Monday, May 31, 2004

Growing Resistance to Patriot Act

"Patriot Act Besieged"
Nat Hentoff, Village Voice
Reposted at Alternet

The objective of the Patriot Act [is to make] the population visible and the Justice Department invisible. The Act inverts the constitutional requirement that people's lives be private and the work of government officials be public; it instead crafts a set of conditions that make our inner lives transparent and the workings of government opaque. - Elaine Scarry, "Acts of Resistance," Harper's Magazine, May 2004

The Patriot Act makes it able for those of us in positions of responsibility to defend the liberty of the American people. - George W. Bush, quoted by the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation, May 2004
In March, at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, I debated Chuck Rosenberg, chief of staff to James Comey, John Ashcroft's second-in-command at the Justice Department. A former counsel to FBI director Robert Mueller, Rosenberg, a former prosecutor, has specialized in counterintelligence and counterterrorism.

The next day, the headline in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch story on the debate (March 22) was "Ashcroft Staffer Admits Patriot Act Is Unpopular." And Chuck Rosenberg was quoted in the story: "We're losing this fight."

The reporter, Doug Moore, told me Rosenberg had made that admission during the intermission in our debate. It wasn't my eloquence that deflated Rosenberg, but rather my focus that afternoon on the insistent resistance to the Patriot Act around the country--and in Congress.

By May, 311 towns and cities--and four state legislatures (Alaska, Hawaii, Vermont, and Maine)--had passed Bill of Rights resolutions instructing the members of Congress from those areas to roll back the most egregiously repressive sections of the Patriot Act, subsequent executive orders, and other extensions of the act.

According to Nancy Talanian, director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee in Northampton, Massachusetts, and the primary organizer and coordinator of this campaign to preserve the Constitution, "Hundreds more communities and states are considering resolutions. Last December, the National League of Cities approved a resolution calling for amending the Patriot Act."

And on May 12, The Hill, a Washington publication that gets inside congressional maneuvers, ran a report by Alexander Bolton ("Presidential Push Fails to Quell GOP Fear of Patriot Act"): "A group of libertarian-minded Republicans in Congress is blocking President Bush's effort to strengthen domestic counterterrorism laws and reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, which the president has made one of his top domestic priorities this year."

Not the whole Patriot Act, but sections of it, come up for congressional renewal by December 2005. Bush is pressing hard for Congress to renew those parts now. Standing in his way, however, is Republican conservative James Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. According to The Hill: "Sensenbrenner has made it clear to colleagues that he will not consider reauthorization of the bill until next year."

On April 20, Wired News ( quoted constitutional law professor David Cole, of the Georgetown University Law Center, on the resistance to the Patriot Act. Since 9-11, Cole has been the Samuel Adams of our time, a one-man version of the pre-Revolution committees of correspondence. Said Cole:

"One year after 9/11, National Public Radio did a poll and found that only 7 percent of Americans felt they had given up important liberties in the war on terrorism. Two years after 9/11, NBC or CBS did a very similar poll and they found that now 52 percent of Americans report being concerned that their civil liberties are being infringed by the Bush administration's war on terrorism. That's a huge shift."

And on April 14, in Salt Lake City, when the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, came home to harvest support for the Patriot Act, among his fiercest critics was Scott Bradley of the Utah Branch of the ultra-conservative EagleForum. Bradley reminded Hatch--Ashcroft's premier cheerleader in Congress--of a prediction by Osama bin Laden in a BBC interview after 9-11. The arch-terrorist said:

"The battle has moved to inside America. . . . Freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people and the West in general into an unbearable hell and choking fire."

Scott Bradley went on to tell Hatch: "The United States is stronger and braver than that," but "we must make absolutely certain that the rush for security does not . . . destroy what we really cherish about this great nation."

Then, this libertarian conservative confronted Orrin Hatch with a grave warning by James Madison in 1788:

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

The next day, as if to confirm Madison's prophecy, the Associated Press reported, "The number of secret surveillance warrants sought by the FBI has increased by 85 percent in the last three years, a pace that has outstripped the Justice Department's ability to quickly process them."

They'll process these warrants, which are authorized by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the AP notes, for "wiretaps, video surveillance, property search and other spying on people believed to be terrorists or spies." And we'll never know if our records are being included in the databases. These are secret searches.

Article Link

Uncovering the Hidden Histories of the City: Intentional Drifting

How well do you know your city/region/community? If you just drive about your city do you really get to know it on a deep level? What are the benefits of wandering about the city on foot?


Senses of Place and Urban Studies

Consent of the Governed

"Consent of the Governed: The reign of corporations and the fight for democracy"
by Jeffrey Kaplan

The autonomy of state and local governments continues to wane as corporations grow larger and gain more extensive rights under the U.S. Constitution.

An increasing number of Americans have begun to consider a whole range of single-issue cases as examples of "corporate rule," with government merely enforcing rules defined by corporations for profit.

But in communities across the country a revolt is underfoot that has corporations reeling.

Read Entire Essay

Middle Class 2003: How Congress Voted

Introduction to the Middle-Class 2003: How Congress Voted Executive Summary
Drum Major Institute for Public Policy
(reported at Mother Jones)

In 2003, the 108th Congress considered several pieces of legislation that would significantly impact America’s middle class. The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy discusses this legislation in detail in Middle Class 2003: How Congress Voted, issuing members of Congress a grade based on their support of the middle-class position.

While the U.S. Census Bureau has no official definition of the “middle class,” conventionally it has come to represent a large swath of the American populace with incomes between approximately 200 percent of the federal poverty threshold and those of the nation’s top 5 percent income earners—roughly $25,000 to $100,000 a year.

Today’s middle-class families are deeply concerned about making ends meet, affording everyday essentials, saving for the future, obtaining affordable health insurance for themselves and their families, and avoiding the bankruptcy that has become nearly epidemic–all in the face of rising unemployment and health care costs.

For example, in 2003:

• More than 92 percent of the 1.6 million Americans who filed for bankruptcy were middle class
• The cost of childcare swelled to as much as 40 percent of middle-class families’ income
• More than 40 percent of the 2.4 million newly uninsured Americans are middle class
• Average annual earnings for all Americans were down $1,400 compared to 2000
• Property taxes rose by an average of 2.8 percent in 2003, according to a survey of 108 major U.S. cities
• And, according to a national survey conducted by the Consumer Federation of America in July 2003, half of those surveyed with incomes between $25,000 and $75,000—the very definition of middle class—were “worried about their financial condition.”

The findings of this report demonstrate the need for greater urgency on the part of both political parties to halt the growing financial insecurity of middle-class families and to preserve economic mobility. It is time for concern for middle-class families to transcend rhetoric, and to deal effectively with workplace rights, economic stimulus, health care affordability, and tax relief.


• The Senate, overall, earned a B for its support of the financial stability of the American middle class. However, this average grade masks great disparities. Votes broke down, for the most part, along party lines.

• While almost all—96 percent—of Democratic Senators received an A, fully one quarter of Republican Senators received an F for their failure to support the middle class.

• Senators Kyl (R-AZ), Allard (R-CO), Chambliss (R-GA), Craig (R-ID), Crapo (R-ID), Lott (R-MS), Burns (R-MT), Gregg (R-NH), Sununu (R-NH), Nickles (R-OK), Cornyn (R-TX), Enzi (R-WY), and Thomas (R-WY) all scored lowest in their class with grades of F.

• The House of Representatives, overall, did a poor job of voting with the middle class, receiving a less than acceptable grade of C. As with the Senate, however, there were great disparities: 36 percent of the House received a failing grade, while 21 percent earned an A.

• Party divisions were especially evident in the House. Overall, only Democrats voted consistently for the middle class.

• 66 percent of Republican members of Congress received an F, compared to 1 percent of their Democratic peers.

• Two pieces of legislation garnered strong support from both parties: the Unemployment Compensation Amendment Act of 2003 (HR 2185) and the American Dream Downpayment Act of 2003 (S 811).


2004 is a critical year for the middle class, with several additional relevant pieces of legislation up for consideration:

• The College Affordability and Accountability Act of 2003 (HR 3519), awaiting a vote in the House, will help American families afford the high cost of tuition at a four-year college.

• Employee Free Choice Act (S 1225), awaiting a vote in the Senate, will help American workers form, join, and assist labor unions.

• Payday Borrower Protection Act of 2003 (HR 2407), awaiting a vote in the House, will protect millions of Americans from the practices of unfair and unethical payday lenders.

• The Defending American Jobs Act of 2004 (HR 3888), awaiting a vote in the House, will require that American employers report on their workforce and compensation rates in the United States as well as abroad.

• Responsible Lending Act (HR 833), awaiting a vote in the House, will significantly weaken regulations governing the lending industry to the detriment of financially strapped Americans.

• The Dream Act (S 1545), awaiting a vote in the Senate, will relax some of the prohibitions preventing undocumented residents in good standing from attending a public university.


In politics, there is no greater force than incumbency. During the 2002 midterm election, nearly all incumbents seeking an additional term in office secured it, due in large part to the lack of comprehensive information available to American voters.

We hope that Middle Class 2003: How Congress Voted will serve as a yardstick by which Americans can measure how effectively Congress is acting in their interests. We believe that better social and economic policy can be created when middle-class Americans know how their legislators vote on the issues that matter most to them – and as importantly, when legislators know that their middleclass constituents are watching.

Download Middle Class 2003: How Congress Voted in PDF Format

Executive Summary of the Report in PDF Format

Gay Rights Activists Denied Communion

"Gay-Rights Activists Denied Communion"
By MIKE COLIAS, Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO - Parishioners who wore rainbow-colored sashes to Mass in support of gays and lesbians were denied communion in Chicago, while laymen in Minnesota tried to prevent gay Roman Catholics from getting the sacrament.

