Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Capital Punishment is Always Tragic News

European Union, Pope and Most of the World Denounce Saddam's Killing

Media Release
Dec. 30, 2006

The European Union on Saturday condemned the execution of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The execution of Saddam Hussein is a ‘tragic’ event that risks fomenting a spirit of vendetta and sowing new violence in Iraq, the Vatican said on Saturday.

"A capital punishment is always tragic news, a reason for sadness, even if it deals with a person who was guilty of grave crimes," said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.

"The EU condemns the crimes committed by Saddam and also the death penalty," Cristina Gallach, a spokeswoman for Javier Solana, the EU high representative for foreign affairs, said.

The reaction came hours after the hanging of Saddam in Baghdad. The death penalty is banned throughout the European Union.

Most of the world leaders condemned it. It is manifestation of American arrogance and frustration they said.

"The killing of the guilty party is not the way to reconstruct justice and reconcile society. On the contrary, there is a risk that it will feed a spirit of vendetta and sow new violence," Vatican said.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Why I love Idenitity Theory

I was just trying to link up with the Southern Poverty Law Center (an all time favorite organization) from the IT site and here's the message I received:

Holy Watermelons, Batman! File Not Found

The requested URL was not found on this server. But, you have found Jesus.

Go to Identity Theory.

I have a link for them. Check it out. Find Jesus.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

popsicles, ibuprofen & diet 7-Up

It never fails. I always get sick this time of year. I have what I have come to refer to as the "whoop ass flu" - a term I stole, as a matter of fact, from Mary Gaitskill's husband, Peter Trachtenberg, who used this once in an email he wrote from St. Petersburg. Right about now I'm wishing I had been even more sympathetic.

Lucky for me Laura is in town and came over with ibuprofen, popsicles (bomb pops and the mixed fruit box) and 7-up. She's doing terrific. Wyoming agrees with her, as does the oft-quoted Jim who I finally saw a few pictures of. I felt entirely pre-verbal during the bulk of her visit but managed to lie on the couch and nod while occasionally spewing out a line or three that did not relate to the almost intolerable condition of my physical state. Although last night my head hurt so badly I feared all my teeth were about to fall out and I considered the possibility that God and Satan were pulling some Job-like crap on me. I did mention this to her mostly because I knew it was nuts. She said she thought it was unlikely. I agreed and felt much better.

If I can shake this thing, I may go visit Kelly in Astoria (that's Queens, New York). She's going to Peru on Jan. 15 and giving up her apartment. I haven't been to see her in 4 years and I've got a free flight voucher. I should be out shillin' for more freelance work but maybe I can dig some up out there. Also I'd like to see some more friends, hit some galleries and maybe KGB. Kelly mentioned that Yoko still puts a full page "war is over" ad in the New York Times every year at Christmas. Boy, I remember the time Nuclear Free America received a check from her in 1986. We were all jumping up and down. Ended up photocopying the thing, tacking it up on the wall and then cashing it.

Well, I have no point to any of this. Update and whining about having the "whoop ass flu". Oh yeah and trying to find an interviewee for a freelance gig. Whosh. I though most people wanted to be in the paper. What's the deal? Must be that mid-western faux-humility. Does anybody get that shyness is really about having too much pride and ego?? If you don't understand what I mean let me know and I'll fill you in.

Stay healthy. Really. But if not, eat Happy Pops.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

On Aging

Yesterday I lunch w/ a gaggle of guys and, Nikki, a women who is probably about 20 years younger than me. At one point, John - a marginal friend -was orchestrating the line at the counter and prompting me to move ahead of Nikki. His comment was "Come on, Meg, age before beauty." Admittedly, I was bothered by it at the time. John, for what it's worth, is about 20 years older than me. Fortunately, I was just checking out the KGB Bar website and found this lovely passage by Mary Gaitskill. There is something awesome that comes, if you're open to it.

"I think of age as breaking a patina. It's the youth that's the patina, and it gets cracked. There's something about the elegance of the human form that's quite awe-inspiring sometimes ... when you see a very beautiful person, not necessarily a model, just a very beautiful, elegant person, or aside from physical beauty, when you encounter beautiful, elegant speech, very beautifully formed ideas, very gracefully expressed thoughts, art. That falls apart too. The mind decays, the ability to express oneself decays, and there's a way in which you give way to the vastness. It's like you're this small container, and when that begins to crack, it's horrible in a way because you don't want yourself to crack, but on the other hand, you become helpless before something more awesome."

Film on the Problem w/ Hip-Hop to be on PBS

"I realized that sexism and violence were real issues and I felt like I could make a difference." - filmmaker Byron Hurt who began questioning the messages he was getting in hip-hop after being hired to work with male athletes on gender violence issues.

by Erik Eckholm

CHICAGO — Byron Hurt takes pains to say that he is a fan of hip-hop, but over time, says Mr. Hurt, a 36-year-old filmmaker, dreadlocks hanging below his shoulders, “I began to become very conflicted about the music I love.”

Byron Hurt is showing his film at high schools and colleges. A new documentary by Mr. Hurt, “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes,” questions the violence, degradation of women and homophobia in much of rap music.

Scheduled to go on the air in February as part of the PBS series Independent Lens, the documentary is being shown now at high schools, colleges and Boy’s Clubs, and in other forums, as part of a public campaign sponsored by the Independent Television Service, which is based in San Francisco and helped finance the film.

The intended audiences include young fans, hip-hop artists and music industry executives — black and white — who profit from music and videos that glorify swagger and luxury, portray women as sex objects, and imply, critics say, that education and hard work are for suckers and sissies.

What concerns Mr. Hurt and many black scholars is the domination of the hip-hop market by more violent and sexually demeaning songs and videos — an ascendancy, the critics say, that has coincided with the growth of the white audience for rap and the growing role of large corporations in marketing the music.

Ronald F. Ferguson, a black economist and education expert at Harvard, said that the global success of hip-hop had had positive influences on the self-esteem of black youths but that children who became obsessed with it “may unconsciously adopt the themes in this music as their lens for viewing the world.”

With the commercial success of gangsta rap and music videos, which portray men as extravagant thugs and women as sex toys, debate has simmered among black parents, community leaders and scholars about the impact of rap and the surrounding hip-hop culture.

“There’s a conversation going on now; a lot more people are trying to figure out a way to intervene that’s productive,” said Tricia Rose, a professor of Africana studies at Brown University.

At one extreme are critics, both black and white, who put primary blame for the failures and isolation of urban black youth on a self-destructive subculture, exemplified by the worst of hip-hop. But many of those critics, Dr. Rose said, fail to acknowledge the deeper roots of the problems. At the other extreme are people who reflexively defend any artistic expression by young blacks, saying the focus must remain on the economic and political structures that hem in minorities.

“That’s the real catch,” Dr. Rose said. “The public conversation about hip-hop is pinned by two responses, neither of them productive.”

Among blacks, to criticize rap, especially in front of the wider society, is to risk being called disloyal, said William Jelani Cobb, a historian at Spelman College in Atlanta, at a recent screening of the film in Newark. But the exaggerated image of male aggression, said Dr. Cobb, who also speaks in the documentary, actually reflects male insecurity and longstanding powerlessness, while the image of women resembles that held by 19th century slave owners.

Chris Bennett, 36, took his daughters, ages 15 and 11, to see Mr. Hurt’s film in Chicago because he said he wanted them to think about the music. Mr. Bennett, a school security guard, said he saw the effects of gangsta rap in his job. “Everyone wants to be tough now,” he said. “Everyone wants to be hard, and education has taken the background.”

The event in Chicago drew some 250 people, including several high school groups. Many of the boys were skeptical about the supposed dire influences of rap. Jock Lucas, 16, hotly argued with female students about the prevalence of lyrics that denigrate women, asserting, as many of the boys did, that a girl who dressed provocatively deserved such labels and might even like them.

“I don’t think rap is a bad influence,” Jock said. “They’re just speaking about how it goes where they come from. If the people who listen go out and do these things, it’s their own fault.”

Another high school student at the Chicago event, Vasawa Robinson, 19, said rap showed “real life” and that “if you try to show a different picture, the kids won’t want to listen.” The more political, socially conscious rap, Vasawa said, was for an older generation.

Mr. Hurt’s film includes clips from a music video by the rapper 50 Cent, from his album “Get Rich or Die Tryin’, ” in which the singer re-enacts a drive-by shooting he survived and boasts in crude terms of his power and readiness to kill his enemies.

It also includes portions of the video “Tip Drill,” an extended fantasy of male sexual domination by the rap star Nelly, who has won praise by promoting literacy and bone marrow donations, but, as the film notes, also markets a drink called Pimp Juice.

Mr. Hurt, who grew up in a black neighborhood of Central Islip, N.Y., in modest circumstances, was quarterback of the Northeastern University football team and said he had been a fanatical “hip-hop head.”

“It was music created by people your age who looked like you , talked like you, dressed like you and weren’t apologetic about it,” he said.

His views changed, he said, when, after college, he worked in a program teaching male athletes about violence against women.

“Here’s the conflict,” Mr. Hurt said. “You still love hip-hop and you love to see the artists doing well, but then you ask, ‘What are they saying? What is the image of manhood?’ ”

White males may be major customers, Mr. Hurt said, “but it influences black kids the most.”

“They’re the ones who order their days around it,” he said, “who try to conform to the script.”

Friday, December 22, 2006

Poor Pat

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."

