.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tom Coburn is a Big Fat Jerk


Home of the Barking Moonbat


Saturday, January 08, 2005

This week

This week, I wrote to the DNC and told them that unless they began espousing Democratic ideals again and unless they began standing up for Democratic ideals again and unless they quit pandering to corporate interests and smooth talking rightwing billionaires and winkydinking rightwing radicals, that unless they start being Democrats again pretty soon, I'm going to burn my voter card that says I'm a Democrat, and I'm going to register Independent.

I also wrote Barbara Boxer a thank you letter.

And I promised myself that, this semester, I won't put more work into teaching than I'm getting paid for. Although I know I won't keep this promise.

And now ... now, the most difficult of all. You know, in the past two weeks alone, I've made over $50 selling stuff there. But I just found out Amazon.com donated more to the fascists than to the Democrats.

And so, I'm closing all my open listings there and writing Jeff Bezos and telling him why. And you might not think that's such a big deal, except I've also spent untold money there the past few months on halogen lightbulbs and bathtub duckie appliques and shower mats and chenille bath rugs and a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker on sale (!) and a bathrobe for my oldest niece who just had a baby (little James Gonzales, the handsomest little boy on earth and no relation to The Evil Abu) and a strange kind of very long telephone line cord that splits so I can get the *&$%^& computer out of the living room. Etc.

Now I'm going to find out where eBay puts its money and I'll be very upset if they're also winger supporters because I've sold a good $100 worth of stuff there in the last couple of weeks and have a nice rousing auction going on at this very moment and was planning on trying to pawn off my Sanyo Portable Kerosene Heater on someone there sometime in the next week.

If they're winger supporters, however, it's going in the shed. Or to the local thrift. /end of rant

Good and necessary reading

In between chores today, I'm reading Orcinus' series The Rise of Pseudo Fascism. It's really quite excellent, especially for the politically phobic and naive (like me). He makes short work of the links between, causes/effects, emergences and whatnots of how we got from there to here.

The series segues with some articles by Dave Johnson that I've been reading, linked atSeeing the Forest. Go to the links on the left under Best of STF, including those beneath the heading Articles not at STF, and start reading.

I mean, the simple fact is, I'm a naif and have no background knowledge for understanding what's going on. I spent virtually all my time in recent years buried in Native American matters, language revitalization, grad school, goats (?), lasagna gardening (??) --- and all this has come out of the blue for me. I'm sure I'm not the only one. So, for me, these are necessary and good readings, and speak at my level.


On Monday, classes start again and I go back to work.

I'm not looking forward to it. It's not that I don't like working --- I actually enjoy all my little cowboy and Indian students --- it's that I have so much to do which has nothing to do with work.

During this break, I managed to get quite a bit done. I got drapes on all the windows for energy efficiency, and they actually look good. Athough they startled me at first --- I'm much too used to bright, open windows covered by just a hint of wooden blind.

A little time spent making valances from wacky vintage barkcloth solved that problem, however.

I also went through the savings like no one's business. But I managed to got a tornado shelter and surge protectors on the meters, two things I've worried over for months. I also replaced my rickety old electricity sucking appliances with all new energy efficient ones.

And I got about 1/3 of the way through painting the ceiling.

In addition, for the first time in almost two years, or since I bought this place, I opened the door to the tiny second bathroom, got everything out of there, cleaned it, and got it halfway painted. Hopefully, I'll finish painting it today.

But I didn't finish the coldframes in the greenhouse. Or get all the wonderful, manure laden straw out of the old barn. Or finish the floors. Or start the back porch (which I've desperately wanted since the moment I bought this place). Or figure out some kind of economical, energy efficient way to heat this place.

But I got somewhere and enjoyed every minute of it.

And now, it's back to grading. *sigh*

Friday, January 07, 2005

More evidence they're the spawn of Satan

Via Rob's Blog, now we have this --- Soldier Begging for Dog Food for Deployed Dogs:

{quote}Soldier Begging For Dog Food For Deployed Dogs
Commander Says Dogs Live Off Scraps And Garbage

LAS VEGAS -- The commander of an Army Reserve detachment is begging friends back home to send food for Iraqi police dogs.

"The dogs are starving and urgently need dry dog food," Capt. Gabriella Cook, commander of the Las Vegas-based 313th Military Police Detachment, said in a Dec. 28 e-mail reported Wednesday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"Some of them have already died," Cook wrote. "Half of them are sick. We have no way of buying actual dog food here."

Cook's unit arrived last month in the Iraq capital. She said 12 German shepherds and one black Labrador retriever trained for bomb-detection and attack at the Iraqi Police Academy in Baghdad have been eating table scraps and garbage.

"It seems like an emergency situation," Diana Paivanas, a Henderson pet-care provider and Cook's friend, told the Review-Journal. "Something needs to be done now to save these dogs."


If you would like to help feed the dogs, you may send checks to the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society. They are working with several companies to ship food to the animals as soon as possible.


The Humane Society is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization. So your donation will be tax deductible. Send donations to:

Las Vegas Valley Humane Society
Funds For Dogs In Iraq
2250 E. Tropicana
Suite 19
Las Vegas, NV 89119

Make checks payable to the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society. The group asks that you indicate in a letter or on the check that you want your donation to go to the dogs in Iraq. {end quote}

This is beyond pitiful. I'll bet money the powers that be just sent the dogs over there with no intentions of caring for them and it doesn't matter to them that these dogs are starving to death.

The Spawn of Satan

This is what is running this country. Abu Gonzales is no accident.

These people are truly the spawn of Satan.

From Orcinus:

quote {without quotes} Beyond the pale Friday, January 07, 2005
The hatemongers of the right-wing pundit class are always pushing the envelope, trying to top each other with fresh outrages that continually redefine the boundaries of acceptable public discourse, grossly distorting that discourse along the way.

Every now and then, one of them will tread well over that line. Think of Ann Coulter's remark about wishing Tim McVeigh had blown up the New York Times building. Not only the remark, but people's reactions to it, become telling. They tell us a lot about the real characters of the people who would condone such filth, let alone utter it.

Michael Savage, who has had many such moments, has finally topped himself. Media Matters reports that he said the following on his Dec. 31 radio show ...

SAVAGE: It is the Savage Nation out here on the West Coast. We've had rain for five days. We have another five days of it. I need some aid right now. International aid. Because I may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder if this keeps up. Maybe I should go to the U.N. [United Nations] and see if I can get some special psychotherapy and sun lamps.


We shouldn't be sending as much as we're sending. Bush has a lot of gall writing a check for 135 million dollars. This is more a UNICEF deal, it's a U.N. deal, it's a Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, George Soros, Bill Clinton bleeding-heart-liberal deal. I don't want to send them any money. You know, a few airplanes with some medical supplies and a little lip service would have been fine for me.


