Friday, October 22, 2004
Russia has never had a problem with democracy. It's implementing it that's giving them a hard time. As in America, there are many who would prefer not to lose hold of power and wealth. Unlike America, Russia's oligarchs made their fortunes under a different system. And after The Transition a new breed of moneyed elite was born. But old habits die hard, and with a convenient struggle against terror in the name of Chechan rebels, V. Putin has been able to clamp down with the strength and confidence of an enthusiastic Stalinista. Who would really believe in a free and open Russia, right? It's all fur hats and thick-steamed breath and woe and agony and day-old soup; furling banners and hard salutes and bread crumbs and massive tanks. Right?
The point is, even Russia, a fledgling democracy still grappling with totalitarianism, has had the friggin good sens to ratify the gaddam Kyoto Protocol!
The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, approved the pact by a vote of 334 to 73, with two abstentions, paving the way for endorsement by the upper chamber and signature by President Vladimir Putin, expected to be formalities.
Friday's vote resuscitated a pact that until recently was considered all but dead after President George W. Bush announced in 2001 the United States wanted no further part of it.
Why has George Bush refused to sign this into law? Because it would cost Americans jobs. I have never understood this logic. On one hand, he calls Americans the most clever and ingenius workers in the world, yet he clearly doesn't believe it; if he did, he would rely on the dynamic market forces, in which he professes to put so much faith, to create new and exciting jobs on the changing landscape. We adapt. Economies adapt. Living habits must adapt. Rather than believing in market forces, Bush is bound by some strict dogma, forcing Americans to draw their paychecks from the same sluggish monolith. Big Business. If they truly had any innovation or willingness to adjust their path, they would foresee the need to make changes to protect the environment -- for this is inevitable; the old guard is grasping at straws, but soon there will be no realistic alternative -- and invest in new kinds of jobs that would carry their business and the economy into the future. But, oh! the philosophy is called conservativism, namely, change nothing that will divert any money or power from those who already have it. And right now, the environment's health stands in the way of profit.
This, I believe is the greatest challenge facing the world in our lifetimes, and, I hope, will lead to one of the biggest changes in human consciousness. A realization and recognition of the balance and connectedness in life. In a society run primarily be money and consumption, this will be no small feat. The two philosophies are in direct opposition to one another. I know, I know, bla bla bla, but it's true and it stares us right in the face, and I do not believe we can afford to be cynical about it anymore. So what am I doing? Good question. Writing mostly. But I want my leader to lead and inspire, and that ain't happening.
BushCo actively suppresses scientific evidence that goes against their business interest, bandying about phrases like "the jury is still out on global warming." Well the reason the jury hasn't come back is because they've all died of respiratory illness. This is not only politically devious, but dangerous. He has a responsibility to protect the people of this country and lying to them about the health of their world is morally wrong. I have to believe that John Kerry would do more.
And as John Kerry said, we can't put our trust in a president who doesn't trust science.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
The number two burger chain in America doesn't want anything to do with Sinclair's dirty little tactics.
Hamburger chain Burger King said on Wednesday that it would not run its commercials during a controversial program about U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry to be aired by Sinclair Broadcast Group .
Burger King's move suggests advertisers may not be assured the new program's format averts political controversy. Democrats have branded plans to air the program as a blatant partisan attack less than two weeks before the Nov. 2 ballot.
Sinclair broadcasts in key states like Florida and Ohio whose voters could decide the close election race. Some of the company's top executives have been major contributors to President George W. Bush and his fellow Republicans.
Burger King said in a statement that it "does not endorse any candidate or political party."
In response to the controversy, Sinclair said on Tuesday it would not air the entire documentary "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," which accuses Kerry, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, of betraying fellow Vietnam veterans by testifying more than 30 years ago against the war and about atrocities he said were committed by U.S. forces.
It's nice to see a little backbone, held in place by good economic policy, one must only assume.
What do some of the local dailies say about last night's gift from on high?
NY Daily News
I Got You, Babe
The Boston Herald
The Boston Globe
A World Series ticket
Come on. The Red Sox just did the impossible. The impossible which, for some, is only further proof that they are cursed -- losing, as seems inevitable, the World Series after the most storied of comebacks -- or that this be a blessed (pronounced blessid) year, depening upon the stripe of your decidedly non-pinstriped fandom.
