laws are obeyed.

The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan arm of Congress, investigated 19 provisions to which Mr. Bush objected. It found that six of them, or nearly a third, have not been implemented as the law requires. The G.A.O. did not investigate some of the most infamous signing statements, like the challenge to a ban on torture. But the ones it looked into are disturbing enough.

In one case, Congress directed the Pentagon in its 2007 budget request to account separately for the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a perfectly appropriate request, but Mr. Bush issued a signing statement critical of the rule, and the Pentagon withheld the information. In two other cases, federal agencies ignored laws requiring them to get permission from Congressional committees before taking particular actions.

The Bush administration’s disregard for these laws is part of its extraordinary theory of the “unitary executive.” The administration asserts that the president has the sole authority to supervise and direct executive officers, and that Congress and the courts cannot interfere. This theory, which has no support in American history or the Constitution, is a formula for autocracy.

Other presidents have issued signing statements, but none has issued as many, or done so with the same contemptuous attitude toward the co-equal branches of government. The G.A.O. report makes clear that Mr. Bush’s signing statements were virtually written instructions to executive agencies to flout acts of Congress. Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, has said that the report shows that Mr. Bush “is constantly grabbing for more power” and trying to push Congress “to the sidelines.”

Members of Congress have a variety of methods available to make the administration obey the law. They should call the agency heads up to Capitol Hill to explain their intransigence. And they should use the power of the purse, the authority the founders wisely vested in the people’s branch, as a check on a runaway executive branch.

When the Bush presidency ends, there will be a great deal of damage to repair, much of it to the Constitutional system. Congress should begin now to restore the principle that even the president and those who work for him are not above the law.

The Un-Women Center Stage?

The "True Equality" website features an epigraph from ole Ben Franklin, that paragon of masculine virtue (a portly tinker who advocated monogamy and proposed the intelligent, if ugly or weak, turkey as the ultimate symbol of American virtue):

We must all hang together,
or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.

While I suppose I can't disagree with Ben's platitude (he's a great writer, truly, but this statement is taken out of its proper context--the Revolutionary friggin War), I'm not sure what to make of the "National Men's Equality Congress," nor why such a congress should exist.

Men are probably discriminated against in some ways, some of the time, but the cold, hard facts are these:

Women are discriminated in more ways, more of the time; in worse ways, in more countries, in more serious ways. They earn less money, are more likely to be raped, disowned, mutilated, or even dismissed as unable to talk about electronics as well as men.

(This last evil happened to my girlfriend, a video artist who worked in the electronics section of a large department store and was routinely dismissed as just a girl, unable to recommend a good HD camera or find the RCA cords or whatnot.)

While Culture Project advocates for women artists via Women Center Stage, these guys busy themselves writing trite sophistry such as:

When we explain men's issues, women, men, liberals and conservatives could care less. Yet when we explain boys’ issues, women, men, liberals and conservatives care. Why? Protecting boys calls upon women’s instinct to protect; but protecting men wreaks havoc on women’s instinct to expect protection from us. Similarly, men, whether liberal or conservative, recoil if we fail to protect. Understanding boys’ issues therefore has a dual benefit: it helps us communicate our issues to others; and it helps us to know ourselves. Thus, just as the Chinese symbol for crisis incorporates both the danger and opportunity, we will discover both the depth of the crisis for boys and the depth of the opportunity for us all.

WTF? A guy called me the other day just to accuse Culture Project of misandry, which is hilarious and wrong; we have a male artistic director, general manager, tech director, marketing associate, publicist, attorney, graphic designer, etc. Of course, we have a female business manager, development director, festival director, producer, etc. We produce work by men and women. The women's festival's only three weeks long. We know men get the shaft, har har, sometimes; again, the point is, women get a much worse shaft, much more often.

If that idea "wreaks havoc" on you, my apologies. (Writers: stop using that phrase or E. B. White's ghost and I are going to find you and shaft you.)

Perhaps the most dangerous opportunity there is is to see that women aren't "women," aren't some noxious, conspiracy-forming group; just as men aren't even "men." Men earn more and have more opportunities because of a vast historical head-start. Women are catching up and will hopefully continue to do so. (Not that I'm voting for Hillary; that bitch is nuts.)

If anyone has info on the man-congress or is attending, please do write us.
I exit with two quotes from Anais Nin.

