one man's conspiracy is another man's business plan
Saturday, November 27, 2004 | Haley's Nose: A GoodJob Day in America, 2009
Haley frowned at the mirror. Her nose was the problem. There was no makeup trick (and Haley knew them all) that could camouflage that nose. No clever earrings, or hat, or artfully designed spectacle frames had any effect. It was impervious to all that, resolutely, steadfastly, even proudly there, right in the middle of her face, jutting out defiantly, bump and all, dominating her profile.
It was the only feature she had not been able to conquer. Haley sighed, and flipped out her blue contact lenses into their night-time bath, checked her honey-colored hair carefully for black roots, and smoothed pearl cream into her skin. Including the nose.
She went over the figures again. No way she could afford surgery, and if she was forced to get a GoodJob, even less chance she would ever be able to.
She had been pretty lucky, really. Only a couple of Security Forces had ever really noticed the nose enough to question it, and they seemed satisfied with her explanation of an Italian grandmother. Roman nose, she smiled at them.
Incredibly, in all this time, it had apparently never occurred to Homeland Security to ask people to remove their contacts. Or maybe it had, but it was just a question of funding, since so many people had them, and black eyes alone added only a few points to the Score. One could always claim an African-American ancestor somewhere, and any Security Force personnel who challenged that would automatically trigger the lengthy and annoying process of Testing Detention, and in yet another HSA convolution, the Hero points would go to the testor, not the officer that sent the suspect in.
Still, Haley worried about the nose. Since the last HSA procedural review, the Hero Points formula had been revised, and there was more pressure on Security Forces to increase their weekly General Detainee Production. As a General Detainee, testing would be recommended, but might not take place for months, even years, or never, since the only requirement for General Detainee was General Suspicion. It was not necessary to document what the suspicion was. The Wackenhut Provision, they called it, and it was expected to double the company's revenues in the first quarter alone. Acquisition of the behemoth Homeland Depot family of companies insured that streamlined Facility construction would keep up with growing demand.
As an Informally Employed, Haley was not Protected, and was subject to everything from wand search to seizure on sight. Haley preferred to take her chances. She was an unreconstructed Ninetenner. At fifty-five, she simply could not think of GoodJobs as anything but slavery and imprisonment, nose or no nose.
"It's not so bad," her niece had told her at last month's Vacation Hour. "In lots of ways, it's better than before. I mean I don't have to worry about rent any more, or food. And as long as I keep up my Conduct Rating, I get to see Josh every Family Hour."
Haley tried not to look at the remains of the Nutri-Loaf on Kristin's plate. Food? At least Josh and the other kids in the Family Friend Center got milk, veggies, a regular diet, Until they were 16.
For many mothers, seeing their kids only an hour a month was a small price to pay for the knowledge that they would have food, and could not be Selected, even for a few years. Something will happen before then, they told themselves.
Kristin's GoodJob was considered a plum. As a Wal-Mart Associate, she received a guaranteed bunk, a shower three times a week, one Nutri-Loaf for every eight hours worked, and treatment of minor injuries and ailments at the Health Center.
Illness or injury that required hospitalization or more than 24 hours off work invalidated the contract, but most GoodJobbers were young and healthy - they had to be to pass the extensive medical workup required for acceptance, and as the company pointed out, the injury clause of the contract did double duty as an incentive for workers to maintain good safety practices.
In return for her compensation of bunk, shower and Nutri-Loaf, Kristin worked "as needed." It averaged out to around 16-18 hours a day, usually, seven days a week, although occasionally she would be put on 36 on, 12 off for a couple of weeks. As a valued asset and member of the Wal-Mart family, Kristin's contract would be invalidated if she left the Associate Compound when off work, or left the Store while on duty, but the outside world had become a pretty dangerous place, so all in all, the Wal-Mart GoodJob was considered to be one of the better choices available for young people.
The GoodJob Haley was trying to avoid was with OneBanc. Since the Bank of America-Wachovia Merger, and the resultant WachovAmeribank's subsumption into CitiGroup, OneBanc had become one of the foremost GoodJob providers to Golden Boomers. Most of the jobs were sedentary, and took advantage of the education most of Haley's generation had, before the No Child Left Behind Acts and privatization had streamlined the public schools into a sustainable and lean worker-processing machine. In just five years, America's public schools now produced graduates more than twice as likely as their grandparents to be functionally literate, and with the arithmetical skills necessary to enable them to operate simple calculators and cash registers, but without the massive loads of half-learned and forgotten trivia that they would be unlikely to need in order to be useful and profit-friendly assets to their employers.
