Monday, February 28, 2005

2-28 Day in Taiwan: Truth & Reconciliation?

Ex-prez Bill Clinton visited Taiwan yesterday, getting paid for one speech more $ than I will earn in Taiwan for over 10 years of speeches. But I suppose that his speeches are a lot easier on the ears than mine. Also as a speaker, I have no "aura".

By the way, it's comforting to see that someone can earn so much after retirement, since I recently found out that I will get neither a pension nor social security upon my retirement. I will have to go gently into that good night at age 65. If my body isn't ready to give up, I will have to persuade it. I'm told that hunger and exposure will do it, albeit at an excruciatingly slow pace.

But enough about Me. What's the special occasion today in Taiwan?

During the 228 Uprising, a crowd of angry Taiwanese confronted the KMT government in Taipei.

The occasion is the annual "228 Memorial Day" -- numbers standing for February 28th, 1947 technically -- a tragic history of political violence in Taiwan. It is a first step toward justice for the tens of thousands of victims of that period and the ensuing "White Terror" {白色恐怖} period. The public at large of "old Taiwanese" rose up against the incredible corruption and abuse of the "new Taiwanese" military government of the KMT back then. Thousands of educated elites were drowned in the rivers, or simply shot on the spot. Crowds of civilians and school students were also randomly chased and shot at by KMT soldiers, under orders of Chiang Kai-shek and his provincial governor. In the ensuing martial law over the next couple of decades, suspected dissidents were hunted down and executed, or imprisoned on Green Island, or exiled. A gigantic brain drain that stupified Taiwan for a whole generation during a dark time of fear and repression.

A deeper trend associated with this colonization period is that positions of power in law, media, business, and education were systematically taken away from the old Taiwanese group and given exclusively to the new Taiwanese group. This segregation has left Taiwan with a dull hangover today, where many institutions are now more open and fair, yet the old imbalance and prejudices linger. Hardly a week goes by that I don't overhear some comment that clearly reveals this hangover of prejudice and tension. Much of it amounts to a denial of what Taiwanese history has wrought on today's social formation. Those who gained from that history believe that it should be forgotten and forgiven; while those who lost believe that forgiveness will only follow acknowledgement of what might be forgiven -- not to mention the establishment of justice today. And that has barely begun. Not even one person was brought to justice for the murders of those decades. Land, businesses, and power that was taken by the KMT authorities has not been recompensated.

The effect of these decades lingers in Taiwan even today after its rapid liberalization -- authoritarian attitudes among some government bureaucrats, censorship in the public school curriculum, and public pressure to keep quiet about the ethnic tensions this period created. Statues and even a monument of Chiang Kai-shek remain firmly in place -- two of them on my campus. Taiwan did not follow the rest of the world in 1989 to knock down the statues of the Leninist dictators in so many countries. Moreover to this day, the educated elite in the city of Taipei are mostly from the "new Taiwanese" group, and the lesser educated nonelite class of the southern provinces are mostly the old Taiwanese group. There is a certain % of exceptions, but they prove the overall rule. Clear alignments of political identification follow this tension. Most of the elite in Taipei city do not want to even mark the annual 228 Day.

My university students say that of course they know what 228 was. But when asked, they repeat only the event that sparked riots on that day, as if the real meaning is simply an unfortunate incident between a policeman and a street vendor! When asked what followed for the next few months, and about the White Terror decades, they express confusion and ignorance. How many people were killed? They aren't sure: 7 or 70,000? Who killed them? Some kind of fighting --not so clear. How many people were imprisoned and for how many years? Again, they have no idea. Why did cities around Taiwan erupt in mass protests? Don't know. Who ordered the soldiers to open fire on schoolchildren? They did!?? What's the title of a poem, novel, or movie about that period? Don't know. Etc... It isn't my students' fault though. Public education did not cover Taiwanese history, much less this stuff.

In other words, we cannot begin to think about establishing trust and justice today, since there has not yet arrived the moment of truth. "Truth & Reconciliation" was the path chosen in places like South Africa after apartheid fell, or even to an extent in Cambodia after Pol Pot fell, or perhaps soon in Spain about the fascist opression under Franco if we can believe the news. Taiwan is struggling to arrive at that kind of historical consciousness of its own truth. Reconciliation cannot arrive beforehand, since this is a relationship of cause and effect. Truth will lead to justice, not the other way around.

To any of my students accidentally reading this, I hope you had a nice day off today. Now follow the links below in order to answer those questions above.


Sunday, February 27, 2005

Re-covering Romance Novels

Some comic relief and subversive silliness this weekend: romance novels, or actually their front covers. Everyone has giggled and rolled their eyes at the supermarket checkout lines just glimpsing those pulp fiction covers, a whole genre unto itself featuring pastoral scenes in lurid colors of idealized eroticism and sentimental heterosexuality.
The tall dark beefcake bursting out his shirt -- due to a mixture of steroids and the feminine hands hovering nearby-- who is typically both an overly healthy noble savage yet also one who inherited a wealthy nobility. And the the object of his gaze, the more civilized young woman who compels his attentions, always more clothed than the man aside from one bare shoulder, in fact strangely over-dressed for the occasion. The fantastic escapism is not so much the problem here as is the limited gender stereotypes. Can the contents be as incredibly bad as the covers?

And can the covers be bad enough to become high Camp, as Sontag might have hoped some 40 years ago?

Maybe. But they probably need a little help along the way. See link above for a fun series of "re-imagined" covers by Longmire. This parody of cheesy art, reappropriated for a more sane consciousness of the social formation, is what the Situationists used to call "detournement". Twisting, diverting, re-contextualizing, juxtaposing, taking back the alienating forms of social images for a more liberating practice. C.B. gave me the headsup on this site. And Longmire is asking you to send in your own attempts -- I look forward to seeing them!

Sontag on Acceptable Brutality

Torture victims continue to be released and to tell their grim stories of being taken without being charged, for being Arab in the wrong place at the wrong time, "disappeared" without due process or habeas corpus, flown on CIA flights to countries like Syria where imprisonment and torture is commonly practiced, now outsouced there via the USA, or simply taken to the local military prison, or for the long haul to Guantanamo; sickening tales of being tormented under interrogation, routinely humilated and degraded, kept in solitary confinement in chains, blindfolded for days, told that their families are in danger, stripped naked, sexually assaulted, electrical shocks applied to various intimate parts of their bodies, and photographed in postures of abject dehumanization with their smirking American guards. Occasionally a released prisoner will even mention the screams, nightmares, permanently injured limbs, and even seeing others beaten unconscious perhaps never to recover.

