Tag Archives: Headlines

Hillary walks into Chipotle, orders a “burrito bowl.” Haha. How about a soup salad?

The New York Times reported the story about the presidential candidate slumming it with her constituents without any hint that they caught the disconnect. It may not be Bush Senior marvelling curiously at a barcode scanner or Bush Junior referencing the “Internets” but this was clearly Hillary Clinton’s first time in a Mexican fast food grill. The choice is beef, chicken, pork or tofu, served in tacos, fajitas, burritos, or bowls. Unless her handlers intervene, Hillary is going to waltz into a Souper-Salad and ask for the soup salad.

How to tweak a headline, right wing style.

Without being called an extremist, or if anybody does you can call him a paranoid or otherwise mentally ill “conspiracy theorist”.
From The Atlanta Examiner:
“AARP members bash Obamacare”.
This mirrors a similar “Shocking” headline Fox did last year when about 1% of the AARP membership left the organization in a huff and on a TeaBag high-horse because AARP endorsed Health Care Reform.<=The proper name.
But, with the term "AARP members" and not specifying how many, what percentage of the overall membership, or noting that AARP has members from every political party in America including Anarchists, you could get any two AARP members to say they don't like Health Care and would prefer the alternative, a murderous system of killing elderly, disabled and poor AMERICANS through organized, explicit and consistent Denial of Health Care by the so-called "free" market. And with those two voices you can get "AARP members bash Obamacare". Get 10 to say they want to keep the old Murderous system and you get "A group of seniors say they don't want to have Health Care".
Have them organize and you get "Senior Advocacy Group says they'd rather be taken out and abandoned on an ice floe, while their tribe rows away from them singing traditional songs"

Have a disabled or Senior AMERICAN say that being left to die and rot sucks, and you get "oh, you're just a paranoid delusional conspiracy theory whiner".
Get more people saying that maybe denying people health care and therefore life and you can say "Socialist Cult of Conspiracy Theorists advance crazy notion that denying health care equals murder".

There you have it, in a Right Wing "Nut" shell.

Army Career “opportunities”

We’ve seen the ads, “Join the Military and get job training that employers want”.. yeah right. One of my friends in El Paso was at the time a Scout for the Third Herd, 3rd Armored Cavalry. Stationed at Ft Bliss but spent most of his time (between the constant wars in which America has been engaged, unofficially) in this patch of Hell called MacGregor Range sandwiched between the limits of Ft Bliss, Biggs Army Air Field, White Sands Missile Range and Holloman AFB. His take on it was the job opportunities using his training would be either working as a cop or a hitman. (Personal aside, I don’t make any distinction at all between the two jobs.)
A double-digit percentage of the unemployed in Colorado are veterans. That’s about twice the percentage of the population who are veterans. The TeeVee college ads, trade schools actually, because the Wealthiest don’t want to spring for a real academic education, they want to keep us firmly planted in the Servant Class, make promises to recently discharged Veterans that strongly echo the lies of the Military Recruiters. “get training the employers are looking for”.
You know, it would be a Hell of a lot easier for you to Skip The Army Bullshit and just go to college or trade school without their help.
That way you don’t have to Kill and possibly Die for the benefit of the very richest. Let them send their own sons and daughters into the fight. Like Bush, Cheney, Romney, the entire Limbaugh Family, all of them DIDN’T serve “our country” and they don’t send THEIR nasty little piglets into the fray either.

The Bush Twins actually went on a speaking tour Campaigning for their Coward Little Daddy but disguised as Promoting the Military Service as a “career opportunity”. Essentially told high school kids to drop out from education and join the Killing Machine.

Advice neither they nor the scions of their Fathers Accomplices took.

Nor did their father or any of his accomplices. (Pretending to be a Fighter Pilot doesn’t count, everybody ELSE who had the word “combat” in his MOS at the time got sent to VietNam, save for a very few, very privileged scions of the very rich… like GW)

Face it, kids, you really DON’T owe it to America to join the Army. The United States has been in constant wars since the end of World War 2 and has not actually had a congressional declaration of war since December 8, 1941.

Nor have ANY of those wars actually been about American or anybody else’s “freedom”. To the veterans of those wars, there’s two different sides to that. The one told to you by the Government, saying how much they love and respect you.

And those of us who actually respect you, America and ourselves enough to Not Tell You Those Lies.

It’s a hideous thought that your time and the killing in which you participated, and the lives of your comrades, was exactly that meaningless… that the blood shed and destruction wrought was merely to fill the pockets of the Richest Bastards on earth, and who themselves declined to fight for their own wealth.

But that’s how it is, bubba. That’s how it is.
Rather than get all outraged about somebody telling you the Truth, why not focus that rage on the Sons-of-bitches who sent you into that using Lies, and pat you on the head every Veterans Day and any other War-related Holidays?

Which are the majority of state and federal “holidays”.

I should point out that Holiday is an English merger of the two words Holy Day. There’s nothing Holy about War.

The Military is just an extension of the Servant Class who are used by the Wealthiest at their convenience. Like the Rich who say they gained their money without exploiting their workers.
In their eyes we’re all disposable, allowed to live as long as we make them their money.