Priests at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago refused to give the Eucharist to about 10 people wearing the sashes at Sunday Mass. One priest shook each person's hand; another made the sign of the cross on their foreheads.

"The priest told me you cannot receive communion if you're wearing a sash, as per the Cardinal's direction," said James Luxton, a Chicago member of the Rainbow Sash Movement, an organization of Catholic gay-rights supporters with chapters around the country.

An internal memo from Chicago Cardinal Francis George that became public last week instructed priests not to give communion to people wearing the sashes, which the group's members wear every year for Pentecost. The memo says the sashes are a symbol of opposition to the church's doctrine on homosexuality and exploit the communion ritual.

"The Rainbow Sash movement wants its members to be fully accepted by the Church not on the same conditions as any Catholic but precisely as gay," George wrote. "With this comes the requirement that the Church change her moral teaching."

Rainbow Sash Movement spokesman Joe Murray was among those denied communion in Chicago. He said members wearing the sashes should be seen no differently than a uniformed police officer or Boy Scout seeking communion.

"What we saw today in the cathedral is discrimination at the Eucharistic table, and that shouldn't be happening," Murray said. Those denied communion returned to their pews, but stood while the rest of the congregation knelt.

The movement, which started about five years ago in England, also has members in Dallas, New Orleans, New York and Rochester, N.Y.

In St. Paul, Minn., people wearing the rainbow-colored sashes were given communion Sunday despite protests from some parishioners who kneeled in front of the altar blocking their way.

The Rev. Michael Skluzacek said in a written statement that both sides were "mistakenly using the Mass and the Eucharist to make their own personal statements."

Brian McNeill, organizer of the Rainbow Sash Alliance of the Twin Cities, said the local group has worn the sashes every Pentecost at St. Paul Cathedral since 2001, but the group had never experienced such a confrontation.

A Vatican doctrinal decree last year directed at Catholic politicians said a well-formed conscience forbids support for any law that contradicts "fundamental" morality, with abortion listed first among relevant issues. A second Vatican statement said it is "gravely immoral" not to oppose legalization of same-sex unions.

Associated Press Writer Elizabeth Dunbar in St. Paul, Minn., contributed to this report.

Report Link

On the Net:

Rainbow Sash Movement

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Naive Teacher Believes in Her Students

I'm also a hopelessly naive teacher... (who just finished his second PhD comprehensive exam!) sometimes my students must wonder at my idealism...


(courtesy of Melissa Purdue)

It's about a high school English teacher, but the students sound like freshmen college students, too.

Naive Teacher Believes in Her Students

US Government Paranoia in Action: FBI Abducts Artist, Seizes Art

Feds Unable to Distinguish Art from Bioterrorism
Grieving Artist Denied Access to Deceased Wife's Body

Steve Kurtz was already suffering from one tragedy when he called 911 early in the morning to tell them his wife had suffered a cardiac arrest and died in her sleep. The police arrived and, cranked up on the rhetoric of the "War on Terror," decided Kurtz's art supplies were actually bioterrorism weapons.

Thus began an Orwellian stream of events in which FBI agents abducted Kurtz without charges, sealed off his entire block, and confiscated his computers, manuscripts, art supplies... and even his wife's body.

Like the case of Brandon Mayfield, the Muslim lawyer from Portland imprisoned for two weeks on the flimsiest of false evidence, Kurtz's case amply demonstrates the dangers posed by the USA PATRIOT Act coupled with government-nurtured terrorism hysteria.

Kurtz's case is ongoing, and, on top of everything else, Kurtz is facing a mountain of legal fees. Donations to his legal defense can be made at


Steve Kurtz is Associate Professor in the Department of Art at the State University of New York's University at Buffalo, and a member of the internationally-acclaimed Critical Art Ensemble.

Kurtz's wife, Hope Kurtz, died in her sleep of cardiac arrest in the early morning hours of May 11. Police arrived, became suspicious of Kurtz's art supplies and called the FBI.

Within hours, FBI agents had "detained" Kurtz as a suspected bioterrorist and cordoned off the entire block around his house. (Kurtz walked away the next day on the advice of a lawyer, his "detention" having proved to be illegal.) Over the next few days, dozens of agents in hazmat suits, from a number of law enforcement agencies, sifted through Kurtz's work, analyzing it on-site and impounding computers, manuscripts, books, equipment, and even his wife's body for further analysis. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Health Department condemned his house as a health risk.

Kurtz, a member of the Critical Art Ensemble, makes art which addresses the politics of biotechnology. "Free Range Grains," CAE's latest project, included a mobile DNA extraction laboratory for testing food products for possible transgenic contamination. It was this equipment which triggered the Kafkaesque chain of events.

FBI field and laboratory tests have shown that Kurtz's equipment was not used for any illegal purpose. In fact, it is not even possible to use this equipment for the production or weaponization of dangerous germs. Furthermore, any person in the US may legally obtain and possess such equipment.

"Today, there is no legal way to stop huge corporations from putting genetically altered material in our food," said Defense Fund spokeswoman Carla Mendes. "Yet owning the equipment required to test for the presence of 'Frankenfood' will get you accused of 'terrorism.' You can be illegally detained by shadowy government agents, lose access to your home, work, and belongings, and find that your recently deceased spouse's body has been taken away for 'analysis.'"

Though Kurtz has finally been able to return to his home and recover his wife's body, the FBI has still not returned any of his equipment, computers or manuscripts, nor given any indication of when they will. The case remains open.


A small fortune has already been spent on lawyers for Kurtz and other Critical Art Ensemble members. A defense fund has been established at to help defray the legal costs which will continue to mount so long as the investigation continues. Donations go directly to the legal defense of Kurtz and other Critical Art Ensemble members. Should the funds raised exceed the cost of the legal defense, any remaining money will be used to help other artists in need.

For more information on the Critical Art Ensemble, please visit

Articles about the case:

On advice of counsel, Steve Kurtz is unable to answer questions regarding his case. Please direct questions or comments to Carla Mendes .

Freedom Fridays

(courtesy of Andie Miller)

Rhode Island National Oraganization for Women

Join us in a truly grassroots effort to send a message about freedom -- wear
red every Friday until election day in celebration of Freedom Fridays.

Some more info, in the words of Nadia Jensen...

BACKGROUND: I believe, as many of us do, that at the very heart of our
democracy is our right to oppose the policies of our government.
Increasingly, Bush is redefining "freedom" in ways that make too many
Americans perceive that it is risky to oppose his policies -- and, in
particular, current family planning policies in the U.S. and abroad.

However, many of us DO oppose what Bush is doing to family planning
programs -- and I have an idea that will allow all of us to recognize each
other very easily so we can see that WE ARE THE MAJORITY.

SO...I have been thinking that it's time to take action in a way that is
effective and easy for all of us to do: Just wear red every Friday between
now and election day, November 2. Wear a little red or a lot -- just be sure
that when you leave your house to go about your day -- to work, to school,
to the store, to the gas station, wherever you go in your daily routine --
that everyone who sees you will see that you are wearing red because you
believe in freedom and democracy, and you don't agree with our current
administration's family planning policies at home and abroad. I'm certain
that we'll see that lots of us wearing red for freedom, democracy, and
access to family planning services -- because WE ARE THE MAJORITY. We just
need a way to show each other who we are.

There's some interesting history behind this idea: When Norway was occupied
by Germany in 1940, Norwegian women began to knit RED caps for children as a
way of letting everyone know that they did not like what was happening in
their country, that they didn't like having their freedom taken away. My
great aunt was one of the women who knit red caps for her children and
others. Similarly, in Denmark, women knit red-white-and blue caps (colors of
the Allies) for the very same reason. The result was that whenever
Norwegians and Danes left their homes -- to go to the store, to work, etc,
they could see that THE MAJORITY opposed what was going on in their country.
As you know, both countries organized effective Resistance movements and
changed history - everything that happened began simply by wearing red!!!!
(or red-white-blue in Denmark). Of course once the Germans realized what the
caps stood for they threatened to kill anyone seen wearing one -- but there
is NO danger to us for doing the same thing. We are simply wearing red as a
form of civil dissent, that's all -- we are not doing anything illegal or
unpatriotic. In fact, it's quite patriotic to love freedom! So now you know
why I chose the color red -- I have always thought of it as a color of
courage and compassion. Let's use it, as many Norwegians and Danes did, as
we continue to work for freedom and democracy.

Freedom Fridays

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Comprehensive PhD Exam: English Studies

Tomorrow from 11am to 3pm I will be taking my 2nd PhD exam. This one is my statement about my disciplinary focus/understanding of English Studies. Below is my reading list for the exam:

Works Cited:

Antonio, Robert J. Marx and Modernity: Key Readings and Commentary. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003.

Ardener, Shirley. “Ground Rules and Social Maps for Women: An Introduction.” Women and Space: Ground Rules and Social Maps. ed. S. Ardener. Providence, RI: Berg, 1993: 1-30.

Aronowitz, Stanley. How Class Works: Power and Social Movement. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.

Auge, Marc. Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. NY: Verso, 1995.

Bakhtin, Mikhail M. Problems of Dostoyesky’s Poetics. ed. and trans. Caryl Emerson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota P, 1984.

---. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Trans. V.W. McGee. Austin: U of Texas P, 1986.

Barton, David, and Mary Hamilton. “Literacy Practices.” Situated Literacies. Ed. David Barton, et al. NY: Routledge, 2000: 7-15.

Beasley-Murray, Jon. “Value and Capital in Bourdieu and Marx.” Pierre Bourdieu: Fieldwork in Culture. Eds. Nicholas Brown and Imre Szeman. NY: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000: 100-119.

Bennett, Michael. “Manufacturing the Ghetto: Anti-Urbanism and the Spatialization of Race.” The Nature of Cities: Ecocriticism and Urban Environments. eds. M. Bennett & D.W. Teague. AZ: U of Arizona P, 1999: 169-88.