It was generally agreed by both Administration and Congress Committee that it was neither fair nor kind to subject most children to years of classes in subjects that would do neither them nor the companies that would one day employ them, as study after study had shown that this archaic practice had produced little but unrealistic hopes on the part of the children, and in many cases, their parents, which in turn led to rejectionism and insurgency that gobbled up HSA resources that could be put to much better use identifying genuine Suspects, and channel a robust stream of workers into GoodJobs.
The quality of Post5 education had also improved remarkably as a result, and it was not at all uncommon for children of the affluent to graduate from college at age twelve, and medical school at 16, and while rumors of bribes and corruption were rife, as they are anywhere, anytime, 80% of medical workers were employed at GoodJob Health Centers, and there were few complaints from patients. (And even fewer from foreign medical centers, where the affluent Americans obtained all but the most rudimentary of their own health care).
Haley put out the battery lamp and nestled in to her bed in the storage unit. Morning would come soon enough, and she would have to be up before dawn to secure a good spot on the street to get some morning sales before the Security Forces arrived to clean the area for the business lunchers.
Her store was a very simple, but very functional pushcart, containing her wares - rare books. Most of them were on one or another of the No-Read lists, which enabled her to charge a premium for them, which the more adventurous Professionals were happy to pay for the little frisson of rebellion it offered. Few actually read the books, most of them were old enough to have done so before they were removed from market, and had as little interest in reading today as they had then, but they enjoyed having them on the shelves in their homes. "Look at this one! It just screams 'leftist dissenter!'" exclaimed her excited customer, a trial lawyer who occasionally wore a tiny vintage lapel pin that read "Kucinich." Most of his clients, and almost all of his worthy opponents arguing for the state thought it referred to a little-known vegetable. The lawyer was also known for his dissenting dietary practices.
"No Dairy!" he would shout to the boy at Starbucks, and he didn't care who heard him. He was more than ready to invoke the First Amendment if anyone objected.
Haley gave him a friendly smile, pocketed the $500, and handed him the dog-eared, paper-back copy of "Chain of Command."
Not bad, thought Haley. From this sale alone, she could pay another week on the storage shed, buy batteries and two day's food. No way could she live like this with a GoodJob. All she had to do now was get her cart out of the area before PreLunch Clean and she just might sell another book or two before SafeDown.
It was her lucky day. A liberal security mom in a Hummerado V rolled down her tinted glass window a couple of inches to give Haley $200 for a copy of "The Handmaid's Tale."
"Sorry it doesn't have the covers," Haley stood on tiptoe to pass the book through and take the money.
"No problem, sister," said her customer, eyes darting around, "I'm a progressive!," she hissed in a dramatic whisper as the window hummed back up and the massive vehicle sped away.
Haley decided to call it a day. There was just enough time before SafeDown for a treat.
"Yo, Haley!" Rick shouted to his friend. Come on in hang a bit. Even when she had no money, Rick always gave her some tea, a bit of roti and raita, but today she was flush, and ordered a kebab and a large biryani.
"For your sunlamp treatments," Haley winked mischievously as she slipped an extra $20 into Rick's pocket. "I had a good day."
Red-haired, green-eyed Rick, whose mother had named him Rahim over sixty years ago in Lahore had never once seen a sunlamp, but the alibi worked for him and millions of others whose skin Suspicion Level was beyond the power of pearl cream to rectify. "The things people will believe," he had remarked to Haley once. "Sometimes it works against you, sometimes it works with you." That was the closest they had ever come to discussing their shared coping strategy. No one had ever questioned Rick's assertion that his Pakistani accent was Swiss.
"Rick, you're an artist," Haley said, her mouth full. Rick smiled and switched on the TV. The perky CNN anchor was recounting the latest details of the latest sensational murder trial, the victim, a pretty blonde affluent newlywed found shot in her Carnival Cruise stateroom. The crawl line at the bottom of the screen informed them that while the US preferred to exhaust all diplomatic channels, the European Union's continuing strategy of denial and deception was wearing thin..
The Four Notes interrupted both stories, and the Breaking News graphic filled the screen. "CNN has just learned that President for Life Jeb Bush will make an unannounced address to the nation from the Oval Office."
Rick turned the volume up, and he and Haley watched as Bush repeated after his earpiece the same thing about the EU, denial and deception, and announced that he had just signed an Executive Decree authorizing the Selection of GoodJobbers' children aged eleven and over.
"In authorizing this unprecedented Selection," the President for Life went on, "I am conscious of the brave sacrifices the nation now asks of both the young people and their parents, and as evidence of the transparency and honesty of our Democracy, I also acknowledge that there were those in the Cabinet who presented very sound arguments for lowering the Selection age to seven, but America is a nation that loves our children, they are our future, and we owe them a happy normal childhood."