It’s the very core of Capitalism.

The pornography of prosthetics

Amputee pornIt was unavoidable. With untold thousands of US men and women returning from Afghanistan and Iraq with missing limbs, somebody was going to want to see that naked.
 
I wanted to see the naked figures. Specifically, how many servicemen have been injured, how many of them maimed? Strangely, those statistics are not exposed. Not accounting our soldiers’ sacrifices, to spare a public’s waning jingoist sensibilities, is the real exploitation.

The closest I could get were FOIA documents forced from the VA by Veterans for Common Sense. Current through May 2009, here are the figures as I understand them:

Of 1,101,971 total GWOT veterans, there are 405,022 veterans filing disability claims. (While we’re at it, let’s mention the VA records 4,702 in-service deaths, and 5,621 post-service deaths.)

Sorting past the 49,325 veterans who suffer “Limitation Of Flexion Of Leg” and 41,544 who have “Limited Motion Of The Ankle,” there are 10,179 who’ve applied for Traumatic Injury benefits. This number might include soldiers who’ve lost a limb, but only among the soldiers who were insured.

Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI) is a rider under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) that provides for payment to any member of the uniformed services covered by SGLI who sustains a traumatic injury that results in certain severe losses. Through May 31, 2009, 10,179 active duty servicemembers and veterans have applied for TSGLI. Of those, GWOT veterans filed 7,091 claims and 4,409 of those received benefits

I imagine medical supply companies must know the number of artificial limbs they’ve sold to the DoD or to the VA.

About Afghanistan, shoot the messenger

OSPAAAL posterThis time let’s learn something from the travesty of Vietnam. The interests which drove US soldiers into the hamlets of Southeast Asia are directing the massacres today. We call them the hawks, as if war was mere blood sport. Though South Vietnamese collaborators were forced to flee for their lives from Saigon, their US cohorts were never held to account. This time as America extricates itself from terrorizing Afghanistan, let’s note those among us with blood on our hands and prosecute. Not the soldiers, but the warmongers in the charge: those commanders who every month reported the war “is still winnable” those propagandists who blamed the failure of occupation on waning public resolve, those politicians who rationalized inhumanity, and the war industrialists, all of them.

Last veteran of the War to End All Wars

UK veteran harry patch
IS THAT RICH? UK’s oldest living veteran of the Great War died this weekend at age 111. Machine-gunner Harry Patch who survived Ypres and nearly not Passchendaele, was eulogized by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles who explained “The Great War is a chapter in our history we must never forget.” Prime Minister Gordon Brown added: “The noblest of all the generations has left us, but they will never be forgotten.” What did Soldier Patch think of the war for which he was held in patriotic regard? “It wasn’t worth it.”

Patch had been adamant that the senseless slaughter of WWI was not justified, for neither Queen nor Country. The joke is on us hopeful pacifists however, because the old soldier WAITED UNTIL HE WAS 100 TO SAY IT.

Do antiwar activists ask too much of our soldiers, to bear the brutalization of war, and return to be strong enough to speak against it? The state portrays their shell-shocked silence as stoic heroism, the veterans are far too broken to object. And the recruiting cycle repeats itself. The swiftboaters outnumber the conscientious objectors.

We will probably wait forever for the veteran to end all veterans.

Next to the White House

While visiting Washington DC in March, I found it interesting to note the edifices closest to the White House.
The Executive Office Building

EAST, WEST
The neighbor to the immediate East of the Obama’s White House is the Department of the Treasury. Is that any surprise? Of course not, but how bourgeois! I could imagine Scrooge McDuck sneaking across the White House garden twice a day to check his reserves. To the West is what we now call the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building. It’s the site of the suspicious office fires which may or may not have masked a recent vice-president’s misdeeds. The edifice looks straight out of A Series of Unfortunate Events, and check out the plaque which commemorates what the building used to be called:

State War and Navy Departments

Probably that should be no surprise as well: the White house sandwiched between Treasury and War. “State, War and Navy.” How so much less duplicitous than the “Department of Defense.”

SOUTHWEST
Behind the former War offices, to the Southwest of the White House, lies the war memorial to end all war memorials. It’s the WWI Memorial, of considerably diminutive size compared to those commemorations of subsequent wars which have spilled unto the Mall, but its form followed the convention of the typical Great War monuments erected throughout Europe among the nations who had participated.

WWI monument to US Army Expeditionary Force

Except the American version is dedicated to the “Expeditionary Forces” which I just love. That’s what WWI was about for the US. The trenches of Europe were no place Americans needed to defend their freedom. The troops we sent, to relieve France and England, represented a foreign expedition, exactly that. More precisely, our troops were an R&D expedition for our blustering capitalists.

(This may be no time or place to note that history books do not link America’s WWI experience with the Influenza outbreak of 1917-18, which began in the barracks of US soldiers being mobilized for war. American soldiers took their flu to Europe and ultimately killed 50 million people. Those were not the days before we knew better to stay home to prevent infecting others.)