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. NY: Viking P, 1973.

Berry, Ellen E. and Mikhail N. Epstein. Transcultural Experiments: Russian and American Models of Creative Communication. NY: St. Martin’s P, 1999.

Berube, Michael. “Discipline and Theory.” Public Access: Literary Theory and American Politics. NY: Verso, 1994: 43-58.

Blanchot, Maurice. The Infinite Conversation. Trans. S. Hanson. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1993.

Boje, David M. “Stories of the Storytelling Organization: A Postmodern Analysis of Disney as ‘Tamara-Land’.” Academy of Management Journal 38.4 (1995): 997-1035.

Boje, David M. and Robert F. Dennehy. Managing in the Postmodern World: America’s Revolution Against Exploitation. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 1993.

Bourdieu, Pierre. “The Forms of Capital.” Handbook of Theory and Research For the Sociology of Education. ed. John Richardson. NY: Greenwood Press, 1986: 241-258.

Bowker, Geoffrey C. and Susan Leigh Star. Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences. Cambridge, MA: The MIT P, 1999.

Castells, Manuel. The Power of Identity. Blackwell, 1997.

Chouliaraki, Lilie and Norman Fairclough. Discourses in Late Modernity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999.

Cushman, Ellen. “The Rhetorician as an Agent of Social Change.” College Composition and Communication 47.1 (1996): 7-27.

Dennis, Dion. “Priming the Pump of War: Toward a Post-Ethnic, Post-Racial Fascism.” C-Theory Event Scenes #115 (Nov. 6, 2002): online at

Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Trans. G.C. Spivak. Baltimore: John Hopkin’s UP, 1998.

Ehrenfeld, David. “Pseudocommunities.” Rooted in the Land: Essays on Community and Place. ed. William Vitek & Wes Jackson. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996: 20-24.

Ferguson, Robert. Representing Race: Ideology, Identity and the Media. NY: Arnold, 1998.

Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge. London: Tavistock, 1972.

---. The Order of Things. NY: Vintage, 1994.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. NY: Penguin, 1972.

Gee, James Paul. “Forward: A Discourse Approach to Language and Literacy.” Changing Literacies. Colin Lankshear. Philadelphia, PA: Open U, 1997: xiii-xix.

---. Social Linguistics and Literacies: Ideology in Discourses. 2nd ed. NY: Falmer P, 1996.

---. The Social Mind. NY: Bergin & Garvey, 1990.

Gee, James Paul, Glynda Hull, and Colin Lankshear. The New Work Order: Behind the Language of the New Capitalism. Boulder, CO: Westview P, 1996.

Geertz, Clifford. The Interpretation of Cultures. NY: Basic Books, 1973.

Gilmore, James H. and B. Joseph Pine II. The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre & Every Business a Stage. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1999.

Gottdiener, Mark. The Theming of America: Dreams, Visions, and Commercial Spaces. Boulder, CO: Westview P, 1997.

Hennessey, Rosemary. Materialist Feminism and the Politics of Discourse. NY: Routledge, 1993.

Hobsbawm, Eric and Terence Ranger, eds. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

Horkheimer, Max and Theodor W. Adorno. Dialectic of Enlightenment. trans. Edmund Jephcott. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002.

Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1991.

Keller, Evelyn Fox. “The Finishing Touch.” The Practice of Cultural Analysis. Eds. M. Bal and B. Gonzales. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1999:

Kramer, Erik Mark. “The Spiders of Truth.” Postmodernism and Race. Ed. M.E. Kramer. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997: 1-15.

Lakoff, George. Moral Politics. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Lankshear, Colin and Michael Knobel. New Literacies. Philadelphia, PA: Open University Press, 2002.

Lefebvre, Henri. Everyday Life in the Modern World. trans. Sacha Rabinovitch. NY: Harper Torchbooks, 1971.

Lemke, Jay L. Textual Politics: Discourse and Social Dynamics. NY: Taylor & Francis, 1995.

Leopold, Aldo. “The Community Concept.” A Sand County Almanac. NY: Oxford University Press, 1989: 203-207.

Lodge, David. Consciousness and the Novel. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Marvin, Carolyn and David W. Ingle. Blood Sacrifice and the Nation. NY: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Modern Meat. Directed Doug Hamilton. PBS/Frontline, 2002. Associated site online at:

New London Group. “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures.” Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures. NY: Routledge, 2000: 9-38.

Notes From Nowhere, ed. We Are Everywhere. NY: Verso, 2003.

Novotny, Patrick. Where We Live, Work and Play. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000.

Owens, Derek. Composition and Sustainability: Teaching For a Threatened Generation. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2001.

Perez-Torres, Rafael. Movements in Chicano Poetry: Against Myths, Against Margins. NY: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Plotkin, Henry. The Imagined World Made Real: Towards a Natural Science of Culture. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutger’s University Press, 2003.

Polkinghorne, Donald E. Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. Albany: SUNY, 1988.

Porter, James E. “Intertextuality and the Discourse Community.” Rhetoric Review 5.1 (Fall 1986): 34-47.

Posner, Michael. “Image World.” Queen’s Quarterly 110.2 (Summer 2003): 228-241.

Rich, Adrienne. “As If Your Life Depended On It.” What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics. NY: W.W. Norton, 1993: 32-33.

Rigney, Daniel. The Metaphorical Society. NY: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001.

Rubenstein, Richard L. The Cunning of History: The Holocaust and the American Future. NY: Harper Colophon, 1978.

Rushkoff, Douglas. Coercion: Why We Listen To What “They” Say? NY: Riverhead Books, 1999.

Said, Edward. “Opponents, Audiences, Constituencies, and Community.” Reflections on Exile and Other Essays. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Sandoval, Chela. Methodology of the Oppressed. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2000.

San Juan, E. Jr. Racism and Cultural Studies: Critiques of Multiculturalist Ideology and the Politics of Difference. Durham, MC: Duke University Press, 2002.

Schraube, Ernst. “Reflecting On Who We Are in a Technological World.” Critical Psychology. Ed. Tod Sloan. NY: St. Martin’s P, 2000: 46-54.

Searle, John R. The Construction of Social Reality. NY: The Free Press, 1995.

Sennett, Richard. The Fall of Public Man. NY: Vintage, 1974.

Shor, Ira. Critical Teaching and Everyday Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Siegel, Daniel J. The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are. NY: The Guilford Press, 1999.

Shotter, John and Kenneth J. Gergen, eds. Texts of Identity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1989.

Situationist International Anthology. ed. and trans. K. Knabb. Berkeley, CA: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981.

Slattery, Patrick. Curriculum Development in the Postmodern World. NY: Garland, 1995.

Slavin, Jame F. and Art F. Young, eds. Critical Theory and the Teaching of Literature. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1996.

Subtext of a Yale Education. Directed Laura Dunn. Citizen Films, 1999.

Trifonas, Peter Pericles, ed. Revolutionary Pedagogies. NY: Routledge, 2000.

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Boston: Beacon P, 1995.

Trueba, Enrique T. Latinos Unidos: From Cultural Diversity to the Politics of Solidarity. NY: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

Turner, Mark. Reading Minds: The Study of English in the Age of Cognitive Science. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1991.

Wilson, Timothy D. Strangers to Ourselves. NY: Belknap, 2002.

Zagzebski, Linda. “What is Knowledge?” The Blackwell Guide to Epistemology. eds. John Greco and Ernest Soja. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999: 92-116.

Zerubavel, Eviatar. The Fine Line: Making Distinctions in Everyday Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

---. Social Mindscapes: An Invitation to Cognitive Sociology. Harvard University Press, 1999.

---. Time Maps: Collective Memory and the Social Shape of the Past. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Zizek, Slavoj. “The Spectre of Ideology.” The Zizek Reader. ed. Elizabeth Wright and Edmund Wright. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1999: 53-86.

Remarks by Al Gore

(courtesy of Abby Normal)

"Remarks by Al Gore"
Move ON


George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world.

He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.

Honor? He decided not to honor the Geneva Convention. Just as he would not honor the United Nations, international treaties, the opinions of our allies, the role of Congress and the courts, or what Jefferson described as "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind." He did not honor the advice, experience and judgment of our military leaders in designing his invasion of Iraq. And now he will not honor our fallen dead by attending any funerals or even by permitting photos of their flag-draped coffins.

How did we get from September 12th , 2001, when a leading French newspaper ran a giant headline with the words "We Are All Americans Now" and when we had the good will and empathy of all the world -- to the horror that we all felt in witnessing the pictures of torture in Abu Ghraib.

To begin with, from its earliest days in power, this administration sought to radically destroy the foreign policy consensus that had guided America since the end of World War II. The long successful strategy of containment was abandoned in favor of the new strategy of "preemption." And what they meant by preemption was not the inherent right of any nation to act preemptively against an imminent threat to its national security, but rather an exotic new approach that asserted a unique and unilateral U.S. right to ignore international law wherever it wished to do so and take military action against any nation, even in circumstances where there was no imminent threat. All that is required, in the view of Bush's team is the mere assertion of a possible, future threat - and the assertion need be made by only one person, the President.

More disturbing still was their frequent use of the word "dominance" to describe their strategic goal, because an American policy of dominance is as repugnant to the rest of the world as the ugly dominance of the helpless, naked Iraqi prisoners has been to the American people. Dominance is as dominance does.

Dominance is not really a strategic policy or political philosophy at all. It is a seductive illusion that tempts the powerful to satiate their hunger for more power still by striking a Faustian bargain. And as always happens - sooner or later - to those who shake hands with the devil, they find out too late that what they have given up in the bargain is their soul.