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Ninja Candidacy

Okay - idiots on YouTube aside, Julianne has been saying for a couple years, and I've been saying for months: Gore/Obama is not simply a wonderful fantasy - it's going to happen.

Hillary's a hawk-jerk; she'll implode. Gore doesn't want to run, but we all want him to - and that's what will make his candidacy so powerful.

When he runs, who's he going to run with? Edwards - another Southern white dude accused of blandness? Or Obama, the sparkling liberal black/Hawaiian wunderkind who never wanted to go to war, wants to fix health care, wants to change the way we make and use energy, etc.?

The answer comes courtesy YouTubers called "The Young Turks."

In unrelated internet video news, please ask the ninja a question. He will answer. Perhaps I should ask about when Gore will enter the race. But it would be soul-crushing to find out the ninja's a Bloomberg fan...

Amy Goodman on Wilton High School

Recently, Wilton High School drama students performed Voices in Conflict here as part of our Conversations series as well as at The Public and The Vineyard. We're proud to have hosted them, and we're always happy to have Amy Goodman give us some on-air love.

Check for more clips soon.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I have to write this for Jenifer...

I just had my camel and straw moment with that unbearable piece of shit that 28% of the country are still ignorant enough to call commander-in-chief. I. Have. Had. It. The clock in my living room says there are 579 days, 46 minutes til this ass-sucking administration hits the road.

Today Bush vetoed the Stem Cell Research bill - for the second time. He said fuck you to 77% of the country. He said fuck you, I hope you die to nearly 100 million Americans who suffer from diseases the NIH admitted (in private, of course) could potentially be treated if embryonic stem cell research was given the thorough support and oversight and resources that come with federal funding.

I have had the honor to work with some of the world's greatest scientists in the fields of neurology and cellular science - dedicated, distinguished men and women from the finest research institutions on the planet. My best friend Jenifer Estess was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) in 1997. Jenifer and her sisters and I founded Project A.L.S. later that year. Project A.L.S. was responsible for the first-ever embryonic stem cell collaboration with the neurological community. We were witness when two brilliant doctors - one from Johns Hopkins, one from Harvard - bounded in the room to declare with glee that the stem cells had successfully passed the blood-brain barrier in mice. Project A.L.S. fully funded that work - the best one million dollar investment ever. One of those doctors, only 2 years earlier, told my friend that her cells were dying, her motor neurons, and they could never be replaced. She would die in two to five years. My friend Jenifer asked hard, thoughtful, yet practical questions - among them "if we can transplant livers and hearts, why can't we transplant motor neurons?". The doctor, "a giant in his field" we had been told repeatedly, said with a dismissive sneer "Cellular transplants? That's science fiction!" Two years later Jenifer's sister read an article in Science magazine, and a few weeks later the largest and most comprehensive international stem cell collaboration was born.

I write this with 100% conviction - the greatest minds, the most respected scientists in the world, are on the threshold of treatments, and dare I say cures - for the most complex diseases, and embryonic stem cell research is at the core. ALS, Parkinson's, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's - the disorders that have plagued mankind and made the brain the final frontier in reseach - we can and will soon treat them. One day in our lifetime, they will be cured.

BUT WHAT ABOUT TOMORROW? Yes, our next president will most likely reverse this course, but every day people are suffering. And dying. Needlessly. It makes me sick to my stomach to watch the continued destruction in this psycopath's wake. This motherfucker flew across the country in the middle of the night so he could 'save' a woman who was braindead. He and all his Christian buddies with their fucking meaningless faith and their shallow, empty moral character, wrote a law to save one life. One life completely devoid of humanity. And today he struck down a law to save millions. George Bush is a murderer. In a court of law the charge would be one million counts of criminally negligent homicide. He's responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans in uniform, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and hundreds of thousands of Americans like Jenifer who died when they might have lived.

When Jenifer testified before Congress for the second time in 2002, she was completely paralyzed and her respiratory function was severly impaired. She had to breathe with the help of a bi-pap (a non-invasive ventilator). She took her time, she measured each breath, and she gave the most dignified, passionate, exquisite speech I've ever witnessed. I owe it to Jenifer to keep shouting from the rooftops that these bastards have responsibilities to we, the people. Jenifer was the people. She fought harder than anyone should ever have to fight. She gave her life, for her country. When she ended her testimony that September afternoon in 2002, she closed with a simple statement: "I, too, have the right to life. And to liberty. And to the pursuit of happiness".

There was a time when those words had meaning.

