donderdag, april 24, 2003

Begin The Beguine
"The coalition alone retains absolute authority within Iraq." Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, the commander of ground forces in Iraq warning that anyone challenging the American-led authority would be subject to arrest.

Jay Garner, the retired lieutenant general who will lead reconstruction efforts whined hopefully that "The majority of people realize we are only going to stay here long enough to start a democratic government for them. We're only going to stay here long enough to get their economy going."

Once that was grasped, General Garner added, "In a very short order you'll see a change in the attitudes and the will of the people themselves.". Great. Then General Garner can fly home and get America's Economy going. The current economic wizards have turned a budget surplus into $6.4 trillion in debt. These guys are obviously experts.

Of course, not everyone in Iraq is writhing in ecstasy over the arrival of the American "liberators". Sheikh Mohammed al-Fartusi told Abu Dhabi television: "Our arrest by the Americans was worse than the arrests that Saddam ordered against our students." What? Trouble in Paradise? Is it really true Uncle Sam, that US Forces Worse Than Saddam? Say it ain't so! Fartusi said of his detainment by American forces: "We were beaten ... spent a night with our hands tied behind our backs," adding however than an American officer did offer an apology. (Sorry we had to beat you and tie you up but well, you could have been a terrorist?)

"It was disgusting. Despite the fact that none of our young men has pointed a weapon against America... but, next time, God alone knows what popular anger could lead to?". Why, Democracy for the liberated peoples of Iraq, of course. And just in case you think you're alone Mr. Fatusi, you should note that some cry out into the bleek Iraqi night: We Want Our Saddam Back!.

I believe a friend of Maud Newton got it right: "aggressively stupid". If that isn't the defining reality of American foreign policy, I don't know what is.

American concern over the activities of these two men — Muhammad Mohsen Zobeidi and Ahmad Chalabi — has begun to grow, military officials said.

Mohammed Mohsen al-Zubaidi, who recently returned to Iraq, asserts that he was chosen to lead an executive council charged with administering Baghdad. He has reportedly sought to appoint a police chief, ignoring the police official installed by the Army's Third Infantry Division, and his supporters have appropriated government vehicles. Mr. Zubaidi has proclaimed himself the new mayor of Baghdad -- a claim not recognized by Garner and his Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.

Eureka! That is what I want to be when I grow up: the new mayor of Baghdad! 50 dinars to everyone who votes for me!

Zubaidi's group also promised a 1,000 percent salary increase to all state employees. Heady days. Guess they won't be saddled with a budget crisis over in Baghdad since the American taxpayers are so happy to foot the bill of the new world order.

As David Shribman of the Post-Gazette notes:

"The new world order that has emerged from the smoke of Baghdad is only slightly less dramatic than the one that followed the defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. In 1945, the United States shared world power with, and was threatened by, the Soviet Union. In 2003, it shares world power with no conventional state and is threatened only by a handful of rogue states (chief menace: North Korea) and a handful of rogue terror organizations (chief peril: al-Qaida).

Look at the new landscape: The United States has swiftly acquired, and perhaps may even keep, four new bases in the land it once considered the biggest threat to world stability (Iraq). Since the terrorist attacks of September 2001, the United States has planted bases in parts of what used to be known as the Soviet Empire, including three in former Warsaw Pact nations (Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria), two in what used to be the USSR (Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan), and one in a nation regarded as a principal breeding ground of radical Islamic fundamentalism (Pakistan)."
But for all the talk of an American empire, the current period is more of an American enigma. The deficit continues to burgeon. American economic power is built on foreign debt.

Meanwhile, Jihad Unspun has a nice video/music animation of the Liberation with music by Laibach. Very amusing in a cynical realist's sort of manner. Well worth it.


The LA Times reports that the number of traffic deaths rose last year to its highest level since 1990, the government said, citing a variety of factors, including rollover crashes, heavy drinking and a greater number of baby boomers climbing aboard motorcycles. An estimated 42,850 people — 734 more than the previous year — were killed in crashes nationwide in 2002, according to preliminary statistics released Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This underscores Desultory Turgescence's long-standing claim that the real threat to the American people are not Islamic Jihadists, but themselves.

Just so you know: Thousands of people mobbed Beijing's West railroad terminal today in desperate attempts to flee the city as the capital reported another triple-digit increase in the numbers of people infected with SARS and nine more deaths. I wonder how it compared to the mobs of Chinese people pushing their way to withdraw their savings and empty safe-deposit boxes from two branches of a Chinatown bank in NYC recently. The sense of panic must be in the rice. Otherwise, they'd be calm, cool and collected, like our Iraqi friends.

Pravda says that Bobby Fischer, the "Great Hermit" and noted by many as the greatest chess player of the 20th century was reported on in the Russian newspaper Trud-7 this year: "His vision of the world is as follows: a powerful mafia group of communists and Jews is haunting him with a view to poison. The CIA also participates in the plot, as it helped to deprive Fischer of all his fortune. Osama bin Laden is a hero, but Hitler "was to ceremonious" with Jews, he should have given them short shrift. Synagogues must be destroyed and Jews must be liquidated.". Whew. You'd never hear Jan Timman or Hein Donner ranting like that. Maybe Osama bin Laden is a Grandmaster cleverly disguised as Bobby Fischer.

One Good Move provides "a fascinating tour of language" which "demonstrates a favorite device of conservatives and Peggy Noonan...That's what Noonan and the others are aiming for with this pattern -- the rhythm of the simple feelings that are obvious to everyone but the clever people who make life too complicated."

Perhaps to counter this conservative palaver, liberals should begin speaking a benign form of Europanto which Joeri Cornille of UDN leads us to.

The Department of Defense wants us to know that this is Stress Awareness Month:

"Although stress can have the beneficial effect of sharpening the senses, impelling acts of heroism, and drawing a unit’s members closer together, when a service member’s ability to deal with stress is exceeded, the consequences may be operationally significant'. That must be why the Daffy Don has had such an active and chipper social calendar lately.

Iraqi "Most-Wanted" playing cards apparently aren't as exciting as the organization that spawned them wanted us to believe: the price for the deck has been slashed from $9.95 to $5.95.

Much like the Great Satan Quarterly, Desultory Turgescence has been experiencing a rather pronounced case of writer's block lately. Perhaps it should be attributed to the burnout of the post-invasion media blitzkrieg. Let's call it the "Post Aprocryphal Blues" and be grateful that the remedy is only a six hour plane flight away.

For the purposes of celebrating a lifetime achievement of an indeterminable amount of years, Desultory Turgescence will be back in Holland for the next two weeks. Mark your calendars accordingly. Anyone wishing to join me in the effort to completely cleanse the braincells of this post-invasion trauma will probably be able to find me posted at Café Hoppe on Spuistraat or Café Marktzicht on Breedstraat in Utrecht.

Until then, remember what Ludwig Wittgenstein once noted: "I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves."

For your amusement in my absence, here is the hypertext version of T.S. Eliot's classic The Wasteland.

Tot ziens!

donderdag, april 17, 2003

How I Will Spend My Bonus Money

The Great Liberator George W Bush signed into law yesterday a $79 billion package to pay for the war in Iraq, which, among other things, provides $4 billion to tighten homeland security protections, including $2.2 billion to help local governments meet rising costs of sending police, firefighters and other "first responders" to terror threats.

Through the formula currently used by the Office of Domestic Preparedness which initially provided 600 million total, New York, considered one of the states most at risk of a terrorist attack, was to receive a $26.5 million allotment, which came out to $1.40 per resident. This doesn't even buy me one roll of duct tape. By comparison, under that same formula, Wyoming got $9.78, Vermont, $8.15 and Alaska, $7.97. The national average was $3.29.

So really, this added $2.2 billion is a real boon to those of us living in NYC. With the added money, now I might be able to buy a roll of duct tape and a beer to wash away my fears and disillusionment.

