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Saturday, March 19, 2005
A SOBERING LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
Since we seem hell bent to become the "new" British Empire, perhaps a piece of history (which we seem to be repeating, footstep by footstep) might seem in order.
The Afghans have a long and disquieting history of expelling foreign invaders.
Consider the British in 1839. Fearing a Russian threat to their Indian Empire, they sent an army of 16,500 to install the deposed Shah Shujah as "ruler" of Afghanistan -- long basically a patchwork quilt of semi-independent warlords, much like ... today.
Marching into Kabul after encountering little resistance, the British installed their puppet king, proceeded to Anglicize the city (cricket, teas, etc.) and settled in for a long occupation, protecting the British flank from supposed Russian predations (this was The Great Game, the first "Cold War" in a sense).
The Afghan warlords waited until the British were out of position. Then, they struck, with the British army pinned down nearly a mile from their armory and ammunition. After a negotiation, General William Elphinstone, realizing that the situation was hopeless, agreed to leave Afghanistan, and in January of 1840, in deep snow, and merciless weather, the British army was allowed to retreat from Kabul.
The Afghans simply cut them to pieces as they retreated to the Indian frontier, picking them off in mountain passes, sniping at them from behind rocks.
When it was over, only one member of that army made it back -- a British doctor who had played possum under a dead soldier and was, miraculously, ignored by the Afghans, who methodically administered the coup de grace to the wounded and dying.
Otherwise, the British command might never have known what became of their army of occupation. 16,500 went in. One came back.
It was the greatest British military disaster of the Nineteenth century, dealt them by a band of seemingly ragamuffian barbarians who seemed scarcely worth a moment's respect or attention.
And now, following the British footsteps, one might note that an American army of occupation now garrisons Kabul, with an installed "president" and the Afghan warlords biding their time.
So don't be so quick to consider Afghanistan "secured" and our troubles there ended.
If you don't believe me, just ask the Russians.
History, after all, has an ugly habit of repeating itself.
Just call me Cassandra.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
THE LAST AVA ARTICLE
(and happy St. Patrick's Day, buckos)
Bruce Anderson, in his last note to me (or communication whatsoever, now that I think of it) on the end of AVA OREGON! invited me to submit something to AVA Booneville.
I wrote this (you'll be able to tell when) and submitted it to AVA and to Bruce. Never heard from Bruce. Wrote AVA to see what was going on. They said they never got it. Send it again, they said. I sent it. They said they had received it. Never heard another thing.
(God, how I love the professionalism of my profession. )
Jingo Bells, Jingo All The Way
report by Hart Williams
Pity poor Paul McCartney: he missed the obvious cue. At a previous command performance for royalty, his late band-mate John Lennon famously remarked: "Those in the cheaper seats clap. The rest of you rattle your jewelry."
Lennon's comment was more appropriate to this year's Super Bowl, and one can only wonder what McCartney felt in the presence of such a pageant of jingoistic "patriotism." rolled out by Fox and the NFL for the benefit of America, with our corporate elite in attendance.
Oh, by the by, there happened to be a football game.
The next day, the "media" soberly and inanely reviewed commercials sacrificed on the altar of the priciest ad space in the Universe, but no one is talking about the ever-accelerating slide into empire that the Super Bowl now represents. Nor have they ever since Ronald Reagan's psy-ops people first used the NFL to advance imperial interests in 1983.
Some may recall that in 1983, there were two foreign policy "crises" roiling the waters: Grenada's Cuban advisors, and US Marines in Lebanon. For weeks, "breaking news" was soberly reported at halftime on Sundays, as those wily Communists and pro-Palestinian terrorists only roused themselves from restive sleep on Sundays to strike at America. News reporters soberly reported the news. One week, Grenada. The following week, Lebanon. The shell game, but played with two shells and no pea.