The Race Changes; The Race Remains The Same

Bloomberg quits the GOP, and my ex-republican friend starts sending me happy emails about how the guy represents the center and is going to turn water into freedom nuggets. Ba-humbug. The old white guys are still the old white guys; War is still the state religion of America.

Obama's the real deal, as say I and some at The Nation. My ex-republican friend says Obama's not qualified, not a strong enough leader. Bullshit. The man's been leading the unofficial Fuck No We Don't Want To Go To War With No Fucking Iraqis party since Day One.

And Obama--like our own Lear deBessonet, like Hitchens, like me--believes you can't just ignore religion, religiosity, and spirituality in America.

By the by, here's an interesting study on religion and intelligence, and here's another one.

I wonder if some centrist, stubbornly faithful parallel exists between politics and religion; i.e., if the vast majority of Americans want to believe in both a moral, anthropomorphic, skyey God as well as an upright, well-qualified, having-it-both-ways (conservative-and-liberal, or so-seeming) President or Presidential candidate.

Is Bloomberg the right blend of New York no-bullshit-git-R-done-pro-environment-pro-War and popular? Will his Perotism detract from my Obama/Mos Def ticket's chances at success? WILL WE EVER HAVE A PRESIDENT WHO IS NOT A YALIE WITH A BAD HAIRCUT?

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Google Hybrid (Changes Icon Only On Holidays)

Google's search engine, email, blog, and internet applications are free... Maybe they'll start givin out hybrids. (Also, can one attach solar panels to a cat? He just sits in the sun all day. Time to start earnin that Meow-Mix.) Anyway, this news is fantastic and much welcomed...

From The New York Times, June 19, 2007, "Google and Utility to Test Hybrids That Sell Back Power," by FELICITY BARRINGER and MATTHEW L. WALD:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., June 18 — Google and Pacific Gas & Electric have unveiled their vision of a future in which cars and trucks are partly powered by the country’s electric grids, and vice versa.

The companies displayed on Monday six Toyota Prius and Ford Escape hybrid vehicles modified to run partly on electricity from the power grid, allowing the vehicles to go up to 75 miles on a gallon of gas, nearly double the number of miles of a regular hybrid. They also modified one vehicle to give electricity back to the power company.

Google’s philanthropic foundation,, headed by Larry Brilliant, led the conversion and announced that it would be investing or giving away about $10 million to accelerate the development of battery technology, plug-in hybrids, and vehicles capable of returning stored energy to the grid.

The six vehicles are used by Google employees near the company’s Mountain View headquarters, and sit under a carport with a roof of solar cells. The cells are connected to the power grid, so they make energy whether the cars are charging or not. ...the carports were meant to demonstrate a switch from fossil fuels to solar power.

PG&E, the utility serving Northern California, will send wireless signals to the car while it is parked and plugged in to determine its state of charge. It can then recharge the batteries or draw out power.

The transactions will be tiny, a few kilowatt-hours at a time, worth a few cents each, but if there were thousands of such vehicles, a utility could store power produced in slack hours until it was needed at peak times...

Some researchers say that utilities pay billions a year to power plants to stand by, ready to produce extra power or to provide small quantities of energy to maintain the frequency of the system at precisely 60 cycles a second. Plug-in hybrids could fill those roles, annually earning thousands of dollars each, some experts say.

A plug-in hybrid can lower emissions of carbon dioxide and smog-causing gases. It can go three to four miles on a kilowatt-hour, experts say. If that electricity came from natural gas, that may mean under a quarter-pound of carbon dioxide is emitted each mile. In contrast, a car that gets 20 miles a gallon on unleaded gas emits about a pound of carbon dioxide each mile.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sex without condoms? That's like TV without... sex...

Boo! hiss! to Fox and CBS, who do not let condom companies advertise the fact that people wear condoms in order to prevent pregnancy.

This logical knot comes further and further undone the more you think about it: We so-thought Average Americans watch TV in part to be titillated because we're too lazy to go outside and mate with other humans; the least TV could do is help us better delude ourselves into thinking we still have sex drives... and that childbirth is still a natural process that must be not only thought about but talked about, planned for (or against)...

I'm reading R.D.Laing's The Politics of Experience right now. He might not have the answers to everything, but I think his kick-in-the-ass, what's-really-real vs. what're-we-BSing-ourselves-about look at consciousness and normality/abnormality are much-needed these days. Also, I bet he would get a good laugh out of this news...