Haley recalled the blank eyes of her friend Anna's son, a Selectee returned as Honorably Unusable. His burns and the loss of his legs had earned him Hero points good for three months' worth of pain relievers. He had taken the last weeks' worth at once, and cried when it didn't work. The Motivational Supplements Centcom had given him during his Service had left him with a tolerance for drugs that would have been unusually high in a large adult man. Scotty was a little fellow, only fourteen. He had hung himself the next week. No one knew how he did it, or if he had had help, and no one asked. The nature of the duties assigned to Juvenile Selectees required the Motivational Supplements, even the ones who had been through the full Know the Enemy course. Selectees who survived Service were usually warehoused, permanent custodial care, even if they had all their limbs. "Permanent" in this case meant a year. Studies had shown that it took a year for the family to adjust, the visits to drop off, and the news that the Honorably Unusable had passed away peacefully came as a relief, more often than not.
"...the Highest Form of National Service," Jeb finished, "in the words of my brother's worthy opponent in America's second Fair and Free election, and what better gift can we give these young people, our future, than the privilege of that Service in the Liberation of Europe, the continent that gave us our past."
Haley and Rick looked at each other. Finally Haley spoke.
"So," she said, "Do you suppose they'll be rounding up people with European appearance for Protective Detention? posted at
| The Da Vinci Code Enjoyed and Re-loaded
It's a great book. Un-put-downable, and written with the big screen in mind, and that screen will be on your mind on every page. It is in effect, the book version of the movie-to-be.
Whether you are interested in theology or not, and regardless of your religious bent or lack thereof, you will enjoy the story, and if you do happen to be one of those benighted souls who knows who Mithra is, and for whom a wild par-tay is likely to involve a long-winded Rabbi, a couple of dueling Imams, and at least one drunken Jesuit and the obligatory smirking Zoroastrian, you will heartily enjoy this book, and find in it ample fuel for future nights of fine Burgundy and fragrant hookahs.
I have no intention of joining the chorus of those who claim to separate fact from fiction in this book. The separation is obvious to those familiar with the material, and a matter of faith for those who are not.
That said, it is reasonable to assume that the historical person of Jesus was not a bachelor, as to have been one within the historical and cultural context of the time and place in which he lived would have caused more of a stir than his preaching did.
It is also true that all sacred texts were written by human beings; whether as a result of divine inspiration is again, a matter of faith, but the Nicean council is neither fiction nor myth, nor are those texts which the Council chose not to include in the Bible.
The same can be said of the Koran. Some time after the Prophet's death, a group of human beings, relying on human memory, wrote down for the first time, the Koran.
In ancient times, as now, religion and politics were intertwined and interdependent, and then as now, were kept so for the equally intertwined and interdependent, though quite secular, causes of war and wealth.
And it is that cause and effect relationship between war and wealth, combined with the science of human biology, that has made oppression of women the most effective method of social control throughout history, surpassing even religion, though religion is a most honorable runner-up for the prize, and for that reason, has won the honor of being itself intertwined and interdependent with the oppression of women.
Within that context, the insistence on assigning a male gender to a non-human Supreme Being makes sense, and because when religion and culture collide, culture always wins, it also makes sense to leave a vent - Mary, mother of Jesus is venerated by at least some Christians, and is mentioned more in the Koran than in the Bible. For more back-story, those interested can google Asherah.
To return to the DaVinci code, I cannot present any credible evidence to dispute its basic premise. On the contrary, the Koran says that it is not at all certain that Jesus was crucified. Even if he was, he was 33 at the time and would in all probability have already reproduced several times and would have had at least one or two grandchildren. However, without taking away the remarkable politico-religious achievements of Constantine and his quintessential stage-mom, Helena and the rapidity with which Christianity and Europe overtook and devoured each other, I am more inclined to think that Jesus, and his children did not go to France, but stayed right where they were, and his contemporary descendants, if any, are at this very moment dodging missiles and suffering humiliation at checkpoints - in Palestine.
Most people are ordinary, however, and when confronted by menacing gunmen with for all practical purposes, unchecked authority over whether they live or die, or merely wish they were dead, most people will do whatever it takes to remove themselves from that situation.
For Nancy, it meant kicking out a tenant. For others, it may mean standing by while someone is seized, harmed, or murdered.
For Nancy's neighbor, who reported the presence of a Middle Eastern man in her basement, it meant taking pro-active steps to avoid trouble.
It is worth noting that this story has not been picked up or echoed at all by US media, even foreign media.
