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Rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies © Robert Sommers 2017

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Khaybar, Khaybar.







خيبر خيبر يايهود جيش محمد سيعود
Initial reports are in that the Israeli Navy has boarded the Gaza aid flotilla and that there has been violence and casualties. It is regrettable. The protesters have allowed themselves to be co-opted in a media effort that somewhat masks the true nature of the underlying conflict. The aim, the organizers said, was to break through the “illegal” Israeli blockade “in non-violent direct action.” Israel was forced into a difficult conundrum where  they faced humiliation if they had acceded and now certain censure for their efforts to enforce the blockade.

The IDF contacted the boats by radio, clarified that the Gaza Strip is a closed military zone and offered the sailors two options: to follow the navy to Ashdod Port or be commandeered by commandos, according to flotilla organizers. The initial contact took place about 200 km. off the Gaza Coast. The flotilla organizers chose to ignore the warnings. Confirmed reports and recordings point out that protesters on the ship were chanting “Khaybar Khaybar ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad saya’ud,” which means ‘Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammed is returning.’ Umar fought the battle of Khaybar against the resident jews, expelling them in 644 a.d.. The enmity between the peoples is obviously not a new thing.


This reminds me of the last time I was in Israel, for the length of Operation Desert Storm, when the Israeli Arab's chant was "Saddam, Saddam, ha habib, edroob, edroob, Tel Abib." Or "Saddam, our pal, bomb the shit out of Tel Aviv" to the non arab speaking reader. These chants arose when the scuds were pouring down, an event I personally witnessed. Reports state that Turkish protesters armed with knives, metal bars and sticks managed to wrestle away guns from the Israeli military in today's action. I am sure that we will soon hear that this is merely Israeli propaganda from the Mossad.

The whole flotilla was a well choreographed charade and publicity stunt. The reality is that Israel allows more aid to Gaza every week than was contained in the entire six ship convoy. The IDF issued the following statement:"We did not attack any boat, we merely fulfill the Israeli government's decision to prevent anyone from going into the Gaza strip without coordinating with Israel. The flotilla is a provocation made to de-legitimize Israel. Had they really wanted to deliver the cargo into Gaza they could have done so via Israel as it is done on a daily basis." The flotilla had been shadowed by gunships and repeatedly warned not to try to enter Israel's boundaries.

While Israel has a right to secure its territory and sovereign space, I am sure that the world media, which is overwhelmingly pro palestinian, will have a field day with this incident as another show of naked Israeli aggression and brutality. Another terrible P.R. blunder, but I wonder what options did they have?

Hamas and the people of Gaza claim the right to violently resist the occupation. When the Israelis did open the checkpoints they were immediately targeted by suicide bombers. But in the myopic view of the left, Israel should never respond to the suicide bombs or the Qassam rockets, since the casualty counts are relatively low and the efficacy of the rockets somewhat unreliable. And Jewish blood is regarded cheaply by the international community.

The 1.5 million palestinians living in Gaza claim that they need more access to goods for rebuilding, while the Israeli government says that they must continue the restrictions to keep more arms from flowing into the region. The people in Gaza are obviously suffering. And their leaders in Hamas bear the brunt of the blame for that suffering, continually hiding their rockets and aggression behind a mostly complicit civilian population and then crying foul. Until the Gazans accept Israel's right to exist and renounce their call for its destruction, it would be crazy and suicidal for Israel to furnish their enemies with the tools to destroy them.

The fact that Israel continues to operate as a jailer for a people left miserable by their long confinement is in the long run deadly for both sides. Israel runs the risk of being totally desensitized to the pain of the Gazans, and the Gazans continue to fester and boil and perpetuate a guerrilla war. There are no easy answers. Can any country offer up the keys to their own destruction to those that would annihilate them?

There are a lot of well meaning and caring people who empathize with the obscene squalor that the Palestinians must endure. It is tragic. But will picking sides in a sectarian blood feud further the goals of peace and stability in the region?


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ballad of Easy Rider

Sweet Cherry Wine

Its my blog and I get to indulge if I want...

Neoneocon

My solipsistic, misanthropic side that basically abhors my fellow man is suddenly starting to wax like a gibbous moon. Long held liberal brain circuitry is morphing into a conservative world view that would make John Bolton blush. Something is rotten in Denmark, and the intoxicating stench is hypnotizing and blinding many of us. Easily manipulated lovers of peace and love and freedom have mindlessly swallowed the bait, and not yet felt the naked hook.

I am a backer of the State of Israel's right to exist and as so a pariah in many circles. My objectivity regarding my tribal roots has been called into question at times, occasionally to my face.

Item: The International Red Cross admitted this week that they have been tending to Taliban casualties during the Afghani conflict. The Red Cross disclosed that in April its workers tended to over 70 members of the fundamentalist terrorist organization.  An ICRC spokesman in Geneva said the practice is consistent with its obligation of neutrality and its mandate to provide assistance to all sides in conflict. The ICRC says it provides a three-day course that includes lessons in international humanitarian law, practical work with bandages and other basic medical techniques.It says the course is also a chance to remind all sides about respect for civilians and proper treatment of detainees.


Item: In New York on Friday, the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty's 189 signatory nations proposed new steps towards disarmament and making the Middle East free of atomic weapons. Diplomats approved a document that laid out action plans on the three pillars of the treaty -- disarmament, non-proliferation and promoting peaceful atomic energy. The NPT called on Israel to join the treaty, which would oblige the Jewish state to do away with the nuclear weapons it is widely believed to have but does not acknowledge.
It mentioned ¨the importance of Israel's accession to the treaty and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards.¨


Item: U.N. Secretary General wrote an editorial in the Washington Post today extolling virtues of the new and improved International Criminal Court, which will now have the teeth to try individuals and nation states for "crimes against humanity."

