Monday, September 7, 2009
-Rainer Maria Rilke, Briefe an einen jungen Dichter
Art was no longer the goal, but the occasion and method for locating my specific rhythm and all the buried possiblities of that time. It was all about the discovery of a true communication, or at least the quest for such a communication. It was also about the adventure of finding and losing it. Usually I was unappeased by much and unaccepting of even more. But I continued looking, filling in the silences with my own wishes, fears and fantasies, driven forward always by the fact that no matter how empty the world seemed, no matter how degraded and used up the world appeared to me, I knew that anything was still possible. And, given the right circumstances, a new world was just as likely as an old one. That was how I experienced faith and hope in my life.
Being critical is simply my systematic questioning of the idea of happiness. If you're looking for something that's not on the market, comfort will never be comfortable. My critiques are my attempt to see just how exciting alienation can be, too. I think eyesight is here as a test to see if we can see beyond it. In a similar way, doubt is here as a test of our vitality.
Once, during a very reckless time in my life, I was in a hospital very close to death. I remember the experience being like a dream in which I was very, very awake and exhilarated because I realized that, finally, something was happening to me. I realized that I had to live as if something actually depended on my actions. I had my first flash of real understanding of the Buddhist ideas of emptiness and impermanence. If this world we are forced to accept is impermanent and everything in it is inherently empty, then everything is possible.
For me, this was the affirmation of a freedom so reckless and unknown, that it amounted to a complete removal of every kind of restraint and limitation. Even now I suspect that ordinary language can't express this story, but it might help you to understand if I put it this way: Being critical is only one face of a multi-faceted life of freedom where I am not afraid to demonstrate the contrast between what life presently is and what it could be.
I hope that answers your question.
For the record everyone, if this is what it means to be evil, I am EVIL! Mwaahahahahahahaha!!!! (*gently strokes cat*)
To: Bill O'Reilly
From: Roger Ebert
Dear Bill: Thanks for including the Chicago Sun-Times on your exclusive list of newspapers on your "Hall of Shame." To be in an O'Reilly Hall of Fame would be a cruel blow to any newspaper. It would place us in the favor of a man who turns red and starts screaming when anyone disagrees with him. My grade-school teacher, wise Sister Nathan, would have called in your parents and recommended counseling with Father Hogben.
Yes, the Sun-Times is liberal, having recently endorsed our first Democrat for President since LBJ. We were founded by Marshall Field one week before Pearl Harbor to provide a liberal voice in Chicago to counter the Tribune, which opposed an American war against Hitler. I'm sure you would have sided with the Trib at the time.
I understand you believe one of the Sun-Times misdemeanors was dropping your syndicated column. My editor informs me that "very few" readers complained about the disappearance of your column, adding, "many more complained about Nancy." I know I did. That was the famous Ernie Bushmiller comic strip in which Sluggo explained that "wow" was "mom" spelled upside-down.
Your column ran in our paper while it was owned by the right-wing polemicists Conrad Black (Baron Black of Coldharbour) and David Radler. We dropped it to save a little money after they looted the paper of millions. Now you call for an advertising boycott. It is unusual to observe a journalist cheering for a newspaper to fail. At present the Sun-Times has no bank debt, but labors under the weight of millions of dollars in tax penalties incurred by Lord Black, who is serving an eight-year stretch for mail fraud and obstruction of justice. We also had to pay for his legal expenses.
There is a major difference between Conrad Black and you: Lord Black is a much better writer and thinker, and authored a respected biography about Roosevelt, who we were founded to defend. That newspapers continue to run your column is a mystery to me, since it is composed of knee-jerk frothings and ravings. If I were an editor searching for a conservative, I wouldn't choose a mad dog. My recommendation: The admirable Charles Krauthammer.
Bill, I am concerned that you have been losing touch with reality recently. Did you really say you are more powerful than any politician?
That reminds me of the famous story about Squeaky the Chicago Mouse. It seems that Squeaky was floating on his back along the Chicago River one day. Approaching the Michigan Avenue lift bridge, he called out: Raise the bridge! I have an erection!