- Pat Robertson

Cheney calls for Anti-Criticism Defense Shields


Citing the need to safeguard "America's most vital institutions and politicians" against potentially devastating attacks, President Bush asked Congress to sign off on a $30 billion funding package to help fight the ongoing War On Criticism when it resumes next year.

"Sadly, the threat of criticism is still with us," Bush told members of Congress in a red-flagged email today. "We thought we had defeated criticism with our success in Afghanistan and in Iraq." We thought that the ratings victory of Fox News might signal the beginning of a lasting peace with the media. Yet, despite all this, criticism abounds."

Critical activities, Bush noted, are slowly returnng to pre-Sept. 11 levels, when well-organized, coordinated attacks on his administration were carried out on a near-daily basis. But in spite of the National Criticism Alert Level holding steady at yellow (elevated), administration officials warn of severe impending attacks.

"We've become too complacent," Attorney General Roberto Gonzales said. "We've grown accustomed to thinking of criticism as something that only happens to people in other political parties or other countries. But this administration needs this funding to counter a very real threat to its reputation."

"Tha fact is, I could not protect my ongoing Halliburton cronyism from critical strikes with just a few million dollars. We need powerful preemptive legislation," Vice-President Dick Cheney said. "We need to build stronger anti-criticism defense shields in this country. And the time to act is now, before the media say something negative about us."

If the funding is approved, the Bush Administration will act swiftly to shore up numerous areas of vulnerability. Among the actions: ensuring that the White House is defended against verbal snipers, safeguarding all the president's actions from scrutiny, and sealing off the largest sources of domestic criticism by securing and patrolling the national media.

Congressional leaders are already pledging their support for the plan.

"As government officials, we have an absolute obligation to protect the leader of this country from future acts of criticism," said U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R- IA)said. "And it will not be cheap, easy, or quick."

"We're all in this together," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said. "You attack one American politician, you attack us all."

Poem by Mary Oliver

Yes! No!

How necessary it is to have opinions! I think the spotted trout
lilies are satisfied, standing a few inches above the earth. I
think serenity is not something you just find in the world,
like a plum tree, holding up its white petals.

The violets, along the river, are opening their blue faces, like
small dark lanterns.

The green mosses, being so many, are as good as brawny.

How important it is to walk along, not in haste but slowly,
looking at everything and calling out

Yes! No! The

swan, for all his pomp, his robes of grass and petals, wants
only to be allowed to live on the nameless pond. The catbrier
is without fault. The water thrushes, down among the sloppy
rocks, are going crazy with happiness. Imagination is better
than a sharp instrument. To pay attention, this is our endless
and proper work.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Fallacy of Iraq Study Report

by Norman Soloman

When Colin Powell endorsed the Iraq Study Group report during his Dec. 17 appearance on "Face the Nation," it was another curtain call for a tragic farce.

Four years ago, "moderates" like Powell were making the invasion of Iraq possible. Now, in the guise of speaking truth to power, Powell and ISG co-chairs James Baker and Lee Hamilton are refueling the U.S. war effort by depicting it as a problem of strategy and management.

But the U.S. war effort is a problem of lies and slaughter.

The Baker-Hamilton report stakes out a position for managerial changes that dodge the fundamental immorality of the war effort. And President Bush shows every sign of rejecting the report's call for scaling down that effort.

Meanwhile, most people in the United States favor military disengagement. According to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, "Seven in 10 say they want the new Congress to pressure the White House to begin bringing troops home within six months."

The nationwide survey came after the Baker-Hamilton report arrived with great -- and delusional -- expectations. In big bold red letters, the cover of Time predicted that the report would take the White House by storm: "The Iraq Study Group says it's time for an exit strategy. Why Bush will listen."

While often depicted as a rebuff to the president's Iraq policies, the report was hardly a prescription for abandoning the U.S. military project in Iraq -- as Baker was at pains to repeatedly point out during a whirlwind round of network interviews.

Hours after the report's release on Dec. 6, Baker told PBS "NewsHour" host Jim Lehrer that the blue-ribbon commission was calling for a long-term U.S. military presence: "So our commitment -- when we say not open-ended, that doesn't mean it's not going to be substantial. And our report makes clear that we're going to have substantial, very robust, residual troop levels in Iraq for a long, long time."

Baker used very similar phrasing the next morning in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" -- saying that the report "makes clear we're going to have a really robust American troop presence in Iraq and in the region for a long, long time."

That was 24 hours into the report's release, when media spin by Baker and Hamilton and their allies was boosting a document that asserted a continual American prerogative to devote massive resources to war in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. And, in a little-noted precept of the report, it said: "The United States should assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise."

In short, the Baker-Hamilton report was a fallback position for U.S. military intervention -- and for using Pentagon firepower on behalf of U.S.-based oil companies. But the report's call for tactical adjustments provoked fury among the most militaristic politicians and pundits. Their sustained media counterattack took hold in short order.

President Bush wriggled away from the panel's key recommendations -- gradual withdrawal of many U.S. troops from Iraq and willingness to hold diplomatic talks with Syria and Iran. War enthusiasts like Sen. John McCain denounced the report as a recipe for retreat and defeat. The New York Post dubbed Baker and Hamilton "surrender monkeys." Rush Limbaugh called their report "stupid."

By the time its one-week anniversary came around, the Baker-Hamilton report looked about ready for an ashcan of history. Bush had already postponed his announcement of a "new strategy for Iraq" until after the start of the new year -- a delay aimed at cushioning the president from pressure to adopt the report's central recommendations. Even the limited punch of the report has been largely stymied by the most rabidly pro-war forces of American media and politics.

But those forces don't really need to worry about the likes of Colin Powell, James Baker and Lee Hamilton -- as long as the argument is over how the U.S. government should try to get its way in Iraq.

"We are losing -- we haven't lost -- and this is the time, now, to start to put in place the kinds of strategies that will turn this situation around," Powell told CBS viewers on Sunday. That sort of talk stimulates endless rationales for continuing U.S. warfare and facilitates the ongoing escalation of the murderous U.S. air war in Iraq.

Powell's mendacious performance at the U.N. Security Council, several weeks before the invasion of Iraq, is notorious. But an obscure media appearance by Powell, when he was interviewed by the French network TV2 in mid-September 2003, sheds more light on underlying attitudes that unite the venture-capitalist worldviews of "moderates" like Colin Powell and "hardliners" like Dick Cheney.

Trying to justify Washington's refusal to end the occupation, Powell explained: "Since the United States and its coalition partners have invested a great deal of political capital, as well as financial resources, as well as the lives of our young men and women -- and we have a large force there now -- we can't be expected to suddenly just step aside."

Norman Solomon is the author of the new book, "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pretty Woman & Big Fish

Had to share this picture of Mary fishing in Oman. What a catch. When I lost my house 5 years ago, Mary, who had never actually made my acquaintence offered me a place to stay (an ex beau told her of my dilema.) We've been friends ever since. When I emailed her this morning she was online downloading a recipe of mine from the Iowa Source website and she lives in the Middle East now! Love it when that synchronistic stuff happens.

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Franklin's Back

Just a quick note to let my loyal readers (!?) know that the link to The Copy Exchange is back. Check it out. In addition to the groovy news feed and timely PC(hey, the term still implies integrity to me) headline info, there are now some wonderful "historic Seiberling family photos". Frank, is that THE grandfather?? And who told you I had moved to Alaska???

Oh, the link to Human Rights Watch is also back up. They've spiffed up their site a bit and they have 6 job openings at present. Unfortunately, I don't seem to "qualify" for any of them. I was just telling Heidi last night that working for HRW has always been one of my dream vocations.

Anyway, hapPy MOnDay. Be real.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Oh no - I did not mean "The Passion.."

I was just reading a review of the new ego-fest from Mel Gibson (a very unflattering one) and it refered to his last film, The Passion of the Christ. I just about lost my friggin' mind. Damn, damn, I am nutcan. I recently updated my profile and added some movies. One of my all time favorite flicks is the Scorsese (sp?) masterpiece The Last Temptation of Christ - a film worthy of being italicized. I meant to type that into the movies field and I inadvertantly tip-tapped the Gibson Christ travesty in there instead

Please allow me to clarify. I do not care for Mel Gibson (note: I'm being charitable here.) It has been common knowledge for 20 years that the man is a hateful bigot and ultra conservative a-hole (i.e. hypocrite.) His recent anti-semitic tirade was no surprise to many of us. Three years ago I sent around an email addressing this aspect of his character and the less than subtle jew-hating that permeates "The Passion". Might I suggest Mr. Gibson consider Iranian citizenship?

Mr. Bill where are you when I need you? "Oh no!" "Oh no!"

Two Feisty Girls

Here are my youngest nieces, Isabelle & Grace respectively. They performed in The Nutcracker last week in Baltimore with the ABT. I love 'em - they are feisty girls.

Why I don't talk as much any more....

Listening to the personal narrative of another human being is how we learn to experience empathy for another.

Friday, December 15, 2006



So Lately

So lately I've been just posting things others have written mostly because I don't have so much to say. I'm reading A LOT but I have not gotten to the point where I feel as if I have distilled any of it into anything worth saying.

It's Laura's birthday which means tomorrow it is mine - and Kelly's. Also, Beethoven, Jane Austen and Margaret Mead were all born on 12/16 and it is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. All in all, not bad company.