The first item is interesting. Being a supposedly neutral organization, the Red Cross makes no distinction between terrorist and coalition forces. It anoints them with a broad brush of moral equivalence. Get the terrorists back on the battlefield within three hours or they get their money back.

Neutrality is a precious thing but not really a moral high ground, in my way of thinking. Switzerland feigned neutrality in World War II, a convenient way to aid the germans and get some new banking work. Neville Chamberlain tried to take a neutral, middle course. Didn't work out so well.

But the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, various U.N. Commissions and organizations of similar ilk have the luxury of taking a detached, neutral, objective stance that places all sinners on a level playing and killing field. Including patching up soldiers in a god's army dedicated to establishing a world caliphate, no matter how many innocent civilians might get whacked in the process.

As to the second item, it is laughable in its transparency. The Israelis are expected to allow their teeth to be pulled and voluntarily give up the only thing that has kept their numerous enemies at bay for the last forty years, their nuclear arsenal. In the face of persistent threats from the Persians to wipe it off of the earth and in the face of the Iranians own accelerated race to their own bomb. Thankfully, the Israelis are not signatories to this treaty.

Ditto the last item. The United Nations has an exalted sense of its own power, and Israel is now firmly placed in its gunsights. The United Nations is a charade and has been for some time. They have never been an honest referee. Its proclamations are a testament to political expediency and hypocrisy. China has consistently thwarted any threats to its allies, including North Korea and Iran. Ditto Russia. Look at the U.N.'s emasculated response to Sudan. The I.A.E.A. has been consistently gamed by Iran. Venezuela and Iran continue their protracted courtship. Does any one truly think that the United Nations has any credibility in its edicts? Or in its evenhandedness? Can a country find any real protection under its wing?

***

Israel is in crisis and they are themselves responsible for much of their plight. They made overtures at Oslo that they seemed to have no intentions of following. It is interesting how they have had reasonable stasis in their relationship with the PLO dominated West Bank but Hamas dominated Gaza is still a powder keg. Ultra right wing fundamentalists are dominating the political agenda and are not willing to give an inch on a divided Jerusalem or an expansionist settlement policy.  Sixty one years after their birth, they are still facing an existential threat to their survival.

I read an article yesterday that pointed out an interesting observation. Young people today have only known of Israel as an occupying power, the dominant partner in their dyad with the Palestinians. They are blissfully unaware of the jews and Israelis struggle to survive, or perhaps they are tired of hearing about it.  I got a facebook message this week from an Israeli hater who told me to move my ass back to my "precious racialist theocracy". My local paper runs a letter every day about the Israeli's subjugation of the poor Palestinians. And if evil Israel did give up its weapons and ended up vanquished by its many enemies, most would share nary a tear. They had it coming and they should just go back to wherever it was they came from.

I am drawing a line in the sand. There is a clear demarcation between people who think it is acceptable to bomb restaurants and trains and trade centers and synagogues and rival mosques and innocent people and those that are merely protecting their own den. We should not have a long term presence in Afghanistan or Iraq, short of quick strike actions against those that would fly planes into our buildings. You know, the people that the Red Cross are trying to heal and fix up.

President Obama's own neutrality and stance on the Israeli question is still largely an unknown. Israel should be prepared to go it alone. I stand with them. If this is blasphemy for my liberal friends, I am sorry and it's been swell.








Friday, May 28, 2010

Good, Bad and the Ugly.



Smoke on the Orange blossom sunshine of your love. Thanks, Richard!

Thank you, Bushmills!

My back is totally fucked again. I have upped my cal mag citrate, stretched, sat in the massage chair, read appropriate scripture, iced, slammed ibuprophen, nothing is working. Can't sit, stand or lay down, comfortably anyway.

It was such a gentle pivot that caused my spinal deck of cards to come  crashing down. I am judging a car show on Sunday and I need to be able to walk. Must stay open today and greet customers. Charmingly.

Owing to my debilitation, I sought solace this morning in Irish Whiskey, Bushmills, the protestant variety, first distilled in 1608 if you can believe the label. Leslie figured that Albertson's would be cheaper than Major. I tried to do the whole transaction thing on the self checkout, not wanting to appear to be the total loser that I feel. But the woman behind the counter caught my act and I got that little reproving stare. At least my hands weren't shaking although it would have been a nice touch.

Did you ever notice the class of folks who buy liquor early at the Sav-On or Rite Aid? A special breed of alcoholics. I am not a heavy drinker and do not plan on making this a habit but plan to be a tad shitfaced by the time of my 5:00 assignation with the chiropractor. Whose own back has been fucked. Heal thyself, Tim and then me too. Cheers.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tribal

I have to be straight with you. I have made it a practice not to shirk any subject, no matter how potentially unpleasant it might prove to be for me. So here goes. It is not a very fashionable time to be a jew right now.

Oh, you might get by with admitting that you are jewish if you couple the admission with some statement demonstrating your hatred of zionism and your contempt for Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians. But in some of the circles I run in, the whole jew thing is decidedly not de rigueur.

Now not everybody is bashing us these days but the liberals have definitely pulled up the stakes in our relationship. I imagine that we still have a good number of the born agains on our team and it is a wonder considering how we/I treat the evangelicals.

