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Tom Coburn is a Big Fat Jerk


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Home of the Barking Moonbat


 

Friday, December 24, 2004

Please spread the word

No doubt in expectation that few will be paying attention and everyone is too busy or distracted ...

... a Holiday Surprise for all of us: the US is contemplating incursions into Syrian territory in an attempt to kill or capture Iraqi Ba'athists.

Please. Tell everyone. Now.

Unfreakingbelievable.


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Holidays and Good Wishes

It's been slow around the blog anyway, but I'm going to go ahead and just take the next day or so off for the holidays. I'll be roasting up coffee for presents most of the day tomorrow and going out of town to meet my Texas relatives (!) (none of whom voted for You-Know-Who and His Regime) on Saturday.

I hope all of you ends the day on Saturday with a full stomach and a contented heart and a peaceful mind and warm feet, and that your good fortune continues into the months and years ahead.

And, if you are so fortunate to have a warm place to rest your head and good food to eat and kind friends and family and a happy heart and clear conscience, please say a prayer or make an offering or send good vibes or whatever is your inclination to the Iraqi people and our soldiers and those of us who have no homes or food, including our veterans --- and please, don't forget to burn a little extra tobacco or say a few extra prayers for our elderly, given how very much they are disliked by so many of their fellow Americans --- and please, don't forget our children.


Day Three

I'm going on Day Three of quitting smoking, and it's going well, except I'm going to have to throw out the tub of crackers I got for Christmas because I started eating them last night and couldn't stop and now I have a cracker hangover but I can't just toss them out for the birds, because all the critters (and there's a lot of them) would come running up here and move in but the dogs (who'll eat anything) won't touch them so I'm dumping them in the trash.

*deep breath*

But the real problem today is that it's ten degrees outside and it got down even lower last night. So I had to turn the propane on because the furnace is propane. See, we don't have natural gas lines out here yet. But propane stinks to high heaven --- it smells like mice, at least to me. It's just hideous stuff.

And I can't turn the propane off because we're going to get even colder tonight and I don't want all the water pipes to explode.

I have got to get a wood stove or pellet stove in here as quickly as possible. The problem is deciding which. See, pellet stoves require electricity to run, meaning you don't really save any money in the long run --- besides, they're pricey, usually running a thousand or up for a nice one. But, they're very, very safe, unlike wood stoves.

But wood stoves don't require any electric to run and can be pretty inexpensive. For a year or so, I've been looking at this little fellow. I can get him around here for $100-120, and I have enough wood around this place to keep it running for --- for years.

I think the time has come to decide. This propane stuff is just ghastly --- not to mention, expensive. And I want to get this place as energy efficient and self-sustaining as possible --- and NOT because I'm one of those Apocalyptic types. No 'Left Behind' scenarios for me, buster!!!! I just think it's something we all should do.

Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Michael Lind, Moonies, the Right and the Cult of Hate

It is brutally cold outside, although the snow has stopped for now. Only a day or so ago, it was 60 degrees out. But the cold's okay --- we desperately need the freeze to kill off the ticks and weevils and borers, so I don't mind it much. I've spent the day watching the snow and buried in tiny chores --- painting the blades of the ceiling fan, jimmying the old bulb out of a halogen lamp to replace it, finding the serial number on my new, energy efficient refrigerator to send in for a rebate, things like that.

I might be quiet for a day or so. Not only is Christmas coming up, but quitting smoking seems to have propelled me into an odd universe: the universe of tiny, annoying, meddlesome chores which were never very interesting until now. I have no desire to smoke. But I can't seem to stop doing all the measly annoying chores I've been putting off for months now.

It's also been a nice prelude-to-the-holidays day. I received lots of greeting cards, a large tub of crackers, cookies and an email with pics of the new office of my crafter friend, married to a medicine man.