I have just one birthday wish and it is a very, very selfish one. Might as well share it with the ethernet - Hey GOD, show me your grace - reveal yourself to me, please. I'm meek and I'm ready - shine in and on me - my arms are wide open and my eyes are open.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Say This.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginably You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

-e.e. cummings

Monday, December 11, 2006

Say What?

God wants you to have a really big house in Hawaii.

According to best-selling author and Texas-based spiritual leader Joel Osteen (“Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential”) it’s our own thoughts that condemn us to a life of mediocrity.

In his current book, he tells a story of a husband and wife on vacation in Hawaii. The husband looks up at a huge mansion on a hill overlooking the ocean, and says to his wife: “I can’t even imagine living in a place like that.” According to Osteen, he never will – because his own limited imagination is keeping him from the bounty of God!

“God wants to increase you financially,” says Osteen. And quoting from the Bible: “Set your mind and keep it set on higher things.”

Osteen, who claims to know God personally, is delivering the following message: You want a house in Hawaii? Don’t back away from God’s blessing. See yourself in that house, and eventually it will be yours! So what are you waiting for! Ask God for your house now!

New Woman in Group

There is a new woman in group. Her name is Bila (pronounced Bee - lah) and I like her. She's no nonesense. When this other chick started talking about how her baby's father had kicked her in the stomach when she was pregnant but she wanted to get back with him Bila said, "Hey, if he kick the baby once, what you think he gonna do when that baby start to crying." Later on the woman said she was going to move to the town where the baby's father was even though the man was living with another woman but that it was okay because he had changed. Bila said if he had changed so much then she ought to wait and let that man come to her and her baby. The woman got mad then and left the room. Bila looked at me and I shrugged.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


"We spend jillions in this country to make ourselves "normal," but since nobody knows what that is, the money really just goes to make us weirder." - Codrescu

Saturday, December 09, 2006

New Food Review

The first time my mother tried a Combo she smiled and said, "Excellent, fresh out of the testube!" Make sense?

Reduced Fat Sour Cream and Onion Pringles

by Jesse Adelman

When I bite down on a thin piece of metal—a paper clip, pen nib, knife blade, or tinfoil scrap—it feels like tiny magnetic ants are burrowing into my jaw through my gums. The sensation is uncomfortable but also appealing and compulsive, like picking scabs, or biting my cuticles, which I like to keep red and angry.

Reduced Fat Sour Cream and Onion Pringles fulfilled my needs in this area while also being extremely salty and, OK, delicious. The actual fat reduction (36 percent, to 7 grams of fat for 16 crisps) is negligible given the wild difference in consistency between these and original Pringles, whose dried-potato-flake composition enables one to experience the pleasure of chewing while meeting little actual resistance—like the elliptical machines at the gym, but for your face. When you bite a Reduced Fat Sour Cream and Onion Pringle, it will shatter into tiny rigid fragments, all of which must be chewed themselves, ad infinitum. Each brittle trace of Pringle will feel like a tiny magnet ant burrowing into your jaw through your gums.

The new Pringles slogan is "Pleasure. Every Single Pringle." This is true and more. I poured the crumbs of my Reduced Fat Sour Cream and Onion Pringles onto their shallow lid and sucked them down after I ate a Cinnamon Raisin South Beach Diet Bar with a beer. I eat lunch at home.

Friday, December 08, 2006

"Ginsberg" Christmas Poem

This little ditty almost beat out "Twas the Night Before Christmas" in a contest to select an official American Christmas poem. Sort of like how "Eat Cheese or Die" almost beat out "America's Dairyland" to be the official license plate slogan for the state of Wisconsin. Go figure.

- - - -


Wear your red suit and your boots
And that repulsive white beard
With the hardened saliva of sick nights in countless tenements,
That same red suit you bought at Woolworth's
With the money you made
From the flesh of the elves.
From their blood and their sweat
And their flesh that would scream if it had a voice,
Their tiny cries are not heard
Because of the jingle bells.
And your twisted sick appetite
That feeds on the young with
Firm buttocks.

And that "elf look."
Damn you, you big fat man in a red suit.
Goddamn you, you grotesque fat man with
Inflamed loins.
Your sickness is the sickness
Of the flesh merchant,
The Industrial man who lives
Above the elves.
Oh, damn you,
And your sick enchained animals with antlers!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Meet John Doe, again

click on the little "x" - sweet!

(also check out the piece on uber-producer jim dickinson also in pop culture press issue #56. dickinson also produces boister - aka "anne & the boys")

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Where I was/What I remembered

"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." -Max Planck

or as John H says "You only see the world you make."

'nuff said.

Modern Love

I've come home to good news. Groovy gal pal, Lisa, had an essay in The New York Times Magazine on Sunday. Here is the link to the "Modern Love" column:

One comment on th essay, for those who choose to read it, that's a pretty big IF she's asking at the end.

Boy oh girl, am I happy to be home. Did I actually complain about my bed on this blog a few weeks ago? My bed is bonafide! I walked in the door, skipped to the bedroom, flew on the mattress and hugged the old gal - lumps and all. After that I kissed my coffee pot and said a few over the top things to my big, red chair. Meg's Playhouse - coming to a Saturday morning network lineup near you very soon.

And, hey, modern love? thank you, thank you, thank you - jill for beads & righteous anger, ryan for words and running, mike for trying , brenda for brevity, dave for L AU G H I N G, jon for quiet, howard for always stuff, andy for always stuff, mom for forever stuff, ann for service, amanda for service, laura for friendship & integrity, judith for forgiveness and coffee, don for the voting, rob for making me reread frankl, sheila for compassion, talise for being way smart, john for the jesus-god story, orlando for the reminder, shari for the window birds, megan for fun, rick for knowing, josefina for stopping the buck, willy for being laidback, chas for goodness, patty for kindness, nathan for making tim the snake and me the box, lynn for being supercool, richard for not telling and kollin for whatever is happening is working.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

"I Can Handle It"

I'm taking off for a while gang. I leave you with this from the superoptimist gang.

New Official Slogan for 2007 announced!

At the recent International Council of Superoptimists meeting which took place over the last weekend in Calgary, Canada, a new all-purpose optimistic slogan was adopted as the official slogan for the year 2007.

“I can handle it!”

The slogan “I can handle it!” is exactly the kind of thing Superoptimists like to hear in the event of:

1) car crash
2) hostile divorce
3) nuclear incident
4) spoiled, chunky milk
5) dog mess on rug
6) avian flu
7) abcessed tooth
8) middl aged weight gain
9) terrorist incursions
10) stinky kitty box
11) more incompetent political leadership
12) another meeting at work
13) laundry, dishes and trash
14) venereal warts
15) leprosy
16) abject poverty
17) impulse control problem
18) another bad relationship
19) genocide
20) neighborhood arson attacks
21) even more budget cuts
22) bad stye on the eye
23) another friend bought an SUV

Only One time?

I've added a few links. The new headliner (Jackson Katz!) is dedicated to the resident who responded to a patient revealing to him this morning that she had been raped by saying "only one time". I care about the patient involved very much and have not judged her to be an exaggerator in any way. In fact, she is refreshingly honest and direct.

I very calmly addressed him about his response and he denied saying it. But when I first raised the question of the comment he seemed confused and said "Did I say that?" as if he were asking the question of himself but he then proceeded to say the problem was the patient's perception My gut tells me he did say it and did not wish to admit that fact to me.

I really don't care about that. He got called on it and that needed to happen. Hey, I'm wrong a lot but on this one my intution is fairly secure.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Cormac Letter


- - - -

Dear Editor,

I enjoyed reading the article on Tuesday about putting a traffic light by the interchange of Castillo and Grand Streets. I aint know nothing about politics, but I seen too many cars hit too many light poles over the years. A man gets weary of it.

Just yesterday, my wife said be careful at that stop sign.

Why? I asked.

Well just a week ago the Johnsons got sideswiped by that guy who sells those turquoise stickpins in his shop on Esmeralda.

I forgot about that, I responded. And sure enough, I was careful at that stop sign. But the driver in back of me wasnt.

A truck carrying a load of lumber down from the old ancient pine forests or the newfound wrath of a somnolent god or just the terror of fading memories hit the driver square on the left side of his Volvo.

Oh shit, the driver said, just before his life escaped into an incarnadine tributary on his steering wheel.

I dont want to see that again. A traffic light is needed, and that soon. Or we will continue to inhibit our temporary souls which wait like cowed children at stop signs, as it always was before those signs crept like stalks from the Earth.


C. McCarthy
Santa Fe

ripped from mcsweeneys

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Don't Get SAD

Put On Your Happy Pie!

It’s a documented fact that during the Fall and Winter, the decreased amount of sunlight can lead some people to feel kind of “down” or “dopey” or “lethargic.” It’s called “seasonal affective disorder” or SAD. And the direct opposite of a state of mind called “superoptimistic.” What’s not so readily known to many SAD sufferers is that a very simple thing can relieve many of these symptoms. And that thing is to jump out of bed, run out the door, and get some pie.

Strawberry-Rhubarb pie.
Peanut Butter pie.
Pumpkin pie.
Chocolate Cream pie.

And if that seems a limited list, may we suggest a group of dedicated enthusiasts who have a “treasure” map to the best local pies joints in your neighborhood. Go to this site below and hit the “pie map” link and you’re on your way to putting on your happy pie!


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Due to the effects of...

Panhandler: I am a Vietnam veteran. I cannot work due to the effects of Agent Orange. Agent Orange was used in Vietnam to kill all the vegetarians.

