Monthly Archives: January 2005

Elections in Iraq

Juan Cole has a round-up regarding the elections in Iraq. I’m withholding judgment for the moment. I’ve opposed this war from the beginning just as I opposed Clinton’s upholding of the sanctions throughout the 90s and the first war fought by daddy Bush. As I’ve often said, I am opposed to the intervention-based U.S. foreign policy of the past 50 years, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike. Many people would like to pretend that this Iraq adventure was all about democracy. Not so. Time will show that this was just one more maneuver by empire to secure resources. Defending freedom and democracy is just the same old spin used for many years by many presidents. In any case I agree with what Cole wrote yesterday:

I’m just appalled by the cheerleading tone of US news coverage of the so-called elections in Iraq on Sunday. I said on television last week that this event is a “political earthquake” and “a historical first step” for Iraq. It is an event of the utmost importance, for Iraq, the Middle East, and the world. All the boosterism has a kernel of truth to it, of course. Iraqis hadn’t been able to choose their leaders at all in recent decades, even by some strange process where they chose unknown leaders. But this process is not a model for anything, and would not willingly be imitated by anyone else in the region. The 1997 elections in Iran were much more democratic, as were the 2002 elections in Bahrain and Pakistan. Moreover, as Swopa rightly reminds us all, the Bush administration opposed one-person, one-vote elections of this sort. First they were going to turn Iraq over to Chalabi within six months. Then Bremer was going to be MacArthur in Baghdad for years. Then on November 15, 2003, Bremer announced a plan to have council-based elections in May of 2004. The US and the UK had somehow massaged into being provincial and municipal governing councils, the members of which were pro-American. Bremer was going to restrict the electorate to this small, elite group.

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Living Simply: Bodycare

I’ve written before about my concern regarding our use of fossil fuels. It is a subject that I’ve been thinking about over the past 15 years and it weighs on my mind more with each passing year. Recently it occurred to me that I might start writing a bit about how I try to limit my use of fossil fuels and related resources. I think this will take the form of a short tip-like post once a week. Feel free to add any ideas you’ve implemented in your own life.

So, without further delay, tip number one. Bodycare schtuff. This is an easy one for me: Dr. Bronner’s bar soap. It comes in various flavors and it is wrapped in paper. I’ve been using this for years and it seems to work fine. I don’t use anything else on my hair or body. So, if you look in my bathroom all you’ll see is bar soap, deodorant, toothpaste, and every now and then a razor. I tend to have a beard so the razor lasts forever. When I do shave I use the same bar of soap to soften my beard.

The benefits of such a simple bathroom supply are many. Ecologically, a bar of soap wrapped in paper requires far fewer resources in manufacture and transport than a typical plastic bottle of shampoo. Imagine the millions of plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner, gel, spray manufactured and consumed each year. That’s alot of plastic. Not only do we have to account for the manufacture and transport but also the disposal. Also worth mentioning though less important to me would be the the financial savings. I’d estimate that I save at least $10 each year, possibly more.

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Weaving Community showing at National Conference on Organized Resistance

Sweet. My documentary, Weaving Community, will be showing at the upcoming National Conference on Organized Resistance (NCOR) – Films. A big thanks to Jeff Peel for setting that up! A brief description of the film:

A close look at what people are doing to create a different kind of world, Weaving Community is a window into the lives of activists in Memphis, TN. Weaving Community documents three projects at varying stages of their existence: Food Not Bombs, Revolutions Community Bicycle Innitiative, and the deCleyre Cooperative.

Always nice to hear of a showing somewhere!

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Podcast: Noam Chomsky Mix 1

Music mix by me, words by Noam Chomsky. In clip one he is speaking about the need for and potential of creative work when carried out by free people. In clip two he is speaking of the need to challenge unjustifiable authority and state capitalism. I’ll be posting another Chomsky mix in a couple days. If folks like these I might do a series. Truth is they are really fun to put together… and as far as podcasts go I’m enjoying this more than hearing myself talk. I imagine that at some point I’ll return to to that format but for now I’m just not… inspired… oh no, it’s podcasters block!

For those that commented on the last podcast, hopefully the voice to music balance is good on this. I don’t know because on my set-up the voice is clearly audible though I thought it was fine on the Grid Remix.

littlepod.jpg More via the Podcast which is also available as a direct mp3 download runtime: 3’59, 3.7 MB.

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Who is innocent?

Susan at Res Publica is obviously upset by Ward Churchill’s comments about the innocence of the victims of 9/11: “True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break.” Evidently, the day after the attacks Churchill wrote an article entitled Some People Push Back. I have not read that article but apparently he suggested that those working in the buildings were not innocent. I’ll take that a step further: not a single one of us is innocent.

