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Saturday, October 01, 2005
or, THE DEATHSCORT AT THE ABORTUARY
He rather looked like he'd been caught in a time warp, circa 1973: the "Prince Valiant" disco haircut; navy blue dockers, not yet threadbare; a seeming Ralph Lauren knockoff or second shirt, navy blue with a "USA" emblazoned across the chest, American flags on both (white) collars, and "USA" across the back. There was a small flag-embroidered patch on his left shoulder, at the bicep/deltoid interface. He wore cheap, brown loafers.
He was of indeterminate age, except that he was somewhere in his thirties, perhaps. He was holding his pamphlets and shuffling slowly back and forth across the driveway with a whippet-thin woman, her rosary beads in hand -- the beads were cheap, plastic, pseudo-jewels -- her lips were constantly moving, soundlessly; there was a stack of seemingly-hand-collated pamphlets, with a sepia-tint photo of an aborted fetus lovingly paper-clipped to each one in her other, non-rosary hand. Her face was furrowed with deep worry lines, and a sort of perpetual expression of having just bit into a lemon, thinking it had been an orange.
And they didn't like me.
They seemed to be operating on the Chicago method:
A Description of the Chicago Method:And I was the "deathscort."
They were angry. The anger etched their faces. And I, as the personification of their pique, was the object of most of it. Through the morning, I blocked, ran interference and otherwise frustrated their efforts. Only one pamphlet was handed out, to a young Hispanic husband, who was trying to be polite.
It didn't do any good. Later, when I went inside, I noticed that it was in the plastic wastebasket in the waiting room.
As confrontations went, it was a wash.
They had girded their loins with Jesus. I was fortified, on the other hand, by my Walkman and a pair of mirrored sunglasses. I was wearing my day-glo orange "escort" plastic lobster bib.
They marched, waiting for victims. Waiting to potentially convince a pregnant woman not to go through with the abortion.
The first woman's car drove up and entered the lot as they were discussing strategy at the other end of the sidewalk. They had missed her completely. This seemed to anger them still further. They cast furtive glances in my direction, as if I had somehow magically engineered the stealth car.
They never knew when I was looking, and assumed that I couldn't hear them. They were wrong, of course. Several times, I surreptitiously turned off the Walkman and listened to them conspiring in front of me.
It wasn't really worth listening to, so I turned the radio back on for good. And Rouge sang the middle-eastern-tinged "Hey Mr. DJ." The morning progressed, threatening to rain, threatening to clear. It did neither.
No matter. They made not a dent, although they did manage to bring one girl to tears. She wasn't wavering in her decision; she was just distraught that, already having made a very difficult decision, these emotional vultures, these self-appointed guardians of morality and the "culture of life" had managed to slip some very ugly words to her before she could flee into the sanctuary of the clinic.
Funny, I didn't see them at the war protest last week. I guess it's a selective "culture of life" (although, to be fair, a LOT of Catholic priests showed up in D.C. last Saturday).
But what the heck. Father Frank Pavone is on a roll since the Terri Schiavo circus. Heck, he even managed to deliver the homily at the Schindler family's "dueling funerals" service.
But, in a little-noted afterthought to the Schiavo 'controversy,' Pope Joey Rats created the Missionaries for Life order:
"A daily review of religion and the press, published at the Department of Journalism and the Center for Religion and Media at New York University.
Antiabortion OrderNo one seems to grasp the profound hypocrisy at the root of a males-committed to celibacy group being founded to oppose the choices of non-celibate women.
But that doesn't bother Pavone. Indeed, as we've reported earlier, Fr. Frank Pavone was an anti-abortion zealot a full decade before his ordination as a priest. I think his priorities speak for themselves:
Posted by Andrea K Rufo at April 9, 2005 02:52 PM
April 09, 2005Which brings us to another quaint Catholic rite, handed down to us from the Middle Ages: the Red Mass, which will be held, most prominently, tomorrow, in Washington, D.C., in the St. Matthew the Apostle Cathedral, where former Chief Justice and national disgrace "Wild Bill" Rehnquist's funerary festivities were held a couple weeks ago, with new Chief Justice and enigma John Roberts as a pallbearer. Rehnquist's funeral was given a waiver, since, as a Lutheran a Catholic cathedral seemed odd. It was pointed out in various justifying sound bites that Rehnquist had always attended the Red Masses.
You can catch some of it on TV:
THIS WEEK ON C-SPANBut, you might be asking, does Father Frank Pavone have to do with any of this?
Good question. Gladjasked. We'll get there.
According to WikiPedia:
Red Mass refers to a Roman Catholic Mass celebrated annually for judges, prosecutors, attorneys, law school professors and students, and government officials. The Mass requests guidance from the Holy Spirit for all who seek justice, and offers the opportunity to reflect on the God-given power and responsibility of all in the legal profession.Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Mass
This is fitting for Scalia, who always attends, since his legal views tend to the medieval anyway.
