Monday, July 30, 2007

Viva Peace

Apparently the war in Iraq is going well--from the tone of the article, one might think "splendidly" instead of just "well."

Also, check out a long story on Obama's rise to prominence. Interesting info. And since the war's going so well and has made us so much safer, I guess it doesn't matter who's president in 08. Guess I'll vote Romney and hope he selects Jesus Christ as his VP.

I'm just glad Rage Against the Machine got back together and immediately started beef with Ann Coulter, and that this somehow relates to Rosie.

Perhaps, if John Edwards wins the Democratic nomination and everybody else bombs badly enough, he can select Rage frontman Zack De la Rocha as his VP. Then we're just one John vs. Mitt / Zack vs. Christ arm-wrestling competition away from restoring morality to the pale house.

Viva Rage.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Contagious Stupidity

From today's NYTimes:

Americans’ support for the initial invasion of Iraq has risen somewhat as the White House has continued to ask the public to reserve judgment about the war until at least the fall. In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted over the weekend, 42 percent of Americans said that looking back, taking military action in Iraq was the right thing to do, while 51 percent said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq.


WTF?

Isn't it 5th-grade wisdom - perhaps rather 2nd or 1st - that an invasion with no justifiable purpose that has only gone from worse to worst is not and was never worth supporting? Why does America now so value its presence in Iraq? (Did no one else read Theater of War?)

The article doesn't help a ton, and neither does Mark Schmitt's snarky attempt at boo-hooing Democratic pres. candidates' ability to make detailed plans.

It's not comforting to e-open the paper and see that 1) Americans are increasingly, not decreasingly comfortable with the idea that America invaded Iraq, way back when (Gawd, that was, like, four American Idols ago!) and 2) New America Foundation members are not fans of good policy papers.

They want more blather. Empty, Republicrackerish blather, good for nothing, to be held to nothing, to be sprinkled like the chaff of millet on the strong winds of a next CBS fall lineup, or the next celebrity murder-suicide.

"The candidates disappear behind a screen of white paper," Schmitt writes. Paper = reading = the intellectual = reason. And we can't have that. We're a country of Faith, a good, honest, Sarkozy-ian realm...

Ba-humfuckery.

I suppose comfort isn't to be wanted or even warranted these days. I'll keep my policy papers and my anti-war stance, thankyouver'much. How much longer before this America now starts to resemble the Britain of Children of Men? Not much longer, perhaps. But by then I'll have my alligator ranch, so the New American "centrist" faux-radicals won't be able to sneer at me without (reptilian, masticatory) repercussions.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Washington Post has a scoop - Hillary has breasts!!

This is truly unbelievable. The Washington fuckin' Post has a story today which includes the following:


There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton.

She was talking on the Senate floor about the burdensome cost of higher education. She was wearing a rose-colored blazer over a black top. The neckline sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage registered after only a quick glance. No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn’t an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable.

It was startling to see that small acknowledgment of sexuality and femininity peeking out of the conservative — aesthetically speaking — environment of Congress. After all, it wasn’t until the early ’90s that women were even allowed to wear pants on the Senate floor. It was even more surprising to note that it was coming from Clinton, someone who has been so publicly ambivalent about style, image and the burdens of both.


THIS IS NEWS?!?!? Next up at the Post : "Rudy scratches testicles during campaign stop".

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Beef eaters bad for the environment

A study in Japan has concluded that preparing 2.2 pounds of beef is the environmental equivalent of driving a car non-stop for 3 hours at 50 mph. You can read the story here.

Monday, July 16, 2007

LAST TWO DAYS AT WCS!!

Alas, the final two shows are upon us. For the final shows, WCS will be hosting one at the Culture Project and one at the Knitting Factory to conclude EMANCIPATE (a series of concerts featuring women musicians who are also activists in their communities).

Tonight (July 16th) at 7:00 pm. at the Culture Project (55 Mercer Street) WCS will present Laura Flanders on S. Dakota. In this presentation, Laura Flanders is joined by community activists to discuss organizing initiatives to defeat an abortion ban ballot initiative in 2006.

