Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Questions I Have About My World/Random Quotes from Recent Readings

(What are the questions that haunt me these days:

How far is it possible to know and understand one’s own self?

Materialities—the stuff of the world.

Spatialities—spaces and places, including the way that they are perceived, used, and regulated.

Temporalities—how does time shape our relations in the world?

Culture/community—how is our subjectivity dependent on our communal/cultural environments?

Representation--What is ‘described’ or given life in the representation? (objects)What are the ‘links’ or ‘hinges’ between whatever is being described? (relations)What are the assumptions about what may be ‘known’ about objects or relations?(epistemology) What are the assumptions about what it is to know or ‘be a knower’? (subjectivity)

Modalities—how does the subject know? Textually? Visually? Audially? Corporeally? Cognitively? Emotionally? Aesthetically? Magic/Mystic source?

Knowledge--If society is organized around conflict between groups with different forms and degrees of power, do these differences result in multiple valid accounts of the world? What is the relationship between authority and knowing? What typifies the “everyday” and what insights might we gain from its study?

Power--How is inequality maintained by existing social structures and what means are used to challenge this situation? Which social structures promote egalitarian ideals? Following Michel Foucault and Jean-Francois Lyotard, are contemporary forms of knowledge dictated by the interests of power, or are they becoming democratically organized by the acceptance of multiple accounts of the truth? Are power structures (metanarratives—Lyotard) destabilized by the liberation of a multiplicity of truths, or does structural power remain constitutive even of subversive forces?

Feel free to suggest books/films/performers/artists that help me get a grasp on these questions...)


Some quotes from recent readings:

In any case, I consider it to be an urgent task to disengage from concepts that are being deadened by routine use the meaning that they regain both from a re-examination of their history and from a reflexion on their subjective foundations.
That, no doubt, is the teacher’s prime function—the function from which all others proceed, and the one in which the price of experience is best inscribed.
If this function is neglected, meaning is obscured in an action whose effects are entirely dependent on meaning, and the rules of psychoanalytic technique, by being reduced to mere recipes, rob the analytic experience of any status as knowledge and even of any criterion of reality. (Lacan, 33)

Burke’s four-part methodology—which he calls indexing—is designed to permit one to locate, describe, analyze, and interpret the four kinds of structure one finds in verbal works. These are structures of identifications, or what goes with what; structures of opposition and polarization, or what versus what; structures of progression, or what follows what; and structures of transformation, or what becomes what. (Rueckert, 235)

True literacy means examining one’s society, not simply manipulating surface features of text. (Schilb, 187)

[The "discourse city" would be] a new logic of ‘collaboration’ … [that] would celebrate four qualities of urban societies: it would allow for differentiation without exclusion; appreciate variety; encourage erotic attraction to novel, strange, and surprising encounters; and value publicity in public spaces … where people stand and sit together, interact or mingle or simply witness one another without becoming a unified community of ‘shared final ends’ (Miller, 285, 299)

Every educational system is a political means of maintaining or modifying the appropriateness of discourses with the knowledge and power they bring with them. (Foucault, 1972: 46)

Relations—thinking about our particular situation in the world map out the various relations that you interact through on a regular basis.
I identify myself in language, but only by losing myself in it like an object. What is realized in my history is not the past definite of what was, since it is no more, or even the present perfect of what has been in what I am, but the future anterior of what I shall have been for what I am in the process of becoming. (Lacan, 86)

What [was] ignored was the possibility that we live in multiple and fragmentary worlds, worlds that overlap, compete, and transform themselves continuously, worlds provided by family, ethnic community, neighborhood, profession, political affiliation, and so on. A more accurate portrayal of the modern condition, and perhaps of the postmodern and premodern conditions as well, would have emphasized the way identity is shaped by the voices of these multiple worlds in which we live, each of us an unstable, occasionally harmonious but more often cacophonous chorus of these voices or—to return to the spatial metaphor—a mosaic or quilt, made up of nits and pieces of past identities that were themselves assemblages of fragments. (Halloran, 114)

[The] American “individual,” rather than being an adventurer, is in reality most often a man or woman whose circle of reality is drawn no larger than family and friends. The individual has little interest, indeed, little energy, outside that circle. The American individual is a passive person, and monotonous space is what a society of passive individuals builds for itself. A bland environment assures people that nothing disturbing or demanding is happening ‘out there.’ You build neutrality in order to legitimate withdrawal. (Sennett, 65)

The expression and site of ideas [Foucault] calls discourse, is for him an active and dialogic, rather than a passive and monologic, process. Any discourse at any given moment in time is structured as much by the assumptions about what constitutes it as a discourse as by the boundaries of language itself. Disocurse in a Foucauldian sense, then, combines linguistic utterance, whether spoken or written, with the underlying non-linguistic structures—such as the cultural, social and economic—through which utterances are realized or suppressed. Within education, for example, institutional practices control the access of individuals to various kinds of pedagogic discourse. (Clark, 4)



Clark, Urszula. War Words: Language, History and the Disciplining of English. NY: Esevier, 2001.

Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge. translated from the French by A.M. Sheridan Smith. NY: Harper & Row, 1972.

Halloran, Michael S. “Further Thoughts on the End of Rhetoric.” Defining the New Rhetorics. ed. Theresa Enos and Stuart C. Brown. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1993: 109-19.

Lacan, Jacques. “Function and Field of Language.” Ecrits. NY: W.W. Norton, 1977: 30-113.

Miller, Susan. “New Discourse City: An Alternative Model For Collaboration.” Writing With: New Directions in Collaborative Teaching, Learning, and Research. ed. Sally Barr Reagan, et al. Albany: State U of New York P, 1994: 284-99.

Rueckert, William H. Encounters With Kenneth Burke. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1994.

Schilb, John. “Cultural Studies, Postmodernism, and Composition.” Contending With Words: Composition and Rhetoric in a Postmodern Age. ed. Patricia Harkin and John Schilb. NY: MLA, 1991: 173-188.

Sennett, Richard. The Conscience of the Eye: The Design and Social Life of Cities. NY: Norton, 1990.

Why My Comment Moderation Switch Is ON

I recently engaged in a long heated discussion with another blogger on this site. The blogger would post a couple of comments a day (always on the same post) and I, of course, would reply. It soon got ugly because in my discussions (and arguments) I usually like to define what it is I am talking about and make some connections-- I expect the same from those who engage with me at this site--my daily commenter didn't like this and began to criticize me for being 1) a man 2) negative

Let me address each in turn:

1) Yes I do have a penis and I suppose that may (or may not) give me some tendecies, but I reject simplistic deterministic dismissals that I am just a man and part of this grand conspiracy to keep women down (excuse if I am wrong, as a supporter of women's and gender-based social-justice issues, I always thought that we were trying to move past this type of thinking?). My statement to this effect just made my commenter even more mad (not mad in a creative way)/nasty (not nasty in a fun way) because of a need to fit my critique of this commenter into a deterministic dismissal that would allow this commenter to avoid ever addressing the critiques and permit this commenter to climb up on a dais and make pronouncements of my essential unworthiness because I have an outie and not an innie (in case my babbling has caused you to drift, we are not talking about belly buttons here).

2) I stated on this site that I was trying to avoid negative forces (this constant commenter who refused to provide any clarificiations of the positions being professed and dismissing all responses as simply examples of negative masculinity--a good example), not that I am never negative, angry, dark, cynical, mocking, afraid, anxious, etc... just that i was trying to avoid these things. I view the world and all of us in it as engaged in this crazy imporbable absurd dance of life--this causes me to be playful, absurd, questioning (constantly), laughing, and puzzled in order to make sense out of the chaos and to deal with the madness (I don't know about the rest of the world, but Americans who think everything is OK and don't sense the absurdity/chaos make me very, very nervous).

Anyway, the commenter then proceeded to send me emails at my film studies email, my personal email--multiple emails everyday... I will be the first to admit that I soon moved from amused to annoyed to angry--wishing to avoid those negative feelings I blocked the blogger from my emails and set the moderation button on at this site.

I apologize to anyone else this may inconvenience (I always like immediate posting of comments)

Globalization: Theory/Studies/Ethnographies

I've been busy studying other areas and have ignored this for awhile ... what would you (yeah you reading this) suggest?

Thanks for any comments/suggestions!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Nancy Gregg: Get Over It

(Dedicated to the family, friends, enemies, and strangers, who insisted I just "get over it")

Get Over It
Nancy Gregg
My Town (posted by Harlan Bennett)

An Excerpt:

I am an American. I will not be dismissed, minimalized or marginalized, especially by hypocrites like Scalia et al, who persist in throwing rocks at my patriotism from inside their glass houses.

I will not be preached to by warmongering pseudo-Christians; I will not be reminded of the importance of family values by people who have no values at all. I will not be lied to, stolen from, manipulated. I will not be assuaged by meaningless rhetoric; I will not be lectured on the topic of honesty by people who wouldn't recognize the truth if it walked up to them on the street and bit them in the
ass.

I will not be condescended to by people who are as immoral as they are greedy and self-serving. I will not be shooed away from the adult dinner table like an ignorant child, while the alleged grown-ups plot the destruction of my own nation, or the nations of others. I will not be told to remain silent in the face of wrongdoing. I will not relinquish a single freedom that is my birthright as an American.

And no, I WILL NOT GET OVER IT.