"Justice Antonin Scalia joined the Supreme Court in 1986 as its most recent appointee. He soon made a reputation as the most far-right member of the Court. He is an outspoken leader of the very conservative Federalist Society and a devoted right-wing Catholic.Last year, George W. Bush sent Andrew Card, his Chief of Staff, but this year, he's zipping up from the hurricane photo-ops to be there:
AP, September 30, 2005And, Bush is paying special attention to Red Masses elsewhere:
September 1, 2005Oh, did I mention that John Roberts is now the FOURTH Supreme Court Justice who is a Catholic?
That's not only FAR too much influence for one (conservative) religious viewpoint in a pluralistic society, but FAR more important than the idiotic cavil that leftist luminaries raised that Roberts was a "white male." Where were these deep thinkers when the question of one religious sect's dominance of the Supreme Court moved a step closer to reality? Googling only noted ONE newspaper in Providence, Rhode Island that caught the significance!
At first blush, that might seem a prejudiced, or even biased sort of assertion. Certainly, it is a fact.
But I think that there is a long and deserved American political tradition of suspicion of Catholic motives in our politics. You don't have to be anti-Catholic to have a little problem with the fact that the current Pope, Joey Rats, who was formerly the director of the Office Formerly Known as the Inquisition, and who all but excommunicated John Kerry over his (secular) pro-choice stance, and whose minion, Fr. Frank Pavone, all-but-openly campaigned for George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004, has declared war on United States law and policy that conflicts with Catholic teaching.
In other words, while we advocate and enshrine religious freedom as a bedrock principle of our society, Pope Joey Rats (and his predecessors) believe that's just an invitation to proselytize, agitate and, if possible, change the law to their agenda.
Nothing particularly wrong in that, except for its tacit intolerance willing exploiting our tolerance.
Well, that's not entirely fair. With the papacy of John the XXXIII'd, and the reforms of Vatican II, the Catholic church seemed to be willing to move into the modern age. It was a more tolerant and forgiving church, and Catholic priests were on the front lines against war, poverty and disease.
But John Paul II was a resolutely authoritatian pope, and the church has slipped back into that hyper-conservative mode that engendered a deep American distrust of papal motives in the first place.
I will pass over the irony that they have been aided and abetted by the furthest fringes of the Protestant churches here. The kid gloves of "working together" will come off soon enough. And I will pass over the personal insult of this little piece from ... Joey Rats and Frank Pavone:
(Note: The following letter, issued in 1984 at the Vatican, contains important information for the pro-life movement. Some activists, in praying at abortion mills, rightly acknowledge that we must pray against evil spirits, who are very real and very active to keep abortion going...)Fine. Joey Rats and Frank Pavone think that abortion clinics and, evidently, "deathscorts" are diabolically influenced. Perhaps we might feel the same.
The problem is, George W. Bush is in bed with them, and hopes that John Roberts will be suitably influenced at the Red Mass to tow the Purity Line and decide cases the "right" way, a la Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia (both faithful sons of the Most Catholic Church).
Bush has made a habit of visiting popes -- an act that would have provoked the most severe controversy in the United States only a few years ago, and FROM the religious right. It was only during the Reagan Administration that we established full diplomatic relations in 1984. (And note well that Bush ignored John Paul II's admonitions not to invade Iraq. He's not quite THAT much in bed with them. If they're right, he ignores them.)
Diplomatic Relations with Holy See
By Thomas J. Reese, S.J., senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center
America, March 16, 1985
When the U.S. Senate approved the appointment of William A. Wilson as the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See at the end of 1983, most people expected the debate over diplomatic relations with the Vatican to fade away. Not so. The fight has merely moved from the executive and legislative branches of government to the judiciary.Obviously the Supremes rejected that (fundamentally sound) assertion. Oddly, no embassy to the Greek Orthodox Church has been proposed.
No, Bush LOVES the Catholic agenda when it coincides with his own, and pandering to it is a hallmark of his administration. Why, he's flying back for tomorrow's mass, before the Supreme Court term begins on the First Monday in October, notable as the first day of Rosh Hashanah, a day before Ramadan, and beginning with a solar eclipse on the new moon at 1028 Zulu time, or 3:28 AM, PDT.
Were we a superstitious lot, this "Red Mass" preceding a solar eclipse opening the court's term would be an ill omen indeed. But, hopefully, we're not superstitious.
Still, you can watch THIS on Monday: whether John Roberts wears Rehnquist's obscene stripes, or returns to two hundred plus years of tradition that the Chief Justice is merely "first among equals." It will be telling about his mindset to see whether he embraces a return to REAL American tradition, or embraces the naked lust for power that the "conservative" court has so blatantly coveted. (Remember that NO COURT of "activist" judges ever struck down more congressional statutes, nor have any judges ever voted more often than Thomas and Scalia to do so -- the most "activist" judges in U.S. history.)
