". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Last Angry Man

'They' took him out, just as 'they' threatened / promised. (See my post of January 8, 2008, "The Chamber of Commerce Talks Like the Wise Guys here.)

The last, the only, angry candidate, angry on behalf of the little guy (to quote my farmer dad, a Dem and Populist in a state that appreciated neither), Edwards went out a class act.

Just as he made his announcement to run for the dem party's nomination for POTUS in New Orleans, he and Elizabeth made the announcement that they had to drop out in Music Village, in the Lower 9th, in New Orleans. On his way to the press conference, he stopped to talk to the people living in a homeless camp under a bridge.

We've been blinded by the smoke&mirrors, faux Prez Campaign '08 since 2006. By the time I get to vote in a primary the guys I would vote for happily are gone -- the election's in November, and it's still January. My first choice would have been Dodd, who supported an intelligent approach to Cuba, scrapping the embargo and who speaks Spanish. We were not going to be allowed to have that! Clinton's married into a Miami Cuban ruling family, so is more likely declare an invasion of the island. Obama says that he would allow some people to visit family in Cuba, but not allow people like me to go there. My second choice was Edwards, who talked some truth and spoke of and to veterans and other homeless people. We were not going to be allowed to have him either.

Edwards ended his campaign where he began it: in New Orleans. Then he and Elizabeth picked up hammers and went to work rebuilding the city. A class act, both of them, all the way.

The pull quote:

[ He started his address about 30 minutes after stopping at an interstate underpass to talk to homeless people at an encampment of about 200 people. "One woman said to me, 'You won't forget us, will you?' Well, I say to her,we will never forget you. We will fight for you, stand up for you," he said. ]

Courtesy The Black Agenda Report:

[ Through fourteen Republican Debates, no moderator has asked any Republican Presidential candidates a single question about rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. ]

Edwards drops out of presidential race
The Times-Picayune
Wednesday January 30, 2008, 7:34 AM
By Bill Walsh and David Hammer Staff writers

[ Ending his presidential bid in the city where he launched it 13 months ago, Democrat John Edwards told a crowd at the Musicians Village in the 9th Ward on Wednesday that he is giving up the political chase, but not his advocacy for New Orleans and the nation's poor people that was a focus of his campaign.

He told a crowd at the Musicians' Village in the 9th Ward today that he is giving up the political chase but not the battle against poverty that had been the theme of his campaign.

"We joined together in this city that had been abandoned by our government and had been forgotten, but not by us," Edwards told about 250 people who gathered in the chilly early afternoon. "Someday, one day, the trumpets will play loud in Musicians Village, where we stand today."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Colombia in a Bubble

Center for International Policy
"Colombia in a Bubble"

[ They did a good job of keeping it under wraps. We heard nothing about Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Colombia until it was announced on Tuesday. (Not surprisingly, nobody at the U.S. embassy mentioned it to us when we were in Bogotá last week.)

Only yesterday did we see a list of the ten Democratic members of Congress who will be accompanying the Secretary. This made it impossible to prepare any briefing materials or lists of suggested questions to ask.

Those ten members, who will spend about 24 hours in Medellín, are:

a.. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx/Westchester, New York), the Chairman of theWestern Hemisphere Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee;

b.. Jane Harman (D-El Segundo/Wilmington, California);

c.. Solomon Ortiz (D-Corpus Christi/Brownsville, Texas);

d.. Alcee Hastings (D-Ft. Lauderdale/West Palm, Florida);

e.. Jim Moran (D-Alexandria/Reston, Virginia);

f.. David Scott (D-Jonesboro/Smyrna, Georgia);

g.. Rick Larsen (D-Everett/Bellingham, Washington);

h.. Melissa Bean (D-Schaumburg, Illinois);

i.. Ron Klein (D-Ft. Lauderdale, Florida);

j.. Ed Perlmutter (D-Lakewood, Colorado).

Three of these ten (Bean, Moran and Ortiz) were among the fifteen Democratswho voted for the Central American Free Trade Agreement in 2005. Two (Moranand Ortiz) have voting records that reflect support for Plan Colombia over the years, while six (Engel, Harman, Hastings, Scott, Larsen and Bean) have tended to vote for amendments to cut military aid and increase economic aid to Colombia. The other two, Klein and Perlmutter, are in their first term.