When my fellow citizens are suffering, I will speak out for them, and stand with them. When disaster strikes, I will not GET OVER IT by going shopping, or attending a birthday party, or catching a ballgame. REAL AMERICANS don't do things like that - and besides, it seems pretty obvious that those jobs are already taken.

REAL AMERICANS do not need to be told how to act, or how to react. We know what needs to be done, and we do it every time. Within minutes of the 9/11 attack, firefighters, police officers, and emergency workers were on the scene. They risked their lives to save others without hesitation. Not one of them walked away in an attempt to GET OVER IT. And dare I say it? Not one of them found it necessary to stop and read The Pet Goat in its entirety before springing into action.

REAL AMERICANS don't condone torture, secret prisons, or rendition. REAL AMERICANS don't look at photographs from Abu Ghraib and GET OVER IT. REAL AMERICANS don't watch footage of dead Iraqi children on the nightly news and GET OVER IT. REAL AMERICANS don't read about their soldiers being wounded and killed in an ill-disguised attempt to put MONEY into the pockets of the rich and the powerful and GET OVER IT.

This Administration, and the elected officials who support it, have brazenly picked a fight with myself and my fellow citizens. Wrong move, wrong crowd. They obviously don't know who they're up against. You see, real Americans don't GET OVER IT when it's their own country under siege. They don't kneel, they don't bow, they don't yield.

The American people are now standing knee-deep in a foul-smelling liquid. They know what it looks like, what it smells like; they KNOW what it is. So stop telling us it's raining. Stop trotting yourselves out into the public square with your half-truths and your spin. We all know the emperor has no clothes; don't insult our intelligence with grandiose descriptions of his wardrobe.

Entire Rant ;)

On You Tube: Media Coverage of the January 27th Washington D.C. Peace/Antiwar Protest

(Courtesy of Rebbeca Glasscock and You Tube)

Media Coverage of the Protest

This is a FOX5 coverage--what is most amusing is their statement that there was a somewhat smaller group of pro-war protestors (hundreds of thousands of Peace protestors and 20 Pro-War protestors... hmmm, yeah that is somewhat smaller...), there emphasis on a minor event where people charged the Capitol steps, and their huge emphasis on Jane Fonda's appearance (knowing the gut reaction of their target audience) with no mention of any other speakers that were present. There was this 12 year old named Maria who spoke to the Washington Mall crowd, she was very inspirational and the best speaker of the whole event--I look forward to what she will do in the future!

Most telling for me--hundreds of thousands of protestors and not one arrest!!!
(Message from Jessica Hays)

Minimum Wage Lobby Day!
$$$$$SSSSSSSSSS$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Thursday, February 8
$$$$$SSSSSSSSSS$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is launching a focused lobby day to push HB 17, legislation that will

· raise KY’s minimum wage to
$7.00
· expand its coverage to tipped employees
· index that wage to the cost of living, so it doesn’t flatline again.

We can get this passed! You can make the difference!

No lobbying experience necessary! On-site training!

Quick Facts: Cost-of-living changes since
1997:Food + 23%
Housing + 29%
Medical care + 43%
Child care + 52%
Gasoline + 134%
Minimum Wage has flatlined: 0%

Twenty-nine states and D.C. have raised their minimum wage. Ten of these have laws that index the minimum wage to adjust for cost of living increases. Come share your stories about our need to raise Kentucky’s wage!

We’ll team up to tell legislators our arguments and stories about the need to raise the wage.
If you’re interested in taking part in this lobby day, please contact Jessica Hays at 859.533.0613 or jessicabreen@kftc.org. We’ll meet in the Capitol Annex, Room 113 on Feb. 8 at 9:00, but come when you can!

Monday, January 29, 2007

R.E.M.: Fretless

(Has been getting to me today...)

Fretless
R.E.M.

He's got his work and she comes easy
They each come around when the other is gone
Me, I think I got stuck somewhere in between
I wouldn't confide in the Prodigal Son
The die has been cast, the battle is won
The bullets were blanks, a double aught gun
I couldn't admit to a minute of fun

They come and they come and they come and they come
I accepted with a gentle tongue
No words spoken, no need to speak
Take it, stomp twice, ring the bell
Tether that ring and phrase
Enough with the rifle and talk already
We all know what it means
Take this conversation to your great divide
I can only swallow what I ate
And I don't hate him
And I don't hate her

They come and they come and they come and they come
I accepted with a gentle tongue
No heart broken, no need to speak
(Don't talk to me) Don't talk to me about being alone
(Don't talk to me) Don't talk to me about being alone
(Don't talk to me) Don't talk to me about being alone
Reach for each other before you leave
Reach peace with an E-A-C
Don't threaten me with a gentle tease
Don't threaten me with angry
Please, please, please
Don't try to tell me what I am

They come and they come and they come and they come
I accepted with a gentle tongue
No words broken, no need to speak
(Talk to me) Don't talk to me
(Talk to me) Don't talk to me

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Top 10 Solutions for a More Perfect Union

(Courtesy of Rebecca Glasscock, fellow DC marcher/protestor... these suggestions are so essential I had to put the whole article up...)

Top 10 Solutions for a More Perfect Union
By Katrina vanden Heuvel,
The Nation and AlterNet

The "thumping" taken by the Republican Congress on election day was not just a rejection of K Street corruption and the catastrophe in Iraq. It was a call to action on issues that are more immediately relevant to people's lives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will begin to answer that call by pushing a "100 Hours" agenda -- including common-sense legislation to increase the minimum wage, cut interest on student loans and open the way for Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices.

That's a good beginning, but it's only a down payment on a broader agenda. Progressives now have the opportunity to develop a new vision that returns power to the American people for the first time in generations. But to-do lists don't add up to a vision. But Democrats must show they are serious by passing bold measures that define a new "people's agenda." With that in mind, here are ten existing pieces of legislation that deserve to be passed by our new Congress. Some of these bills are eminently passable, a few are related to the "100 Hours" agenda and others can be seen as long-term goals. But all would help return our nation to the path to a more perfect union (note: Bill numbers may change in the new Congress).

1. Healthcare for All
More than 47 million Americans are now living without health coverage. Representative John Conyers's United States National Health Insurance Act (HR 676) would create a single-payer healthcare system by expanding Medicare to every resident. All necessary medical care would be covered -- from prescription drugs to hospital services to long-term care. There would be no deductibles or co-payments. Funding would come from sources including savings from negotiated bulk procurement of medications; a tax on the top 5 percent of income earners; and a phased-in payroll tax that is lower than what employers currently pay for less comprehensive employee health coverage. With 78 Congressional co-sponsors, and the endorsement of more than 200 labor organizations as well as healthcare groups, there is muscle and momentum behind this bill. To get involved, check out Healthcare-Now.org.

2. Counting Every Vote
Representative Rush Holt has introduced the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (HR 550) requiring all voting systems to provide a voter-verified paper trail to serve as the official ballot for recounts and audits. It would also insure accessibility for voters with disabilities. The bill, which was introduced in February 2005 and which currently has 222 bipartisan co-sponsors, was tied up in committee by the Republican Congress. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer and Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones introduced the Count Every Vote Act (S 450 and HR 939), which also calls for a voter-verified paper trail and would improve access for language minority voters, illiterate voters and voters with disabilities. Co-sponsors of that legislation include Senators John Kerry, Frank Lautenberg, Patrick Leahy and Barbara Mikulski, and seventy-nine House members.

3. Healthy Families Act
According to Washington Post columnist Amy Joyce, "nearly half of all private-sector workers in the United States do not have a single day of paid sick leave. And more do not have a paid day off that can be used to care for a sick child." Seventy-five percent of low-wage workers lack paid sick leave -- the very people who can least afford to take a day off and still be able to pay the bills. In 2005 Senator Edward Kennedy and Representative Rosa DeLauro introduced the Healthy Families Act (S 932 and HR 1902) -- a bill that would require employers with fifteen or more workers to provide one week of paid sick leave for those who work thirty or more hours a week. Employees who work less than that would receive prorated leave. The leave could be used to care for family as well. The new Democratic Congress is expected to hold hearings on the legislation, which has fifteen original co-sponsors in the Senate and seventy-one in the House, in early 2007.

4. The Right to Organize
The Employee Free Choice Act (S 842 and HR 1696) would strengthen workers' freedom to organize by requiring employers to recognize a union after a majority of workers sign cards authorizing representation. It also would create stronger penalties for management violations of the right to organize when workers seek to form a union. Currently there are 214 co-sponsors of Representative George Miller's House bill (including fourteen Republicans) and forty-four co-sponsors of Kennedy's legislation in the Senate (including Republican Senator Arlen Specter). This legislation would go a long way toward helping the 57 million nonunion workers in the United States who, according to polls, would form a union tomorrow if given the opportunity.

5. No Permanent Bases in Iraq
Representative Barbara Lee, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has proposed House Conference Resolution 197, which declares that it is "the policy of the United States not to enter into any base agreement with the Government of Iraq that would lead to a permanent United States military presence in Iraq." By passing this bill, Congress can send a clear and immediate signal to the Iraqi people and the international community that the United States has no intention of staying in Iraq indefinitely. There were eighty-six co-sponsors of Lee's legislation, including three Republicans.