And then they were released without trial apparently innocent. They return home to their families but never to rejoin the world of safe normality.

Torture is illegal for excellent reasons. It is also of course inhumane. What's equally troubling is that it is impractical. The released returnees from our prison hells admit that they eventually signed any confession handed to them, just to stop the pain. Torture doesn't work to separate the guilty from the innocent. If tortured enough, everyone is "guilty". If you don't believe me, stop on by for an experiment -- I'll torture you until you confess that indeed you are "guilty" too. It won't take too long.

And yet torture is the neoconservative policy of the Bush Cabinet, abruptly ending a half century of international agreements. And even after the worldwide scandal brought on by snapshots of torture victims, such tales from the house of the dead continue to leak out.

One implication of this disturbing trend of post-911 America goes deeply into the collective way of life today, where we are desensitized to violence in its many forms. We have become more brutal because we see it as funny or at least as acceptable behavior. The late Susan Sontag, in one of her last essays, articulated this implication better than I can:

'Even more appalling, since the pictures were meant to be circulated and seen by many people: it was all fun. And this idea of fun is, alas, more and more - contrary to what President Bush is telling the world - part of "the true nature and heart of America." It is hard to measure the increasing acceptance of brutality in American life, but its evidence is everywhere, starting with the video games of killing that are a principal entertainment of boys - can the video game "Interrogating the Terrorists" really be far behind? - and on to the violence that has become endemic in the group rites of youth on an exuberant kick. Violent crime is down, yet the easy delight taken in violence seems to have grown. From the harsh torments inflicted on incoming students in many American suburban high schools - depicted in Richard Linklater's 1993 film, "Dazed and Confused" - to the hazing rituals of physical brutality and sexual humiliation in college fraternities and on sports teams, America has become a country in which the fantasies and the practice of violence are seen as good entertainment, fun.

What formerly was segregated as pornography, as the exercise of extreme sadomasochistic longings - as in Pier Paolo Pasolini's last, near-unwatchable film, "Salo" (1975), depicting orgies of torture in the Fascist redoubt in northern Italy at the end of the Mussolini era - is now being normalized, by some, as high-spirited play or venting. To "stack naked men" is like a college fraternity prank, said a caller to Rush Limbaugh and the many millions of Americans who listen to his radio show. Had the caller, one wonders, seen the photographs? No matter. The observation - or is it the fantasy? - was on the mark. What may still be capable of shocking some Americans was Limbaugh's response: "Exactly!" he exclaimed. "Exactly my point. This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation, and we're going to ruin people's lives over it, and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time." "They" are the American soldiers, the torturers. And Limbaugh went on: "You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people. You ever heard of emotional release?"

Shock and awe were what our military promised the Iraqis. And shock and the awful are what these photographs announce to the world that the Americans have delivered: a pattern of criminal behavior in open contempt of international humanitarian conventions. Soldiers now pose, thumbs up, before the atrocities they commit, and send off the pictures to their buddies. Secrets of private life that, formerly, you would have given nearly anything to conceal, you now clamor to be invited on a television show to reveal. What is illustrated by these photographs is as much the culture of shamelessness as the reigning admiration for unapologetic brutality.'

This excerpt is from Susan Sontag's much longer essay, "Regarding the Torture of Others" (2004).

The world has gone wrong because the worst people are full of passionate intensity, while the best lack all conviction.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Cost of Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart was listed as one of The Ten Worst Corporations of 2004" in the USA. But how can this be? Wal-Mart "registers more than a quarter trillion dollars in sales. Its revenues account for 2 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product.
" The company takes in more than one in five dollars spent nationally on food sales, and market researcher Retail Forward predicts Wal-Mart will control more than a third of food store industry sales, as well as a quarter of the drug store industry, by 2007. Wal-Mart is the largest jewelry seller in the United States, despite the fact that the prime target market for jewelry - high-income women from 25 to 54 years - are the least likely of all consumers to shop for jewelry in discount channels," as Unity Marketing notes. Wal-Mart is the largest outlet for sales of CDs, videos and DVDs. And on and on. "

Sounds like one of the Best Corporations, doesn't it? But see link above for many details about how it cheats employees and routinely breaks labor laws.
One of the most interesting parts of that report is how taxpayers wind up subsidizing Wal-Mart's profits by filling in social welfare support for its full-time employees. Their wages and heath benefits are substandard. So as usual, the government is called upon to fill in for minimal social welfare in order to prop up capitalist enterprise:

"The report estimated that one 200-person Wal-Mart store may result in a cost to federal taxpayers of $420,750 per year - about $2,103 per employee. These public costs include:

  • $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.
  • $42,000 a year for Section 8 housing assistance, assuming 3 percent of the store employees qualify for such assistance, at $6,700 per family.
  • $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families, assuming 50 employees are heads of household with a child and 50 are married with two children.
  • $100,000 a year for the additional Title I [educational] expenses, assuming 50 Wal-Mart families qualify with an average of two children.
  • $108,000 a year for the additional federal healthcare costs of moving into state children's health insurance programs (S-CHIP), assuming 30 employees with an average of two children qualify.

"There's no question that Wal-Mart imposes a huge, often hidden, cost on its workers, our communities and U.S. taxpayers," Miller said. "And Wal-Mart is in the driver's seat in the global race to the bottom, suppressing wage levels, workplace protections and labor laws."

But hey, it's a great country right? Especially if you own the store rather than work in it. All that uneducated, timid, hungry workforce out there to be exploited! And all the politicians you can buy too: Wal-Mart paid "$2 million to federal candidates in the last U.S. electoral cycle, more than any oil company". Long Live "Freedom"!

Vagina Closed Down

Uganda banned a play last week, and they're not the only country to ban it. Officials even "threatened to arrest organizers if they follow through on plans to stage benefit performances." Seems we need more repression and less plays, according to these responsible adults.

I'm proud to say that my English department students performed this play a couple of years ago -- though alas I can't take any credit. The senior students put on their own annual performance, choosing which play and directing it themselves. My school didn't try to ban it, as far as I know.

The banned play is titled The Vagina Monologues, by US playwright and feminist Eve Ensler. She interviewed hundreds of women of various ages, classes, colors, and persuasions in order to get voices and stories about how female sexuality is repressed, scorned, denied, and yet continues to express itself in spite of all that. The style is actually rather light, all things considered, and the humor is affirmative and charming.