I will try to write this without getting into a huge litany of discussions regarding the history of the middle east. I will try to get by with a few basic suppositions and you can fill in the banks if you feel the need. My tribe settled into the middle east about 5700 years ago. We settled into a small country that bordered the Mediterranean. God suggested we slaughter a whole bunch of our neighbors, Hittites, Moabites and the occasional Midianite. We did so. We built two temples. In about 570 a.d. Muhammed showed up and wanted to join the family. We said no. Anyway, we were eventually vanquished by the Romans, dispersing ourselves around the globe. We had a difficult time securing real estate and faced inquisitions, pogroms, holocaust and a real feeling of not being wanted throughout the world. Pretty much everyone shit on us but the Dutch.  Austria, France, England (oh god yes England), Hungary, Germany, Estonia, there was a contest in the countries of Europe to see who could be more rotten and ruthless towards my people. Germany won, but not by so much. The French had a great time complying with their axis masters, sending many thousands back to the death camps from the refugee ships that they had stopped. That's if you believe all that holocaust stuff.

Around the end of the 19th century, under the direction of men like Herzl, jews starting filtering back to their ancestral homeland. My grandfather, escaping the Russian Army and a 20 year conscription landed in Israel in the early 1920's. They had no other choice, there was nowhere else to go. As novelist Amos Oz points out, Israel is a refugee camp for both the Palestinians and the Jews. Transjordan was created by the british to be a palestinian state but the 3% of the population that were Hashemites seized power. After an ethnic slaughter of jews in Hebron in 1929 by their Palestinian neighbors, the tribe realized that they needed an independent homeland. They fought for the land with their blood and secured their independence in 1949.

***

I was at dinner the other night when our dinner companion, a physician remarked, "They should have given the jews Long Island" as if unlike any other tribes, we were the only ones that didn't rate a real homeland. The Iranians are fond of telling anybody that will listen that there is too much 8th century Khazar blood mixed in to rate any real claim to the land. Anyhow I almost choked. Other politicians in the day suggested Uganda, Alaska and a variety of other locales. But you will give us Long Island, and we should be grateful. Why do we not have the same claim to our homeland that you would readily cede to the Chippewa? Rather patronizing. I realize that god is not a real estate agent but why should there be a separate standard for Israel and a jewish homeland than any other nation state?

I am not a kneejerk apologist for Israel, the land of my father. I lived there for two protracted periods, have felt katousha missiles rain around me, slept in a sealed room and a bomb shelter. I worked with Palestinians and Jews and liked some of both. Even got some of them to speak to each other, an event that spurned the interest of the Mossad and put me in a bit of hot water. I love the kibbutzim and the tough sabras of my youth but didn't care too much for the later more religious emigres. I do not have a blind eye to the calculations and finesse game that the Israelis excel at but which might ultimately prove their downfall. I think that they have played games on the settlements issue, tacitly agreeing to stop settlement growth and then playing a semantics game regarding "natural expansion". My feelings for the orthodox israelis is about the same as my feelings towards their conservative cousins in our country. I mostly abhor them. But that does not mean that I wish to abandon Israel.

I favor a wall and two states but the state of Israel must be a defensible state. Its enemies both internal and external have never renounced its destruction. Their dreams are not expansionist, merely a wish to continue to exist.

**

I see a lot of hatred for Israel lately in the liberal press and blogosphere. I recognize that Netenyahu can be an untrustworthy shit. He is a politician after all and politics is the art of the possible.

We were visiting some marijuana activists recently and the woman went into a tirade about the US government and their zionist accomplices. I was on an antiwar website today that was applauding our peace loving Iranian friends and engaging in a little Israel bashing. Unfortunately the level of scholarship and general knowledge about the situation there is quite skewed or nonexistent, and there is little point trying to have a rational discussion. But it is quite unfair at times. I had a man comment today on the blog piece I wrote some time ago regarding Carlos the Jackal and he said he considered him a hero. I read some people who were going off on Rand Paul this morning for succumbing to Israel and the AIPAC lobby. A flotilla of liberal activist boats is now engaged in an attempt to block the aid cutoff to Gaza and has refused to engage in a quid pro quo for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Because as we all know, Israelis are bad and Hamas is good. Israelis are brutal occupiers and Hamas freedomfighters are the true victims. Because Israel exists in a vacuum and the history and persecution of its people are an old and tired subject.

I asked my dinner companion why nothing is ever mentioned in liberal circles about the plight of the kurds, or the abuses amongst the arabs like the massacre at Hama or Black September or the gassing of the Kurds or the millions killed in internecine conflict amongst the arab peoples. Why always bash Israel? She went into a defense of Chomsky, and an explanation how the American Israel war machine creates these little tete a tetes for purposes of practice and commerce. And she said that people expect more from democracies. I had asked her to name an Arab democracy. She couldn't, but they get more of a free pass. There are Israeli Arabs in the Knesset, how many jews or christians hold office in the arab lands? The old mid east double standard. Lovingly delivered by Michael Lerner and Human Rights Now and a whole host of other liberal organizations who love to chastise the jewish state but fail to emit a peep about the repression and barbarity rampant in the arab world.

But somehow Israel is perceived as an imperialist power in the middle east, desperately trying to hang on to what few dunams they still possess. They are the oppressors of the people in Gaza, who with sympathies from their english allies, pray for weapons to deliver themselves from the occupier. Their military unit hides itself behind the civilian population and then cries foul at the retaliation to the rockets. Innocent civilians die, on both sides, Israeli rockets, palestinian suicide bombs. Entwined in a dark dance that threatens to decimate everything in its wake.

***

Of course, now it is accepted to refer to the Israelis as Nazis and point out all the lessons they learned from their once concentration camp masters. I think that non jews find this past time delicious, putting these supposed smart people on notice for their perfidy. Makes them feel morally superior.

***

I don't think that people who have never visited Israel can either appreciate how small the country actually is, or the amount of enemies it is surrounded by. Take your best shot at it but don't forget about them being masters of the endgame. We will not knowingly walk into our own annihilation. You already tried that. Never again.