One of the clearest indications of the impending loss of intimacy with one's soul is the failure to recognize the existence of a soul in those over whom power is exercised, especially if the helpless come to be treated as animals, and degraded. We also know - and not just from De Sade and Freud - the psychological proximity between sexual depravity and other people's pain. It has been especially shocking and awful to see these paired evils perpetrated so crudely and cruelly in the name of America.

Those pictures of torture and sexual abuse came to us embedded in a wave of news about escalating casualties and growing chaos enveloping our entire policy in Iraq. But in order understand the failure of our overall policy, it is important to focus specifically on what happened in the Abu Ghraib prison, and ask whether or not those actions were representative of who we are as Americans? Obviously the quick answer is no, but unfortunately it's more complicated than that.

Read the Rest of Al Gore's Statement

Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles

This is not for the faint of heart or those that are easily offended, in fact if you are rarely offended this cartoon will still probably shock you. Strangely though in the midst of the sheer insanity of this cartoon I find many light-bulb moments. 252 cartoons and counting:

Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles

The Broken Promise of Brown v. Board of Education

This speech by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond is a powerful narrative of what was accomplished by Brown v. Board of Education and the many betrayals that have followed it through the years. When will we realize that we hurt our children (all children) through segregation and isolation...

Bond's speech is also a great example of integrating personal/family experience with larger social/political/cultural histories to bring a sense of drama, accomplishment and immediacy to the story--very impressive! I also appreciated learning about the roots of Berea College (KY) as an abolitionist college.


"The Broken Promise Of Brown"
by Julian Bond
Tom Paine

Fifty years ago this past April , Martin Luther King, Jr. preached his first sermon as the new pastor of Montgomery's Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. He was 25 years old.

One month later, on May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education, unanimously declared that segregated schools violated the Constitution's promise of equal protection.

Two months later, on July 17, 1954, construction began at Disneyland. Sadly, today Brown's promise is still lost in fantasy land. The Magic Kingdom remains closed to children of color in America.

There can be no mistake—those 50 years since Brown have seen the fortunes of black America advance and retreat, but the decision is always cause for sober celebration, not impotent dismay.

We celebrate the brilliant legal minds who were the architects of Brown v. Board ; we celebrate the brave families who were its plaintiffs; and we celebrate the legal principle that remains its enduring legacy—that, in the words of Chief Justice Earl Warren, "the doctrine of separate but equal has no place."

That the quest for meaningful equality—political and economic equity—remains unfulfilled today is no indictment of past efforts. It is testament to our challenge.

As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of that landmark decision, it is easy to cast a cynical eye on the status of school desegregation in America today—or the sorry state of race relations—and minimize the significance of Brown. That is a grave mistake, for Brown —by destroying segregation's legality, gave a nonviolent army the power to destroy segregation's morality as well.

Thus it is no coincidence that this year we also celebrate the 40th anniversary of the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act—the most sweeping civil rights legislation before or since, and our democracy's finest hour.

We look back on the years between Brown and the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act with some pride. In those years, Brown's anniversary became a celebratory signpost, as major events focused on commemorating the date. The year after Brown, Rosa Parks sat down to stand up for her rights, and the Montgomery bus boycott began. Martin Luther King's first national address was at a 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage on the third anniversary of Brown at the Lincoln Memorial. Later that same year the Little Rock Nine successfully integrated Little Rock's Central High School. Sit-ins at segregated lunch counters burst out across the South in 1960, followed by the Freedom Rides of 1961 and the forcible integration of Ole Miss in 1962. In 1963 alone, the year that King—fresh from the battlefields of Birmingham—told the nation of his dream at the March on Washington, there were more than 10,000 anti-racist demonstrations.

King was the most famous and well known of the modern movement's personalities, but it was a people's movement. It produced leaders of its own; but it relied not on the noted but the nameless, not on the famous but the faceless. It didn't wait for commands from afar to begin a campaign against injustice. It saw wrong and acted against it; it saw evil and brought it down. Those were the days when women and men of all races and creeds worked together in the cause of civil rights. Those were the days when good music was popular and popular music was good. Those were the days when the president picked the Supreme Court and not the other way around. Those were the days when we had a war on poverty, not a war on the poor. Those were the days when patriotism was a reason for open-eyed disobedience, not an excuse for blind allegiance. Those were the days when the news media really was "fair and balanced" and not just cheerleaders for the powerful.

But those were not "the good old days."

Read Entire Speech

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Here Come the Brights

"The future looks bright: Language can help to shape the way we think about the world."
Richard Dawkins
The Guardian

I once read a science-fiction story in which astronauts voyaging to a distant star were waxing homesick: "Just to think that it's springtime back on Earth!" You may not immediately see what's wrong with that, so ingrained is our unconscious northern hemisphere chauvinism. "Unconscious" is exactly right. That is where consciousness-raising comes in.

I suspect it is for a deeper reason than gimmicky fun that, in Australia and New Zealand, you can buy maps of the world with the south pole on top. Now, wouldn't that be an excellent thing to pin to our class- room walls? What a splendid consciousness-raiser. Day after day, the children would be reminded that north has no monopoly on up. The map would intrigue them as well as raise their consciousness. They'd go home and tell their parents.

The feminists taught us about consciousness-raising. I used to laugh at "him or her", and at "chairperson", and I still try to avoid them on aesthetic grounds. But I recognise the power and importance of consciousness-raising. I now flinch at "one man one vote". My consciousness has been raised. Probably yours has too, and it matters.

I used to deplore what I regarded as the tokenism of my American atheist friends. They were obsessed with removing "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance (it was inserted as late as 1954), whereas I cared more about the chauvinistic nastiness of pledging allegiance to a flag in the first place. They would cross out "In God we Trust" on every dollar bill that passed through their hands (again, it was inserted only in 1956), whereas I worried more about the tax-free dollars amassed by bouffant-haired televangelists, fleecing gullible old ladies of their life savings. My friends would risk neighbourhood ostracism to protest at the unconstitutionality of Ten Commandments posters on classroom walls. "But it's only words," I would expostulate. "Why get so worked up about mere words, when there's so much else to object to?" Now I'm having second thoughts. Words are not trivial. They matter because they raise consciousness.

My favourite consciousness-raising effort is one I have mentioned many times before (and I make no apology, for consciousness-raising is all about repetition). A phrase like "Catholic child" or "Muslim child" should clang furious bells of protest in the mind, just as we flinch when we hear "one man one vote". Children are too young to know their religious opinions. Just as you can't vote until you are 18, you should be
free to choose your own cosmology and ethics without society's impertinent presumption that you will automatically inherit your parents'. We'd be aghast to be told of a Leninist child or a neo-conservative child or a Hayekian monetarist child. So isn't it a kind of child abuse to speak of a Catholic child or a Protestant child? Especially in Northern Ireland and Glasgow where such labels, handed down over generations, have divided neighbourhoods for centuries and can even amount to a death

Catholic child? Flinch. Protestant child? Squirm. Muslim child? Shudder. Everybody's consciousness should be raised to this level. Occasionally a euphemism is needed, and I suggest "Child of Jewish (etc) parents". When you come down to it, that's all we are really talking about anyway. Just as the upside-down (northern hemisphere chauvinism again: flinch!) map from New Zealand raises consciousness about a geographical truth, children should hear themselves described not as "Christian
children" but as "children of Christian parents". This in itself would raise their consciousness, empower them to make up their own minds and choose which religion, if any, they favour, rather than just assume that religion means "same beliefs as parents". I could well imagine that this linguistically coded freedom to choose might lead children to choose no religion at all.

Please go out and work at raising people's consciousness over the words they use to describe children. At a dinner party, say, if ever you hear a person speak of a school for Islamic children, or Catholic children (you can read such phrases daily in newspapers), pounce: "How dare you? You would never speak of a Tory child or a New Labour child, so how could you describe a child as Catholic (Islamic, Protestant etc)?" With luck, everybody at the dinner party, next time they hear one of those
offensive phrases, will flinch, or at least notice and the meme will spread.

A triumph of consciousness-raising has been the homosexual hijacking of the word "gay". I used to mourn the loss of gay in (what I still think of as) its true sense. But on the bright side (wait for it) gay has inspired a new imitator, which is the climax of this article. Gay is succinct, uplifting, positive: an "up" word, where homosexual is a down word, and queer, faggot and pooftah are insults. Those of us who subscribe to no religion; those of us whose view of the universe is natural rather than supernatural; those of us who rejoice in the real and scorn the false comfort of the unreal, we need a word of our own, a word like "gay". You can say "I am an atheist" but at best it sounds stuffy (like "I am a homosexual") and at worst it inflames prejudice (like "I am a homosexual").

Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell, of Sacramento, California, have set out to coin a new word, a new "gay". Like gay, it should be a noun hijacked from an adjective, with its original meaning changed but not too much. Like gay, it should be catchy: a potentially prolific meme. Like gay, it should be positive, warm, cheerful, bright.

Bright? Yes, bright. Bright is the word, the new noun. I am a bright. You are a bright. She is a bright. We are the brights. Isn't it about time you came out as a bright? Is he a bright? I can't imagine falling for a woman who was not a bright. The website suggests numerous intellectuals and other famous people are brights. Brights constitute 60% of American scientists, and a stunning 93% of those scientists good enough to be elected to the elite National Academy of Sciences (equivalent to Fellows of the Royal Society) are brights. Look on the bright side: though at present they can't admit it and get elected, the US Congress must be full of closet brights. As with gays, the more brights come out, the easier it will be for yet more brights to do so. People reluctant to use the word atheist might be happy to come out as a bright.

Geisert and Futrell are very insistent that their word is a noun and must not be an adjective. "I am bright" sounds arrogant. "I am a bright" sounds too unfamiliar to be arrogant: it is puzzling, enigmatic, tantalising. It invites the question, "What on earth is a bright?" And then you're away: "A bright is a person whose world view is free of supernatural and mystical elements. The ethics and actions of a bright are based on a naturalistic world view."