Perhaps they, too, are considering whether it would be a good idea, or whether it would be more prudent to keep eyes down and mouth closed.
I can help them out there. It would definitely be more prudent.
As it will be more prudent for those who happen to learn that they, or a friend or relative, or neighbor, has been seized, exterminated, or just disappeared.
Like everything else, keeping out of trouble does have its trade-offs.
And like other decisions made by Americans, it would be discourteous to assume that such decisions are hastily made, without solemn consideration of the consequences.
Sunday, November 21, 2004 | The Rightness of Bush, Labels, and Your Underwear
The fascination with labels is by no means an exclusively American phenomenon.
If you ask a sociologist, they will probably tell you that the urge to classify oneself as this or that goes back to ancient cave tribe days.
Within the context of modern politics, however, it is a useless anachronism.
In the US, the tribes cannot even agree among themselves what they are: Liberal, Conservative, Democrat, Republican, Progressive, Moderate, Centrist, the list goes on.
The task of sorting them all out is not made any easier by the fact that millions of people who prefer one of the terms above to describe their political bent agree on such basic core principles like the world belongs to the US, which should itself be a feudal, single industry state, ruled by warlords dedicated to getting rich off the single industry, which is war.
Now of course, all those label-wearers don't put it in those words. Putting things into really good-sounding words has replaced the ideological divide, so some of them will call it "keeping America safe," and others will call it some lofty verbal concoction intended to mean "helping our childlike foreign brothers," but no matter how it is worded, or by whom, the on-the-ground result is the same: more dead people, more dollars in pockets already challenging the best seams the Armani stitchers can turn out.
That it neither makes America safe nor helps anyone except the warlords is but a minor detail.
Consider your underwear drawer. You may prefer the Hanes no-tag, all cotton t-shirts, but if you fail to do your laundry, you will quickly find yourself reduced to the Fruit of the Loom 50-50 scratchy tag ones, and if you persist in letting the dirty stuff pile up, eventually, you will reach the point where the label no longer matters, and put on the ill-fitting, no-name mystery material article some well-meaning but half-blind aunt gave you as a gift. At this point you no longer have the luxury of considering labels and niceties. You are down to the bare-bones question of does it provide coverage and protection from the elements. That is why you wear a t-shirt in the first place. The labels and the style and comfort are just marketing gimmicks to mask that reality.
Similarly, the primary function of political labels today is to mask reality.
The laundry basket is overflowing with several decades worth of all manner of t-shirts, none of which passes the smell test, and by now it is probable that the ones on the bottom are no longer usable at all.
Thus, nuances have become the latest and hottest trend in Emperor-wear.
Dropping bombs on villages, firing missiles into refugee camps and residential streets, hauling people off to torture chambers, pumping bullets into children and blowing off their little legs and heads with cluster bombs is not a nuance-able activity.
One either participates in, supports and approves of it, or one does not.
What kind of missile one fires, and whether one maims or kills one or two children or thousands are not good candidates for productive talking points.
Bush's earpiece was correct when it fed him the "with us against us" line (actually he said 'with us or with the terrorists' but 'terrorist' has lost any meaning it ever had, and has been reduced to an over the counter recreational term that can and is used, aimed and claimed by any and everybody.
No matter how it is worded, US policy is as clear as a charred pile of bones in a field, as indisputable as bits of brain slowly sliding down a bloodied mosque wall in the desert sun, as plain as the Abu Ghraib photos that Google has removed from its database. (They were, you may remember, pictures the world was never meant to see).
Today, every human being on earth, both inside and outside the US, can expect one of three things from America:
1) To be killed
2) That someone else will be paid to kill you, directly or indirectly
3) You will be offered money to kill someone else, or threatened if you do not, directly or indirectly
Friday, November 19, 2004 | An American Milestone: MSNBC's Call to Genocide
On a widely-watched morning news show, the sidekick of the popular morning host called for the murder of all Israelis.
A couple of rights groups issued press releases, but other than that, there were no outcries of outrage in the media, on the internet, on the street. The press releases were resoundingly ignored.
The view expressed was so compliant with mainstream opinion that it made not a ripple?
How is such a thing possible? That in the United States, on a major cable network, an open call to genocide is issued, and left to stand, go unnoticed save for a couple of minor non-profits whose mission is essentially limited to sending out press releases when something is offensive to Israelis?
And now that you know about it, I bet you are going to write, fax, and call MSNBC and every one of their sponsors, and demand that all in any way complicit or responsible apologize and never work in television again, aren't you?
Maybe you can organize your office, your church, or book club, to send a letter of apology to Israel. Maybe it should be a bigger project than that. Your whole town. Your state.