CIP’s Colombia Program is not an active participant in the Free TradeAgreement debate - our expertise is security and human rights, not economics. (We share Human Rights Watch’s view, however, that the U.S.government should use the pending agreement as “leverage to press Colombia’sgovernment to effectively confront impunity and break the paramilitaries’power.”)Beyond the FTA, though, we worry that some of these ten Democrats might come back to Washington with a skewed view of Colombia, and U.S. policy toward Colombia, after their two highly staged days there. Over the years, we’ve seen trips like these distorting the views that members of Congress hold about Colombia, a country about which they probably don’t think too often. Normally thoughtful members of Congress, prefacing their remarks with “I’ve been to Colombia, I’ve talked to the Colombian people,” go on to declaim about the wonders of Plan Colombia and President Uribe’s hard-line policies. “I don’t know what you’re going on about, Plan Colombia is working,” they will say to congressional colleagues who have paid longer, unofficial fact-finding visits to less-charming regions of the country. “I think you’re being overly negative.

”We ask the members of Congress in Medellín today: please return toWashington wanting to know more. You’ve only heard half the story. After one day in the Secretary of State’s bubble in Medellín being shown just what they want you to see, you’ve “been to Colombia” as much as a Cancún springbreaker has “been to Mexico.” Your intellectual curiosity should be provoked, not satisfied.

Incidentally, while in Medellín it’s a shame that you won’t be meeting with any of the following people. These uninvited individuals and groups could have given you a much fuller idea of how complex the situation really is inColombia, and what the true consequences of your aid and trade decisionswill be.

a.. Medellín has been a center of paramilitary activity, and lately has hosted many of the confessions that top paramilitary leaders have given to prosecutors as part of the “Justice and Peace” demobilization process. Being in Medellín would have offered a great opportunity to speak to the paramilitaries’ victims, who stand vigil outside these prosecutorial sessions. You could have taken a moment to hear of their desire to know what happened to their loved ones, to see a measure of justice done, or to win the return of lands that were stolen from them. You could have pondered why nearly all who aided and funded the paramilitaries who victimized them remain not only unpunished, but unnamed.

b.. You could have met with the overworked, underfunded prosecutors and investigators in the “Justice and Peace” unit of Colombia’s Prosecutor-General’s office (Fiscalía), to find out what their needs are -everything from manpower to security to the ability to uncover mass graves -and how the United States could be supporting them.

c.. You could have met with relatives of civilians who were detained by the Colombian military, only to show up dead, presented as guerrillas killed in combat. Colombia has seen a rash of these “extrajudicial executions” in the past few years [PDF], and the Colombian Army’s Medellín-based 4th Brigade is alleged to be one of the worst offenders.

d.. Medellín is the capital of a department (province) called Antioquia. In 2006 Antioquia, according to the UN, was fifth among Colombia’s 32 departments in production of coca, the plant used to make cocaine - more than 15,000 acres were detected there that year. Being in Medellín would have offered an opportunity to speak with coca-growing families, to find out why they chose to plant the crop, and what economic options remained after U.S.-funded spray planes fumigated them.

e. You could have met with members of indigenous nations living just a few hours’ drive from Medellín, such as the Embera-Katío. Beset by theconflict and by people who would evict them to profit from their land, these nations’ cultures, languages and traditions face the very real possibilityof extinction.

f. You could have spoken to Medellín’s ombudsman (Personería) or to respected NGOs like the Popular Training Institute (IPC) to get an overview of the city’s complex security situation, including concerns that new armed groups, fueled by the drug trade, may be asserting themselves in the poor barrios that ring the city.

g.. You could have met with Medellín-based negotiators and accompaniers of the ongoing, promising peace process with the ELN guerrilla group. Theywould have explained the possibilities and challenges that thesenegotiations face, and how the United States could be supporting them.

We are pleased that the ten Democratic House members accompanying Secretaryof State Rice today have taken an interest in Colombia. We encourage them to remain engaged, and to seek a much broader spectrum of views and facts, after they return to Washington. ]

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

For Castle Lovers -- "El Cid" is now on dvd

Announced in the NY Times Tuesday "New DVDS" column, the release of the Sophia Loren - Charleton Heston El Cid. Because I am a Castle Lover, I loved this movie. I finally got to see it as an adult some years back at the Film Forum, when the Film Forum still was located on Grand Street. Imagine the sighs of contentment at the historically created battle scenes, the armor, the Visigoth castles and Moorish palaces. Imagine my chagrin reading this in the column today, information re El Cid of which I was unaware:

[ Mann’s most characteristic work was in film noir (“Raw Deal,” 1948) and the western (“The Far Country,” 1954), and his best period was behind him when he went to Spain to work for Samuel Bronston, the enterprising producer of “El Cid.” In “The Red and the Blacklist: The Intimate Memoir of a Hollywood Expatriate,” Norma Barzman, Ben Barzman’s widow, writes that Mr. Bronston had been able to finance his Spanish operations thanks to an arrangement with the DuPont family, who wanted to sell oil to Spain under Franco but did not want to be paid in unexportable Spanish pesetas. Instead the DuPonts plowed their local profits into Mr. Bronston’s films, which could then be sold around the world for more convertible currencies.