Susan has this to say about Churchill:

People who think like that are terrorists of another sort. They create waves of hate wherever they go. The fact that they are allowed to teach others while being paid public money for the privilege of insulting the everyday people of America, confusing our children and indoctrinating the next generation with hate is a crime calling out to heaven.

I’ve thought about this a good bit over the past 3 years and my response is the same as it was on 9/12/01 and it is perfectly reflected by the title of Churchill’s article: Some people push back. Look, the U.S. is a fucking bully and has been for many years. Iraq is the most recent example of our aggression and our willingness to interfere in the affairs of other nations. I’m sure Americans are more comfortable believing that they are a force of good in the world just as they want to believe that they are the defender of freedom and democracy but that does not make it so. It seems to me that the vast majority of Americans do not have a clue as to what “their” government is doing in their name and I think this is generally true for most U.S. foreign policy of the past 50 years. Unfortunately ignorance is not excusable.

Even when the American people do have an inkling as to what is being done they choose to re-elect the man responsible and that sends a message to the world: approval. Of course Clinton also did his part to uphold the America as bully image and I have little doubt Kerry would have done the same so it’s not just Bush though he is perhaps the most arrogant of the bunch and it’s more obvious. So many Americans, like their current president, seem unwilling or unable to acknowledge wrong doing. Not only is this sad but it is, to be blunt, stupid. When another attack comes we cannot pretend we are innocent though I expect that is exactly what will happen. Americans will cry about how cruel and undeserved such violence is, conveniently forgetting or denying their own role in the cycle of violence.

As the saying goes, if you can dish it out…

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Are you cruel?

The Sorest Loser has an interesting post on vegetarianism. I rarely post about vegetarianism or the subject of animal cruelty and, in fact, I think this is only the third such post in nearly 2 years. I suppose I wanted to draw attention to this particular article because I thought it was powerful in its simplicity. In truth it is not an advocacy of vegetarianism but an argument against being cruel:

Technically, this is not an argument for vegetarianism. Rather, it’s an argument against imposing pain and suffering on animals. If an animal doesn’t suffer and is killed painlessly, nothing in this argument implies that it’s wrong to eat it. The same goes for an animal that has died of natural causes. But it is an argument against the way that most of our meat is produced. And it does entail that most of us are living deeply immoral lives.

It seems to be an interesting human behavior that we are so easily able to ignore the pain and suffering we contribute to if it is not in our faces. I know people in my own family that have made brief efforts at becoming vegetarians but failed after a week. In these particular cases they made the decision to stop eating meat based upon a desire to be healthier as well as exposure to media that had, for a moment, alerted them to the suffering of animals in the factory farm system. But one week into the process the images of suffering had faded.

Of course this can be applied in a general way to the activities of our daily lives. Much that we do and consume is built upon a foundation of suffering that we do not see. We also play word games with ourselves. It’s easier to skip over the details if we just think that the “goods” we purchase are the result of legitimate and sanctioned business exchanges. If we were to dive into the details of the larger context, the details of global capitalism, we might well decide that we don’t like what’s happening. We might decide that we’re not purchasing “goods” at all, rather we are purchasing objects that represent a certain amount of pain and suffering.

Are we cruel? I think the answer is yes but perhaps the more important question is why are we able to so easily lie to ourselves.

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Ocean pictures

I’m on the beach for a winter holiday with my folks and the dogs so I’ll be posting photos. Here’s the first few: sunset, talula’s first time to see the ocean, black sand. Taking Miss T out on the beach for her first experience of the ocean was a blast. She loved it and we had a so much fun running around. She even went in the water a wee bit. She is the most fantastical dog ever and truly is my best friend… and quite the snuggle bunny too. In fact, she’s curled up next to me now. Sweet.

Also of note, this will be the first post to use “Talula” as a Technorati tag! Now isn’t that special?

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The Grid Remix Podcast

First podcast in a good while and the first of the year. To be truthful I created this almost a year ago as my first experiment with GarageBand. The music mix is mine, spoken word is Tim “Speed” Levitch via the excellent documentary The Cruise, 1998. This clip was one of my favorite moments in the movie in which Levitch discusses the straight lines of city planning. Fantastic stuff. It’s not a proper podcast in that I did not include my usual intro but that’s okay. I’m hoping to get back into a regular podcast after 7 weeks away. I can’t quite explain my podcast vacation so I won’t try. Hope you enjoy.

littlepod.jpg More via the Podcast which is also available as a direct mp3 download runtime: 3’12, 2.9 MB.

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Four more years… bring ’em on

My good friend Sue over at born into this mess is obviously pissed… disgusted… hopeless:

I’m glad I don’t have a television or I might have broken it if I had to sit through the Liar’s speech. It was hard enough to maintain my composure just reading it.