At the very least, a citizen boycott of MSNBC sponsors until every single commentator on there apologizes. And offers free advertising to Israeli companies.
How is it possible that there is so reaction to this?
Well, it's unbelievable because it didn't happen.
Nobody on MSNBC called for killing all Israelis.
Maybe it was Mexicans.
No, Vicente Fox would have the Ambassador on the carpet and there would be massive demonstrations in several major cities.
African-Americans. There was a call to kill all African-Americans on MSNBC.
Hm, hard to think that would go unnoticed and unremarked.
Oh, yeah, I remember now.
The call was to kill all Palestinians. Here's the transcript.
DON IMUS: They're (the Palestinians) eating dirt and that fat pig wife
his is living in Paris.
COLLEAGUE: They’re all brainwashed, though.
That’s what it is. And they're
stupid, to begin with, but they’re brainwashed
now. Stinking animals. They
ought to drop the bomb right there, kill ‘em all
IMUS: Well, the problem is we have (reporter) Andrea (Mitchell)
don't want anything to happen to her.
COLLEAGUE: Oh, she's got
to get out. Andrea, get out and then drop the bomb
COLLEAGUE: Look at this. Animals. Animals!
Thursday, November 18, 2004 | Nancy Swift Rented a Room to a Middle Eastern Man
This little story appeared, then fell off the radar screen. It should not.
If you have a blog, please blog this story.
If you have access to elderly Germans, please show them this story, ask them what they think, and listen quietly.
If you have access to a conscience, follow it.
Five government anti-terrorism agents arrived at the door of Nancy Swift's
modest home in this northern Virginia suburb last August, where Swift lives and
rents out some rooms. They threatened her with a subpoena. They dispatched
agents to her office to ask about her. They took away her garbage in the trunks
of their cars, and they questioned one of her housemates.
It all happened, apparently, because a neighbor called authorities about one of Swift's tenants in the house, a young Middle Eastern man who had other Middle Eastern friends visit one holiday weekend....
FBI spokeswoman Debbie Weierman would say only that Swift was part of
an investigation by a Joint Terrorism Task Force team, a combination of federal
and local agents focused on rooting out terrorists.
"The only thing I can tell you about this is our JTTF responded to a
report, the details of which I am not at liberty to discuss because the matter
has not been settled," Weierman said...
The same day, three JTTF agents showed up at Swift's office while she
was on her way home for lunch. Swift's former supervisor said she was shocked by
the three federal agents asking about Nancy, whom she considers an excellent
"They came to the office asking about Nancy," the supervisor said. She
did not meet with the agents, but another employee took them around the office,
the supervisor said. "Three of them showed up at reception," she said. "What
shocked me was all three of them decided to stroll by here. They were strolling
from department to department."
The supervisor said the experience with agents frightened her and she
did not want her name used. "I am afraid. I do not wish to endanger myself."full story
Margaret was a very young woman, really still a girl, when she went to Palestine.
She lived in the camps, she made friends, she decided to make humanitarian work her career, and the Middle East her home.
She met a young man named Tahseen, fell in love, and for the rest of her life devoted herself to him, and to the poorest of the poor in Iraq, her adopted country.
Although she held 3 passports, Margaret was an Iraqi woman.
When she was seized by unknown gunmen, Iraqi Resistance groups called for her release. Such a call was even attributed to composite character Abu Musab Al Zarqawi.
Margaret was hardly a crusade supporter or symbol of western imperialism.
On the contrary, she spent her whole life fighting, in her way, against the effects of crusades and imperialists on the weakest and poorest among her countrymen.
After thirty years, she was, it bears repeating, an Iraqi woman.
And now, an Iraqi martyr. May God accept her sacrifice, and comfort Tahseen, her brothers and sisters in Ireland, and the Iraqi people, who grieve the loss of another irreplaceable treasure.
Saturday, November 13, 2004 | With Our Blood And Our Souls We Will Redeem You Yasser Arafat
In a bombed out ruin, the Palestinian people built a shrine, a mausoleum.
In a day.
Much of the work was done by hand. Ramallah, some of you may recall, has been under quite a brutal occupation for some time. Available technology and raw materials are somewhat limited.
Throughout the day, throughout the night, they worked. They did not sleep. During the day, they did not eat, or even drink water. It was, some of you may recall, still Ramadan.
It is a simple shrine, a simple mausoleum, a temporary resting place for the diminutive man in the black and white khaffiyeh, draped into his own fashion statement for almost half a century, the indestructible, indefatigable little General who shouted and fought and scrapped and almost died a thousand times, so that the world would know Palestine, would know the Palestinians, so that no one would ever again dare to say that they do not exist, that Palestine does not exist, that it is not a nation, not a State.