"Das mag so sein", sagte Narziß, "und keiner von uns kann den andern darin ganz verstehen. Gemeinsam aber ist allen Menschen, die guten Willens sind, dieses: daß unsere Werke uns am Ende beschämen, daß wir immer wieder von vorn beginnen müssen, daß das Opfer immer neu gebracht werden muß."
Remember after Katrina when Kanye West said George Bush hated black people on national television? I LOVED that. Cause it was absolute truth hitting a bullseye with laser-like precision, striking at hypocrisy with the mind-stopping thwack of a Zen master's stick.
Well here's another thwack for ya: THE GOVERNMENT HATES FAGS.
That's the only logical conclusion I can come to with my logical brain, as a logically thinking citizen. Sometimes 1+1 does indeed equal 2.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) denies fags like me and my fiance, Dustin, access to federal programs as a married person that opposite-sex partners have enjoyed for decades. These programs represent safety nets Dustin and I can depend on as a married couple as we plan our lives and future together, as we deal with hard times and possibly raise children together (it could happen!). And very, very importantly, we are denied access to these programs for which we are footing the bill as taxpayers.
This country fought a revolution because of the affront to liberty that is taxation without representation. So, what the fuck?????
Here's a partial list of the federal programs I'm referring to:
1. Social Security spousal protections that ground a family’s economic security while living in old age, and upon disability and death;
2. protections for one spouse’s essential monetary resources and the ability to stay in the family home when the other spouse needs Medicaid for nursing home care;
3. the ability to be included in a family policy of health insurance, and if receiving that family health insurance, to be free of income tax on the value of that insurance;
4. the ability to use the “Married Filing Jointly” status for federal income tax purposes that can save families money;
5. family medical leave from a job to care for a seriously ill spouse;
6. disability, dependency or death benefits for the spouses of veterans and public safety officers;
employment benefits for federal employees, including access to family health insurance benefits, as well as retirement and death benefits for surviving spouses;
7. estate/death protections that allow a spouse to leave assets to the other spouse – including the family home – without incurring any taxes; and
8. the ability of a citizen to obtain a visa for a non-citizen spouse and sponsor that spouse for purposes of citizenship.
The list goes on. And guess what, citizens... this goes for those couples who are currently LEGALLY married in states like Massachusetts and Connecticut as well.
My experience shows me that we've educated ourselves about faggotry enough in this great country to have reached a critical mass of understanding, sensitivity and compassion. We're smart enough not to deny people rights because of who they are. A critical mass of the citizenry seems to be on board with this idea, thanks in no small part to a little thing we call the
Civil Rights Movement.
So again, a logical examination of the facts leads to the unequivocal conclusion that the government hates fags. It walks like Jim Crow and it talks like Jim Crow. But the government tells us it's about defending the institution of marriage.
Eat me, you Focus on the Family bitches.
Until fags can marry other fags and enjoy the same state and federal rights as everyone else, I don't think any of us fags should pay state or federal taxes. So until then, the IRS can kiss my faggoty ass. Who knows? They might find it pleasurable.
...[T]o understand this "something" we should seek it in a manner analogous to our search for the soul. -Gen. George Patton
A single event can have infinitely many interpretations.
At times inactivity is preferable to mindless functioning.
It’s important to stay clean on all levels.
Lack of charisma can be fatal.
Sloppy thinking gets worse over time.
Slipping into madness is good for the sake of comparison.
When something terrible happens people wake up.
Wishing things away is not effective.
1. Pax Americana and the aspiration to consolidate a global American empire.
2. The Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive warfare.
3. Hurricane Katrina and "heckuva job, Brownie."
4. The explicit rejection of the Geneva Conventions.
5. John Yoo's and Alberto Gonzales's redefinition of torture.
6. Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank subsidizing his girlfriend.
7. Ahmad Chalabi.
8. The FCC allowing greater consolidation of media.
9. The outing of Valerie Plame.
10. The manipulations asserting that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
11. The addled handling of Harriet Miers's nomination to the Supreme Court.
12. Opposition to stem cell research.
13. The looting of the National Museum of Iraq, and the burning of Baghdad's National Library.
14. Donald Rumsfeld's remarks that rioting in Iraq was the sign of a liberated people and that Iraq was no more violent than some American cities.