And John Roberts is up to his eyeballs in the Red Mass (I'm just going to quote from my July 25 blog entry:
According to "LifeSite News" http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/jul/05072101.html
Married in their forties John and Jane Roberts were unable to conceive children of their own, but have adopted a boy and a girl, and Roberts has consistently shown a deep love for his role as a father.She is, by all accounts, a "devout Catholic" and is on the Board of Governors of the John Carroll Society (named after the first US Bishop), according to its webpage: "On February 15, 1953, O'Boyle celebrated the first Society-sponsored Red Mass. In succeeding years, the congregation has frequently included the President of the United States and leading federal jurists, cabinet officials, congressmen and diplomats. Today, the Red Mass is celebrated annually on the Sunday before the first Monday in October, prior to the opening of the Supreme Court's judicial year."
Here's a piece of the "homily" delivered at the most recent "Red Mass":
"In the face of the challenges at hand, we appeal to Catholic jurists and intellectuals and all people of good will to help rebuild consensus around the foundational principles necessary for democracy: the dignity of the human person who has both rights and responsibilities, the inalienable right to life, the relationship between truth and freedom, convictions about the common good, the centrality and importance of marriage and family, the need to nurture and protect the most vulnerable members of society, the need for solidarity among people."But the Red Mass is more than just a Washington D.C. soiree: The Catholic Advocate reported in 2004 http://www.missionsun.net/tcafeb2004.htm
Boston's Archbishop Sean O'Malley and former US Supreme Court nominee, Robert Bork urged attorneys and law makers to fight the legalization of gay "marriage" and strongly oppose the ruling of Massachusetts' November Supreme Judicial Court decision.The same scene is repeated throughout the country. But tomorrow's should be particularly intriguing. Roberts is going to be either subtly, or not-so-subtly that "U CAN'T B BOTH Catholic & PRO-CHOICE" [ibid.]
And here's a little 2001 note from a rabid site called "excommunication.net"
FRI, NOV 9 -- Attorney General John Ashcroft was in town last weekend. He attended the annual Red Mass at Holy Cross Cathedral for members of the judiciary, and spoke at the annual Catholic Lawyers Guild brunch. We decided to pass on this one, since the thought of applauding Mr. Ashcroft doesn't feel quite right. While his enemies slur him for being a religious conservative, and pro-lifers enthuse that he is "one of us," we still have unpleasant memories from his senate confirmation testimony when he took the "I'm personally opposed, but..." [that's a direct quote] route. It was amazing to see then how the majority of pro-lifers made excuses for this denial, and apparently still do.and here's a little more of Archbishop O'Malley's homily at last year's Washington Red Mass:
"Too often when politicians agree with the Church's position on a given issue they say the Church is prophetic and should be listened to, but if the Church's position does not coincide with theirs, then they scream separation of Church and State."And good old, pious Rep. Henry "Youthful Indiscretion" Hyde (R, IL) had the entire 2003 "homily" inserted into the Congressional Record as an extension of his remarks on November 4, 2003 (E2207).
Kind of makes you feel warm and fuzzy, doesn't it? I mean, Roberts' wife helped set up the speech, and Roberts is supposed to be a devout Catholic. I'm sure our secular freedoms are safe. (Indeed, there is virtually no doubt that he was in attendance at that Red Mass).
But, you're probably still wondering, what does Frank Pavone have to do with this?
Well, here's their press release:
To: National DeskIf he can be there, Fr. Frank Pavone will most assuredly attend this year's Red Mass. He seems entirely pleased. He has a new order. Here's the press release:
May 13, 2005Meantime, the fellow in the USA shirt yelled something most un-Christian at me when I interposed myself between him and a post-procedure patient who was trying to get back to her car, back where he had no authority to go.
What was the point in that? She had already had the abortion. She felt sick and weak. But "Mr. USA" still wanted to harass her. And as he spoke, she hugged her bag closer to her chest and walked as quickly as she could, speeding up appreciably.
He yelled at me, when I put myself between him and her, and my little trick worked. He turned his scorn and derision on me, and forgot all about her.
I don't know what he said, because I had my headphones on. But it wasn't very "Christian." That much was for sure.
Later, he would, in his frustration, talk to the landlord's leaf-raking crew, and I overheard him telling them that they should just dump the leaves, and not, I suppose, landscape our evil, satanic, demonically inspired clinic.
Yes. It was insane. But perhaps the frustration at having only managed to give out one pamphlet in several hours had driven the angry man in the USA shirt slightly mad.
The landscaper wasn't interested in his pamphlets either. In fact, he politely pretended that the angry man in the USA shirt wasn't actually there.
At 11:32 AM, the angry lady with the cheap plastic rosary left for the day. At 11:44 AM, the angry man in the blue USA shirt shuffled off for the day.
Thus ended another day in my life as a "deathscort" in front of an "abortuary." Final score: Library Lions, 5 Christians 0.
It's a tough life when you're not as pious as allegedly celibate priests like Frankie Pavone and Joey Rats.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
ONWARD, CHRISTIAN GREEN BERETS
or, THE JOY OF SECTS
I was looking for a station on the radio, and happened to stumble across the Jim Bohannon Show, being broadcast out of KBFK News Talk 1530 in Sacramento, California. As the birthing station of Rush Limbaugh, in his current, satanic, incarnation, I paused to hear what was the haps in Right Wing Land.