And for this same reason, I humbly request 20 more hits to put my, um, ahem, blog, over 5,000. Five large. Five grand. Acceptable loot for a 1940s heist movie. You know what I mean.
But there's more.
I want EVERY SOUL who hits my site today (and we know it will top twenty, I mean, I am pretty popular) to leave a comment. Anything. Not even necessarily in English. Any little toot. Show some love. Give a brother a break. I am going for broke. I want to bust right through five-thousand like a Louisianna freight train, and set the record for most comments, currently standing at 18. Thank you, Mary Cheney.
So come on. Just leave a little note that will be an orchestra to this lonely American.
In the the Highest Esteeem
And With Best Wishes,
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Hellraiser is an awesome movie. We're about to watch it. I haven't seen it since I was 11. I just watched the greatest baseball game I've ever seen. That the Red Sox won is proof that the apocalypse is being ushered quickly in.
PS. Hellraiser has so many sexual undertones -- well, overtones, really -- that I just don't remember from fifth grade. And the featurette on the DVD was a bit odd. They had Clive Barker situated around candles and moribund unidentifiables for all his interviews.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
I'm pretending to be an assassin when I'm out in the streets of Gotham. On a NYC subway train, this is a good thing to be. Essentially, it involves holding a steely calm face that conveys nothing; piercing slits for eyes; an upright and confident posture that remains relaxed; most important, this cool demeanor will allow you to hold any commuter's gaze, from the large Puerto Rican to the NYU hottie to the curious Korean man who wants to get by. If you tilt your head down and look them in the eye, you will not be the first to look away. If you just slow your movements, you bring a powerful deliberation to the most crowded, chaotic situations, and people can feel this.
I've tried looking deep into the other's eyes, in an almost searching way; but with the posture of a hitman this can be a bit creepy. I've had better success by holding their gaze and sort of letting my eyes gloss over, so it seems as if I'm looking through them. This prevents that deep sharing of souls which I'm not always in the mood for on the subway, while conveying something rather the same.
Phase One is almost complete.
To further the transformation, however, I'll have to do something about my wardrobe. It's clear that I don't have the income for a comely hitman's style, but I;ll have to make do. Simple colors and cuts will be the look. Inconspicuos with a patch of mystery. Much black, which, in New York, could make you an Assistant Editor as easily as a cold-hearted killer for hire -- and there may be more similarities there than a first impression conveys.
I can walk slow, move my arms rhythmically by my side, stand up straight, glide. There is nothing internal to grapple with, just constant outward observation and a constant state of readiness. I also believe my short hair lends a certain severity to the persona I'm trying to convey.
This is better than the usual fidgeting, irritable and impatient subway rider I seem to be. Or so it seems.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
So let's stop pretending that all the Mary Cheney references aren't part of a dirty little trick, okay? Let's be realistic about this. It was most effective when Edwards made mention of the little Navratilova to Cheney's face, and I thought it was clever then. Kerry has stretched it a bit beyond clever, however. I am not saying that you cannot mention a politician's lesbian daughter because we all know there's nothing wrong with that, right? Well, not exactly. We're in a sort of limbo with homosexuality in this country, in which Will & Grace can be a hit, but the actor who plays Will isn't actually gay. In which Queer Eye can have broad appeal, but only if the stars are tame and comforting strereotypes. In which some people will still resort to violence at the sight at "one of them." In which many of BushCo's more pious supporters still cringe when they hear Mary's name. And in which, honestly, even many of us who have "lots of gay friends" may not be completely at ease with the lifestyle.
I'm not saying, either, that the Cheneys' aggressive reaction isn't based on some sort of nationalized shame. And I'm not saying that part of me doesn't applaud and snear, with a slightly devilish twinge, at Kerry's dig. All I'm saying is that we can call a spade a spade -- or is that un-PC, too? -- and admit to ourselves that it's a strategy planned out by Democratic handlers to call as much attention to this sensitive royal matter as possible. It's baiting, it's a bit treacherous, and, though it's "perfectly acceptable to speak openly of the homosexual lifestyle," it remains a bit muddy. Just because someone's gay, not by their own choice as we ALL KNOW, doesn't mean they should necessarily be used as political fodder. Let's own it. You can decide for yourself whether or not it's very becoming, but let's not pretend "our guys" don't resort to dirty tricks.