As Mr. Bronston’s biographer, Neal M. Rosendorf, and son, Bill Bronston, note on the commentary track, the film draws flattering parallels between Heston’s medieval hero and Franco, whose government was in on the oil deal. The dastardly Moors, led by a kohl-eyed, black-robed Herbert Lom, became stand-ins for the Communists, whom Franco had crushed in the Civil War. And in the cold war context of 1961, such foes were still perceived as enough of a clear and present danger to make Franco a prized American ally.

To top it off, Mr. Bronston (born Bronstein) was related to Leon Trotsky (born Lev Davidovich Bronstein), a relationship that could hardly have thrilled Franco or even Mr. Barzman, still a member in good standing of the Stalinist Communist Party U.S.A. at the time he rewrote the script. Surely setting some kind of record for the number of strange bedfellows packed into a single cot, “El Cid” ought to have been either an extremely lively, contentious film or a total smoking train wreck. Oddly enough, it is neither, but rather a handsome, rather placid, perfectly professional production. (The Weinstein Company, $24.95; “limited collector’s edition,” $39.95; not rated.) ]

Sunday, January 27, 2008

NOT Billary, Please! Please! Please!

Over the last 8 - 10 weeks my disquiet at the thought of Hillary being the dem candidate and / or getting into the oval office has continued to grow and to sprout ever more ramifications as to why this would be another disaster for our country. We're already up against the ropes from the succession of 8 years of the regime's deliberately disasterous policies, part of which has been to spend the national government out of existence financially, and to create distrust of every federal agency and institution by deliberately turning them into centers of incompetence, and often as well, cesspools of corruption and politicalization. (Ya really didn't believe 'they' were that stupid, didja? Smart enough to steal elections and take out any candidate of their choosing? No, the destruction of centralized federal government is 'their' objective, and 'they've' reached a lot of 'their' goals -- if only by appointing who 'they've' appointed to judgships and pillaging the treasury, the greatest transfer of wealth into the fewest hands the world maybe has ever seen.)

My disquiet began with no longer trusting or believing in Hillary, based on her lies concerning serving in the U.S. senate, and her pandering to the regime over Iraq, as well as her early debacle with health care, and her deep connections to the health insurance companies, her cronyism with Murdoch and other corporatist power brokers, and her long-known secrecy. Transparency is not Hillary. She'll no more make our government answerable to public scrutiny than the regime has.

Now my disquiet includes Bill. He royally screwed us all over while in the Oval Office. He'll do it again, when it's supposed to be Hillary in that Oval Office. The 2 of them will also be fighting over who has the real power. Bill still doesn't control himself sexually, by all accounts. His heart surgery didn't change his life-time behaviors, except in diet. It will be another politically paralyzed presidency, paralyzed by Bill. His rhetorical outbursts in the last 2 weeks on the primary and caucus trails have reminded us all what he is. It will be another politically paralyzed presidency, paralyzed by Hillary, as she tries to stay out of Bill's shadow, and he walks in front of the vice president, creating yet more disunion in the nation.

Bob Herbert had a piece today in the NY Times op-ed page that applies to this, "Questions for the Clintons".

Gary Wills has another, that says everything I've been thinking, "Two Presidents Are Worse Than One."

While The WaPo Magazine has this rather sad article on Edwards, who clearly people admire and respect and maybe even trust, so why don't more people vote for him? I admire him more and more, and believe, considering the break down of who voted for whom in today's SC primary, he's the one of the three who is actually electable, and who also can really pull this country together.

Obama won SC yesterday. Black women evidently are right turned off by the Billary deal. Can you blame them, with all that barely concealed rhetoric that African Americans have heard the entire history of the U.S., that "boy, you just aren't ready yet." Not to mention the disgusting, repellant remarks on the level of "Bill Clinton's had more black women than Obama." Using black women as the bridge in a childish weenie-wave contest between two men is the most dispicable thing they've done yet. As Hillary's well-known for being in control of everything around her, and of Bill too, and even announced by her campaign as an endorsement for abilities as an administrator, can you believe for a second that she was unaware of this as a short-term strategy? How much more of their bad judgment and lack of self-control can this nation endure?