The US entry into WWI was bitterly opposed by a peace movement which the war-opportunist-profiteers maligned as isolationist. Selfish globalization-denying isolationism has been the slander ever since, used against anyone who tries to block military interventions in all their guises.

Ultimately WWI was no affair of ours, had the Huns emerged victorious, American foreign affairs would hardly have changed. Our foreign trading partners would have numbered more Germans, that’s all. But it’s useless to compare alternative outcomes of WWI, all things staying constant, because America participated and profited wildly.

If American investors had not jumped in Over There, the greatest business opportunities of blossoming industrialism would have been missed. The opportunities offered by the Europeans fighting amongst themselves, proved to have been momentous.

And here was the monument to those lost American lives, sacrificed so that American industrial might, in particular the new banking monopolists, could seize the European spheres of influence throughout the world. Of course the lost lives of the American Expeditionary Force were remembered thus:

“…WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE WORLD WAR THAT LIBERTY AND THE IDEALS OF OUR COUNTRY MIGHT ENDURE”

It would take another World War for the US to appropriate the colonies and oil fields by means of contracts and loans, with the leverage of coming to their aid again, this time armed with lend-lease bills.

SOUTHEAST
To the Southeast of the White House, across the back lawn, lies the monument antecedent to the Great War. It’s the Civil War Memorial, atop which rides the triumphant General William Tecumseh Sherman. (Who, to be fair, presided over the War Department for a long stretch after the Civil War, actually this nation’s longest peacetime period.)

Sherman monumentCurious that I chose to crop his personage from my pictures, but my eyes were drawn to the lesser figures around the base of the monument, in particular, a half naked woman.

The memorial seemed to include various uniformed Civil War participants. How egalitarian to include a woman. But this woman was no French Revolutionary with breast bared oblivious as she rallied her comrades to victory. This delicate woman was unarmed and stripped to the waist, her children in tattered rags at her feet.

Could this statue be offering another conceit to the reality of war, to Sherman’s March to the sea, to the burning of Atlanta, to the shameful destruction he visited on the secessionist South? Was this a nod to the real role given to Women in war, their sons and husbands taken from them, a non-combatant left helpless to defend her children or herself. Did the shirt torn from her body confess to the woman’s rape?

More probably the feminine likeness personified man’s attraction to war, a soldier’s predilection for her beauty. How many war monuments memorialize as they also beacon?

Much of the terrain around the White House grounds is blocked off by secondary and tertiary security perimeters. But for the arrival of bus unloadng its visitors to see it, the Civil War Monument is normally cordoned off. When I had passed it earlier, a balaclava-clad guard was blocking the only entrance.

SOUTH
The grassy expanse immediately South of the White House, permitting the First Family an uninterrupted view of the National Mall, has actually been given over to parking permits. The loop of asphalt across the lawn, with cars strewn diagonally along the edges, gives the unfortunate impression of overflow event parking. In any other neighborhood, the crowd of cars would be a dead giveaway that someone on the block was having a party.

White Flight from football to assault rifle

Lacrosse baggataway warriorRyan dons the rest of his gear in the car. Pads, armor, helmet, even mouth guard. I adjust the rearview mirror downward until I see his small frame in the backseat. We’re only halfway to practice and he’s already biting down, breathing through his nose, focused straight ahead. It’s the same routine for football, except today he’s got a lacrosse stick across his knees. In his grip, I should say. When we pull the car to the edge of the parking lot, he jumps and literally hits the ground running. From my height he gives me the sense I’m a helicopter pilot who’s dropped soldier reinforcements to join the team on the pitch. There’s a steep hillock between Ryan and the field, but his charge never slows, he ascends like a Cavalry of One, his stick brandished like an assault rifle.

Would an M16 be held any different? The difference between football and lacrosse is that your little assault squad is armed.

In 1763 a band of Chippewa Indians seized Fort Michilimackinac by feigning a game of baggataway, the Native American origin of lacrosse. The Indians pretended that an over-spirited drive led players over the fortifications and within minutes they’d stormed the ramparts.

In a spirit of honoring American Indian tradition, like the harvest celebration of Thanksgiving, American dads are pushing a new sport unto the youth athletic season. Because the first early adopters where also the first white men to hit the New World, the sport now has a Mayflower WASP identity too.

Lacrosse has an exotic appeal in spite of its New England tradition. It’s sort of field hockey gone aerial, full court jai alai with armor, East Coast blue blood rooted with the authentic red bloods, the original old money land owners.

Is that what’s behind the lacrosse resurgence? As Ryan’s team wrapped up the other day, they passed baseball diamonds and could not hold back from chanting “lacrosse, lacrosse” toward the children playing baseball, as if to instigate a cross-sport rivalry. Lacrosse teams are still relatively scarce. On weekends they have to cross neighboring metropolitan regions to play each other.

How many sports programs do you need to round out your kids? Boys have baseball, football and basketball, among the big team sports. Neither of which are the biggest sports internationally. Soccer and handball. Curiously both those require little equipment. They are perfect for the Third World, but imperfect for consumer cultures which have wheels of commerce to drive, especially in recreational pursuits.