Yes, that's right --- her husband is a medicine man. A real one. One of the few medicine men left in these parts. Not a White Shaman Wannabe or New Age Poseur or even Indian Cashing In For Fame and Fortune -- he's the real thing --- a lifelong real live medicine man, chosen at brth and trained by all of the great medicine men who now only exist in spirit and legend.

But this is all beside the point (kind of). I'm writing because of a posting on
Dr. Prescott's blog about about some work by Michael Lind and an article on Alternet called Throw Down Your Cross.

It seems a lot of us are trying to come to some kind of understanding of just what possesses these people running the country today --- not to mention, their supporters. All I know for certain at this point is that they're crazy.

Prescott notes that Lind left conservatism because he could not remain in a movement that could see "no enemies on the right." He said the conservative movement was very careful to not offend and was openly wooing racists, theocrats, religious cultists, and neo-fascists. That laundry list alone certainly encompasses a few of the various things I've seen in this new breed of Fundamentalist/Republican --- or whatever they are these days. Seeing it in print also helps me to understand a bit more why I am so very, very confused by these people.

But it gets worse. We all know about the Right's close ties to Sun Myung Moon. The Alternet article is about Moon's movement to remove crosses from churches because of the contention that crosses serve only to divide, not unite.

Prescott, however, points out the obvious, that Moon's beliefs coincide with those of the far Right, what with his hatred of gays and support for Radical Right candidates. So the convergence is natural.

It may be the confusion we all seem to be suffering stems from the singular ideology whick binds all of these groups together --- the idealogy of hatred.

Maybe their hatred is simply so vast and blinding and all-encompassing that none of us can quite believe it yet.

By the way, the title link is to an article by Lind in The Nation: A Tragedy of Errors. It's a good overview of neoconism - ? - and worth a few minutes of your time to read. I plan to buy Lind's book, as well.

It's snowing

It's a light snow, at least in comparison to those hefty Northern snows.

But it's snow nonetheless.

Next year, when it snows, I will have a woodstove. And I'll spend the day next to the woodstove, cooking a soup on the top and watching the snow from the window.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Mainstream Baptists

Thank you, Dr. Bruce Prescott for being courageous enough to speak out on your new blog.

Those of you lacking the necessary cultural or religious background to understand how way off base this new brand of fundamentalism is need to bookmark Dr. Prescott's blog and start reading. I grew up with it, so possess a near preternatural ability to spot the real thing from --- from --- from whatever it is these people are.

You know, I'm surrounded by evangelicals here --- but they're wonderfully gentle and kind and giving people. And I have relatives who are extreme religious conservatives --- the most extreme I know of being Cherokee Pentecostal Holiness, if you can imagine.

Let me tell you, they have some fabulous hair. Pentecostal Holiness women don't cut their hair, and these women are Cherokee to boot. My oh my, what I wouldn't do for a head full of that!

But that's beside the point. They're also virulently anti-war and strongly proactive advocates for the poor and the elderly and those in need. At least the ones in my family. And the ones I've had for students.

Dr. Prescott is (as you might guess from the name of his blog) is a mainstream Baptist, meaning he isn't one of this new breed of Southern Baptist (my oldest brother married a Southern Baptist, by the way --- she's a Democrat). However, he can still provide much needed information for those lacking the necessary background tofigure their way through what's going on.

This is a very good development.

Smoking

I've just quit smoking again, for the tenth or twentieth or thirtieth time. The quitting itself isn't so hard. Usually, if I just eat a lot of candy for a day or so, the process is fairly painless. My difficulty lies in staying quit, especially because I have to spend so much time working on the computer and doing tedious, close work.

That's what gets me every time.

So I spent this morning paying bills and doing the tedious things, then ran to the store, bought a lot of candy and smoked my last cigarette a few hours ago. A cold front is moving in, so it's the perfect time to quit. I'm hunkered in here with the bears, er, I mean, dogs and lots of good movies and comforters and blankets and candy. And I'm going to spend today and tomorrow on the sofa under the dogs and the comforters eating candy and watching movies and looking over stuff on the Internet.