I said, hey boy, that's no chicken...

I made the slightest lean to the left this morning to pick up my cell phone and felt my back lock up in a strange way. The way it feels when you know that things will not be back to normal for several days if not weeks. I marshaled through the day after a go round at the County Assessor's office and now lay prone on the couch typing whilst nursing my aching back with suitable and mostly legal analgesics.

***

I have been thinking about the oil spill today - the day they try to "top kill" the broken pipe. Karl Rove has just gleefully proclaimed that this is Obama's Katrina, as if a point is now made for his side in the incessant tit for tat. Bobby Jindal, that fierce denier of federal aid is now on his knees pleading for help and the pro industry, good old boy Louisiana shrimper/ fisherman is now having to reassess the cozy relationship his countryman has with the drillin' folks.

***

Lehman Brothers sued J.P. Morgan today for the billions that Morgan made off of Lehman's rotting corpse in the last few weeks of it's life,  Lehman claiming with inside information.

***

In a way the two events, the oil spill and the financial meltdown, deserve to be looked at side by side, for the consequences of both disasters point out interesting similarities between the two catastrophes. In both cases the American public had been hoodwinked into thinking that there were certain controls in place to avert their failures. Oil drillers had to have redundancy safety systems built in so that this kind of event would be unthinkable. And no way in the world that the government would permit the Deepwater Horizon or Atlantis without having full engineering packages and inspections, something we know has not always occurred.

Of course now we know that there was a revolving door between BP and the very same regulators and that many of the civil servants were high on meth and purportedly watching porn. And now we realize that not only did some engineers make a very stupid decision with the blowout, there were no secondary safety controls in place, the repair technology might not even work at 5000 ft., and is totally experimental at this point. And a few years back the MMS ceded the duties of environmental complicity right back to the oil drillers, every good republican knowing that companies best police themselves. I quote from the Washington Post:

The 2005 regulation MMS adopted assumes oil and gas companies can best evaluate the environmental effects of their operations.
The rule governing which information the MMS should receive and review before signing off on drilling plans states: "The lessee or operator is in the best position to determine the environmental effects of its proposed activity based on whether the operation is routine or non-routine."
MMS said in a May 2000 draft environmental analysis of deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that "the oil industry's experience base in deep-water well control is limited" and that a massive spill "could easily turn out to be a potential showstopper for the [Outer Continental Shelf] program if the industry and MMS do not come together as a whole to prevent such an incident."
But when the MMS finalized the document that month, it jettisoned those two statements and concluded that there was no need to prepare an environmental impact analysis for deep-water drilling: "Most deep-water operations and activities are substantially the same as those associated with conventional operations and activities on the continental shelf."


So the fox not only runs the chicken coop, he's bought off the hound who is supposed to be guarding it with the promise of late night frolicking and filet mignon. The government can't take responsibility under present law or run the risk of assuming all of the liability. They can't even tell BP what dispersant to spray, and reports this morning that thanks to the toxic dispersant, huge oil blobs are now submerged in the water and passing under the booms. You are fucked, Louisiana. Deep frigging gumbo. And maybe there is a little karma involved for the kinds of people you befriend and elect in your state. And the government has no way of fixing it either, they are way out of their depth, too.


***


Of course, the financial meltdown was predicated on the failing of some strange and experimental credit instruments, that also turned out to be totally bogus shit, but that the Wall Street swine could peddle with a straight face, knowing that the game was rigged and that people were going to be left without a musical chair. And there was nary a regulator around or anybody who actually understood the nature of the trash, like with Madoff, everyone apparently getting caught fast asleep at the wheel. Of course Goldman got paid off a hundred cents on the dollar in the AIG deal, with no thought to getting a little discount for the American taxpayer footing the bill. Wouldn't be sporting now, would it? And the investment houses weren't content to destroy the national economy, now they have started short selling foreign countries, like Greece.


***


Times like these are the salad days for a naturally inclined pessimist who enjoys saying I told you so. Tsk, Tsk, the blind faith of the public, who assumes that rational engineers are asking the right questions and have given some thought to worst case scenarios. That rare and irreplaceable resources aren't pulverized and plundered with unsafe, speculative technologies. And that the Masseys and BP's and Goldmans of this world are willing to look at something besides profits once in a while in their calculus. Like the lives of their employees and the well being of the american public.  I read an article the other day about how these deep sea leases have just been given away to the oil companies, especially during the last administration and it makes me, well, furious. It is one thing to allow them to do their own environmental analysis but to subsidize it as well seems a bit over the top. Let them screw you and sodomize you too.






Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Who you jiving with that kosmik debris?

All hail the lightbeings!

Metatron

The news today is pretty crappy. Wars and rumours of wars. The stock market takes another dive. Jed Clampett sized oil patch wreaks havoc in the gulf. Spanish language now forbidden on the streets. Not knowing what to do, I reached out to an unfamiliar friend, my own higher powered, encrusted deity, creator shaped, god unit. Or any similar almighty being that I might have fantasized about in a weak moment in a previous incarnation.

The truth is, I was raised Unitarian, and don't ever recall much talk of an exalted being, the church sessions pretty much being forums for discussions about peace, civil rights, bad poetry and the occasional wine and cheese function. Not a wide body of liturgy by any standard. But I am happy that I was steeped in a gentle church, with a minimum of fire and no brimstone that I can seem to recall.

I discovered Hesse and Zen post adolescence and dabbled in Mahayana, finally landing on Jung. I started looking at belief systems like a psychoanalytical Margaret Mead, observing the cultural anthropology of the mind. Some humans need to have a certain order in their life, and an angry all powerful father figure keeps them on the straight and narrow.