Tomorrow night (July 17th) at 7:30 pm. at the Knitting Factory (74 Leonard Street) WCS will host the final EMANCIPATE concert. This final concert will feature Chantal Kreviazuk, Marta Gomez, Imani Uzuri, and Aguafuego.

And that's it. Don't miss these final two shows: they're going to be amazing!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

My New Favorite Song

Sisterhood out the window!

I think that imaginative, vocal, and serious protest to hold our elected leaders accountable is crucial, especially in the world we're living in today. That's what Women Center Stage here at CP is all about after all - amplifying the voices calling for change. But I get very concerned when "liberals," "Democrats," "lefties," and related ilk decide to go after "liberals," "Democrats," "lefties," and related ilk.


Why do we keep going after one another? What happened to solidarity?


The NY Times reported yesterday that Cindy Sheehan has issued an ultimatum to Nancy Pelosi:


The war protester Cindy Sheehan, whose 24-year-old son was killed in Iraq three years ago, said in May that she was quitting her prominent role in the antiwar movement and severing her ties with the Democratic Party. But her retirement from politics may prove short-lived.

Now Ms. Sheehan, right, is talking about running for Congress as an independent candidate against Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2008 if Ms. Pelosi, left, a Democrat, refuses to move for the impeachment of President Bush.


Maybe I'm naive, but I feel so strongly that those of us trying to change this country do ourselves a major disservice by publicly attacking our allies.

Especially as women in movements for change, we are in a position to further and facilitate solidarity, to change the paradigm of power-mongering and scapegoating.

Not that we should let leaders like Nancy Pelosi, who are in powerful positions to make change, get away with resting on their laurels. But to go to battle publicly like this...I think it does far more harm than good, and allows Repubs to keep calling us flip-flopping dummies.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Health of the Doctor

The next surgeon general might be a gay-hater.

The candidate, a self-described Christian conservative named Dr. James Holsinger, supports research into cloning, has backed lesbian issues in the past, and is anti-big tobacco.

Yet, as a lay leader of the United Methodist Church, Dr. Holsinger opposes gay membership in his congregation and believes that homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching."

Worse, Holsinger wrote a paper for a church committee that outlines the various ways in which male homosexuality is abnormal and unhealthy.

I propose a counter-nominee for Surgeon General - Atlanta's own Dr. A. Verras, M.D.

Verras was my doctor as a kid. He's a tiny Greek man with a perma-smile and the most whimsical, non-threatening accent on the planet. All of his medicinal metaphors involve Mickey and/or Minney Mouse (sometimes an ear infection is worthy of a Donald Duck).

I never specifically asked Verras about his views on gay rights, since I am not gay and was not as interested in social justice when I was twelve as I am presently.

However, Verras' bipartisan approach to solving tummyaches and constant references to Disney characters [isn't Disney is one of the gayest-friendly {gay-friendly-est?} companies on the planet?] make him an obvious choice to bridge the pro-anal sex/anti-anal sex divide (or crack) and unite this sad country.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Unicorn Blood & Michael Moore

Post-Sicko, all candidates full-steam ahead on health care reform. Veeeeery interesting...

But how would one pay for universal health care in so large and freakish a nation as ours?

Well, surprise surprise, the Dems want to end the war in Iraq and roll back the tax cuts that Bush handed the richest 1% of U.S. shitheads.

The Republicrackers, however, see a way to pay for universal, effective health care for all Americans without rolling back taxes for those rich shitheads.

They just won't tell us what that way is, of course.

Well, Ghouliani does says that "the market" will fix everything, but that notion's so retro, so eighties [1880s], that I wonder if he isn't cribbing his economic and health care policies from Queen Victoria - or perhaps from everyone's favorite discontinued cereal mascot, the brother of Count Chocula, Baron von Phenomenally-Bad-Plan.

I mean, I'm not an economist, but couldn't we use the ~$500 billion per annum we spend on blowing up brown people to fund a health care system? Doesn't that make some fucking sense? Or do we just hate the brown people that much, because Allah is that bad, that we would sacrifice our anatomy to kill them?