Maybe New Yorkers should ask the White House to liberate us from the tyrannical despot Mayor Buffoonberg. Look at what the recently-liberated Iraq is getting: $2.5 billion as seed money for their post-war restoration. That's more than all of the states in America are getting combined to protect themselves. Or maybe we should move en masse to the country of one of our allies since out of this new war budget, about $8 billion in aid is going to reward allies, including Jordan, Egypt, Afghanistan, Israel and Pakistan. It pays to be a member of Coalition of The Willing. Even the slumping airline industry got their fingers into the honey pot, nabbing $3 billion for their troubles, proving once again that near-fatal mismanagement of your finances gets a thumbs up in the Bush Administration.

Truthfully, we don't even need the extra money. Just yesterday Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge lowered the nation's terrorist alert threat level yesterday from orange or "high risk" to yellow or "elevated risk," and government officials said one reason for the action was that hostilities in Iraq are coming to a close. Oh wait, that's everywhere except New York. We're having such a good time spending our $1.40 allotment, we just don't want the party to stop, I suppose.

Back in Baghdad, the Coalition Forces have issued a message to the "liberated" citizens of Baghdad in the interests of their safety which include the the polite requests to:

1. Please avoid leaving your homes during the night hours after the evening prayers and before the call to morning prayers.

2. During all hours please approach Coalition military positions with extreme caution. Make it as clear as possible to the forces manning those positions that you are not a threat.

It's a funny thing, this democracy the Bush Administration is establishing in Iraq. Protesting against the establishment, (in this case, the US Military) gets you killed, much like it did in the days of the evil dictator Saddam. Even if you protest in a market, you get killed by US forces. I'd say this is quite an improvement over Saddam actually. During the evil dictator's reign, you were tortured and then killed. Under the new democracy, you just get killed. You've got to admire that American spirit of efficiency. It's a pretty convincing argument for keeping your mouth shut and hiding in your house all day and night.

The Daffy Don's Busy War Week
"Public servants are paid to serve the American people. Do it well." Donald Rumsfeld

The American Forces Information Service reports that during a special concert performed by War Hillbilly Darryl Worley, the Defense Department's senior leaders reacted well to the pro-war warbling. Air Force General Richard Myers applauded heartily, and in a rare show of emotion, a red-eyed Rumsfeld twice took off his glasses to wipe away tears. Next thing you know, they'll be squeezing blood from stones over at the Pentagon. Nevertheless, the event provides us with some unique insight on how Daffy Don is handling the war effort.

Here, the Daffy Don looks as though his month long battle with constipation is about to come to an end as he tightly grips the edges of his custom-made folding chair/port-a-potty unit during Worley's performance and here we see him holding up the evidence of all the WMDs the United States military has discovered in Iraq to date.

"Now, it's been called a pro-war song," Worley told Rumsfeld, Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Pentagon crowd about his little ditty. "If that means that I support my president and the conflict that we just took care of over there, then I guess that's what it is if that's what it has to be. But it's a whole lot more to me. It's a pro-America song. It's a pro-military song."

I'm glad someone finally came out and admitted it. This must be like someone in the German American Bund singing Deutschland Deutschland Uber Alles back in the 40s.

If that wasn't enough to keep the Daffy Don festering in his own patriotic drool for weeks, his appearance at a Washington Wizards game for Michael Jordan's final home game two nights ago should have been.

Last year, Jordan showed his support of The Pentagon Relief fund when he donated his entire 2001-02 $1 million salary to support Pentagon relief efforts. In return, the Daffy Don came in person to present Jordan with a flag that flew over the Pentagon on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. That's a pretty damned expensive anniversary flag.

Jordan and Rumsfeld then shook hands and chatted briefly, one egomaniac comparing cliff notes with another. Of course, Mike want to watch his back now. It wasn't all that long ago that the Daffy Don was shaking hands with Saddam Hussein and pretending to be chummy.

But the Daffy Don had his fun, no doubt. Here he is again, this time at Michael Jordan's final home game as a basketball player, opposite Jordan, courtside, giggling like a schoolgirl. Note not everyone finds the spectacle as entertaining as the Daffy Don: check out former President Clinton's close friend and adviser Vernon Jordan (no relation to Michael) to the left and the concerned look on the face of sports agent David Falk to the right.

Now that I think about it, I think I'll donate my $1.40 homeland security dividend to the Pentagon. Maybe I can get one of those crocheted minature US flags out of the deal.

woensdag, april 16, 2003

Don't Look Now, But Here Comes Doomsday
"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. No man has learned anything rightly, until he know that every day is Doomsday.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Talk about cheap hysterics. Like a madman with a gun threatening to kill hostages one by one if his demands aren't met, NYC Mayor Buffoonberg yesterday desperately tried to call Albany's budgetary bluff by unveiling a "doomsday" fiscal plan that he says he'll have to enact if the state doesn't help bail out the city. Saying he's already raised property taxes, reduced the city's workforce and made $600 million in cuts, the mayor repeatedly called on state legislators and municipal union leaders to now do their part - or he'll have to implement a budget that would be a "horrendous thing for the city."

Hey, we've already seen the ban on smoking, the end of subway tokens, and the advent of the eleven digit phone call this year alone. How much more horrendous can things get in the city?

"Call Albany," Buffoonberg suggested. "We need help. Call the unions. I'm not ashamed to ask for help." I wonder if this is the kind of imagination he used when he built Bloomberg LP as its chief executive. Gimme hand outs. Tax breaks. I need help! Not really. Even his own budget notes that large businesses are increasingly eschewing incorporation and setting themselves up as limited liability partnerships, such as Bloomberg LP. Partnerships pay a flat rate of four percent of taxable income; corporations pay almost nine percent. The Budget For A Livable City Coalitionargues that equalizing the two rates will generate $881 million. The moral of the story is, if the city were a giant corporation that could escape taxes through loopholes, we'd be much better off but since we're not, the best Buffoonberg can offer is "we need help."

Instead, Buffoonberg berated city union chiefs, saying, "Everybody always phrases it 'I want mine' and 'I don't care about the others.' And the fact of the matter is, we are all in this together."

Are we really "all in this together"? Forbes magazine reported Thursday that Buffoonberg is worth a staggering $4.8 billion - up from $4.4 billion a year earlier. That boosted him to 63rd from 72nd on the list of the world's wealthiest. He owns a private jet and five homes. As far as I can tell, no one on my block owns their own jet. Since we are "all in this together" why doesn't he invite us to fly down and play a few rounds of golf on the links near his multimillion dollar home in Bermuda?

A quick look at his property tax plan shows that while we are all in this together, only some of us are going to pay for it.

In an earlier private briefing for City Council members, Bloomberg lost his temper when Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) asked why he wouldn't let corporate sponsors fund firehouses.

"He said, 'Vote against the budget, I don't give a shit" recalled Barron.

We're all in this together so maybe none of should give a shit either. How far does the "we" extend? While Bloomberg's commuter tax, rejected out of hand by Albany as too absurd for consideration, now accounts for $1.4 billion of the $2.7 billion that the mayor is seeking from the state. Even though the city sends Albany at least $3.5 billion more in revenue each year than we receive in state aid, this year we will get even less such aid - at least hundreds of millions of dollars less.

Fortunately, Bonnie Brower offers an alternative to suicide by budget:

"Almost two-thirds of the city's annual revenues are raised from city taxes, fees and fines, and we will have to reform these to find additional ongoing revenues to grow, not cut, our way out of our fiscal crisis. And this is exactly the recipe for survival being pressed by the Budget for a Livable NYC Coalition, which was convened and is being staffed by City Project. It is proposing a progressive revenue package which, if enacted, would generate $3.5 billion in additional recurring revenues for the city, avoid the need for further painful and destructive service cuts, and spread the pain and burdens of the fiscal crisis more evenly and fairly.