But patriarchs around the world believe that father knows best, that the play is "unnatural", "vulgar", "offensive", and so forth. Rather than let you decide about that for yourself, they've decided that you can't see it. It was banned in Beijing and in Shanghai -- and in Malaysia. Asians aren't the only patriarchal censors though -- to was also banned in Chile.

Nevertheless, the play has been performed in many, many countries, and as the news hastened to add, "sometimes with major stars such as Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Susan Sarandon and Whoopi Goldberg." There were of course no major stars in the little English Department performance at my school, but the students really surprised me at how well they handled such material. They've grown up and moved on to their adult lives, still intact despite the best efforts of twenty years of school.

See link above for more.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Cold War Redux?

While Bush is in Europe spreading the joyous news that they should like us again, Russia & China have formed a new strategic alliance uniting Asia against "the U.S. geopolitical offensive". The article linked to above from India wonders if a new Cold War is beginning. (Thanks to C.B. for sending this along).

Speaking of which, the old Cold Warrior we thought was put out to pasture is now back in action -- Henry Kissinger was sent in mid-February to present U.S. demands and expectations for Russia to Putin himself. Kissinger!? Isn't he still subpoenaed by several countries for war crimes? There are certain airports in certain countries where old Henry dare not arrive. He would not be allowed to depart again.

But obviously to this Administration, sending an indicted war criminal over to Russia to preach to them about the virtues of human rights and democracy is not really a dubious contradiction. No one seems to mind that Kissinger initiated the violent overthrow of Chilean democracy in 1970 which led to the death of their popularly elected president, Allende, and the installation of the vicious dictator Pinochet. 30 years later both Pinochet and Kissinger on "on trial" for crimes against humanity. About the Chileans, Kissinger had said that the US does not have to tolerate their democracy because the people were irresponsible. What will he say if Putin quotes his own words back to him?

While the East is uniting itself in this emerging geopolitical alignment that vaguely resembles the old Iron Curtain -- except that now India wants to join them -- Bush Junior is waltzing around Europe leaving skeptics everywhere wondering why he's not clear on the concept. When your friends get pissed at you and leave, you don't then go to their house and announce that you forgive them and everything is OK again. Bush doesn't seem to understand this. It is up to Europe to announce whether or not they forgive us and want to get back together. Since Bush isn't clear on this concept, the European press is having a field day with our unenlightened Emperor.

Bush announcing "Good news: you're friendly to me again!" while Kissinger tells Putin, "Democracy is good, trust the people!" And these guys actually believe that this is effective diplomacy? No wonder the East is strategically forming a new defensive bloc. They're realizing that they are up against a gang of self-deluded fools who swagger around with enormous weaponry.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

310,000 Europeans die per year from pollution

"According to a study, 310,000 Europeans die from air pollution each year; and the Kyoto Protocol went into effect. The treaty, which calls for a 5.2 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012, was
ratified by 155 countries. The world's top polluter, the United States, did not sign, citing costs."
--from Harper's WeeklyFebruary 22, 2005

--by Ted Rall. God Bless Hypocrisy.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Gonzo journalist checks out of the Hotel America

Hunter S. Thompson, the pain in the butt over the top innovator of Gonzo Journalism, has committed suicide at the age of 67. Watch the future ofDoonesbury to see what will happen to the fictional cartoon character based on Hunter. Will art imitate life?

Meanwhile, many journalists have been the news lately instead of reporting the news. From the Mole hired by Bush to distract from real issues in his White House press conferences, to the three other journalists paid to spread right-wing propaganda as normal news, to the CNN journalist forced to resign for daring to tell the truth about the shocking and unprecedented life-expectancy of journalists in Iraq, to the crew fired at CBS, included Dan Rather who will retire early for even attempting to point out that our Emperor used the silver spoon in his mouth to get out of the war in Vietnam, and then went AWOL from the National Guard (yes the documents were forged, which allowed everyone the stupid excuse to forget that the charges were really true). Bush is playing the mass media like a great big Wurlitzer organ, which blares whatever keys he presses.

Disinformation campaigns run by the government are now revealed, as back in the '60s, to be standard practice. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that democratic decisions based on false information is fake democracy, pseudo-choices made by people who've been fed a bunch of lies. Where truths are omitted, democracy doesn't exist. Hence my insistence on the terminology about "post-American" imperialism and neo-fascist religion.

This cartoon is now dated. The devolution has continued into a lower stage in the 21st century.
Not only is Gonzo Hunter gone, who no doubt killed himself because he could no longer bear the creepy perversity of what passes as mainstream now, but also that gang of overly smarmy tokens are also now irrelevant to the new low we've arrived at.
We now need to add a post-contemporary panel: in 2005 the new brand of journalists get extra paychecks directly from the White House, and take their orders directly from the Pentagon. If they step out of line, they're forced to resign. Or they go into exile, like Greg Palast in London.

Again, these are more desperate times than yesterday. Legal opposition to illegal practices has been ineffective. Again I propose the search for unprecedented means, perhaps neo-gonzo means.

So long, Hunter.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Semester Fall

This is yours truly realizing that a new semester has begun. It is schedule and syllabus time again. spitting into a typhoon

Two course are the usual routine -- a survey of American literature from colonialism up to the Civil War. You know, native Indians versus the Puritans, revolutionary manifestoes, the Enlightenment versus the evangelical Great Awakening, slave narratives and abolitionists, the "Woman Question" writers, and then as romanticism finally hits America after already sweeping through Europe, we suddenly have Emerson provoking a handful of younger writers who were loosely Transcendentalist: Margaret Fuller, Whitman, and Thoreau. Beyond them we close down with distinctly less sunny individuals -- Hawthorne's cutting satire of the utopians and Puritans, Melville's black proto-existentialism that undermines transcendentalist ideas, and Dickinson, who deconstructs her way right out of church.

One new seminar for me will be an exploration of "Romantic Ecology". This plan is to read the Romantics on both sides of the Atlantic for their take on nature, along with a batch of emerging eco-criticism. E.g., Thoreau's Walden is neatly matched with Buell's major tome on The Environmental Imagination, while Wordsworth's poetry is matched with Jonathan Bate's book Romantic Ecology. After this grounding, we will consider further critics and authors, including ecofeminism, social ecology, and the postmodern science of complexity (if I can get my students to read that much).