"You mean a bright is an atheist?"

"Well, some brights are happy to call themselves atheists. Some brights call themselves agnostics. Some call themselves humanists, some free thinkers. But all brights have a world view that is free of supernaturalism and mysticism."

"Oh, I get it. It's a bit like 'gay'. So, what's the opposite of a bright? What would you call a religious person?"

"What would you suggest?"

Of course, even though we brights will scrupulously insist that our word is a noun, if it catches on it is likely to follow gay and eventually re-emerge as a new adjective. And when that happens, who knows, we may finally get a bright president.

· You can sign on as a bright at Brights. Richard Dawkins FRS is Charles Simonyi professor of the public understanding of science at Oxford University. His latest book is A Devil's Chaplain.

Article Link

Piggish Decadence For Breakfast

"Bling Breakfast: Choking on the richest meal in New York"
by Joy Press
Village Voice

According to UNICEF calculations, $1,000 is enough to feed 200 starving children a month. It's also just enough to stave off the hunger pangs of any lone New Yorker with more money than sense . . . at least until lunchtime. $1,000 is the price of the deluxe breakfast option, a caviar-laced frittata, at Norma's, one of the luxury hotel Le Parker Meridien's restaurants. Essentially, it's a glorified omelet, made from six eggs, cream, and lobster, with an extravagant 10 ounces of sevruga caviar dolloped on top. And its dozen or so cholesterol-saturated bites cost considerably more than the average New Yorker's weekly salary.

Read Entire Article

American Gods

"American Gods: Legendary Comic-Book Artists Alex Ross and Neal Adams Declare Their Patriot Acts"
by R.C. Baker
Village Voice


Uncle Sam sends the top-hatted patriot on a journey of wrenching revelation. Ross chillingly animates a lawn jockey, paints an unflinching, ghastly portrayal of a lynching, and uses the painfully clashing colors of azure sky against bloody corpses to highlight the cruelty of the Indian Removal Bill of 1832. Enraged at what has been wrought in his name, Sam grows to Brobdingnagian proportions and challenges his cynical contemporary doppelgänger to a fight, using federal buildings in Washington as a boxing ring—a wild invention that allows this synthesis of man and culture to regain his original ideals. Uncle Sam is a warning about the hubris of empire; if our society must now be seen through the scrim of 9-11, a citizen could do worse than give it a serious read.

Read Entire Article

Club Zero G

Douglas Rushkoff's new graphic novel:

Club Zero G

Oso in Thailand

Oso is traveling in Thailand for the next month and posting pictures/travel narratives. He's a very good photographer and cultural observer:

Oso in Thailand

Monday, May 24, 2004

Successful Crime Prevention Program Poorly Funded

(courtesy of Rebecca's Pocket)

"Tough On Crime"

Controlled studies show that it results in 54% fewer juvenile arrests and 69% fewer juvenile convictions and probation violations. And for every dollar it costs, four dollars are saved in future costs. Why aren't tough-on-crime conservatives all over it?

Probably because it doesn't involve more cops or more juvenile detention centers or harsher punishments or religious indoctrination. Instead, it's all about nurses.

Read Entire Post

Kentucky National Guard Soldier Beaten During Training Exercises in Guantanamo Bay

Former Soldier Claims He Was Beaten During Training Exercise In Cuba

In an exclusive interview with LEX 18's Leigh Searcy, a central Kentucky soldier says he was told to pose as the enemy for a training exercise at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in January 2003 - and it nearly cost him his life.

Sean Baker was a member of the Kentucky National Guard from 1989 to 1997. During that time, he served in the Gulf War. In the late 90's, he got out of the Guard, but re-enlisted after September 11th.

In January 2003, Baker was a member of the 438th Military Police company in Operation Enduring Freedom at Guantanamo Bay, where he says he was "given a direct order by an officer in the U.S. Army" to play the role of a detainee for a training exercise.

"I was on duty as an MP in an internal camp where the detainees were housed," said Baker.

Baker claims that he was ordered to put on one of the orange jumpsuits worn by the detainees. "At first I was reluctant, but he said 'you'll be fine...put this on.' And I did," said Baker.

Baker says what took place next happened at the hands of four U.S. soldiers - soldiers he believes didn't know he was one of them - has changed his life forever.

"They grabbed my arms, my legs, twisted me up and unfortunately one of the individuals got up on my back from behind and put pressure down on me while I was face down," said Baker. "Then he - the same individual - reached around and began to choke me and press my head down against the steel floor. After several seconds, 20 to 30 seconds, it seemed like an eternity because I couldn't breath. When I couldn't breath, I began to panic and I gave the code word I was supposed to give to stop the exercise, which was 'red.'"

But, Baker says, the beating didn't stop. "That individual slammed my head against the floor and continued to choke me," he said. "Somehow I got enough air, I muttered out, 'I'm a U.S. soldier, I'm a U.S. soldier.'"

Baker says it wasn't until one of the soldiers noticed what Baker was wearing did the exercise stop. "He saw that I had BDU's and boots on."

Nearly 15 months after that day, and countless medical treatments at Walter Reed Hospital, Baker is now medically retired from the military, but still suffers.

"I sustained an injury to my brain a traumatic brain injury which has caused me to have a seizure disorder I deal with daily," said Baker.

Baker's traumatic brain injury is outlined in a military document in his possession, which says the injury "was due to soldier playing role as a detainee who was uncooperative."

In light of recent revelations of prisoner abuse in Iraq, Baker felt the need to come forward with his story.

"I feel like I've been betrayed by my own troops because I would never have done to any detainee what had been transpired in my life what happened to me," said Baker. "I don't want this to happen to anyone else, what I'm living with daily."

The Kentucky National Guard confirmed Baker was a member of the 438th Military Police company, but would not comment on the investigation of the incident other than to say it was a "tragic, tragic accident."

Be sure to tune in to LEX 18 News tonight at 6 for Leigh Searcy's exclusive interview with Sean Baker.

Report Link and Video Clip

Family Values: Support All Loving Relationships (mutual lust is ok, too!)

In this world why would anyone be against the legitimation of loving relationships?



Dear Thivai,

Thursday, February 12, 2004 was the happiest and most moving day of our lives together -- the day we married each other in San Francisco City Hall after seventeen years together.

Tomorrow morning, the California Supreme Court will hear arguments from anti-gay rights organizations and California Attorney General Bill Lockyer that our marriages are nothing in the eyes of the law. They will argue that regardless of how unconstitutional the marriage laws of California may be, local officials like Mayor Gavin Newsom must perpetuate injustice rather than cure it. Even though the validity of our marriage, and the marriages of more than 4000 other couples, are the subject of this hearing, neither we nor any of the other married couples were allowed to be parties to these lawsuits.

We did not marry merely for symbolic value, or just to make a political statement. We married to obtain the very tangible benefits of marriage that have been denied to us our entire relationship and to claim what is rightfully ours - our dignity to be treated as fully equal American citizens . We are a nation of laws, and Mayor Newsom interpreted the state statutes in accordance with the Constitution.

This attempt to revoke our marriage is particularly painful for our family because Stuart's parents were an interracial couple who married here in California fifty-two years ago, in 1952. At the time Stuart's parents were married, the California statute books said that interracial couples could not marry, just as today California's statute books say that same-sex couples cannot marry. But in 1948, the California Supreme Court had become the first appellate court in United States history to rule that the laws banning interracial marriage are unconstitutional. Without that ruling by the California Supreme Court, Stuart's parents would have been prohibited from marrying, and we would not be here today.

Tomorrow, we will watch with the hope that the California Supreme Court remains true to its historic role in ensuring equal protection of the laws governing marriage.

Stuart Gafffney and John Lewis

Learn More

"The Apocalypse of Adolescence" by Ron Powers

In my course the last couple of years we often discuss the causes of teen violence... here is a psychologist reflecting on the possible causes of these outbursts of violence and our collective understanding (myths) of the causes.



Atlantic Monthly

This spring one of two Vermont teenagers charged with the knifing murder of two Dartmouth College professors will go on trial. The case offers entry to a disturbing subject—acts of lethal violence committed by "ordinary" teenagers from "ordinary" communities, teenagers who have become detached from civic life, saturated by the mythic violent imagery of popular culture, and consumed by the dictates of some private murderous fantasy

Powers, Ron. "Apocalypse of Adolescence." The Atlantic Monthly. 289.3 (March 2002): p58,60+

Easing around a curve along Route 110, about eight miles north of Tunbridge, Vermont, one is likely to be transfixed--wounded, almost--by the prospect that sweeps into view: a plain and weathered yet elegant New England village undulates for half a mile along a thoroughfare, hardly wider than a couple of house lots on either side. Lining the road are manicured playing fields, a spare and handsome town hall, a century-old white frame church (Congregational-Methodist), a couple of school buildings, a harness shop, two greens, the county courthouse, stately houses of brick and wood, a modest restaurant, and a gas station. Steep mountains press in on either side of the village, and arcing through its western flank is a splendid little stream. More stately houses are visible halfway up the slope of the western mountain, tucked among pine trees. To the east a pine wilderness hovers above the town, giving way at the southern edge to a nearly vertical cemetery, its oldest tombstones commemorating Union dead. This is Chelsea, Vermont, the shire town of Orange County, chartered on August 4, 1781, population 1,250. It scarcely has the look of a town that would breed teenage killers.