From today's New York Times, "Pigs With Cellphones, but No Condoms," by ANDREW ADAM NEWMAN:

In a commercial for Trojan condoms that has its premiere tonight, women in a bar are surrounded by anthropomorphized, cellphone-toting pigs. One shuffles to the men’s room, where, after procuring a condom from a vending machine, he is transformed into a head-turner in his 20s. When he returns to the bar, a fetching blond who had been indifferent now smiles at him invitingly.

Directed by Phil Joanou (“State of Grace”), with special effects by the Stan Winston Studio (“Jurassic Park”), the commercial is entertaining. But it also has a message, spelled out at the end: “Evolve. Use a condom every time.”

“We have to change the perception that carrying a condom for women or men is a sign they’re on the prowl and just want to have sex,” said Linda Kaplan Thaler, chief executive of the Kaplan Thaler Group, the New York advertising agency that created the “Evolve” campaign. “It’s a sign of somebody being prepared — if the opportunity arises — to think about their own health and the health and safety of their partner.”

But the pigs did not fly at two of the four networks where Trojan tried to place the ad.

Fox and CBS both rejected the commercial. Both had accepted Trojan’s previous campaign, which urged condom use because of the possibility that a partner might be H.I.V.-positive, perhaps unknowingly. A 2001 report about condom advertising by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that, “Some networks draw a strong line between messages about disease prevention — which may be allowed — and those about pregnancy prevention, which may be considered controversial for religious and moral reasons.”

Representatives for both Fox and CBS confirmed that they had refused the ads, but declined to comment further.

In a written response to Trojan, though, Fox said that it had rejected the spot because, “Contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy.”

In its rejection, CBS wrote, “while we understand and appreciate the humor of this creative, we do not find it appropriate for our network even with late-night-only restrictions.”

“It’s so hypocritical for any network in this culture to go all puritanical on the subject of condom use when their programming is so salacious,” said Mark Crispin Miller, a media critic who teaches at New York University. “I mean, let’s get real here. Fox and CBS and all of them are in the business of nonstop soft porn, but God forbid we should use a condom in the pursuit of sexual pleasure.”

“We always find it funny that you can use sex to sell jewelry and cars, but you can’t use sex to sell condoms,” said Carol Carrozza, vice president of marketing for Ansell Healthcare, which makes LifeStyles condoms. “When you’re marketing condoms, something even remotely suggestive gets an overly analytical eye when it’s going before networks’ review boards.”

Another extraordinary New Yorker piece

Sy Hersh has a disturbing article in this week's New Yorker about Abu Ghraib. Though we all know what happened, and have suspected people much higher up knew what was going on and either encouraged it or looked the other way, this piece is eye-opening nonetheless.

Friday, June 15, 2007

It's Pardon Time!!

I'll let Bill Moyers speak for me.

Begging His Pardon
by Bill Moyers

We have yet another remarkable revelation of the mindset of Washington's ruling clique of neoconservative elites -- the people who took us to war from the safety of their Beltway bunkers. Even as Iraq grows bloodier by the day, their passion of the week is to keep one of their own from going to jail.

It is well known that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- once Vice President Cheney's most trusted adviser-has been sentenced to 30 months in jail for perjury. Lying. Not a white lie, mind you. A killer lie. Scooter Libby deliberately poured poison into the drinking water of democracy by lying to federal investigators, for the purpose of obstructing justice.

Attempting to trash critics of the war, Libby and his pals in high places-including his boss Dick Cheney-outed a covert CIA agent. Libby then lied to cover their tracks. To throw investigators off the trail, he kicked sand in the eyes of truth. "Libby lied about nearly everything that mattered," wrote the chief prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. The jury agreed and found him guilty on four felony counts. Judge Reggie B. Walton-a no-nonsense, lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key type, appointed to the bench by none other than George W. Bush-called the evidence "overwhelming" and threw the book at Libby.

You would have thought their man had been ordered to Guantanamo, so intense was the reaction from his cheerleaders. They flooded the judge's chambers with letters of support for their comrade and took to the airwaves in a campaign to "free Scooter."

Vice President Cheney issued a statement praising Libby as "a man...of personal integrity" -- without even a hint of irony about their collusion to browbeat the CIA into mangling intelligence about Iraq in order to justify the invasion.