Meanwhile, I am almost prepared. I do have help for these pressing matters, pictured below.
Teachers Scotch

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Correspondent in Taipei Times

My bloggence correspondent, Dr. Michael Yeun, followed up on my advice and submitted his manifesto to the Taipei Times. He argues why the U.S. ought to support an independent Taiwan, rather than the current strategic ambiguity of the "One China" but "No Change" policy.
Taipei Times - archives

Michael Yeun's correspondence with me appeared in the Comments section of Schizoid Taiwan & Dollar Diplomacy.
Taiwan from up high

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Brave New Militarism

Soldiers are now being given Ecstacy -- the drug of choice in dance clubs and hip-hop raves, known in the '80s briefly as the Love Drug-- or technically, MDMA. Psychiatrists are now legally prescribing this to soldiers for PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome, formerly known as shell-shock) during therapy. See link above.

Love from a pill for warriors lost in hell.

As my previous blog noted ("Asocial Insecurity"), and as confirmed later by a Bush speech, prescription drugs to elevate mood, lessen depression, and control anxiety will be subsidized and pushed by this Administration. They are not part of the massive cuts in health insurance and Medicare. The Administration of control relies largely on a pacified population, snowed under by chemical restraint. Civilians are prescribed anti-depressants and "mood elevators", while military personnel are prescribed Ecstacy -- except during battles when they are given amphetamines -- sometimes even "meth"!

Those of you inclined toward the literary tribe will recognize the allusion to Huxley's novel, Brave New World. Seventy years ago, Huxley smartly saw the very beginnings of a trend toward a controlled society via an array of new techniques. Aside from genetic engineering and censorship, the most effective techniques proved to be pleasurable distractions, seductive consumerism, sensational mass media, and state-sponsored drugs. We now have all of these in place, and their controlling influence is set to increase. In Huxley's novel, the State supplied an addictive drug named "Soma" to soothe people's anxiety.

In 2005, this is "post-contemporary" because the general public has not yet realized that it isn't sci-fi futuristic speculation, but rather that it is indeed contemporary. The unconsciousness that pervades our sleepy republic finds it extremely difficult to bring into conscious awareness the consequences of these now daily realities. The irony, of course, is that those same techniques of control will preclude bringing into awareness this social unconsciousness.

This is the 1st installment of a new series of posts on the Brave New Military.
Come back again to read more about how the new robot-soldier costs the same as one dead human soldier; about microwave burners used for crowd control; about why sexual abuse does not gain information from prisoners, but rather cultivates sadistic tendencies in the military; and about other bizarre post-contemporary realizations that you send in to me.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Congress Requests Investigation of Condi Rice re: 9/11 Warnings

Request for Hearings by House Members
By Rep. Henry A. Waxman; Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney
Ranking Democrat House Committee on Government Reform; Member of Congress

Thursday 10 February 2005

The Honorable Tom Davis
Committee on Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We are writing to request that our Committee hold hearings to investigate two extremely serious questions raised by an article that appeared in this morning's New York Times. The first question is whether the Administration misused the classification process to withhold, for political reasons, official 9/11 Commission staff findings detailing how federal aviation officials received multiple intelligence reports warning of airline hijackings and suicide attacks before September 11. The second question relates to the veracity of statements, briefings, and testimony by then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice regarding this issue.


This morning's New York Times reported that in "the months before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal aviation officials reviewed dozens of intelligence reports that warned about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, some of which specifically discussed airline hijackings and suicide operations." [1] The article explained that the Federal Aviation Administration "received 52 intelligence reports" that mentioned Osama bin Laden or Al Qaeda prior to September 11, 2001, and that the FAA warned airports that if "the intent of the hijacker is not to exchange hostages for prisoners, but to commit suicide in a spectacular explosion, a domestic hijacking would probably be preferable."

This information was included in a staff report by the 9/11 Commission dated August 26, 2004. The 9/11 Commission report found that there was "intelligence that indicated a real and growing threat leading up to 9/11," but that this intelligence "did not stimulate significant increases in security procedures." Although the report did not find that the government had advance information about the specific September 11, 2001, attacks, it reported that the FAA took various measures to warn airport security officials about "the possibility of a suicide hijacking."

Declassification Process

The first question Committee hearings should address is whether the Bush Administration abused the classification process to improperly withhold the 9/11 Commission findings from Congress and the public until after the November elections and the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State. Although the 9/11 Commission staff completed its report on August 26, 2004, the Bush Administration refused to declassify the findings until January 28, 2005, less than 48 hours after Ms. Rice was confirmed as Secretary of State. [2] At that time, the Department of Justice delivered both a classified version and an unclassified version to the National Archives, the agency charged with collecting and retaining all 9/11 Commission documents.

During the period between August 26 and January 28, the Administration was reportedly reviewing the Commission's report to determine whether it contained any information that should be classified in the interest of national security. Problems with this process had been raised previously by the 9/11 Commission. [3]

The Committee should investigate the process by which the Administration handled the declassification, redaction, and release of this 9/11 Commission report. Specifically, the Committee should investigate the following questions:
(1) What was the process for declassifying, redacting, and releasing this report, and who specifically was responsible for these actions?

(2) Were there political considerations behind the declassification, redaction, or timing of the release of the report?

(3) What were the specific rationales for each redaction in the report? Were these redactions appropriate?

On December 2, 2004, we joined with Rep. Christopher Shays, Chairman of the National Security Subcommittee, and 23 other members in a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft specifically requesting the 9/11 Commission report at issue. [4] We noted that "there have been a number of calls for its release, to no avail," and we expressed concern that "politics may be playing a role in its release." This specific congressional request was apparently ignored by the Administration. When the staff report was declassified on January 28 and sent to the National Archives, no notice was provided to us.

Statements by Ms. Rice

The Committee should also examine the process by which Ms. Rice investigated and researched intelligence reports regarding airline suicide attacks prior to making public statements regarding this issue, testifying before the 9/11 Commission on April 8, 2004, and advising President Bush.

During her tenure as President Bush's National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice made several categorical statements asserting that there were never any warnings that terrorists might use airplanes in suicide attacks. On May 16, 2002, for example, Ms. Rice made the following statement at a White House press briefing:

I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile. [5]

When Ms. Rice testified under oath before the 9/11 Commission on April 8, 2004, the Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean, asked her about her knowledge of a possible suicide attack using airplanes. After acknowledging that her previous statement generated "concern about what I might have known or we might have known," she stated as follows:

I said no one could have imagined them taking a plane, slamming it into the Pentagon - I'm paraphrasing now - into the World Trade Center, using planes as a missile. As I said to you in the private session, I probably should have said "I" could not have imagined, because within two days, people started to come to me and say, "Oh, but there were these reports in 1998 and 1999, the intelligence community did look at information about this."