6. Stop Outsourcing Torture
Representative Ed Markey's Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act (HR 952) directs the Secretary of State to submit to Congress an annual list of countries where there are substantial grounds for believing that torture or cruel and degrading treatment is commonly used in detention or interrogation. The bill prohibits the direct or indirect transfer or return of people by the United States for the purpose of detention, interrogation, trial or other purposes to a listed country. Given the recent history of black sites, torture flights, innocent victims and suspension of habeas corpus, this legislation should be an immediate priority. It is one modest step in the right direction. It currently has seventy-seven co-sponsors.

7. Access to Higher Education
Senator Richard Durbin and Representative George Miller's Reverse the Raid on Student Aid Act (S 2573 and HR 5150) would cut interest rates on college loans for student and parent borrowers. The legislation would save $5,600 for the typical student borrower, who currently graduates with $17,500 in student-loan debt. The Durbin-Miller legislation cuts interest rates in half, from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent, for students with subsidized loans, and from 8.5 percent to 4.25 percent for parents. Earlier this year, the GOP Congress cut $12 billion out of federal student aid programs to help finance tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. The average tuition and fees at four-year public colleges have risen 40 percent when adjusted for inflation, since 2001, according to the College Board's Annual Survey of Colleges. And the average student debt has increased by more than 50 percent over the past decade, according to the Project on Student Debt. With economic inequality and the concentration of wealth reaching unprecedented levels, improving access to higher education is essential. It also is critical if we are to reverse the trend of the US workforce lagging behind other nations in education.

8. Free and Independent Media
Representative Maurice Hinchey sponsored the Media Ownership Reform Act (MORA -- HR 3302), which seeks to restore a diverse media by significantly lowering the number of media outlets one company is permitted to own in a single market. Since 1996 the Federal Communications Commission has promoted massive media consolidation by increasing that number, allowing telecommunications corporations to buy up a larger share of television and radio stations, newspapers and other media outlets, and forcing independent and local media owners out of business. There are sixteen co-sponsors of MORA in the House.

9. Public Financing of Campaigns
Representative John Tierney introduced the Clean Money, Clean Elections Act (HR 3099) last year with thirty-nine Democrats and one Independent as co-sponsors. The bill establishes a voluntary system that offers candidates an option for public financing and reduced rates on broadcast advertising in exchange for self-imposed limits on campaign financing and spending. Participating candidates get a dollar-for-dollar match, up to a set limit, if a nonparticipating opponent spends more than the basic public-financing grant. This system would free candidates from the burden of continuous fundraising; allow those who obtain a prescribed number of contributions to run regardless of their economic status or access to large funders; and, perhaps most important, eliminate the skewed priorities caused by the financing of campaigns by special-interest contributors.

10. Clean Energy
Last May Senator Maria Cantwell introduced the Clean EDGE Act (S 2829) with twenty-four Democratic co-sponsors. The bill sets a goal of reducing US petroleum consumption by 6 million barrels a day by 2020 -- or 40 percent of America's projected imports. It mandates that 25 percent of new vehicles sold in the United States by 2010 be flex-fuel capable (able to run on higher blends of biofuels, which help to displace petroleum), rising to 50 percent by 2020. It also sets a national goal of installing alternative fuels at 10 percent of US gas stations by 2015. The bill also makes gas price-gouging a federal crime. It ends subsidies for major oil companies and extends incentives for renewable energy and efficiency technologies. To shrink US dependence on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the bill requires that 10 percent of all US electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. A report by the Apollo Alliance and the Economic Policy Institute estimates that the Clean EDGE Act would create more than 500,000 jobs, including tens of thousands in states hit hardest by the loss of 3 million manufacturing jobs.
This list is by no means all-inclusive. But these are good and important initiatives that address longstanding and formidable challenges.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor of The Nation.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute.
Link to the Article

Sidney Blumenthal: The Myth of McCain

The myth of McCain: Once the presumptive next US president, the Republican frontrunner's popularity has nose dived
by Sidney Blumenthal
The Guardian

When Senator John McCain appeared at the Conservative party conference in Bournemouth last October as the presumptive next president of the US, the stars seemed fixed in the firmament for him. The myth of McCain appeared as invincible as ever.

His war story - a bomber pilot shot down over North Vietnam in 1967, held prisoner for five years and tortured - is the basis of his legend as morally courageous, authentic, unwavering in his convictions, an independent reformer willing to take on the reactionaries of his own party, an "American maverick" as he calls himself in his campaign autobiography.

The titles of his books reflect the image: Character Is Destiny, Why Courage Matters, and Faith of My Fathers. Defeat at the hands of George Bush in the battle for the Republican nomination in 2000, in which he was subjected to dirty tricks, completed his canonisation. The press corps so venerated him that he called them "my base".

McCain's political colleagues, however, know another side of the action hero - a volatile man with a hair-trigger temper, who shouted at Senator Ted Kennedy on the Senate floor to "shut up", and called fellow Republican senators "shithead ... fucking jerk ... asshole". A few months ago, McCain suddenly rushed up to a friend of mine, a prominent Washington lawyer, at a social event, and threatened to beat him up because he represented a client McCain happened to dislike. Then, just as suddenly, profusely and tearfully, he apologised.

Many Republicans who have had dealings with McCain distrust him (not just conservatives but traditional Republican moderates too). While taking rightwing positions on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, his simmering resentment of Bush led him virtually to caucus with the Democrats in early 2001 (before September 11). Then, abruptly, he rushed to embrace Bush.

McCain's political advisers believe that he would easily be elected president in 2008, but fear that he might not capture the nomination. In 2000 he did not win a primary state where the voting was restricted to Republicans. So McCain decided to let the election take care of itself as he won over the party faithful. He campaigned enthusiastically for Bush in 2004. He sought to reconcile with the religious right, whose leaders he had called "agents of intolerance" in 2000.
McCain had belatedly taken the lead in opposing Bush's torture policy, an issue that could not be more personal for him. But after the supreme court last year declared Bush's secret tribunals for detainees and use of extreme interrogation techniques illegal, the president sought congressional approval of his version. At first, McCain fought Bush, but the right attacked him. McCain quickly capitulated, even agreeing to suspension of habeas corpus. Someone close to him explained to me that McCain calculated he could continue to play the issue when he became chairman of the Senate armed services committee in the next Congress. Asked about the chance that the Democrats might take control, McCain declared: "I think I'd just commit suicide."

As the neoconservatives abandoned Bush's sinking ship, McCain welcomed them aboard. "McCain began reading the Weekly Standard and conferring with its editors, particularly Bill Kristol," the New Republic magazine reported. And he hired a board member of the neocon Project for the New American Century, Randy Scheunemann, as his foreign-policy aide.
McCain positioned himself as consistently belligerent, even to Bush's right: in favour of bombing Iran and North Korea. He also proposed a "surge" of troops into Iraq, an idea gleaned from the neocons. If Bush had adopted the Iraq Study Group approach of diplomacy and redeployment, which McCain had assailed as "dispiriting", the right would have hailed McCain as a prophet with honour. However, importuned by the same neocons who had sold it to McCain, Bush seized upon the "surge".

McCain had trapped himself. He is now chained to Bush. As Bush's war has escalated, McCain's popularity has nose dived. Still the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, he might have made himself more acceptable to the base, but his political strategy has shattered his myth. Bearing the burden of Bush, he may have become unelectable.

To Read the Rest of the Article

Sarah Anderson: Torture Sours U.S.-Canadian Right-wing Lovefest

Torture Sours U.S.-Canadian Right-wing Lovefest
By Sarah Anderson, AlterNet

Stephen Harper, Canada's conservative Prime Minister, campaigned on strengthening ties with the Bush administration. But the love affair has ended over the American "rendition" of a Canadian citizen to Syria

A U.S. Ambassador lashed out against a foreign official last week for standing up to the Bush Administration - and it wasn't against Hugo Chavez or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or any of the other usual suspects.

It was Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day - a fundamentalist creationist, anti-abortion, anti-gay rights hawk who once spoke at a "Canadians for Bush" rally. At the onset of the Iraq war, he published a pro-Bush letter in the Wall Street Journal with Stephen Harper, who would become Canada's Prime Minister in 2006. Day and Harper blasted their own government's opposition to the U.S. invasion and lauded the Bush administration's "fundamental vision of civilization and human values."

That conservative lovefest is now over. Last week Day and U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins exchanged the most hostile tit-for-tat to date over the case of Maher Arar. In 2002, U.S. authorities detained Arar, a Canadian citizen, at JFK airport. After accusing him of having links to al Qaeda, they sent him to Syria, where he was tortured for nearly a year before being released without charge.

After an exhaustive inquiry, an independent Canadian commission cleared Arar of any terrorist ties last fall. On January 26, the Ottawa government announced it would apologize for its role in the debacle and compensate Arar to the tune of about US$8.5 million, plus legal fees.
But while the Canadian government has now admitted that Arar is indeed the innocent computer engineer and father of two he always said he was, the Bush Administration continues to insist that Arar belongs on their "no-fly" list of terrorism suspects. This has meant that Arar, who spent 10 months in a grave-like underground cell, continues to live under a cloud of secret accusations.

Despite his ideological affinity for President Bush, Prime Minister Harper has not been oblivious to the fact the U.S. government is about as popular among Canadians today as it was when the Americans invaded in the War of 1812. In October, he was moved to ring up Bush and ask him to "come clean" about the Arar affair. He even went so far as to ask that Bush acknowledge "the deficiencies and inappropriate conduct that occurred in this case." That, of course, was as likely as the President admitting to shirking his Vietnam War National Guard duties.
The most U.S. Justice Department officials offered to do was brief the Canadians on the dirt they supposedly had gathered about Arar from their own sources. When this finally occurred last week, Stockwell Day, Canada's version of our Homeland Security chief, promptly declared it bogus.

