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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Today dawned cool and crisp, sunny and beautiful. But I couldn't help but think of another spring day, long ago, even though you'll find scarcely a reference to it in the media today ... not important, I guess.

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Here is a bit of the tale, courtesy of a retired history teacher at AOL: (hereinafter flagged with *):
As usual the President arose at seven. Friday, April 14, 1865, began as a lovely spring day.
That was 140 years ago. Let's see what happened today. Oh, yes, the Oregon Supreme Court punted on Gay Marriage, in a unanimous decision, saying that it was the legislature's business to regulate marriage, not the municipalities or counties, and, therefore, while they wouldn't actually rule on gay marriage, Multnomah County's marriages licenses, issued last year, were null and void.
Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.
Oh yes: the House of Representatives passed on a 306-126 vote, the bankruptcy bill, earlier approved by the Senate, to fundamentally strip Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy out of the code, claiming that the (less than 5%) abusers were a grave threat to the banking industry (who routinely charge 30% and greater interest charges).
"Those who abuse the system make getting credit more expensive for everyone," House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said after the vote as he and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., signed the bill to speed it to the president. "Bankruptcy is for those who need help, not those who want to shift costs to other hardworking Americans." (AP)
Good to see that Illinois Republicans still have influence in Congress. 140 years ago, an Illinois Republican met with the House Speaker:

* 9:00 A.M.
Lincoln read the morning newspapers. His first visitor of the day was Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax. Lincoln told the speaker his own ideas as to what the future policy should be toward the Southern states. Colfax expressed a concern that Lincoln would proceed with reconstruction without legislative branch consultation. At the War Department General Grant told Secretary of War Edwin Stanton that the Grants were going to decline the Lincolns' theatre invitation.

And in the Senate, the committee overseeing the nomination of John Negroponte -- the enabler and author of the Death Squads in Honduras in the 1980s -- voted behind closed doors (thus, no recorded tally) to send Negroponte's nomination to the full Senate, where it was virtually guaranteed that the former Iraq and UN ambassador would be the first national intelligence "Czar," overseeing a 100,000 person department with $40 billion in annual "overt" budgetary funding and God-knows-how-much covert. Such power has never been concentrated in the office of one bureaucrat in the nation's history before. And they chose Negroponte.

Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
Through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land,
With the pomp of the inloop'd flags with the cities draped in black,
With the show of the States themselves as of crape-veil'd women standing,
With processions long and winding and the flambeaus of the night,
With the countless torches lit, with the silent sea of faces and the unbared heads,
With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces,
With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn,
With all the mournful voices of the dirges pour'd around the coffin,
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs - where amid these you journey,
With the tolling tolling bells' perpetual clang,
Here, coffin that slowly passes
I give you my sprig of lilac.

I was listening to the afternoon show on KOPT, and a fellow called in to say that he found two men holding hands disgusting and sickening. He cackled horribly, pleased with himself at every moment, until he let slip that he was just as disgusted at seeing white and black couples. Ah, Progressive Oregon!

*5:00 P.M.
Congressman Edward H. Rollins of New Hampshire stopped by to get a pass for a constituent to go and see his wounded son in an army hospital. The President and his wife came out on the White House porch. A one-armed soldier, hoping to catch sight of Mr. Lincoln, yelled, "I would almost give my other hand if I could shake that of Abraham Lincoln." The President walked toward the soldier and grabbed his hand. Lincoln said, "You shall do that and it shall cost you nothing." The Lincolns then entered the carriage with Francis P. Burke, their coachman, as the driver. Two cavalrymen followed the carriage as it started down the gravel White House driveway. During the ride Mr. Lincoln told his wife that after his second term was completed he wanted to visit Europe. Additionally, he was hoping to see Jerusalem. Afterwards, he hoped to return to law practice in Springfield. The carriage arrived at the Navy Yard, and the President took a short stroll on the deck of the monitor Montauk. Then he got back in the carriage for the short trip back to the White House. Lincoln was in a great mood, and his wife commented, "Dear Husband, you almost startle me by your great cheerfulness."