I read a book once, by Robert Graves and Raphael Eitan, I think it was titled 50 Creation Myths. Fascinating read. The book placed a sumerian myth next to a vedic myth next to a zoroastrian story next to a christian fable and so many were so similar to each other with some fairly minor exceptions. One myth might have the world on the shoulders of a god or a giant and then it becomes a turtle, eagle, etc in the next story. None would necessarily pass any elementary school science quiz. And I figured, this is absurd, there is obviously no right depiction of creation, but there is an obvious human need to bring sense to the big questions of the whole life experience deal. Yet our psyches are so much closer to each other than we think, and regardless of creed, we share much more than one might imagine. Time, counting, social mannerisms, smiles, frowns, the list goes on and on. Just might prove to be a redeeming factor in mankind's continuing existence and survival.

The reason that I launch into this soliloquy is that I have been reading a new age magazine that I was thumbing through in the bathroom and it is so goofy that it got me laughing. It is just so preposterous, like most religion. How semi sane people can swallow any of this swill is beyond me.  I don't care if you are talking to golden salamanders or bargaining with the mosaic god about infanticide, it reads like really bad science fiction to me. But the new agers take it to a new post Urantia level of lunacy. The Life Connection, a monthly periodical that has ads in the back for a host of clairvoyants, mediums, colon therapists, past life counselors, yogis, Akashik librarians, etc.. There are people that can put you on proper speaking terms with a certified angel from the seventh veil, and a woman whose two cats, Reyon and Pudah, are really yoda like ascended masters, and speak through her for friskies and warm milk.

I was reading about Lee and Patricia, who represent Kyron and the Sirian High Council, address unknown but reputedly far from our pissy little three dimensional world. Or Dr. Costa, who has a standing invitation from the  celestial Inner World Council of Masters and the Inner World Doctor Consortium. Others advertise for mercury free dentistry and holistic lawyering. I know one of the regular authors, a psychiatrist who has his head on pretty straight and the astrologer who has been there for eons. Maybe literally.

I have several artist friends who practice Religious Science, I call them my spoonbenders, and they all seem like cool, gentle people and hey, whatever works? But my cynical inner New Yorker wants to say, give me a fucking break to the whole megillah. It is all so Buck Rogers. Ensign Sommers reporting to Xenu High Command as an emissary from Planet Protong.

The truth is that I did have a meeting once with a spiritual being, St. Luke coming down and writing in the sky with two foot high letters of fire and delivering me a blistering message. Which I can't exactly remember. But there were at least 500 micrograms involved and some part of the script may have been lost in translation. I don't even know if I believe me at this point.

In short, in my estimation the new age, vortex, pyramid, crystal, prosperity, reiki, science of mind bunch are no weirder than the Baptists or Jews or Methodists. Probably a great avenue for middle aged folk to get laid. Goofy but harmless. Humans. Hmmm.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan

Robert Allen Zimmerman was born May 24, 1941. The troubadour and poet laureate has given the world so much. Blood on the tracks earns you a get out of jail free card for at least a hundred reincarnations.

Listened to a great new song by his son today, when your ship comes in or something like that. Thank you Bob, for gracing us with your contributions.

Fred Neil










Uglytown

I took up arms and had a protracted Facebook battle with a young midwest libertarian this week over Rand Paul and the new conservative cause celebre, the right of private individuals to discriminate. I copy a portion of his last salvo.


"The conflict between protecting the 1st Amend.'s freedom of association vis-a-vis private discrimination, that's where the heart of the problem lies, no? It is a values choice. I have no problem saying I value personal liberty above equality. Without that primacy, I would argue, there can never be equality." 


I am not going into our back and forth, but my general point was that society does not have the luxury of tolerating this kind of discrimination and waiting for their precious "market" to sort it all out, e.g., let's say all the apartment owners decide not to rent to Hungarians or gays or atheists or blacks or jews, it becomes real problematic.

***

It seems to me that we are getting uglier as a society and real fast. The right is pandering to the most vile, racist elements for votes. Here in California and across the land, social programs for the young, the old, the infirm and the mentally ill are the first to be cut, the free market darwinists suggesting that they rely on charity while the upper 1% and Wall St. run amok with their obscene profits and bailouts.

I saw a truck this morning with Resist Obama painted on the window, only the "o" was a hammer and sickle. I would wager that the driver couldn't identify Marx if you spotted him Harpo and Zeppo.  Now Sarah Palin is insisting that Obama is a tool for big oil, you couldn't imagine the delicious irony in her audacity and stupidity, she being the biggest whore for crude the country has seen in some time.

***

Hispanics are obviously the current "vogue" target. Here is a somewhat dated clip of a man who wants to ban spanish speaking in parks in Tennessee.
There was a letter to the local rag a few weeks ago from a Fallbrookian named Lowery who wants all  latinos deported, regardless of immigration status.  Now, the truth is that deportations in the hot state of Arizona are up this year and crossings are slightly down, but facts be damned, we have to stop the brown skinned invader. Just as soon as he is finished raking the gravel around the cactus, that is.

Of course, stoking up the flames of racist hysteria is a tried and true winner with the native population here in the U.S. of A.  Worked with Father Coughlin and Buchanan and Maddox and a host of other grand elocutionists. The chinese, irish, italians, jews, blacks, they all had their turn in the stocks. We need a fall guy and now the mexicans are looking pretty convenient. 

***

I know that I am an anachronistic peace and love throwback and what I think doesn't count, but so much of the current political argument does not meet the most basic civility and decency smell test. I am not a follower of the man from Gallilee with the sandals and the merry men, but I would hazard a guess that he would be appalled at the behavior of his minions. What kind of society do we wish to live in? Does your first amendment granted personal liberty to be an end times seeking, racist, xenophobic, polluter always have to trump my vision of a society where people treat each other with decency, you know the way they tried to teach us in the sandbox at kindergarten? Rhetorical question.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I hope I don't fall in love with you.