--Uptown R train

Overheard by: Goueznou

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Chock-Full of Go-Getters

So, I'm on a new thing I call System 12. What you do is, you cut your hair short. Then, at night before going to bed, you turn the air conditioning in the bedroom on to full blast. While that's getting up to speed, you go take a really hot shower. Then you go to bed in the cold air conditioning. While you sleep, the evening's combination of extreme environments forms what I refer to as a lockdown; that is to say, the hot shower kills germs, the cold air-conditioned bedroom keeps more from forming, and, to put it in layman's terms, you wake up completely clean. You pull on clothing quickly (you've set it aside the night before), and you're out the door within minutes of opening your eyes. You're instantly making your way down busy morning streets chock-full of go-getters. They all stare at you because you're like a newborn child; you just got here from some other dimension that the others have already forgotten they came from. They can see there's something different about you, they all stare into your eyes for answers, and you feel the world finally reacting to you in a different way.

Anyhow, it's late now, and I'm typing to you from the hospital - don't ask how I get away with all this in here. Hey, before we get started, I want to clear something up: Dan Kennedy called you all amphetamine addicts steeped in denial. He wasn't right, and apologizes. Everybody gets cranky. Thanks, Dan.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Real Problem?

I think the real problem is a little more complicated but I like the simplicity of this argument and do not disagree w/ the premise on a certain level.

The Real Problem is That it is Illegal for One Country to Invade Another Country

By Linda McQuaig

Much has changed in the way the mainstream media deal with the war in Iraq. Most commentators now acknowledge the war is a disaster and will hurt the Republicans badly in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections.

But one thing hasn't changed — the willingness to believe that the motives for war, however misguided, were basically honourable.

So the criticism centres instead on the Bush administration's inept handling of the war.

Canada's own Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal leadership front-runner, tries to slough off his former enthusiastic support for the war by now saying he hadn't "anticipated how incompetent the Americans would be."

But incompetence is a side issue. The real problem is, and always has been, that it is illegal — not to mention immoral — for a country to invade another country, in other words, to wage a war of aggression.

The fact that Iraq is the last unharvested oil bonanza on earth, in an era of increasingly fierce global competition for dwindling oil reserves, only makes U.S. motives all the more suspect.

As the Nuremberg Tribunal concluded after World War II: "War is essentially an evil thing ... To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

If the U.S. had a genuinely open media, there would be a ferocious debate raging about how to deal with the fact that Washington initiated a war of aggression that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands — possibly hundreds of thousands — of Iraqis, and almost 3,000 Americans.

U.S. troops should be removed now.

As former Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern argued in Harper's, the withdrawal should be accompanied by a payment of about $17 billion to compensate the Iraqi people for the immense suffering caused by the invasion. McGovern sets out in detail how the money should be allocated. He calculates that a U.S. pullout, even with a $17 billion payment, would save the U.S. $200 billion over the next two years, and help restore America's reputation.

This should please everyone except those — like Dick Cheney's old firm Halliburton — who have profited handsomely from war and "reconstruction." Halliburton's energy services revenues were up 31 per cent in the most recent quarter. "Iraq was better than expected," Jeff Tillery, an energy analyst, was quoted in an Associated Press story last week.

The Bush administration won't pull out of Iraq because it doesn't want to abandon the 14 permanent U.S. military bases it's building there — or the oil.

The Iraqi government is under pressure to pass a new law to open up Iraq's vast oil reserves to foreign investment and ownership.

None of this is mentioned in the media's endless commentary on the war. What would wildly lucrative profits for Big Oil have to do with the U.S. involvement in Iraq?

© 2006 The Toronto Star

Saturday, October 21, 2006


I up and erased my template. All you regulars will be back. Just going a little slow.

Love. Love. Love.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yo Go Rob

Brezny of Freewill astrology who has this to say about me this week:

The phase you're entering may prove to be ridiculously confounding--ridiculous both in the sense of absurdly extreme and very funny. Yet the immediate future also promises to provide you with unprecedented opportunities to outgrow limitations you may have imagined were permanent. To honor this synergistic blend of slapstick confusion and juicy potential, I'm offering you two pieces of advice. The first is from Eleanor Roosevelt: "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." The second is from Edward Teller: "When you get to the end of all the light you know and it's time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly."

Makes some sense, I suppose.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Karen & Salma - Separated at Birth?

The Karen Kubby Interview

Here's a sneak preview of my new column, "interview", debuting next month in the Iowa Source. Be sure to pick up a copy (it's free and has been for 23 years!) anywhere in eastern Iowa at your local bookstore, grocer, museum or coffee shop. You can also check us out online at

Karen Kubby is the Executive Director of the Emma Goldman Clinic for Women, a feminist reproductive health care clinic for men and women in Iowa City. She spent 11 years as an activist member of the Iowa City City Council and has volunteered her time and considerable expertise to a variety of progressive issues including the support of local labor unions, environmental protection, women’s rights, affordable housing, the public library and the new Johnson County dog park. An artist as well as an activist, Karen made her living for two decades (1980-2000) as a potter and beadworker, participating in art fairs throughout the Midwest. On a recent warm, October afternoon, Kubby and I sat on the front porch of my house and discussed the origins of her activism, her time on City Council, her artwork and why Salma Hyek would be the best choice for the lead in “The Karen Kubby Story”.

Karen, thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk with me. I want to begin by asking why you think you became an activist in the first place? Your father was a fairly high ranking military officer as I recall. Do you see any connection here?

Well, it certainly set the stage for me being a peacenik but as much as I rebelled against the content of my father’s career, I always loved the process he used. Many of my methods are definitely my Dad’s. You can’t get any more of a bureaucratic framework that’s hard to change than the United States Army. My Dad was an officer but I always saw him trying to work within the system to change it. He tried to make things work better for the people in that system – dress codes, policies, benefits, all that stuff. And my Dad and I agree on a lot of stuff. He’s against the war in Iraq, thinks it is a terrible use of military power and there are lots of Pentagon people and military strategic planning folks who also disagree with the government’s current stance there.

So what was your first act of activism?

Well, my mother would say that it was in Girl Scouts at camp and I was always sort of hanging with the kids that no one else would hang with. I’m Jewish and daily mitzvahs – daily good deeds – are a very important piece of that cultural heritage. I think there are a lot of activists throughout history who share that faith and that implementation of faith. The Jewish heaven is on earth and so if you look around you and it’s not heavenly, you work to make it as heavenly as possible before your time’s up.

You are often described as a leader in the Progressive Community. How do you define the term “progressive”?

That’s like the biggest question because it’s a really simple answer – public policy and personal politics that speak to economic, political and social justice. That’s also very broad and you can define some really perverted things as economic justice so you have to pay close attention to the details. It really is public policy and personal politics that speak to these things but then we can argue like hell about what that means in any particular moment. That’s why it’s a simple answer but also huge.

You were an extremely popular city councilor. What do you contribute this to?

I think people supported me because they trusted my process. They trusted that even if they disagreed with my overall process, even if they disagreed with my core ideology and core values, they trusted that I did my homework. I was open to new information and would be willing to change my mind and explain it half-way articulately. They didn’t have to guess with me.

What was the hardest part of being on the Iowa City City Council?

Just last week I was at the dog park coo-ing over a couple of cute dogs and a woman said, “Hey, didn’t you used to be on City Council?” I said, “Yes but that was seven years ago.” She said, “Oh we stopped watching after you left.” This was disappointing to me because I want people to be interested in larger issues beyond personalities. When I was on Council, a lot of people saw it as an ongoing soap opera - they wanted to see who was going to scream at me that week. There was a lot of disrespect there. An element of it was almost abusive, really, in that my colleagues could not handle me being a peer because of my age, my gender and my politics. It shouldn’t have been allowed to continue.

It gets old after awhile and it wears on you. As a survivor of domestic violence, I‘m very self aware of when I’m being abused and when certain lines are being crossed. I tried to handle it constructively. I would say “Well, Mr. So and So, that was really rude but I think your second point is very interesting and we should spend some time talking about that because it’s important.” I tried to be a role model of a different way to deal with conflict – how not to escalate but to de-escalate, move ahead and be productive.

What motivates you to keep working to make your community and the world a better place?

Anger. Anger and compassion along with a little bit of manic energy. There’s still a lot of injustice in the world – even in this community. It’s a beautiful and privileged community but there is still a lot of injustice. There’s just a lot of work to do. You do a little bit everyday and then you get somewhere. Anger and compassion are very easy partners. When you know that there are children going to bed hungry at night and you care about that, it makes you angry.

Karen, you are a self-identified feminist. I often hear younger women these days saying, “I’m not a feminist or anything but……” and then they say something which is essentially of a feminist nature. What do you attribute this to?

I think the term has become associated with man-hating and that has a negative connotation. I think some feminists are man-hating but most just dislike living in a system which benefits men the most. I know things are cyclical and I hope future generations become comfortable identifying with the term. I am a feminist. I think it’s an easy way to let people know you believe in gender equity which is scary to a lot of people. Well, tough.

Tell me how you became interested in pottery and beadwork.

My grandmother was a seamstress and did bead work. She did a lot of bead work on handbags, wedding dresses and cashmere sweaters with monograms so I was around it whenever I was around my grandmother. When I was a student here in town at Helen Lemme in the fifth grade, my art teacher, Sue McNeil, introduced me to clay. Ever since then I’ve been doing clay. I like to throw on the wheel. I let the clay speak to me – some days I’ll have a design in my head I want to paint on a bowl but I just can’t do it but I could throw plates all day. I just honor that process.