The coalition's revenue recommendations "follow the money" to wealthy city residents and profitable businesses, which have so far been insulated from contributing to the city's recovery.

They propose to capture a small portion of the federal income tax windfall, by enacting a one percent income tax increase for residents with incomes above $250,000, which would raise $595 million in new revenue. Our recommended commuter tax is a simple one percent tax, which would, by itself, generate $950 million, almost as much as the mayor's complicated personal income tax reform proposal, but in ongoing revenues."

The coalition offers three major principles for a budget for a livable New York City:

· Further cuts to essential public services impair the city's long-term economic recovery and place our most vulnerable residents in unacceptable jeopardy.

· The City's need for additional revenues is best met through modest tax increases (many of which merely restore former tax levels) targeted to the wealthiest individuals and businesses, which would broaden the tax base, increase long-term, recurring revenues, and make our tax structure fairer and more progressive.

· Significant cost savings in the budget can be achieved in many city agencies through smart spending strategies that improve services, and the collection of outstanding taxes and fines.

You know, it sounds so much more sensible but then again, it's nowhere near as entertaining as listening to our miniature mayor threaten to gut the city if he doesn't get his way. Maybe he should pass out some duct tape and plastic sheeting, just in case his bluff doesn't work.

dinsdag, april 15, 2003

Filling the Vacancy in the Axis of Evil
"...We are waging this war for a better peace, that we are fighting for the happiness of people who have so often been oppressed by their governments. No power in the world will make us deny our duty, or forget even for a moment our historical task of maintaining the freedom of our people." -- Joseph Goebbels.

With major combat operations in Iraq winding down it doesn't take a clairvoyant to divine the Administration's ethereal game plan for filling the new vacancy in the Axis of Evil. Using terminology strikingly similar to that before Iraq was invaded, the Man with the Plan, Ari Fleischer said in yesterday's press briefing that "Syria is indeed a rogue nation," and noted it was on the U.S. State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism. Speaking to reporters, Fleischer read from a CIA report to Congress for January-June last year on the "acquisition of technology relating to weapons of mass destruction and advanced conventional munitions."

"Syria sought CW (chemical weapon) related precursors and expertise from foreign sources during the reporting period. Damascus already held a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin, but apparently is trying to develop more toxic and persistent nerve agents," the report said. Asked why the Bush administration was raising the weapons of mass destruction charge on Syria now, when it had not over the last six months, Fleischer said: "It's a relevant fact."

Since it seems Syria is next in line for Dr. Bush's Miracle Makeovers, it might be time to get the "before" vision ahead of the "after" picture. We missed out on the halcyon days of evil tryanny in Baghdad when crime was non-existent and the tourist attractions were still standing and while the looting is dying down, this is mostly because there isn't anything left to loot in Baghdad any more.

If the chaos of occupied Baghdad was any precursor to the future, you might want to check out the National Museum of Damascus before the looters get to it. The museum's facade was once the entrance to the Qasr al-Hayr al-Ghabi, an ancient military camp. According to the Lonely Planet, inside is a fantastic array of exhibits, including writings from the 14th century BC that use the world's first known alphabet, statuary from Mari that's over 4000 years old, two halls full of marble and terracotta statues from Palmyra, Damascene weapons, old surgical instruments from surgeons' graves, a collection of 13th century Qur'ans and a complete room decorated in the style of the 18th century Azem Palace.

"It's important for President Assad of Syria, who is a new leader, a young man, to understand that the future needs to be different from the past." Ari Fleischer, White House spokesmodel.

Since it's no fun naming a new member of the Axis of Evil without a little historical background, the Federal Research Division of The Library of Congress notes that until the twentieth century, when Western powers began to carve out the rough contours of the contemporary states of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel, the whole of the settled region at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea was called Syria, the name given by the ancient Greeks to the land bridge that links three continents. For this reason, historians and political scientists usually use the term Greater Syria to denote the area in the prestate period. They remember that until 1920, "Syria" referred to a region much larger than the Syrian Arab Republic of today, a region that stretched from the borders of Anatolia to those of Egypt, from the edge of Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea. In terms of today's states, the Syria of old comprised Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, plus the Gaza Strip and Alexandretta.

"We say to Mr Bush that Syria has no chemical weapons and that the only chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in the region are in Israel, which is threatening its neighbours and occupying their land," Buthaina Shaaban, a Syrian foreign ministry spokeswoman.

As we examine the degrees of separation we see that Saladin, the first Ayyubid sultan, and famous for having recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders, one of the great heroes of Arab history, is buried in Damascus. Perhaps ironically, he too was born in Tikrit, already well-known for another Arab figure of recent fame. Saladin died in Damascus. Saddam's wife is rumored to have run for Damascus so, eager for that home-cookin', Saddam could be headed for Damascus also. Hell, Saddam is probably over at the Cham Palace Hotel already, smoking cigars, drinking expensive cognac and plotting to formulate a final Crime Syndicate to battle George Bush, Dick Cheney, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. And perhaps just like Saladin, Damascus is where he will die for the eighth time since the onset of the invasion of Iraq, in a massive, pinpoint bombing strike, much like the other pinpoint strikes which killed him already.

"Of course we will examine possible measures of a diplomatic, economic or other nature as we move forward. We are in touch with Syrian authorities, we have a very effective ambassador there, Ambassador Kattouf, who will stay in touch with them and make them aware of our concerns and we'll see how things unfold as we move forward," said Colin Powell, the U.S. Secretary of State.

It won't be long before the networks begin their tandem assault so get used to seeing photos of Damascus via satellite as ex-generals walk all over floor-sized maps of it, pointing out where all the evil ministries are located and pushing orphan-sized chess pieces of artillery over the surface of it before bringing out the giant magic markers to slash a giant X across it.

"The United States has "intelligence that indicates some Iraqi people have been allowed into Syria," Daffy Donald Rumsfeld said, adding, "I would say that we have seen chemical weapons tests in Syria over the past 12, 15 months."

Besides, there's already a Damascus in Maryland so even if the city has to be bombed into rubble, America's got another one to replace it. The same couldn't be said for Baghdad.

So get into the ritmo of the city while you still can with Sufi Songs of Damascus by Hamza Shakkur.

"We say to him [Mr. Bush] that Syria has no chemical weapons and that the only chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in the region are in Israel," said Buthania Shaaban, the Syrian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman.

So congratulations, Syria. Looks like the Bush Administration done found its whippin' boy.

vrijdag, april 11, 2003

Text of TV address by George Bush

April 11 2003

This is the text of the TV address by US President George W Bush to the Iraqi nation:

"This is George W Bush, the President of the United States and a I'm an alchoholic. At this moment, the statues of Saddam Hussein are being removed from their pedestals by a handful of prepaid Iraqi people who like you, are celebrating their new found freedoms by the dozens in front of television crews to be broadcast around the world so that everyone knows how happy all of you are that we've come to replace your evil dictator Saddam. This long era of the fear and cruelty brought on by these statues is ending and we've replaced it with what will be an even longer period of anarchy, killing and looting as your nation dissolves into sectarian wars and uncontrollable fundamentalist missions of retribution. Rejoice. American and coalition forces are now operating inside Baghdad - and we will not stop until every one of Saddam's statues have been toppled. The government of Iraq, and the future of your country, will soon belong to us and in time, we will dole it out to you in small increments once you have demonstrated your ability to obey like good dogs, lick the feet of our brave coalition troops, keep your mouths shut unless spoken to and open your oil reserves to our money-mad American Oilogarchy cleverly disguised as Administration officials.