Which could explain why Lacrosse teams have to traverse great distances to encounter adversaries. The usual cross town rivals can’t pony up the money for this game.

Lacrosse is White Flight from football. Most schools have barely enough money to keep their athletes in football gear, let alone a completely redundant lacrosse kit. And so the only kids playing lacrosse are from families who can afford the hundreds extra for the specialized equipment. Added bonus, there are no players bringing a black athletic advantage to the game. Like the other equipment intensive sports of the northern climes, lacrosse is a venue where white boys can dominate, and give their accustomed advantage some elbow room.

I remember a fencing instructor encouraging prospective young pupils at a toney gym, about a peripheral advantage to the sport. Ivy League schools offered fencing scholarships, and prospects outside the usual New England states would be at an advantage for consideration. It was the first glimpse I had of counter-insurgency strategies in America’s race war.

Lacrosse may be the arena where prosperous families can let their white boys roughhouse with supremacy, but the joke’s definitely on them. It’s a sport for social climbers, and this ladder is definitely pointed elsewhere. Is your Playstation 3 teaching options trading or first person combat? Lacrosse is real world preschool basic training.

What does lacrosse impart that Football doesn’t? The teamwork is the same, the size differentials are still key. In both games there is only one ball, but in lacrosse, regardless who has the ball, everyone has a stick. If ever there was a sport which prepared athlete soldiers, lacrosse is it.

The sport of real blue bloods was always Rugby. In England, where commoners play rugby, you can always tell the rugby veterans by their broken noses and missing teeth. In America it’s the preference of the prep schools and private colleges, where offspring of the affluent can acquire scars without fear that it will hinder their job prospects because their futures are secure.

America’s white settlers weren’t blue bloods, they were the ground troops dispatched to seize the continent. It looks to me, the same American Dreamers are being tweaked again into service of the empire. The poor bigoted middle class is turning their boys out for real war.

Obama drops all pretense of being Mr. Peace, Mr. Health, or Mr. For The People

Obama on a Bush rug
Barack Obama, the new American Emperor, stands now naked before his previously admiring fan club. His expansion of the Af-Pak War, his retention of US Occupation of Iraq, his gigantesque freebie Fed giveaways to the corporate world all now stand exposed for all to see. Honeymoon now over, and only 2 1/2 months post taking office! Still, the public faith is there that The Empire’s economy will right itself in the troubled waters. Faith dies hard.

However as Chris Floyd puts it in his essay, Beyond Here Lies Nothing: Surging Further Into the Abyss, the domestic side of their efforts is even more radical, more shocking than Obama’s dull-witted “continuity” in Terror War. The new administration is openly transferring trillions of dollars to a small core of financial elites, in effect placing the rest of the country into a state of economic peonage to these remote and unaccountable overlords — who have, astonishingly, used the fear and suffering created by their own actions as an opportunity to take their domination of society to even greater heights. What Obama and his economic team are abetting is, as Simon Johnson and others have noted, nothing less than an oligarchic coup d’etat.

For many Americans, it is now seeming as if the Democratic Party has joined the Republican Party. They believed in CHANGE with capital letters, but have gotten this? It will be eventually seen as an outrage!

They are not going to forgive these lies they were fed, as the world economy continues to nose dive. Sure, there will be temporary rallies (we’re seeing one today, in fact) and there are many deluded around us who think it will take hold and all will return to Fantasy Land once again. Without any work or effort (by themselves)to do things differently. Yet a hard cold rise of rage is just around the corner. The Emperor Obama has now dropped all pretense of being Mr. Peace, Mr. Health, or Mr. For The People, and stands bear naked before us all. The anger builds fire ahead.

Space Symposium grand finale not a dud

Interstate 25 rollover on Monument PassCOLORADO SPRINGS- According to local sources, this year’s grand finale of the Broadmoor Hotel’s fireworks display, marking the final evening of the National Space Symposium, was not a dud. It simply never came.

Observation was complicated by last year’s unusual 25 minute delay which preceded the final synchronized collision of explosives. Anticipating it was a precedent, we waited.

Twenty five minutes is time enough to speculate about a lot. What caused the different colors, for example, and whether other properties might be reflected in the different combustions, smell maybe, or debris? We speculated that maybe the grand finale was top secret, like the much of the space program, veiled behind the US Black Budget. Maybe what we couldn’t see was a subterranean explosion commemorating the participants’ nuclear testing. We didn’t feel anything. Maybe the big weapons specialists are unimpressed by mere fireworks anyway, like so many legal-sized firecrackers. What dessert celebrates a meal of watered soup?

Who can watch a fireworks display anymore without thinking of Shock and Awe over Baghdad, 2001, when America watched in great anticipation of that grandest of would be finales, our attempt at regime change via techno-regicide? [That was a dud.] I remember one of the networks had an Iraqi university professor on the phone in Baghdad. He was asked if he feared for his family’s lives. He was asked why they didn’t flee. In return he asked “WHY ARE YOU BOMBING US?” It was decided that wires had gotten crossed and this professor was an unintentional interviewee. The phone call was hastily dispatched with sincere wishes that the professor and his children would survive until morning.