"We've looked at all their information and there is nothing that materially changes our position," Day told reporters. "Mr. Arar is not a threat, nor is his family."

link to read the rest of the article

Sunday, January 28, 2007

My Initial Reponse to the Protest; Karen Houppert: Voices of Protest; John Nichols: DC Marchers Challenge Congress to End War

(CNN, Washington Post and other mainstream news media organizations are again purposely underestimating the crowd size of the protest in DC {this is a common deceptive practice that has been documented in past anti-war protests and led to retractions from news agencies as varied as the NYTimes and NPR for low balling crowd estimates in earlier protests} stating it was in the tens of thousands, pure BS, having taken pictures from the capitol steps of the entire crowd massed on the Washington Mall, and marching in the massive flow of people that looped completely around the long streets circling the capitol building and the Washington Mall, I can tell you that the crowd was easily in the 100s of thousands, if not the half million estimated by organizers. Also reports of young radicals charging the capitol steps and physical confrontations between them and the police are misleading and distorted. As the march started there was a group of young, exhuberent/passionate radicals who ran toward the capitol steps and began chanting and mocking the government symbol, but I was standing right there with my friend William taking pictures and there were no physical confrontations. This protest was impressive, it was exhilirating, and life-changing. It was great to gather together and interact with so many passionate, hard-working, dedicated people working to build peace and put a stop to the war. I have loads of pictures that I will start posting with commentary and I would like to hear from others who participated in the various protests around the nation... if you post something leave a link or feel free to add your comments here.)

Voices of Protest
by Karen Houppert
The Nation

For this day anyway, the peace movement seemed to have called a cease-fire in its ongoing debate over how to allocate its limited resources: Is it better to work in electoral politics and propel antiwar representatives to Congress or take to the streets with shows of grassroots power? Saturday's protest organizers apppeared to concede these are complementary tactics: grassroots organizing has indeed shifted public opinion against the war; this shift in public opinion, coupled with some strategic work to get antiwar politicians into office has clearly paid off.

Conyers acknowledged the impact of the November elections. "[George Bush] is the commander of the military but he's not the commander of the citizens of this country," he said, to roars of approval. "Not only is it in our power to stop George Bush, but it's our obligation."

"The women of this nation spoke loud and clear in November," Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal reminded the crowd. "They said 'no' to this war."

Speaker after speaker referred to the elections as a referendum on the war and insisted the American people had sent a clear mandate to Congress: End US occupation of Iraq.

The clock is ticking on that mandate. Nowhere was this more evident than among the military families, vets, and soldiers whom this peace movement has always made room who have been front and center in this and protests. Dozens of military families crowded on stage at one point to speak of personal experiences in Iraq orwhat it was like to lose a family member to this war. More filled the backstage overflow area because they couldn't fit, and Iraq War veterans in camouflage were evident in this crowd.

Mary Geddry, a member of Military Families Speak Out, came from Coquille, Oregon with her eleven-year-old daughter, Sarah, to push for a swift end to the war. In their case, the stakes were particularly high. Mary Geddry's son, John, is a Marine who served two tours in Iraq before getting out of the military--but as a member of the Individual Ready Reserves, he is eligible to be called back to duty at any time. He is slated to return to Iraq for a third tour in May.

"Seven times the vehicles he was traveling in were hit with IEDs [improvised explosive devices]," says Mary Geddry. "He survived, but he's definitely screwed up." "He attacked our brother on Christmas eve," pipes up Sarah.

Mary Geddry explains her son now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and that he is on medication for it. He also suffered some hearing loss and has carpal tunnel syndrome--but none of this disqualifies him from service.

"Wanna see a picture of him?" Sarah asks, whipping out her digital camera and flipping through the shots until she comes to one of her brother, John, smiling up from where he lounges on the living room sofa. "He's really cute, right?"

Though she says her son is very disillusioned with the military, and thinks Americans aren't making any friends in Iraq, he remains conflicted about vocally protesting the war because he feels responsible for his fellow marines who are still over there and doesn't want to be perceived as not supporting them.

To Read the Entire Report

DC Marchers Challenge Congress to End War
by John Nichols
The Nation

Actor Sean Penn summed up the new energy -- and the new focus -- of the anti-war movement Saturday, when he turned George Bush's own words against the president.

Just hours after the president had again reasserted his false claim to authority to pursue a war that is not wanted by the American people or the Congress, Penn told anti-war demonstrators gathered in Washington that Bush would be wise to review the Constitution.

"In a democracy," the actor told the cheering crowd, which organizers said numbered in the hundreds of thousands, "we are the deciders."

Saturday's anti-war demostrations, which filled the streets of cities from San Francisco to Washington, marked a return to form for an anti-war movement that had trouble building momentum during the three years that followed Bush's decision to launch a preemptive war against a country that posed no serious threat to the United States or its allies. During the period from 2OO3 to 2OO6, Bush's Republican Party had complete control of the machinery of government, and his allies were successful in assuring that Congress would not serve as any kind of check or balance on the presidency.

Though polls showed that most Americans thought Bush had been wrong to take the country to war, and that they disapproved of his handling of the conflict, demonstrations seemed fruitless because the president held all the cards. Many opponents of the war poured their energies into electoral politics, hoping to restore at least a measure of balance to the federal government by putting opposition Democrats in charge of at least one house of Congress. On November 7, the work paid off, with the election of Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

So it was that one of the most popular signs at Saturday's rally in Washington read: "I Voted for Peace."

An equally popular sign, distributed by United for Peace and Justice, the group that played a central role in organizing the demonstrations, read: "Congress: Stand Up to Bush!"

Both signs were necessary messages on Saturday because, while there is no question that Americans voted November 7 for peace, there is still a great deal of uncertainty about whether the Congress that was elected will, in fact, tell the president that it is time to bring the troops home.

Some members of Congress do get it. Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Lynn Woolsey, D-California, addressed the Washington rally, urging activists to lobby the House on behalf of comprehensive legislation she has sponsored to withdraw Congressional approval for the war and implement a rapid yet orderly withdrawal of U.S. soldiers and civilian contractors from Iraq. The second most senior member of the House, Michigan Democrat John Conyers, was there as well, telling the crowd that: "George Bush has a habit of firing military leaders who tell him the Iraq war is failing," said Conyers, who then looked out at the crowd and shouted: "He can't fire you."

"He can't fire us," added the House Judiciary Committee chair, referencing the Congress that he said should block funding for Bush's plans to maintain his war. "The founders of our country gave our Congress the power of the purse because they envisioned a scenario exactly like we find ourselves in today. Not only is it in our power, it is our obligation to stop Bush."

To Read the Rest of the Report

Friday, January 26, 2007

Matt Renner: "Perfect Storm" for Peace Movement

"Perfect Storm" for Peace Movement
By Matt Renner
t r u t h o u t | Report

On the heels of the president's State of the Union address, Judith LeBlanc, co-chair for the United for Peace and Justice coalition, described the situation as a "Perfect Storm" for the peace movement.

"We have majority opinion and very vocal opposition across many sectors of the people," LeBlanc said. "We also see an incredible spiral of crisis and dying in Iraq, and we have a president who is pushing us into a constitutional crisis because he refuses to listen to the will of the American people. We have a Congress that is listening, with many members who were elected because the war is a critical issue for their constituents. We must act; we must be in the streets; we must make real the mandate for peace."

United for Peace and Justice is a coalition of over 1,300 advocacy groups that share a common goal. According to their web site www.UnitedForPeace.org, they plan to work on local, state and national levels "to turn the tide; to overwhelm war with peace."

According to LeBlanc, UFPJ has been holding briefing sessions with the new Democratic majority since the midterm elections. "What the congressmen say, without qualification, is 'stay in the streets, keep it loud, keep it vocal, keep it visible, because that is the wind at our backs,'" LeBlanc said.

What organizers claim will be a massive rally, with numbers in the hundreds of thousands, will be held in Washington, DC, on Saturday, January 27. Dubbed the "Peace Surge" by organizers, the rally is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. EST with speeches, followed by a march around the Capitol. Speakers and participants will include Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, Representative (and presidential candidate) Dennis Kucinich, Representatives Maxine Waters and Lynn Woolsey, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and actors Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.

"A long [presidential] campaign is a very good thing for the peace movement because it will give candidates time to travel across the country and hear what the people want them to do about Iraq," LeBlanc said. "The debates and the statements made by many of the candidates will be seen in sharp relief against the statements that President Bush continues to make. We want a national discussion; we want all the candidates to respond to the urgent need for a plan to end this war and to help the Iraqis rebuild their nation. You are going to see a very different Republican primary contest. Every candidate has to respond to this central issue."

According to UFPJ, the action is meant to send a message: "Congress, end the war." The group has embraced the Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act of 2007 - legislation that would bring all US Forces out of Iraq in six months.

Representative Woolsey, one of the bill's co-authors, said: "The Congress has already appropriated funding that will support our troops and keep this occupation going for at least another six months. That funding instead should be used to finance an aggressive withdrawal plan that brings our troops home to their families. Our bill would do exactly that."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Matt Renner is a reporter and radio producer and a recent graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.