What is Mitt Romney's plan, one wonders? Boil enough unicorn blood to summon the health care fairy?

Man, I can't believe the same universe produced both Dan Dennett and Mitt Romney. That's a nerdcore celebrity deathmatch I'd love to see...

Al Gore - heed the call!!!

Steven Weber (Studio 60, Wings) has a great post today on The Huffington Post. It's a rather intuitive question posed to Al Gore - why WON'T he run?? Here it is in its entirety:


STEVEN WEBER JULY 9, 2007

What does Al know that we don't?

Why, given the opportunity that's been presented to him on a silver Prius, is this man not going to run for (and win) the presidency of the United States? If ever there was a clarion call to be answered it is this one: heed the will of the majority of the people, take back the yoke Bush and his cracked team of highjackers have used to steer the country into the ground and pull the ship skyward again.

Why, after his self-imposed banishment to the wilderness (suburbia), where he along with every other sentient being has observed the feckless evil of the current executive tenant and his Neo-posse, does he demur? Could he know that any run at the office would surely turn out to be a hollow chrysalis which, after gestation, would not incubate a butterfly but more likely belch forth a wingless, blind slug; that an educated, experienced, wise adult can lead more effectively and make more of a difference by being an activist/celebrity and riding a wave of pop-culture popularity, rather than relying upon the rusted and jury-rigged contraption quaintly referred to as the electoral process?

Maybe Al knows that America (to paraphrase Paddy Chayevsky) is a dying giant, that perhaps she is dead already. And the "business of government" is merely the scramble of organisms over the carcass's wan, flaking skin; any rumbles from within aren't the sounds of legislators engaged in constructive debate but the gasses issuing from the anuses of the bacteria digesting the sad corpse's putrefying innards. Are we destined to have the presidency so finally and utterly mediocritized that it no longer holds any attraction for the most qualified person in recent memory who would imbue it with the honor and prestige it -- and we -- deserve?

Well then, that's what Al must know. Because only that kind of realization would prevent him from participating. He says that politics no longer holds any allure for him. And really, why should it? He won an Oscar, for chrissakes. He's raised awareness of a real issue that actually effects us all in a way that makes him truly a uniter -- not a divider. He is the world's activist uncle. George Bush standing in front of his American Enterprise Institute portable backdrop can barely scrape up a strangulated hosanna from his meticulously vetted and dwindling audiences.

Having only once appropriated the toxic phrase "cut and run" to describe the result of catching my fishnet stockings on a partially extruded staple embedded in the side of a bed post (A long, dull story. Forget I mentioned it.) I am forced to resurrect it once again. It's an extremely ugly phrase, wielded by extremely ugly people but I will use it as that mediocre apparatchik/harridan Jean Schmidt never intended: to provoke the discouraged conscience of the marginalized true-patriot who would ably restore what has been so ignobly destroyed. On second thought, it's so shallow and inflammatory that I can't stand to apply it even in a good cause. There has to be some other way to convince this man of his worth. May be we need to convince him of our worth?

Because this country, for all its gaudy fascinations, for all its daily desperation to fend off reality by consuming goods from China as though they were oxygen atoms is also a country of souls betrayed by their loyalty to the idea of America the beautiful, the judicious and the brave. And it is not the loyalty itself that is at issue but those whom we have entrusted with it. A presidential election is not a parlor game, though it may resemble one far too closely. It is as close to being a sacred exercise as this secular republic asks of its congregants. We require a real leader now, one with a true understanding of the importance of why this country must function correctly and efficiently. We and the world depend on it. So here's your hat. And there's the ring. America needs you need to lead us now more than ever.

That's what we know that Al doesn't.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Marvelous Thoughts About... Thought

Dan Dennett is somewhat of a cranky old dude, and not as brilliant a writer as Laing or Jaynes or B. Russell - but he kicks ass on video. He freaks out about Pointillism, which he pronounces in a very funny faux-Gallic way, and he huffs and breathes heavily, but you can't miss this video, it's dope. Even if my boi Dylan isn't into him - I'd hug the dude. Check out Consciousness Explained for more.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Unorthodox And Unafraid

Consider the case of the young atheist:

He loans a friend a book. Then the boys' school administrators freak out because, in loaning another student a book about religion, the atheist somehow violated the "establishment clause."