15. Stacking the Civil Rights Commission with conservatives, like Abigail Thernstrom, who want to overturn sections of the Voting Rights Act.
16. The shooting death of Italian intelligence officer Nicola Calipari and injury of journalist Giuliana Sgrena at the hands of American soldiers.
17. The appointment of ultraconservatives John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.
18. Cheney filling his friend with birdshot.
19. The USA Patriot Act.
20. Doing away with habeas corpus.
21. The National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping of citizens' phone calls and e-mails.
22. The notion of an unchecked, unaccountable "unitary executive."
23. The failure to keep official numbers of dead Iraqi civilians.
24. The forbidding of photographs, or even visibility, of American military dead.
25. The multilayered, high-level lying about how football hero Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan.
26. Halliburton taking kickbacks from Kuwaiti oil suppliers.
27. Paul Bremer dispensing billions of dollars for contracts in Iraq, which disappeared, never to be accounted for or recovered.
28. Blackwater mercenaries accused of murdering Iraqi civilians.
29. "Military tribunals" established outside the military justice system, with no due process or right to an attorney or to cross-examination or even to know the charges.
30. The silly disparagement of the national anthem sung in Spanish.
31. Bush talking directly to God.
32. Abu Ghraib.
33. Profiling Arab, Muslim and Latino immigrants.
35. Extraordinary rendition.
36. Lousy veterans' benefits.
37. Lousy veterans' hospitals.
38. The failure to provide soldiers with reinforced armored vehicles ("You go to war with the army you have," explained Rumsfeld).
39. The refusal to recognize post-traumatic stress disorder as a legitimate condition.
40. Monica Goodling's political litmus tests in hiring for nonpolitical posts in the Justice Department.
41. Expelling Helen Thomas from the White House press room and putting in fake reporter "Jeff Gannon" to throw adoring softball questions.
42. John Ashcroft's draping of bare-breasted sculptures in the Justice Department.
43. His subpoenas of more than 2,500 records of abortions performed at public hospitals.
44. Gonzales firing US Attorneys around the country for political reasons.
Ding dong, the witch is past-tense.
Article written by: Robert M. Gates
The quotation: "The United States cannot take its current dominance for granted and needs to invest in the programs, platforms, and personnel that will ensure that dominance's persistence."
Okay. This quote is out of context, I realize. But it is reflective of the mindset behind the entire article. I encourage you to read it in its entirety here: http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20090101faessay88103-p0/robert-m-gates/a-balanced-strategy.html.
Robert Gates is the man Obama has chosen to retain from the Bush regime as Secretary of Defense. While I appreciate a shift in thought from regime change in places like Iraq to nation building expertise for the US military, what I don't understand is the utter absence of capacity on the part of our government (and many of us) to look homeward in its search for why the "terrorists" of the world hate us so much. Still, Gates' candor is refreshing. The Pentagon's job while he is in charge will be to ensure America's dominance in the world, apparently with Obama's blessing. But ensuring America's dominance will cost an awful lot. Are you ready for more of the same?
Does anyone outside this country really believe that the US occupies some position of world dominance anymore? America's actions betray our ridiculousness. If anyone still says America is the world's only super power, Americans are the only ones who believe it. Today, lame duck George reiterated that ridding the world of Saddam Hussein was a good thing, despite the mistakes we've made in Iraq. So America's real reason for invading a sovereign nation unprovoked was not to secure natural resources and establish regional hegemony in a part of the world otherwise hostile to our influence, but rather to spread America's idealistic notions of democracy, development, peace and prosperity... truth and light. Just stop already.
As Chris Brazier says, "Those least prepared to own up to bias are often those with the loudest, most omnipresent voices - and they tend to see the 20th century as a battleground in which the forces of truth and light triumphed."