Turns out that Ann Coulter is doing her secondary road tour for the paperback release of her latest libel-a-thon, HOW TO TALK TO A LIBERAL (IF YOU MUST). They were taking calls. And one typically weird caller asked a weird question about how much patriotic Ann were. (I am paraphrasing gibberish, here).
Her answer: Well, it's because I am a CHRISTIAN. And a big part of that is love for my country.
I guess I'm just rusty on my New Testament, but the only direct statement about government that the esteemed founder, Jesus, made was "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar, and render unto God that which is God's."
It was such a patently phony statment from any sort of Christian theological position that one could only wonder how deep a dilettante Ms. Coulter actually was, extending not much further than a set or two of cruciform earrings, and a pendant with a small, tasteful gold cross.
A fashion accessory, in other words. But it was instructive in noting the purposeful linkage of religion with patriotism to further a certain political agenda of God's Own Party, the GOP.
A story from another time: when I was a freshman at TCU, they were transitioning from being under the Disciples of Christ to being a private school (with a lot of DoC Trustees -- the 'sister' school was Abilene Christian College, a place right out of "Bound for Glory").
So, while noon chapel was no longer required, all frosh were required to take three hours of "religion."
Well, I didn't get the Sturm und Drang old timer, but a fellow from the history department, who could teach the standard "history of religion" or "comparative religions" course. And the first semester was like tapioca: you wouldn't turn it down if hungry, but not anything on the menu you'd consciously think of ordering.
He went through the major religions: Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Early Christianity, Catholicism, C of E. &c.
Second Semester was one of the most amazing courses I ever took. He, as a historian, traced the history of various denominations in America: Puritans, Quakers, Shakers, Amish, Mennonites, Dunkers, Mormons, Oneida, Amana.
And I realized that the history of the U.S. was better seen religiously than politically.
Because he was a historian, there was no denominational bias, and it was really an amazing tale -- although he didn't QUITE understand the Mormon suzerainty over the American West.
It really made me see America in a whole 'nother way. I watched the rise of Pat Robertson -- left the Republican party -- having thought Reagan an anomaly -- when I saw him and Jerry Falwell as delegates to the 1988 RNC Convention. Watched the ex-CIA/NSA PACs get Falwell his satellite transponder, and BOOM, go national. Watched the "moral majority" and the "Drug war" P.R. campaigns and the whole movement of fundie snake-handlerism into the bowels of Congress.
Ironic, isn't it, that Tom DeLay and Chuck Colson were both keynote speakers on "Justice Sunday" coming at it from opposite ends of the Linda Lovelace process of Xtian confession and forgiveness. Seems like I recall George W. Bush running that "I was a sinner, Lawdie, Lawdie!" routine on the unwashed in 2000 and 2004. I used to do coke. I have a felony drunk driving conviction (GWB is the first convicted felon to ever serve as Prez), but FORGIVE me, 'cause Jeeezis did.
Well, then. That's OK, then.
Worked for Linda Lovelace. Worked for Ollie North. It worked for Chuck Colson, perhaps, best of all. After all his "Prison Ministries" came directly from his jail time over Watergate, and he's been gainfully employed "in the service of the Lord" ever since. It also worked for Ronnie Reagan, who could wax teary-eyed over his religion with the best of 'em.
But Reagan knew how to sincerely PRETEND to be pious, which was enough. George and Tom and Chuck openly pimp to the religious faithful. Since they believe that "God" is guiding him -- and even TALKING to him a la Nancy Reagan's movie, whatever he does HAS to be good and right. After all, God forgave him for the coke and whores and draft-dodging, right?
The inherent fallacy in all of this is that the implication is that because Jesus forgave 'em, YOU have to forgive them. Think for a moment of Charlie Manson and get back to me on the social imperative of forgiveness. No: George is proving himself to be the same disconnected, arrogant, bullying drunk these days as he admitted that he was BEFORE forgiveness -- i.e George BF = George After Forgiveness (AF).
And their pious lying has been playing a little flat these last couple of weeks. But the True Believer will still believe that God talks to George talks to Them.
Which is the "Divine Right of Kings" that we were the first revolution against that succeeded. How we have come to this absurd notion that our president is appointed by God is not merely American political heresy, it's probably Christian heresy as well.
But this is the first administration to openly play to THAT view of American culture, and not the traditional "political" interpretation. I saved my copy of the NY TIMES SUNDAY magazine with the long piece on what Karl Rove was doing in Ohio in March of 2004: they were looking for Beemers in driveways, and golf clubs in halls. They were looking for religious iconography. They would register anyone, as the law dictated. But they would only ASK likely Republicans, and specific religious profiling was part of the schema.