Right now, it's Schindler's List. My history isn't the best, so I keep grabbing names from the movie and searching on them and coming up with some pretty interesting results.

By the way, fuck you, Tom Coburn, for your bizarre comments on Schindler's List. In fact, fuck you twice. Why don't you just mind your own business and spend your time trying to cover up all the underage women you've sterilized, instead of promulgating your bizarre notions of decency hither and yon.

Next is Apocalypse Now Redux. Then, I'll probably watch both of them again a time or two (I'm odd that way) and stay up late running searches on various aspects of them and staring at the ceiling.

So I'll see you all tomorrow. I'll likely be pretty hopped up on sugar, so be prepared to hang on to your hats.



The Noble Lie, Neocons and Jihad

A distracted morning here --- but not so distracted that I didn't notice the headline that Bush says the insurgents may be having an effect.

Wow. What a revelation. I never would have guessed. [/sarcasm]

Does anyone else sense withdrawal in the air?

In any case, late last night, I found this interview with Gilles Kepel, author of The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West. There are snippets here and there which have given me a more clear understanding of the bizarre neocon mentality. Someow, the cult of Apocalypse, Christian Reconstructionism, Zionism (both Christian and Israeli) --- none of these have ever entirely explained for me WHY --- why the insistence on lies, why the rigid adherence to lies, why the assurance they could create reality, despite the realities.

This interview brings me a bit closer to understanding, however --- although I'm still thoroughly baffled and not entirely convinced a kind of megalomanic insanity doesn't underlie it all.

From the interview, a few excerpts below.

[Gilles Kepel]: Much has been made of Paul Wolfowitz’s interview with Sam Tannenhaus in Vanity Fair (May 2003) when he said that the dossier about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was a “winner” when it came to expediting the crucial prewar Congressional vote.

Wolfowitz’s formulation was defended at the time as a Straussian, Machiavellian, or even Platonist lie: the masses do not know what is good for them, but their leaders do, and moreover need to find some slogan with which to mobilise them – a slogan which, in Plato’s words, may always have more to do with rhetoric than truth."

[...]

openDemocracy: Does the neocons’ commitment to such rhetorical devices help explain why their professed commitment to democracy is so distrusted?

Gilles Kepel: The neocons are indeed commonly considered a bunch of hypocrites. I don’t agree: I may be naïve, but I have seen many of them at work and read their texts intensively, and I think that they are indeed firm proponents of democracy.

Most of them, however, have a peculiar agenda in relation to the middle east, where all criteria except Israel’s security pale into insignificance. They do not understand or wish to see the contradiction between preaching the necessity of democratic regimes in the area and refusing to engage seriously in the Israeli–Palestinian dispute. Instead, they choose to believe that no requirement for democracy should be allowed to put the slightest pressure on Ariel Sharon. As long as this continues, the neocons have no chance to win the support of Muslims or middle–east civil societies against radicals and terrorists.

In recent discussions in Washington with US administration officials and agencies dealing with middle–east policy, I tried to persuade them of the centrality of the “war for Muslim hearts and minds” – and the fact that in this war, weapons cannot be an end in themselves, only a means. What Ayman al–Zawahiri calls “the Muslim masses” are ultimately the only group able to eradicate terrorism, to dry up the pond where people like him thrive. To tackle this, you must engage civil society.

This issue is decisive in Iraq today because the jihadis believe that Iraq is their new terrain. They believe that Iraq will follow 9/11 in setting an example for the Muslim world – exposing the weakness of the west, then mobilising and galvanising the masses, who will become fearless in the face of the enemy.

In cyberspace at least, they have already largely succeeded. The jihadis may have failed miserably in inspiring the masses to replace existing regimes with Islamic, sharia–driven states. But they have created a constituency of internet activists dedicated to spreading terrorism around the globe.

The crucial issue now is whether Iraq is the new land of jihad or of fitna – a war in the heart of Islam that threatens the faithful with community fragmentation, disintegration and ruin (my book takes its French title from the term).