Funny.

The kid has a great blog, and he tells his story much better than I could.

(His reading list is very good, by the by, if heavy on the R. Dawkins and Nietzche. But give him a break, he's young.)

I'm quite glad there are others in the world who support free thought. Actually, I just wrote a Sir Salman Rushdie tribute for Wishtank which veers off into a discussion about why we should never limit language/thought/questioning.

Basically, telling kids they can't question their faith is as ineffective as it is immoral. The kids--all of them, bible-thumpers, young Saudis bound for the Madrasah, or even little Dawkinses who think themselves Brights but have never really asked the Hard Questions about existence, consciousness, etc.--are going to find out that others don't necessarily agree with them.

And then they will probably blog about their findings. O Internet...

Well, this says quite a lot

From today's White House press briefing (with Scott Stanzel in for a vacationing Tony Snow):


Question: Scott, is Scooter Libby getting more than equal justice under the law? Is he getting special treatment?

Scott Stanzel: Well, I guess I don't know what you mean by equal justice under the law.

Catch A Liar; Let Him Go?

Great article in the New York Times today about Libby and why he maybe shouldn't be martyred for the sins of Cheney, or at least why it is no more fair to railroad a (perhaps bad) guy for trumped up not-illegal "leaking" charges, just to catch him perjuring himself, than it was to railroad Clinton on blowjob charges, just to catch him perjuring himself.

Read it and think:

"The Lying Game," By MICHAEL KINSLEY, July 5, 2007:

WHEN the Republicans in Congress impeached President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair, they insisted that it wasn’t about sex, it was about lying. Of course that wasn’t true. Even at the height of their power-mad self-delusions (when Newt Gingrich was conducting his own affair with an aide while prosecuting the president), Republicans realized that to make lying an impeachable offense was opening a door no politician should eagerly walk through.

Of course it was really about sex. Nevertheless, those of us who thought impeachment was an outrageous abuse of power by the Republicans had to accept that Mr. Clinton had, clearly, lied. And our argument was this: Mr. Clinton made a mistake. He should not have lied. But he lied in answer to questions he should not have been asked. He should not have been put in a position where he had to choose: he could lie under oath, and be impeached or worse, or he could tell the truth, and embarrass himself and his family, and probably still be impeached or worse.

In short, he was caught in a “perjury trap.” Bill Clinton chose wrong — it all came out anyway — and he defeated impeachment, though you wouldn’t say he got away scot-free.

On Tuesday, President Bush commuted the sentence of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, who was convicted of lying to investigators about the C.I.A. leak case. Mr. Libby will escape prison, but he won’t get away scot-free either. He faces a fine of $250,000 and two years of probation, and if he was thinking of cashing in big on K Street like so many of his administration colleagues, he had better think again.

Mr. Libby’s critics are not the people who criticized Mr. Clinton. And his defenders are not Mr. Clinton’s defenders. But the scripts are similar. The Libbyites believe that their man is being railroaded and shouldn’t have been prosecuted, let alone convicted, for his involvement in a campaign of leaks intended to discredit a critic of the administration, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Mr. Libby’s critics respond that this isn’t about leaking, it’s about lying.

But of course this really is about leaking. It’s the nefarious, though inept, campaign to sully Mr. Wilson that outrages critics of the administration. True, Mr. Libby was not the source for Robert Novak, whose column identifying Mr. Wilson’s wife as a C.I.A. operative started the whole business. And Mr. Libby’s most prominent leakee, Judith Miller, the former New York Times reporter who went to jail rather than reveal a source, didn’t actually write about the case. But Mr. Libby was part of the cabal that was conspiring to discredit Mr. Wilson and, more generally, to convince people that Iraq was strewn with nuclear weapons.