You could take the argument that it's God's will, it's too bad and let's move on. And then let others help them. They're not in our sphere of interest. Primarily, they hate our guts in plain English. All right, well, the argument is, well, if you send them money, they're gonna like us, show 'em we're not anti-Muslim. That is such rubbish. That is such rubbish. They're gonna hate you anyhow, no matter what we ever do.


It's not a tragedy. I wouldn't call it a tragedy. It's a human disaster. It's not a tragedy in that sense. But, the issue is, theological questions suddenly arise. ... Now, for you atheists, you have no questions about this. It's a pure accident of nature. You don't ask yourself, "Was it God's hand?"

Apparently, Savage has now joined the Fred Phelps school of compassionate conservatism.

But as unconscionably inhuman as these remarks were, he was only getting started. In fact, what followed was genuinely dangerous:

If you are a God-believing, God-fearing person, I am sure at some point you ask yourself, wait a minute. The epicenter of this earthquake and the resulting tidal wave was adjacent to the sex trade island of Phuket, Thailand ... and then it knocked out many, many regions of Indonesia, some of which are the most vicious recruiting grounds for Islamic terrorists. That's a fact of reality. Then going the other way, it hit Sri Lanka, ex-Ceylon. And as you well know, Sri Lanka is a viciously anti-Western nation, the home of the Tamil Tigers, who are not only separatists but anti-Westerners, anti-Christians, etc. You could argue, maybe this is God's hand, because some of their brethren struck Christian America. Maybe God speaks the truth but waits. Seeks the truth and waits. I don't know. You could argue: God struck them. Now, I don't argue that because I'm not a theologian. Nor do I believe that God is omnipotent. I believe God is omnipresent. But I don't think God has control over every act because there would be no free will and I don't believe in that. ... But then again, who knows? I'm one man amongst billions of people, with one man's opinion.


Many of the countries and the areas in these countries that were hit by these tidal waves were hotbeds of radical Islam. Why should we be helping them destroy us? ... I think what we're doing is feeding our own demise. ... I truthfully don't believe in foreign aid.


We shouldn't be spending a nickel on this, as far as I'm concerned. ... I don't want one nickel of my money going over there. ... I am sick of being bled to death by every damn incident on the earth.
{end of quote}

More here. B

Game over?

No doubt, Stephen Roach will backtrack and issue an apologetic editorial in a day or so, complete with effusive praise for Bushonomics.

For today, however, his outlook is grim --- not quite as bad as his pronouncement of economic armageddon --- but not great.

Read --- then cut up the credit cards and invest in seeds.

Global: Game Over?

Stephen Roach (New York)

The unraveling of the Asset Economy could well be at hand. America's Federal Reserve has finally woken up to the perils of the risk culture that its reckless accommodation has spawned. The Fed has sounded simultaneous alarms on two fronts -- inflation and excesses in asset markets. Such explicit warnings from the US monetary authority are rare and should be taken seriously. This has important implications for the interest rate outlook, as well as for the asset-dependent US economy.

As many have already noted, the recently-released minutes of the December 14, 2004 Federal Reserve policy meeting were an eye-opener. The tone of the discussion was far more important than the policy action itself -- a fifth 25 basis point rate hike in the past five months. While the stilted language of the policy action, itself, made reference to balanced risks with respect to growth and inflation, the debate was laced with a very different distribution of concerns. The Fed made special note of inflation risks, citing recent weakness in the dollar, still-elevated oil prices, a cyclical slowing of productivity, and signs of deteriorating inflationary implications signaled in the TIPS market. At the same time, the Fed's newfound concerns over excessive risk taking focused on unusually narrow credit spreads, a notable pick-up in corporate finance activity (both IPOs and M&A deals), and what the policy minutes referred to as anecdotal reports of excess speculation in residential property markets. Better late than never, I guess.

Rarely does the US central bank cast aside the rhetorical shackles of Fedspeak and express its concerns with such candor and fervor. Two earlier instances in the recent past stand out as intriguing precedents -- late 1993 and early 2000 ...

In the second half of 1993, the Fed warned repeatedly of excess speculation in the bond market and the coming normalization of monetary policy. Market participants all but ignored the warnings until the Fed finally delivered in the form of a 300 bp rate hike over a 12-month time-frame beginning in February 1994. The result was the worst year of performance in modern bond market history. A similar, albeit belated, warning was sounded in early 2000, when the stock market was still bubbling to excess. At the time, the Fed couched its concerns in a framework that worried about potential imbalances between the excesses in demand and the growth in potential supply. But the 100 bp of monetary tightening in the first half of 2000 was more than enough for the equity bubble and the excess demand growth it spawned. In my view, the minutes of the December 2004 FOMC meeting follow these earlier precedents quite closely -- especially that of 1993-94. The Federal Reserve is sending a clear warning to speculators that should not be ignored.

And yet, as was precisely the case in the immediate aftermath of the two earlier warnings, an ominous persistence of denial is evident today. Financial markets have barely flinched in response to this sea-change in Fed risk assessment. Yields on 10-year Treasuries are up only about 7 basis points. Moreover, the bubble in risk products remains very much intact: While emerging market-debt spreads have widened by 9 bps, they remain extraordinarily tight by historical standards; the same can be said for investment-grade corporate spreads, which haven't budged at an unusually low 94 bps; moreover, spreads on already tight high-yield debt have actually narrowed a bit in the immediate aftermath of the release of the FOMC minutes. A similar pattern is evident for bank credit spreads and equity market volatility -- a persistence of minimal risk aversion. And the real estate market remains red-hot, riding a national home-price inflation wave that hit 13% y-o-y in 3Q04, with double-digit appreciation in 25 states plus the District of Columbia.

As always, it takes more than words to crack investor denial -- especially with return-starved fund managers seeking refuge in the ever-present carry-trades on riskier assets. The Fed has attempted to be disciplined (e.g. measured) in its tightening efforts thus far. But that approach -- as was the case in the early stages of its 1994 normalization campaign -- has done little to alter the risk appetite of investors and the Fed's perception of inflation risks. Such a response leaves the central bank with little choice other than to up the ante on its tightening strategy. That's what it will take to cope with looming inflationary pressures. And that's what it will take to challenge the economics of the carry trade. Today's Fed -- which has kept the real federal funds rate in negative territory for longer than at any point since the late 1970s -- is wildly behind the risk curve, in my view. Only after the 25 bp tightening of last December did the nominal funds rate match the core CPI inflation rate of 2.2%. For a central bank that has suddenly gotten religion in its concerns over inflation and speculative activity, there's something very reckless about zero real short-term interest rates. Monetary policy must now move decisively into the restrictive zone if the Fed is serious about its newfound concerns. In my view, that could spell as much as another 200 bp of monetary tightening, requiring much larger incremental moves than the measured dosage of 25 bp per pop that has been applied so far.