"A patriot, a dedicated public servant, a strong family man, and a tireless, honorable, selfless human being," said Donald Rumsfeld-the very same Rumsfeld who had claimed to know the whereabouts of weapons of mass destruction and who boasted of "bulletproof" evidence linking Saddam to 9/11. "A good person" and "decent man," said the one-time Pentagon adviser Kenneth Adelman, who had predicted the war in Iraq would be a "cakewalk." Paul Wolfowitz wrote a four-page letter to praise "the noblest spirit of selfless service" that he knew motivated his friend Scooter. Yes, that Paul Wolfowitz, who had claimed Iraqis would "greet us as liberators" and that Iraq would "finance its own reconstruction." The same Paul Wolfowitz who had to resign recently as president of the World Bank for using his office to show favoritism to his girlfriend. Paul Wolfowitz turned character witness.

The praise kept coming: from Douglas Feith, who ran the Pentagon factory of disinformation that Cheney and Libby used to brainwash the press; from Richard Perle, as cocksure about Libby's "honesty, integrity, fairness and balance" as he had been about the success of the war; and from William Kristol, who had primed the pump of the propaganda machine at The Weekly Standard and has led the call for a Presidential pardon. "The case was such a farce, in my view," he said. "I'm for pardon on the merits."

One Beltway insider reports that the entire community is grieving -- "weighted down by the sheer, glaring unfairness" of Libby's sentence.

And there's the rub.

None seem the least weighted down by the sheer, glaring unfairness of sentencing soldiers to repeated and longer tours of duty in a war induced by deception. It was left to the hawkish academic Fouad Ajami to state the matter baldly. In a piece published on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, Ajami pleaded with Bush to pardon Libby. For believing "in the nobility of this war," wrote Ajami, Scooter Libby had himself become a "casualty" -- a fallen soldier the President dare not leave behind on the Beltway battlefield.

Not a word in the entire article about the real fallen soldiers. The honest-to-God dead, and dying, and wounded. Not a word about the chaos or the cost. Even as the calamity they created worsens, all they can muster is a cry for leniency for one of their own who lied to cover their tracks.

There are contrarian voices: "This is an open and shut case of perjury and obstruction of justice," said Pat Buchanan. "The Republican Party stands for the idea that high officials should not be lying to special investigators." From the former Governor of Virginia, James Gilmore, a staunch conservative, comes this verdict: "If the public believes there's one law for a certain group of people in high places and another law for regular people, then you will destroy the law and destroy the system."

So it may well be, as The Hartford Courant said editorially, that Mr Libby is "a nice guy, a loyal and devoted patriot...but none of that excuses perjury or obstruction of justice. If it did, truth wouldn't matter much."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

C. Hitchens, when not rabid, says some smart things

Though he also makes a lot of strange, awkward comparisons. Regarding his Quaker/Bin Laden remark, let me just point out that a Quaker is more like a Sufi, not a radical jihadi like Bin Laden. All religions have peaceful mystics as well as angry radicals. (Except the Church of the Subgenius, which has only angry mystics.)

Anyway, read a fascinating Hitchens interview with TruthDig.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

And I thought MERCURY was a problem...

Seems the army has been dumping major amounts (only about 64 million pounds) of weapons of mass destruction into the Atlantic Ocean! How awesome is that?! You can read all about it here. But suffice it to say, somebody's got some 'splainin' to do!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Merkel Reversal; Gay Arab Speakers

(Say "Merkel reversal" three times fast. Never mind.)

O happy day - Bush compromised, on something, anything! Even though the US never ratified the Kyoto Protocols, we might sort of agree to demonstrably cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

From the NYTimes, June 8, 2007, "U.S. Compromise on Global Warming Plan Averts Impasse at Group of 8 Meeting," By MARK LANDLER and JUDY DEMPSEY

HEILIGENDAMM, Germany, June 7 — The United States agreed Thursday to “consider seriously” a European plan to combat global warming by cutting in half worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, averting a trans-Atlantic deadlock at a meeting here of the world’s richest industrial nations.

The compromise, worked out in tough negotiations between the United States and Germany, also endorses President Bush’s recent proposal to bring together the world’s largest emitting countries, including China and India, to set their own national goals for reducing emissions.

The agreement reached Thursday does not include a mandatory 50 percent reduction in global emissions by 2050, a key provision sought by Chancellor Angela Merkel, nor does it commit the United States or Russia to specific reductions.