Fox Woman

This is my favorite Bertha Lum colored woodblock, her 1907 piece, Fox Woman. Lum traveled to Asia in the early part of the century and won a grand prize in Japanese printmaking. Lum loved to borrow from Japanese folktales. This print illustrates the popular story of the evil fox spirits who would appear as women from time to time. The shadows give away the true nature of the being.

I have not seen a fox for almost three decades in Fallbrook. The last one I saw was a beautiful red fox one twilight.

We are currently without dog, Maddie having been sent away for remedial training and a possible new life. Creatures are now starting to explore our previously forbidden realm.

The other night Leslie heard something on the upper deck and saw prints the next morning, strange prints indeed. The creature left a partially eaten avocado.

This morning she saw a gorgeous fox in the corral. Lithe and brown and diminutive in size, it moved with an unmistakable grace. Or maybe it was a spirit woman after all?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Peaches en Regalia - 8 bit version

Final Episode of Roadrunner

video

Big Chill

With the most current political argument revolving around an issue that was supposedly settled 46 years ago, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, once again the sixties rise to the fore. What was it about that tumultuous decade, that the reverberations of its cultural earthquakes and divisions continue to be felt so strongly? Did the brown acid at Woodstock give reality such a rocket fueled kick in the ass that it can now never find stasis?

The issues of civil rights and desegregation, the environment, sexual liberation and freedom, drug use, religion, attitudes towards war, gay rights and just a general tweaking of the nose of the power structure all found their birth in the sixties cultural revolution. Dies were cast and lots were chosen and there has been little consensus or equilibrium since. The calico cat and the gingham dog of the left and right continue to tear each other apart in a latter day war of the roses.

In the ensuing decades, the excesses and dangers of unfettered freedoms became clear with the advent of herpes and then AIDS, twelve step programs and Affirmative action and then quotas. It was an inevitable counterbalance.   The two sides are now very evenly matched. The 64 dollar question is where do we go from here? Is there a new post cultural revolutionary paradigm lurking out there that in the words of the great eared sage will allow us to rise above the rancor and "all get along"?

I don't think that the unleashed genie can ever be firmly placed back in the bottle. And those that long for the supposed innocence of the Eisenhower era are dealing with some pretty significant anger issues these days. Wreak god's vengeance on the fornicators, brownskins and sinners in general.

What momentous issues have we had to wrestle with since Watergate and the final curtain fell on the sixties? That is, besides running injuries and the low carb diet...

***

I know that psychologists are in general agreement that our psyches are pretty much formed between the ages of 4 and 7, if not earlier. Most probably our tendency to go liberal or conservative is germinated deep in our gestating psyches. I don't know if we get it from our parents or some internal genetic coding. I know that physiological and psychological testing has shown that the liberal and conservative brain has significant differences in terms of dealing with the issues of personal security and fear. Saw some interesting data on the subject last year.

Of course you do see the occasional exception, where an individual sheds his conservative or liberal skin and takes up with the other side. David Horowitz, Hitchens, Dennis Miller, that ilk. What is interesting to me is that these folks that end up as reactionary right wing ranters never came from the middle or the political center. They were always communists at Oxford or something. Not Miller, he was just an unfunny opportunist who saw an available target audience. But the radicals seem to stay radical on either side of the axis, which looks more and more like a horseshoe with the wacko tips practically touching at the bottom.

***

Of course we can be pretty much isolated in our protective cocoons these days. Red State, Blue State, bi-coastal or bible belt, liberal or conservative, we tend to congregate with folks that reinforce our internal directive. We can listen to rabid talk radio or Fox News or seek solace in the wicked mainstream media. We yell our epithets in a vacuum, clearly, we have long since stopped speaking to each other. We may pretend to listen and nod at each other's invective but it is for the sake of decorum and the pretense of fair mindedness, our minds have been long since made up.

***

I read an interesting piece yesterday about the long symbiotic relationship between Gulf fishermen and the oil industry. The author said that one should not expect these people to rise up in an angry or political way, they have mostly always had a boot in both camps. Take the five grand and shut up. If the scale of the devastation is as bad as the pessimists insist it could be, with the fishing industry destroyed for years, it will be interesting to see if they remain so forgiving and compliant.

***

And so, the civil war is never truly over. We are back to discussing if businesses should have the freedom to discriminate. Or if ethnic studies should ever be taught in our schools, or evolution. Things never get really settled, do they?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cortez the Killer



This was Rick Griffin (and my) favorite Neil Young song and I can't separate Rick from this song in my head.


Vortex - Wednesday 2:12 p.m. - Blog #1500

I think that we are losing our moorings in this world. We are trapped in some non euclidian scene from Alice that doesn't quite square with our normal notions of reality. If I may riff:

For reasons that I can't really figure, President Barack Obama stirs a level of antipathy and disgust in my conservative friends that seems completely out of scale with any real or imagined mistakes the man may be responsible for.

I am not going to rehash all the supposed sins of our president, the man that many in the conservative right feel has sent our country lurching down the tracks to a stalinist gulag. He's no more socialist than his predecessor, he's just not doling out the same largesse to his friends on Wall St. Or maybe he is? Who the hell can keep anything straight?

Many of my right of center cronies fashion themselves as socially liberal but fiscally conservative. I'm hip. The question becomes, will they let the latter concerns override the former?  Is the threat of health care reform so odious that you are willing to put up with Texas style textbook revisionism? Would you accept the termination of teachers that spoke with hispanic accents a la Arizona if you were guaranteed a fat tax cut?  Does the notion of six catholics on the Supreme Court reconsidering Roe V. Wade ever trump your fantasy of an ideal libertarian government, deregulated and streamlined so that business can do what it does best? Policing itself, of course.