LINK

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Saif Rahman: Five Reasons Why I'll March on January 27

(I'll be there with 55 fellow Lexingtonians who have gathered resources to get a bus to go to the protest--feets in the street, voices shouting, comrades linking arms, power to the people, we are not going to stand for this anymore.)

Five Reasons Why I'll March on January 27
By Saif Rahman
Foreign Policy in Focus

A few times a year, thousands of people break out their tied-dyed t-shirts, collect all of their peace buttons, make snarky yet provocative posters, and hop on a bus to what has become a political and social ritual: the protest.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Not being silent has in fact become a staple of the American people's diet, and one can see that with the consistent anti-war activities that have been organized over the past four years.

On January 27, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) is holding a massive protest against the Iraq War in Washington. We (I'm a member of the coalition's steering committee) will once again not be silent. Buses and vans are coming from at least 30 states and 111 cities packed with people who will bestow a historic welcome to the new Congress that we just helped elect and aim to change the trajectory of this war.

Since even before the war started, UFPJ and its more than 1,400 member groups have organized countless events, both nationally and locally, demonstrations large and small, have educated millions of people, and helped to mobilize and make visual the citizenry that is actively opposing this war. The coalition has led and expanded the peace movement and provided a steady, consistent anti-war message, which has been the major force behind the swaying of public opinion from supporting this administration's decisions in the wake of 9/11, to the realization that this war was and still is illegal and immoral.

In the wake up 9/11, the president had the highest job approval rating since Franklin D. Roosevelt, at 90%. Today, the Presidents approval rating stands at lowly 34%. The public's approval on the Iraq War has virtually flipped from the beginning days of the war when 71% of the country approved of Bush's war, to now 70% disapproving of it. Public sentiment is a powerful thing and the drastic change can be attributed to the constant message of the peace movement - that this war is illegal, immoral, and destroying our country and the world.

Now that the majority of the country shares our opinion, The Jan. 27 peace march will trumpet UFPJ's unwavering message once again of "Bring All the Troops Home Now" to the streets of Washington, and we are going to make the new Congress listen.

Why March?

Most wars have two things in common: a few people make the decision to go to war and the majority of the people suffer from those decisions. There has been this divide in this country for too long, and we need to consistently fight it. Young American soldiers are the ones who have to fight the war and die. Veterans are the ones who have to come back from war and be abandoned by their governments. Military families are the ones who day in and day out have to worry about whether their loved ones will come back. Young people are the ones who can't go to college because money for student loans has gone to pay for the war. The people of the Gulf Coast are the ones who see everyday first handedly what it looks like when their own government invests more into immoral wars than rebuilding our communities.

That is just in the United States. The Iraqis are suffering on a massive scale. An estimated 600,000 Iraqis have lost their lives since the March 2003 invasion and many people across that country have no clean water or electricity. This madness has to stop.

Even if you, like most Americans, oppose this war, why march? Why protest? Why hold up signs in the middle of winter and walk around in a big circle? And how is that going to end the war?

Plenty of critics of mass peace movement mobilizations say that this practice is outdated and stale. Essentially, they are asking, "Why bother?"

Sure, it's hard to see sometimes how a public demonstration helps to achieve any political goal. But for me, a protest is not only one of the various means that activists can use to achieve a political end. It's also is something deeply and sincerely personal.

Here are the reasons, both political and personal, that I will be marching with thousands of others on January 27th. I hope you are convinced that you should be there too....

1) Build on political momentum: The political moment is now. After the remarkable election last November, in which people overwhelming voted for a change in Iraq and therefore a change in Congress, we as the peace movement need to build on that momentum. Although public sentiment completely disagrees with President George W. Bush and agrees with UFPJ on ending this war, the commander-in-chief intends to send more troops into Iraq. Voting and public opinion are evidently not sufficient to change Bush's course. We have been right all along, not the Administration or the 108th and 109th Congress. We have helped to change the overall sentiment about the war in this country. We have a new Congress, which will only do something about the war if people from across this nation come to their doorstep, knock loudly and demand they end the occupation and bring the all the troops home now.

2) Strengthen Community: It is a truly amazing sight to see thousands of people, from every corner of this country, demonstrate for peace and justice. The endorsers of this march include everyone from the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition to Grandmothers for Peace, from religious organizations like Pax Christi to the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, political organizations such as the Progressive Democrats of America and MoveOn.org. This is, with certainty, a community of people fighting for the same thing. People save up money, take days off from work, organize buses from their towns and when they get here, they sleep on couches and floors, all for a cause bigger than their individual selves- for peace. We do it to build a community that consistently comes together to resist those who send ordinary young people to war. It is extremely important that this community of dissenters remains constantly visible, not only to the rest of this country-but also to the rest of the world.

3) Learn from People: My father always told me the best way to learn is from other people. Whenever I go to a demonstration I meet some of the most intelligent and altruistic people I have ever met. Literature is distributed with information that you can't read in newspapers, events are planned that you can't attend elsewhere, and bright people, eager to engage in conversation, are in abundance. From the 22-year-old Iraq veteran, to the mother who tragically lost her daughter in the war and Iraqi-Americans against this war, from the first-time protester, to veterans of the Vietnam War era protests-it's a privilege to hear those perspectives with one's own ears. A collective grouping such as this is bound to have valuable information and ideas exchanged that will further propel this movement.

4) Be Part of History: Thirty-nine years ago Dr. Martin Luther King led a group of protestors in Chicago against the Vietnam War. Seventy-six years ago, Gandhi led the Salt Satyagraha where he and his followers marched to Dandi to protest the unjust taxation of salt by the British Empire. And 87 years ago Helen Keller protested by marching with actors for labor rights. It is because of that tradition that I love to march, knowing that I am part of something much bigger than myself. The consistency of photographs of people expressing themselves in the streets is vitally important to have in our history books. When people look back at January 2007, they should remember the march on Washington as the defining moment of our time, just as Dr. King's, Gandhi's, and Helen Keller's marches did during their time.

5) Have Fun: Lastly, and most importantly-it's a hell of a lot of fun. It is almost like being a rebellious kid again. You get to yell and scream, hold up signs and banners, bang on random objects-all aimed at people in power. At the same time you have opportunities to learn, meeting interesting people, be part of history, all while playing a part in the movement for peace.

Effectiveness

I believe when people question the effectiveness of these marches, they do have a point. It's hard to measure the impact of demonstrations. Immediate policy outcomes aren't the only factor. How do you measure how much thousands of people might have learned? How do you measure bonds being built and communities strengthened? How do you know how history would have unfolded if people did not consistently organize and mobilize against injustices?

Ending a war is no easy task. If one were to size it down to a simple plan, the peace movement has completed the first few steps: 1) We have helped drastically shift public opinion against the Iraq War; 2) We have helped fundamentally change the composition of Congress, which as Senators George McGovern and Mark Hatfield proved with the Vietnam War, has the power to end this quagmire.

All we have left to do is make this new Congress end this war...now.

How is this demonstration going to help accomplish this last step?

Iraq Veterans Against the War member Geoff Millard (who served in the Army for more than eight years, and spent 13 months in Iraq) I believe answered that question best at a United for Peace and Justice organizing meeting for the demonstration,

"When members of Congress say that cutting funds for this war and immediate withdrawal is 'off the table' - they are dead wrong. They don't set the table. We set the damn plates down. We set the damn forks down. And we tell them what is for f'ing dinner. And if thousands of people come to their door, sit down at the table, and tell them that-they will listen."

It is because of people such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Geoff Millard that I am helping to mobilize this demonstration, and why thousands of us will march in Washington. It is because of them, and your need not to be silent, that I think you should march on January 27th too.

--------

Saif Rahman is the Movements Coordinator for Institute for Policy Studies and Youth and Activism Editor for Foreign Policy In Focus. He is on the Steering Committee for United for Peace and Justice.

To find out more information on the March on Washington on January 27, visit United for Peace and Justice.

Classes Offered at Good Foods Co-Op

(There are many things that we lack in Lexington, but we are very fortunate and privileged to have one of the best locally owned and operated Co-Op's in the nation. Support healthy choices--and choices is the key here--by shopping, and even becoming a member of Good Foods. Check out their wonderful recipes and their cafe dining is one of my favorites in town. Thanks to everyone who works so hard at Good-Foods and conrgatulations on your current expansion of the store--including the rumor that there might soon be a second store. Inspiring news in a society dominated by corporate food stores.)

Loney Chiropractic Spinal Screening

Instructor: Jeremy Loney, D.C.
Date: Saturday, February 3
Time: 2-4 p.m.
Fee: FREE
Location: Good Foods Community Room


Loney Specific Chiropratic will offer FREE spinal screenings. Participants will receive a brief evaluation on how well their nervous system is functioning.



What You Must Know about Treating Cancer, Part 2

Instructor: James Roach, M.D., Midway Center for Integrative Medicine
Date: Saturday, February 10
Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Fee: $15/owners $17/others
Location: Good Foods Community Room

Dr. Roach's students requested a follow-up to his January class. He will discuss prevention and complimentary approaches for treating cancer. Don't miss this informative class.


Better Eating for Life: Eat Whole Grains

Instructor: Beth Loiselle, R.D., L.D.
Date: Saturday, February 10
Time: 2-3:30 p.m.
Fee: $8/owners $10/others
$100 if you sign up for entire series (12 classes)
Location: Good Foods Community Room

You'll learn why and how to incorporate whole grains into your diet, starting with where you are now; and you'll soon be reaping whole grain benefits. You'll read labels from food packages, sample some whole grains probably new to you, and you'll take home many recipes.