They did it to allow Arafat the dignity of a burial, somewhere, and in quiet acknowledgement that the gangsters in Tel Aviv have so long passed that line that divides men from brutes. To expect dignity, or even decency, from that sector is not realistic.
Rich men would have lost nothing were Abu Amar laid to rest in Jerusalem to begin with, as opposed to his inevitable move there. The gangsters and their hangers-on could still have told one another that it is not the capital of Palestine.
But the zeal to dishonor a man even in death, dishonor a people even in the raw freshness of grief, proved stronger than the frail threads of civilization with which the west, some of you may recall, claims to have been experimenting the last few centuries, though it is clear that they did not inhale.
The Palestinian people looked at one another, shared a moment of collective lack of amazement, and silently went to what is left of the Mukata and began to build a shrine, a mausoleum.
In a day.
France did the minimum that the gangsters did not have the decorum to do, allowing the coffin of the Father of Modern Palestine to be loaded onto the Cairo-bound aircraft with at least a semblance of the solemnity that civilized people accord a fallen head of state.
Only brief glimpses of this were shown to American audiences, none of them live, lest the viewers get the wrong idea.
The kept eunuchs of the Arab League put their dollar bought and perpetually dollar paid for heads together and agreed with Washington's whispered suggestion that Abu Amar's Cairo "funeral" be handled discreetly. A quiet and private affair, lest the Egyptian public get the wrong idea, and to spare the eunuchs, including Hosni himself, the humiliation of seeing what real popular support looks like, the kind of mass outpouring of chanting and grief that neither trinkets nor coins nor the threat of torture can buy.
While the Palestinians wept and built a mausoleum, the Americans took time out from gushing over their latest panoply of spectacular war crimes to vilify Arafat in death more than they had in life, surprising anyone who had not believed such to be possible.
With characteristic American black-is-white Orwellian knockoff, the one moment of his post-guerilla life that could be called noble was held aloft and crowned as his worst failure: namely that in the year 2000, he had flatly refused the cajoling of a charming western politician who wished him to renounce the Right of Return in exchange for an archipelago of prison camps with a flag over them, not unlike what they are "offered" today, by a warlord consortium that knows full well, even if its serfs do not, that the land is not the warlords' to offer. Quite the contrary. If by some miracle the planet survives long enough, and men of goodwill ever sit at the table, negotiations will begin from the truth, and not the construct of wealthy moguls with oil that needs guarding.
Although to his detriment, Arafat had at that point spent the past decade or so teasing western politicians with coy hints that he might let them have their way with him, and had thereby collected an impressive array of nosegays and filled dance cards as well as a big necklace from Norway, when the confident suitor reached out to claim his prize, Arafat leapt from the carriage and fled.
It may be wishful thinking to suppose he acted out of conscience as opposed to the more mundane and pragmatic desire to avoid being assassinated by his own people; since there were so many people already trying to assassinate him, perhaps he merely felt their efforts would be superfluous, and was motivated by sheer abhorrence of inefficiency and duplication of effort, but in the spirit of generosity and courtesy offered by civilized people to the newly dead, let us once again call it his noblest hour, and for it, honor his memory, and those who honor it with us, they who built a shrine, a mausoleum.
In a day.
If you feel you cannot weep for Arafat, weep instead for Abdel Salam Samren, for Abdul Rahman Jadallah, Raghda Alassar, for Imam Al-Hams, names few of you will recall. Go to google, and type the words "Palestinian child shot," hit search, and weep at what you see.
Yasser Arafat represented Palestine, including every one of those thousands of children. Like him, their bodies are gone from this earth.
Like him, they will live forever.
If you feel you cannot praise Arafat, praise the images that Americans were allowed to see, live, probably because of the scant likelihood that they would comprehend what they were seeing.
What looked like an uncontrollable mob grasping at a coffin was in reality the fulfillment of Arafat's promise, his triumph, his fateh: a State.
Out of the ashes, out of the ruins, out of grief, a people who can build, in a day, a shrine, a mausoleum out of love and tears and sand and suffering, can and will greet you and pray with you one day in Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine, in the spirit of the Prophets, the spirit of Peace, that shall not pass away.
Thursday, November 11, 2004 | Abu Amar, Father of Palestine
May God accept his martyrdom.
As a warrior, as a General, as a national, indeed, an international symbol of Palestinian statehood, of the universal and timeless struggle of ordinary people against extraordinary demons, for four decades Yasser Arafat, Abu Amar, personified Resistance.
He was one of the most recognizable figures anywhere on the planet, especially where there is oppression, where there is occupation, where there is injustice.