When a suicide bomber killed over 200 marines in Lebanon with a truck bomb, Reagan resolutely responded by invading Grenada.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Daddy Bush learned his lessons from Reagan well. Using the 1989 holidays' Bowl Game frenzy of vicarious testosterone, Bush invaded Panama at Christmastime -- undoubtedly to silence Panamanian Noriega for knowing too much about the CIA's drug-running to finance the Contras and other black ops.
This technique was perfected a year and a few days later, in January of 1991. Writer Jim Castonguay, writing in the online magazine "Bad Subjects" noted: "an important part of the rhetorical strategy was to turn the event into much more than a game in order to justify playing the contest. Indeed, the Super Bowl and its viewers became important - even essential - participants in the war effort ... It is particularly important that Super Bowl XXV took place on January 27, 1991 - just days after the beginning of U.S.-led coalition bombing ... [it] began with an establishing shot of the entire stadium and, as Whitney Houston performed her rendition of the national anthem, there were several shots of flag-and-sign-waving fans. There were also dissolves to soldiers on the field, including a direct address close-up of an African-American marine and tracking shots of several rows of enlisted men and women on the field holding the flags of various coalition countries. Houston's performance - which immediately became a hit
record and made her an instant homefront hero - was punctuated by a fly-over of F-14s." (the entire nauseating spectacle is chronicled with screen captures at http://eserver.org/bs/35/castonguay.html )
Jingo bells, jingo bells, jingo all the way.
Listen to George and Barbara (his first cousin) in 1991:
BARBARA BUSH: What a pleasure it is to say hello to all the young people on the field tonight. Looking at you it's easy to see why America can count on a bright and hopeful future.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well that's right. And you make us all very proud. But today we should recognize the men and women in our armed forces. Far away from home, they protect freedom in the Persian Gulf and around the world.
Cute kids, patriotic hymns, flags, Whitney Houston, jets, fireworks, you name it. It was the Super Bowl of deadly cornball hokum.
Sound at all familiar?
Chronicles Magazine reported in 2002: "The Fox Television Network, which had exclusive rights to broadcast the game, had promised 'the most stirring, patriotic and emotionally charged Super Bowl ever.' Indeed, it proved to be a wartime pep rally, with spots made by players saluting the troops, satellite images from Afghanistan, and delegations representing police and fire departments as well as the Armed Forces."
Fast forward to 2005, where the Super Bowl pre-game show featured an equally saccharine spectacle of NFL players and coaches reading a bowdlerized "Declaration of Independence"; then Michael Douglas took the field to honor the "Greatest Generation" for saving American Democracy.
Er ... except that World War II never once threatened American democracy. If anything, the internment of Japanese citizens, the endless fraudulent paper and scrap metal drives (it was all thrown away, just a morale trick), the rationing of food and gasoline, et al. threatened American democracy, but Hitler and Tojo never threatened OUR democracy. It's a sign of the spin cycle world we live in that the sacrifice of our WWII veterans is lied about to advance a current agenda. What they did needs no gilding.
If you weren't nauseated enough by all of this, we had two of the former living presidents, Clinton and Bush I, chattering and predicting on the pre-game show, and then standing on the field to help with the pledge of allegiance. This must have been a heady moment for George I, who managed to elect himself on the strength of a campaign that made the pledge of allegiance a major issue.
Meanwhile, the ever-compliant news media had been agog for weeks about all the security measures in place for the game: metal detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs, Coast Guard vessels patrolling the river in Jacksonville.
The fact that the "Eagles" and "Patriots" were the two teams displayed was a happy accident, no more a conspiracy than the "all-pirate" Super Bowl of 2003 was engineered by descendants of Jean Lafitte.
At the end of the movie "Patton," the narration relates how victorious Roman generals were welcomed in Rome, with a parade featuring the spoils of war, the conqueror's children in chariots, the vanquished prisoners in chains, etc. That was nearly all that was missing from this year's Super Bowl. Maybe next year.
But why was that foreigner McCartney allowed to attend?
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
BLOG LOST IN CYBERSPACE
Spent a fucking hour putting together a piece with quotes, correspondence, etc.