Let’s pretend you could see into the future. Its twenty years from now. Where are you? What are you doing?

I going to have gray braided into my hair. I’ll probably be wearing these same pants. I’ve had them for 25 years and they’ll probably be good for another 20 and they’ll be in fashion again. I’ll be gardening, I’ll be beading and potting and I’ll be walking my dog, or three of four of them. I’ll be an activist – maybe the issues will be different, I hope they’ll be different but they probably won’t. They will be economic justice issues and water. Water is next big issue. It’s the next oil. It already is but I don’t think people recognize it. It will be much more overt.”

Will you still be Iowa?

Probably. Richest soil on the earth, why would I leave?

Okay, it’s a cliché question but who plays you in the film version of your life?

It’s funny, I read your questions ahead of time and I usually don’t but I really had no idea what you were going to ask me. I thought about this question the most because it was so stupid –the idea that someone would ever make a movie about me.

So who did you come up with?

Salma Hyek – she’s not too tall and a lot of actresses are very tall. She can play a lot of different roles, she can be funny or serious – she’s multi-faceted in that way. Plus she’s got that hair and the eyebrows – if she can play Frida [Kahlo, Hyek played the painter in the 2002 film about her life] she can play me.

Is there anything you’d like people to know about you that isn’t already common knowledge?

Yes. I can be quiet. I can be cranky and I’d like to jump out of an airplane (with a parachute that works.)

Poor Keillor

I read with great interest Garrison Keillor's article today in suggesting our country change Columbus Day to Bush Day as a way of honoring kindness, compassion and modesty. In his proposal Keillor refers to the president as delusional and arrogant and then proceeds to suggest that honoring him with such a hoiiday would serve to be a cautionary endeavor for all Americans.

First off, let me say that I do not disagree with any of Garrison's assertions about George the Lessor. Anyone who knows me or has read this blog at all knows this. What I find humorous about Mr. Keillor's article is the matter of his own self delusion - what any mental health professional will tell you is often a primary trait of addicts and alcoholics - self-projection.

Let me tell you a true story. On earth day 2002(1?) I was leaving a benefit I had helped to coordinate for the Iowa City Green Party and I stopped by the Mill Restaurant to get some dinner on my way home. I noticed Mr. Keillor sitting at the bar. I knew he was in town that night giving a reading. I also knew he was liberal leaning in politics and known to be an environmentalist.

I decided to approach him and talk to him about the Green Party as I was also on the national fundraising committee. I ate half my blackbean burger and walked over to him. The first thing I noticed when I got close to him was how sweaty he was. This man was dripping with sweat. I was a little concerned he had some sort of chronic health problem - which, in fact, he does - alcoholism is a chronic, often fatal, disease. Anyway, I went ahead and introduced myself. He half-ignored me as he ordered another drink. Determined to get his intention and hopefully some funds for the GP, I continued on with my pitch.

The minute he heard me say Green Party, he launched into a tirade about how awful we were and how we had ruined the electoral system and the democratic party. His words slurred as he proceeded along with his diatribe. The entire time he was berating me, he was also looking me up and down. When he finally stopped, I was so shocked I just looked back at him and said, "Well, I guess this means you'd rather not make a contribution to the national party?"

This is when Mr. Prairie Home Companion demonstrated just how kind, compassionate, modest and, well, compainionable he really was - he actually replied to me, "Well, I'm sure we could work something out if you'd like to go back to my motel room with me." There we are - arrogant and delusional. I turned around, walked back to my table, payed my bill and left the restaurant. Besides knowing the man was married, I was completely shocked and disgusted by his rudeness in belittling my beliefs and then most of all by propositioning me to have sex for money. I guess he must have been used to being able to get anything he wanted by paying for it - at least where women were concerned.

There you have it, Columbus, Bush and Keillor have so very much in common. All three of them believe that anything or anyone can be bought. I have a proposal of my own. Let's change Columbus day the the official, annual Buy-Nothing Day. Now that would truly be patriotic. I for one have had enough delusion and arrogance for a life time.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I don't do enough anymore

71 War Protesters Seized
Baltimore's Tradition of Civil Disobedience Continues in Capital

by Liz F. Kay

WASHINGTON - The Rev. Andrew Foster Connors remained calm yesterday as a police officer put his hands in white plastic handcuffs and searched his pockets after he crossed a police line outside the U.S. Capitol.

How can we listen to what's going on in our world and not say it's dead wrong?" said Elizabeth McAlister.

Less than an hour later, the Rev. Roger Scott Powers was also led away in handcuffs from the interfaith demonstration against the war in Iraq in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building.

The two Presbyterian ministers from Baltimore were among 71 people who were detained yesterday as they protested the war in Iraq - and continued Baltimore's long tradition of civil disobedience against wars.

"I was just happy to be able to be a witness for peace," said Connors, 33, who wore a multicolored stole, clerical collar and blue armband. "It's one thing to talk about nonviolence, but to enact it ... nonviolence is a powerful thing."

Baltimore's legacy of nonviolent protest against violence began with the Berrigan brothers' burning of draft records during the Vietnam War and continued through the nuclear proliferation during the Cold War. It persists today as clergy in Baltimore and elsewhere answered a national call to pressure Congress to end the war in Iraq.

Not everyone can take such extreme measures to oppose war, but Roman Catholic moral theologian Joseph J. Fahey said the Jonah House form of protest made the stance more acceptable and mainstream. Jonah House was the West Baltimore pacifist community founded by Philip F. Berrigan.

War protesters lie on the floor of the Hart Senate Office Building as police make arrests after the protesters refused to disperse.
(Sun photo by Glenn Fawcett)

"I think the Jonah House people showed that it is patriotic and love of your country to perform civil disobedience," said Fahey, who specializes in war and peace at Manhattan College in the Bronx and was a founding member of Pax Christi USA, a Catholic peace organization.

He described religion as a double-edged sword that has called people to war, sexism, racism and hatred. But "protest - that's religion at its best," Fahey said.

Yesterday's peace action was one of a weeklong series of events through the Declaration of Peace campaign, an initiative organized by a collection of secular and faith-based groups.

The arrests included Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Director Rick Ufford-Chase, who served for two years in the denomination's highest office, moderator of the 216th General Assembly. He sent a letter to Presbyterian congregations nationwide explaining his decision.

"If God opens the way for me to do so, I will risk arrest to make it clear that I believe the War in Iraq is a violation of my most fundamental beliefs as a Christian," he wrote. "Whether or not such a witness is effective, it is clear to me that I must do everything in my power and in keeping with my values as a follower of Jesus Christ to stop this war."Elizabeth McAlister, a former nun who founded Jonah House with her husband, Philip F. Berrigan, held a banner and wore a chain of origami paper cranes around her neck yesterday.

"How can we listen to what's going on in our world and not say it's dead wrong?" she said. "'Thou shalt not kill' - they're all one-syllable.""We need more," she said. "You don't do enough. I don't do enough."

Patrick G. Coy, director of the Center for Applied Conflict Management at Kent State University, said he was surprised that there has not been more nonviolent protest and civil disobedience linked to this war, given its length and the intensity of the opposition before it began.

Coy says the lack of a military draft, media management by the Bush administration, economic pressures on students and a broader cultural shift toward conservatism have all contributed to a smaller-than-expected outcry.

"They have dramatically increased from the second year forward, but it's not as broad-based as I would expect," he said.

Fahey agreed. "I'm disappointed that it's always been a small minority of clergy," he said. "I wish more academics were involved."

Connors, pastor of Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church in Bolton Hill, said he was called to bear witness because he believes that imposing democracy through violent means is a contradiction.

"In a democratic society, we trade up killing each other with weapons for a vote," he said. "Voting is a form of nonviolence. What's called for now is a witness - people who are willing to put their bodies where their words are."

Yesterday, about 250 people gathered in the Upper Senate Park for an interfaith service. A small group, including Connors, brought a coffin covered with pictures of wounded Iraqis to the U.S. Capitol, where the arrests took place.

Most of the group marched to the Russell Senate Office Building, where some protesters were arrested. Leaders, including Ufford-Chase, negotiated with U.S. Capitol Police, who later let them enter the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building.

Most of the activists stood in a circle to listen to readings and sing as Senate staff members gathered on walkways overlooking the atrium.

"This is what democracy looks like," said Gordon S. Clark, coordinator of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance. "Hopefully, this message will get back to those Senate offices."

Connors was released about 6 p.m. Each of the 71 people arrested was processed one at a time - handcuffs removed, searched, interviewed and given a wristband. He received a citation and a November court date.

The police were very courteous but did not allow them to make noise, he said. "We broke into song a few times and they quickly tamped down on that."

Copyright © 2006, The Baltimore Sun

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

New News

Well, God bless her, my editor from The Iowa Source has accepted my proposal for a new column concept. I'll keep you posted on this.

I've accepted an article assignment which is rather scary because I look back on some of my earlist pieces for them and wish I had written them so differently. Oh well, I know people who regret entire books that are still being read as part of course syllabi (is that the plural, I cannot recall?) all over the country.

Coffee, coffee. I need more and must get back to work.

Monday, September 18, 2006

In 4 months

alot can happen and yet things can still stay the same. I am no longer in the "landshark business". Let's just say as much as I wanted to succeed in that position and as hard as I worked, sometimes there really are no-win situations in the workplace.