The big question in all this is whether the Fed is tough enough to face up to the task at hand. Unfortunately, that's a close call -- a sad comment on America's so-called independent central bank. In large part, that's because the US monetary authority is very much a part of the problem that it is now trying to address. By condoning the excesses of the equity bubble in the late 1990s, the Fed set the stage for the near-brush with deflation that was to follow in the post-bubble shakeout. The Fed fought the valiant fight during this period by slashing its policy rate by 550 bps to a 46-year low of 1%. But that then gave rise to the climate of costless short-term financing -- a degree of extreme monetary accommodation that has sparked the very concerns over inflation and speculation that made news in the December FOMC minutes. Unfortunately, this is all emblematic of the biggest shortcoming of modern-day central banking -- an inability to cope with asset bubbles. The Fed has put itself into a tough corner from which there is no easy exit.

Assuming that the Fed sticks to its guns, all this spells tough times ahead for the asset-dependent US economy. That's especially the case for the income-short, saving-depleted American consumer. Lacking in wage-income-generated purchasing power, US households have relied on a combination of aggressive tax cuts and equity extraction from now-overvalued homes to support their open-ended profligacy. Both of those sources of support seem destined to dry up. The odds of any additional near-term fiscal stimulus are low, with the odds suggesting that the thrust of budgetary policy could, in fact, swing the other way. And a sharp increase in US interest rates spells game over for a now-over-extended US housing market and a related drying up of the equity extraction from this asset class -- a wealth effect that has played such an important role in powering the US consumption dynamic in recent years. All this points to a diminished growth impetus from US personal consumption expenditures -- an outcome that should lead to slower GDP growth in the US and weaker external demand conditions faced by America's trading partners. There is a silver lining to such a scenario -- a reduced growth rate of US domestic demand, which should be helpful in providing some relief to America's current-account dilemma. And America's saving-rich trading partners will be hit with the combined impacts of stronger currencies and reduced demand for exports by US consumers -- impacts that could leave countries in Asia and Europe with little choice other than to implement pro-consumption strategies. In other words, Fed-induced pressures on the Asset Economy could well be an important catalyst for global rebalancing.

Many believe that the Fed would be over-reaching its mandate by squeezing carry trades. I don't share that view. Unlike many central banks, America's Federal Reserve is not a one-dimensional inflation targeter. Instead, it is charged by the US Congress with promoting price stability, full employment, and sustained economic growth. To the extent that speculative excesses jeopardize the stability of the US economy, the Fed is well within its purview of addressing financial market imbalances. It did so in 1994 and belatedly again in 2000. Given the current state of excess in the US economy -- the saving shortfall, debt overhang, and twin deficits -- in conjunction with mounting excesses in asset markets -- property and fixed income markets, alike -- aggressive Fed action is entirely appropriate, in my view. Investors won't love the outcome, especially high-yield borrowers at home and abroad (i.e., emerging markets). But this was always the ultimate pitfall of the post-bubble shakeout. The Asset Economy has gone to excess, and it is high time to face the endgame before it's too late. The Fed deserves credit for finally bringing these critical concerns to a head.

Cookie's Weekly Health Roundup

First, great news for those of us with a taste for it: Curry Fights Alzheimers. Meaning I now know what's for dinner.

And second, how to quit smoking, Indian style (American Indian, that is). Thread some of your own hair into a couple of cigarettes with a needle --- then smoke both cigarettes, one after another, as quickly as possible. Rumor is, it works, if you can survive it.

We are our own Chemical Ali, Part II

Via Plutonium Page at Kos: Ex-FBI agent claims nuclear coverup: the Rocky Flats story,

Story in LA Times: Nuclear Weapons Site Still Unsafe, Says Ex-FBI Agent --- The man who led the raid on Rocky Flats calls plans for a national wildlife refuge there irresponsible. Officials deny the allegation.

Quote: "DENVER — The FBI agent who led the raid on the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in 1989 charged the federal government Wednesday with deceiving the public about cleanup efforts at the facility and said plans for a national wildlife refuge there were irresponsible.


Lipsky said the FBI muzzled him when he tried to discuss Rocky Flats and punished him with a transfer from Denver to Los Angeles after he testified before Congress in 1992 about the nuclear facility. He retired last week. A spokesman for the Justice Department was unavailable for comment.

"It would be a grave mistake for anyone to rely on what Justice or the Department of Energy said about the level and extent of contamination at Rocky Flats," he said. "The public needs to ask for a congressional investigation. Maybe we will save a life." "

Has anyone else here ever read Almanac of the Dead? And is Silko's *vision* looking less and less like literature, and more and more like simple reality to you, as well?

Meanwhile, the consequences of the corporate climate

Anyone who even considers the possibility that privatization is a good idea should take heed. Yet another pension fund bites the dust.

Judge Lets Airline Toss Contract

"Alexandria, Va. (AP) - The head of the flight attendants' union says it's enough to "send a chill up the spine of every working American."

A bankruptcy court judge in Alexandria has canceled the collective bargaining agreements between Arlington-based US Airways and its machinists union.

The ruling offers the airline hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings, enough that the airline says it can now stave off liquidation.

The judge also approved a request to terminate the pension plans for machinists and flight attendants, declaring that even a billion dollars in potential savings over five years may not be enough to keep the bankrupt airline alive.

The president of the flight attendants union, Tommie Hutto-Blake, says he's outraged that the "balance of power" seems to have shifted to protect bankruptcy laws and executive salaries.

The termination of the contract with the International Association of Machinists would result in pay cuts of up to 35 percent for union workers and the loss of thousands of union jobs."

The Crazy-Makers

From Washington Post:

Cornyn, R-Texas: "President Bush and Judge Gonzales have both unequivocally, clearly, and repeatedly rejected the use of torture. But is there anyone here today who would fail to use every legal means to collect intelligence from terrorists that can save American lives? I certainly hope not."

Picture it: I claim to be adamantly opposed to physical abuse. I grab you, slam your head against the wall and knock you around, all the while claiming I'm doing it for your own good and because I love you. But because I also claim to abhor physical abuse, I cannot acknowledge this as physical abuse. So I must reframe it --- it is mere discipline, necessary for bringing you into the fold and done because I love you.

The perfect recipe for crazy-making. I love you so much, I am forced to beat you within an inch of your life. But I do it because I love you. And therefore, it is not abuse.

Lakoff may actually be on to something with his strict father metaphor.

Whether anyone will listen ...

... remains to be seen. At this point, I doubt it. Too many spineless and money-hungry professional politicians in office. Too much corporate influence. Too little ethics.

Still, not a bad OpEd:

Promoting Torture's Promoter By BOB HERBERT

January 7, 2005

"If the United States were to look into a mirror right now, it wouldn't recognize itself.

The administration that thumbed its nose at the Geneva Conventions seems equally dismissive of such grand American values as honor, justice, integrity, due process and the truth. So there was Alberto Gonzales, counselor to the president and enabler in chief of the pro-torture lobby, interviewing on Capitol Hill yesterday for the post of attorney general, which just happens to be the highest law enforcement office in the land.