***

If I was a conservative, I might give some thought to some very portentous trends in my Republican Party. You were the party of Lincoln, remember? Rand Paul, your standard bearer in Kentucky, has some strange notions regarding civil rights in this country, opining last night about the rights of private businesses to discriminate on the basis of race. His campaign manager, Chris Hightower, was forced to resign after posting "Happy Nigger Day" onto his MySpace page (above the requisite photograph of a black man getting lynched) on Matin Luther King's birthday. There were reports during the last election of his dad getting a lot of white supremacist support. You don't want to get any of this on you. That is, if you care. Paul said today that it was a mistake to go on Rachel Maddow but did not exactly disavow his comments.

**

The Gulf Oil Spill considers to lurch towards some armageddon like ending. Today, BP was ordered not to pour so many noxious chemicals into the gulf, fearing a total devastation to marine life.  This has not been a shining moment for this administration, first the ceding of the cleanup effort to BP in the crucial early days of the spill, and now our worst fears apparently being surpassed. BP and Transocean in their fingerpointing duel, BP's minimization of the effects of the catastrophe, along with their enablers on the conservative side like Rush Limbaugh, who maintains that oil spills are a natural part of god's plan and anyway it's all the Sierra Club's fault for not letting the oil companies drill under Mt. Rushmore. BP has not been allowing journalists to film the oil spill and apparently issues marching orders to our own coast guard. My ex landlord Ron was just by and he says that some of his friends think that the whole oil spill in an Obama crafted conspiracy to further his aims towards a stalinist one world government. And the depth of Obama's perfidy can not be overestimated, having salted a fake birth announcement in the Honolulu Register while he was a mere week old.

***

Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett is subpoenaing Twitter to get the identities of people who have been criticizing him online. Maybe a little too thin skinned for the job.

**

Former SEC head Harvey Pitt thinks that the new financial legislation is designed to fix last year's problem. Such hubris. What exactly were you doing on your watch, Pitt? Talk about reactive. And isn't it amazing that Goldman could have a whole quarter of perfect trades when their investors took such a heavy bath?

***

Anti semitic, jewish wackjob Noam Chomsky, is plenty sore after being denied entry into Israel to spread his verbal virus. Why don't the Chomsky's of the world ever plunk their banjos in friendly regimes like Saudi Arabia, Syria or North Korea? Easier to pile on the jews, they think they are so perfect. Quick, name me an arab democracy in the last 50 years...Time's up.

**

Lakers/Celtics - go away all you pretenders, the age old opponents assemble yet again to take their place in one of sports greatest and most iconic rivalries.

***

Richard Blumenthal, the Senate contender who has recently been caught concocting imaginary Vietnam War experience, is a democrat. There, I said it. What a stupid dick. Like no one would ever find out? Lance Armstrong evidently has a touch of the same arrogant hubris.

**

Read the story of an immigrant who died trying to save an American family. They are obviously not all foreign born killers who are here to sell heroin to elementary school kids and blare loud music in their low slung cruisers.

***





Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Every Little Bit Hurts

A song by Brenda Holloway covered by Aretha, Petula Clark, Spencer Davis, Robert Plant, Steve Marriott, Ellis Clark, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, The Jam and a million other folks. I like the Clash version the best.





Thai Uprising

My friend S. has been sending me day by day reports on the wild scene in Thailand. Got this one this morning.


See attached. Crackdown started in full about 1-2 hours ago. Can’t believe the way the world-wide media stories have been swayed by Taksin’s new lawyer, though he failed his boss miserably on CNN;

Yesterday the gov. released names and figures on the tens of millions that Taksin has funneled into the country to fund the protests as well as charges against some of the top protest leaders after the assisinated general’s #1 aide was captured and supposedly spilled the beans on the bosses!

S.

PS Pretty good site regarding it all; http://2bangkok.com/




Well, anarchy descends…or arises? The Bnk protest site was overrun by the military by lunch time; half the leaders turned themselves in to the police, the rest on the run. Now there is no one to tell them to stop (although it looks as that was the plan all along) and the city is quickly being set afire. Hate to see any more deaths but wish someone would take down the “T-sin”! I imagine curfews will be imposed any minute and martial law by nightfall. The North of the country is mostly Red but here in the South is a Yellow stronghold…hhhhmmmm, wasn’t there a Blue/Grey conflict back there long ago? Most people here are very blasé about it all and I doubt anyone has been following today’s events as closely as I have (even without a TV). Considering whether to head down to the bank and pull out more money while I can. Probably pick up a giant sack of rice, fueled the truck to overflowing already! We are faaaaaar from the danger but things seem to have a way of spiraling out of control in a hurry.

This was just posted;
“Right now: Red Shirt radio is calling for buildings to be burned nationwide--especially banks. They further say there are no longer any leaders at present and people have to act on their own.

Din Daeng Red-shirts to act on their own 
TAN, May 19, 2010
Red-shirt protesters in Din Daeng area, who were not happy with the key leaders' decision to call off the red-shirt rally, have declared themselves independent from the main red-shirt movement. They say they'll now act on their own and have threatened to hunt down members of the press.












Well, they already have! Smart ones are leaving, ditching cameras and armbands. Major high-rise shopping complexes are being set afire, many with apartments on upper stories, fire trucks are being blockaded…things seem to be getting worse by the minute up there…and now also in other parts of the country…hmmm ‘bout time I go see about that sack o’rice!

S.