The server decided to eat it.
So, fuck it.
This is today's entry.
Stooopid me for trusting. I am going back to always composing in a saved file. What the hell was I thinking to make such an amateur mistake?
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
The Ids of March: 'honorable persons':
OH SAY CAN YOU SEE?
My country 'tis of thee, but it sure ain't no place for me.
That sounds harsh, but it is, increasingly, accurate.
Let's back up a minute.
This week was sort of a dual satori for me.
I finally managed to nail down something that's been frustratingly nebulous for a long time. I knew that I had an ancestor in the Revolutionary War, had seen the genealogy that Aunt Jenny put together many years ago. But in my own researches the documentation had been very difficult to nail down. Finally, I made the connection. (And no, I'm not going to reveal it here, it's not germane). So, I'm eligible for membership in Sons of the American Revolution.
That's nice in an abstract sense. According to the SAR website, there are a number of hoops I still have to jump through, and, frankly, I don't really give that much of a damn. But it finally confirms something that I've spent half a century wondering about, and certitude tends to bring serenity, at least in the ordered mind.
On the other side, this was finally the week in which I assayed the nature of the country that my ancestor fought to create, and I can no longer hide from the inevitable, ineluctable conclusion: this is no country for the good Captain's ancestor.
I left the Republican party in 1988. Prior to that moment, I had been an increasingly rare proponent of the Republican progressive tradition, increasingly at odds with the insane anti-people policies of the party, but hopeful. After all, moving back to the midpoint of the pedigree line, my people were among the first Abolitionists, ran an underground railroad station on the banks of the Ohio river (on the very front lines of the conflict) and were, thus, among the very first Republicans.
I was raised to our ancestral anger at the Democratic Party for having been the party of slavery. And, in a sense, I have not given up that anger, nor have I entirely forgiven the arrogant South, who still persist in wanting to ennoble their "tradition" by carefully ignoring the inextricable and ugly truth of that tradition. Slavery.
But now the old Dixiecrats are "Rednecklicans" (a wonderful coinage which I just learned, but don't know the origins of), and I didn't exactly move that far from my core principles when I left the Republican party to become a Democrat.
What I saw on that afternoon in 1988, watching the Republican National Convention nominate that bastard GHW Bush has ALL come to pass, and I can now state unequivocally that I was right.
But the Democrats, now reinfused with their fighting spirit, have only returned to the narrow priggishness that disgusted me when I was a Republican. Their fundamental "holier-than-thou" bigotry was only hibernating. I thought, with Clinton, that there was an opportunity to reformulate a new, progressive and yet moderate coinage in American discourse and politics.
I was wrong there.
So, this was the week that I realized that I cannot abide the Republicans and I cannot tolerate the Democrats. Worse, the "fringe" parties are even worse: the Greens, the Libertarians, and their ilk. Not only are they ALL fundamentally intolerant, priggish and small-minded, but the fringies are fundamentally disconnected from reality altogether.
Doesn't leave me a lot of wiggle room does it?
Look: let's face it, the "liberal" PeeCee agenda of the past thirty plus years has been utterly racist, sexist and elitist, at least if you're a white male descendant of a Revolutionary War Captain and brave anti-slavery Quakers. I have been waiting for my entire adult life to simply compete on a level playing field, but I am invariably singled out as an EXAMPLE of how horrible that American culture has been to ... let's see, shall we count the victims? Women, Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Indians, Gays, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
The point being that while I have spent my entire political and adult life fighting for the rights and equality of all people, without regard to race, religion, creed, etc. NOBODY has given a fuck about MY equality.
I went into writing because it was the ultimate meritocracy. They couldn't see your face. They didn't see your resume. They ONLY saw your work. But even that was destroyed.
I won't go into WHY I ended up in pornography in LA in the mid-70s. But the bottom line is that because I was NOT the member of a class that required "cuts" to the front of the line, ONLY pornography was available to ME, because nobody wanted to be seen there. When it became "hip" for women to move into porn, and because of the obvious "cover" that they afforded publishers, even that last respite, that final haven was gone.
