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 http://www.iowasource.com

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 Salon.com 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.