The example of Algeria in the 1990s is relevant here. Until 1996, militant Armed Islamic Group (GIA) or Islamic Salvation Front (FIS ( movements controlled large parts of Algeria, and the regime seemed doomed; then, for disputed reasons – military security operations, infiltration activities and other provocations, the internal dynamics of the GIA – the Islamists suddenly seemed to have alienated the bulk of the Algerian population. They even lost support among those who had previously voted for them.

Today in Iraq, there are daily images of hostages being beheaded as traitors, of corpses of policemen in the rivers – a spectacle of horror designed to convince that jihad is on the rise and that the US will never prevail. Yet jihadi Islamism in Iraq can draw on only the 17% of the population who are Sunni Arabs. The Iraqi Kurds and Shi’a are beyond their reach.

The US, particularly its neocon element, is still committed to playing the Shi’a card – not just for Iraq itself, but because it is convinced that a secular, pro–western, Shi’a–majority–governed Iraq, would act as a magnet for neighbouring Iran.

In Iran, sentiment against the clerical regime is running high within the general population, but people are too afraid to organise themselves. The regime has been shrewd enough to redistribute some wealth to the middle classes, many of whom (like my Czech relatives under communism) live comfortable private lives but are reluctant to act publicly – because they know what they might lose, and are not sure of what they could gain. In this circumstance, a secular, Shi’a–dominated Iraq would boost the morale of the anti–regime sectors of Iranian civil society.

The Iranian regime has understood this – to it – dangerous prospect. In my view, it backed Muqtada al–Sadr in hopes that he might help avert it. The attempt failed: the Sadrists’ feeble insurgency collapsed when Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani made a remarkable political move – mobilising all the clerical resources of Shi’ism, and returning to Najaf and Karbala, to compel al–Sadr’s young school dropouts to pay their respects instead to him. As a result, Iraqi Shi’a representatives – Sistani and al–Sadr alike – have now agreed to take part in Iraq’s elections in January 2005.

Why have they agreed – and in a way that runs counter to the wishes of the insurgents in Fallujah, Ramadi, and Samarra? Because a large majority of Iraqis killed by car–bombings and assassinations each week are Shi’a, and the perpetrators radical Sunni.

This confirms the fact that the Sunni insurgents can rely only on a limited band of support in Iraq. The daily media diet of beheadings can so easily and wrongly suggest that the American army is being defeated. Terrorism, in order to win, has to gain momentum over time, by making an investment. It is the return on that investment that counts. In Iraq, it may not be in their favour.

Jihad or fitna in Iraq? We are approaching a watershed. If the majority of Iraqis decide that this is fitna and rejects the Iraqi radicals – then they have lost, as they lost in Algeria. But for this to happen, the concerns of the Iraqi population must be heard.

From the Arab perspective, fitna is a huge contemporary issue. Arabs have a real fear that they are being trapped between the neo–conservatives and the followers of Osama bin Laden. The victory of either, they are convinced, would be to the detriment of Arab civil society."

Monday, December 20, 2004

Save Social Security

Via Progressive Blog Digest which led me to Sirotablog which led me to Talking Points memo which headed me straight off to a new blog about Social Security: Save Social Security.

The Blame Game Begins: Iraq is Clinton's Fault

Right. Yes. We believe this one.

"Eight years of Bill Clinton decimated the military to almost half of what it was in 1990," he said during a stop in Muskogee.

The Oklahoma Republican, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that in 1991, U.S. armed forces were armed with "a Reagan military," and had more funding and ordinance.

However under Clinton, projects were cut and "modernization stopped."

Inhofe in a righteous snit here.

Well, all I have to say is, under Inhofe, murder rates in Oklahoma have risen 26%.

Don't even ask about education. Or teen pregnancy. Or alcoholism and suicide rates.



Geronimo Reborn: Osama bin Laden

Mr. bin Laden's attempt to engage Americans is occurring while his message to drive the United States out of the Muslim world is resonating with those among the 1.2 billion Muslims who believe the Qaeda leader eloquently expresses their anger over the foreign policies of the United States and Israel.