So when Mr. Libby was questioned by federal investigators pursuing the leaks, he too was caught in a perjury trap. He could either tell the truth, thereby implicating colleagues and very possibly himself, in leaking classified security information (the identity of Mr. Wilson’s wife), or he could lie. In either case he would be breaking the law or admitting to having done so, and in either case he could have gone to prison. Mr. Libby, like Mr. Clinton, made the wrong choice.

There is nothing wrong with a perjury trap, as long as both sides of the pincer are legitimate. The abuse comes when prosecutors induce a crime (lying under oath) by exploiting an action that is not a crime. The law about “outing” C.I.A. operatives is apparently vague enough that it isn’t clear whether Mr. Libby violated it. But let’s leave that aside. Exposing one of your country’s intelligence officers is a bad thing to do. If it isn’t against the law, it ought to be, right? Well, this is where the press comes in. At first many in the press supported appointing a special prosecutor to investigate.

The crime, if there was one, was leaking government secrets to journalists. If you were investigating that crime, where would you start? Yes, of course, by questioning journalists. The government leakers, if you found them, would be protected by the Fifth Amendment. You would need more and different evidence, and only journalists had it.

The special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, followed this commonsense logic straight into a First Amendment buzz saw. News organizations that insisted on the need to get to the bottom of the leak also insisted that no journalist should have to supply information to this investigation.

The leaks that The Times and other papers defended so ardently were not laboratory examples of press freedom at work. Quite the opposite: they were part of the nefarious campaign by the vice president’s office to discredit Mr. Wilson — itself part of the larger plot to convince the world that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which was of course part of the plot to get us into the war in the first place. And it worked.

It takes two to leak. How can it be fair that one party to the leak doesn’t even have to testify about it, because leaks are so vital to the First Amendment, while the other party might go to prison for it? And if that is unfair, how is a perjury trap fair when it forces a leaker to choose between going to prison for the leak and going to prison for lying?

So as much as I dislike the war in Iraq, as much as I dislike President Bush, as much as I expect that I would dislike Mr. Libby if I ever met him, I feel that he should not have had to face a perjury trap: the choice between prison for lying, or prison for his role in a set of transactions that the press regards as not merely O.K. but sacrosanct. In fact, if journalists had a more reasonable view about this, the reporters whom Mr. Libby tried to peddle this story to would have said, “Look, outing C.I.A. agents is bad and we are not going to help you do it anonymously.” I bet that today, commuted sentence and all, Mr. Libby wishes they had done just that.

EMACIPATE AND COMEDY AT WCS

So on Tuesday night (July 3) WCS hosted another EMANCIPATE show at the knitting factory. The show was incredible to say the least. It was a night of spectacular musical performances featuring Pistolera, Christina Courtin, Vicki Randle, and Cris Williamson. You can come and check out EMANCIPATE again on July 10th at 7:30 pm at the knitting factory: an evening launching Myth of the Motherland, a film about young artists' travels to 12 African nations over 3 months. Featuring Queen Godls.

In addition, you can expect a series of comedy shows at the culture project this week which are as follows:


7/5: Liz Swados' Political Subversities (10:30 pm): A wild night of songs, scenes, and monologues portraying the absurdity of our world and the outrageously stupid behavior of the people in it. The young cast brings a unique perspective to mix with Elizabeth Swados' years of trouble-making.

7/6: Julie Goldman (9:00 pm): Julie Goldman may just be the funniest woman alive. This extraordinary comedian, with strong roots in the gay and lesbian communities and the activist world, brings her latest solo show to Women Center Stage.

7/7: Ladies Laugh Last With Lizz
Winstead (9:00 pm): Lizz Winstead (The Daily Show, Air America) headlines the evening of the funniest women comedians around, including Julie Goldman, Negin Farsad, Katie Halper, and Desiree Burch. Presented by Women Center Stage and Laughing Liberally.

The shows are going to be great so come and check them out on any or all of those nights. For even more information, visit cultureproject.org

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Two Headlines Today: Libby Libby Libby! (and in small print, war with iran...)