Oh, there's also the whole Millenialist movement, that only dates back to, say, 1841. The "rapture" is only a very recent belief. Evidently Strong, who wrote "Strong's Concordance" in about 1900 was a strong believer in this stuff, and it spread as the Concordance became one of the most influential underground best-sellers of the XXth century. The modern Jehovah's Witnesses date from the first big "Jesus is coming today" movement of the antebellum.
People all over the US (centered, I think, in Pennsylvania and Ohio) sold their stuff, put on white robes and stood on their roofs waiting for Christ to rapture them.
Obviously, nothing happened. But an organization like that can't let mere humiliation destroy all its good work, and it gingerly reformed. (OK maybe it was Seventh Day Adventists, I can't keep ALL my cults straight). The Worldwide Church of God was founded right here in Bluejean, in the 20s, I think. They moved to Pasadena, California, and Garner Ted Armstrong was their pompadour'ed anchorman for years (until daddy found out about the booze and broads). But they did the same thing: Predicted a certain day. It came and went. Did it again. Came and went. Did it AGAIN. Came and went. And then they reformulated themselves, and even have "Ambassador College" in Pasadena, and publish THE PLAIN TRUTH.
But my father had several of his childhood friends fall for one of the Jesus dates, sold everything they had and gave it all to Garner Ted's Dad's church. And hated them with a purple passion that I found out about one day by accident.
Garner Ted evidently is back on TeeVee with a video church of his own, although the syndication is miniscule.
That was the part that the religious history course missed. After the advent of TeeVee, Christianity spread in the U.S. via television, and, later, satellite dishes in farm country.
Which is how they rule us, nowadays.
Praise the Lord.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
PRESS PARSES PENTAGON PRURIENCE PROBE
or, HELP! WE'VE LOST OUR ASTERISKS!!
Regular readers might note that this little blog often precedes the national media spotlight by a few days. It is a strange talent, but it is NOT because we are out in front of the pack, other than, perhaps a tendency to regularly scan "fringe" news sources, from whence unfiltered and take-with-a-grain-of-salt information filters slowly up the media ladder.
So, it's a feat comparable to outracing a stegosaurus -- a creature, like the mainstream press, so astonishingly stupid that it required a secondary "brain" at the base of its enormous spine to run the hind legs and tail.
But while this site blogged the breaking story on Sunday, September 25, Randi Rhodes had talked about the story on Friday, the 23rd. The British Press -- ever more pruriently passionate in their censoriousness than even the gutter-minded American press -- is now characterizing it with lurid headlines a la "US TO PROBE CORPSE PORN PICS" [The Sun]; "US ARMY PROBES NUDE GI JANES,"[The Register(UK)]" and, even, "US PROBES IRAQ NET BODY PICTURES" [BBC: As if to prove that SOMEONE in the UK still has some mastery over the English language: an elegant, if pedestrian headline.]
But the championship for utterly vile coverage of the Iraq war photos posting has to go to the UK's "THE REGISTER" and its web motto: "Biting the hand that feeds IT." (Pronounced "Eye-Tee," i.e. Information Technology, e.g. computers)
The Register - Internet and Law - Wild Wild WebThat is an astonishing take on the story. But it isn't at all different than most of the coverage. You see, most of the media writes AS IF they were the most prickly prude in the whole parish -- ironic, considering the rather, shall we say, EASY morality of most media people.
A little digression is in order. In a former wifetime, I got a call from my wife who was working for a certain Big Three television network in Hollywood. Their flagship station's local TV news was notable for the orgasmic manner in which lurid LA stories and sexual scandals were presented.
That afternoon, it seemed, the venerable anchorman had been, er, involved in a small accident. It was right in front of the studio, coming back from lunch, but there was a little problem with the footage (a quick-witted cameraman had grabbed a camera and run out the front door).
The anchorman was a little tippled, and the woman with him, also vaguely pickled, was not his wife. Er, rather affectionately not his wife.
And the sexually scandalous, prurient story with the shocking footage about the news anchor and his mistress in a fender bender after an alcohol-fueled quickie "nooner" just sort of quietly vanished into the ether of TeeVee Land. (Gee, I wonder what would have happened had it been the Mayor? Hmmm.)
Here is an entire elite corps of ultimate-back-stage-pass johnnies and bettys, but bring up the subject of sex, and they flip out, collectively.
The STORY is that, in a war that resolutely censors all blood and gore, actual PHOTOGRAPHS of that war have shown up. (Gee, where has the press been for the past three years on THAT one?) And, absurdly, the SCANDAL is that you can actually see them! (Can't have THAT!) Great jumping catfishopoids, Reporterman!
Alas, the awful coverage of forestry issues is now explained: the media has been so overwhelmed by trees that their experience and perception of the actual forest is minimal.
The coverage has focused on the context in which the photos appeared, and on "insensitive" commentary and captions accompanying the photos. The Pentagon, as predicted, is launching an investigation of the website in question.
Here, the AP story that's currently multiplying like the Andromeda Strain in the final third of the film:
US troops said to post Iraqi dead on websiteThis story was taken from the AP virtual reprint in the Boston Globe, but it's also on a gagillion other papers' sites, like the Chicago Sun-Times, Kansas City Star, Miami Herald, Seattle Times, and even the Leavenworth (KS) Times (appropriately enough).