Bad news: We kick loyal, Arabic-speaking soldiers out of the army. For being gay. Not for doing anything wrong - we don't tell them it's "wrong" to be gay - just don't say you're gay, at least not while you're in the army. (?) Doesn't make sense to me, might not make sense to you, but it makes sense to my grandfather and probably your grandfather. Why even John McCain thinks it works well for now. Mitt Romney's not happy about it, of course, but he's a perennial Grumpy Gus.

(Probably he and Fred Thompson are only confused because the Teletubbies were honorably discharged from the National Guard before they confessed to being celibate gay Jupiterians, complicating the whole "homo" rights issue.)

From the NYTimes, June 8, 2007, Op-Ed Contributor, "Don’t Ask, Don’t Translate," By STEPHEN BENJAMIN

The lack of qualified translators has been a pressing issue for some time — the Army had filled only half its authorized positions for Arabic translators in 2001. Cables went untranslated on Sept. 10 that might have prevented the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Today, the American Embassy in Baghdad has nearly 1,000 personnel, but only a handful of fluent Arabic speakers.

I was an Arabic translator. After joining the Navy in 2003, I attended the Defense Language Institute, graduated in the top 10 percent of my class and then spent two years giving our troops the critical translation services they desperately needed. I was ready to serve in Iraq.

But I never got to. In March, I was ousted from the Navy under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which mandates dismissal if a service member is found to be gay.


I could have written a statement denying that I was homosexual, but lying did not seem like the right thing to do...

The result was the termination of our careers, and the loss to the military of two more Arabic translators. The 68 other — heterosexual — service members remained on active duty, despite many having committed violations far more egregious than ours; the Pentagon apparently doesn’t consider hate speech, derogatory comments about women or sexual misconduct grounds for dismissal.


Consider: more than 58 Arabic linguists have been kicked out since “don’t ask, don’t tell” was instituted. How much valuable intelligence could those men and women be providing today to troops in harm’s way?

In addition to those translators, 11,000 other service members have been ousted since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was passed by Congress in 1993. Many held critical jobs in intelligence, medicine and counterterrorism.Stephen Benjamin is a former petty officer second class in the Navy.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bush on Merkel: Chummy Bud, or Budding Challenge?

The horror isn't that we're wrong, but that we're so unwilling to try and be right. This isn't about specific taxes or some looming Euro-treaty that will destroy American Freedom: We just had to agree with Europe that all nations, everywhere, should work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and that we should develop cleaner, more efficient fuel. And - on behalf of you and me and Americans everywhere - Bush proudly stood his ground and did what he wanted regardless of what we want.

The scoop:

The NYTimes, June 7, 2007, "At Group of 8 Meeting, Bush Rebuffs Germany on Cutting Emissions," By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, additional reporting contributed by Mark Landler:

ROSTOCK, Germany, June 6 — As leaders of wealthy nations converged Wednesday on a Baltic Sea resort for their annual meeting, the White House effectively derailed a climate change initiative backed by one of President Bush’s strongest European allies, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

The White House said it would hold firm against concrete long-term targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a major priority for Mrs. Merkel, the host of the Group of 8 meeting.


After lunch with Mr. Bush, Mrs. Merkel seemed to concede — without explicitly saying so — that her plan was off the table.

“There are a few areas here and there we will continue to work on,” she said, standing side by side with the president outside an elegant white castle on the grounds of the Kempinski Grand Hotel. When Mr. Bush turned to her and said he has “a strong desire to work with you” on the issue, the chancellor pursed her lips.

Specifically, Mrs. Merkel is pressing the Group of 8 to adopt a plan to cut emissions in half by 2050 and to limit the rise in global temperature to two degrees Celsius — terms the president’s chief environmental adviser, James L. Connaughton, said Wednesday the United States was not prepared to accept.

Ah, but Captain frickin America has a plan!

“Here’s a way to get China and India at the table,” Mr. Bush said Wednesday, in a roundtable with reporters before his lunch with Mrs. Merkel.

He said the United States “can serve as a bridge between some nations who believe that now is the time to come up with a set goal” and “those who are reluctant to participate in the dialogue.”

Ah. So China is going to reform its energy policies just as long as we don't enter into some preemptive agreement with zee Germans? That makes sense; China's just been waiting all this time for us to stop working with Europe; then the laogai will close and the cars will run on happiness instead of diesel cars (which, by the way, are the future of clean - read this)...