"Similar to the justifications we've provided the world for the invasion of your country, the goals of our coalition are murky and unlimited. We will not end our brutal regime, whose aggression and weapons of mass destruction make it a unique threat to the world. Coalition forces, working in tandem with the imbedded "journalists" we have convinced to spout our propaganda willingly and without question will help maintain the appearance of law and order, so long as the cowardly and evil news medias from other Arab and Western European nations who are unwilling to report what we say they see, are not allowed access to your country. We will respect your great religious traditions so long as you acknowledge in blood and in writing, that the only true savior of the world is Jesus Christ and that you promise to vote for me in the next elections. We will help you build a peaceful and representative government which best reflects the narrow interests of my Administration and which will protect the rights of all citizens who agree with us and openly support our system of democracy and help us to regain all the oil reserves in your country which are rightfully ours for liberating you. And then, if you are good and keep your mouths shut, if you tolerate our invasion of your country and the killing of your innocent civilians and give us all your oil, our military forces will leave. Iraq will go forward as a unified, independent and sovereign nation that has regained a respected place in the world or, possibly, a boiling cauldron of religious and ethnic hatreds destined to decimate your country even further, depending on how long it takes us to suck all the oil out of your country.

"The United States and its coalition partners respect the people of Iraq. We are taking unprecedented measures to spare the lives of innocent Iraqi citizens, so be grateful that we haven't killed you yet with any of our "precision-guided" missiles landing in markets and residential neighborhoods and keep in mind that if you don't behave, at any time, we can wipe out your entire neighborhood with a few cluster bombs. You saw what we did to those silly journalists who tried to report the truth. The truth will not be tolerated. While we have cut off your food, water, medicine, and electricity supply, if you behave and you do as you're told, there's a good chance in a few months, we may allow the first shipments of food, water and medicine to be delivered. But remember, this is conditioned upon good behavior. I don't want any of you Iraqi people saying anything negative about your new democracy. I don't want any crying about dead mothers and children. I don't want to hear any of the Yankee Imperialist Invaders talk. I don't want any grumbling of discontent. Your job is to be happy and to tell your Arab brothers how happy you are that we've liberated you. Our only enemy is Saddam's brutal regime - and that regime is your enemy as well, because I say so. And if you don't agree with me, keep it to yourself, otherwise, you will be considered a terrorist and you will be tracked down and killed, just like Osama bin Laden and Saddam. My track record of success is unequivocable.

"In the new era that is coming to Iraq, your country will no longer be held captive to the will of a cruel dictator but instead to a small collective of oil barons acting as the democratically elected government of the United States of America. You will be free to build a better life, since we've destroyed everything in the neighborhoods around you and instead of building more palaces for Saddam and his sons, you will be free to pursue economic prosperity through looting until all the goodies are gone and you will be free to live without the hardship of economic sanctions we've levied upon you, starving your children for the last ten years. For the next several weeks, feel free to travel about the rubble of your neighborhoods and speak your mind because really, we want your feedback. How are we doing? Do you like us yet? Aren't we great liberators? Good. I thought so. Feel free to join in the political affairs of Iraq so long they are the affairs of the puppet government of Iraq which we will be installing for you shortly. And all the people who make up your country - Kurds, Shi'a, Turkomans, Sunnis, and others - who will be free of the terrible persecution that so many have endured, may now, in turn, persecute you and exact horrible retribution upon you instead.

"The nightmare that Saddam Hussein has brought to your nation will soon be over. Welcome to your new nightmare. You are a good and gifted people - just not smart enough to liberate yourselves from evil dictators or distinguish good from evil on your own but we will see to it that you learn. You deserve better than tyranny and corruption and torture chambers. Unfortunately, we are fresh out of other options at the moment. You deserve to live as free people. Hell, everyone deserves it, in theory. Unfortunately, because the world is such a dangerous and unsafe place, we cannot allow you to live as free people at the moment. But, as a reminder, I want to assure every citizen of Iraq: you are happy to have Saddam out of power for the moment. You are happy to be able to loot and pillage to your heart's content in the anarchy we have left in our wake. You are happy we have invaded your country because you don't really want those oil reserves and prefer that we take control of them because it's just not worth the effort to oppose us. You are happy, don't forget it. Rejoice. Give praise to Jesus Christ that we got rid of that evil dictator for you. We will soon begin the 24 hour a day, all Fox News Channel television system and will begin translating the Washington Times into Arabic for your enlightenment. Don't forget to give prayers of thanks to me for liberating you and don't forget to pray for me, your savior, George W. Bush.

"Thank you."

donderdag, april 10, 2003

Why Americans Support Invasion of Iraq

For weeks now, since the Gallup polls showing 70% of Americans supporting the war effort were first released, Desultory Turgescence has been puzzled about why Americans support a war that such a vast majority of the world around them doesn't support. Perhaps even more incomprehensible was the fact that nearly four-fifths of Americans said they believed the Bush administration contention that Iraq has ties to the Al Qaeda terrorist network even though there was never any evidence to support this contention, and three-fifths believed that Saddam Hussein was at least somewhat responsible for the terrorist attacks on New York and DC on September 11th, 2001, a charge even the Bush administration has not made.

Desultory Turgescence, in the time since, has come to understand this strange phenomenon and explains its source by considering the following three factors:

American Illiteracy: The National Institute for Literacy reports there has been a significant growth in illiteracy in America. Over 90 million US adults, nearly one out of two, are functionally illiterate or near illiterate, without the minimum skills required in a modern society. It further reports that out of 191 million adults in the US, as many as 44 million cannot read a newspaper or fill out a job application. Another 50 million more cannot read or comprehend above the eighth grade level.

American Media Bias: The Los Angeles Times reports their poll of Americans showed that nearly seven in 10 Americans are tuning into cable news shows for their coverage of the war, followed by newspapers at a distant second (30%).

Electronic Iraq, launched by veteran antiwar campaigners Voices in the Wilderness and respected Middle East supplementary news publishers, the Electronic Intifada opines that another difference between television in the U.S. and elsewhere has been coverage of Iraqi casualties. Despite constant discussion of "precision bombing," the U.S. invasion has produced so many dead and wounded that Iraqi hospitals stopped trying to count. Red Cross officials have labeled the level of casualties "incredible," describing "dozens of totally dismembered dead bodies of women and children" delivered by truck to hospitals. Cluster bombs, one of the most indiscriminate weapons in the modern arsenal, have been used by U.S. and U.K. forces, with the British defense minister explaining that mothers of Iraqi children killed would one day thank Britain for their use.

U.S. viewers see little of these consequences of war, which are common on television around the world and widely available to anyone with Internet access. Why does U.S. television have a different standard? CNN's Aaron Brown said the decisions are not based on politics. He acknowledged that such images accurately show the violence of war, but defended decisions to not air them; it's a matter of "taste," he said. Again, which choice tells the more complete truth?

Fox News ChannelThe obvious beneficiary of this is biased war viewing is the Fox News Channel which last year surpassed CNN to become the top-rated cable news network in the United States. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that American viewers are more than twice as likely to get their war information from cable than from network television. Fox News Channel was the week's highest rated cable network, 5.58 million viewers per night, an impressive increase over last week's average of 2.16 million.

According a recent New York Times article, "the war has underscored the difference between Fox News and its rivals more starkly than ever. From the start, the network displayed an American flag waving on its screen. Its newscasters speak of American and British troops as "we," "ours," and "liberators." After other networks reported setbacks to American and British forces, the Fox commentator Bill O'Reilly denounced its competitors as "liberal weenies" who were exaggerating the difficulties of the fight and underestimating the American public's tolerance for casualties."

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, diplomatically notes that Fox's war coverage "lacks scepticism".

"Fox is so blatantly one-sided it is appalling," says Howard Rosenberg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic of the Los Angeles Times. "Every time I turn it on, someone is saying something evil about the [anti-war] protesters or being pro-Bush."