Still, for sheer pornography about pornography, let's return to THE REGISTER (UK), who froth at the sin trough better than any newspaper this side of WEEKLY WORLD NEWS:
US ARMY PROBES NUDE GI JANESLet me begin by taking offense on behalf of someone else -- a venerable American media practice that I advance herein -- and note that dogs are considered unclean in much of Islam, so calling a Council on American-Islamic Relations lawyer/spokesman a "legal top dog" is probably pretty damned insulting.
But that's not far divorced from the American media's take. Pornography pictures plus death pictures from a war zone equals snuff films. That's the logic at work here, and the Pentagon has issued an Official Snootily Sniff(le):
"Obviously, it is an unacceptable practice," ["spokesman for Rumsfeld" Bryan] Whitman said. [AP]Not exactly eloquent, but with the Proper Moral Tone. And ...
"This is something that has just popped up in the last couple of days," said Maj. Tim Keefe at the Multi-National Force Headquarters in Baghdad. "We are looking into this, but it is difficult to determine initially where the site received its pictures."Of course, the story BROKE that way, so it's no surprise. It seems that the story came out of the blogosphere, from a "feral scholar" who posted it on September 1, with analysis on the order of:
"the commodification of titillation, whether that is through the powerful patriarchal constructions of sexual desire associated with objectification and humiliation or the extreme objectification of killing, creates an escalation dynamic." (http://www.uruknet.info/?p=15295 )I kid you not. Here's the earliest "legitimate" story that seems to predate the East Bay Express [San Francisco /Oakland, California area] story:
WAR PORNOGRAPHYBut here's the original story:
WAR PORN [Note the mindless similarities of title]Well, that's all certainly interesting.
But where did the forest go?
Lynndie England was just sentenced to three years in prison for being in pictures of naked prisoners at Abu Gharib, so the Pentagon and the press seems to be stampeding in that direction. There is a deep societal sickness that finds the most depraved and perverted explanations of events and then wallows in their moral "outrage" at the depravity. And, across the media spectrum, you'll note that the "analysis" and valuation of the story vary very little from the Register's drooling "naked GI Janes" to the "racist, patriarchal death-cult."
Might we focus, please?
We have finally seen the faces (ofttimes shorn of their former bodies, to be sure) of one man's vendetta against another. The object of the vendetta is comfortable in jail, about to be "tried" by a new and barely legitimate government in what we ALL know to be a U.S. rigged kangaroo court. Never mind that he's guilty as hell of a lot of evil stuff. This is the same crowd who managed to make O.J. Simpson into a sympathetic character by 'framing a guilty man' in the words of my friend Mac.
The initiator of the vendetta, meanwhile, is a famous drunkard, who is, reportedly, returning to the wacky fraternity antics that made him famous in the first place.
No: these people with their brains blown out didn't do a thing to us, and didn't do anything to George, either.
THAT is the story.
But now it's about sex, and I'm not sure which is more disgusting: the photos of the war dead? The juvenile captions on the photos? Or, the "moral" bastards covering the story of the photos of the war dead?
I think the ultimate obscenity is fairly clear.
But what the heck, if we had any doubts as to the ultimate meaning of this confluence of scandals du jour, we need only turn to the ever-eager, panting prose of the REGISTER:
The Army's Criminal Investigation Division has already started a probe. A spokesman said that a preliminary exploration had determined that felony charges could not be pursued, but the powers that be were looking into possible disciplinary action against those contributing warnography to "now that's fucked up".[Strange that the "F" word appeared originally on 26 September as "f**k" -- but mysteriously lost their asterisks in the two days before their 28 September story.]
Still, we can take solace that the East Bay EXPRESS is looking out for our eternal souls (or else given to long searching of their own). At the end of Chris Thompson's 21 Sept story, this appeared:
In the weeks since the European press uncovered the story and in the week since the site was first noticed by Eric Muller, law professor and author of the blog IsThatLegal.com, not a single US daily newspaper had covered it -- as of press time. Representatives from Amnesty International and Human Rights First even refused to comment, although both organizations ostensibly exist to condemn just this kind of practice. Perhaps no one wants to give Chris Wilson more publicity, or daily editors are too sensitive about being viewed as unpatriotic. Or perhaps the story is just too ugly to contemplate.Now, ain't that virtuous?
It should be noted that the headline read:
WAR PORNOGRAPHY -- US soldiers trade grisly photos of dead and mutilated Iraqis for access to amateur porn. The press is strangely silent.Well, the throat clearing's over. It may well prove that the previous silence of the press was a blessing, compared to what will come. I fear that we, too, shall lose our asterisks.
Monday, September 26, 2005
There may not be posts for a couple of days. My computer has gotten down to less than 1.5 gigs of free space -- or, slower than molasses in January -- and, as long as I'm downloading, it's probably time to transfer and tweak from the NEW computer I've been building in my secret laboratory.