If Obama's not ready now then, when? Obama is NOT my favorite by a very long shot. But he, at least, won't be paralyzed by scandals, if he goes into the White House. And I tell ya, we are all sick to death of those 3 voices out of the last 16 years: the shrubbery AND the billary. I want to hear different tones, different timbres, new language. My ears cringe at the sound of the voices of all three -- shrub and billary.

Frank Rich has weighed in today on this as well.Go here for "The Billary Road to Republican Victory.

It's rather heartening, than otherwise, to see so many of the dem-leaning chattering class leaning toward this point of view today.Here's another, Glenn Greenwald, who has always been more of a billary supporter than not. Bill Clinton: The Chris Matthews of South CarolinaThat so many of this very loosely labeled 'us' are rejecting strongly this trashy behavior of the billary machine to make this suddenly about 'race' rather than character and all the other legitimate issues that lead to choice, speaks well of this 'us.'Or -- maybe, merely our self-interested terror of what the billary machine's ultimate consequences will be: another 8 years of 'them.'

Saturday, January 26, 2008

2 New Books of Interest (at least mine!)

The number of meticulously researched and sourced histories of the U.S. post-Civil War era commonly called "Reconstruction" continues to add titles. This is the latest one of which I'm aware. I've seen reviews of it in other places, but this week it's covered by one of my favorite writers about book, Jonathan Yardly, in this weekend's Washington Post Book World section, THE BLOODY SHIRT: Terror After Appomattox by Stephen Budiansky. Here follows a pull, the first 2 paragraphs of JY's essay:

[ The decade-long period known as Reconstruction, which began shortly after the Civil War and ended with the presidential election of 1876, probably has been subjected to more misinterpretation, misunderstanding and outright factual distortion than any other time in American history. For a variety of reasons, including white Southern mythologizing and national indifference to the desperate situation of the former slaves, beginning in the late 19th century fictions about Reconstruction gained not merely wide popular acceptance but also the endorsement of many prominent historians, who gave them legitimacy and staying power.

These fictions presented the white South not as instigator, perpetuator and defender of black slavery, but as the victim of politically motivated mistreatment by "carpetbaggers" and other outsiders dispatched by Radical Republicans in Washington to wreak vengeance on the South. By contrast with the rapacious industrial North, the South was portrayed as -- in the words of one historian -- "a garden for the cultivation of all that was grand in oratory, true in science, sublime and beautiful in poetry and sentiment, and enlightened and profound in law and statesmanship." Slavery metamorphosed from a "peculiar" institution into a benevolent one, and it was argued that only the South could hope to help the former slaves because "the Southern white man is the only man on earth who understands the Negro character." If only the North had left the South to settle its own problem, the fictions contended, everything would have been fine. If Reconstruction failed, the fault lay solely with the North. ]

In other words, the phony mythology that made Griffith's Birth of a Nation, and brought back the Ku Klux Klan, the foundation of decades of the movie industry's propaganda machine re the "Western," which was from the beginning of the cinema age in the U.S. the financial and popular mainstay of studios, and remained so until comfortably post the WWII era. I continue to marvel at the success of the historical revision of the Reconstruction era -- as well as of the Civil War. The principal reason for the success of this revisionism is the development of the penny press Western, followed so soon by the movies. From the beginning the pioneers of this format saw it as an unparalleled means of propaganda, and so it was, and continues to be. The principals of Western movies, even the occasional few made now, were enlisted in the Confederacy.

This is particularly ironic when examined by the light shed by the founding father of the Western as a genre (as he also founded the genre of sea stories and that of the Revolutionary romance), James Fenimore Cooper, in "The Leatherstocking Tales."

Then, to go with my reading of the Keay The Honorable Company: A History of the English East India Company, pub date 1993 -- and which, despite a plethora of fascinating personalities and lots of really great adventure tales, I'm finding very hard going, and, in fact, rather dull -- and the reading of of a history of New Amsterdam, The Island at the Center of the World, comes this, reviewed by another terrific WaPo writer about books, Michael Dirda, Vermeers's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World by Timothy Brook.

[ . . . There doesn't seem to be any obvious reason why such a formidable Sinologist should be bringing out a book with a 17th-century Dutch painting on the cover and the title Vermeer's Hat.

But the explanation turns out to be quite simple: This book isn't about Vermeer's brushstrokes or the use of light in his paintings. Instead, it really does focus on the fur hats -- and the old maps and the dishes of fruit and the silver coins -- pictured in those paintings. As his subtitle suggests, Brook hopes to use these pictorial elements to describe "the dawn of the global world," in particular the economic entanglements between the Netherlands and China. . . .