And I have struggled for years to do anything resembling a semblance of my early writing career. In the 1970s and 1980s, I made my LIVING with my typewriter. Now, I am merely another dilettante, cranking out the occasional piece for cash, but unable to consistently put food on the table with my profession.
Fine. I'm a white male. Why the hell should I be given a chance? Since those who did the oppressin' are now dead, and I superficially resemble them, then I must be the scapegoat, must be the Shirley Jackson lottery winner, must be the devil incarnate for those who would have us move beyond judging people based on their superficial appearances.
Is there an irony there?
As Steve Martin's character in "Roxanne" says: "We don't do irony here anymore. There was only one practitioner, and he finally gave it up when I got tired of being STARED at."
There is a REASON for the resurgence of the hateful, crypto-racist, angry right. It was the arrogance and intolerance of the left. I have, alas, never really been guilty of either extreme, and have, therefore, been the object of the derision of both claques.
And I'm fucking tired of it. As Mercutio sensibly said, "A plague o' both your houses!" (Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet Act III, Scene 1). I haven't been mortally wounded, yet. But I know how he felt.
So, here I stand, a Son of the Revolution, reviled and silenced by both sides of the political mainstream, and by the fringe wackos, besides, and I have to wonder: Where do I fit into America today?
I am un-degree'd though educated, in contradistinction to most of these imbeciles who are degree'd but UNeducated. (This is why almost nobody 'gets' my jokes: you seem to need at least a Master's degree to manage it, or, at least, so I am told) . I am moderate and temperate and tolerant.
But, I was driven out of the Democratic Party for insisting that they follow the rules, though now I am now bombarded with requests that I sign petitions to demand that the Republicans follow the rules. I have watched the Republican party turned into the "pod" people, as they have been infiltrated and subsumed by the selfsame extremists that they originally were formed to oppose.
I could go on for a month of Sundays, but you get the gist.
WHERE is the place for me? I don't stand for anything that different than the Western Liberal Tradition has stood for for over two millennia, and for which the Enlightenment stood -- the basis of the American Revolution AND Constitution.
So, how is it that I am marginalized to the point of invisibility, and decried to the threshold of infamy? And why is the bar raised impossibly high for me, and lowered for everyone else? Why am I judged by the color of my skin, and for the brand of genitalia I carry? (And for the type of sphincter I operate it in conjunction with?)
Have I any legitimate identity at all, other than my pedigree and lack of degree? Am I an American at all? What am I to make of all this? But, at least ...
MERCUTIO: Help me into some house, Benvolio,Of THEE I sing.
Monday, March 14, 2005
ROLLING UP THE FLANK
I don't buy it.
I don't buy that the Bush Administration is going after Social Security. Yes, they seem to be doing just that. But I have this sneaking feeling that they're not THAT stupid.
Poll after poll is showing that resistance to any changes in Social Security is going down in flames. But they're putting on the full-court press, seemingly. Right?
Well, maybe. I'm sure that they thought they could win this one in the flush after stealing the election. (Yes, Virginia, stealing. The evidence keeps seeping out, oozing out, but, of course, the media is going to suppress it just like they suppressed the report on the Florida recount after 9/11 in the "name" of unity. Hah!)
No: I believe that they're fighting a war of attrition, and they want to exhaust the resources of the "Left." i.e. in Bushspeak, the normal, decent American, who believes in the Constitution, and in the Bill of Rights.
It's not about Social Security anymore. They're probing for weaknesses. They want to see just how demoralized the opposition is, and where their weak points are. More than that, they'd like to see us expend all our resources on this fight, and THEN comes the kicker.
In military terms, this is called a feint. They attack the front, demonstrating against the center of our lines, while sending out a couple divisions (pun intended) to roll up our flank.
Only thing is: damned if I can see where they're actually intending to attack.