Desultory Turgescence maintains that Illiteracy, plus heavy reliance on cable television for news plus cable television news bias equals American support for the war.

If it is any consolation, it might make one feel better to see this website that asks the question: "What if Fox News were around during other historical events?" Thanks to Lying Media Bastards for this link.

From the Score Another Victory For the Brave Americans Department, following days of intense media speculation that Saddam Hussein had been killed in a "precision" attack Monday afternoon of carried out by a single B-1B bomber, with four precision-guided, 2,000-pound, bunker-penetrating bombs dropped on a restaurant after U.S. intelligence was tipped that the Iraqi president, sons Odai and Qusai and other top leaders might be meeting there, it does appear that while no one knows if Saddam is dead or alive, the precision strike was effective in killing many innocent civilians:

"A young woman's severed head and torso and a small boy's body were pulled Tuesday from a smoking crater carved into the earth by four U.S. bombs, so powerful they yanked orange trees from their roots. But there was no sign of the man those bombs were aimed at: Saddam Hussein.

For the second time in the war, coalition forces were wondering whether they'd gotten their man. One thing was all too clear, though: Once again, civilians had suffered.

When the broken body of the 20-year-old woman was brought out torso first, then the head her mother started crying uncontrollably, then collapsed. She was helped into a car by two male relatives.

Across the street from the crater, which lay amid the ruins of three houses, relatives squatted on the sidewalk and watched as rescue workers and volunteers, using a bulldozer and their bare hands, searched for their loved ones. Some wept; others just buried their faces in their hands.

By yesterday, for the second time since the onset of the invasion, U.S. officials withdrew from an initial CIA assessment that Saddam was killed in the attack. Ah, if only destroying statues and posters of Saddam Hussein was the same as killing Saddam Hussein, the war would actually be over instead of the continuing exposure of more innocent, "liberated" civilians to the plagues of invasion and war.

Iraqi civilians should recall the reassuring words of Donald Rumsfeld, who, if you go by the history of his recent statements, is the war planner when the war is going well and has nothing to do with the war plans when it is going badly, advised just after the onset of the invasion that

"The targeting capabilities and the care that goes into targeting, to see that the precise targets are struck, other targets are not struck, is as impressive as anything anyone could see -- the care that goes into it, the humanity that goes into it."

Imagine the lunacy and carelessness of an Administration that on one hand, promotes the illusion that "great care" goes into the precision striking of targets, then goes hog wild with the mere innuendo of the presence of Saddam and drops 2,000 bombs on innocent civilians instead.

According to Iraq Body Count civilian casualties have grown to a range of between 1100 and 1350. Iraqi authorities said last week that over 1,250 civilians have been killed in the war and more than 5,000 injured. But a more accurate, up-to-date count may not come for some time. Of course, the biased information of the Iraqi authorities isn't as accurate or truthful as American authorities who have only been wrong about killing Saddam twice in three weeks and have never provided any untruthful or misleading information to the American press or its literate society.

Regardless of whether or not you support the invasion of Iraq, as always, children are the ones who suffer most in acts of aggression and violence, and you should lend your support to them as well. Save The Children has begun spending the $4 million it received from the U.S. Agency for International Development for the relief effort in Iraq, but will need to raise as much as $30 million. The organization has established a new Iraq Children in Crisis Fund to allow contributors to target their donations specifically to help Iraqi victims of war. Save the Children is seeking support from a variety of sources to provide essential articles such as tents, blankets, fuel, medicine, food and water for war victims and to ensure the protection of displaced women and children.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is another organization with the experience and resources to help the victims of the invasion and would also welcome donations.

And please, Stay Away From Your Televisions!. Clearly, for the majority of Americans, it's become an impediment to rational thinking.

woensdag, april 09, 2003

The Young Man's Checklist of Imperatives
(For Jens Bjørneboe)

The first secret's an optical illusion:
The majority do not eat sauerkraut unless they like it.

Always consider what people will believe easiest
before placing your bets. Double it
when the teleprompter winks twice.

When in doubt, eat.
And let your body be pulled from your bed with a crane.
The loudest patriots are always the happiest.
And the happiest are always the hungriest.

Your future is an automobile that will be broken into
again and again
as though you had something valuable to steal inside.
Seek the cold. Smoke to preserve.
Drink to your health.

Don't forget to write. Don't think for others
as it is too tiring and results in fleas.
Don't allow others to think for you
as it is too relaxing and results in thoughtlessness.
Don't fear for fear itself. When in doubt,
break the window.

Tell the predictable that you've already heard it.
Move only in shadows, bring mace and a clipboard.
Tell the earth that it needs a shower and a shave.
Hear the entropy breathing.
Head for sorrow and its 24 hour avenues
with the bright lights and myopic dreams.

Never walk up to a line. It'll just be waiting.
They predict the line will move and it will move
right into the next one.
And they will want money.
For the privilege of living, you should pay your dues.
Failure to pay your dues
could result in legal action being taken against you.
Or worse.

Praise your fellow man for not having killed you yet.
It was a big decision but in the end,
they decided to get the fries and cheeseburger again instead.
Praise the details. Giving at the door
is sometimes necessary to get in. Your friends
will turn into Cubists and demand that you do too.
In February, you scratch triangles into the dirt
that symbolize the triangles scratched into the dirt.
By March, you will have recanted.

Nightmares burn carbohydrates.
Tossing and turning is the triathlon of mythology.
Save up your thoughts. Even at a penny apiece,
they can still make you quite a fortune.
When they offer gossip, start an anthology.
You never know how fast good news will travel.
Consumers are addicts. The more you buy,
the more you steal.
So eat your meals in fat wads of dollar bills,
and let those nightmares burn away the fat.

About the past: keep it to yourself.
No one likes sore losers.
When time flies, study its trajectory.
Leaps of imagination should be performed from a distance.
The darkest hour is a commandment unheeded.
This is the checklist of imperatives:
Forget what was told to you yesterday.
No one will bother to apply it.

based upon Jens Bjørneboe's, “Ti bud til en ung mann som vil frem i verden”.

dinsdag, april 08, 2003

Caveman Politics
"At 18 our convictions are hills from which we look; At 45 they are caves in which we hide."
F. Scott Fitzgerald

A landmark speech by the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, at the Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University entitled "Mars and Venus Reconciled: A New Era For Transatlantic Relations" on Monday is set to spark off the debate on future relations between the US and the EU after the huge damage created by the American-led preventative war against Iraq.

In the speech, Solana refuted the thesis of Robert Kagan's recently published doctrine Power and Weakness which attempts to explain the reality that

"on major strategic and international questions today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus: They agree on little and understand one another less and less. And this state of affairs is not transitory — the product of one American election or one catastrophic event. The reasons for the transatlantic divide are deep, long in development, and likely to endure."

In refution, Dr. Solana smartly notes that "We do not have the luxury of living on separate planets. On this small planet, whose problems abound, neither the United States nor the European Union will find an alternative substantial partner which shares to such a complete degree values and interests. A little perspective and a re-commitment to some guiding principles are modest but useful starting points if the most successful partnership of the 20th century is to prove itself up to the challenges of the century ahead."

Dr. Solana concluded his speech with the wry recollection that "it was only in the arms of Venus that Mars found peace. And was their beautiful daughter not the goddess Harmonia?"

Ultimately, the entirety of the speech was not devoted merely to refuting Kagan's positions. After all, even Kagan himself concluded his article with the delicately-held belief that "perhaps it is not too naively optimistic to believe that a little common understanding could still go a long way."

Against the complaint that Europe does not spend enough on its own defense, Solana logically questioned ""How much additional security does an aircraft carrier bring? Is it more or less than spending the equivalent amount of money on peacekeeping or reconstruction of failed states?"