. . . . For instance, in the chapter titled "School for Smoking," he notices that 17th-century Dutch porcelain, representing Chinese scenes, often shows people smoking. Where did the painter get the idea that the Chinese smoked? This leads to an overview of tobacco commerce and consumption in Asia, building on accounts of the shipping routes, the trade laws and the movement of silver, as well as tobacco, to the East. But Brook also takes time to discuss the social impact of chi yan or "eating smoke."

Such interlacing of the economic with the social and ideological Brook labels "transculturation," a term first coined by the Cuban historian Fernando Ortiz to describe "the process by which habits and things move from one culture to another so thoroughly that they become part of it and in turn change the culture into which they have moved." Sometimes this results in the destruction of what is already there, and usually "the outcomes of these globalizing processes cannot be controlled." ....

. . .Throughout Vermeer's Hat, Brook keeps his economic history striking and anecdotal. "If there is one overwhelming condition that shaped the history of the seventeenth century more than any other, it is global cooling." Between 1550 and 1700, according to the book, temperatures fell all over the world. Grain prices rose; cold and plague decimated Venice and Amsterdam. But Dutch fleets enjoyed a herring boom, giving them money to invest in shipping. Why did Champlain push into unexplored Canada? For beaver pelts. And why did Europeans want those pelts? For expensive, durable hats. Profits from those hats would pay for something important: the search for the supposed water route across North America to China. ...

. . . . Commercially, the 17th century was an age of silver, tobacco and slaves, and Brook shows how the three interconnect to form an intricate economic network. This new international economy is revealed in every aspect of life, not only in the account books of the VOC and the histories of the Jesuit missionaries in China and Latin America, but also in the items depicted in paintings by a Delft artist who died young. All our experience is global. ]

Thus this book appears filled with answers to questions I never asked, such as the Chinese tobacco one, despite life-long acquaintance with quaint illos of sedate Chinese bearded sages with pipes in hand, if not in mouth -- even as described in the pages of Louisa May Alcott's Eight Cousins, in a scene at the Boston wharfs, in a warehouse that is part of her wealthy, merchant ship owning family's fortunes.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"A Cutting Tradition"

The Sunday NY Times Magazine has another article today on FGM, this time in Indonesia, where females who have been subjected to FGM are [ " . . . a quiet majority in Indonesia, where, according to a 2003 study by the Population Council, an international research group, 96 percent of families surveyed reported that their daughters had undergone some form of circumcision by the time they reached 14." ]

The procedures are performed everywhere, including the schools. The reasons for it?

[ According to Lukman Hakim, the foundation’s chairman of social services, there are three “benefits” to circumcising girls.

“One, it will stabilize her libido,” he said through an interpreter. “Two, it will make a woman look more beautiful in the eyes of her husband. And three, it will balance her psychology.”

Can anyone enlighten me as to just wtf "it will balance her psychology” means?

[ Female circumcision in Indonesia is reported to be less extreme than the kind practiced in other parts of the globe — Africa, particularly. Worldwide, female genital cutting affects up to 140 million women and girls in varying degrees of severity, according to estimates from the World Health Organization. The most common form of female genital cutting, representing about 80 percent of cases around the world, includes the excision of the clitoris and the labia minora. A more extreme version of the practice, known as Pharaonic circumcision or infibulation, accounts for 15 percent of cases globally and involves the removal of all external genitalia and a stitching up of the vaginal opening. ]

Saturday, January 19, 2008

El Mundo de Gabriel García Márquez

A freighter on its side, abandoned in the mud. The difference between what Joseph Conrad would make of that, vs. how Gabriel García Márquez would treat it.

The freighter was finally dug out and hauled away a couple of years ago.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Barranquilla, Colombia

An article about Vaquero here, reporting from the Arts Festival that has brought Caribbeanists and Latin American arts people from all over the Spanish-speaking hemisphere. It's running along with the city's Carnaval.

Ladies of the city arriving at the hotel to celebrate their Carnaval costumes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Crawling Back Up The Stairs

I posted this originally as a comment in response to another comment to an entry down below, but it seems worth an entry itself.

Have you ever read great Polish journalist, Rhyzard Kapuscinski's Shah of Shahs (1982), available in this country from Vintage - Random House, his account of how the Iranian shah came to power, and the unspeakably evil police state of surveillance, informants, arrest, disappearance and torture, corruption and extortion and terror instituted by his father, first, and elaborated on by himself -- with all the propping and assistance of the U.S. and the CIA that you can imagine? While, what Iran was, under these two men's control, and who were only there because the U.S. kept them there, has been conveniently relegated to media amnesia, whereas the Cuba political and economic New World ragamuffin island, gets dragged up over and over and over as a great state of evil. This is extremely ironic, as Fidel is the only despot in modern history, at least, who has managed to wield his despot power so wisely as to keep the majority of his people satisfied with him enough that they've never reaching an angry tipping point to change that. (Kapuscinski includes a most wise analysis and blow-by-blow description of just how these points can be reached and what will happen; he must have learned a lot, by living in a soviet block state.)