If Kerry mentions it only out of humanisitic intent, why not mention Dick Gephardt's daughter, or Providence mayor Ciccione or Barney Frank or even Tom Cruise? And it doesn't matter if the vast majority of my gay friends don't mind that Mary Cheney is dragged into the debate. It's not about that. It's about decency and standards. Not that it's necessarily indecent (becaue we progressives are such champions of equality, we've built in dozens of outs to explain away any implied sinister intent) but if we can't even admit that the Dems are capable of this kind base, emotional tactic, then we deserve what we get. Politics is politics, and some of us should perhaps even applaud, in the spirit of Machiavelli, that the Dems are playing hard ball. But an innocent remark it clearly ain't. That's all.
Mary Cheney is gay, by the way
I'm about a day behind by BlogTime, but this is worth watching. Jon Stewart rips Crossfire a new one. And I didn't even think television shows had new ones (assholes). Except the O'Reilly Factor, of course! Cymbal crash!
And speaking of which, it's alarming how many people are using the phrase "to rip him a new one." I would break it out occasionally, when appropriate, and considered it a decidedly northeastern phrase. Don't know why. But I work with many people from LA, and they're throwing it around mad often. Hella often. And, well, some things you just want for yourself. Oh well.
Apparently there was some opposition in Britain to the invasion of Iraq! I hadn't even heard, by Jove!
Six of Britain's leading experts on Iraq trooped into No 10 Downing Street on a Tuesday afternoon in November 2002, determined to warn Tony Blair that occupying the country would be difficult at best and catastrophic at worst. By the time they left, most were convinced that war was inevitable - and, in the view of one at least, that there was nothing the Prime Minister could do about it.
[T]he experts sought to take Mr Blair and his senior colleagues through a number of possible post-invasion scenarios, ranging from simply replacing Saddam with another dictator, though one sympathetic to the West, to a messy slide into civil war and fragmentation of the country along ethnic, religious and tribal lines.
"Much of the rhetoric from Washington appeared to depict Saddam's regime as something separate from Iraqi society," said Dr [Tony] Dodge [of Queen MAry College]. "All you had to do was remove him and the 60 bad men around him. What we wanted to get across was that over 35 years the regime had embedded itself into Iraqi society, broken it down and totally transformed it. We would be going into a vacuum, where there were no allies to be found, except possibly for the Kurds. We were saying: 'Be prepared to spend a great deal of time and money. This could take a generation.'"
Although the outside participants were reluctant to quote the words of the Government side - Downing Street said: "It's not our policy to comment on private meetings" - what struck several of the experts was the lack of response. "There was no real argument," said one. "You sensed they were heading into a war they couldn't avoid. Although we were sitting at the cabinet table, the decisions were being taken on the other side of the Atlantic."
[O]thers felt the Prime Minister was not really listening. "He was dismissive of our arguments," said one, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It seemed as if he was just going through the motions. I think he'd made up his mind already."
Another said: "I was staggered at Blair's apparent naivety, at his inability to engage with the complexities. For him, it seemed to be highly personal: an evil Saddam versus Blair-Bush. He didn't seem to have a perception of Iraq as a complex country." He recalled that the Prime Minister had interjected only occasionally and cryptically. At one point he had exclaimed: "But he [Saddam] is evil, isn't he?" Later Mr Blair said of Saddam: "But he's got choices [over being good or evil], hasn't he?
Well, if this is true, my opinion of Mr. Blair's intelligence takes a massive blow. It's not really any news -- we all knew that Blair was only following orders from Washington, and we certainly could figure out that the invasion was a foregone conclusion not to be deterred by "level-headed" estimates, "hard facts," or "expert advice." You know, pesky things like that. RESOLVE is what we want in a leader, right or wrong. Right?
At least, however, we can still count on a polite England where dissenting views are allowed to be heard at the upper levels of government. Could you imagine Bush taking a meeting with Juan Cole or some other fancy-schmancy intellectual (besides, of course, the fancy-schmancy intellectuals of Paul Wolfowitz's ilk)? Bah.