Mr. Gonzales shouldn't be allowed anywhere near that office. His judgments regarding the detention and treatment of prisoners rounded up in Iraq and the so-called war on terror have been both unsound and shameful. Some of the practices that evolved from his judgments were appalling, gruesome, medieval.

But this is the Bush administration, where incompetence and outright failure are rewarded with the nation's highest honors. (Remember the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded last month to George Tenet et al.?) So not only is Mr. Gonzales's name being stenciled onto the attorney general's door, but a plush judicial seat is being readied for his anticipated elevation to the Supreme Court.

It's a measure of the irrelevance of the Democratic Party that a man who played such a significant role in the policies that led to the still-unfolding prisoner abuse and torture scandals is expected to win easy Senate confirmation and become attorney general. The Democrats have become the 98-pound weaklings of the 21st century.

The Bush administration and Mr. Gonzales are trying to sell the fiction that they've seen the light. In answer to a setup question at his Judiciary Committee hearing, Mr. Gonzales said he is against torture. And the Justice Department issued a legal opinion last week that said "torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and international norms."

What took so long? Why were we ever - under any circumstances - torturing, maiming, sexually abusing and even killing prisoners? And where is the evidence that we've stopped?

The Bush administration hasn't changed. This is an administration that believes it can do and say whatever it wants, and that attitude is changing the very nature of the United States. It is eroding the checks and balances so crucial to American-style democracy. It led the U.S., against the advice of most of the world, to launch the dreadful war in Iraq. It led Mr. Gonzales to ignore the expressed concerns of the State Department and top military brass as he blithely opened the gates for the prisoner abuse vehicles to roll through.

There are few things more dangerous than a mixture of power, arrogance and incompetence. In the Bush administration, that mixture has been explosive. Forget the meant-to-be-comforting rhetoric surrounding Mr. Gonzales's confirmation hearings. Nothing's changed. As detailed in The Washington Post earlier this month, the administration is making secret plans for the possible lifetime detention of suspected terrorists who will never even be charged.

Due process? That's a laugh. Included among the detainees, the paper noted, are hundreds of people in military or C.I.A. custody "whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts." And there will be plenty more detainees to come.

Who knows who these folks are or what they may be guilty of? We'll have to trust in the likes of Alberto Gonzales or Donald Rumsfeld or President Bush's new appointee to head the C.I.A., Porter Goss, to see that the right thing is done in each and every case.

Americans have tended to view the U.S. as the guardian of the highest ideals of justice and fairness. But that is a belief that's getting more and more difficult to sustain. If the Justice Department can be the fiefdom of John Ashcroft or Alberto Gonzales, those in search of the highest standards of justice have no choice but to look elsewhere.

It's more fruitful now to look overseas. Last month Britain's highest court ruled that the government could not continue to indefinitely detain foreigners suspected of terrorism without charging or trying them. One of the justices wrote that such detentions "call into question the very existence of an ancient liberty of which this country has until now been very proud: freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention."

That's a sentiment completely lost on an Alberto Gonzales or George W. Bush."

Nicely done, Mr. Herbert. But will anyone listen?

Bush approval rating among lowest of any re-elected American leader in 50 years

From Bloomberg: Fewer than half of Americans approve of President George W. Bush's job performance as he prepares to enter his second term, according to an Associated Press/Ipsos poll.

We are our own Chemical Ali

A US freight train carrying chlorine gas struck a parked train, killing eight people and injuring more than 240 others, nearly all of them sickened by a toxic cloud that persisted over this small textile town of Graniteville, South Carolina.

Word of the Day

From Mainstream Baptist, the word of the day:

scotosis: Mary C. Boys credits Bernard Lonergan with defining the term "scotosis" as "a hardening of the mind against unwanted wisdom through the repression of questions that might lead to a deeper insight into problematic readings of the Gospels."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Intergenerational Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and Torture

An odd correlation, it might seem --- an even odder thing to think about. But it is something I've thought about quite a bit.

I think about it because I live in Indian Country and because I spent some years working with fullblood (for lack of a better term) communities. And I know for a fact that there is such a thing as intergenerational post-traumatic stress syndrome and that its effects on a people are profound.

In other words, torture imprints not simply the individual, but the community and descendants of any individual subjected to torture. Torture is a part of colonialism, in my opinion, a necessary part, and is even more effective than guns or tanks or anything else to the process of conquering a people.

In Killing Us Slowly, researchers for American Indian and Minority Health, Inc. note the complex relationships between PTSD, diabetes, alcoholism and the staggering death rates among American Indians. Each element is necessary to the whole and forms complex feedback loops:

"Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from traumatic events continues the effects of the stress over time, continuing a cycle of cortisol production with ongoing depression. PTSD patients typically continue to re-experience a trauma, avoid stimuli associated with the incident and feel numb. They demonstrate hyperarousal, irritability, insomnia and inability to concentrate.

In circumstances where we are under someone else's power with little of our own-whether a child in an abusive family or in the extreme situation of genocide and slavery-we cannot fight or flee so stress becomes chronic and the levels of cortisol remain elevated. At some point in time we may no longer be able to produce the cortisol needed for times when it might actually help with fight or flight actions that are appropriate to a situation. Not only can we ourselves become cortisol depleted, but children born to mothers with low cortisol levels have often been found to have low cortisol levels as well. The related behavioral effects can be seen in situations of hopelessness and poverty where people no longer seem to be able to fight for their survival, leading to assumptions that they are lazy and don't care-as opposed to depressed, hopeless-and cortisol-less.

When powerlessness has been sufficiently abusive and lasted for a long enough time, an individual develops an expectation of ongoing abuse and even when moved to a safer situation often has great difficulty responding in any other way. New situations are interpreted as the same as those in the past so that fear continues to stimulate what small levels of cortisol may still be produced.

Eduardo and Bonnie Duran, in their book, Postcolonial Psychology, write that American Indians experience intergenerational PTSD similar to that of survivors of the Jewish Holocaust. The authors note that not only did the survivors of the Jewish Holocaust suffer from PTSD but many of their children did as well-even though they had not directly experienced the events of the Holocaust. Normal human development is 'mutilated by the traumas of loss, grief, danger, fear, hatred, and chaos' write the Durans, and dysfunctional patterns of behavior come to be seen as part of Native American tradition-the alcoholism, child abuse, suicide, and domestic violence (p. 35)."

This is what we have done in Iraq, not only at the sites of battle, but worse, in the prisons under the directives of our administration. No matter what happens now, generations upon generations will suffer the consequences. Exactly how it will play itself out remains to be seen. But we are all culpable --- we are all responsible, even those of us who screamed against the war and who have fought this administration's policies tooth and nail.