In the chapter titled, "The Dead Flame," our narrator / observer / reporter write thusly about rulers and politicans:

[ The most difficult thing to do while living in a palace is to imagine a different life -- for instance, you own life but outside of and minus the palace. Toward the end the rule finds people willing to help him out. Many lives regrettably, can be lost at such moments. The problem of honor in politics. Take de Gaulle -- a man of honor. He lost a referendum, tidied up his desk, and left the palace, never to return. He wanted to govern only under the condition that the majority accept him. The moment the majority refused him their trust, he left. But how many are like him? The others will cry, but they won't move; they'll torment the nation, but they won't budge, Thrown out one door, they sneak in through another; kicked down the stairs, they begin to crawl back up. They will excuse themselves, bow and scrape, lie and simper, provided they can stay -- or provided they can return. They will hold out their hands -- Look, no blood on them. But the very fact of having to show those hands covers them with the deepest shame. They will turn their pockets inside out -- Look, there's not much there. But the very fact of exposing their pockets -- how humiliating! The Shah, when he left the Palace, was crying. At the airport he was crying again. Later he explained in interviews how much money he had, and the it was less than people thought. (pp.119-20) ]

This is why people are able these days admire Jimmy Carter and Al Gore, while despising both Clintons -- though they may not quite realize it as clearly as Kapuscinski explained it in Shah of Shahs. The Clintons are expending every bit of their own energies and those of everyone else they can draw in, to crawl back up those stairs, to get back inside the palace. The shrubbery has never been OUTSIDE the palace in his life, nor has any of his family for several generations. Which is why so many of just can't bear to have a Clinton back in the OO -- so many years of the palace belonging to only 2 families. We need someone else, desperately. Additionally, Nixon's Watergate break-in was about clinging with bloody nail to his palace, and it did him in, vs. old Joe Kennedy's committing a criminal act to insert his family into the White House (vote fraud in Chicago), and of course, the Florida and Ohio voter fraud of more recent times. Think of ol' 'Wide Stance,' the Minneapolis airport john -- who was going to resign and then just could not get himself to do so. Plus, recall -- their helpers, as Kapuscinski so carefully includes in his description of these palace folk.

Have there been more true words written about rulers and politicians ever?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dance: The Knife That Slices Open Parallel Worlds

Pullman's His Subtle Knife:
Choreographed by Merce Cunningham;
Danced by the Cunningham Company

Alternate Worlds Moving on Two Stages,
Performing for One Audience
I've been attending the revelatory Merce Cunningham 'events' all my adult life -- on occasion the spouse has been honored as a composer for an edition of these events, so famous, for so long, in the world of art and dance. These were informal gatherings of audience and company in the Cunningham studio, devised for choreographer, dancers, composer and audience to exchange energies via the matrix of Cunningham at play, with his constant playmates, time and space.
This weekend the Cunningham Company held an 'event' at the glorious Dia Art Foundation - museum, which is located outside of Beacon, NY. I can personally testify that the land upon which the the arts' container, a work of architectual art itself, is sited, provides a canvas of seasonal light and shadow display that is breathtaking, no matter the weather or the time of year. This weekend's event at Dia included choreography inspired by Pullman's The Subtle Knife. The NY Times dance critic describes the event thus:
[ To watch his company on Saturday afternoon in the first of two Cunningham Events last weekend at Dia:Beacon was to see a poetically compelling exposition of parallel-universe theory. Before at Dia:Beacon, Mr. Cunningham has staged events on two or more stages at the same time. In 2004, working on three stages at the Tate Modern in London, he employed a barrier that prevented audiences from seeing all three at once unless they looked up to the lofty mirrored ceiling in Turbine Hall (where the full action was visible, though very distant).
On Saturday at Dia:Beacon he placed his two stages adjacent but on either side of a square doorway. Wherever you were sitting, you could see only part, never all, of the stage on the opposite side. That door, leading from one world to a parallel stage, evoked the controlling image of The Subtle Knife, the second novel of Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials. In it the young hero can cut his way, slicing a square aperture in the air, from this Oxford into different worlds, at least one of which contains an alternative Oxford.
As the event began, the stage farthest from me looked breathtakingly like a mirror of the one closer to me. One group of dancers was moving in slow, controlled adagio, stepping, arching and bending with precision, while another, dressed identically, was doing the same but facing the other way.
Then, more than a minute into the dance, the denizens of the through-the-looking-glass world started to move in other steps and in a different tempo, whereupon the dichotomy between these two now dissimilar stages became both frustrating and entrancing. Here the dancers were balancing, fixed, waiting; there they were leaping fast across the space, caught up in some rush of which we could see only a fraction. And, like characters in the Pullman novels, dancers moved from one world, or stage, to another and back again. ]
Watching a Cunningham choreography, whether from early in his career (he's now 91), or one just recently created, one feels she has left this world and re-entered another that has been lost, a world in which the sacred exists, as both sublime and far beyond any rigid and short-sighted religion, to a world that has existed long before this one, and which will survive hard and passionate once we have departed. It's a privilege that everyone should be entitled to experience.