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

For the city

Thin Line

The hardest job in the world has to be that of a police officer. They wake up every morning not knowing what kind of deranged wacko they might encounter during the course of their day. The thin blue line is no joke. They generally do a pretty remarkable job at threat assessment, defusing out of control situations and protecting society in general. For fairly low pay and maximum stress.

I used to tell my idealistic hippie friends that they should test their idealism by working in law enforcement and see if their tune changes any. I have had a lot of friends that were cops and 99% are good people. Then again as my friend, the late Sergeant Frank Adams used to say, two kinds of people in this world, cops and criminals. When you are a cop the world divides up pretty black and white. Every civilian is a little suspect. I applaud those cops that keep it together.

I bring this up because of the situation in Detroit this week where the seven year old girl Aiyana Jones was killed while lying on her couch. The official police line was that she was killed inadvertently during a police struggle with her grandmother. A wrestling match, a gun goes off. The Police Chief said that a police officer's worst fear had been realized as if it was in some ways equal to the pain felt by her family.

Lo and behold, it turns out that a reality tv show for the show "The First 48" had been videotaping nearbye and a video was taken of the incident. The attorney for the family, Geoffrey Fieger, says that it shows the shot taking place from outside the residence after a flash bang grenade was lobbed into the home.

Obviously, somebody is not coming clean. But why throw a grenade into a house with a child present in the first place?

Fieger announced yesterday he reviewed video footage of the shooting that "shows clearly that the assistant police chief and the officers on the scene are engaging in an intentional cover-up of the events."


"There is no question about what happened because it's in the videotape," Fieger said. "It's not an accident. It's not a mistake. There was no altercation."


"The gun was fired before anyone goes through the door. There are lights all over, like it's a television set. It's worse than that," Fieger said.  "It shows this in the video.  There's a gentleman by the name of Mr. Robinson who lives in the home. He was out walking his dogs when they arrived.  They took him and threw him to the ground and stood on his neck. He said, 'There are children living in the home.  There are children in the home.' And just after that they walk up on the porch and throw an incendiary grenade into it.  So it's worse than even you know."


Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee said police want the tape.

"If Mr. Fieger has access to anything that would be evidence in this case, he should, as an officer of the court, get it immediately to the Michigan State Police, which will be investigating," Godbee said in an e-mail.



Here is a link to an article with more disturbing allegations regarding the case. A terrible tragedy, but made worse by the cover up. Its easy to just blame it on the minorities. They are mostly criminals, aren't they? There have been several similar police shootings recently in Houston. Former big leaguer Bobby Tolan's son was shot in his driveway in an upscale residential neighborhood for supposedly reaching into his waistband. The cops thought he was in a stolen SUV. How could a young black man have a nice SUV anyway?  

I recognize that cops see the worst of society's ills on a daily basis. I can appreciate how hard it is to make accurate split second decisions that can mean life or death for you or others. There is no way to be right all of the time.  Having said that, it also seems clear that in many communities, it seems to be a crime to be poor or black or brown.

I have been encouraged by the widespread condemnation by blacks of the new Arizona Immigration Law, especially since they do not seem to have a horse in the race. They know firsthand about the dangers of profiling. It will be interesting to see how the case progresses in Detroit.

SILVER APPLES OF THE MOON

New York Stan sent over this seminal video from the pioneering composer and multimedia guru Morton Subotnik. Produced in 1967.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Asshat Award

Chris Oynes, who oversees offshore drilling programs at the Minerals Management Service, will retire at the end of the month, according to an e-mail sent by an agency official to staff and obtained by The Associated Press. Oynes was regional director in charge of Gulf of Mexico offshore oil programs for 13 years before he was promoted in 2007 to associate director in charge of all offshore activities. During his tenure, he was involved in a monumental blunder that cost the American Taxpayer about 10 billion large. The Inspector General called it "a jaw-dropping example of bureaucratic bungling." Oynes awarded the Deepwater Horizon his coveted Safe Award in 2009. And he was prescient, it was about to get deep on the horizon. Real Deep.

From the MMS website: 
Mr. Chris Oynes was named in 2007 as the Associate Director of the Offshore Energy and Minerals Management Program. His responsibilities include administering the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas program as well as developing and implementing the new alternative energy program in the Federal OCS. Mr. Oynes had served as the Regional Director of the Minerals Management Service’s (MMS) Gulf of Mexico OCS Region in New Orleans for 12 years and previously as the Deputy Regional Director. His involvement with the MMS has covered a wide range of issues. He has been actively involved in how MMS conducts its resource projections and its environmental reviews, and the operational safeguards it imposes. During his tenure in the GOM, he conducted 30 lease sales and
oversaw a 50 percent rise in oil production.


Mr. Oynes has more than 30 years of Federal Government experience in a wide range of energy matters, including 13 years in Washington, D.C., with MMS in various capacities. This included serving as MMS’s Chief of the Leasing Division.


He previously received a 1998 Presidential Rank Award as a Meritorious Executive for his work in the SES. He has received the two highest honor awards that the U.S. Department of the Interior bestows–the Distinguished Service Award and the Meritorious Service Award.


Mr. Oynes has been a frequent speaker at major conferences including five previous presentations at the Offshore Technology Conference, the largest gathering of offshore personnel in the world. He has given presentations at the Baker Institute at Rice University, the 1998 Deep Offshore Technology Conference, the International Pipeline Conference, the 2002 International Workshop on Human Factors in Offshore Operations, the Houston Geologic Society, as well as the Pew Ocean Commission. Mr. Oynes holds a Juris Doctor Degree from George Washington University and a BA in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton.

Now don't you just know that he had been planning to retire for months? At at least as soon as he managed to get his lips pried off the drillers' sweaty buttocks.