I open my emailed version of the NYTimes and see this:

Bush Spares Libby 30-Month Jail Term
By SCOTT SHANE and NEIL A. LEWIS
President Bush commuted the sentence of I. Lewis Libby Jr., who was convicted of perjury in the C.I.A. leak case.

U.S. Says Iran Helped Iraqis Kill Five G.I.’s
By JOHN F. BURNS and MICHAEL R. GORDON
A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said that Iranian agents and veterans of Hezbollah helped plan a raid in Iraq in which five American soldiers were killed.


Meaning everybody's so pissed off at Bush about Libby, they're liable to let him go to war with Iran... (If some are to be believed - and I think there's reason to hear them out: The anti-Iranian press will ramp up; the "incidents" with "Iranian nationals" will increase in frequency and intensity; it's the Spanish-American War/I mean 'Nam/I mean 'Raq all over again...)

But the Libby thing is really a kick in the nards, ain't it?

This from Kenneth L. Adelman, former Defense (originally War) Department official and Libby-liker:

“This is not a man who deserves to go to jail in any sense of the word... Whatever he did wrong, he certainly paid... This is a good person who served his country very well and is a decent person.”


Yes, if a cop caught me smoking rocks on the corner and I was humiliated and talked about in the media (perhaps because I was an important public official), I would not have to go to jail; I'd have served my time via the public spotlight, as it were.

Yes, if I revealed the identity of an American spy... Fuck it, you get the point.

But enough Americans don't seem to get the point about these cheeseball Neocon warmongers. We just love thugs too much. We can't see their bad sides. We don't like em to perjure, to get caught, or say names - but Cheney et Co. can do damn well what he pleases. Who do you think is writing the official version of every incident with Iran?

Here's a little something from the NYTimes' review of T.I.'s new album:

Listeners transfixed by his entertaining interjections (“O.K.?!”) and exaggerated pronunciation might easily have overlooked the rigorous poetic construction. But that’s a neat little quatrain: four lines, six syllables apiece, each building to an trisyllabic oblique rhyme. Somehow, T. I. delivers supertechnical raps without ever sounding as boring as that last sentence.


Supertechnical my ass. He rhymes "attitude" with "dude" (more than once) and talks about beatin folks up. And not ala the Iliad or Biggie's best verses on life as a poor black American, but just in plain, pro-wrestler, prosaically-themed, overly-metered platitudes. He'll beat you up - not make you cry talking about having to beat some guy up to help his mom.

Now, all you really need to know about T.I. for the purposes of this essay is that the man is a low-down, woman-beatin, gay-bashin, drug-smugglin thug. He revels in thuggery. As Mos Def said, "Thug is the drug," and T.I. is one the best-selling rappers in mainstream hip hop, having two albums ago joined the elite pantheon of other woman-beatin, gay-bashin, crack-smokin thug-gods, recently Fifty "Silent 2nd F" Cent and The Game.

Even the Times loves T.I. and can't bring itself to bash him back for all his crack-handin-out evil.

But, worse, we Americans let thugs get into not only our music (instead of reppin real MCs like MF DOOM, LyricsBorn, most of Little Brother, Mos, &c.) but into our government. As much as we balk at Bush's commutation of Scoot's sentence, we should also balk at the Bush plan to invade frickin Persia...

Aiyaiyai, I gotta drink some ice tea and think about something calming, like how much money I owe the government... or how my cat just tried to eat the last of my toilet paper... again...

Monday, July 2, 2007

Make a call

Several prominent Democrats have asked us to call the White House on Tuesday to express our outrage about the Libby pardon. The number is 202-456-1111 - the cowards shut down the comments line and switchboard today, but they can't hide forever. Try to remind them this is America.

Nigerian Oil... Or No Oil, Actually, In São Tomé

(But first, a quasi-retraction: I didn't realize until Julianne pointed it out, but the Sharon Olds letter has been around for at least a year or two. It's real, and it's still devastating, but it's not new news.)

Nigerian and American business men buy oil rights in a country with no oil, sell the company for mad money, bribe a Democrat from Louisiana, and somehow Jeff Sachs (The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time) gets to swingin... What a nuts story.