So it's natural that this man would be drawn to a book by a YA author that speaks to slicing open gates that allow him, his dancers and us, to enter parallel worlds.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

U.S. and the Struggle for Civil Rights

The national commemoration of Martin Luther King's birthday is looming, along with the month of February, which is 'black history month," (about which Spike Lee has been attributed as observing something like, "You know they'd give us the coldest month," but if that is true or not I don't know.)

Reading about this new book, published, of course, at this time of the calendar, brings the sober realization that in the U.S. the struggle for civil rights has been going on so long that it can now be studied as an historical movement of 'longue durée" ("a term used by the French Annales School of historical writing to designate their approach to the study of history"):

Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950 by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore.

[ Forgotten Revolutionaries

How Southern communists, socialists and expatriates paved the way for civil rights.

Willful amnesia has been a chronic problem in American historical thought. Many of us, it seems, have preferred a simplified and sanitized version of national history, one that smooths out the rough edges that might complicate comforting visions of harmony and progress. This mythic approach to the past was especially popular during the two decades following World War II, when patterns of violence, extremism and political discord were either ignored or discounted. Politics, in the two-party context of American exceptionalism, had been reduced to a mere quibbling over details. In this fulsome view of the great American success story, there was no room for radical dissent, no place for systemic failure.

Recent decades, of course, have witnessed a withering assault on this attitude by an increasingly diverse cadre of professional historians, many of whom have shown a special interest in the evolution of social and political movements and the history of marginalized groups such as African Americans, women and the poor. Shining a light on the darkest recesses of U.S. history, revisionist scholars have challenged the presumptions of American exceptionalism. In the process, they have fostered a greater appreciation for the power of dissent and disorder, uncovering the radical roots of everything from the American Revolution and abolitionism to populism and organized labor. In the burgeoning field of civil rights studies, such an appreciation has been an important undercurrent for at least a decade. But with the publication of Glenda Gilmore's remarkable new book, Defying Dixie, the left-wing origins of the civil rights movement have risen to the surface of historical debate.

Gilmore, a North Carolina native and Yale history professor, transformed our understanding of the Southern progressive movement with her first book, Gender and Jim Crow, published in 1996. Defying Dixie promises to do the same for the emerging freedom struggle of the post-World War I era. The early stages of what Jacquelyn Dowd Hall has aptly labeled "the long Civil Rights Movement" have attracted considerable scholarly attention in recent years, so much so that most historians no longer feel comfortable with accounts of the movement that begin in the mid-1950s with the Brown decision or the Montgomery bus boycott. But even the most enlightened civil rights historians will find new material and much to ponder in Gilmore's richly textured study of the Southern communists, socialists and expatriates who challenged Jim Crow during the three decades following the Bolshevik Revolution. ]

My o my, isn't Senator Obama a long duration away from all this!

But -- and this is a most significant qualifier -- how much further away than this is Hillary Clinton's latest denial scramble re Martin Luther King and his effect upon the Civil Rights Movement. Just like her scramble that insists she thought she was voting for something other than the specifically titled, "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002." Feh.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Death From The Air

What this country does best.

More aerial bombardment in Iraq????

Try to reconcile these three accounts, from three countries.

I'm not clear on how this "extraordinary amount of firepower" can be"precision" bombing. sounds kinda like what the us military does best: raindown death from above, in which anyone killed was by definition aninsurgent.

Curiously, not two weeks ago, Arab Jabour was being exhibited as a case of "progress in security", as per the first dispatch below, which notes"farmers working" outside and "children going to schoo".