What Dr. Solana, who was recently named the EastWest Institute's "Statesman of The Year", emphasized in his speech that to re-establish a sense of common purpose between the European Union and the United States, there were four key principles to adhere to: that the two are allies and partners, that they must both make fair contributions, that they must tackle causes and not just symptoms and finally, that they act to sustain a world based on rules.

He cautioned the United States to "treat your friends like allies and they will behave like allies".

His speech also addressed the sticky issue of the use of force against Iraq by asking that while "We must be prepared to use sticks sometimes, do we want a wholesale return to the politics of the caveman, where the guy with the biggest stick carries the argument (until he turns the next corner)?"

The opportunity to address the Kennedy School of Government came in preparation of his meeting with Colin Powell under the auspices of discussing the situation in Iraq, and in particular, post-invasion Iraq. Solana noted that the position of the EU was clear, in particular, on three points: the central role of the United Nations, the preservation of the territorial integrity of Iraq and foremost, the humanitarian question. Of course, while the EU wants the UN to take a "central" role, the US administration appears divided on the issue, with the hawks saying the US should remain in charge in Iraq.

The meeting with Powell went, as most meetings with the Bush Administration go, without much progress. In a press conference following the meeting, Powell stated that they are at

"the beginning of a process of dialogue, pragmatic dialogue, to determine what the appropriate role of the UN should be. The UN will be a partner in all of this. Everybody understands that. There is no disagreement about that. And as President Bush and Prime Minister Blair and Mr. Aznar said at the Azores summit, they expect the UN to play a major role as a partner in this effort. And we'll work our way through the intricacies of the role to be played by the UN in the days ahead."

Of course, Powell has a history of being forced to mouth words the Administration thinks the world wants to hear until the world does not respond in the anticipated manner. Any thought by the Administration of a UN role is certainly based solely upon the premise that the UN reverts to its more palatable role to the Bush Administration, one of an instutionalized "yes-man" for the barren policies of the neocons in the Administration rather than a diplomatic body of the nations of the world which act in a democratic and utile manner to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security. Should the UN balk at the myopic vision of the post-invasion Iraq that the Bush Administration holds, the UN will of course, become as useless in the eyes of the Bush Administration as it was when over the protests of the vast majority of the Security Council, the United States determined it didn't need the UN unless the UN agreed with it, and invaded Iraq anyway.

Solana and the United Nations have their work cut out for them. Failing a radical change in the indifference with which the Bush Administration flaunts its theory of oderint dum metuant in the face of international diplomatic bodies, the UN's only purpose will be as a rubber-stamping body for agenda of the Administration. Much like the token resistance of the cowardly, mewing Democrats in the United States Congress, it will fade into irrelevancy and the caveman Administration can continue clubbing its opposition to its heart's content.

Until, with its economy teetering on the brink of disaster, and its occupying troops stretched beyond logistical capacity, the United States decides it another set of dogs to act as enforcers for its dying empire.

maandag, april 07, 2003

Baghdad: Partly Cloudy, 89 and Death. NYC: Snow

While according to Roland Hugenin-Benjamin, a spokesman for the International Committee for the Red Cross in Baghdad, up to 100 casualties per hour were reported arriving in Baghdad's hospitals as bombardment and fighting intensified yesterday, in New York City, forecasts are calling for more than six inches of snow today.

Here are two poems, the first for the civilians of Baghdad and the second, for the civilians of NYC:

Under Seige
by Mahmoud Darwish

Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time
Close to the gardens of broken shadows,
We do what prisoners do,
And what the jobless do:
We cultivate hope.

A country preparing for dawn. We grow less intelligent
For we closely watch the hour of victory:
No night in our night lit up by the shelling
Our enemies are watchful and light the light for us
In the darkness of cellars.

Here there is no "I".
Here Adam remembers the dust of his clay.

On the verge of death, he says:
I have no trace left to lose:
Free I am so close to my liberty. My future lies in my own hand.
Soon I shall penetrate my life,
I shall be born free and parentless,
And as my name I shall choose azure letters...

You who stand in the doorway, come in,
Drink Arabic coffee with us
And you will sense that you are men like us
You who stand in the doorways of houses
Come out of our morningtimes,
We shall feel reassured to be
Men like you!

When the planes disappear, the white, white doves
Fly off and wash the cheeks of heaven
With unbound wings taking radiance back again, taking possession
Of the ether and of play. Higher, higher still, the white, white doves
Fly off. Ah, if only the sky
Were real [a man passing between two bombs said to me].

Cypresses behind the soldiers, minarets protecting
The sky from collapse. Behind the hedge of steel
Soldiers piss—under the watchful eye of a tank—
And the autumnal day ends its golden wandering in
A street as wide as a church after Sunday mass...

[To a killer] If you had contemplated the victim’s face
And thought it through, you would have remembered your mother in the
Gas chamber, you would have been freed from the reason for the rifle
And you would have changed your mind: this is not the way
to find one’s identity again.

The siege is a waiting period
Waiting on the tilted ladder in the middle of the storm.

Alone, we are alone as far down as the sediment
Were it not for the visits of the rainbows.

We have brothers behind this expanse.
Excellent brothers. They love us. They watch us and weep.
Then, in secret, they tell each other:
"Ah! if this siege had been declared..." They do not finish their sentence:
"Don’t abandon us, don’t leave us."

Our losses: between two and eight martyrs each day.
And ten wounded.
And twenty homes.
And fifty olive trees...
Added to this the structural flaw that
Will arrive at the poem, the play, and the unfinished canvas.

A woman told the cloud: cover my beloved
For my clothing is drenched with his blood.

If you are not rain, my love
Be tree
Sated with fertility, be tree
If you are not tree, my love
Be stone
Saturated with humidity, be stone
If you are not stone, my love
Be moon
In the dream of the beloved woman, be moon
[So spoke a woman
to her son at his funeral]

Oh watchmen! Are you not weary
Of lying in wait for the light in our salt
And of the incandescence of the rose in our wound
Are you not weary, oh watchmen?


A little of this absolute and blue infinity
Would be enough
To lighten the burden of these times
And to cleanse the mire of this place.

It is up to the soul to come down from its mount
And on its silken feet walk
By my side, hand in hand, like two longtime
Friends who share the ancient bread
And the antique glass of wine
May we walk this road together
And then our days will take different directions:
I, beyond nature, which in turn
Will choose to squat on a high-up rock.

On my rubble the shadow grows green,
And the wolf is dozing on the skin of my goat
He dreams as I do, as the angel does
That life is here...not over there.

In the state of siege, time becomes space
Transfixed in its eternity
In the state of siege, space becomes time
That has missed its yesterday and its tomorrow.

The martyr encircles me every time I live a new day
And questions me: Where were you? Take every word
You have given me back to the dictionaries
And relieve the sleepers from the echo’s buzz.

The martyr enlightens me: beyond the expanse
I did not look
For the virgins of immortality for I love life
On earth, amid fig trees and pines,
But I cannot reach it, and then, too, I took aim at it
With my last possession: the blood in the body of azure.

The martyr warned me: Do not believe their ululations
Believe my father when, weeping, he looks at my photograph
How did we trade roles, my son, how did you precede me.
I first, I the first one!

The martyr encircles me: my place and my crude furniture are all that I have changed.
I put a gazelle on my bed,
And a crescent of moon on my finger
To appease my sorrow.

The siege will last in order to convince us we must choose an enslavement that does no harm, in fullest liberty!

Resisting means assuring oneself of the heart’s health,
The health of the testicles and of your tenacious disease:
The disease of hope.

And in what remains of the dawn, I walk toward my exterior
And in what remains of the night, I hear the sound of footsteps inside me.

Greetings to the one who shares with me an attention to
The drunkenness of light, the light of the butterfly, in the
Blackness of this tunnel!

Greetings to the one who shares my glass with me
In the denseness of a night outflanking the two spaces:
Greetings to my apparition.