Here, it shows itself in child abuse, spousal abuse, alcoholism and drug addiction, wreckless behaviors, individuals who are literally 'shut down' emotionally and intellectually. For all the fantasies people have about American Indians, it is not an easy life. Quite the contrary. And each seems to carry with them memories of a distant past and anger which, at this point, is turned inward or onto those closest to them.

We already know the consequences. How anyone can condone it for any reason is completely beyond me.

Or maybe they know exactly what the consequences are --- and that's why they so enjoy it.

Testimony of Douglas Johnson, Center of Victims of Torture

From Human Rights First Abu Gonzales blog, a point by point critique by Douglas A. Johnson, Executive Director, Center of Victims of Torture. I've excerpted sections but urge everyone to go to the blog and read it in its entireity, as well as the other testimony. Johnson has done an outstanding job, but he's not the only one.

From Johnson's testimony:
" [...] The Bybee memorandum of August 2002 is particularly egregious and dangerous.  The overall tone of the Bybee memorandum restricts the definition of torture so narrowly that it could be used to justify various forms of torture.  One of the most problematic conclusions of that memo was the notion that  “These statutes suggest that ‘severe pain’ … would ordinarily be associated with a sufficiently serious physical condition or injury such as death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions—in order to constitute torture.”
When I first read this statement, I was reminded of our interactions with Vietnamese reeducation camp survivors recently arrived as refugees to the United States in the early 1990s.  They had been through horrific experiences that any reasonable person would understand to be torture with regard to direct physical coercion, conditions of malnutrition, and intentionally malevolent prison conditions.  Their symptoms were consistent with those of other survivors of torture we had seen from Cuba, Central and South America, Africa and Eastern Europe, and from Cambodia.  Yet we discovered that the Vietnamese word for torture literally meant “dying under torment.”  As they survived and still lived, it stood to reason that in their minds they were not “tortured.”  They didn’t have the concepts within their language to interpret and understand what had happened to them.  Bybee’s definition for torture appears to be “dying under torment.”  If we used this definition, the Center for Victims of Torture wouldn’t have clients at all.
The second extraordinary claim was that torture occurs only when the intent was to cause pain, rather than that pain was intentionally used to gain information or confessions:  “the infliction of such (severe) pain must be the defendant’s precise objective.”[8]   In other words, only when a sadist carried out techniques that lead to organ failure and death can we call it torture ...
This is not only a wrong definition from a legal point of view, it is morally wrong, and it is against American values.  With a definition like this, we can not retrieve the historic leadership role that the United States has played in the global campaign against torture.  We are thankful that the new Justice Administration memorandum of December 2004 recognizes the errors of the earlier memorandum and corrects some of them.[9]  We wish that it had not taken so long to do so.  After the Bybee definition was solicited, accepted, and circulated by Gonzales, hundreds of detainees under U.S. control have suffered from torture and inhumane and degrading treatment.


Among the moral and political errors, the memoranda ignore that torture violates at least three important principles embedded in our Constitution that are such basic American values as to define our very identity.  These values include:
1)         “One is innocent until proven guilty.”  Perhaps this is the bedrock of Americans’ sense of justice.  Its corollary is that one should not be punished until that guilt is established.  But there is nothing more punishing than the strategic but sadistic use of pain to force a confession or to gain information.  Victims of torture—who tell us that they longed for death—would testify that this punishment is even worse than death.  Punishment before guilt is proven must be viewed as anathema to American’s values.
2)         Punishment must fit the crime, but should never descend to barbarity.  Hence, our 8th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits all forms of “cruel and unusual punishments.”  This prohibition together with the privilege against self-incrimination in the 5th Amendment and the prohibition of unlawful searches and seizures in the 4th Amendment, led to the abolition of the “third degree” forms of interrogation by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1930s, a euphemism for torture routinely applied by police before that time.  The Bybee Memorandum relies on a narrow legalistic interpretation of the 8th amendment as applying only to punishment after conviction and therefore leaves open the possibility of using forms of pain prior to conviction.  While there may be court decisions to support this extremely narrow perception of the 8th Amendment, the Bybee Memorandum’s approach ignores the fundamental and far broader American values which are reflected in the cruel and unusual punishments clause.  Further, the Bybee Memorandum’s approach ignores the first principle and pretends that torture is not an extreme form of punishment, both to the body and the soul of the victim.
3)         The most practical tool against torture is the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects the accused from self-incrimination (“nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”).  Our Founding Fathers did not write this protection to allow mobsters and the corrupt an easy pass to frustrate justice.  They recognized that the restriction puts the burden on the state to prove that a crime has been committed.  They did so in a time when torture was still a basic tactic of autocratic states to intimidate populations in the name of order.  Freedom from torture was one of the key struggles of the 18th Century Enlightenment.  Even today, when human rights experts plan campaigns to end torture, they identify the need to limit the importance of confessions in legal proceedings as the single most important action to be taken.  Abolishing confessions—self-incrimination—takes away the incentive to use torture.
The Fifth Amendment has been much degraded by Hollywood movies and politicians.  That this protection has fallen from popular favor only indicates the degree to which most Americans have felt free from the fear of torture, a freedom that has expanded as our courts have given greater prominence to the Amendment’s protections.
Faulty premises
The assumption behind the memorandum, particularly the Bybee memorandum and the later report by the Working Group on Interrogation is that some form of physical and mental coercion is necessary to get information to protect the American people from terrorism.  These are unproven assumptions based on anecdotes from agencies with little transparency.  But they have been popularized in the American media by endless repetition of what is called the “ticking time bomb” scenario.  A version of this scenario is outlined in the findings of the Israeli Supreme Court, which outlawed the stress and duress type techniques reportedly now in use by American forces.  “A given suspect is arrested by the GSS (General Security Service).   He holds information respecting the location of a bomb that was set and will imminently explode.  There is no way to diffuse the bomb without this information. If the information is obtained, however, the bomb may be diffused.  If the bomb is not diffused, scores will be killed and maimed.  Is a GSS investigator authorized to employ physical means in order to elicit information regarding the location of the bomb in such instances?” [14]  There are variations on this scenario, often emphasizing an increasing number of victims or an ever more imminent blast.
The assumption of the Bybee memorandum is “yes, this is justified.”  The conclusion of the Israeli Supreme Court was that it was not.  I believe that the Court was right.  Based on our experience with torture survivors and understanding the systems in which they have been abused, we believe it is important that these discussions not be shaped by speculation but rather through an understanding of how torture is actually used in the world. 