I have a new job in the non-profit sector that better suits me. It is also in the arts so this is good. Unfortunately, it is not full-time but the pay is quite decent as are the people I work with.

Sweet Marc had 2 surgeries this summer but weathered them quite well. His discomfort has been hard to bear - when you love someone all you want to do is take it away and you can't. It's one of the most difficult situations in which to find yourself powerless. He never complains and has such a positive attitude that at times I find myself feeling remarkably childish and self-obsessed as I complain, worry and fret about my poverty, my own health problems and social anxieties. He never judges me though and is always supportive. I think we are really beginning to love one another unconditionally. It must be true because, God help me, I tolerate a great deal of Star Trek for this man!

Last night was one of the best in months. We turned in early and Marc read Wallace Steven's "The Necessary Angel" while I dozed off and on with my arm across his chest. Oh my, I was so happy and contented. That's the very best stuff there is in the world and I really don't recall having ever felt so safe and secure with someone.

Oh well, it's late. G'night

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I of i's

Irony of ironies - I see that God forewarned Pat Robertson of the terrible storms and flooding that have recently ravaged New England. My Goodness, God has been warning me about Mr. Robertson for years.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

MDB Update

Well, it's been a while. Sorry to leave you hanging with the news of falling in love and disaster photos of Iowa City. I have little to say about the tornado. I missed it. I mean, I heard the sirens and the hail and saw people staring at the sky but I was so bloody exhausted I just stayed in bed and hoped it wasn't my time. In retrospect that was NUTS but in the moment it seemed perfectly reasonable. The destruction of the thing was massive - given that it's a miracle no one died and no one was seriously injured physically. Emotionally I know it will be very difficult for those who lost everything. I've been there and it's very, very hard.

On to happier things - being in love!! It's wonderful and so is Marc. I promised to share a little bit about him so here goes. He's 36 (ahhh, those younger men) and a poet but, get this (!!!!), he actually has a real job. He works in human services helping people perfect their job skills. The main thing is he's just about the sweetest and most kind man I've ever known, while at the same time being wicked smart and delightfully witty.

He's certainly not perfect, that's for sure. Last weekend he tried to make me watch some superhero comic book movie on the Cartoon Network and he's a total freakazoid about his trash - esp. meat trash - don't even ask. My father would have LOVED this.

Other News:

There is a new link on my blog - OurMedia. Check it out if you want.

Lisa Phillips' NPR book is out! It's wonderful, of course. Her publisher sent an advance copy (thanks, Josh!) 'cause I'm going to be doing an interview with wonderful Lisa for a local paper.

Anne Watts of the "Anne & the Boys" link was featured on Morning Edition a few weeks back speaking of NPR. If you hit the link, it links you to the piece.

It sounds like my Mom and my siblings and nieces and nephew had a pretty nice Easter cruise. I work so much I hardly ever get to talk to anyone anymore but that's the word.

Speaking of work - people are friggin' nuts, you know that? The pettiness and litigousness of this culture is VERY disheartening. The zap-fast-speed at which people just threaten to sue one another over any little thing is B I Z A R R E - that word is a euphemism in case you were wondering.

Oh well, that's the MDB update. Much love...All the Best...Kindest Regards....Peace.

Monday, March 27, 2006

No Spoon

I just tried to change the photo on my profile. Blogger didn't like the one I picked to upload - it said it "did not have enough extension". That's one of the reasons I gave up on baton lessons when I was a kid. The older girl down the street from us who did the teaching kept telling me I didn't have enough extension.

The picture I tried to upload is really cool. It's an extreme close-up of a spoon on slab of corragated metal - good shadows, really grainy, nice reflections & contrasts.

I wish I could send a picture of that spoon to someone and have them know just exactly what I mean. Some images are just not between the arrangement of any words and it just makes it worse to try to fit them in there somewhere.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Can a Good Man Ever Win?

I was just taking a peek at the March edition of The Iowa Source which includes the results of our annual reader's restaurant poll. There was a quote from a woman saying she always makes a man take her to Taste on Melrose before she has sex with them.

Jeez, I've got a new boyfriend who I really like but so far I've given him the flower, I'm doing the cooking for his friends tomorrow night, he spends a whole lot of his time at work surfing the 'net but has never bothered to read any of my columns or anything else I have published on the electronic ether (he gives me his writing ALL the time & it's very damn good, BTW) and he has this habit of telling me how "pretty" this or that woman is on a frequent basis (I'm "hot" & "striking" but not, apparently "pretty".)

Okay, okay - he is wonderful in so many ways I'm not mentioning here and he's sweet as pie and has a wisdom and generosity of spirit that's incredibly awesome. As a matter of fact - he asks about reading my poetry all the time and I suppose "hot and striking" just might be analagous to pretty. Poor guy, if he were telling me I was "pretty", I'd probably be miffed that he wasn't telling me I was "hot & striking". Oh dear, can a good man ever win?

I'm sooooooo tired right now. I've worked about 9073 hours this week. I really like my new job. I actually get to think and my boss actually values my work. Imagine that!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Wanted to Mention

I've gone and gotten myself so busy (yucky and yahoo!), I've been neglecting my own links. Anyway, just checked them out again and wanted to mention that Boister has a gorgeous new site (aka "Anne and the Boys"). Check it out! How'd they do that?

Buy a record from 'em. Buy one of Sweet How's, as well. He gave Ms. Watts her very first gig.


P.S. Lisa's husband, the painter Bill Mead - is now linked from her site (Lisa's Book!). It's gorgeous work. Check it out. Eye candy.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What the frig....

I was just trying to link Sandy Brown's blog from here and it goes straight to the Yahoo home page. What gives. If you know or can figure this out, please check it out or let me know. Gotta admire a woman bold enough to throw a biscuit at Mark Levine at a dinner party with such fine aim she beaned him right in the head.

Poor Guy. Okay, it was poor manners but it is a funny story.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Requiem for my Eyebrows?

Alas, I've always wished I were a musician to. This from today's Common Dreams. Glad to read of Vonnegut's regret at the passing of manners in our society. An old roommate once told me she thought I was beginning to resemble Mark Twain. My eyebrows were beginning to gray. It was hilarious. I only wish I were that witty.Oh yeah, Lisa will be reading at Party Lights in mid-June. Keep you posted.

Kurt Vonnegut: A Requiem for the USA

'All the other species are dying and so will we. I’m whistling as I walk past the graveyard... whistling as beautifully as I can'

Kurt Vonnegut is dwelling on the apocalypse. It’s not that his omelette isn’t good. It’s not that his mood is downcast, but for the third time over lunch in Manhattan, America’s funniest and most pessimistic novelist is explaining why he will welcome the end of the world. “I don’t like life very much for what it does to other people,” he says. This is by no means the most depressing statement he makes between starter and main course, but somehow, by the time we leave the restaurant I feel inspired and full of hope.

Taken at face value, Vonnegut’s worldview is appallingly bleak. He tells me that “all the other species are dying and so will we”. He argues that almost everybody is “humiliated, frustrated, terribly disappointed”, and compares life to an enforced spell in the army lasting 80 years instead of three. An hour in the company of such an acutely-aware Eeyore could be dispiriting, were it not for his belief in the redemptive power of creativity and his endless capacity for jokes. “I’m whistling as I walk past the graveyard,” he admits, “and I’m whistling as beautifully as I can.”

A Man Without A Country has been presented as Vonnegut’s final testament, eight years after he announced that he would never publish again. It contains many familiar themes, some old gags, and several passages lifted verbatim from previous essays and speeches, most of which first appeared in the left-wing magazine In These Times. He credits his publisher, Daniel Simon, with “doing for me what Jesus did for Lazarus”.

“I was so dead I stank,” he continues, “I’m as surprised as anyone to be back at the age of 83 and I’m embarrassed to have lived so long. I was in a house-fire some years ago and it would have been much more tasteful to have died back then.”

For all the references to his advanced years, and his continued loyalty to unfiltered Pall Mall cigarettes, Vonnegut is in remarkably good health. His wheezing laugh, the tar-pit depths of his baritone and the occasional coughing fit testify to 70 years of smoking, but he doesn’t light up. In New York, even literary icons must keep their habit at home. A glass of wine is declined because “it hits me too hard these days”.

It has often been remarked that as he grows older, Vonnegut increasingly resembles Mark Twain, one of his heroes. The curls are tighter and darker, the moustache less pronounced, and despite his frailty he looks younger than Twain in his declining years, even though Huckleberry Finn’s creator never saw 75. The picture on the front cover of the new book, taken by his second wife, the renowned photographer, Jill Krementz, is a good one. “It’s a good face, fer chrissakes,” cackles Vonnegut.

Manners are important to him, and he regrets their passing. He is unfailingly courteous, and once wrote that if he dined with Richard Nixon’s defence secretary, he would discuss global annihilation with a smile. If promoting a new book is a chore, it never shows. He tells the waitress: “This place is great … I eat less than this on Thanksgiving.”

And so on.

Born in Indianapolis in 1922, Kurt Vonnegut Jr was encouraged to believe that once the Great Depression was over, technological advances would ensure prosperity for all. His father, an architect, insisted that he should become a scientist like his brother. “What actually happened,” he recalls in his collected speeches, “was that we dropped scientific truth on Hiroshima. We killed everybody there.”

As he had recently experienced his mother’s suicide, fought in the second world war and witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden as a captive of the German army, he decided, not unreasonably, that there was no longer much cause for optimism. “I predicted that everything would become worse,” he says, “and everything has become worse.”