Time Magazine summed up the 20th century as "The American Century". I quote Time Magazine: "Some countries base their foreign policy on realism or its Prussian-accented cousin, realpolitik: a cold and careful calculation of strategic interests. America is unique in that it is equally motivated by idealism. Whether it is the fight against fascism or communism, or even misconceived interventions like Vietnam, America's mission is to further not only its interests but also its values. And that idealist streak is a source of its global influence, even more than its battleships. As became clear when the Iron Curtain collapsed in 1989, America's clout in the world comes not just from its military might but from the power and appeal of its values. Which is why it did, indeed, turn out to be an American Century."
The scale of hubris implicit in this delusional description of the last hundred years boggles the mind of anyone who reads history, much less keeps up with current world affairs as presented through lenses other than those of corporate-run US media outlets. People all over the world struggle day in and day out in ways you and I can scarcely imagine for control over their own lives, for decent standards of health, education, nutrition, for social justice, for peace and civil rights. But if Time Magazine is your source for information, you wouldn't ever know this. Time and Newsweek and US News and World Report and ABC and NBC and CBS and, yes, even PBS and NPR would reduce people's struggle for control over their own lives as the ultimate victory of the particular model of democracy and capitalism patented and promoted by the United States of America. In short, it's insulting.
And most of us still believe it's true. If you do, you're a moron. And life's too short for me not to tell you so.
Ensuring America's dominance cannot be our national goal during the Obama presidency. "Power over" carries the seeds of its own destruction. Unmitigated free market capitalism and an aggressive, imperialist approach to foreign relations gets us where we are today: the Western democratic equivalent of standing on the ground floor of the World Trade Center as it collapsed.
Remember that event? The idea of American dominance has long since faded. So-called terrorists around the world hate us not because of our freedom. They hate us because we fuck with their lives and, in doing so, demand their gratitude and adoration. They hate us because we are assholes and motherfuckers on the world stage. We have been for a couple of centuries now. Don't believe me? Travel abroad and ask other people why terrorists hate America. But don't limit yourself to the lobby of your Hyatt hotel. Go into the slums. If you're in any major city in the developing world, they're easy to find. Ask people who don't live like you why "terrorists" hate America. Then be ready for their answers. They won't be easy to hear.
If America's light is bright, it's shadow is equally as dark. And we never see our own shadows as clearly as others do. In fact we'll do anything to keep from seeing them. We deflect, complicate simple truths, blame everyone and everything around us for our suffering. True power, not dominance, but POWER lies in our ability to recognize and accept our responsibility for our lot in this world. True power lies in our ability to atone for our actions. It lies in our capacity for humility.
Persisting American dominance... it's a bullshit notion. It's a lie that the rest of the world has seen through. America is wearing the emperor's new clothes. Obama's election was a triumph for rationally thinking people everywhere. But one man alone can't get an entire nation to wake up. America's idealist streak is not the source of its global influence anymore, if it ever was, despite what Tom Brokaw might believe. Our influence is military and it is aggressive and it is violent. It brings chaos, suffering and death more than it does any kind of fantasy idealism rooted in American values of a shining city on a hill. The rest of the world has its own brand of idealism. It doesn't need ours. It has its own values, too.
We can choose to become humble ourselves or we can be beaten into submission. Either way, the result will be the same. This doesn't have to be hard. The American dream is over, but waking up doesn't have to be a nightmare. It can be an enlightening experience. That's an idea I can have hope in.
From October 30, 2008
I'm struck by a disturbing idea after watching last night's Obama infomercial. The Democrats and Republicans both, in their unique ways, pretend to address the needs of all Americans. We go to war and muck up sovereign governments all over the world to make sure we get what we "need" to continue living the lifestyle we've become accustomed to since WWII. We've indebted ourselves to the point of drowning in that pursuit as well, making ourselves dependent and even subservient to other governments, mainly China. The world is a much more unstable place because of how we live our lives. Let's not delude ourselves into thinking otherwise.
So as credit evaporates and the world economy slides into an abyss for the foreseeable future, I think it's going to become painfully clear to many of us that there is no longer a market to satisfy every one of our needs.