Abu Amar was an icon of hope to the millions who suffer the daily grinding torment of the weak crushed under the heel of the greedy, the brutish.
To billions, he represented Palestine. To Palestinians, he was brother, father, grandfather, depending on age; most Palestinians do not have memories of life before Arafat.
During his 75 years, he was hunted, pursued, persecuted, idolized, demonized, loved, feared, respected, despised, put on a pedestal, imprisoned, bemoaned, lionized, and through it all, he prevailed.
He survived more assassination attempts than have ever been made public, and quite possibly more than any other human being in living memory.
He was a larger-than-life figure whose name and face and essence will live on long after those who wished him ill have been forgotten.
To call him a legend in his own time would be an understatement, to call him a human being, with all the weaknesses and foibles therein implied would also be an understatement.
His sins and his failures will be chronicled by historians, his significance to those for whom he stood for hope and justice, his spirit and his martyrdom will live on and inspire the hearts of generation unto generation.
May the day come when he rests, and all peaceful people who desire to do so, pray together in Jerusalem.
Friday, November 05, 2004 | The American Question: Do they deserve the Perfect Storm?
As the American power elite prepares to celebrate having cleverly sidestepped an election by murdering whoever is still left alive in Fallujah, as Arafat lies ill in France, poisoning not yet ruled out, in a coma, induced, reversible, or not, depending on whom you ask, the viewing public waits. Which will come first? The beheading du jour, just to soften up the audience?
We can hope that will not be necessary, since the American voting class performed so beautifully in the pageant. They could hardly be softer.
Whichever of the millionaires they voted for had already promised them all the blood they could drink, and they stood in line to get it.
They did deserve an election, which they did not get, but as an increasingly troubled world furrows its brow in contemplation of the American Question, it is fair to stain the relative calm with a sub-question: Do they deserve what they WILL get?
It is too easy, disingenuous, even, to write them off as air-brained children of privilege whose grasp on matters not related to Scott Peterson is at best, tenuous.
It is more tempting to chalk it all up to mass delusion, a kind of modern Mega-Salem, and even inject a colorful supernatural note: perhaps they have indeed all been possessed by the spirits of adolescent girls, and are unable to process information effectively due to an acute case of hormonal aphasia, but that would hardly be fair to the billions of teenaged girls over the years, who, Salem aside, have withstood the onslaught and made it through just fine, without doing any harm to others or themselves.
One can flatter by imitation and regress along with them and call them a primitive race of brutish savages, who quite simply have no regard for human life or the capacity to process questions more complex than those posed by the server at Starbucks, but in addition to all the other reasons for not doing that, there is the small matter of the underclass who did not vote, and who breathe the same air, drink the same water, and frequently have the same ancestors, at least one or two.
They are Goebbelized, argue some, and they are right, but a fundamental element of the American Question is: Is that an excuse? 9 out of 10 Holocaust survivors, Palestinians, Afghan amputees and bereaved Iraqi mothers say no.
What, then, is a troubled world to do? The American Question has begun to haunt even the questionable brains of the puppet regimes: at what point is it no longer possible for even the most generous infusion of cash to get the job done, and keep the peasants from the Palace wall? Clearly it is a point that looms closer, and even the stately white heads of the European Autonomous Region begin to cloud.
At what point does Jacques Chirac, smug in his sick little crusade against the fashion choices of schoolgirls, become Busharac, and under pain of a carpet of bombs, order his armies to blast off the heads, covered or bare, of those schoolgirls, in Iraq, in Nice, according to the wishes of the American taxpayers?
One can almost hear the persuasive voices, well, he's still alive, isn't he? And so is Karzai. Dyncorp knows their stuff. For you, there will be three dozen. Even in the toilet, they will protect you. Pour warm water if you are shy. If that doesn't work, we will supply you with an indwelling catheter. The latest model. Yes, yes, the Romanovs, but did they have oil contracts like this? Did Ceaucescu? Well, then.
Underlying all the sparkles, all the covert, the black, the Unity ops, underwriting them, giving them life, is one undeniable, inescapable inevitable truth: While the world may not yet agree on the fairest, most just answer to the American question, there are literally billions of quite ordinary people for whom the answer is based not on vengeance, but self-defense, and who at any moment, may decide that they do not need a consensus.
Thursday, November 04, 2004 | US Decides Not to Have an Election, and the Last Dog Dies
From the contented suburbs, they came, in SUVs, in minivans, shiny pearly sedans, carrying their designer water. From the dingy warrens of the barrios they came, in their lowriders and classic-cars to be, held together with duct tape and love. From the cities, they came on buses, on subways, on feet, strong feet, tired feet, old feet. For a week, more, they kept coming, they stood in line.