But don't buy this easy wisdom that they're going after Social Security. They MIGHT be that arrogant; hell, I might even be wrong and they'll turn it around and slam dunk it. After watching the three-hour hold on CSPAN on the alleged "Prescription Drug Benefit" I don't put anything past them.
Remember: we're dealing with snake-oil salesmen here, weasels whose TRUE bible is Machaievelli's THE PRINCE. So if you think that this "Social Security" brouhaha represents their real agenda, well, you haven't been paying attention, have you? That's not their style.
Something else is brewing.
Keep your eyes peeled and your ears pricked up. Something's afoot, and it is going to make Social Security look like an afternoon in the Park. They'll bring a bill to a vote, let it get voted down, and then, when we're celebrating our "victory" they'll use it to discipline recalcitrant Republicans, and shove the REAL shiv in, just there, between the fourth and fifth rib.
Don't ever assume that a weasel isn't weaselly. And don't presume that this dumb Social Security mess is entirely dumb. Pay attention to your flanks, and post extra pickets. They're just trying to divert our attention from the real prize.
Only problem is, my crystal ball is in the shop for repairs, and I don't know what that prize is. But it'll become clear in the by and by.
Or in the words of the Bushies' role model:
"Strength lies not in defense but in attack." -- A. Hitler
Sunday, March 13, 2005
SKIING UPHILL IS
ONE YEAR OLD TODAY!
Saturday, March 13, 2004 - Sunday, March 13, 2005
OK. I said I wasn't going to make a big thing about it.
I lied. This character failing is, I sincerely hope, a great rarity.
Because this blog is about telling the truth, and letting the chips fall where they may. It IS a big thing. Originally begun as an honest diary of running for office in the Centennial Year of the political primary (in the state where the Primary was birthed), I have tried, in this blog, to present an honest, inside view of what goes on in the political process, and to talk about things that no one seems to want to talk about.
My Quaker forebears have been speaking truth to power for hundreds of years, and I seem to have inherited that wild gene, much to the chagrin of my religiously Right Wing fanatic family.
(My mother told a mutual acquaintence, upon learning that I was a -- gasp -- DEMOCRAT, that I was CLEARLY in league with the devil. Well, I'm no longer a Democrat. I'm just in league with the truth, these days.)
After I lost that primary, it wasn't enough for the DPLC leadership, and the Platform and Resolutions Chair attempted to float a resolution CENSURING me for this blog. It didn't make it out of the Executive Committee, but the vote was 8-6, and, had I not surprised them by making an unannounced appearance AT that Executive Committee meeting, I have no doubt that it WOULD have passed.
So I would say that this little blog has had its moments.
To Rick Klaastad, a former friend, and the said Chair who floated that craven and vicious little resolution (another, similar resolution, calling for a sort of DPLC HUAC committee to weed out "bad" Democrats made it to the general meeting and was the subject of a tense, ugly couple of hours before it was finally defeated by the body: EVERYone knew WHO it was aimed at. Even the girl who was attending her first DPLC meeting, and noticed that Rick was GLARING at me because I was seated, accidentally, right behind her!) well, to Rick, I'd like to say: Congratulations on your belief in the First Amendment.
And we wonder how those "good" Germans were induced to toss their fellow Countrymen into ovens. Quite the mystery, ain't it?
I was a registered Republican for 12 years, and a registered Democrat for 16 years. I am now an independent journalist, and free to finally engage in political commentary, since I don't have a partisan axe to grind. I left the Democratic party on November 3, to see if muckraking could bring the reform that political activism had been utterly incapable of igniting.
And besides, I was SICK AND TIRED of hearing (from both parties) how I should keep my mouth shut "for the good of the party" in the face of chicanery, corruption and fraud. No longer.
So, this little blog exists, and CONTINUES to exist because I am a First Amendment absolutist: in a fair fight the good and true will win out over the bad and false. The ONE great accomplishment of the American Experiment, when all else has crumbled to dust, will be that we said that the human mind AND the human tongue should FINALLY be unshackled. (Bravo, Founding Fathers!)