It's nearly three times as fast as this one, and has infinitely more storage, etc.
Even can swap out these creepy little speakers for the giant speakers I got to go with the new 'puter, Big Blue.
So, administrative tasks will have me working on this computer, but no time for blogging.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
'YOU SEE SOME FUCKED UP SHIT IN THE SANDBOX'hart williams
or, WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU JOHN KERRY?
[WARNING: The language and imagery in this posting aren't pretty. So, if you're squeamish, better not to read it. Caveat Lector.]
It turned out to be a good thing that, during my second grade year, my mom got off her shift in ER at four p.m., and I was only a couple of blocks from the hospital when school let out.
I spent a good chunk of that year sitting between three and four on the wooden bench outside the emergency room at Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, Wyoming.
By the end of the year, gore didn't faze me -- as a bunch of small-minded Kansas high school boys would find out in a lunchroom in the fall of 1969.
It came in handy, when, at 23 years of age, I was made an editor at HUSTLER Magazine, and as part of my job, had to screen literally hundreds of porn films in a short time. I could turn off the gut-churning at will.
And thank God for porn. If it weren't for a Dutch website called nowthatsfuckedup.com, we wouldn't have a unique window into the war, and the mind of the soldiers.
You see, nowthatsfuckedup.com, offered free access to our soldiers who would post their real war pictures on the site. Now, I don't suggest you visit this link, but if you want to see what a human being's face blown off of his skull looks like, you'll find it at:
If you want to see what happens when a brain explodes in the driver's seat of a Toyota (helped by some M-16 fire), or what a human turns into after a vehicle fire (hint: it's a skeleton with some burnt leather hanging off of it), by all means, go NOW. Because it's already on the Pentagon's radar, and they don't want you to see what's going on over there. In fact, they spent a part of last week going after porn as well, and, while the Dutch site isn't in immediate danger, never underestimate the broad interpretation of "national security" and "sensitive material."
Like I said, becoming inured to the gross was valuable. And, instead of being nauseated by dead bodies, I started reading the entries.
Here's the posting that inspired today's title:
(scroll quickly past the dead bodies)
Whoa.. Guys...War -- as though we needed to be reminded -- is the ultimate obscenity. And, given the internet, and isolation of the troops, and the need to ... er ... relieve sexual tensions, a psychological sampling has appeared -- until, that is, the Pentagon can quash it. A Pentagon spokesnake has already noted that the poster above is correct. Posting any truth is illegal, and the Pentagon intends to crack down on any soldier caught posting on the website.
The mechanism of truth is, in this case, interesting, as well. You see, Democrats and Republicans are united in this much at least: the mating instinct is gross and yucky, and suppressing its depiction is of incalculable value in bring up children properly. (Which is why most porn people are Libertarians, at least the ones who can read).
And, as a result, the depiction of sexuality (and the excretory functions, which are often confused with it) become a sort of psychic dumping ground. Given that you have a lot of purposely hopped-up testosterone-junkies in a war zone, there are two things that they are in a constant funk of: killing and fucking.
It's an old mammal response, see? The dominant male mammal in a contest will often sport an erection, while the loser will often grovel in front of the victor in a mimicry of feminine submission for sex. Caesar and other Romans, it must be noted, explicitly acted out this form of mammmal dominance. So aggression and sexuality were already mixed up long before we got to the anthropoid forebrain.
So, it's appropriately ironic that the Dutch website operator offered a straight swap: your war pornography for our women pornography.
There is something fundamentally insane in seeing a picture of a thing that used to be a man with half his brains dangling out of that place where his ear used to be, with the automatically-generated spam headers under it announcing: "Slut Wife Training - Shy housewives turned into insatiable sluts!"
Or, worse: "Who just blew me? Girls sucking off complete strangers in a seedy adult bookstore! Glory Holes !!!" and "So You Like Them Young ? Hands down the youngest, hottest, girls in nude art. Take peek (free)." And don't forget the crazily juxtaposed: "MY NAME IS BROOKE, 19 FEMALE I think my boobs are tiny!! check out my pictures and vote on if i should get a boob-job or not!!" Nuts. And here's the gut-churner champion of inappropriate Clockwork Orange conditioning: "MOTHER & DAUGHTER FUCK! omfg See a real mother & daughter threesome the same guys! These two chicks are whores! LOL(Not incest)" Good Ghod.
Oh well, we're used to it. Every maniac-carving-up-teenage-girls horror flick (Halloween, Friday the 13th, et al) does the Pavlovian conditioning of associating extreme gore and death with sexual pleasure. If the teenage actress takes off her bra for her boyfriend, you can be assured that he is about to be decapitated, and her eyes are going to be gouged out.
And we are used to flushing our psychic garbage, our psychic feces, and our mental urine into any discussion of that mating instinct. So, we shouldn't be surprised that this window has opened up. We just got lucky.
And, while I yearn for a date when humans become relatively sane as much as the next Progressive, I have to deal with the reality of what is, and not what I'd like things to be.