Americans want to believe in towns like Chelsea. My wife and I moved to Vermont from New York City in 1988, in search of such a place. We came here for several reasons, but coloring all of them was the hope of raising our two young sons in the safety and harmony of a tight-knit town community. It wasn't an unreasonable expectation. In the 1980s and 1990s, as the nation's celebrated "rural rebound" established itself, Vermont had been ranked at or near the top of America's "safest" and "most livable" states. Vermont's largest city, Burlington, was singled out as a "Dream Town" (Outside magazine), received a City Livability Award (the U.S. Conference of Mayors), and was designated a "kid-friendly city" (Zero Population Growth). The state was recognized for its superior air quality by the Corporation for Enterprise Development. These surveys drew heavily on the perceived needs of children. Public safety headed almost every list of desirable characteristics. Other leading indicators were pupil-teacher ratios in the public schools, high school graduation rates, funding levels for the arts and for education in general, marriage and divorce rates, and birth rates among teenagers. And underlying all of this was the fact that happy children and Vermont are linked in American myth, in large part because Norman Rockwell, who lived in the town of Arlington, Vermont, for fifteen years, employed local boys and gifts as models for his illustrations of leapfrogging, flag-saluting, Christmas-caroling American children.

According to a survey conducted in 1995, 41 percent of the U.S. population would eventually like to move to a small town or rural area. Not everybody can do it, of course; the potential loss of livelihood is usually too great a risk. But for those who try it, Vermont offers many sources of replenishment. A tiny state (9,609 square miles), it is sparsely populated, with fewer than 600,000 people. Its annual tourist flow dwarfs the local population. The heart of the state lies in remote mountain villages like Chelsea. Parents sometimes practice small-scale farming, or teach, or work as artisans, or join in the kind of "home economics" envisioned by the essayist Wendell Berry: a cooperative effort to maintain a purely local system of life. The children--well, the children, being the point of it all, are expected to mature smoothly into thoughtful, self-reliant adults, at peace with themselves and with the world.

Those are the expectations. If, indeed, the prospects for a happy childhood remain alive and well in havens like Vermont, they might imply a model of sorts for the many people in this country who have an anxious relationship with their children.

But what if they do not?

Rest of the Essay

"How to End Grade Inflation" by Michael Berube

A favorite story along these lines...
It was at the end of my last semester as a graduate student teaching at Bowling Green State University and I had just finished a challenging semester developing an innovatice course and the students had worked their asses off to fully engage with the materials. I was proud of their efforts and my grades showed my recognition of their sweat and pain (yes pain!), I believe the GA for the class was 3 on a 4 point scale. As I was walking out of my dept offices down to my parents to head over to graduation Dr. Jack Santino the Chair of the dept ran down to tell me that my grades were to high (he was forever worried no one would take the popular culture dept serious if we weren't handing out brutal grades) and that I "must" revise them downwards immediately. I stood behind my grades. He insisted that I revise the grading standards so that the class average would go down. I told him to shove it (a nice way of putting it) and he told me I would pay (I'm still looking over my shoulder to this day... ;)



"How to End Grade Inflation"
by Michael Berube
New York Times

Last month, Princeton University announced it would combat grade inflation by proposing that A-minuses, A's and A-pluses be awarded to no more than the top 35 percent of students in any course. For those of us in higher education, the news has come as a shock, almost as if Princeton had declared that spring in central New Jersey would begin promptly on March 21, with pleasant temperatures in the 60's and 70's through the end of the semester. For until now, grade inflation was like the weather: it got worse every year, or at least everyone said so, and yet hardly anybody did anything about it.

There is nothing inherently wrong with grade inflation. Imagine a system of scoring on a scale from 1 to 6 in which everyone gets a 5 and above, or a scale of 1 to 10 in which the lowest posted score is around 8.5. Such are the worlds of figure skating and gymnastics. If colleges employed similar scoring systems, the class valedictorian would come in with a 4.0, followed closely by hundreds of students above 3.95, trailed by the class clown at 3.4.

Critics would argue that we must be perilously close to such a system right now. Several years ago, Harvard awarded ''honors'' to 90 percent of its graduates. For its part, Princeton has disclosed that A's have been given 47 percent of the time in recent years, up from 31 percent in the mid-1970's. Perhaps grade inflation is most severe at the most elite colleges, where everyone is so far above average that the rules of the Caucus Race in ''Alice in Wonderland'' apply: everybody has won, and all must have prizes. At the school where I teach, Penn State, grade inflation over the same period has not been nearly so drastic. In the spring semester of 1975, the average G.P.A. was 2.86; in 2001 it had risen to only 3.02.

Still, we don't grade all that toughly. English departments have basically worked on the A/B binary system for some time: A's and A-minuses for the best students, B's for everyone else and C's, D's and F's for students who miss half the classes or threaten their teachers with bodily harm. At Penn State, A's accounted for 47 percent of the grades in English in 2002. The numbers are similar for sociology, comparative literature and psychology -- and indeed for the College of Liberal Arts as a whole. The sciences and engineering, notoriously, are stingier.

What to do? If we so desired, we could recalibrate grades at Penn State, at Princeton or at any college in the country. The principle is simple enough, and it's crucial to every diving competition: we would merely need to account for each course's degree of difficulty.

Every professor, and every department, produces an average grade -- an average for the professor over her career and an average for the discipline over the decades. And if colleges really wanted to clamp down on grade inflation, they could whisk it away statistically, simply by factoring those averages into each student's G.P.A. Imagine that G.P.A.'s were calculated on a scale of 10 with the average grade, be it a B-minus or an A-minus, counted as a 5. The B-plus in chemical engineering, where the average grade is, say, C-plus, would be rewarded accordingly and assigned a value of 8; the B-plus in psychology, where the average grade might be just over B-plus, would be graded like an easy dive, adequately executed, and given a 4.7.

After all, colleges keep all the necessary statistics -- by year, by course and by department. We know perfectly well which courses require a forward somersault with two and a half twists from the pike position for an A, and which courses will give B's for cannonballs. We could even encourage professors and entire departments to increase their prestige by lowering their average grade and thereby increasing their ''degree of difficulty.'' Students who earn A's in difficult courses would benefit -- as would students who earn B's.

Incorporating ''degree of difficulty'' into students' G.P.A.'s would turn campuses upside down; it would eliminate faculty capriciousness precisely by factoring it in; and it would involve nothing more than using the numbers we already have at our disposal. It would be confusing as hell. But it would yield a world in which the average grade was never anything more or less than the middle of the scale.

Article Link

(Almost) The Antithesis of a Gym Bunny

Since I'm in the middle of my PhD exams I was to busy to complete my latest column at In the Fray, luckily my former student Ryan Goodrich supplied me with this excellent essay:

(Almost) The Antithesis of a Gym Bunny

"History Lesson" by Carl Bernstein

(courtesy of Abby Normal)

"History lesson: GOP must stop Bush"
By Carl Bernstein
USA Today

Thirty years ago, a Republican president, facing impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, was forced to resign because of unprecedented crimes he and his aides committed against the Constitution and people of the United States. Ultimately, Richard Nixon left office voluntarily because courageous leaders of the Republican Party put principle above party and acted with heroism in defense of the Constitution and rule of law.
"What did the president know and when did he know it?" a Republican senator — Howard Baker of Tennessee — famously asked of Nixon 30 springtimes ago.

Today, confronted by the graphic horrors of Abu Ghraib prison, by ginned-up intelligence to justify war, by 652 American deaths since presidential operatives declared "Mission Accomplished," Republican leaders have yet to suggest that George W. Bush be held responsible for the disaster in Iraq and that perhaps he, not just Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is ill-suited for his job.

Having read the report of Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, I expect Baker's question will resound again in another congressional investigation. The equally relevant question is whether Republicans will, Pavlov-like, continue to defend their president with ideological and partisan reflex, or remember the example of principled predecessors who pursued truth at another dark moment.

Today, the issue may not be high crimes and misdemeanors, but rather Bush's failure, or inability, to lead competently and honestly.

"You are courageously leading our nation in the war against terror," Bush told Rumsfeld in a Wizard-of-Oz moment May 10, as Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and senior generals looked on. "You are a strong secretary of Defense, and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude." The scene recalled another Oz moment: Nixon praising his enablers, Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, as "two of the finest public servants I've ever known."

Sidestepping the Constitution

Like Nixon, this president decided the Constitution could be bent on his watch. Terrorism justified it, and Rumsfeld's Pentagon promoted policies making inevitable what happened at Abu Ghraib — and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The legal justification for ignoring the Geneva Conventions regarding humane treatment of prisoners was enunciated in a memo to Bush, dated Jan. 25, 2002, from the White House counsel.

"As you have said, the war against terrorism is a new kind of war," Alberto Gonzales wrote Bush. "In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions." Quaint.

Since January, Bush and Rumsfeld have been aware of credible complaints of systematic torture. In March, Taguba's report reached Rumsfeld. Yet neither Bush nor his Defense secretary expressed concern publicly or leveled with Congress until photographic evidence of an American Gulag, possessed for months by the administration, was broadcast to the world.

Rumsfeld then explained, "You read it, as I say, it's one thing. You see these photographs and it's just unbelievable. ... It wasn't three-dimensional. It wasn't video. It wasn't color. It was quite a different thing." But the report also described atrocities never photographed or taped that were, often, even worse than the pictures — just as Nixon's actions were frequently far worse than his tapes recorded.

It was Barry Goldwater, the revered conservative, who convinced Nixon that he must resign or face certain conviction by the Senate — and perhaps jail. Goldwater delivered his message in person, at the White House, accompanied by Republican congressional leaders.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee likewise put principle above party to cast votes for articles of impeachment. On the eve of his mission, Goldwater told his wife that it might cost him his Senate seat on Election Day. Instead, the courage of Republicans willing to dissociate their party from Nixon helped Ronald Reagan win the presidency six years later, unencumbered by Watergate.

Another precedent is apt: In 1968, a few Democratic senators — J. William Fulbright, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern and Robert F. Kennedy — challenged their party's torpor and insisted that President Lyndon Johnson be held accountable for his disastrous and disingenuous conduct of the Vietnam War, adding weight to public pressure, which, eventually, forced Johnson not to seek re-election.