And, thanks to the Defense Department, the First Amendment is no longer a legal fiction, but FINALLY exists. So I'm going to keep shooting my big mouth off.
A little note as to the meaning of the title. When I first re-ran into my wife of 13 years 13 years ago (She's been a friend since 1978, but that's another story), she explained to me that she had finally given up on a certain situation because, she said, "I don't ski uphill anymore."
I agreed, but I also thought that her coinage was delightful. She's a writer too, by the by. She has one novel in (and out) of print, and short stories in a variety of science fiction magazines, anthologies, and mainstream publications. So, I stole the title, even though I probably could have come up with something on my own.
I honor her talent, and swipe her great coinages. I'm very lucky to be married to her. I know, because every woman I meet tells me so. :-)
But, heck, I already knew that.
So, while my official website (celebrating its TENTH anniversary, by the by) is entitled "his vorpal sword" I go skiing uphill HERE. And, if I tend to unsheathe my vorpal sword to snicker-snack the plethora of jabberwocks that infest America these daze (sic) well, that's just the kind of fellow I am.
Truth, justice and the American way.
Happy birthday, little blog. I hope it's been of value to someone, somewhere.
-- Hart Williams
Edgar Allan Poe's The Purloined Email, orhart williams
Vice in Defense of Liberty is no Extremism
You might remember Jim Redden.
What? You don't? Well ...
As WILLAMETTE WEEK reported, on the "secret story" behind the "outing" of former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's 25-year-old baby-sitter affair, by State Senator and Harpy-in-Chief Vicki Walker (and used to destroy Goldschmidt politically, etc. etc. etc.),
"At that time, according to documents reported by Phil Stanford and Jim Redden at the Portland Tribune, Goldschmidt was opposing a broader investigation into prison corruption ... Stanford was the first reporter to obtain a Washington County court record that, while not mentioning Neil Goldschmidt, eventually led to disclosure of the ex-governor's long-held secret of statutory rape. At a standstill, he passed it to state Sen. Vicki Walker, who subsequently gave it to WW."Sure is a COZY relationship that Walker has with the TRIBUNE, isn't it? Almost stretches the relationship between reporters and politicians beyond the bounds of propriety, right?
But, after all, Walker is THE arbiter of propriety. Read on ...
Or, HOW DARE HE BE FRIENDS WITH GOLDSCHMIDT!!!!!
This was no hollow threat since, as we shall see, Vicki "Anthony Comstock" Walker was back to her old tricks. And once again, a compliant media will refuse to ask the question: WHAT is Senator Walker's PROBLEM? This is called "finking" or "gestapo" or "character assassination" ...
from today's SALEM STATESMAN-JOURNAL
[Note the paraphrase of Walker's quote from the story cited above. Prozanski -- a transplanted Texan who once threw a black man out of the University of Oregon for having had sex with two white women -- is a crony of Walker's going back at least a decade. ]
Sen. Vicki Walker, D-Eugene, was among the first lawmakers to get the e-mail.So, the new joke making the rounds in Salem ought to be:
Well: first the former Governor, now the former Congressman. Who's the next Democrat on Walker's hit list? Well, when we find out, Jim Redden and the PORTLAND TRIBUNE are sure to tell us -- if not to supply Walker behind-the-scenes ammunition to make it happen.
Funny how in this paroxism of "morality" that back-stabbing, secret undercover surveillance, purloined letters and other slimy tricks are being used to keep things "ethical." Zowie.
I guess Vice in Defence of Liberty is no Extremism, after all. Or, to paraphrase Walker: That says a lot about Walker's judgment -- which no one has questioned. No one at all.
I sure am glad that these are DEMOCRATS and not evil Republicans! Just think of how EVIL this would all be if it were the Republicans doing it.
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* O T H E R S T U F Fo There is no other stuff at this time. There might be someday, though. One can always hope.