by Gilles d'Aymery
"We can't kill them all. When I kill one I create three."
—Lt. Col. Frederick P. Wellman
(Swans - June 20, 2005) STOP THE OCCUPATION - BRING THE TROOPS HOME - OUT NOW! Anything one does not understand, here?
RUMBLINGS IN PEORIA: For those of us who have constantly opposed the wars in Iraq -- and this goes back 15 years with Gulf War One; the devastating, strangling, and barbaric sanctions; and the war sequel -- under both Democratic and Republican administrations -- hearing calls for impeachment of Mr. Bush and troop withdrawal from Iraq (Out Now!) is music to our ears. A growing disillusion is sweeping the nation like a raging fire over the Midwestern prairies -- check the polls -- and politicos are beginning to run for cover with the mid-term elections in mind. Ever so slowly, the public is beginning to realize what the entire world has known for over two years: The Bush administration intentionally and deliberately lied us into an illegal war that had been decided long before 9/11. Meanwhile, the "last throes" of the insurgency -- aka the resistance -- have been lasting for over two years; the body count -- the American body count, that is (the only one that truly matters in the U.S.) -- keeps piling up with dead and maimed bodies; military families and members of the armed forces are beginning to raise their voices; gas prices remain high (an important component of the current discontentment) as do anxieties about the economy; spies and deception abound, and are becoming public domain; even the US antiwar movement is attempting to reemerge from the long torpor and morass it fell into after, in total betrayal of its principles (if it had any), it joined the ABB bandwagon and supported the pro-war Democratic candidate.
LOOKS GOOD, NO? Well, it depends. If you are a part of the wishful thinking reality, it sure does. "Progressives" want to think -- sorry, believe -- that, finally we can see the light at the end of the tunnel...a message that this administration espouses, though with a different perspective and spin. The people is moving in the right direction, at long last (whichever the ideological compass). Good, good... William Rivers Pitt of famed Truthout.org joins the Progressive Democrats of America so that they can take back the Democratic Party from within... The usual characters on the "Left" keep complaining bitterly and organizing activists to support the "lesser evil"... Lib-labs applaud... In other words, there is movement within those ranks, most directed once again toward channeling activists into the Democratic fold...
TILL ANOTHER orange alert, an actual "attack on America," an invasion of Syria, or a strike against Iran or North Korea (pick and choose) will bring everybody in line -- fear is as great an equalizer as death. None of the elites has abandoned the imperial project -- name it as you will, neo-liberal, neo-con, neo-Wilsonian, neo-CityBank, neo-ExxonMobil, neo-Halliburton, etc. From Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden to Joe Lieberman, Newt Gingrich, Howard Dean, Dick Cheney, Billy Graham (and his ilk), and all the tenors of both parties -- and Corporate America, which includes the main media -- staying the strategic course is the only game in town. "Progressives" can agitate as much as they want and it does not even make the evening news... To wit: The public hearing convened in the basement of the House by Rep. John Conyers (D. MI) on June 16, 2005 -- during which Joseph Wilson (of Niger yellow cake and Victoria Plame fame), Ray McGovern (ex-CIA), John Bonifaz (afterdowningstreet.org), and the compelling and touching Cindy Sheehan (whose son was killed in Iraq and is co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace) made powerful presentations and answered the questions from the 35 US representatives who attended the hearing at one point or the other (in between some 11 different votes in the House) -- was left unmentioned in the evening news and barely covered, buried in page XX, and mostly sneered at in the national press. Out of sight, out of mind.
HOWEVER, there might indeed be some light, even if currently dimmed, shining into the tunnel -- not just from institutional people such as Joseph Wilson or Ray McGovern, who represent some powerful and pissed-off constituencies in the State Department and the CIA, but more fundamentally from within the military -- possibly the most powerful institution in the U.S. Perhaps, like in Vietnam, it is the US military that will do the trick and get us out of Iraq. Watching Cindy Sheehan (on C-Span) deliver her forceful and moving statement, one could not but be in awe and admiration before the convictions of this woman, and all the military families that have decided to speak out against this illegal and unnecessary war. They are non-partisan and deeply patriotic; they've lost their sons and daughters -- the ultimate sacrifice -- in a war based on lies and deception; lies and deception from their Commander in Chief and all the highest echelons of power; and they are not simply pissed by it: they are filled with grief and betrayal; they are enraged and outraged and they are speaking loudly, with a clear voice: BRING THE TROOPS HOME. OUT OF IRAQ NOW!