My friends are always preparing a farewell feast for me,
A soothing grave in the shade of oak trees
A marble epitaph of time
And always I anticipate them at the funeral:
Who then has died...who?

Writing is a puppy biting nothingness
Writing wounds without a trace of blood.

Our cups of coffee. Birds green trees
In the blue shade, the sun gambols from one wall
To another like a gazelle
The water in the clouds has the unlimited shape of what is left to us
Of the sky. And other things of suspended memories
Reveal that this morning is powerful and splendid,
And that we are the guests of eternity.

Translated by Marjolijn De Jager

II. The Snow-Storm
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hill and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delated, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
Come see the north wind's masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hiddden thorn;
Fills up the famer's lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer's sighs; and at the gate
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.

vrijdag, april 04, 2003

...I'd Like To Wake Up, In The Smoke-Free City, That Never Sleeps...?
"It has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep, and never to refrain when awake." -- Mark Twain

Bad news, Mr. Twain. If you were alive today and living in Manhattan, all your smoking would have to be done out on the street like a vagrant or hidden like a criminal act within the confines of your 5 x 5, Fifteen Hundred Dollar A Month studio apartment.

Yes, since Sunday morning, one tick after midnight, New Yorkers have been under the jurisdiction of a cruel and evil piece of legislation and we are fast approaching the first full weekend of the state of seige otherwise known as "Why Did I Vote For That Jackass For Mayor?", or the ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in New York City.

Take heed tourists! Take heart all you second-rate cities throughout America and the World! From now on, if you're from any metropolis outside of California, you no longer have to listen to boorish New Yorkers tell you how hip they are. You can now respond with something along the lines of:

"If NYC is so hip, how come they have to sneak smokes on street corners like adolescents hiding from their parents?"

Because we have such a cool and thoughtfully parental mayor who loves us and cares about us soooo much that he doesn't want to ever ever see us die, that's why! So there. Go back to Philly! Go back to Chicago or Paris or Rome or Amsterdam. We're busy making a closely knit, close-minded family of postmodern iconoclasts so don't you dare get in our way!

Of course, not everyone sees things so optimistically:

"First they cleaned up Times Square, then they said you couldn't dance in bars or drink a beer in the park. Now you can't even smoke when you go out on the town," said Willie Martinez, 37, who sat, chain-smoking, in an East Village bar, shortly before the death-knell rang. "This is like no-fun city."

"There's one word for this: Ridiculous. Stalinesque. Brutal," interrupted Elliot Kovner, 48, as he added a few choice vulgarities.

"What's next, medievil torture practices? Eye gouging, cutting of ears and piercing of hands with drills? What is this, Baghdad? We need to be liberated! Where the hell is the 101st Airborne Division when you need them? Where the hell is Jesus in our time of need?" asked a high-ranking, unnamed patron.

Some of you may recall an earlier rant on this subject back in December which begged the question whether our bantom despot was a Mullah or Mayor?. Clearly, such skillfully and intricately woven arguments of syllogistic logic have no place in the Buffoonberg Administration. Striking a similarly unarticulated tactic of intolerance as does the fabled Bush Administration when challenged, Buffoonberg and his invidious groupies in the Let's Legislate Morality! fiefdom have settled for the old "Because I Said So!" argument to countenance this horrifically mutated miscarriage of democracy.

Not surprisingly, our lilliputian autocrat is a reformed smoker. Much like born-again Christians, these imperious dullards never fail to fall under the sway of their own self-righteousness. Again, here the NYC mayor mirrors his duplicitous counterpart in the White House. While Buffoonberg's overzealous anti-smoking crusade castrates the democratic prerogative of choosing to frequent a smoking or non-smoking establishment and replaces it with the much more reliabile form of a plenary intolerance under the guise of "employee health" concerns, Bush relies upon trumped-up fears of terrorism, which it does everything in its power to propagate, to continue its seige on the Constitution with stealth little nuances like the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 - commonly known as Patriot IIand its other innocuous-sounding partner in crime, CAPPS II

"Fundamentally, people just don't want the guy next to them smoking." Buffoonberg brays, self-righteously sermonizing in his sniveling, reformed-smoker's whine.

Fundamentally, people don't like billionaire assholes posing as the morality police while they use their pulpit as mayor to profane long- held and well-tested theories of democracy in their cities either. Either Buffoonberg is another one of the tunnel-vision thinkers like Bush who can't ponder more than one underdevelped thought at a time without suffering an aneurysm, or he's just plain too stupid to see that people don't have to have the guy next to them smoking. They could drink their daiquiris of intolerance and chew their filets of dogmatism in a smoke-free bar or a smoke-free restaurant. And the bars and restaurant owners who don't care whether or not the holistic, mulberry and granola addict contingent frequents their establishments, could pay a small licensing fee which would allow smokers to smoke and non-smokers to make their own adult choices about whether or not they wanted to be around smoke. But a mayor in a cash-strapped city in the midst of an overwhelming budgetary crisis wouldn't want anything like a little extra licensing-generated revenue would he? Noooo. Not when he can shove his value system down every else's throats instead.

Instead, the "city that never sleeps," long mythicized for its wild irreverence, will undergo a radical transformation as the ban covers all workplaces, including bars, small restaurants, bingo parlors and other venues not covered by the city's previous smoking law. Owners of establishments could be fined $400 for allowing smoking and eventually could have their business licenses suspended.

There are some nice consolation prizes available however via Disturbing Auctions where you can bid on a drunken smoker ashtray, for example, to calm your nerves while you go through nicotine withdrawals.

And don't think these concerned bureaucrats are heartless. To "help" you rid yourself of your filthy, disgusting, anti-social cretinous addictions, New York City health officials are offering residents a free six-week supply of nicotine patches. This patches program, bordering on a delicious missionary zeal, will cost the city 2.5 million dollars. So when your neighborhood fire department or your local precinct lays off policemen because of budgetary cuts, or your school district can't hire enough teachers to teach your children or there aren't enough sanitation services to pick up garbage on a regular basis, you can take consolation in knowing that somewhere out there, a sinister smoker has been saved!

donderdag, april 03, 2003

Please Let Me Forget Darryl Worley

Talentless hillbilly Darryl Worley, whose song Have You Forgotten holds No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, says his songs are "based on experience". Further examination of the lyrics to this philistine paen to mindless redneck patriotism makes one wonder what kind of experience he is basing it upon, his Creationism classes or the hours spent watching Sesame Street for the Simple Minded while cleaning his rifle:

"They took all the footage off my T.V.
Said it's too disturbing for you and me
It'll just breed anger that's what the experts say
If it was up to me I'd show it every day
Some say this country's just out looking for a fight
After 9/11 man I'd have to say that's right"

Who is guy, John Wayne with a remote? Yeah, let's look for a fight. Let's drink some goddamn Budweiser and run down some A-rabs with our pick up trucks or shoot down some third world dictators with our squirrel huntin' rifles because goddamn it, we're mad and we're stupid! You go girl.

If you'd like a good barometer of cultural America's opinion about the war, take a look at the Billboard chart. In addition to Worley's chef-d'oeuvre, No. 1 on the Hot 100 is rapper 50 cent's "Get Rich or Die Tryin" while Christina Aguilera's "Fighter" is the Hot 100's top debut. All seem to reflect the wide parameter of intellectual gifts America's top pop singers possess.

On the other end of the spectrum, in a concert in Colorado last night, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder caused quite a rucous with an anti-Bush rant punctuated by Vedder coming out wearing a Bush mask, which he then put on a microphone stand like a severed head, jabbed the mask with the mike stand and threw it on the floor, stamping on it. I wonder what that song is called, Mime The Death of Bush? I never knew Eddie was a performance artist.