I feel so incredibly hopeless and helpless. Bush and his supporters have made it clear enough to the world that they really just don’t care what anyone else thinks. Voting doesn’t help. Protesting doesn’t help. Writing to senators and calling the White House doesn’t help. The Forces of Evil have taken control of my country and there is nothing I can do.

The things this man has the balls to say make me shake. I firmly consider myself a pacifist, but I am going to be praying for Bush’s removal from office, because it’s obvious that nothing less than supernatural force will get him out.

This isn’t a Buffy episode. The Assumption happened 4 years ago and the death and destruction have not stopped since then.

This man is a demon. That’s the only explanation I can come up with. You know, I didn’t use to believe in evil, but that’s the only thing that can explain this man’s actions. I really believe that we are on the brink of another fascist-led Holocaust.
I guess this time they’re going after the Muslims.

I’m so afraid.

She’s also created a stirring photo essay using images of Iraq and the words of King George during his inauguration (coronation).

What a bizarre world we live in eh? That so many could hate this man so much and yet there are those that love and support him. I hate Bush too and there are many millions more of course. I think it important to remember though that this man, his cronies, and all that they represent is a power structure that has been in place for many years and it is a structure that we enable year after year. We support it with our inaction and our ignorance. Day after day, year after year, we allow it to exist and we feed it with our tax dollars. We allow them to write the rules of the game and we obediently play along or, better put, we watch the game playout without us. Oh, and did I mention we feed the machine with our tax dollars?

A day will come that will bring an end to this monster. I don’t think that day will be brought about by the desire of the american people and in fact I think they will suffer greatly… time will tell.

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Which side are you on?

Earlier today I happened upon The Cranky Liberal Pages and one post in particular caught my eye: Bad Service – A Personal personnel Story. Essentially an experience at Target in which three Target employees could have helped a customer but did not. Instead they continued a conversation with one another. Being an advocate of class warfare I posted the following:

Well, I’m going to disagree somewhat. We do not know the wages of these women and while it may be $9 /hr or $15 /hr it is probably much closer to the minimum wage. I think that it is unrealistic to expect anyone working a minimum wage job (or something that is very close to that) to put in a great effort. Minimum wage = minimum effort.

If you ask me it’s way past the time that all workers have a decent living wage… all workers. Those that run registers, empty trash, assemble burritos… all of them. until we, as a society, demand that all workers are treated with dignity and paid a decent wage I don’t think we have a ground to complain about minimal service. You get what you pay for.

Now, that said, this does suck. Certainly the manager should have taken it upon herself to take the bag to the customer… truth is, I think many people just don’t care and I think it’s just one of countless small indicators that we as a society are increasingly alienated from each other and our work.

The Cranky Liberal responded:

See Denny, I’d agree with you excpet for one point –

These young ladies decided to go work for Target. Unlike some totalitarian regime in which the worker has no choice, they took the time and effort to fill out the application, interview and punch a clock. I’m sure they take the time and effort to cash the paycheck that they “earned.” That check they cash is based upon the wage they agreed to when they were hired. I seriously doubt that Target said hey we will pay you $13.00 an hour and aftger they started said naaa just playin – you’re making $6.25.

Because this is was a conscience and willful choice on the part of everyone involved, they had an obligation to serve the customer. When they decided they were to busy screwing off, they decided they no longer wanted to trade their services for Targets money. I would have been happy to make that decision permanent.

I’m all for a living wage. I think the data shows that a decent living does not cause hyper inflation, unemployment etc that certain people always yell loudy. However, whatever the wage, once you agree to it, do your job or find another. This is America afterall.

To which I responded:

Here’s the problem as I see it. There are oodles of these minimum wage or very near to minimum wage jobs. We all participate in this economy and when we shop at stores that pay at the minimum wage are we not stamping our approval on its use? This is one reason we have bush and democrats are weak in the arena. we’ve forgotten solidarity and what side we’re on.

Until we build solidarity and a movement that goes beyond electoral politics we will continue as wage slaves who’s only conception of citizenship is voting. So yeah, it is america, but what does that really mean? I’ve always identified with that part of american history occupied by Mother Jones and Lucy Parsons, Joe Hill and Emma Goldman.

I’ll accept poor service when i know it’s being dished out by a fellow worker who may not have access to a college education and who is the subject of corporate exploitation.

I realize this is a generalization and it is based on my limited experience but I’ll offer it anyway. This is a fundamental problem with liberals: they do not go far enough in their citizenship. This is something I’ve been very fond of pointing out because I think it is worth pointing out as often as is necessary. Liberals often talk about human rights but their understanding of human rights seems awfully limited. It’s not just about voting folks. It’s about Target workers, retail workers and all workers organizing and building a new movement, a new society. It is also about all of us supporting one another as we struggle for greater freedom and social justice. If we are going to be effective in this struggle we will need to develop an awareness of the impact of our economic activities because we are all workers, consumers, and citizens.

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