To put it mildly, we will be lucky ducks if Bush's isolationist let's-not-even-talk-about-it-ism doesn't result in further anti-American sentiment in Europe and in any other region that cares about its people's health, its forests' existence, its future, &c.

(I'm voting Mos Def / The Lorax in '08.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

When Shell met Tyranny...

Fulbright scholar, comedian, and writer Dan Hoyle ( is bringing his hit show Tings Dey Happen to 55 Mercer this summer.

Till then, read some of his fascinating, disturbing insider reports on Nigerian oil evils:

Monday, June 4, 2007

Let's hope they start in Arkansas!

The new head of the Arkansas Republican Party, Dennis Milligan, said yesterday that if there were more terrorist attacks on US soil, then people would see how great Bush is. Or something like that. You'll have to read it for yourself:

In his first interview as the chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party, Dennis Milligan told a reporter that America needs to be attacked by terrorists so that people will appreciate the work that President Bush has done to protect the country.

"At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001]," Milligan said to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country."

Friday, June 1, 2007

I just love a happy ending!

1-900-RUN-GORE $3.95/minute

Gore: You've reached 1-900-RUN-GORE, where all your political fantasies come

Me: Hi. I... I've never really called one of these things before.

Gore: But you've wanted to for a long time, right?

Me: Yeah. I've been thinking about you. A lot. Is this really Al Gore?

Gore: (Pause.) Yes. Yes, it is.

Me: I guess you kind of sound like him.

Gore: Did you know that the energy being used to power this call is coming from wind turbines?

Me: That's incredible. That's exactly the kind of thing I've been wanting to hear.

Gore: I know how you feel. The other politicians just aren't satisfying you.

Me: I want politics to be exciting.

Gore: You want that thrill, like you had with Jack Kennedy.

Me: I thought I could get it with Edwards, but...

Gore: But he voted for the war, and that's kind of a turn off.

Me: Every time the moment comes, I just can't get that war vote out of my head. I try thinking about Bobby Kennedy -- if you squint he kind of looks the same.

Gore: But you need the real thing.

Me: I want foreign policy to make my heart pound.

Gore: You know, the pursuit of dominance in foreign policy led the Bush administration to ignore the UN, to do serious damage to our most important alliances, to violate international law, and to cultivate the hatred and contempt of many in the rest of the world.

Me: Oh yeah. That's good. Keep talking.

Gore: Any policy based on domination of the rest of the world not only creates enemies for the US and recruits for al-Qaida, but also undermines the international cooperation that is essential to defeating terrorists who wish to harm and intimidate America.

Me: Oh man. A politician hasn't talked to me like that in a long time.

Gore: What kind of party affiliation are you wearing?

Me: Progressive moderate.

Gore: I want you to take off your moderation. I want you to remove it completely.

Me: You want me to be totally progressive?

Gore: Yes, I want you to be stark liberal.

Me: Okay. I'm going to do it. I don't care if we don't have the votes to impeach! It's our constitutional obligation! Oh, that feels good. Tell me more about foreign policy.

Gore: The unpleasant truth is that Bush's failed policies in both Iraq and Afghanistan have made the world a far more dangerous place. Our friends in the Middle East, including most prominently Israel, have been placed in greater danger because of the policy blunders and sheer incompetence with which the civilian Pentagon officials have conducted this war.

Me: Oh, yes. Keep talking.

Gore: We as Americans should have "known then what we know now"- not only about the invasion of Iraq but also about the climate crisis; what would happen if the levees failed to protect New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina; and about many other fateful choices that have been made on the basis of flawed, and even outright false, information.

Me: Yes. Keep going. Don't stop.

Gore: We could and should have known, because the information was readily available. We should have known years ago about the potential for a global HIV/Aids pandemic. But the larger explanation for this crisis in American decision-making is that reason itself is playing a diminished, less respected, role in our national conversation.

Me: Oh God, yes! Yes! That's so true!

Gore: Are you going to be a progressive for me?

Me: I am. I'm going to be soooo progressive. But... I want to be progressive for you. I want you to run for president. Will you run for president for me?

Gore: I don't know if I should...

Me: Oh please, do it for me.

Gore: Okay. I'm going to do it.

Me: Yes! I knew you would!

Gore: I'm running for president. I'm doing it right now.

Me: Yes, run for president! Do it!

Gore: I'm totally running for president, right now, over the phone. Will you pull the lever for me?

Me: Yes! Yes, I'm pulling the lever for you! I'm voting for you for president!