Thanks to One Good Move for noting the band Little Big Men who have a song out called "Mr Bush, You Are Not The President Of This World". The entire Centre for Political Song is full of resources for anti-war songs and compilations.

Punk band Anti-Flag teamed up with Germany's Donots for a protest song against state terror.

Statik Music has a good hip hop song called "War".

Znet also has a site of selected anti-war songs.

Meanwhile, the BBC has effectively banned MC Life of Luton based hip hop act Phi-Life Cypher's track entitled Bush and Blair from his forthcoming album Everyday Life - "This world it ain't fair, Bush 'n' Blair, they don't care, hope you'll all be aware" --

Sound familiar? Clear Channel, the media conglomerate that owns some 1,200 radio stations, issued what a spokesman has called a "recommendation" not to play such songs as "Shot Down in Flames" by AC/DC and "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" by the Gap Band.

Sounds eerily similar to the list of songs provided by Fucked Company which were deemed by Clear Channel Communications to be of "questionable content" after September 11th.

And up in Canada, Toronto newspapers reported that CHUM-AM oldies station a major station there had pulled anti-war songs off the playlist. The station blamed the gaffe on a miscommunication.

The list of banned songs included Edwin Starr's "War (What Is it Good For?)" and John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance."

woensdag, april 02, 2003

Dr. Seuss Sees AMERICA, 2003
(source unknown)

The Whos down in Whoville liked people a lot,
But the Grinch in the White House most certainly did not.
He didn't arrive there by the will of the Whos,
But stole the election that he really did lose.

Vowed to "rule from the middle," then installed his regime.
(Did this really happen, or is it just a bad dream?)

He didn't listen to voters, just his friends he was pleasin'
Now, please don't ask why, who knows what's the reason.
It could be his heart wasn't working just right.
It could be, perhaps, that he wasn't too bright.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
Is that both brain and heart were two sizes too small.
In times of great turmoil, this was bad news,
To have a government that ignores its Whos.

But the Whos shrugged their shoulders, went on with their work,
Their duties as citizens so casually did shirk.
They shopped at the mall and watched their T.V.
They drove a gas-guzzling big S.U.V.,
Oblivious to what was going on in D.C.,
Ignoring the threats to democracy.
They read the same papers that ran the same leads,
Reporting what only served corporate needs.
(For the policies affecting the lives of all nations
Were made by the giant U.S. Corporations.)
Big business grew fatter, fed by its own greed,
And by people who shopped for the things they didn't need.

But amidst all the apathy came signs of unrest,
The Whos came to see we were fouling our nest.
And the people who cared for the ideals of this nation
Began to discuss and exchange information:
The things they couldn't read, in the corporate-owned news,
Of FTAA meetings and CIA coups,
Of drilling for oil and restricting rights.
They published some books, created Websites,
Began to write letters, and use their e-mail
(Though Homeland Security might send them to jail!)

What began as a whisper soon grew to a roar,
These things going on they could no longer ignore.
They started to rise up and reach out to all
Let their voices be heard, they rose to the call,
To vote, to petition, to gather, dissent,
To question the policies of the "President."

As greed gained in power and power knew no shame
The Whos came together, sang "Not in our name!"
One by one from their sleep and their slumber they woke
The old and the young, all kinds of folk,
The black, brown and white, the gay, bi- and straight,
All united to sing, "Feed our hope, not our hate!
Stop stockpiling weapons and aiming for war!
Stop feeding the rich, start feeding the poor!
Stop storming the deserts to fuel SUV's!
Stop telling us lies on the mainstream T.V.'s!
Stop treating our children as a market to sack!
Stop feeding them Barney, Barbie and Big Mac!
Stop trying to addict them to lifelong consuming,
In a time when severe global warming is looming!
Stop sanctions that are killing the kids in Iraq!
Start dealing with ours that are strung out on crack!"

A mighty sound started to rise and to grow,
"The old way of thinking simply must go!
Enough of God versus Allah, Muslim vs. Jew
With what lies ahead, it simply won't do.
No American dream that cares only for wealth
Ignoring the need for community health
The rivers and forests are demanding their pay,
If we're to survive, we must walk a new way.
No more excessive and mindless consumption
Let's sharpen our minds and garner our gumption.
For the ideas are simple, but the practice is hard,
And not to be won by a poem on a card.
It needs the ideas and the acts of each Who,
So let's get together and plan what to do!"

And so they all gathered from all 'round the Earth
And from it all came a miraculous birth.
The hearts and the minds of the Whos they did grow,
Three sizes to fit what they felt and they know.
While the Grinches they shrank from their hate and their greed,
Bearing the weight of their every foul deed.

From that day onward the standard of wealth,
Was whatever fed the Whos spiritual health.
They gathered together to revel and feast,
And thanked all who worked to conquer their beast.
For although our story pits Grinches 'gainst Whos,
The true battle lies in what we daily choose.
For inside each Grinch is a tiny small Who,
And inside each Who is a tiny Grinch too.
One thrives on love and one thrives on greed.
Who will win out? It depends who you feed!

dinsdag, april 01, 2003

Time Traveler Busted For Insider Trading

"The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be." Paul Valery (1871 - 1945)

I can't imagine how this escaped my attention, even with a quickly failing war blaring at full volume, but Federal investigators arrested an enigmatic Wall Street wiz on insider-trading charges who claims to be a time-traveler from the year 2256.

The investigation began because the 44 year old Andrew Carlssin had an uncanny success in the stock market: he started with $800 and in only two weeks' time, through a flurry of 126 high-risk trades that came out a winner every time, he had a portfolio valued at over $350 million.

"If a company's stock rose due to a merger or technological breakthrough that was supposed to be secret, Mr. Carlssin somehow knew about it in advance," says the SEC source close to the hush-hush, ongoing investigation.

Carlssin declared that he had traveled back in time from over 200 years in the future, when it is common knowledge that our era experienced one of the worst stock plunges in history. Yet anyone armed with knowledge of the handful of stocks destined to go through the roof could make a fortune.

"It was just too tempting to resist," Carlssin allegedly said in his videotaped confession. "I had planned to make it look natural, you know, lose a little here and there so it doesn't look too perfect. But I just got caught in the moment."

In a bid for leniency, Carlssin has reportedly offered to divulge "historical facts" such as the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden and a cure for AIDS.

Officials are quite confident the "time-traveler's" claims are bogus. Yet the SEC source admits, "No one can find any record of any Andrew Carlssin existing anywhere before December 2002.". Perhaps he's just another one of those things the Bush Administration makes up to justify the invasion of Iraq. I can just hear it now, Bush getting on national television again and telling us: "Not only is Saddam an evil dictator, but he's forcing innocent people to travel through time in order to steal money through illegal traded methods to fund future terrorism!"

While this story was initially released through Yahoo almost two weeks ago, not another word about the progress of the investigation has been written by anyone. No major news agencies have picked up the story and there have been no time travel advisories from U.S. Department of State. The USNO Master Clock has not been restarted to update the Global Positioning System used to fire missiles on Baghdad. It's as if the story is being hidden to protect us.

For those of you who like the idea of going back in time and making gazillions of dollars, Future Horizans offer time machines which contain schematics and diagrams of various devices such as the Biotronic Oscillator and Atlantean Generator which can be used for physical and out of body time travel.

Personally, if I'm going to travel back in time, I'm going back to some night on October 5th or 6th, 1945 (George W. Bush was born on July 6, 1946) and stop George Sr. and Barbara, in the moment before their fateful coupling by reminding them that abstinance is the 100 percent effective way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. If that doesn't convince them, I will show them photos of the future, photos of the alien son their loins will produce if they don't stay away from each other.

Of course, if Barbara Bush would have shown the same compassion for the world that Saddam's mother tried when she knew she was pregnant: abortion or suicide, the world would be a much safer place right now.