Last night no finale came. I hope the average Space Symposium attendee was as disappointed as we. But we noted that tonight’s pyrotechnics, more than the usual, symbolized war of the unending kind. What the military industrial complex entrusts to Development.

Whether we’re talking artillery or naked Spartans, warfare amounts to the continued consumption of one inflammable projectile after the next. Expending one shell/bomb/human being means having to replace it with another. No industry wants a customer who doesn’t purchase its product for consumption, or no one would need return for more. How do you profit from weapons manufacture if there is not unending war?

Roughing it in DC

WASHINGTON DC- We caught the Metro, dragged our bags across the streets and sidewalks, but alright, we haven’t exactly been roughing it.

Map of Washington DC hotels
First stop, the Capitol Hilton, from which we can promenade to the White House. It’s a stuffy hotel, with historic presidential-themed porcelain plates on display featuring an eagle that would look more comfortable on Luftwaffe place settings.

Marie arranged the other couples nights at the St. Gregorys, the nearer to hang around the university and explore Georgetown.

St Gregory Hotel, Washington DC
The St. Gregory Hotel was reputedly a favorite of Marlyn Monroe’s. Which I suppose is enough to explain the life size statue of Monroe in their lobby. Monroe stands poised above the famous subway vent, her dress permanently fixed immodestly. Billy Wilder had the good sense to shot the scene from the front, but the St. Gregory didn’t have that foresight, and they’ve bent this Monroe forward like a hood ornament, for short customers maybe.

I’m not sure the titillating sight is something to complain about. Call it a land mind for involuntary ogling. Easily avoided once you know it’s there, but if your mind is on something else, a conversation for example, Monroe’s pose catches your reflex unawares.

Truth Wanted: IDF military intelligence propagandists need not apply

Soldiers Media CenterWell, engaging the Israeli Internet Megaphone was an interesting experiment, although the popular consensus interjected the qualifier “hardly.” Now smeared across the NMT comment record is the indelible impression of what an industrial strength, defense department white-wash program can do to an open blog forum. It’s particularly distinct at NMT because we don’t have the red-neck yahoos which usually camouflage the disinformation agents. Well, we’ve documented the propaganda mechanism, it’s provided the scat samples, now it’s time to close the study.

Much as we’re plenty eager to take on the front line soldiers working PR combat, we must also realize our limitations. Their eloquence may be invitingly mud-hued, but they’ve got a machine gun to our dueling sword.

In every war, of chief concern to aggressors is the strategy to dominate what’s being said about them, from propaganda leaflets to postal censors to intelligence departments directing the press. It should be no surprise that the blogosphere would be of intense interest to them. It’s become cliche to say it, but in war “the first casualty is the truth.” Whereas journalism is always misperceived as representing the truth, blogs are truth’s living, breathing aspirants. Up against mercenary contractor liars, truth-adherents will asphyxiate.

Here’s what we’re going to do. When we detect comment coming from a documented military intelligence source, it’s gone. Well, replaced with a link to this post. That way Not My Tribe can still bear witness to the frequency of the onslaught. And if we’re then hit with denial-of-service attacks, we’ll serve as a record of those too. Freedom of speech on the internet is not going down without a fight.

And so we bid the truth-assassins adieu, and thanks for the fish. You’ve helped us demonstrate how it’s done, who’s doing it, and to what lethal extreme. Israel is not the only military maneuvering online. China and the US have legions working sabotage and censorship. NMT represents only the blogosphere arena, and only an English-language sampling. No doubt whichever governments commit atrocities, they have military advisers tell them the job isn’t done until public discussion is controlled.

But you’ve given us a ray of hope too. No matter what the budget, I don’t care if you’re paid $1000/hr, your voice will never resonate above the intellect of a dullard. As universities know, brains don’t come cheap, and the best are free. Thank goodness. Your voice may be loud and brash, but nothing which will get traction with thinking folk.

Your limbs for oil: the crude reality

war for oil
Spotted at a rally: CRUDE REALITY.
 
It’s the NO BLOOD FOR OIL message, brought home for the children raised on bloodless TV violence. What’s blood anymore? You offer it to vampires, you can get more at a bank. Missing appendages, that’s visual.
 
I’m still working on a poster, featuring a closeup of an artificial ankle, today made of aircraft aluminum, or is it graphite, with the bold assurance that this one is ARMY STRONG.

Does NPR have a hiring impediment?

Louisa Lim National Public RadioNATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO- I can laugh at speech impediments with the best of them. But I’m less comfortable if there’s no laugh track. Specifically, when it’s a speech-challenged news reporter, I utterly object to being made to decipher from mispronunciation. On the radio, poor diction is as unacceptable as inaudible recording, and disabled- enunciation is as appropriate as a paraplegic delivering your piano. Take NPR’s Louisa Lim.

Give someone a job they can handle, but don’t celebrate equal opportunity without consideration for the task required.