What is a Co-op?

Instructor: Ann Marx, Owner Services Manager
Date: Tuesday, February 13

Time: 8 - 8:45 p.m.

Fee: FREE
Location: Good Foods Community Room

We are opening our staff training to anyone interested in learning about the cooperative form of business, the co-op movement's remarkable roots and the colorful history of Good Foods Co-op.


Celebrating Greek Cuisine
Instructor: Sondra Scalos
Date: Saturday, February 24
Time: 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Fee: $13/owners $15/others plus a $10 grocery fee
Location: Good Foods Community Room

Sondra learned to cook at age 12 with her father, James Scalos, a prominent local chef, and has been cooking authentic Greek cuisine for her friends and family for 20 years. Sondra will feature her family recipes for Spanakopita, Gyros & Baklava. Delicious!




Acupuncture for Pain Relief
Instructor: Robert Fueston, M.S.O.M., Dipl. O.M.
Date: Saturday, February 24
Time: 2-3 p.m.
Fee: FREE
Location: Good Foods Community Room

How pain can effectively be treated with acupuncture and the causes of pain--i.e. Why do I hurt? Free initial consultation and treatment for participants if seen within 3 weeks of the lecture (a $95 value). This lecture is expected to fill quickly. Robert has a Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine, is a nationally certified Acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist, Reiki Master and teacher.

The 7 Keys to Organic Gardening, Part 2

Instructor: Jerome Lange, Casey County Organic Farmer
Date: Tuesday, February 27
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Fee: $10/ owners $12/others
Location: Good Foods Community Room

Part 2 will focus on watering, weeding, organizing, thinning, spacing, and timing. Jerome, a Casey County organic farmer and author, has been perfecting his approach to organic farming for 25 years. Learn more tips from the expert.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I Hope God (if there is one or many) Has Better Things Than to Ensure Football Victories

Just a thought after watching the owner of the Indianapolis Colts and the head coach successfully credit their amazing (it was a great, riveting game) victory to god/lord (I wonder which one?). I wonder how that makes the talented, dedicated and heroic (you would have to have seen the game--as anyone knows I usually slam on pro sports, but this team was really impressive when it counted) players feel?

Just hoping, with all that is going on in the world, that if there is a god/gods that they are busy doing other things than ensuring that the Indianapolis Colts are winning their football games.

Amen!

Chris Hedges: The Radical Christian Right Is Built on Suburban Despair

(Courtesy of The Chutry Experiment)

The Radical Christian Right Is Built on Suburban Despair
by Chris Hedges
AlterNet

Millions of Americans live trapped in soulless exurbs which lack any kind of community, leaving them feeling isolated and vulnerable. Without alternatives for their social despair, they flock to demagogues promising revenge and a mythical utopia.

...

In the United States we have turned our backs on the working class, with much of the worst assaults, such as NAFTA and welfare reform, pushed though during President Clinton's Democratic administration. We stand passively and watch an equally pernicious assault on the middle class. Anything that can be put on software, from architecture to engineering to finance, will soon be handed to workers overseas who will be paid a third what their American counterparts receive and who will, like some 45 million Americans, have no access to health insurance or benefits.

There has been, along with the creation of an American oligarchy, a steady Weimarization of the American working class. The top one percent of American households have more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. This figure alone should terrify all who care about our democracy. As Plutarch reminded us "an imbalance between the rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics."

The stories believers such as Learned told me of their lives before they found Christ were heart breaking. These chronicles were about terrible pain, severe financial difficulties, struggles with addictions or childhood sexual or physical abuse, profound alienation and often thoughts about suicide. They were chronicles without hope. The real world, the world of facts and dispassionate intellectual inquiry, the world where all events, news and information were not filtered through this comforting ideological prism, the world where they were left out to dry, abandoned by a government hostage to corporations and willing to tolerate obscene corporate profits, betrayed them.

They hated this world. And they willingly walked out on this world for the mythical world offered by these radical preachers, a world of magic, a world where God had a divine plan for them and intervened on a daily basis to protect them and perform miracles in their lives. The rage many expressed to me towards those who challenge this belief system, to those of us who do not accept that everything in the world came into being during a single week 6,000 years ago because it says so in the Bible, was a rage born of fear, the fear of being plunged back into a reality-based world where these magical props would no longer exist, where they would once again be adrift, abandoned and alone.

The danger of this theology of despair is that it says that nothing in the world is worth saving. It rejoices in cataclysmic destruction. It welcomes the frightening advance of global warming, the spiraling wars and violence in the Middle East and the poverty and neglect that have blighted American urban and rural landscapes as encouraging signs that the end of the world is close at hand.

Believers, of course, clinging to this magical belief, which is a bizarre form of spiritual Darwinism, will be raptured upwards while the rest of us will be tormented with horrors by a warrior Christ and finally extinguished. This obsession with apocalyptic violence is an obsession with revenge. It is what the world, and we who still believe it is worth saving, deserve.

Those who lead the movement give their followers a moral license to direct this rage and yearning for violence against all those who refuse to submit to the movement, from liberals, to "secular humanists," to "nominal Christians," to intellectuals, to gays and lesbians, to Muslims. These radicals, from James Dobson to Pat Robertson, call for a theocratic state that will, if it comes to pass, bear within it many of the traits of classical fascism.

All radical movements need a crisis or a prolonged period of instability to achieve power. And we are not in a period of crisis now. But another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, a series of huge environmental disasters or an economic meltdown will hand to these radicals the opening they seek. Manipulating our fear and anxiety, promising to make us safe and secure, giving us the assurance that they can vanquish the forces that mean to do us harm, these radicals, many of whom have achieved powerful positions in the Executive and legislative branches of government, as well as the military, will ask us only to surrender our rights, to pass them the unlimited power they need to battle the forces of darkness.

To Read the Entire Article

Political Theory Online

Big archive of sites online:

Political Theory

My Tarot Card Reading

This summer when I was camping, my good friend Paul did a tarot reading for me and these were the cards... I have been meditating on these for the last six months and this was my interpretation of the cards...

Past: Trust
Dealing with trust issues. Fear and anxiety as a result--learning to come to terms with what I experienced and moving past them to a new way of thinking and being.

Present: Abundance
Recognizing the abundance and possibilities of life. Recognizing the potential of now, living in the moment, recognizing what I have now.

Future: Past Lives
Developing a holistic outlook, piecing together the fragments, self-actualization. Remembering/recognizing the past, considering the future, in order to live productively now.

Meditative Card: Courage

This card blew me away. It is the quality I am searching for ... the courage to be a good man, the courage to be a good example as a teacher, the courage to love others, the courage to be myself and let others also be who they will be (not try to force them to be what i think they should be), the courage to deal with dissapointments, the courage to be honest and forthright, the courage to confront injustice and cruelty, the courage to develop my spiritual/creative side, and the courage to live productively.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

March on Washington: Stop the Escalation of the War (Jan 27th)

Now is the time to fight for our rights, for what is right, you and I and you and you ... now is the time!!! We are getting a bus to go from Lexington, if anyone is interested, but also carpool, do whatever you can to get there... Here is a funding opportunity for students who want to go to the protest.)

Campus Progress Funding

The March on Washington

Orhan Pamuk: Nobel Prize for Literature Speech

(Courtesy of Indian Writing)

My Father's Suitcase
by Orhan Pamuk
Nobel Prize

Two years before his death, my father gave me a small suitcase filled with his writings, manuscripts and notebooks. Assuming his usual joking, mocking air, he told me he wanted me to read them after he was gone, by which he meant after he died.

'Just take a look,' he said, looking slightly embarrassed. 'See if there's anything inside that you can use. Maybe after I'm gone you can make a selection and publish it.'

We were in my study, surrounded by books. My father was searching for a place to set down the suitcase, wandering back and forth like a man who wished to rid himself of a painful burden. In the end, he deposited it quietly in an unobtrusive corner. It was a shaming moment that neither of us ever forgot, but once it had passed and we had gone back into our usual roles, taking life lightly, our joking, mocking personas took over and we relaxed. We talked as we always did, about the trivial things of everyday life, and Turkey's neverending political troubles, and my father's mostly failed business ventures, without feeling too much sorrow.

I remember that after my father left, I spent several days walking back and forth past the suitcase without once touching it. I was already familiar with this small, black, leather suitcase, and its lock, and its rounded corners. My father would take it with him on short trips and sometimes use it to carry documents to work. I remembered that when I was a child, and my father came home from a trip, I would open this little suitcase and rummage through his things, savouring the scent of cologne and foreign countries. This suitcase was a familiar friend, a powerful reminder of my childhood, my past, but now I couldn't even touch it. Why? No doubt it was because of the mysterious weight of its contents.

I am now going to speak of this weight's meaning. It is what a person creates when he shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and retires to a corner to express his thoughts – that is, the meaning of literature.

When I did touch my father's suitcase, I still could not bring myself to open it, but I did know what was inside some of those notebooks. I had seen my father writing things in a few of them. This was not the first time I had heard of the heavy load inside the suitcase. My father had a large library; in his youth, in the late 1940s, he had wanted to be an Istanbul poet, and had translated Valéry into Turkish, but he had not wanted to live the sort of life that came with writing poetry in a poor country with few readers. My father's father – my grandfather – had been a wealthy business man; my father had led a comfortable life as a child and a young man, and he had no wish to endure hardship for the sake of literature, for writing. He loved life with all its beauties – this I understood.