Today, the United States is confronted by another ill-considered war, conceived in ideological zeal and pursued with contempt for truth, disregard of history and an arrogant assertion of American power that has stunned and alienated much of the world, including traditional allies. At a juncture in history when the United States needed a president to intelligently and forcefully lead a real international campaign against terrorism and its causes, Bush decided instead to unilaterally declare war on a totalitarian state that never represented a terrorist threat; to claim exemption from international law regarding the treatment of prisoners; to suspend constitutional guarantees even to non-combatants at home and abroad; and to ignore sound military advice from the only member of his Cabinet — Powell — with the most requisite experience. Instead of using America's moral authority to lead a great global cause, Bush squandered it.

In Republican cloakrooms, as in the Oval Office, response to catastrophe these days is more concerned with politics and PR than principle. Said Tom DeLay, House majority leader: "A full-fledged congressional investigation — that's like saying we need an investigation every time there's police brutality on the street."

When politics topples principles

To curtail any hint of dissension in the ranks, Bush scheduled a "pep rally" with congressional Republicans — speaking 35 minutes, after which, characteristically, he took no questions and lawmakers dutifully circled the wagons.

What did George W. Bush know and when did he know it? Another wartime president, Harry Truman, observed that the buck stops at the president's desk, not the Pentagon.

But among Republicans today, there seems to be scant interest in asking tough questions — or honoring the example of courageous leaders of Congress who, not long ago, stepped forward, setting principle before party, to hold accountable presidents who put their country in peril.

Carl Bernstein's most recent book is a biography of John Paul II, His Holiness. He is co-author, with Bob Woodward, of All the President's Men and The Final Days.

Article Link

Place: Vision and Voice

Community Arts Network

Stephani Etheridge Woodson, an assistant professor at Arizona State University?s Department of Theatre, where she teaches in the Theater for Youth MFA and PhD programs, writes this month for CAN about the experience of "Place: Vision and Voice," a community-based theater/performance residency program she founded at ASU in 2000. She focuses especially on the program's 2002-3 arts residency in the Gila River Indian Community and "The River People," an award-winning documentary video she made with Pima Indian teens and Megan Alrutz during the residency. This story is especially valuable as an accessible application of performance/cultural theory to an actual community arts residency ("messy, like life itself"), with references to theorists like Henry Giroux, bell hooks and Don Adams and Arlene Goldbard.

Essay on the Project

Thy Covert Kingdom

I was a grandchild of fundamentalists who helped raised me when I was a young kid (single, divorced working mother), I later developed a full split personality by growing up in my adoptive family which was completely secular (if not pagan ;) While I can still identify some deep-rooted neurosis from my fundamental indocrination, as a contemporary cultural critic it helps to have that background to understand where we are as a nation ...


(courtesy John B., posted at Media Squatters)

"The covert kingdom: Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Texas"
By Joe Bageant
Online Journal

Not long ago I pulled my car up alongside a tiny wooden church in the woods, a stark white frame box my family built in 1840. And as always, an honest-to-god chill went through me, for the ancestral ghosts presumably hovering over the graves there. From the wide open front door the Pentecostal preacher's message echoed from within the plain wooden walls: "Thank you Gawd for giving us strawng leaders like President [sic] Bush during this crieeesis. Praise you Lord and guide him in this battle with Satan's Muslim armies."

If I had chosen to go back down the road a mile or so to the sprawling new Bible Baptist church—complete with school facilities, professional sound system and in-house television production—I could have heard approximately the same exhortation. Usually offered at the end of a prayer for sons and daughters of members in the congregation serving in Iraq, it can be heard in any of the thousands upon thousands of praise temples across our republic.

After a lifetime of identity conflict, I have come to accept that, blood-wise, if not politically or spiritually, these are my people. And as a leftist it is very clear to me these days why urban liberals not only fail to understand these people, but do not even know they exist, other than as some general lump of ignorant, intolerant voters called "the religious right," or the "Christian Right," or "neocon Christians." But until progressives come to understand what these people read, hear, are told and deeply believe, we cannot understand American politics, much less be effective. Given fundamentalist Christianity's inherent cultural isolation, it is nearly impossible for most enlightened Americans to imagine, in honest human terms, what fundamentalist Americans believe, let alone understand why we should all care.

For liberals to examine the current fundamentalist phenomenon in America is accept some hard truths. For starters, we libs are even more embattled than most of us choose to believe. Any significant liberal and progressive support is limited to a few urban pockets on each coast and along the upper edge of the Midwestern tier states. Most of the rest of the nation, the much vaunted heartland, is the dominion of the conservative and charismatic Christian. Turf-wise, it's pretty much their country, which is to say it presently belongs to George W. Bush for some valid reasons. Remember: He did not have to steal the entire election, just a little piece of it in Florida.

Evangelical born-again Christians of one stripe or another were then, and are now, 40 percent of the electorate, and they support Bush 3-1. And as long as their clergy and their worst instincts tell them to, they will keep on voting for him, or someone like him, regardless of what we view as his arrogant folly and sub-intelligence. Forget about changing their minds. These Christians do not read the same books we do, they do not get their information from anything remotely resembling reasonably balanced sources, and, in fact, consider even CBS and NBC super-liberal networks of porn and the Devil's lies. Given how fundamentalists see the modern world, they may as well be living in Iraq or Syria, with whom they share approximately the same Bronze Age religious tenets. They believe in God, Rumsfeld's Holy War and their absolute duty as God's chosen nation to kick Muslim ass up one side and down the other. In other words, just because millions of Christians appear to be dangerously nuts does not mean they are marginal.

Read the Rest of the Essay

U.S. Military Air Attacks on Iraqi Wedding Party

(courtesy of an enraged Abby Normal)

"Videotape shows revelers at celebration: Survivors of May 19 airstrike cast doubt on U.S. account"
The Associated Press

Full Report/Picture

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Sexual Domination in Uniform: An American Value?

(courtesy of Thoughts on the Eve of the Apocalypse)

"Sexual Domination in Uniform: An American Value"

The Abu Ghraib portraits of sexual humiliation and submission have exposed the unbelievably tangled strands of racism, misogyny, homophobia, national arrogance and hyper-masculinity that characterize the US military. Militarized sexual domination is neither "contrary to American values" nor simply the work of a few "bad apples." It is, rather, a daily practice.

The "bad apples" defense is both unspeakably inadequate and completely disingenuous. While narrowing the scope of inquiry to individual transgression may provide a convenient protective shield for the military, it also deflects attention away from very troubling realities. The photos of Abu Ghraib reveal as much about our nation as they do about the soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company.

As our president made clear, the intent of the invasion and occupation of Iraq was to bring the Iraqi opposition to its knees. Why then the surprise that soldiers would be thrilled to comply so literally? The scenario in which an Iraqi man kneels with the penis of another in or near his mouth shocked us all. But our leaders' call for the naked humiliation of Arabs and Muslims was not so muted that only a few stray soldiers heard.

Iraqi prisoners made to wear women's underwear. Those who battled for women's equal right to serve should take heed. Degradation and weakness are still equated with the female in this man's army.

Much has been made of the role of Private Lynndie England, the thumbs-up girl of prisoner abuse. Her culpability seems manifest and, back on home turf, England will have to fight for her soul the best way she knows how. But England is the second cover girl for the Iraq installment of the US military's sexual integration story. Jessica Lynch was the first. Two fresh-faced, working-class, small-town girls eager to escape the limitations of location and station. Escape they did, into the welcoming arms of an institution that used one to rally the nation, spinning a narrative of the endangered but plucky female, rescued from the dark barbarian hordes. It will use the other as sacrifice to assuage the anxieties of a troubled nation. In her role as dominatrix over Iraqi men England exposed the sexualization of national conquest. As a participant in the militarized construction of the masculine she inaugurated a brand new, frightening archetype: dominant-nation female as joyful agent of sexual, national, racial and religious humiliation. How's that for liberation?

Lynndie England aside, the scenes at Abu Ghraib depict sexual domination as a feature of military hyper-masculinity. The horrific Denver Post revelations of the sexual assault and rape of multitudes of servicewomen are a further indication that sexual domination in uniform is hardly a rarity. And our military is built upon the daily subjugation of the sexual lives of thousands upon thousands of women to the sexual appetites of servicemen overseas. Subordinating the national interests of countries the world over to the geo-political interests of the US seemingly requires the sexual sacrifice of some portion of these nations' women -- poor women, always.

Military prostitution is viewed as rest and relaxation, entertainment for the troops. While the purported "goal" of the sexual humiliation of Abu Ghraib prisoners was to extract vital information, the photos tell a more twisted story. The cheery faces tell us that dramatizing the metaphoric rape of the Iraqi nation by acting out the sexual domination of Iraqi men was big fun. Casting themselves as directors and actors in the drama of sexual humiliation, the prison guards clearly believed that they could do whatever they wished, and thoroughly enjoy themselves in the process. Was it un-American for them to think so? Not when the core message of their commander-in-chief to the Iraqi people has been, "You will bow down to our capacity to dominate, and we will exercise that capacity despite global opposition."

The struggle over assigning culpability has taken on the character of a high-stakes political tango. That struggle will intensify. Although there's no question but that everyone responsible, from the immediate perpetrators on up, must be held to account, culpability runs far deeper.

It may be hard to get up in the morning and face this fact, but we are, collectively, as guilty as hell. We elect representatives who feed the military monster. We honor sadistic hyper-masculinity, awarding those who portray it best with governorships (e.g. Arnold Schwarzenneger). We devote vast resources to bondage and discipline in our criminal justice system. And we lie to ourselves unceasingly. The world is weary of, and profoundly angered by, America's tattered claim of innocence.

The soldiers at Abu Ghraib pulled back the curtain on their perverse enactments so that we may see who we are. Do we have the courage to look? Do we have the will to change?