There are eight broad lessons we have learned from working with torture survivors:
1. Torture does not yield reliable information.  Well trained interrogators, within the military, the FBI, and the police have testified that torture does not work, is unreliable and distracting from the hard work of interrogation. Nearly every client at the Center for Victims of Torture, when subjected to torture, confessed to a crime they did not commit, gave up extraneous information, or supplied names of innocent friends or colleagues to their torturers.  It is a great source of shame for our clients, who tell us they would have said anything their tormentors wanted them to say in order to get the pain to stop.  Such extraneous information distracts, rather than supports, valid investigations.
2. Torture does not yield information quickly.  Although eventually everyone will confess to something, it takes a lot of time.  We know that many militaries and radical groups train their members to resist torture and to pass along false pieces of information during the process.  And we note that those with strong religious beliefs and those with strong political beliefs that help them understand the purposes of torture used against them are most able to resist and to recover from its impact.
3. Torture will not be used only against the guilty.  Inherent in all of the scenario building is the assumption that we know, with great reliability, that we have the appropriate party who possesses knowledge that could save lives.  But our clients are living testimony that once used, torture becomes a fishing expedition to find information.  It perverts the system which, seeking shortcuts to the hard work of investigation, relies increasingly on torture.  The estimate from the Red Cross was that at least 80% of those imprisoned at Abu Ghraib, for example, should never have been arrested, but were there because it was easier to arrest persons than to let them go (people feared letting go a terrorist more than protecting the innocent).  The Israeli Security system claimed to use its stress and duress techniques only where they had the most reliable information about the detainee’s guilt.  Yet human rights monitors estimate that they were used on over 8000 detainees.  It is not credible to believe they had this precise information about so many.[15]
4. Torture has a corrupting effect on the perpetrator.  The relationship between the victim and the torturer is highly intimate, even if one sided.  It is filled with stress for the interrogator, balancing the job with the moral and ethical values of a person with family and friends.  One way this cognitive dissonance is managed is through a group process that dehumanizes the victim.  But still another way is to insure that some sort of confession is obtained to justify to the interrogator and to his superiors that pain and suffering was validly used.[16]
5.  Torture has never been confined to narrow conditions.  Torture has often been justified by reference to a small number of people who know about the “ticking time bomb,” but in practice, it has always been extended to a much wider population.
6. Psychological torture is damaging.  When torture is defined as strictly a physical act, many believe that psychological coercion is okay.  I was surprised when I began working at CVT to find that our clients said it was the psychological forms of torture that were the most debilitating over a long period.  The source of their nightmares, 15 and 20 years later, was the mock executions or hearing others being tortured.  The lack of self-esteem and depression were more related to scenarios of humiliation, consciously structured to demean the victim.  Many within the world treatment movement believe we have seen increasingly sophisticated forms of psychological torture over the past twenty years.
7. Stress and duress techniques are forms of torture.  Many of these techniques were developed during Israel’s struggle against terrorism, and so this example is often cited for effective interrogation techniques falling short of torture.  But the Israeli Supreme Court concluded that they were illegitimate.  Every democratic nation’s court system and international court which has reviewed them has concluded that they are forms of torture.[17]
8. We cannot use torture and still retain the moral high ground.  The arguments we hear are not so different in form and content from those used by the repressive governments of CVT’s clients, and which the U.S. has refused to accept from other nations that have used torture to combat their real or perceived enemies.  Torture is not an effective or efficient producer of reliable information.  But it is effective and efficient at producing fear and rage, both in the individuals tortured and in their broader communities.

[...] "

Blogging Abu

Human Rights First is blogging the Abu Gonzale hearings here.

Now, be aware that I spent almost an hour trying to get the Abu blog to come up using Safari as a browser. I finally trudged up Internet Explorer and was able to get right into the blog.

It's a good one. Kos and others are also doing some blogging of the hearings but it takes forever for those pages to load for me because of all the traffic and commentary at Kos. I'm on dialup out in the middle of the woods in the Ozarks. My options are limited. So Human Rights First gets the job done much more efficiently for me.

Besides, they're doing a nice job of it.

The Deluge, Common Perceptions and the New American Fascism

In recent days, it's become increasingly clear to me there is no one single issue being thrown out there --- instead, it's as though the floodgates wre opened and a sea of issues and problems were barreling at us.

I spent much of yesterday thinking about this, in fact, and planned to write about it last night--- but I fell asleep. We were having an ice storm and I put myself under the comforters on the sofa and before I knew it, it was today.

So this morning, I look around the blogs, only to find tis at Progressive Blog Digest: On one front after another, the underlying agenda of the Bush administration and its plans for the future are becoming apparent. It is no longer a struggle over this issue or that issue, one nomination or another: it is recognizing a coherent and long-term plan to remake the nation’s politics. Read on.

And this at Kos: Rep. Tom Cole (Winger-OK), on social security: "He cannot afford to fail. It would have repercussions for the rest of his program, including foreign policy. We can't hand the president a defeat on his major domestic initiative at a time of war." (Wall Street Journal, 1/6/04)

And via Seeing the Forest, Lew Rockwell: The new ideology of the red-state bourgeoisie seems to actually believe that the US is God marching on earth – not just godlike, but really serving as a proxy for God himself.

Along with this goes a kind of worship of the presidency, and a celebration of all things public sector, including egregious law like the Patriot Act, egregious bureaucracies like the Department of Homeland Security, and egregious centrally imposed regimentation like the No Child Left Behind Act. It longs for the state to throw its weight behind institutions like the two-parent heterosexual family, the Christian charity, the homogeneous community of native-born patriots.

[. . .] In short, what we have alive in the US is an updated and Americanized fascism."

And via Majikthise, we have this from Rush: Out of Power Democrat Senators Side with Terrorist Murderers Against Gonzales, Bush and this from Quiddity: Today, we heard Bill O'Reilly talk about the kind of torture he would inflict (while taking a leisurly dinner and other recreations).

Yup. Fascism is here.

It's amazing how quickly it's happening. Makes me glad I live in the Cherokee Nation, which is supposedly not in the United States, although that's more rumor than reality.

Whatever, now's the time to steel ourselves. They've set the challenge --- are we going to act like our elected officials and get all whiney and wimpy? Or are we going to tell it like it is, as loud and as often as possible?

Let's turn the volume up a notch. Crackpots, afficianados of sado-masochistic rape and torture, fascists and screwballs are now running this country. And the radicals are supporting them every inch of the way and turning it into 'either you're with us or you're against us' fascist spin.

I honestly never believed I'd live long enough to see this happen.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Backing Gonzales Is Backing Torture

At stake is whether Congress wants to conveniently absolve Gonzales of his clear attempt to have the President subvert US law in order to whitewash barbaric practices performed by US interrogators in the name of national security.

Read it.

Then click here to let Leahy and Specter know what you think about Abu Gonzales.

Deep Thoughts on Waffling Democrats and Abu Gonzales

Dave Johnson of Seeing the Forest has a few choice words for all those waffling, hand wringing Democrats supposdly representing us and our DEMOCRATIC interests:

OK, I know that some of you, and some on your staffs, read Seeing the Forest. Here's what I don't get: What do you get out of failing to oppose Gonzales' nomination? Is it that you're afraid that Rush Limbaugh is going to say bad things about you if you oppose him? Are you worried about how the media will portray you, maybe say you are "obstructionist?" Are you afraid that you'll be portrayed as "anti-Hispanic?"