To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Chairman, this kind of analysis about the use of airplanes as weapons actually was never briefed to us. I cannot tell you that there might not have been a report here or a report there that reached somebody in our midst. All that I can tell you is that it was not in the August 6th memo, using planes as a weapon, and I do not remember any reports to us, a kind of strategic warning that planes might be used as a weapon. In fact, there were some reports done in '98 and '99. I think I was - I was certainly not aware of them at the time that I spoke. [6]

The President, who was advised by Ms. Rice about national security matters, also repeatedly made definitive statements claiming absolute ignorance regarding the possibility of terrorists using airplanes in suicide missions. For example, President Bush stated on national television:

Had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes to strike America, to attack us, I would have used every resource, every asset, every power of this government to protect the American people. [7]

One possibility raised by these facts is that Ms. Rice was unaware of the FAA warnings when she appeared before the press and testified before the 9/11 Commission. This would raise serious questions about her preparation and competency. Another possibility is that Ms. Rice knew about the FAA warnings but provided misleading information to the public and the Commission. Neither of these possibilities would reflect well on Ms. Rice. Perhaps there are other more innocent explanations for these seeming inconsistencies.

Given the gravity of these questions and significance of the new disclosures, the Committee should investigate what Ms. Rice knew, when she knew it, and why she testified as she did. The public has the right to expect that senior Administration officials will be candid on matters of national security, especially when they involve the tragic events of September 11. An investigation is needed to determine whether this standard was met in this instance.

Document Request

Finally, we request that the Committee obtain from the Administration the following documents identified in the New York Times article this morning:
(1) A full, unredacted copy of the classified version of the 9/11 Commission report on FAA intelligence warnings delivered to the National Archives;

(2) Full and unredacted copies of the 52 intelligence reports received by the FAA;

(3) Full and unredacted copies of the CD-ROM presentation distributed to airlines and airports in 2001; and

(4) Full and unredacted copies of slides, reports, or other documents used in classified briefings for security officials at 19 airports in mid-2001.


Henry A. Waxman
Ranking Minority Member

Carolyn B. Maloney
Member of Congress

[1] 9/11 Report Cites Many Warnings about Hijackings, New York Times (Feb. 10, 2005).

[2] Rice Is Confirmed Amid Criticism, Washington Post (Jan. 27, 2005).

[3] See, e.g., 9/11 Commission Says U.S. Agencies Slow Its Inquiry, New York Times (July 9, 2003); Bush Weighing Decision on Release of Classified Documents to Sept. 11, New York Times (Oct. 28, 2003).

[4] Letter from Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney et al. to Attorney General John Ashcroft (Dec. 2, 2004).

[5] Condoleezza Rice Holds News Briefing on Pre-9/11 Intelligence Information, FDCH Political Transcripts (May 16, 2002).

[6] Hearing of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (Apr. 8, 2004) (online at

[7] Inside Politics, Cable News Network (Mar. 25, 2004). See also George W. Bush Delivers Remarks and Presents the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, FDCH Political Transcripts (May 17, 2002) ("Had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes to kill on that fateful morning, I would have done everything in my power to protect the American people"); Wolf Blitzer Reports, CNN (Apr. 5, 2004) ("Make no mistake about it, if we had known that the enemy was going to fly airplanes into our buildings, we would have done everything in our power to stop it"); Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld Interview with Rush Limbaugh (As Released by the Pentagon), FDCH Political Transcripts (May 16, 2002) ("Well I guess I'd begin by saying it's really much ado about nothing. To my knowledge there was no warning, no alert as to suicide attackers in airplanes").

Red State Road Trip

Been watching an interesting video in episodes online over the past month. It's an American road trip video, comprised of on-the-spot interviews with all kinds of folks out there hiding in plain sight in the so-called "Red States" of the south and midwest. The road trip just concluded with the 12th episode.

It reveals a whole bunch about the jarring mismatch between what people say they believe in versus who they voted for. You can speculate about what diseases of miscommunication has led the American public out there in the heartland to this irrational choice against their own values.

The 12 installments of this road trip video are free online at:

Monday, February 14, 2005

NY Times Replies to Me

Hey, Andrew Sullivan, a self-described conservative, answered my question about his essay in the New York Times. "Atrocities in Plain Sight" is his long book review and analysis of the torture scandal in Abu Ghraib prison, published in the NY Times last month. Those of you who read my blog will be surprised to learn that no polemics or insults were involved. This is probably because we tend to agree on these specific issues.

Sullivan reviewed the two book titles below, analyzed the torture situation at Abu Ghraib, and then invited questions and comments.

    The Official Report of the Independent Panel and Pentagon on the Shocking Prisoner Abuse in Iraq.
    Edited by Steven Strasser.

    America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror.
    By Mark Danner.

Here's his reply to my question:

Q. Recent reports of the trial of British soldiers for torture in other prisons in Iraq highlighted the striking similarity in methods, motifs and photography to the U.S. situation, one that you assess so well. Any further thoughts then about why or how the British, ostensibly under a different chain of command, would wind up in the same reprehensible boat?
— E. Heroux

A. Well, the charges are not as bad. No one, so far as I know, died in U.K. custody. We have 28 deaths so far in U.S. custody. And the British abuse cases were mainly beatings. Not sexual abuse, rape or murder. But I'd add that anyone who has read Orwell will see how colonialism corrupts the colonizer. No, we're not colonizing Iraq. But we are temporarily running it. And these abuses can occur. But the scope of the British abuses seems much smaller and the actual abuse less severe.
--Andrew Sullivan
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While I tend to agree with the general drift of Sullivan's analysis, he avoided or isn't aware of the similar photos, and he is not entirely accurate about the facts in this brief reply. As for deaths, this is not accurate. E.g., "At least one soldier would be charged in connection with the death of 28-year-old hotel receptionist Baha Moussa, who allegedly died after being severely beaten by British troops while in custody . . .." This was from several British newspapers back in May 2004. While some charges and even photos were controversial and possibly not true, this should not detract from the bigger picture that evidence, reports, and charges were submitted several times by several different sources. Here's a bigger picture take:
"The inquiry referred to by the Commons Defence Committee is into the ever-growing list of civilian deaths, injuries or ill treatment allegedly caused by the actions of UK troops in Iraq. Some 33 cases have so far been brought forward. Seven deaths are acknowledged to have been at the hands of British troops in Iraq over the past year, yet no disciplinary action has been taken against any soldier and no soldier has been charged. Twelve cases are still ongoing, while 21 are completed. Of those that are closed, the inquiry has found that there was “no case to answer” in 15 cases. In the other six cases, recommendations are still being considered. The Ministry of Defence has refused to release further details of any of its investigations."