WHEN Cindy Sheehan writes to Mr. Bush that "[B]eating a political stake in your black heart will be the fulfillment of my life...," or says, on June 16th,
I believe that the reasons that we citizens of the United States of America were given for the invasion of Iraq have unequivocally been proven to be false. I also believe that Casey [her son] and his buddies have been killed to line the pockets of already wealthy people and to feed the insatiable war machine that has always devoured our young. Casey died saving his buddies and I know so many of our brave young soldiers died doing the same thing: but he and his fellow members of the military should never have been sent to Iraq. . . . I believe the Downing Street Memo proves that our leaders betrayed too many innocents into an early grave. The lives of the ones left behind are shattered almost beyond repair.
I also believe an investigation into the Downing Street Memo is completely warranted and the necessary first step into righting the wrong that is Iraq and holding someone accountable for the needless, senseless, and avoidable deaths of many thousands. As far as I am concerned, it doesn't matter if one is a Democrat or a Republican, a full investigation into the veracity of the Downing Street Memo must be initiated immediately. Casey was not asked his political affiliation before he was sent to die in Iraq. The innocent people who are having their blood shed by the bucketsful in Iraq don't even know or care what American partisan politicking is all about. Every minute that we waste in gathering signatures on petitions, or arguing about partisan politics, more blood is being spilled in Iraq. How many more families here in America are going to get the visit from the Grim Reaper dressed in a US military uniform while we are trying to get our Congressional Leadership to do their duties to the Constitution and to the people of America?
...PEOPLE BETTER LISTEN! These military families don't come from the radical fringe, or the "progressive" poobah. They are the ones doing the fighting and the dying; they are the ones saluting the flag and saying "YESSS, Sir" when the Commander in Chief (POTUS) calls them to duty. They know that their kids, if they make it back home alive and unmaimed, are walking wounded. Their peers -- in the military and beyond -- hear them loud and clear. When their kids commit suicide, or go on a shooting spree, or begin "fragging," they inherently know in their blood and flesh that something horribly wrong is happening and that that horror was all based on LIES. (Note also that these families, unlike the brass and the politicos, do talk with humanness about Iraqi dead and maimed too...)
THESE ARE THE PEOPLE who should take center stage, and all of us who want the troops back home, the end of the carnage and occupation of Iraq, regardless of our political philosophy, should play a supporting role. They, the military and their families, will end the war by simply walking out and not enlisting anymore. Here are a few groups we should contact and support:
Military Families Speak Out -- "an organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military.
Gold Star Families for Peace -- these "families of soldiers who have died as a result of war (primarily, but not limited to the invasion/occupation of Iraq) are organizing to be a positive force in our world to bring our country's sons and daughters home from Iraq, to minimize the 'human cost' of this war, and to prevent other families from the pain we are feeling as the result of our losses." Co-founded by Cindy Sheehan.
Iraq Veterans Against the War -- "veterans who have served since September 11th, 2001 including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom . . . . committed to saving lives and ending the violence in Iraq by an immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces.
Veterans for Peace -- "serving the cause of world peace."
AND THEN the good folks at International ANSWER, Troops Out Now!, and United for Peace & Justice, and many others, should leave their usual bickering aside, take a supportive role, and let the military families do the talking.
FINALLY, a note about the recurring spurious argument that since we created the Iraq mess in the first place, we need to fix it before we can leave, before we can bring the troops home: Stan Goff wrote a counter-argument which is posted on his Web site at http://stangoff.com/index.php?p=134 This is an excellent response to the Deaniacs and other "progressives" out there who justify staying in Iraq because "we broke it, we own it." And -- I almost forgot -- for those who wish to spend time on the impeachment part of the equation, AfterDowningStreet.org (John Bonifaz -- Brown University (1987), Harvard Law School (1992), MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1999)) will provide you with plenty of ammo.