Here's what I think YOU don't get: THIS IS ALL GOING TO HAPPEN ANYWAY, NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO! Rush Limbaugh IS going to say bad things about you. The Right-wing echo-chamber WILL portray you as obstructionist. They WILL portray you as anti-Hispanic. THEY WILL DO AND SAY THESE THINGS NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO! And, the irony is, these past several years have shown that the more you cozy up to their side, the more they will do this to you, because it shows them that you think you are vulnerable and afraid of your constituents. This is their strategy of strategic lies, and the way you are going to get past it is by embracing truth and righteousness instead of worrying about how you will be "portrayed." The "portrayal game" is over and you lost. Get past that. Start doing the RIGHT thing and the truth of your righteous acts will shine through the fog. Your constituents want "tough and principled."

Good Gawd, Pt. 2

And BTW, God, I surely do thank you for bitch-slapping that annoying Bob Stoops in the Orange Bowl.

Good Gawd, They're Not Just Crazy Perverts, They're Freepers

Dear God: Either lead me straight down the road and right to temptation in the form of a nice big pack of cigarettes or teach me NOT to click on any link which might put me in contact with Freepers.

You know they're crazy. I know they're crazy. They support sado-masochistic torture, creationism, pedophilic Baptist preachers (the excuse: well, no one ever said Christians are perfect!), bombing every nation into oblivion especially if it will bring about the Rapture a bit quicker and a whole array of perfectly demented, perverted and bizarre beliefs.

Now however: the tsunami or Saddam --- which is worse? And was the tsunami God's way of showing he likes us so much more than those Muslims!

Via Progressive Blog Digest: the freepers being freepers.

Oh GAWD. That's that. I'm going dow to the store to get cigarettes.

Abu Gonzales Sought Torture Ruling

Gad. There's hardly a difference between a one of them.

How is seeking a way --- purposefully seeking a way --- to push the envelope of torture and being a pedophilic fire and brimstone, devil's gonna get you if the commies don't first! preacher any different?

That's just it --- they're not.

Who are the boobs who support these loons? How stupid are they?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Billy James Hargis: Another Pervert Bites The Dust

Via Kos, Billy James Hargis, well-known Tulsa philanderer and pervert --- oops, I mean, evangelist --- drops dead.

Quote from linked article:

- Yet in 1974 both male and female students at the American Christian College, and three male members of the college choir, the All-American Kids, claimed Mr Hargis had deflowered them. One couple allegedly made the discovery, on their wedding night, that Mr Hargis had slept with them both. He strenuously denied wrongdoing, citing the biblical love of David for Jonathan, blaming “chromosomes and genes” (an unexpectedly scientific explanation) and threatening to blacklist his defamers. Later, when the scandal had caused the collapse of his college and his empire, he defended himself with a line that has since become a televangelical favourite: “I was guilty of sin, but not the sin I was accused of.”

Bwaha. Hargis tried to deflower my best friend's cousin when we were all kids. He and his kind were well known about town.

Maybe he's getting a little taste of his own medicine in the afterlife.

Abu Gonzales and tornado shelters

It's been a good day.

I signed a petition against torture and Abu G. over at Act for Change and sent out a slew of personalized anti-Abu emails through MoveOn.

I hesitate contacting state reps and senators --- I mean, how do you think Mr. Lesbians Roamin' the Hills of Southeast Oklahoma and I Sterilize Young Girls Without Their Consent Coburn will vote anyway?

Although Dan Boren might have some pull.

I haven't yet decided on my next anti-Abu G. move. I'm sure I will by dinnertime, however.

Also got another $500 knocked off my tornado shelter, which brings it down to less than $1500, including installation. You can't even buy a shelter locally for less than $2000. This is a good deal, and FEMA approved, no less. I'll have it by the end of the month, well before tornado season begins.

Race and the Theocratic Right

A nice overview, complete with links to info about some of the seminal figures in the current winger crusade for a white Christian nation. Blumenthal connects the dots in the carefully [read: purposefully] convoluted relationships between neoconservatism, the Radical Right and good old fashioned White Supremacy.

I found this bit particularly interesting:

"There's not point in trying to call Olasky a racist since on matters of race, he habitually employs the neo-conservative tactic of couching his reactionary racial views in arguments against affirmative action, while boasting about his adopted black son. Here, he writes about his adopted son, Ben, for the American Enterprise Institute: 'Sure, it would be nice to have more people whose skin looks like Ben's in responsible positions of all kinds. But thinking of my son's welfare has also made me toughen my position on quotas. Ben needs to learn the value of hard work and self-reliance, and anything that makes him think there is another path to success will harm him. People cannot be colorblind, but governments in their official actions should be.'

"Yes, Marvin, your son will learn the value of hard work while your right-wing think tank money smooths his path through private school and college. I guess those other black children not fortunate enough to get adopted by white, Scaife-subsidized propagandists and therefore wind up in prison just don't understand the value of work. Those lazy black folk!"

Interesting how common this phenomenon is among the radicals.

But DeLay is the issue --- or one of them, at least

What strange, twisted, immoral people these Republican wingers are. They prance about hither and yon on their so-called values, yet reverse the ruling which shielded DeLay NOT because it's the right thing to do, but because they don't want DeLay to be the issue.

The problem is, DeLay IS the issue and yet another piece of evidence that the wingers have no morals or ethics whatsoever.

Monday, January 03, 2005

A Temporary Solution to Heating

Although if the technology continues improving, this might become my permanent solution. It's a pretty good one, for those of us who live in areas with relatively mild winters.

For a week or so now, I've been eying some fireplaces which are fueled not by wood or pellets or coal or gas, but by a gel composed of a kind of alcohol. And some of these gels are already entirely derived from sugar cane --- an excellent renewable resource.

The fireplaces are ventless and really quite lovely and reasonably priced --- in fact, the cost of one of the fireplaces is conquerable to or less than the cost of oil or natural gas or propane or whatever for an especially harsh season in these parts. At this point, the fireplaces running on these gels are considered *secondary* heat sources. But, as mild as it is here throughout most of the winter, it would likely be enough.

I'm still reading up on them but, so far, looks like it might be the best solution for me.

Sign the petition, send your emails

UPDATE! The correct email is: stevenbrandesq@msn.com. And there is now a letter from the Birt's lawyer, Steven Brand, on Rob's Blog, as well as at Fair Treatment for our Soldiers (see sidebar). There are also links to other petitions for clemency for both Birt and Major Cathy Kaus.

From Rob's Blog, a response from Janet Birt, CW2 Darrell Birt's wife. Go to Rob's Blog for links to contacts. I've posted Janet Birt's response below --- apparently, clemency is going to require a bit of a blitz from military leaders, etc. Let's give them some motivation.