Perhaps this is why so many charges are said to be "not isolated incidents".
As for photos, here's one from the British trial: A picture is worth 1000 words.

See link above for Sullivan's replies to other readers besides me.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Iraqi Election Result: U.S. Out Now

Naomi Klein writes:
The election results are in: Iraqis voted overwhelmingly to throw out the US-installed government of Iyad Allawi, who refused to ask the United States to leave. A decisive majority voted for the United Iraqi Alliance; the second plank in the UIA platform calls for "a timetable for the withdrawal of the multinational forces from Iraq."

There are more {bleep} messages embedded in the winning coalition's platform. Some highlights: "Adopting a social security system under which the state guarantees a job for every fit Iraqi...and offers facilities to citizens to build homes." The UIA also pledges "to write off Iraq's debts, cancel reparations and use the oil wealth for economic development projects." In short, Iraqis voted to repudiate the radical free-market policies imposed by former chief US envoy Paul Bremer and locked in by a recent agreement with the International Monetary Fund. . . .
{see link above for more}

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Other observers note the irony that Iraqi democracy is now moving toward an Islamic theocracy aligning itself closer with Iran than with the US occupation. So we spent down all of our savings, killed around 100,000 civilians and nearly 2,000 US soldiers, lost respect the world over, and didn't find any weapons of mass destruction, didn't find any connection to Al Qaeda, and didn't find Bin Laden. Instead, we helped install an Islamic theocracy and fueled a dramatic increase in terrorist recruitment of suicide bombers.

Will anyone resign? No. Will anyone be impeached? No. Will anyone apologize for gross incompetence? No. Will anyone be tried for fraud, perjury, war crimes? Are you kidding, this is America! We don't do justice. Everyone responsible will be promoted and re-elected. The only true justice is that historians will have the last say. This administration will go down in the books as the most grotesque in the American Century. Future readers will shake their heads in amazement at how weird people used to be.

Seems the Bush administration forgot to use its new electronic voting machines by Diebold. It worked to give them the election results they wanted in Ohio, why not use them in Iraq? Instead, the Iraqi elections actually had a paper trail that was accountable to one person one vote. Despite the threats and the bombings that occured on election day, more Iraqis voted in their election than Americans voted back in November. Aren't you envious that the Iraqis are exercising more free democracy than Americans are?

As I promised, the paradoxes are free.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Return to New York: Victims or Victimizers?

"I couldn't sleep on the 18 hours non-stop flight from Singapore to Newark, NJ. I was thinking about what's waiting for me after landing. I was going back to the city which I knew intimately. But I was also going back to New York - the city seen by many as the center of an unjust economic order which was destroying large parts of the impoverished world. Were New Yorkers victims or victimizers, or both?"

Andre Vltchek gives his interesting and layered answer to this question about the American Empire and its beleaguered subjects.
(Essay link above.)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Miners get the Blind Shaft

1995 - 5,990 dead
2002 - 5791 dead
2004 year to Sept - 4153
Sources: Official figures; IEA and China Labour Bulletin
and see link above for BBC article

Also, if you get a chance to see the new movie Blind Shaft by Yang Li, Bubba says go.

The setting is in present day Chinese coal mines. The theme is not really about labor rights or dangerous working conditions however. It is about the nitty-gritty grimness of working life in China, and the callously selfish corruption that emanates from such conditions.
Blind Shaft as a film is one of the best released this past year.

This is an update for our previous bloggence about coal mines in China.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Everyone to Blame, No One at Fault

Everyone to Blame, No One at Fault

By William Pitt

100,000 Iraqis are dead, but we don't hear about it. We creep towards 2,000 American soldiers dead, but we don't hear about it. Tens of thousands of American soldiers have been horribly wounded, but we don't hear about it. The war has so destabilized our economy that the foreign governments we need to buy our debt are flocking to the Euro instead of the sinking dollar, but we don't hear about it. The Sunni city of Fallujah is a graveyard, a tableau of war crimes writ large, but we don't hear about it. There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but we don't hear about it. The new Iraqi government is about to become a Shi'ite fundamentalist regime that will likely ally itself with Iran, but we don't hear about it.

Pitt's blog FYI is worth reading.

This is only the tip of a humongous frozen mass of irresponsibilty, blameless impunity, faultless freedom, clear conscience America. Infallibility. My country right or wrong. What did I do? Why do they hate us?

It's a symptom of the everyone-for-themselves and god-against-all logic of puritan capitalism. If you want to grow out of that cult, begin by taking responsibility for things that don't at first appear to be your responsibility. You'll gradually be surprised that you are responsible.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Year of the Hen.

Happy Chinese New Year!
This is the Year of the Hen.
Year 4703 in China.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Plans to Cut Education & Increase Violence

The attack of values has begun! The Bush budget proposal leaves the US with the highest debt in history, increases by $80 billion spending for pre-emptive war on top the world's biggest military spending already in place: $419.3 billion. To do so it reduces and eliminates programs in:

*health care programs & Medicaid
*Social Security
*alternative energy research
*environmental protection

We're going to see more Americans running around sick and uneducated, breathing their own fumes and drinking their own sewage. But they can always get away and travel overseas to occupy other nations such as Iraq and soon Iran. That's the plan.

We saw this coming a long time ago--check my archives about Administrative Nihilism for a single example-- but this truth was drowned out by the high volume likes of Fox News, talk radio, Rush, Dr. Dobson, ad nauseam, and even by mainstream news copied straight off of White House press releases without checking the facts.

In the link above, the report cites experts stating that taxes will still have to be raised.
And what do we talk about when we talk about "education" cuts? Glad you asked:

"About one-third of the programs being targeted for elimination are in the Education Department, including federal grant programs for local schools in such areas as vocational education, supporting drug-free schools and Even Start, a $225 million literacy program."

Translation: the poor are getting poorer because the rich need to get richer.

Employee Health Insurance to Vanish
Republicans under the current administration seek to demolish "the system of employer-provided health insurance that has covered most working Americans for the last half-century. In its place, they want to erect a system in which workers instead of looking to employers for health insurance would take personal responsibility for protecting themselves and their families . . . " And this despite last week's report that a full 50% of personal bankruptcies are from medical bills going on people's credit cards!

Where is the outrage? It's been snowed under by the pharmaceutical industry.