Louisa Lim can’t pronounce her Rs. Might not someone have thought to counsel Lim fwom puhsuing a caweeuh on the wadio? Dropped Rs represent an alphabet 1/26th deficient. More, if you adjust inversely by Scrabble point value.

Monte Python’s Pontius Pilate of Life of Brian was mocked by the chorus for not being able to say his R’s. And yes, his Roman audience found the hilarity unending. It’s why he was urged to release Bawabas and not Jesus. Gilda Radner similarly mocked Barbara Walters. Mispwonouncing her Rs didn’t keep Bahbwa Wahwah from a lengthy career, but that’s the point I’m coming to.

If speech impediments were congenital, it would still be no reason to exhibit them center-stage like cultural accents.

Aren’t most speaking disorders remedied in the primary grades, given extra attention from speech therapists? Why do the exceptions seem to become Communications Majors? It’s as if students who have reason to work on their locution, end up becoming the professionals.

But choirs don’t tolerate tone-deafness, why would broadcasters burden themselves with mis-speakers?

Louisa Lim can’t say R, but she’s only one of a majority of female voices on NPR hobbled by flawed presentation. Don’t you find that strange? Considering that Amy Goodman’s delivery is criticized for being shrill. It’s as if NPR thinks strong feminine voices would come across as too authoritative, unless a physical weakness is empirically discernible. Would this explain why most the female voices on NPR are nasal, or supported by the weakest lung capacity? Their tiny voices sound like they could extinguish themselves without the next breath. Audiences like it too obviously.

Accents too, foreign and domestic, work to temper the projection of authority. Male presenters traditionally have sported commanding voices. Today, those who don’t moderate for sporting events most often have voices in the higher registers, or modulate their voices with rises in pitch which communicates timidity.

Insurgents, prairie dogs and Laser Tag

I remember discovering the difference between target shooting and Laser Tag. At a firing range you could look calmly down your gun sight and concentrate without distraction. Same with hunting. But Laser Tag, Paintball, or the doubtlessly misnomered Airsoft, let you experience what it’s like to be shot at. Who would believe aiming a gun is so different under fire?

In Laser Tag, you had to wear an infrared sensor to make yourself a target to your opponent’s fire. We used to wrap the sensor belt around our heads because it seemed the most fair vulnerability. Otherwise it was too easy to obscure your sensor between you and the ground or against whatever you were hiding behind. On your forehead, the sensor would become visible whenever you yourself attempted to poke up your head to take a shot.

I learned to cheat by crawling under cars to obscure my forehead in the undercarriage while my line of sight remained unimpeded. Of course I was a sitting duck when spotted. But from no matter what covered position, I found it much harder to take aim when adversaries were directing their fire at me.

If you’d succeeded in concealing your vantage point, you were free to concentrate on your aim. But now you were challenged with a further trembling sensation in your fingers. Now there was a heightened hesitation to pull the trigger, because the moment you did, your position would be revealed and you’d attract fire.

This is the predicament we discount when we think of military snipers. Though it seems quite plainly cowardly to shoot unsuspecting opponents from a concealed position, often snipers have to operate from hiding places deep in enemy territory. When they finally take their shot, snipers become prey themselves.

I think about this immediate blowback consequence when I think of Iraqis or Afghans who contemplate taking aim at the US military machine. Insurgents face technology and firepower to obliterate the very hill from which they might be shooting. It would seem that anyone who would dare to stand armed against US forces would be a suicide bomber. It’s near certain death to fire a Kalashnikov knowing that US electronics can very quickly extrapolate your location and bring ordinance against you like a fly-swatter against a fly.

In WWII against Japan, we held a sad esteem for the suicide pilots of the last desperate Japanese efforts. The Kamikazes would pilot explosive laden aircraft which had no landing gears in case they changed their minds. It seemed like lunacy, and often they were young, and barely trained.

I wondered if our soldiers accord the Iraqi or Afghan insurgents a similar awed respect. To merely raise your head from the rubble, without Kevlar armor, requires a bravery to defy the gods. What a cost to try to defend your homeland against America’s overwhelming might. I couldn’t do it. You draw almost certain overkill coming from unforeseen points, high in the sky, laser-guided by a team of technicians in climate controlled comfort on the other side of the planet, who are not themselves under fire. We’ve rendered all our adversaries into suicide bombers. How dare our behind-the-lines officers call them cowardly?

Howabout an unexpurgated face of war

Forbidden image of a dead US soldierThe US media was not permitted to depict fallen soldiers, in or out of the coffin. Next military censors forbade photos of US wounded. Most recently US soldiers have been under orders to prohibit the press from photographing them at all, to promote the illusion that our Iraqi surrogates alone are handling security. How infuriated our officials must have been to see this photograph in the international press.

Do Americans not want to see their fallen boys? In my recent experience with death, I most certainly wanted to see what happened straight up. Do the families of soldiers really not want to see how their loved one met his/her fate? What utter bullshit! If they don’t I do. Someone should care enough for the poor lost life!

Hopefully the total control our military has been asserting over media images will result in more outright mutiny on the part of international photo journalists.