QUOTATION FOR THE AGES: "But a moment comes -- perhaps it is a sudden defeat, or perhaps it is merely reading a story like Shadid and Fainaru's ["Building Iraq's Army: Mission Improbable, Washington Post, June 9, 2005] -- when the fantasy dissolves, and then one is left face to face with the factual truth. All the 'exceptions' turn out to be the rule. When that happens with respect to Iraq, America's grotesque misadventure there -- born of lies, sustained by lies and productive of more lies every day it continues -- will be brought to a close."
-- Jonathan Schell, "The Exception Is the Rule," TomDispatch, June 15, 2005.
ON TO THE LIGHTER STUFF... HERE IS A CALIFORNIA GEM: "WARNING: Motor vehicles contain chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. These chemicals are contained in many vehicle components and replacement parts, vehicle fluids, and paints and materials used to maintain batteries, brakes, and wheel balancing weights. In addition motor vehicles emit engine exhaust and fumes, and when serviced, cleaned or maintained generate used oil, waste fluids, fumes, grease, grime and particulates from component wear, which contain chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. (Posted in accordance with Proposition 65 in Cal. Health & Safety Code §25249.5 et seq.) For further information about Proposition 65: www.oehha.org/prop65.html.
YOU CAN FIND this little warning on a sticker located on the left front window of each new vehicle sold in California. Safety first, as we like it here. As to health concerns, once you sit in your healthy car you may want to grab a bag of potato chips from any one of these fine manufacturers: Lays, Pringles, Kettle Chips and Cape Cod, whose brands contain a cancer-causing chemical, acrylamide. According to the World Health Organization, acrylamide may cause up to one third of all cancers due to diet. The following brands -- Lay's Baked!, Lay's Stax BBQ, Lay's KC Masterpiece. Lay's Natural Country Barbecue, Lay's Light KC Barbecue Masterpiece, Pringles Snack Stacks (Pizzalicious Flavor), Pringles Sweet Mesquite BBQ, Kettle Chips Lightly Salted, Kettle Chips Honey Dijon, Cape Cod Robust Russet and Cape Cod Classic Chips -- all have an acrylamide content substantially higher than the 0.2 micrograms per day considered unsafe by Californian public health authorities (this is also part of Proposition 65). You'd expect the processed food manufacturers would address this health problem...and you would be right. According to ABC News10.net, the manufacturers "have reportedly asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for an exemption to Proposition 65 labeling for foods with carcinogens caused by heat processing."
Life's good; enjoy your chips in your rolling casket!
JESUS IN A BATHROOM: Jeffrey Rigo, of Pittsburgh, found plaster stained with an image vaguely resembling Christ in his bathroom. He hopes it will fetch $1,999.99 on E-Bay. Picture can be seen at http://www.sfgate.com/n/pictures/2005/06/17/jesus3.jpg
WINK TO CONFRERES: Here are two entertaining online publications that I've come across lately. First, the Loafer's Magazine edited by Peter Schilling, Jr. In the 1990s, Loafer's was a pulp publication -- twelve irreverent and humorous issues on "subjects as varied as lumpen academia, nude beaches, rabbit killing, beer recipes, political chicanery, vagina symbology, a sequel to 'Howl,' sermons, train maps, interviews with God, a fictional account of the last public execution in Minnesota, lost relatives, porno film titles, travel journals, comic strip criticism, dogs with guns, suicide, Tiger Stadium, and many cartoons, lists, recipes, photos, painting, poems, essays and fictions. And fake letters." A sort of mini Onion worthy of a visit. The other, Cyrano's, is also a former print publication that folded for lack of resources and is now revived on line by its editor, Patrice Greanville. Now, perhaps Greanville is a bit over the top when he assures that Cyrano's is "home to some of the most inconoclastic [sic] and original commentary on the Web, and probably the most liberating views likely to be found anywhere on many topics..." -- it could use some editing and graphical cleanup -- but if as he claims, "[they] have a well-honed talent to piss off many of our coreligionists on the left, especially those still laboring under the weight of knee-jerk PC-correctness," this could be fun (future will tell).