In the rain, in the sun, missing lunch, stomach growling, babies crying, godtheywantedacigarette, hour dragged into hot and steamy, cold and windy hour, and still they stood. Waiting.
Waiting in line to vote. Taking the leap of faith that their vote would at least be counted.
I said I didn't have a dog in this fight, but I did.
Not that I supported John Kerry. I did not, and I do not today.
But I do support elections. I support the right of every person to cast their vote for a candidate whose positions I do not agree with, and have that vote correctly recorded and accurately counted.
That is a dog that every human being on earth had in this fight, even if it was the last dog.
And today, that last dog died.
There was no election. The decision was made not to have one.
It was not stolen. It was never put out on the counter for anyone to steal.
Sometime early Wednesday morning, while people in Ohio were still waiting on their tired feet, still asking each other if they could see up at the front, was the line moving, still wishing they had brought a sweater, calling on cell phones, can you come get the baby? It's getting so chilly, she's getting cranky, and I don't know how long...
While those people in Ohio, who whether I agree with them or not, were sacrificing their comfort, their supper, their feet, to vote for a man who they believed, rightly or wrongly, would save their nation, George W. Bush made it known that he believed it was time for him to declare victory.
Victory over the years of hard work on the part of the BBV people.
Victory over the completely sincere, whatever else you want to say about it, dedication of millions upon millions of ordinary people, many of them young people, who gave their time, their money, and their sweat to the cause of what they were assured would be an election.
Did I think they were misguided? You bet.
Did I think they were deluding themselves? Absolutely.
Did I think there would be an election? I thought there would be more effort to give the appearance of one.
And in a way, for each one of them, it was an election. For every person who went to the polls, or sent in a ballot, and voted her or his conscience, it was an election, and it is they who won a victory that can never be taken away, by anybody, ever.
They will always have that, even though they have nothing else.
Luther Standing Bear, a Sioux Chief, stated: "Out of the Indian approach to life came a great freedom - an intense and absorbing love for nature; a respect for life... and principals of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood as a guard to mundane relations." These values will guide me as president. I am a Native American, deprived of my language, culture, and traditions; yet, I have survived the genocidal government policies against Indigenous Peoples. I will ensure equal rights to liberty, education, employment, housing, and health care, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. I will work towards conflict resolution without the use of violence and ensure self-determination for all peoples. I live with injustice every day. Caged for over 28 years for a crime I did not commit, I am a political prisoner wrongfully convicted by a government that indisputably withheld and fabricated evidence, as well as coerced witnesses. No branch of government will correct this injustice. At the root of this injustice are the oppressive policies of the U.S. government against people of color and those with dissenting opinions. I pledge to eliminate such policies. I will abolish the federal death penalty and restore the constitutional protections which ensure justice for all people. Our environment is the essence of our life, but out government - in partnership with greedy corporations - haphazardly destroys it for the monetary benefit of a few. I will protect our environment to ensure our survival and the survival of our future generations.
Actions like Sep 11 do not happen in a vaccuum.
Long before those hijackers ever stepped foot on the planes the damage
had been done. They were brainwashed with the same type of garbage
propaganda that is spewed from Fatwa's weblog.
Middle Eastern countries are so much more barbaric today and preAmercia than America can ever hope to be...America has only been around 230 years...who did you blame for everything before that Ductape? I am calling a Fatwa on your bullshit!
IMO - terrorist plain and simple. He is an Al queda operative who
should be put in a cage on gitmo Skinner
My favorite..."In Defense of Holocaust Deniers"
I always thought that "The Enemy Within" was just a metaphore for liberalism, that is, until I encountered Ductape Fatwa. He should be in an orange jumpsuit for sure.
peopleforchange.netductape is either a commie, al queda, or a deep cover mole
Tells you something about this asshole doesn't it. He's really serious.
I believe that DF is nothing but a Republican plant...
Ductape is a commie, a terrorist, and he drinks blood too. He drinks
Capitalist blood. He eats unborn babies too
Give me your address and I'll send you $20 and a thank-you note for taking your hatred elsewhere.
A terrorist with a sense of humor!
He ain't nuthin' but shit
inadequate, halfway house bullshit
You are a dumbass. Fuck you and your condescension about us "benighted sheeple." hamletta
Untruthful, damaging bullshit
no better than the neocons and no different than Timothy McVeigh
dailykos.coma turd in the punchbowl...if DF were Joe Hill he probably would have killed himself rather than get put to death.
A compost pile of fecundity
dailykos.comdespicable and literally mentally ill