Linda Burnham is the executive director of the Women of Color Resource Center in Oakland, CA.

Gen. Zinni: 'They've Screwed Up'

60 Minutes report

Retired General Anthony Zinni is one of the most respected and outspoken military leaders of the past two decades.

From 1997 to 2000, he was commander-in-chief of the United States Central Command, in charge of all American troops in the Middle East. That was the same job held by Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf before him, and Gen. Tommy Franks after.

Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, the Bush administration thought so highly of Zinni that it appointed him to one of its highest diplomatic posts -- special envoy to the Middle East.

But Zinni broke ranks with the administration over the war in Iraq, and now, in his harshest criticism yet, he says senior officials at the Pentagon are guilty of dereliction of duty -- and that the time has come for heads to roll. Correspondent Steve Kroft reports.
“There has been poor strategic thinking in this,” says Zinni. “There has been poor operational planning and execution on the ground. And to think that we are going to ‘stay the course,’ the course is headed over Niagara Falls. I think it's time to change course a little bit, or at least hold somebody responsible for putting you on this course. Because it's been a failure.”

Zinni spent more than 40 years serving his country as a warrior and diplomat, rising from a young lieutenant in Vietnam to four-star general with a reputation for candor.

Now, in a new book about his career, co-written with Tom Clancy, called "Battle Ready," Zinni has handed up a scathing indictment of the Pentagon and its conduct of the war in Iraq.

In the book, Zinni writes: "In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption."

“I think there was dereliction in insufficient forces being put on the ground and fully understanding the military dimensions of the plan. I think there was dereliction in lack of planning,” says Zinni. “The president is owed the finest strategic thinking. He is owed the finest operational planning. He is owed the finest tactical execution on the ground. … He got the latter. He didn’t get the first two.”

Zinni says Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time - with the wrong strategy. And he was saying it before the U.S. invasion. In the months leading up to the war, while still Middle East envoy, Zinni carried the message to Congress: “This is, in my view, the worst time to take this on. And I don’t feel it needs to be done now.”

But he wasn’t the only former military leader with doubts about the invasion of Iraq. Former General and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former Centcom Commander Norman Schwarzkopf, former NATO Commander Wesley Clark, and former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki all voiced their reservations.

Zinni believes this was a war the generals didn’t want – but it was a war the civilians wanted.

“I can't speak for all generals, certainly. But I know we felt that this situation was contained. Saddam was effectively contained. The no-fly, no-drive zones. The sanctions that were imposed on him,” says Zinni.

“Now, at the same time, we had this war on terrorism. We were fighting al Qaeda. We were engaged in Afghanistan. We were looking at 'cells' in 60 countries. We were looking at threats that we were receiving information on and intelligence on. And I think most of the generals felt, let's deal with this one at a time. Let's deal with this threat from terrorism, from al Qaeda.”

One of Zinni's responsibilities while commander-in-chief at Centcom was to develop a plan for the invasion of Iraq. Like his predecessors, he subscribed to the belief that you only enter battle with overwhelming force.

But Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld thought the job could be done with fewer troops and high-tech weapons.

How many troops did Zinni’s plan call for? “We were much in line with Gen. Shinseki's view,” says Zinni. “We were talking about, you know, 300,000, in that neighborhood.”

What difference would it have made if 300,000 troops had been sent in, instead of 180,000?

“I think it's critical in the aftermath, if you're gonna go to resolve a conflict through the use of force, and then to rebuild the country,” says Zinni.

“The first requirement is to freeze the situation, is to gain control of the security. To patrol the streets. To prevent the looting. To prevent the 'revenge' killings that might occur. To prevent bands or gangs or militias that might not have your best interests at heart from growing or developing.”
Last month, Secretary Rumsfeld acknowledged that he hadn't anticipated the level of violence that would continue in Iraq a year after the war began. Should he have been surprised?

“He should not have been surprised. You know, there were a number of people, before we even engaged in this conflict, that felt strongly we were underestimating the problems and the scope of the problems we would have in there,” says Zinni. “Not just generals, but others -- diplomats, those in the international community that understood the situation. Friends of ours in the region that were cautioning us to be careful out there. I think he should have known that.”

Instead, Zinni says the Pentagon relied on inflated intelligence information about weapons of mass destruction from Iraqi exiles, like Ahmed Chalabi and others, whose credibility was in doubt. Zinni claims there was no viable plan or strategy in place for governing post-Saddam Iraq.

“As best I could see, I saw a pickup team, very small, insufficient in the Pentagon with no detailed plans that walked onto the battlefield after the major fighting stopped and tried to work it out in the huddle -- in effect to create a seat-of-the-pants operation on reconstructing a country,” says Zinni.

“I give all the credit in the world to Ambassador Bremer as a great American who's serving his country, I think, with all the kind of sacrifice and spirit you could expect. But he has made mistake after mistake after mistake.”
What mistakes?

“Disbanding the army,” says Zinni. “De-Baathifying, down to a level where we removed people that were competent and didn’t have blood on their hands that you needed in the aftermath of reconstruction – alienating certain elements of that society.”

Zinni says he blames the Pentagon for what happened. “I blame the civilian leadership of the Pentagon directly. Because if they were given the responsibility, and if this was their war, and by everything that I understand, they promoted it and pushed it - certain elements in there certainly - even to the point of creating their own intelligence to match their needs, then they should bear the responsibility,” he says.

“But regardless of whose responsibility I think it is, somebody has screwed up. And at this level and at this stage, it should be evident to everybody that they've screwed up. And whose heads are rolling on this? That's what bothers me most.”

Adds Zinni: “If you charge me with the responsibility of taking this nation to war, if you charge me with implementing that policy with creating the strategy which convinces me to go to war, and I fail you, then I ought to go.”

Who specifically is he talking about?

“Well, it starts with at the top. If you're the secretary of defense and you're responsible for that. If you're responsible for that planning and that execution on the ground. If you've assumed responsibility for the other elements, non-military, non-security, political, economic, social and everything else, then you bear responsibility,” says Zinni. “Certainly those in your ranks that foisted this strategy on us that is flawed. Certainly they ought to be gone and replaced.”

Zinni is talking about a group of policymakers within the administration known as "the neo-conservatives" who saw the invasion of Iraq as a way to stabilize American interests in the region and strengthen the position of Israel. They include Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith; Former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle; National Security Council member Eliot Abrams; and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Zinni believes they are political ideologues who have hijacked American policy in Iraq.

“I think it's the worst kept secret in Washington. That everybody - everybody I talk to in Washington has known and fully knows what their agenda was and what they were trying to do,” says Zinni.

“And one article, because I mentioned the neo-conservatives who describe themselves as neo-conservatives, I was called anti-Semitic. I mean, you know, unbelievable that that's the kind of personal attacks that are run when you criticize a strategy and those who propose it. I certainly didn't criticize who they were. I certainly don't know what their ethnic religious backgrounds are. And I'm not interested.”

Adds Zinni: “I know what strategy they promoted. And openly. And for a number of years. And what they have convinced the president and the secretary to do. And I don't believe there is any serious political leader, military leader, diplomat in Washington that doesn't know where it came from.”

Zinni said he believed their strategy was to change the Middle East and bring it into the 21st century.

“All sounds very good, all very noble. The trouble is the way they saw to go about this is unilateral aggressive intervention by the United States - the take down of Iraq as a priority,” adds Zinni. “And what we have become now in the United States, how we're viewed in this region is not an entity that's promising positive change. We are now being viewed as the modern crusaders, as the modern colonial power in this part of the world.”
Should all of those involved, including Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, resign?

“I believe that they should accept responsibility for that,” says Zinni. “If I were the commander of a military organization that delivered this kind of performance to the president, I certainly would tender my resignation. I certainly would expect to be gone.”

“You say we need to change course -- that the current course is taking us over Niagara Falls. What course do you think ought to be set,” Kroft asked Zinni.

“Well, it's been evident from the beginning what the course is. We should have gotten this U.N. resolution from the beginning. What does it take to sit down with the members of the Security Council, the permanent members, and find out what it takes,” says Zinni.

“What is it they want to get this resolution? Do they want a say in political reconstruction? Do they want a piece of the pie economically? If that's the cost, fine. What they’re gonna pay for up front is boots on the ground and involvement in sharing the burden.”

Are there enough troops in Iraq now?

“Do I think there are other missions that should be taken on which would cause the number of troops to go up, not just U.S., but international participants? Yes,” says Zinni.

“We should be sealing off the borders, we should be protecting the road networks. We're not only asking for combat troops, we’re looking for trainers; we’re looking for engineers. We are looking for those who can provide services in there.”

But has the time come to develop an exit strategy?

“There is a limit. I think it’s important to understand what the limit is. Now do I think we are there yet? No, it is salvageable if you can convince the Iraqis that what we're trying to do is in their benefit in the long run,” says Zinni.

“Unless we change our communication and demonstrate a different image to the people on the street, then we're gonna get to the point where we are going to be looking for quick exits. I don't believe we're there now. And I wouldn't want to see us fail here.”
Zinni, who now teaches international relations at the College of William and Mary, says he feels a responsibility to speak out, just as former Marine Corps Commandant David Shoup voiced early concerns about the Vietnam war nearly 40 years ago.

“It is part of your duty. Look, there is one statement that bothers me more than anything else. And that's the idea that when the troops are in combat, everybody has to shut up. Imagine if we put troops in combat with a faulty rifle, and that rifle was malfunctioning, and troops were dying as a result,” says Zinni.

“I can't think anyone would allow that to happen, that would not speak up. Well, what's the difference between a faulty plan and strategy that's getting just as many troops killed? It’s leading down a path where we're not succeeding and accomplishing the missions we've set out to do.”

60 Minutes asked Secretary Rumsfeld and his deputy Wolfowitz to respond to Zinni's remarks. The request for an interview was declined.

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