Our local "prograssive" newspaper continued the guilt-by-association attacks that have become almost routine on anyone who ever knew former Governor Neil Goldschmidt (and noted that State Sen. Vicki Walker was now being talked about as a gubernatorial candidate), leading off a cover story on Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson's candidacy challenging incumbent Gov. Ted Kulongowski with this:
[Cover Story By Alan Pittman]

Gov. Ted Kulongoski is on the ropes. Recent polls show the Democrat at only 39 percent support.

The Neil Goldschmidt sex scandal has left him with a black eye. Media reports have questioned how Kulongoski could not have known about his crony's sex with a 14-year-old girl.

The scandal has laid bare the enormous influence Goldschmidt's corporate lobbying has had on the Kulongoski administration. The Statesman Journal investigated the governor's appointment book and e-mails and found Kulongoski was in near constant contact with Goldschmidt's lobbying operation. Goldschmidt and company had more private meetings with Kulongoski than the secretary of state, attorney general, state school superintendent or any other business or labor lobbyist, the paper reported.

With Kulongoski wobbling, contenders are circling. Republican Kevin Mannix, who Kulongoski just squeaked by in 2002, is in the ring. Ron Saxton, a more moderate Republican, says he's exploring challenging Mannix for the Republican nomination. Two other lesser-known Republicans are also talking about a challenge. There's talk that Eugene State Sen. Vicki Walker may join Lane County Commissioner Peter Sorenson in challenging Kulongoski for the Democratic nomination next year.
Why, to read it, you'd SWEAR that Kulongoski held the girl down while Goldschmidt put the wood to her. [No mention is made of what happened when the girl turned 15, then 16, then 17.] A week earlier, the WEEKLY had apportioned a share of the Pulitzer Prize to Walker, along with a seamless self-congratulatory segue into how they, the WEEKLY, were forcing the REGISTER-GUARD into doing better reporting with their "scoops" in much the same manner that the WILLAMETTE WEEK had "forced" the OREGONIAN into better reporting through their expose of Goldschmidt's thirty--year-old sexual secrets. But then again, that's par for the WEEKLY'S (crapulous) course.

I would only wonder how much about the sexual lives (and their details) of his co-workers that Mr. Pittman knows. Or, perhaps I wouldn't like to know that. In his world, not being aware of the most intimate secrets of one's associates seems to be unthinkable, and THAT perhaps says more about Pittman than about reality. (The two are often at odds in most cases, anyway.)
I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them,
I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of the war,
But I saw they were not as was thought,
They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer'd not,
The living remain'd and suffer'd, the mother suffer'd,
And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer'd,
And the armies that remain'd suffer'd.

And that was the way that this anniversary was celebrated, today, with nary a mention of that spring day, long ago:

*10:00 P.M.
Our American Cousin was now in its third act. Mary sat very close to her husband, her hand in his. She whispered to him, "What will Miss Harris think of my hanging on to you so?" The President replied, "She won't think anything about it." It was about 10:15 P.M. On stage actor Harry Hawk was saying, "Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal - you sockdologizing old mantrap!" John Wilkes Booth came up behind Mr. Lincoln and shot him in the back of the head near point blank range. The bullet entered the head about 3 inches behind the left ear and traveled about 7 1/2 inches into the brain. Major Rathbone thought Booth shouted a word that sounded like "Freedom!" (Many accounts have Booth yelling "Sic Semper Tyrannis" in the box, or when he landed on the stage). Booth struggled briefly with Rathbone, stabbed him with a knife, leaped 11 feet to the stage, broke the fibula bone in his left leg, and escaped from the theatre. Lincoln's head inclined toward his chest, and Mrs. Lincoln screamed."