Rest assured, despite health care cuts, that your Prozac, your mood elevator and your anti-depressants, and Ritalin for your anxious kids, and your Valium and sleeping pills will still be widely available. Everyone is on those, and higher doses will be needed to get you through these tough times ahead:

"According to the National Mental Health Association there are currently 40 million people in the U.S. that are classified as clinically depressed. At least half are on antidepressants, but only 30 percent find the pills to be helpful. It is estimated that 2.5 million children are on antidepressants. Children on Ritalin or similar drugs is 4.5 million." (stats from two years ago and rising).

The USA already has the highest cost per person for medical care in the Entire World. Now working families will be required to pay more. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to explain this to a class of students in Taiwan? You can't explain it. They can visit a doctor for only $3. The whole civilized world looks at America not as a "City on a Hill" radiating the light of progress, but rather as a "Cowboy Town in a Dump" spilling toxic waves of brutality.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Nazi Church

Adolf Hitler converses with the Catholic Pope's representative, Archbishop Cesare Orsenigo, at a New Year's reception in Berlin. (January 1, 1935).

"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter."
--Adolf Hitler, in a speech on April 12th, 1922.

It goes without saying that only some Christians are fascists; that not all Christians are fascists; that a few Christians went so far as to oppose fascism, for example under the Nazis in Germany. A few openly opposed Hitler's plans even when threatened with punishment of death, as in the tragic case of the Christian intellectual, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. But it doesn't go without saying that most Christians in Germany willingly followed Hitler and supported the rise of the Nazis. And it doesn't go without saying that a substantial number of American Christians are now crypto-fascists as I began to suggest in a previous blog.

It bears repeating this history lesson here as nobody was taught it, (and I do apologize for the seeming cliche of having to drag in tired old Hitler yet again!). But we live in ahistorical times where the entire past is like some dark basement we've never wondered about, but rather papered over with childish myths and Hollywood fantasies; where "reality-based" is somehow wrongheaded; where people shake their heads in denial when confronted with facts; where ahistoric anachronism rules in vapid ignorance not only of the past but equally of our own present, about which few know anything at all worth knowing. So, off my pulpit and onto just the facts:

FuAQ: Frequently Un-Asked Questions: Answers, nevertheless, below:

*Hitler was a Christian who never tired of connecting his fascism with his religion, and the German Evangelical Church with his fascism.

*Hitler frequently quoted from and alluded to Biblical passages and to God's "providence"
(see source below).

*The conservative German church continued to be inspired since the Reformation by Martin Luther, who expressed violent anti-semitism repeatedly.

*Militant German nationalism was long expressed in terms of a "chosen people". E.g., the philosopher Fichte wrote that Germans were chosen "by God. . . with a moral right to fulfill our destiny by every means..." Later, the Third Reich was widely believed to be God's plan.

*Hitler stated that the Fuhrer was "infallible" just as the Pope was accepted to be infallible. He could do no wrong.

*In the 1930s, German children recited sayings and prayers that compared Hitler with Christ.

*The conservative Evangelical Church (most Germans) was then against modernism because it brought democracy, women's liberation, and experimental art, incomprehensible science, and cosmopolitan literature. In 1936, they cooperated with Nazi laws against homosexuality and abortion -- even when in 1941 suspects were sent to concentration camps to die.

*Hitler did threaten and forcibly remove any Christian pastor or Catholic priest who openly opposed him, however he did not have to remove very many since he enjoyed the consent of a majority.

*The Church's movement toward the far rightwing began well before Hitler, under the patriotic nationalism of the Federation for a German Church in the 1920s. Part of their movement was to establish a "Positive" theology that de-emphasized the Jewish roots of Christianity, instead emphasizing an ersatz christianity of nature, the Fatherland, and Folk rituals. Jesus would be seen as more "heroic". Their slogan: "One People, One God, One Nation, One Church." They welcomed the Nazis, one might say even prepared the way.

*(For those of you who are really too young to be reading this, yes, Jesus was a Jew. And yes, fascist slogans do sound suspiciously like current American fundamentalist slogans).

*Hitler in 1933 promised to protect the Catholic church and 5 days later, the Bishops of Germany officially supported Hitler. Nevertheless, the following year brought a wave of assassinations of Catholic priests by the notorious SS. Protestants didn't protest.

*The Evangelical Church preached a patriarchal gender division: women embodied Motherhood and sentiment, while men were "manly" christian warriors.

*The German theology was no longer about personal sin and salvation, but rather about the national life and death struggle against enemies: Jews and communists. The Bible was reinterpreted to support this theological change.

*1939, Hitler launches a preemptive attack on those enemies, now pretty much everyone who was not a German fascist. Most of the churches supported the war. 50% of pastors served in the military. 80% of the "Confessing Church" pastors swore an oath of allegiance to Hitler.

*By 1940, 35,000 sick patients had been killed after the Nazis started running "euthanasia" programs to kill off incurable patients and "abnormal" people. The Church hospitals did indeed resist operating these gas chambers and crematoria; but penalties for resistance were severe. Nevertheless, a key lesson is that when the Church did speak out openly against this, Hitler was forced to back down and halt the program. It led to new extermination camps being constructed "in secret" far away from towns.

*After Germany was defeated in WWII, the German Church refused to consider its own responsibility and support for fascism. Instead it insisted upon its helpless innocence.

Hitler blessed by the German church.
----------------------- -----------------
The January 6, 2005 edition of the New York Times ran an interview and profile of --

FRITZ STERN, a refugee from Hitler's Germany and a leading scholar of European history, startled several of his listeners when he warned in a speech about the danger posed in this country by the rise of the Christian right. In his address in November, just after he received a prize presented by the German foreign minister, he told his audience that Hitler saw himself as "the instrument of providence" and fused his "racial dogma with a Germanic Christianity."

"Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics," he said of prewar Germany, "but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas."

What I find interesting here as a sign of the times is that word "startled"! Fritz Stern was simply repeating the most basic and uncontroversial facts of Germany of some 70 years ago, but they were as startled as were the readers of the NY Times, which at least had the decency to follow through in the article to his conclusion for America of the present:

"The Jews in Central Europe welcomed the Russian Revolution," he said, "but it ended badly for them. The tacit alliance between the neo-cons and the Christian right is less easily understood. I can imagine a similarly disillusioning outcome."
----------------------- ---------------------


The Christianity of Hitler revealed in his speeches and proclamations -- excerpts

Hitler's religious beliefs and fanaticism (Selected quotes from Mein Kampf)

1000 years of Christian barbarity -- illustrated chronology A bit simplified, but it's the simple stuff you were never taught in school.