In 1958, Vonnegut’s sister Alice died of cancer the day after her husband John was killed in a train crash. Vonnegut and his first wife adopted their three children. They already had three of their own.

“I try to be truthful,” he continues, “My God, after the Holocaust isn’t it time we gave up as a species? After the first world war wasn’t it time we gave up? We’re perfectly awful animals and we’re intelligent enough to know about it.”

This dim view of humanity permeates Vonnegut’s fiction, without ever becoming corrosive, thanks to an endless parade of wild ideas, elegantly constructed comic set-pieces and cheap one-liners. Slaughterhouse Five, widely regarded as his definitive statement, views the horrors of Dresden through the eyes of a man who has become unstuck in time. Billy Pilgrim leaps from 1950s America to the planet Tralfamadore and back to Dresden again, a device Vonnegut describes as “the equivalent of [Shakespeare] bringing on the clowns every so often to lighten things up”.

Writing it was a painful experience lasting more than 20 years, and by the end all he felt able to conclude was: “I’ve finished my war book now. The next one I write is going to be fun. This one is a failure, and had to be, since it was written by a pillar of salt.”

The novel has been a staple of US high school reading lists for three decades now, but Vonnegut’s work remains under- appreciated next to his avant-garde peers Thomas Pynchon, John Barth and William Gaddis. For too long, critics and academics stacked all science-fiction with the trash, assuming that books thousands of teenagers were enjoying on their own time did not merit serious consideration.

That stigma has faded, but there is still a sense that Vonnegut is both too whimsical and too accessible for America’s literary custodians, an issue he has himself addressed, writing that “clarity looks a lot like laziness and ignorance and childishness and cheapness to them. Any idea which can be grasped immediately is for them, by definition, something they knew all the time”.

In A Man Without A Country, Vonnegut plays with this notion that he has been cheated of due recognition, claiming that he hasn’t been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature because he once ran a Saab dealership that went bust and consequently bad-mouthed the Swedes. “I think it was great that Pinter won,” he says “and it was a fine speech. Perhaps as a result of this book they’ll give me one too. I just need to make it to October and I get a million dollars.” He’s kidding, although his publisher points out that his work is always translated into Swedish, just to make sure it doesn’t slip past the Nobel committee.

If there is a lingering hunger for acceptance, Vonnegut hides it well. “I’m just the asshole who broke the bank at Monte Carlo,” he says, and if it’s a well-worn line, he seems ready enough to believe it. “Listen, I have no idea how it happens,” he continues. “There are plenty of artists that have no idea how they did it. I don’t think any of us know what we are. I seem to have had a destiny, so I did it.

“Beethoven died shaking his fist at God because all this music was still pouring out of him. I don’t know how the hell I did it. What people say is they’re possessed, and I suspect that we’re more possessible than we realise. Something just takes over.”

Vonnegut has threatened to quit several times. Long before he formally declared that Timequake would be his last book, in 1997, he was fond of reminding people that of all the great writers only Tolstoy produced his best work after 45. Is there not some slim chance that he will be possessed again?

“I don’t care,” he answers, “I don’t think it would be particularly good news. I feel like I’ve fulfilled my destiny. I’m completely in print. I’ve been allowed to say everything I’ve wanted to say. I’ve said that this country needs another novel the way the world needs another Sistine Chapel or another Beethoven’s Ninth.”

As to what the country does need, Vonnegut is less sure. His last book, if it is his last, is an excoriating attack on modern American society in all its greed and stupidity, but there is no pay-off or conclusion. It ends not with a revolution but with a requiem.

Vonnegut’s contempt for George Bush and his government is expressed with great force and clarity in A Man Without A Country, but his feelings of alienation from his homeland are nothing new. In 1972 he covered the Republican Convention for Harper’s Magazine, describing Nixon as “the first president to hate American people and all they stand for”. It was there he concluded that the USA’s two party system is one of winners and losers, rather than Democrats and Republicans, and the winners win no matter who gets into office. This being so, surely there is some consolation in the fact that the current president is such a ripe satirical target?

“I suppose so,” he acknowledges, “but the country is terribly at risk, because his stupidities have terrible consequences, leading to deaths of many people, rotten schools, rotten healthcare. He should be protecting us not only from insurgents or terrorists but from disease and ignorance, and he’s not about to do either.

“Still, there’s not much difference. [Democratic candidate, John] Kerry said out of the side of his mouth at one point that he’s not for re-distributing wealth. He and George Bush belong to the same social class, went to the same university, belong to the same gentleman’s club. Can you believe that, in a country of 300 million people, we have to choose between two members of Skull & Bones [a secret society] at Yale?”

Vonnegut votes Democrat, but describes himself as socialist, in the tradition of Carl Sandburg, Eugene Victor Debs and Powers Hapgood. Does he find it troubling that there is no socialist party of note in the US, that historians of the right can claim that the left has demonstrably failed?

“They have socialised medicine in Sweden and Canada, I wish to God we had it,” he answers, “there are socialist experiments going on everywhere. In the Communist Manifesto, what they demanded was free education and free healthcare. One of the most beneficial social experiments in this country was the GI Bill Of Rights – when we came home we could all go to college for free.”

Last week, George Bush used his annual State Of The Union address to declare that his government is meeting its responsibility to provide healthcare for the poor and the elderly and spearheading a global quest for peace. Vonnegut’s stump speech states the opposite. In the land of his internal exile, corporate profiteers rule unchecked, extended families have been split into desperately vulnerable nuclear groups, “lethal injection and warfare are forms of entertainment” and Americans are “as feared and hated all over the world as the Nazis once were”.

When challenged about this last statement, Vonnegut repeats that US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and vice- president Dick Cheney are “jut-jawed, like Nazis” and argues that the main difference is that the Germans were justly feared for their military prowess.

“We have no army,” he says, “What makes us the most powerful nation on Earth is our willingness to kill people in their thousands with remote-controlled missiles, the fact that we’re prepared to set off nuclear explosions in the middle of unarmed people – men, women and children.

“Only one country has been crazy enough to set off a nuke in the middle of a civilian population. Did it twice, and that’s when members of my generation, soldiers, could see that ‘we’re not the good guys any more’. We were very careful not to hurt civilians.”

In his rage and despair he invokes the true guardians of America’s soul, quoting from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address and Christ’s Sermon On The Mount. For a confirmed humanist, he mentions the Beatitudes surprisingly often, arguing that the President’s fundamentalist friends have forgotten the meek, the merciful, and the peacemakers.

Vonnegut once observed that he was at his funniest two days after Martin Luther King Jr was shot, because he was speaking to an audience “full of pain that they couldn’t do anything about … there was an enormous need to either laugh or cry”.

The punchline count is high in A Man Without A Country, as it has been in every one of his novels. On the first page he explains that, as the youngest child in a family of five, making jokes was the only way to get noticed in adult conversation. Reporting on the fall of Biafra in 1970, he noticed he still cracked wise as the Nigerian army approached, writing that “joking was my response to misery I couldn’t do anything about”.

Crucially, it has not been his only reflex. What elevates his work above gallows humour and exposes him as an idealist in pessimist’s clothing is his palpable compassion and the way in which he appeals to his readers’ better natures. “Practising any art is a way to make your soul grow,” he writes, and it is clear that this has been his own salvation. As we speak, he raises a glass : “To the arts.”

Later, when the food arrives, Vonnegut talks about the teacher who inspired him, James C Bean, reminding me that “the Great Depression was going on, and there were no good jobs, so it was a wonderful break to get to be a teacher or a mailman. Some of the best and smartest people in Indianapolis were teaching in school.

“All it takes is one great teacher,” he continues, and though he would never be so conceited as to admit it, he has evidently been that teacher, for his seven children, for students at various American universities, and for three generations of science-fiction fans.

What he has consistently taught is that art alone can rescue his homeland, through a series of personal revolutions. This belief in the transformative power of creativity is expressed beautifully in the preface to Wampeters, Foma, & Granfalloons (Opinions). “I now believe,” he writes, “that the only way in which Americans can rise above their ordinariness, can mature sufficiently to rescue themselves and to help rescue the planet, is through enthusiastic intimacy with works of their own imaginations.

“I am not especially satisfied with my own imaginative works, my fiction. I am simply impressed by the unexpected insights which shower down on me when my job is to imagine, as contrasted with the woodenly familiar ideas which clutter my desk when my job is to tell the truth.”

At 83, Vonnegut has been convinced by a publisher from his children’s generation that his last task is to tell the truth. He has decided that the proximity of environmental catastrophe will probably make him unfunny for the rest of his life. He is unrepentant in his pessimism, and he wishes he wasn’t a writer. He wishes, as he has always wished, that he was a musician.

“Music gives pleasure as we never can,” he reasons. “I’ve said that the purpose of the arts is to make people like life more than they had done before, and people ask me if I’ve seen this done and I say, ‘Yes, the Beatles did it’ – it was an amazing event.”

In Breakfast Of Champions, Vonnegut’s satirical take on the madness of consumer society, science-fiction writer Kilgore Trout longs to be seen as “a representative of all the thousands of artists who devoted their entire lives to a search for truth and beauty – and didn’t find doodley-squat”. It is his master’s voice. Vonnegut’s lifetime of searching has left him weary, and he is reluctant to claim much credit for the wonders he has unlocked for millions of readers.

After lunch, as he climbs into the back of a waiting car, he offers this parting shot: “Remember, I don’t know how I did it.”