And, finally, today, to protect us -- courtesy of Oregon's own progressive senator, Ron Wyden -- Bic lighters were banned from all commercial flights. (You can, however, carry four packs of "safety" matches.) We are now safe from the scourge of terrorists wielding butane lighters. After all, these must now take their rightful place in the pantheon of menaces next to fingernail clippers, crochet hooks, metal nail files and other instruments of international terrorism. Let us all pray that terrorists never learn how to light fuses with matches.

I suppose that there's nothing much more to say, that the poet hasn't said better than I:

For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands - and this for his dear sake,
Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.

How well have we honored you, Mr. Lincoln.

(poem: When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd, by Walt Whitman; used entirely without permission)
Monday, April 11, 2005
EL CABALLERO DEL POLLO'S FESTIVAL OF MENDACITY, or, Dubya, Deadeye Dick and Rummy Ride Again

I learned the way that the military thinks about media back during the Grenada Invasion (and of course, post-Mayaguez, where you claim bloodless victory and only release the body counts MUCH later, after achieving the intended effect).

The LAPD used to pull it too: whenever Ed Davis or Darryl Gates would decide to jackboot through incipient Porn Valley's warehouses, they'd ALWAYS also do a street-hooker sweep, to make sure that no First Amendment voices were raised ... "linking" porn and hookers the same way Dubya linked Saddam and Al Qaeda. None of this is new.

Sadly, unlike the average citizens of the Soviet Union, we don't realize that we're often lied to. So, we don't look for the "invisible man."

I'm referring to H.G. Wells' novel, and the endless movies. How do you spot the invisible man? By creating a cloud, or tossing flour, or looking in the snow. You know where he is by where the fog ISN'T.

So where is this tortuous narrative leading us?

I listen to a lot a crappy network radio news while slaving away in the wee small hours of the morning, and I happened to hear the "big" story that the Military-Oil Complex decided on for its media geishas to start the week: There was a "big sweep" in Baghdad, and they captured 65 "insurgents."

OK? Now, students: where is the invisible man?

Take a few minutes.

Got it? Good.

Here's the skinny:

First of all, "Baghdad" is the tipoff. According to Sy Hersh (who's only been utterly RIGHT about every damned thing he's reported from the Misbegotten Mesopotamian Misadventure -- or "3M" for short), outside of Baghdad, we barely control any of the country: it's strictly, to use his words, "cowboys and indians" out there.

Secondly, you might recall that there was a HUGE demonstration in Topple-Saddam-Square (and some of you might recall how BARE that square actually was when the "huge crowds" greeted the liberators, who had to bumble for hours and bring in a Humvee to actually topple it). The square was filled, within eyesight of the journalists who cover the entire occupation of Iraq from the hotel's balconies.

Well, the Terry Schiavo case successfully managed to smoke-obscure the demonstrations on the anniversary of the invasion. But NOW, the Bushies were caught with their metaphorical pants down around their obfuscatory ankles, and something must needs be quickly done.

Lucky for them, the Iraqis didn't understand the US news cycle, so the weekend news of the demonstrations could be quickly supplanted by the "massive sweep" of ... streetwalkers and pornographers!


I meant "insurgents."

Now, given the US track record in Iraq for picking up the wrong people on trumped-up charges, and, given that Baghdad is the ONLY city we're operating in with impunity, what's the story do you think?

Where is the invisible man in all this smoke?

Right. You got it: They DESPERATELY want you to think that they're IN CHARGE, and everything's just a "mopping up" operation. That full-scale military assault on Abu Gharib Prison was just an anomaly! A drive-by. Some random "gang" violence.

(Don't be surprised if we see the equivalent of a TET-style offensive soon. Sadly, though, Walter Cronkite won't be there to re-evaluate. It'll be Judy Woodruff, instead, sniffing that she ALWAYS knew that this was a misadventure, and how useful is THAT?)

So just remember, look not at what they're saying: look at what they're not saying, and you'll find the 'invisible man' every time.

And, the additional Pentagon "leak"/announcement that "thousands of US troops might start coming home" in the indefinite definite future (reported in the same breath on the network radio news) was a coincidence, don't you think?

Of course it was. Happy Trails.
hart williams
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