Not long ago, a sequence of photos which documented the aftermath of an IED led the DoD to forbid all depictions of even wounded soldiers. The picture below shows a victim trying vainly to join his comrades who made it to cover. He didn’t die. But this image most certainly is dispiriting to Americans watching safely from their homes, who are losing their stamina for an ugly war.

Last permitted photo of a wounded US soldier

Before coverage of operations in Iraq were safely controlled by only embedded reporters, freelance photographers were able to record images reminiscent of WWII, Korea and Vietnam. These GIs fell in the assault on Fallujah. Fortunately for the Pentagon, Iraq is now too dangerous for journalist who don’t have American minders.
US casualties in Fallujah

A recent so-called breach of an embed contract yielded images of the aftermath of a suicide-bomb attack. The American photographer incurred heavy criticism for publishing the pictures which his Marine unit had ordered him to erase. But they were published in B&W, which invokes the famous WWII Pacific Theater dead, but it does lessen the realism, doesn’t it? These casualties seem more distant than our losses in Vietnam. And how do you reconcile that the simultaneous photos of the Iraqi casualties were printed adjacent in color? We can handle seeing the red of their blood, but not ours?

Dead US Marines

Afghans persist in face of annihilation

Horror! The Taliban is reported to have taken back a half-dozen Afghan towns around Kandahar. It’s an inevitable development of course, the catastrophic consequences of which will be equally unavoidable if America sticks to its guns on the matter. Refugees are already pouring out of the areas. Are they fleeing the Taliban fighters? From the reports of our jingoist embed press, how will we ever know? I’m pretty sure the Afghan refugees are fleeing our retaliatory air strikes, which are certain as rain to blanket every living occupant now determined by US precision weapons to be dark skinned combatants. It will be like Waco without the interminable siege. Who are we kidding? Our unmanned drones are named “Predators” and “Reapers.” They’re armed with missiles of “Hellfire.”

The AIPAC friendship society at work

AIPAC is an organization of friendship, and its work is legendary. A recent film allows us to see just how this melding of minds works in actual practice. See the film over at the BBC and ask yourself, is Zionism really racism?

Don’t these nice Jewish people have the right to protect themselves from stone throwing kids, ‘suicide bombers’, and the like? Don’t they have a right to the land? AIPAC is certainly a nice group of people, right? Certainly Barack Obama thinks so. See the text of Obama’s AIPAC Speech

Isn’t AIPAC working on behalf of a beleaguered and peaceful people? They just need a little more US assistance per Obama to bludgeon the Muslims into the ground? Vote Obama if that is what you want. Vote for Obama if you want more war in the Middle East.

Bush has lost his credibility, but the Man for ‘Change’ will bring the American people back on board for more of the same. He’s Black, you know? Remember Colin Powell?

KRCC promoting Amy Goodman and DN!

Amy Goodman of Pacifica Radio and Democracy Now!I stand corrected. In case you missed it in the comments, Delaney Utterback of KRCC wrote: “Amy Goodman will be at KRCC at about 3pm on Sunday, April 20th. She’ll speak out back–mid-music fest–pitch on air a bit and sign books . . . We’re planning our open house blitz next week, where, naturally, we will announce Amy’s appearance.”

In the meantime, let’s make sure the word does get out across all channels. There will be plenty of room for an audience at the KRCC event, and the pledge drive kick-off will be a great chance for YOU to ask KRCC for a drive-time slot for Democracy Now. HD2 won’t reach the masses. Most people listen to the radio in their car, and for KRCC listeners that is the FM signal. And most people do not change the station. Far too much corporate disinformation is reaching Colorado ears via NPR. It’s not enough to know where you can go for an alternative. Our average Colorado Springs friends and neighbors need to OVERHEAR real news reporting. Then they can figure out for themselves that NPR is only a hoity-toity version of FOX, disguised in familiar voices speaking in lower tones, lacking all but pretend critical analysis.

Too pretty to blog?

An oft-heard conversation in my house goes something like this:
“Mom, why did I only get one Thin Mint and Lara got two?”
“Because I like her better.”

 
Fortunately, my kids are wise enough to know that to accept this un-motherly, and of course untrue, explanation is to be spared an hour-long lecture on The Inherent Unfairness of Life or Life Is Not a Zero-Sum Game or, my favorite, From Each According to Ability To Each According to Need.

Too pretty to flyToo bad that I am not the parent of the 18-year-old girls escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight who claim that they were just too pretty to fly. Had I been on the receiving end of such a lame defense I would’ve gleefully launched into my Pretty Is As Pretty Does speech, which would be great fun since it’s not one I get to use very often.

When I was in college at CU-Boulder, I thought I was rather attractive. Unfortunately for me, most of the girls there were more than rather attractive. I would occasionally go to a college bar hoping to catch the eye of a handsome fraternity boy. I would stand with good posture, trying to project an enigmatic alluring presence, hoping that someone would sense my intelligence, robust wit, and deep compassion for humanity. Well, it never happened. Not once. Finally tiring of plodding along a dead-end road, I decided to change my tack and give it one more try. I positioned myself near a table of 8 Sig Eps, reached into the depths of my being, and let rip an ear-shattering near-heroic burp. Eight heads turned my way. Chairs were pulled out, beers were purchased, and fraternity men jockeyed to be the one who’d take me home to meet the folks. Cosmic confirmation of Pretty is as Pretty Does had been attained.