I wanted to say THANK YOU!! This past year was a very difficult year for me and my family. I am the wife of CW2 Darrell Birt, and I wanted to take the time to say how grateful we are for your gift of time spent spreading the injustice done to the 656th Transportation Co. I wanted to let you and everyone know, since my husbands release in October, not only did my husband loose his civilian job, he was not eligible to collect, receive any benefits and veterans affairs were not able to help because of
the incarceration record. My husband was able to do odd jobs, like digging ditches, tree trimming and various mechanical jobs to pay some of the bills. This man gave over 23years to this country, and our American system failed him. I want everyone to know because of his great faith in God, he has managed to hold us together as a family.

This is a New Year, and it is looking better. Since, his denial of clemency in August, we received information that Clemency has been re-opened because of elected officials inquiry to this injustice. We are in need of e-mail letters from any political represenatives, military leaders, active or retired. We have been given only 10days to send responses addressed to LT.Gen
Metz, who is the conveying authority over this case. Please spread this news and have e-mails sent to the attention of Steven Brand, he is the lawyer who has taken this case.

God Bless All of You,
Janet, military wife"

The Ends of the World as We Know Them

Thank goodness I have only one more week before classes begin again, as quitting smoking has turned my world upside down. And it seems nothing short of actual paid labor will turn me around again. I'm concerned, however, that even that won't be enough and I may end up sloshed over at the poorly concealed survivalist camp down the highway (strategically located across from the bar and down from the laundromat-pizza parlor-bait shop) and with no choice but to marry a 298 pound drunken brawler biker dude skilled in the art of frying up squirrel, biscuits and gravy over the campfire, once the beer and pizza funds run out.

Just a few weeks ago, 5 a.m. seemed a reasonable time to fly out of bed. These days, however, I'm lucky if I'm asleep by 3-4 a.m. and I'm certainly not awake before noon. These new hours are wreaking havoc --- I'm much too used to the advantages of daylight and am useless once the sun sets.

I'm convinced that, come Monday, nothing will be able to rouse me and I'll sleep through all my classes and they'll fire me because of this transformation into nightowl (brought on by quitting smoking) and I'll be forced to go to work at the scary bar down the road because it's the only place open during the hours I'm awake these days and in order to keep from being trampled under as some kind of elitist sissypants schoolmarm, I'll have to take up heavy drinking and pool and whooping ass and, no doubt, I'll end up married to a 350 pound biker dude with a bandanna (affectionately known as *doorag*) wrapped around his sweaty, receding hairline--- and all for the sake of quitting smoking.

Is it really worth it? Isn't it better to stink to high heaven from smoke than to be a bar brawling drunk chick married to a 500 pound biker dude and living in a tin shack with the possums?

In any case, I slept through most of a thunderstorm this morning and was finally awakened by the large hairy four legged beasts who piled on top of me and began squealing in fright. Their squealing finally roused me, and sometime around noon, I tumbled out of bed and drowned in some coffee and took a stroll through the blogs ...

... and what do I find at Majikthise but mention of a New York Times OpEd by Jared Diamond, and Majikthise's excellent defense of Diamond's work from the scathing handed down by UggaBugga.

Now that woke me up. And not so much because Diamond's article is really quite good. I agree with him on virtually all points, especially his discussion of the dangers of an insulated elite in the face of diminishing resources and the profound threats presented by environmental degradation. And, of course, the advantages/disadvantages of various kinds of geographies and ecological niches.

And Majikthise's critique of Uggabugga's response to Diamond is right on target.

Except ... except ... except that there's something about the name of Jared Diamond which spurs some kinds of memories --- and there's something vaguely familiar about Uggabugga's response.

I've spent the past few hours trying to remember why I am so immediately predisposed to slap Diamond around much worse than UggaBugga has.

And it all finally clicked a little while ago: evil archaeology teachers. Especially evil Americanist archaeology teachers. Especially evil Americanist rchaeology teachers who are unreasonably determined to use Diamond's work (and similar) as evidence that it's all the Indians' own fault, much the way wingers these days choose to blame the chaos in Iraq on the Iraqis.

Which is why I've not simply studiously avoided Diamond's work, but have blocked all knowledge of it from memory.

What I've read over the past few hours, however, is good. Mighty good. And yet more evidence of how good theory and work can be so twisted by those with an agenda.

In any case, go read the OpEd and check out Majikthise's good discussion. Me, I'm ordering Germs, Guns and Warfare, and settling in to read some Diamon without the interfering blather of archaeologists seeking to deny the effects of their ancestors on the original inhabitants of the New World.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Money Matters

It's not that I've abandoned my grim prognosticating about the economy. It's that I'm no longer certain what to think --- and I don't mean that I've become an optimist. Instead, it's as though a strange new landscape were opening up in front of me, one which I don't quite know how to describe.

Consider this: Project Censored reports that "further increases in the imbalance in wealth throughout the world will have catastrophic effects if left unchecked [...] a third of the world's population will be slum dwellers within 30 years."

Think this doesn't apply to you? Think your comfy salary will be an adequate cushion, and that surely all these dire warnings only apply to the working poor or Third World Countries or the horribly over-extended?

You might want to adjust your thinking a bit.

And what about this: in a matter of just two weeks last year, Burtless' finances were thrown into disarray when Bethlehem collapsed and, adding injury to insult, he was badly hurt on the job and saddled with more than $90,000 in medical bills. Having fallen through cracks in the workers' compensation system, he now ponders a wrenching question: "Am I going to have to go bankrupt?"

Sure, you might not be a steelworker. You might have a *safe* job, like teacher or whatnot. But do you drive a car? Or use stairs? Or ever venture outside in snow and ice?

If you're a multimillionaire, these statistics and forecasts might not apply to you. But, if you're an average wage earner or middle-class or upper-middle-class, they do. The Washington post, among others, is reporting that Average-Wage Earners Fall Behind.

There's more, of course. But this will have to do, for now.

Me, I'm busy rethinking my options for heat, and trying to do so in the most economical and environmentally friendly way possible.

Judge Refuses to Let Pregnant Woman Divorce

More Bushinista regression:

Judge Refuses to Let Pregnant Woman Divorce

"SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - A judge has refused to grant a divorce to a pregnant woman trying to leave her husband two years after he was jailed for beating her, ruling instead that she must wait until the child is born.

Shawnna Hughes' husband was convicted of abuse in 2002. She separated from him after the attack and filed for divorce last April. She later became pregnant by another man and is due in March.

Her husband, Carlos, never contested the divorce, and the court commissioner approved it in October. But the divorce papers failed to note that Hughes was pregnant, and when the judge found out, he rescinded the divorce. "

Dobson Childrearing Practices as Policy

1. What the “war on terror” is doing to our country’s values: plans being put in place to allow for lifetime incarceration of prisoners without charges or trial

2. James Dobson: Some strong-willed children absolutely demand to be spanked, and their wishes should be granted.