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Poor Norm

The following appeared in the V. Voice in 1956 in Norman Mailer's Column. Poor Mailor, he apparently got into a bit of a scuffle about the little typo. I think it's rather hilarious and actually like the idea of growth being a bit of a "nuisance". Anyway, there you go - "did you really believe that?". Happy 50th b-day to the Voice.

Last week a classic of this sort occurred. Writing about Hip, part of my final sentence was supposed to read:

. . . because Hip is not totally negative, and has a view of life which is predicated on growth and the nuances of growth, I intend to continue writing about it . . .

As it appeared in The Voice, it read:

. . . because Hip is not totally negative, and has a view of life which is predicated on growth and the nuisances of growth, I intend to continue writing about it . . .

Poor Ted

from The Onion

Man Who Does Everything At Last Minute Wonders How You Do It

February 1, 2006 | Issue 42•05


Ted Henson, a copywriter at Green/Allium Advertising and notoriously disorganized procrastinator, is awestruck by his coworkers' ability to manage multiple aspects of their lives. "I'm surrounded by, like, these amazing super-multitasking rock stars," said Henson as he watched creative director Kyle Peters put some layouts in a metal file cabinet. "How do you deal with all this lame bureaucratic bullshit? You have to tell me your secret kung-fu organization system." Henson remained in Peters' office for over an hour, talking about Peters' filing system, the filing system in the film Brazil, and other Terry Gilliam films, causing him to miss a 2:30 assignment deadline.

Monday, January 30, 2006

If you're lucky....

“If you’re lucky, people like something you do early and something you do just before you drop dead,” he said. “That’s as many pats on the back as you should expect.” - Zevon

I just needed to find this quotation today, really I did.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Franzen Affirmed?

Jeez - James Frey. I feel sorry for the guy. The writing world is, as one friend aptly remarked, "a small, muddy pond with too many animals lapping at its shore." I read his first book when it was originally published (Frey's not the friend's) and thought it was pretty cliche so not surprised he couldn't sell the thing as a work of fiction but, man, it's better than, say, Dean Koontz. Don't ask how I came to read one of his books.

Maybe lying was not the best thing in the world for him, but billionairess, badass Oprah Winfrey has a hell of a lot more to be ashamed of in my opinion. The whole message to her madness seemed to be I'll stand by you as long as it's not going to make me look bad or effect my ratings.

Jonathan Franzen, man, he must be finding this entire episode rather, well, affirming.

It you don't know what I'm refering to check out his book of essays, How to be Alone and in particular the one about his brush with HARPO. Hell check out my Blog archives and check out my brush with the big O. Those very Oliver P frames are in the display case at MacDonald Optical as I write this, oddly enough.

Monday, January 23, 2006

New Link

Okay - I've added a link for my friend, Lisa's upcoming book, Public Radio: Behind the Voices. For those of us who listen to Public Radio (are there any other stations on the tuner thingie?), who doesn't want to read a little gossip about our favorite reporters and personalities. Check out the link. Sadly, no dirt on Sedaris' enigmatic boyfriend, Hugh. I asked, alas.

Well, that's about it except, Howard - that was a really sweet metaphor you used about a certain category you're in but I'm not gonna publish it here.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

America's Best TV Show

Yep, I love the Jewish World Review. Where else are you gonna find stuff by Pat Sajek next to the Chevelier of NO Bohemia? A little bit of a dream world ain't the worst thing in the world. This is a hilarious essay and I swiped it outright. Sorry, Andrei. Nobody much reads this thing anyway. More free publicity?

Disclaimer: I've never seen Extreme Makeover. I've never even seen Dr. Phil. I really am living in a dream world.

Extreme makeover: New Orleans

By Andrei Codrescu | The votes are in. Extreme Makeover is America's best TV show. The premise is universal: men and women with good intentions and lots of money swoop down from Hollyood on the ugly and the hopeless and transform them through surgery and advice into beauties to die for. Or is that the Swan?

No matter, the concept is in play. Huge billboards in Arkansas display side by side a normal-looking teenager and a hideously deformed and prematurely aged woman. The caption: Extreme Makeover: Meth. In Iraq, sci-fi American soldiers are transforming that country from a nest of intrigue and terror into a brand-new gas station. Extreme Makeover: Iraq. Sleepy Chinese hamlets are waking to find themselves transformed overnight into humming producers of chachkas and putrid air: Extreme Makeover: Walmart, China. Extreme Makeover: Walmart (name a country here) will be soon coming to a country near you. Extreme Makeover: Mexico, has already transformed that country from a dusty nightmare of siesta-takers into a dynamic hive of supermercado shoppers.

The Extreme Makeover concept has been around for thousands of years under diverse names such as "imperialism," (we are coming to your place to clean up), or "urban planning," (we'll fix your city), or "no urban planning, but we'll make you over (extremely) anyway".

For at least a century, the concept was integral to the functioning of the Mafia where it was known as "re-arranging da face." Those forms of extreme makeover were but the beginning of possibilities for the TV-version that has begun, modestly enough, with individuals. The problem with the extreme makeovers of the past is that the results were often unseemly. A Mafia makeover, for instance, couldn't be shown on television because a "mob re-arranged face" made people throw up. Better leave the business of making someone or something over to the professionals of beauty.

In the future, entities wishing to be made over should appeal directly to the TV show's producers and insist until they are given a shot, like the teenager who importuned them until the maimed in her trailer were changed into cover girls. Even the U.S. government could benefit from the show's expertise. Let's say we want to make over another middle eastern country: the show will produce a clear "before" and "after." There will be no confusion, and there will be ratings. I suggest that New Orleans get on the waiting list as quickly as possible. If we leave our future to the current planners, we'll come out looking like a cross between Kabul and Detroit.

What we want is to look like New Orleans, Las Vegas, and only Extreme Makeover can do that for us.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Logic Smogic

or...."It's my party and I'll spy if I want to"

from the January 2 edition of Common Dreams who apparently swiped it from the SF Chronicle. Happy New Year!

A Brief Primer Designed to Help You Understand the Workings of Our New, Streamlined American System of Government
by Jon Carroll

Perhaps you have been unable to follow the intricacies of the logic used by John Yoo, the UC Berkeley law professor who has emerged as the president's foremost apologist for all the stuff he has to apologize for. I have therefore prepared a brief, informal summary of the relevant arguments.

* * *

Why does the president have the power to unilaterally authorize wiretaps of American citizens?

Because he is the president.

Does the president always have that power?

No. Only when he is fighting the war on terror does he have that power.

When will the war on terror be over?

The fight against terror is eternal. Terror is not a nation; it is a tactic. As long as the president is fighting a tactic, he can use any means he deems appropriate.

Why does the president have that power?

It's in the Constitution.

Where in the Constitution?

It can be inferred from the Constitution. When the president is protecting America, he may by definition make any inference from the Constitution that he chooses. He is keeping America safe.

Who decides what measures are necessary to keep America safe?

The president.

Who has oversight over the actions of the president?

The president oversees his own actions. If at any time he determines that he is a danger to America, he has the right to wiretap himself, name himself an enemy combatant and spirit himself away to a secret prison in Egypt.

But isn't there a secret court, the FISA court, that has the power to authorize wiretapping warrants? Wasn't that court set up for just such situations when national security is at stake?

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court might disagree with the president. It might thwart his plans. It is a danger to the democracy that we hold so dear. We must never let the courts stand in the way of America's safety.

So there are no guarantees that the president will act in the best interests of the country?

The president was elected by the people. They chose him; therefore he represents the will of the people. The people would never act against their own interests; therefore, the president can never act against the best interests of the people. It's a doctrine I like to call "the triumph of the will."

But surely the Congress was also elected by the people, and therefore also represents the will of the people. Is that not true?

Congress? Please.

It's sounding more and more as if your version of the presidency resembles an absolute monarchy. Does it?

Of course not. We Americans hate kings. Kings must wear crowns and visit trade fairs and expositions. The president only wears a cowboy hat and visits military bases, and then only if he wants to.

Can the president authorize torture?

No. The president can only authorize appropriate means.

Could those appropriate means include torture?

It's not torture if the president says it's not torture. It's merely appropriate. Remember, America is under constant attack from terrorism. The president must use any means necessary to protect America.

Won't the American people object?

Not if they're scared enough.

What if the Supreme Court rules against the president?

The president has respect for the Supreme Court. We are a nation of laws, not of men. In the unlikely event that the court would rule against the president, he has the right to deny that he was ever doing what he was accused of doing, and to keep further actions secret. He also has the right to rename any practices the court finds repugnant. "Wiretapping" could be called "protective listening." There's nothing the matter with protective listening.

Recently, a White House spokesman defended the wiretaps this way: "This is not about monitoring phone calls designed to arrange Little League practice or what to bring to a potluck dinner. These are designed to monitor calls from very bad people to very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings and churches." If these very bad people have blown up churches, why not just arrest them?

That information is classified.

Have many weddings been blown up by terrorists?

No, they haven't, which is proof that the system works. The president does reserve the right to blow up gay terrorist weddings -- but only if he determines that the safety of the nation is at stake. The president is also keeping his eye on churches, many of which have become fonts of sedition. I do not believe that the president has any problem with commuter trains, although that could always change.

So this policy will be in place right up until the next election?

Election? Let's just say that we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. It may not be wise to have an election in a time of national peril.

Copyright © 2006 San Francisco Chronicle