What, say you, does this have to do with the poorly-mothered girls on the plane? In the twenty years since my stint in Boulder, my understanding of human nature has expanded beyond the Panhellenic membership base. Growing up I remember being unsettled by the apostle Paul’s words To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. This seemed disingenuous to me, an outright manipulation to attain a specific goal. But I think I’ve figured out what Paul meant, and modern-day evangelists would do well to take note.

Life isn’t always about me. In fact, life is rarely about me. Or you. It is about figuring out who everyone else is, and what matters to them. It’s about showing empathy and understanding, not forcing one’s opinion or will on someone else. My parents laugh when they meet someone who knows me, because the descriptions of what I am are so varied. Sophisticated and polite. Boisterous and raunchy. Well-read and articulate. Creative and unpredictable. Conservative. Liberal. Jock. Freak. Certainly all elements of my personality. But if I’ve properly assessed who these people –or even organizations — are, then also a reflection of them. Persuasion, cooperation, effectiveness, even friendship, require common ground. Emotional intelligence is necessary to figure out where that common ground lies.

The pretty girls, if they were thirsty and in need of a bathroom, should have better assessed the situation, the timing of their requests, and the duties of the flight attendants. If they had, their tray tables would likely have been overflowing with water and snack pretzels, and a flight attendant would have extracted the bathroom dweller on their behalf. Too pretty to fly? No, too self-absorbed and emotionally-retarded to fly.

Fortunately for my kids, this entire speech has been reduced to meaningful eye contact, one arched eyebrow, and a quiet snap behind my back. This isn’t about you. Reassess. Adjust to the situation. Or you’ll be getting no Thin Mints at all.

Magna Carta one-ply tissue unscented

When I heard the Magna Carta described today as the basis for democratic freedom, in particular, as it set forth that no man is above the law, I worried about the symbolism. Someone will pay $21 million expressly to wipe their ass with it. Can I call it or what?

Magna Carta just so many wordsThe Magna Carta at Sotheby’s is one of only 17 copies drafted in the 13th Century by William Wallace’s oppressor. The other copies reside mostly at universities in the UK. The Smithsonian Institution, or the US National Archives, would like to have it in the name of the freedom loving American People. But I couldn’t help think of the aristocrats lined up in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Freshman, each eager to be the last man on earth to shoot, or eat, the last of whatever endangered species was on the menu.

The Magna Carta may be symbolic of common man’s hard won struggle, it launched the basis for our judicial system and English Common Law. But this document, certainly now, might hold special meaning to the better-than-thou sort. The entire Western world is seeing an eclipse of the commoner’s leverage over his rulers. We’re losing our rights and our rule of law. Having seen Habeas Corpus go the way of the Dodo, what could be next but the Magna Carta? “No man is above the law?” I’ll bet there is someone willing to pay 21 million dollars to use the Magna Carta as toilet tissue suitable for his noble ass. It will probably become a Skull and Bones requirement. Lo and behold, the buyer is David Rubenstein, the founder of the single most powerful, privately held, oligarch-only warlord club, The Carlyle Group.

“How awesome and powerful God is.”

      Allah Akbar – God is Great.
After the recent attempted rampage at New Life Church, officials no longer have to explain their church’s unusual need to assign a dozen guards, half of them armed, and several policemen every Sunday to look over their members.
Assam gunned down Matthiew Murray on December 9They are quick to add “these are not mercenaries that we hire.” Onward Christian soldier.

Matthew Murray, disgruntled aspiring missionary and product of devout Christian home-schooling, returned to the Youth With a Mission training center with which he’d been affiliated in Denver and went postal. After killing two and wounding another two, he headed to their satellite office in Colorado Springs.

Meanwhile, alerted that a killer was not yet apprehended, and apprised that they might be potential targets, the New Life Church management raised the alert and took extra security measures. One of which was to reassign Jeanne Assam, usually the personal bodyguard to their church leader, to a position with a higher vantage point over the congregation. An ex-policewoman, Ms. Assam is currently employed working security for Messenger International, a husband and wife writing team traveling the Fundamentalist Christian self-help circuit.

Sure enough the black-clad avenger showed up and started shooting. Ms. Assam rose from her concealed position and fired repeatedly at the shooter as she closed in, leading reports to describe Murray as having been “gunned down.”

(In a bizarre turn, some news accounts are quoting police investigators as suggesting that the gunman may have died of self-inflicted wounds.)

At a press conference Ms. Assam said she was thankful she’d saved the congregation and “honored” that God had selected her to do it. Asked what went through her mind as the young man fell to the ground, Ms. Assam’s words reminded me of a soldier rationalizing his omnipotence: “how awesome and powerful God is.”

When Muslim insurgents successfully detonate an I.E.D. in Iraq they cheer “Allah Akbar.”