Sharon Olds, Poet, Declines White House Invitation

Our artistic director forwarded me this today - wonderful news, worth reading:

Sharon Olds, Poet, Declines White House Invitation

In a culture like ours, one sometimes forgets the power of a poet's words... Here is an open letter from the poet Sharon Olds to Laura Bush declining the invitation to read and speak at the National Book Critics Circle Award in Washington, DC.

Feel free to forward it along if you feel more people may want to read it.

Sharon Olds is one of most widely read and critically acclaimed poets living in America today. Read to the end of the letter to experience her restrained, chilling eloquence.


Dear Mrs. Bush,

I am writing to let you know why I am not able to accept your kind invitation to give a presentation at the National Book Festival on September 24, or to attend your dinner at the Library of Congress or the breakfast at the White House.

In one way, it's a very appealing invitation. The idea of speaking at a festival attended by 85,000 people is inspiring! The possibility of finding new readers is exciting for a poet in personal terms, and in terms of the desire that poetry serve its constituents--all of us who need the pleasure, and the inner and outer news, it delivers. And the concept of a community of readers and writers has long been dear to my heart.

As a professor of creative writing in the graduate school of a major university, I have had the chance to be a part of some magnificent outreach writing workshops in which our students have become teachers. Over the years, they have taught in a variety of settings: a women's prison, several New York City public high schools, an oncology ward for children. Our initial program, at a 900-bed state hospital for the severely physically challenged, has been running now for twenty years, creating along the way lasting friendships between young MFA candidates and their students--long-term residents at the hospital who, in their humor, courage and wisdom, become our teachers.

When you have witnessed someone non-speaking and almost non-moving spell out, with a toe, on a big plastic alphabet chart, letter by letter, his new poem, you have experienced, close up, the passion and essentialness of writing.

When you have held up a small cardboard alphabet card for a writer who is completely non-speaking and non-moving (except for the eyes), and pointed first to the A, then the B, then C, then D, until you get to the first letter of the first word of the first line of the poem she has been composing in her head all week, and she lifts her eyes when that letter is touched to say yes, you feel with a fresh immediacy the human drive for creation, self-expression, accuracy, honesty and wit--and the importance of writing, which celebrates the value of each person's unique story and song.

So the prospect of a festival of books seemed wonderful to me. I thought of the opportunity to talk about how to start up an outreach program. I thought of the chance to sell some books, sign some books and meet some of the citizens of Washington, DC. I thought that I could try to find a way, even as your guest, with respect, to speak about my deep feeling that we should not have invaded Iraq, and to declare my belief that the wish to invade another culture and another country--with the resultant loss of life and limb for our brave soldiers, and for the noncombatants in their home terrain--did not come out of our democracy but was instead a decision made "at the top" and forced on the people by distorted language, and by untruths. I hoped to express the fear that we have begun to live in the shadows of tyranny and religious chauvinism--the opposites of the liberty, tolerance and diversity our nation aspires to.

I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear witness--as an American who loves her country and its principles and its writing--against this undeclared and devastating war.

But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.

What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.

Sincerely,

SHARON OLDS

Cue the vacation

ABC has just announced that intel says Al-Qaeda is planning a "spectacular" attack this summer with chatter as high and alarming as the summer of 2001. I guess the President should be starting his two month vacay any second now....

And a little dance couldn't hurt either....

There is a massive drought in Alabama. The National Weather Service has called it the worst in decades. But the Governor there, Gov. Bob Riley, has a solution - prayer! Yes, folks, the Governor asked all Alabamians (Alabamists?) to pull together and pray for rain. That should do it.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

WTF, Google?!?

Google has come out publicly against Michael Moore and his new film Sicko. This is really friggin' weird and oddly seems to have some kind of healthcare/big pharma/lobbying power behind the move. Seriously, what is going on here?

Gore's Op Ed

Our next President has a wonderful op-ed in the Times today. If only........

our buddy's new music video

CP pal Peter Buffett has a gorgeous new music video!