SCAVENGER OF THE WEEK: Now, I don't know whether Loafer's or Cyrano's will multi-post or lift stuff from other sites without permission (here too, future will tell), but I sure know that the pitiful Les Blough of Axis of Evil, err, sorry, Freudian lapse...I meant Axis of Logic, has done it again. This time around, he simply stole a Swans piece with a graphic and shamelessly reposted it on his sorry site.
SCAVENGERS a la Les Blough, and vanity, navel-gazing authors are a pain in the ass. The "old coach" used to tell me to keep my head up, walk the path of integrity, both intellectual and moral. He'd say, "they know they are scavengers; they know they steal. They know that they can very easily put a link to the original work." (He also used to have his own take on the vanity crowd...) Well, the old coach, Richard Macintosh, is no longer among us but I'm going to keep honoring his integrity, his many advices, his memory, and his wisdom.
IT'S LONG PAST DUE: I have to create a "Scavengers Page." It'll begin with Les Blough -- though he won't be the last one... One of these days, these contemptible people will become history, like all snake oil would-be doctors (including Bill Frist). Just following the trend in the law, one knows that the old coach was up to something. See:
Connecting to other Websites (Stanford U.)
"Deep Linking, Framing, Inlining and Extension of Copyrights: Recent Cases in Common Law Jurisdictions" (Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law ISSN 1321-8247)
It's just a matter of time, one of these despicable people get sued. I hear penalties of $150,000 are not unheard of... People, "thou shall not steal."
BOONVILLE NEWS: Past mid June...it keeps raining and it's cold enough that we have to burn more wood to heat the house. Mid June, for cheesecake! On the bright side however, here is a small gem we found in our local paper in response to another reader, Nick Collins from Berkeley, CA, who sent a trenchant letter of criticism to the editor of the AVA. This rebuttal is from Mark Scaramella:
Three unpaid people produce this paper every week. If we don't measure up to your superior standards, there's nothing that can be done about it. We are not Bruce Anderson -- and we don't need to be reminded time and again of that obvious fact. We work with what we've got, which, taken as a whole, is pretty good, considering. We don't have the luxury of second guessing our lead stories or working on such nebulous concepts as Bush, class consciousness and racism. Please give us a break. But keep writing. We doubt anybody else will print it. That's the best we can do for free speech at the moment. (AVA, June 15, 2005, page 4.)
Hmm, I did not know there was a causal relationship between the quality of being unpaid and the quality of the AVA output; and if memory serves, Marko Pitchounet* was not paid either in Bruce Anderson's times... Am I missing something? Whether "what [they've] got is pretty good" is the very object of contention here, no? People tend to disagree on these matters, see. For some (certainly) twisted minds, "Bush, class consciousness, and racism" (of which there are aplenty in our bucolic valley), are not "nebulous concepts," indeed. They are an inherent part of our quotidian and we'd like to have our weekly fix, as we used to thanks to Bruce Anderson. Sorry for being addicts! And yes, none of you is Bruce Anderson. No one disputes the fact. We simply wish you would stop whining, find interesting material, or rename the paper the Anderson Valley of Commerce and replace the "Peace to the cottages! War on the palaces!" part by "Peace on the cottages! Welcome palaces!" You don't want to be reminded that you are not Bruce Anderson? Then, stop trying desperately to emulate him without having either his intellect or his talent, and become yourself, and selves (cf. the editor and his Subaru baby girl). Don't like it? Why not sending our money back? (Note: Please tell Nick Collins I will be glad to publish his writing.)
* "Pitchounet," Q'es acò (what is it)?: It's a variant of pitchoun, pitchoune, pitchounette, in Langue d'Oc (Occitan), meaning a kid, a child, un miston. It's an affectionate term, and anyone who has met Mark knows that at times his eyes and smile flash expressions of mischief like a joyous kid -- the face of a pitchoun in the body of a 60-year-old man, who, lately, seems to have lost his sense of humor. Ok, these are not humorous times...but, eh Mark, "peuchère, cesses de rouviller tout le temps...tu nous escagasses avec tes capouchinades... Boudiou, couillotti, ne soit pas un fada!" Want a Boontling translation? (FYI, "Pitchounet" is also a very fine fromage de brebis, but one should not jump onto melted analogies...)
Ç'est la vie...
And so it goes...