From here:

"The most crushing blow in Geronimo's life came in 1858 when he returned home to find his wife, mother, three children and 25 other Apaches killed by the Mexican Army. Debo says Geronimo organized three bands of Apaches to fight the Mexicans: the Bedonkohes under Mangas Coloradas; the Chiricahuas under Cochise; and the Nednais, under Juh, his brother-in-law. Geronimo himself led the fight because he had lost the most in the Mexican raid.

This was the beginning of years of raids against the Mexicans, and when Mangas Coloradas was murdered, Geronimo and the Bedonkohes became part of the Chiricahuas.

[...]

By 1875, the United States government believed that Geronimo was directly responsible for all the various raids and uprisings in the New Mexico and Arizona area. This action prompted the relocation of at least 4,000 Apaches, including Geronimo, to the San Carlos Reservation, about 150 miles north of their home.

Geronimo fled into Mexico but was soon arrested and returned to San Carlos. For a period of five years, the attacks on settlers diminished. But in 1881, both Juh and Geronimo escaped form the San Carlos Reservation and began to terrorize their enemies once again.

The following year, Geronimo and his band of warriors were surprised by the U.S. Army at his secret sanctuary and were forced to return to San Carlos. In 1885, Geronimo fled once again. Not until the U.S. Army over took Juh's compound in 1886 did Geronimo finally surrender."

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Old Chicken Snake

I was fairly noncommital about Bush & Co. until the beginning of the war in Iraq. Sure, I didn't particularly like him --- but he didn't strike me as any more odious or threatening than your typical run-of-the-mill politician --- well, somewhat, but nothing too startling --- until Iraq.

I'm not exactly sure what snapped in me, whether it was the sheer injustice and lunacy of the invasion or the craziness of its supporters or what. But snap something did, as though someone had opened a big can of whoopass on me, as the saying goes. I simply couldn't scream NO! loudly or often enough --- I was that crazy with disbelief and horror.

Not to mention, the strangest thoughts kept popping into my mind --- there was something so familiar about all of this, and it wasn't Viet Nam. Instead, I kept railing on people that Iraq is composed of tribal people, this is colonization pure and simple, no different than what the government did (and is doing) to the American Indians, that not only were the premises for the invasion absurd, not only was it wrong in every possible way, but you don't do this to tribal peoples, you don't do this, there is no possible way for Westerners trained in Western warfare to win against tribal people and how many hundreds of years did it take the U.S. government to conquer the American Indians, after all, and all our huffing and puffing is going to backfire in ways we can't even begin to imagine.

More peculiar, I found myself thinking the goals of the government were to turn not simply the Middle East, but the United States into a giant reservation. And I don't mean the tinfoil hat variety of secret reeducation camps and whatnot. I mean the broken promises, the pervasive poverty, the lies.

Crazy, yes, I know. But bear with me a bit.

I'm not a Native American historian. Nor am I a specialist in colonial theory or post-colonialism or whatever they're calling it these days.

But I do know some about the Southeastern Indians, especially the Cherokee and the Keetoowah and the Muscogee Creek.

And I know enough to know what was going on during the early part of the 19th C., when half the world was cheering the accomplishments of Elias Boudinot and Sequoyah and the extraordinary Chief John Ross. Oh sure, in retrospect, it's easy to say they were sellouts, particularly Boudinot for signing away the Cherokee's rights to their lands in the east.

But what choice did they have? The Cherokee had enjoyed exceptional protection by the government for a period of time, thanks in large part to the work of Sequoyah and Boudinot and others.

And then Andrew Jackson was elected. And Jackson, known as Old Chicken Snake to the Cherokee, opened the lands of Georgia to crazed settlers looking for gold. And these weren't kindly, gentle settlers, either. These settlers freely raped Cherokee women and girls, pillaged homes, murdered and stole, all without punishment of any sort from the United States Government. In fact, it was the Cherokee and their supporters who were imprisoned, and all for the sake of Jackson's band of thieves.