The first thing that kept me distant from the contents of my father's suitcase was, of course, the fear that I might not like what I read. Because my father knew this, he had taken the precaution of acting as if he did not take its contents seriously. After working as a writer for 25 years, it pained me to see this. But I did not even want to be angry at my father for failing to take literature seriously enough ... My real fear, the crucial thing that I did not wish to know or discover, was the possibility that my father might be a good writer. I couldn't open my father's suitcase because I feared this. Even worse, I couldn't even admit this myself openly. If true and great literature emerged from my father's suitcase, I would have to acknowledge that inside my father there existed an entirely different man. This was a frightening possibility. Because even at my advanced age I wanted my father to be only my father – not a writer.

A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is: when I speak of writing, what comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or literary tradition, it is a person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and alone, turns inward; amid its shadows, he builds a new world with words. This man – or this woman – may use a typewriter, profit from the ease of a computer, or write with a pen on paper, as I have done for 30 years. As he writes, he can drink tea or coffee, or smoke cigarettes. From time to time he may rise from his table to look out through the window at the children playing in the street, and, if he is lucky, at trees and a view, or he can gaze out at a black wall. He can write poems, plays, or novels, as I do. All these differences come after the crucial task of sitting down at the table and patiently turning inwards. To write is to turn this inward gaze into words, to study the world into which that person passes when he retires into himself, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy. As I sit at my table, for days, months, years, slowly adding new words to the empty page, I feel as if I am creating a new world, as if I am bringing into being that other person inside me, in the same way someone might build a bridge or a dome, stone by stone. The stones we writers use are words. As we hold them in our hands, sensing the ways in which each of them is connected to the others, looking at them sometimes from afar, sometimes almost caressing them with our fingers and the tips of our pens, weighing them, moving them around, year in and year out, patiently and hopefully, we create new worlds.

The writer's secret is not inspiration – for it is never clear where it comes from – it is his stubbornness, his patience. That lovely Turkish saying – to dig a well with a needle – seems to me to have been said with writers in mind. In the old stories, I love the patience of Ferhat, who digs through mountains for his love – and I understand it, too. In my novel, My Name is Red, when I wrote about the old Persian miniaturists who had drawn the same horse with the same passion for so many years, memorising each stroke, that they could recreate that beautiful horse even with their eyes closed, I knew I was talking about the writing profession, and my own life. If a writer is to tell his own story – tell it slowly, and as if it were a story about other people – if he is to feel the power of the story rise up inside him, if he is to sit down at a table and patiently give himself over to this art – this craft – he must first have been given some hope. The angel of inspiration (who pays regular visits to some and rarely calls on others) favours the hopeful and the confident, and it is when a writer feels most lonely, when he feels most doubtful about his efforts, his dreams, and the value of his writing – when he thinks his story is only his story – it is at such moments that the angel chooses to reveal to him stories, images and dreams that will draw out the world he wishes to build. If I think back on the books to which I have devoted my entire life, I am most surprised by those moments when I have felt as if the sentences, dreams, and pages that have made me so ecstatically happy have not come from my own imagination – that another power has found them and generously presented them to me.

To Read the Rest of the Speech

Pema Chödrön and bell hooks: Cultivating Openness When Things Fall Apart

(A nod to BH and Okir who have been discussing Chödrön in the comments to another post and Starrider who got me thinking about these things through the suggestion of a book.)

Cultivating Openness When Things Fall Apart
Pema Chödrön and bell hooks
Shambhala Sun

Pema Chödrön & bell hooks discuss how to relax with openness when things fall apart.

"Isn't that the kind of teaching we need these days, that difficult circumstances can be the path to liberation. That's news you can use."

bell hooks:Initially when I enter the classroom, I share with my students that we are there to think critically-to engage the world we live in-the world of ideas, fully, deeply, with our whole heart. Pema Chödrön's work gives me this gift. Consistently she challenges me to think beyond someplace where I have erected boundaries-where I've allowed myself to become stuck-attached-full of defences.

When I first read her, the writing irked me. I was disturbed by what I began to call its "strategic open-endedness." I wanted to be offered solutions, ways out. Instead, she kept extending an invitation to me and everyone to move into that enchanted space beyond right or wrong-to journey to the heart of compassion. And when you have stepped out on faith, straight into the heart of the matter, loving kindness appears less like a utopian dream. It becomes concrete-a place to practice wherever you are. Beyond the challenges she makes to the stuck places within us, Pema is most seductive and exciting when she urges us to revise our notions of safety telling us: "Real safety is your willingness to not run away from yourself." She urges us to risk, to embrace rebellion, disruption, and chaos as a beloved site for transformation. Talking with her enabled me to bring issues that trouble my heart out in the open. My hope was that she could and would shed light on the matter. Those bits of light are here in our dialogue. May their radiance reach you.

bell hooks: Pema, one of the ideas in your work that really challenges me is abandoning the hope of fruition. That's really hard for me.

Pema Chödrön: The way I understand it is that we rob ourselves of being in the present by always thinking that the payoff will happen in the future. The only place ever to work is right now. We work with the present situation rather than a hypothetical possibility of what could be. I like any teaching that encourages us to be with ourselves and our situation as it is without looking for alternatives. The source of all wakefulness, the source of all kindness and compassion, the source of all wisdom, is in each second of time. Anything that has us looking ahead is missing the point.

bell hooks: Much of the work I do revolves around racism and sexism, and on one hand, I want to start right where I am in the now. But on the other hand, I also have to have this vision of a future where these things are not in our lives. Do you think that's too utopian?

Pema Chödrön: Personally, I work with aspiration. The classic aspiration is "Sentient beings are numberless. I vow to save them." That means that I aspire to end suffering for all creatures, but at the same time I stay with the immediacy of the situation I'm in. I give up both the hope that something is going to change and the fear that it isn't. We may long to end suffering but somehow it paralyzes us if we're too goal-oriented. Do you see the balance there? It's like the teaching that Don Juan gave to Carlos Castenada, where he says that you do everything with your whole heart, as if nothing else matters. You do it impeccably and with your whole heart, but all the while knowing that it actually doesn't matter at all.

bell hooks: Yet it seems very hard for people to fight this racism and sexism without hope for an end to it. There is so much despair and apathy because of the feeling that we've struggled and struggled and not enough has changed.

Pema Chödrön: The main issue is aggression. Often if there's too much hope you begin to have a strong sense of enemy. Then the whole process of trying to alleviate suffering actually adds more suffering because of your aggression toward the oppressor. Don't you see a lot of people who have such good intentions but they get very angry, depressed, resentful?

bell hooks: Yes, you're talking to one! I get so overwhelmed sometimes.

Pema Chödrön: Well, doesn't that get in the way?

bell hooks: Yeah, it does. I'm on tour right now talking about my book about ending racism, and I hear people say things like, racism doesn't exist, or, don't you think we've already dealt with that? And I start to feel irritable. This irritability starts mounting in me, and I notice how it collapses into sorrow. I came home the other day and I sat down at my table and just wept because I thought, it's just too much.

Pema Chödrön: Well, isn't that the point? That other people and ourselves, we're the same really, and we just get stuck in different ways. Getting
stuck in any kind of self-and-other tension seems to cause pain. So if you can keep your heart and your mind open to those people, in other words, work with any tendency to close down towards them, isn't that the way the system of racism and cruelty starts to de-escalate? The thing is, once we get into this kind of work we are opening ourselves for all our own unresolved misery to come floating right up and block our compassion. It's a difficult and challenging practice to keep your heart and mind open. It takes a lot to be a living example of unbiased mind! But when you see, bell, how you feel towards these people, you can begin to understand why there is racism, why there is cruelty, because everyone has those same thoughts and emotions that you do. Everyone feels that irritability and then it escalates.

bell hooks: Is it simply a choice of will to have an open heart?

Pema Chödrön: I think it begins with the aspiration to connect with open heart, the knowledge that cultivating openness is how you want to spend the remaining moments of your life. Openness actually starts to emerge when you see how you close down. You see how you close down, how you yell at someone, and you begin to
have some compassion. It starts with compassion towards yourself and then you begin to extend that warmth to the rest of humanity. It begins to dawn on you how it could happen that people are yelling at others because they're oriental or black or hispanic or women or gay or whatever. You begin to know what it's like to stand in their shoes.

bell hooks: How do you develop compassion towards yourself?

Pema Chödrön: A big part of compassion is being honest with yourself, not shielding yourself from your mistakes as if nothing had happened. And
the other big component is being gentle. This is what meditation is about, but obviously it goes beyond sitting on a meditation cushion. You begin to see your moods and your attitudes and your opinions. You begin to hear this voice, your voice, and how it can be so critical of self and others. There is growing clarity about all the different parts of yourself. Meditation gives you the tools to look at all of this clearly, with an unbiased attitude. A lot of having compassion toward oneself is staying with the initial thought or arising of emotion. This means that when you see yourself being aggressive, or stuck in self-pity, or whatever it might be, then you train again and again in not adding things on top of that-guilt or self-justification or any further negativities. You work on not spinning off and on being kinder toward the human condition as you see it in yourself.