Mot to worry about those farmers and children, though. One of thesearticles (the US one) quotes a local militia member that "civilian casualties in his area were avoided Thursday because American forces instructed his group to warn residents to leave the area." So presumablythey left their homes behind after being told to do so. and maybetheir homes were reduced to rubble. But hey.,,2239001,00.html



This is beyond any human excuse.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Dog Whistle Politics

Imagine both Hillary and Obama up against this gop Mighty Dirty Trix Machine through the south, Texas, the southwest and the west, which is jam-packed with those who see the Huckuck as just like them -- mean, greedy and proudly ignorant of anything not his own backyard (I have loads of relatives on both sides in those regions, and they are just like him, and evangelical to boot -uck).

From the Daily Kos:

[ An interesting discussion today on language used by Mike Huckabee in his campaign. He is fond of talking about "vertical" politics rather than "horizontal" politics. Josh Marshall brought this up over at Talking Points Memo, where he includes a video of this Huckabee answer on NBC's Meet the Press last January. ]

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Chamber of Commerce Talks Like the Wise Guys

What matters to those who are really in charge of the country is that Obama isn't anti-business, unlike the perception that Edwards is anti-business, who is being turfed out of the election process as Kucinich was, because of the progressive messages re lack of jobs, outsourcing, NAFTA, etc:

[ Chamber of Commerce vows to punish anti-business candidates --AP

“We plan to build a grass-roots business organization so strong that when it bites you in the butt, you bleed,” chamber President Tom Donohue said.

The group indicates it will spend in excess of the approximately $60 million it put out in the last presidential cycle. ],0,4301350.story?coll=la-home-center

[ WASHINGTON -- Alarmed at the increasingly populist tone of the 2008 political campaign, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is set to issue a fiery promise to spend millions of dollars to defeat candidates deemed to be anti-business.

"We plan to build a grass-roots business organization so strong that when it bites you in the butt, you bleed," chamber President Tom Donohue said.

The warning from the nation's largest trade association came against a background of mounting popular concern over the condition of the economy. A weak record of job creation, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, declining home values and other problems have all helped make the economy a major campaign issue.

Presidential candidates in particular have responded to the public concern. Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina has been the bluntest populist voice, but other front-running Democrats, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, have also called for change on behalf of middle-class voters.

On the Republican side, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee -- emerging as an unexpected front-runner after winning the Iowa caucuses -- has used populist themes in his effort to woo independent voters, blasting bonus pay for corporate chief executives and the effect of unfettered globalization on workers. ]

Ron Paul, for instance, has characterized this as "soft fascism." For more on the relationship of this 'soft fascism' and 'homeland security,' there is this essay, published not here in the U.S., but in a Brit paper:,,1332840,00.html

Saturday, January 5, 2008

They've Declared Edwards Dead

Everyone says so, particularly NPR and everything associated with it. Coz he came in second.
But, oddly, Hillary, who came in third is NOT dead.

Why is this? Coz Edwards scares 'em (like Dean did -- they killed Dean at Iowa too, recall?).

Coz, Edwards is that NO-NO! He's angry! He encourages all those other people who are angry about their kids having rotten education and no health care coz their parents have no jobs or garbage jobs to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

He's not a corporatist, like Obama or Hillary. Which is why Huckyuck won't get to go anywhere either, as disgusting a Caleb (the Big Bad's prophet in the concluding Season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) that Huckyuck is -- and a racist, wingnutxtianrightist, misogynist warmonger ignoramous, he's also a populist. In fact, the only authentic current gop corporatist potus wannabe is Romney, and he's not electable coz of that Mormon factor. So, thus, Bloomberg and the unity 'indie' party.

Which nobody Thursday night or since has talked about (except, a teeny bit, on Air America). That black Obama's acceptable is largely due to the fact that he isn't out of slavery heritage African Americans. He's the immigrant story, the successful immigrant fairy tale story, not the miserable tragic cruel story of forced immigration to die to make others rich that the slavery story is. Thus he's so much more -- like 'us' and acceptable, because he's not one of 'them'. You can hear it in the way those dorkdongs talk about him ... sure, in code, but that's what they're saying.

In the meantime, this journalist shows how nasty and dirty a game politics is, even when played by the better sort. That is, if this journalist can be trusted to be providing objective and factual information from Iowa on Thursday night. She says that at least some of the Obama and Edwards people coluded in order to make sure Hillary got stalled -- and additionally Hillary's people played into their hands due to arrogance and blindness, and as well, very callously treated elderly, unwell caucus female participants (I keep wanted to type 'couscous!' -- I like couscous and make it often ....).

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

You / We Know What To Do ....

May 2008 Bring More Blessings Than Last Year