Had the Bushies taken that philosophy seriously, we wouldn't be in this mess, but that's a given.
So, let's open the window and hear what we can hear (whether you decide to take a look is up to you, but unless you've had the kind of training I got in Second Grade, I wouldn't suggest it). Here's an interesting exchange from one of the threads:
Is there any americans that regret voting for G Bush in the last election?Well, nice to know that they've managed to turn US into nutjobs while they gleefully blow human beings into something resembling ground beef with bones tossed in. It's not their fault, just as it's not their fault that a lot of the commentary is on the level of boy's bathroom graffiti in any Junior High School you'd care to name.
We've pushed the warrior mentality, the esprit de corps, and the fundamental necessity of believing crazy things in order to get through wars. We're against this insane, dream-logic, constantly shifting purpose-driven "war," so we must be the enemy, too.
No. We recognize the cruel necessity of armed forces. But there is no justification in a "Defense" department invasion and occupation of a non-belligerent, not-a-threat country halfway around the globe. And I'll get to that in a moment.
But these kids sound like their high school football coaches trained them to sound: narrow, callous and "rah team." Justice Kennedy's nuance -- The flag protects the freedom of expression of those that would burn it -- is lost on them.
No: they worship a piece of cloth.
But the most disturbing image to me was this, which is viewable by the squeamish. Why? Because if I don't tell you that the pile of charred ash is a "crispy critter" Iraqi, you wouldn't know it.
Here's the picture (I've digitally camouflaged the faces, which the soldiers had not done):
I am not going to go into cheap bashing of soldiers. Ghod knows, a gallows sense of humor gets one through hell. But these kids look like they're finishing up an all-night kegger around a campfire.
Only this 'campfire' was named 'Ali' while it was a functioning human being.
They probably aren't monsters at home, and they love their children like everybody else. But war does monstrous things to decent people, and I don't doubt that in years to follow, this snapshot will be a source of grave shame to many. But this is an inevitable outcome of the obscenity of war. And I promise you, when they move into the leadership positions and are faced with questions of war and peace, they will remember the horrors that THEY were casually thrown into. And they will make wiser choices than the Chicken Hawks back home.
And, to my mind, it's the most obscene photograph on the entire site. Not because it's physically repulsive -- but because it's morally and ethically monstrous. And all the more so for its very banality.
We've got to get out of this NOW. And, to paraphrase someone, perhaps Edmund Burke, war corrupts the victor every bit as much as the vanquished.
And, in Washington, D.C., either 2000, "tens of thousands," a hundred thousand, or, just as likely 300,000 Americans gathered yesterday to protest this unnecessary, corrosive and vile war.
Naturally, the MSM didn't give it a lot of coverage, certainly almost none while it was taking place -- THE LARGEST PROTEST SINCE THE VIETNAM WAR!
But even that we're used to: massive protests, no visibility, no effect.
No, what I wanted to note was this: there were no congressional leaders at the protests. No prominent Senator, no prominent WHITE Democrat. Only members of the Black Caucus, who seem to be the only Americans in power who are concerned with the nose-dive towards outright fascism that this country has fallen into, based on the bombing of two almost unpopulated buildings in New York City.
In a nation of three hundred million, we have lost our liberties, bankrupted ourselves, and enraged the world over the death of three-thousand. And we have killed a hundred thousand in return.
Imagine, for a moment, that George Bush had killed every protester at the "agreed-upon" media figure of 100,000. That's how many human beings he's killed in this war.
A war that cannot be justified: Which means, of course that we have a usurper who Jeffrey Daumer has nothing on. Compared to Bush, the Hillside Strangler is a pathetic poseur. And, if you decide to look at those pictures, perhaps you'll understand why Bush & Co. don't want to see them, nor acknowledge them, nor actually take responsibility for them. The marine photo is, after all, the Abu Gharib scandal leaking out all over again.
There is an apocryphal report, anonymously posted on the Washington, D.C. Indymedia site that says:
100's of soldiers corpses brought through Eureka, California Coast Guard stationThere may be more than a kernel of truth in this. We'll see, as the story is -- hopefully --pursued. For the time being, it lies in the realm of the apocryphal, the fabulous, but appropriately, it is another anecdote from Bush, the Little-President-Who-Cried-Nine-Eleven.
But, you have to wonder in all of this, as our marines giggle over corpses, as our Usurper-in-Thief spins faster than a gyro on a space telescope, with one to three-hundred thousand protesters screaming, "How do you tell someone to die for a mistake?" where was John Kerry, former presidential candidate -- a man who came to prominence by knowing that he needed to be in Washington D.C. protesting HIS war, and testifying before a Senate committee about the atrocities of THAT conflict?
And where were Hilary, Pelosi, Harry Reid, or any other "principled" Democratic leadership?
Thirty-three years ago, John Kerry would have traveled the length of the continent to be there. Yesterday, he didn't even drive up from the suburbs.
Where was Senator Kerry?
Enough obscenity to go 'round for all sides today. It helps to have a strong stomach.
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