Link to the Rest of the Discussion

Friday, January 19, 2007

Bill Moyers: For America's Sake

For America's Sake
by BILL MOYERS

[from the January 22, 2007 issue]

(Wake up America!!!!!!!!!!! courtesy of Wes Houp)

For America's Sake
by Bill Moyers
The Nation

The following is an adaptation of remarks made by Bill Moyers to a December 12 gathering in New York sponsored by The Nation, Demos, the Brennan Center for Justice and the New Democracy Project. --The Editors

You could not have chosen a better time to gather. Voters have provided a respite from a right-wing radicalism predicated on the philosophy that extremism in the pursuit of virtue is no vice. It seems only yesterday that the Trojan horse of conservatism was hauled into Washington to disgorge Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist and their hearty band of ravenous predators masquerading as a political party of small government, fiscal restraint and moral piety and promising "to restore accountability to Congress...[and] make us all proud again of the way free people govern themselves."

Well, the long night of the junta is over, and Democrats are ebullient as they prepare to take charge of the multitrillion-dollar influence racket that we used to call the US Congress. Let them rejoice while they can, as long as they remember that while they ran some good campaigns, they have arrived at this moment mainly because George W. Bush lost a war most people have come to believe should never have been fought in the first place. Let them remember, too, in this interim of sweet anticipation, that although they are reveling in the ruins of a Republican reign brought down by stupendous scandals, their own closet is stocked with skeletons from an era when they were routed from office following Abscam bribes and savings and loan swindles that plucked the pockets and purses of hard-working, tax-paying Americans.

As they rejoice, Democrats would be wise to be mindful of Shakespeare's counsel, "'Tis more by fortune...than by merit." For they were delivered from the wilderness not by their own goodness and purity but by the grace of K Street corruption, DeLay Inc.'s duplicity, the pitiless exploitation of Terri Schiavo, the disgrace of Mark Foley and a shameful partisan cover-up, the shamelessness of Jack Abramoff and a partisan conspiracy, and neocon arrogance and amorality (yes, amoral: Apparently there is no end to the number of bodies Bill Kristol and Richard Perle are prepared to watch pile up on behalf of illusions that can't stand the test of reality even one Beltway block from the think tanks where they are hatched). The Democrats couldn't have been more favored by the gods if they had actually believed in one!

But whatever one might say about the election, the real story is one that our political and media elites are loath to acknowledge or address. I am not speaking of the lengthy list of priorities that progressives and liberals of every stripe are eager to put on the table now that Democrats hold the cards in Congress. Just the other day a message popped up on my computer from a progressive advocate whose work I greatly admire. Committed to movement-building from the ground up, he has results to show for his labors. His request was simple: "With changes in Congress and at our state capitol, we want your input on what top issues our lawmakers should tackle. Click here to submit your top priority."

I clicked. Sure enough, up came a list of thirty-four issues--an impressive list that began with "African-American" and ran alphabetically through "energy" and "higher education" to "guns," "transportation," "women's issues" and "workers' rights." It wasn't a list to be dismissed, by any means, for it came from an unrequited thirst for action after a long season of malignant opposition to every item on the agenda. I understand the mindset. Here's a fellow who values allies and appreciates what it takes to build coalitions; who knows that although our interests as citizens vary, each one is an artery to the heart that pumps life through the body politic, and each is important to the health of democracy. This is an activist who knows political success is the sum of many parts.

But America needs something more right now than a "must-do" list from liberals and progressives. America needs a different story. The very morning I read the message from the progressive activist, the New York Times reported on Carol Ann Reyes. Carol Ann Reyes is 63. She lives in Los Angeles, suffers from dementia and is homeless. Somehow she made her way to a hospital with serious, untreated needs. No details were provided as to what happened to her there, except that the hospital--which is part of Kaiser Permanente, the largest HMO in the country--called a cab and sent her back to skid row. True, they phoned ahead to workers at a rescue shelter to let them know she was coming. But some hours later a surveillance camera picked her up "wandering around the streets in a hospital gown and slippers." Dumped in America.

Here is the real political story, the one most politicians won't even acknowledge: the reality of the anonymous, disquieting daily struggle of ordinary people, including the most marginalized and vulnerable Americans but also young workers and elders and parents, families and communities, searching for dignity and fairness against long odds in a cruel market world.

Everywhere you turn you'll find people who believe they have been written out of the story. Everywhere you turn there's a sense of insecurity grounded in a gnawing fear that freedom in America has come to mean the freedom of the rich to get richer even as millions of Americans are dumped from the Dream. So let me say what I think up front: The leaders and thinkers and activists who honestly tell that story and speak passionately of the moral and religious values it puts in play will be the first political generation since the New Deal to win power back for the people.

There's no mistaking that America is ready for change. One of our leading analysts of public opinion, Daniel Yankelovich, reports that a majority want social cohesion and common ground based on pragmatism and compromise, patriotism and diversity. But because of the great disparities in wealth, the "shining city on the hill" has become a gated community whose privileged occupants, surrounded by a moat of money and protected by a political system seduced with cash into subservience, are removed from the common life of the country. The wreckage of this abdication by elites is all around us.

Corporations are shredding the social compact, pensions are disappearing, median incomes are flattening and healthcare costs are soaring. In many ways, the average household is generally worse off today than it was thirty years ago, and the public sector that was a support system and safety net for millions of Americans across three generations is in tatters. For a time, stagnating wages were somewhat offset by more work and more personal debt. Both political parties craftily refashioned those major renovations of the average household as the new standard, shielding employers from responsibility for anything Wall Street didn't care about. Now, however, the more acute major risks workers have been forced to bear as employers reduce their health and retirement costs--on orders from Wall Street--have made it clear that our fortunes are being reversed. Polls show that a majority of US workers now believe their children will be worse off than they are. In one recent survey, only 14 percent of workers said that they have obtained the American Dream.

Link to read the entire speech

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mahatma Gandhi on Living and Learning

(I saw this in Lisa Schroot-Mitchum's email signature and said yes, that it is good advice...)

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

Do Not Call Campaign

REMINDER....at the end of January, all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale calls.

YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS

To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222. It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time... It blocks your number for five (5) years.

You must call from the cell phone number you are wanting to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number.

HELP OTHERS BY PASSING THIS ON TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS OR GO TO: Do Not Call

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

X-Tal: The Cold Civil War

"The Cold Civil War"
Lyrics J. Neo
from Reason is 6/7 of Treason by X-Tal

I see the battle lines drawn everywhere
Read the paper, count the lies
Read the letters from respected citizens
With murder in their eyes
Soldiers in disguise
So don't you criticize

Great men lead the charge against the foe
Nobly boasting of their crimes
And feeble opposition strains to not offend
And loses every time

Pundits crow about prosperity
From their comfortable estates
Rub their last decade of glory in your face
Yeah, everything's just great
So just accept your fate
'Cause it's already too late

We're already in a civil war
Pretending nobody gets killed You might read about some vague event somewhere
But its just too unreal
Nothing you can feel
We did not turn that wheel... so we believe

We're all safe here in America
But the battle rages on
Lives hange on the image ad-men create
For a sedated throng
An audience of pawns
Sell you for a song.

Details, details, facts are stupid things
Can't you see we don't want to know?
We want a candy box of sentiment and fear
And wrap it in a pretty bow
Come on, go man go!

There are those that sense there's something wrong
You can find them all around
But their words are too upsetting for our ears
It's such a foreign sound
They'd better keep their voices down
We'll send someone to knock them down

So tell me how secure you feel today
Stirred & soothed by official words
You find you can't always get
You need

You get what you deserve
You get what you deserve
You get what you deserve!
In the Cold Civil War...



More about X-Tal and J. Neo

Gnarls Barkley: St. Elsewhere

One of the best music releases of 2006 was Gnarls Barkley's "St. Elsewhere." Gnarls Barkley is actually a wild, creative, experimental, intelligent collaboration between Cee-Lo Green and Danger Mouse. Great lyrics ("Way over yonder there's a new frontier/would it be so hard for you to come and visit me here?") expressed through Green's raspy rapping are mixed with urban rhythms and beats run through Danger Mouse's experimental blender of innovations. The music is deep as the ocean, challenging to conformist notions and bland musical products, but it doesn't sink beneath the weight of its musical integrity, instead, it is bouyed by a underlying foundation of free-thought and fun-loving exuberence. It transgresses and it critiques, it escapes and returns, but most of all it boogies all night long!!! The lyrics can offend, but always there is this self-evaluation missing from most rap/rock. In reference to the monster that haunts his nights Green sings:

I used to wonder why he looked familiar
Then I realized it was a mirror
And now it is plain to see,
The whole time the monster was me


Listening tip, it sounds even better on the headset b/c you can pick up more of the musical effects.



"Crazy"

I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place.
Even your emotions had an echo
In so much space

And when you're out there
Without care,
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn't because I didn't know enough
I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy
Does that make me crazy
Does that make me crazy
Possibly [video version]
Probably [CD version]

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice, that's my only advice

Come on now, who do you, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are,
Ha ha ha bless your soul
You really think you're in control

Well, I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
Just like me

My heroes had the heart to Lose their lives out on a limb
And all I remember is thinking, I want to be like them
Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun
And it's no coincidence I've come
And I can die when I'm done

Maybe I'm crazy
Maybe you're crazy
Maybe we're crazy
Possibly