George Bush reminds me of Jackson. I've never sat myself down and delineated the similarities. But the events of the early 19th C for the Southeastern tribes and those of today for the Iraqis --- and for us --- feel very, very similar.

How is it any different opening the lands of Georgia --- lands which were Cherokee --- for plunder in what was essentially an invasion and invading Iraq? Especially given all the speculation concerning oil?

And how is it any different plundering our treasury for the sake of a few?

How is the government's stated goal of betraying our most fragile citizens, the elderly and the infirm, and doing so through lies --- how is it any different from Jackson's betrayal of the Cherokee?

It isn't.

One of the problems with colonialization is that the process is internalized by both the colonizer and the colonized. Now, there isn't much about colonial and post-colonial theory which particularly interests me, except the concept of internal colonialism --- not just small colonized areas, or ghettoes, within a larger, dominant country, but what happens when people literally internalize the processes of colonization and begin doing to one other what the colonizers originally did to them. In the most basic of terms.

It's essentially a kind of cannibalism. And I've spent enough time in Indian communities to know that it's a reality --- not for all. But for many of these communities, it's a simple reality --- they no longer need the government to destroy them --- there's no longer any need for armies or abusive legislation or physical shackles. Instead, they now do it to one another and to themselves.

Meanwhile, the government sits back and waits. And by the time people realize what is happening, it is already too late. I've seen it over and over again here in Indian Country. And it feels to me a bit too much like what is happening to us today.

There's much more to say, but it's going to have to wait. This is already much, much too long and I have to wake early in the morning and bedtime is calling. But I'm quite certain the parallels are there and somehow, what was done to the Indians, what we are doing to Iraq, somehow it is also happening with all of us.

I am finished

This final round only took me five days straight of grading. Although, truth is, it's actually been almost a month straight of grading. I'll admit, I lightened the load mid-semester, after having spent the end of August, all of September and the first of October ... grading. And, being an excitable sort (not to mention, a caffeine addict), teaching alone for me (sans grading) is quite nearly the equivalent of a four hour gym workout, complete with circuit training.

As I bid farewell to my youth (which has been exceptionally long), I have come to accept I will never be the sedate professorial type, complete with glasses. I leave that to our history professor who is married to the local librarian. She's barely 5' tall and wears the cutest little college professor outfits.

She has two Ph.D.s. She got them at the same time even, and didn't cut corners in the process. And let me tell you, she's positively the cutest college professor around --- but she looks like she has two Ph.Ds. She looks smart and is able to maintain the appropriate collegial veneer naturally and without the slightest pretense.

Unlike me. Me, I fling myself into the teaching, flailing about wildly, gesticulating whenever possible and especially when it's not called for.

The rumor on campus is that I am surely an Italian.

But, no. I'm actually pretty much the same as all my little cowboy and Indian students. Although I do have one Italian and Indian student (her father is police chief in one of the local towns) who helps out in class by gesticulating back at me wildly and often.

She's in the same class as our student from Hong Kong who can't quite figure out where he's landed. I think he chose to come here because of all our cowboys and Indians. Well, he's got 'em dude.

He spends a lot of time ducking when she and I start gesticulating at each other.

*sigh of relief*

So that's over. And I can get back to business, including this and this and this. For starters.

But first, my own harebrained theory about colonialism and Indians and Iraqis and ordinary Americans and what they all have to do with one another. After I paint the ceiling for a while.





Sign the Petition!

After I finish grading (yea. right), I'm going to figure out how to get the link to the petition positioned attractively beneath the title of the page and over the comments --- like the link over at Rob's Blog. For now, however, I'm just going to have to repost it every morning.

This is important. What the military is doing to Major Kaus and CWO Birt is criminal. Yet there is a woeful lack of attention to their story, and to what is happening to two honorable soldiers. Please, read about it here and sign the petition here.