The Catholic Church and the Holocaust: 1930-1965 by Michael Phayer Upshot: mixed record of silence, resistance, cooperation and fear.

Jesus Plus Nothing Jeffrey Sharlet went undercover to join a fascist christian brotherhood, The Family, that also runs a membership boarding house in Washington DC for Representatives of Congress and Senators. It is at 133 C Street S.E. This is the most hair-raising expose I've read in the past two years. The implications run deeply toward the irrational core of post-American macho-mystified politics. Sharlet is a writer to keep up with.

The Gospel According to Dubya If you think there’s a disconnect between George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism and his policies, just check out his savior.

You can also write to my genuinely nonfascist Christian friend in California at and ask him for a copy of his substantial essay on "The Sad Lesson of Hitler & The German Church". His essay taught me a lot about this. He doesn't agree with all of the above, of course, but that's because he's a Christian and I'm not. Only a true friendship can bridge such differences! His essay relies on historical scholarship by:

Barnett, Victoria. For the Soul of the People. Oxford University Press, 1992.
Barth, Karl. The German Church Conflict. John Knox Press, 1965.
Bergen, Doris L. Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich. University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
Cochrane, Arthur C. The Church's Confession Under Hitler. Westminster Press, 1962.
Conway, J.S. The Nazi Persecution of the Churches. Basic Books, 1968.
Gellately, Robert. Backing Hitler: Consent & Coercion in Nazi Germany. Oxford University Press, 2001.
Kershaw, Ian. The Hitler Myth. Oxford University Press, 2001.
Koch, H.W. In the Name of the Volk. St. Martin's Press, 1997.
Littell, Franklin H & Locke, Hubert G. Editors. The German Church Struggle & the Holocaust. Wayne State University Press, 1974.
Matheson, Peter. The Third Reich & the Christian Churches. T & T Clark Ltd, 1981.
Stern, J. P. Hitler: The Fuhrer & the People. University of California Press, 1975.
Waite, Robert G.L. Hitler: The Psychopathic God. Da Capo Pub, 1993.


Friday, February 04, 2005

Asocial Insecurity

"I will listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer."
--G.W. Bush on Social Security

Hey, here's a good idea: Why not privatize the Presidency? Halliburton could subcontract the position out to an affable chap and save money in the bargain. Oh wait, they've already done that one.

OK, here's a 2nd good idea then: Leave Social Security as it is. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Follow link above to see how old this myth is about the supposed collapse of the Social Security system.
Too pointless to list all the many other links available which show the same conclusion. In other words, the Bush plan is the next logical step of class conflict, and his class has been winning.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

G.I.A.T. Briefing on Crazy Weather for Busy Folks

{2/15/2005 update: See Too Late to Worry about Global Warming}

Another in a series of major international conferences on CLIMATE CHANGE is going on this week -- see link above for how alarming it is. As before, the USA is dragging its feet and obstructing, probably because the US is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases in the world. Amid hot whirlwinds of propaganda and confusion, today's bloggence points out where to find the facts.

Pentagon Report Describes Global Warming Dangers

According to the Pentagon report one year ago, an imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is "plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately." It says global warming "should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern."

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The World Bank , not known as a very environmentally concerned institution, is now investing in the economic consequences of climate change, which will significantly hurt poorer developing countries more. They have crunched the numbers and the $ dollar signs are enormous.

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The Pew Center on Global Climate Change has an important archive of free reports from basic science to the best in-depth technical studies; from local to national to international studies; and policies, business plans, solutions, etc.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Recent articles:
* Climate Warming Spells Species Wipeout -- Experts
African Poor to Bear Brunt of Global Warming Crisis
Dangerous Global Warming Possible by 2026 - WWF
Britain says U.S. Must Help Avert Climate Catastrophe
Global warming reaching point-of-no-return

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~
My "G.I.A.T. Briefing on Crazy Weather for Busy Folks" is below:

If you hear certain people who claim that we "need more research _because_ science doesn't yet know if global warming exists or what causes it" then send them to these websites above. In fact, for the past 6 years, scientists have reached a broad consensus beyond reasonable doubt (around 1 in a billion chance of error) that global warming has been underway since the industrial revolution, circa 1800s, largely due to human production of greenhouse gases, and that it is now accelerating more rapidly, that every plausible model of the near future shows dramatic changes in rain, temperature, sea level, and species migrations and extinctions; and finally that because climate is a complex system (subject to nonlinear dynamics), very small changes in one or two factors will lead to very large and unpredictable changes in the whole system.

In general the prediction is that wet places will get wetter (floods, landslides) and dry places will get drier (droughts, crop failures), and that specific lands around the north Atlantic will get colder, while the southern hemisphere will get hotter. Whatever climate extreme you've already got, expect a lot more of it in your lifetime.

This has already begun to happen around the world. The last few years of the '90s were the hottest ever recorded in human history. Heat waves in France and in India killed thousands more people than anyone remembers before. The Atlantic hurricane season was unprecedented in the sheer number of major storms last year. Typhoons around Taiwan are coming frequently in the wrong season and dumping more water than before. Southwest Australia is in a serious drought for the past few years -- and the top scientist predicts that the area will become desert, leading to massive migration. Glaciers are melting rapidly. And enormous regions of ice the size of Delaware have broken away from the Antarctic, now floating out to sea. Small islands like Tuvalu in the South Pacific are sinking under a rising water table. This is only the beginning of the beginning of the changes wrought by a half to one degree temperature rise. This month we're being told that new studies show that a 2.5 degree rise, probably in your lifetime, will produce catastrophic and chaotic changes in the climate system.

In sum, the sky is falling. Chicken Little is not the only one to say so, but also the Pentagon, the World Bank, thousands of independent scientists, and most of the national governments around the world. So when you hear the usual denials coming from the business-as-usual same old sources (see blog on "Apocalyptic Christian anti-Earth" below), tell them to get a fact check. And when you buy land in Italy, don't buy it near sea level.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Sho-ching rafting near Portland (right front). Apparently the bus and the taxis were not running that cool day in January, so she took the boat to school. Looks safer than walking.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Apocalyptic Christian anti-Earth

Bill Moyers retired, but he's not yet tired. Writing in yesterday's Star Tribune Moyers reports that "millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed -- even hastened -- as a sign of the coming apocalypse."

In the article, "There is No Tomorrow", Moyers begins by observing that "one of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington." This theology is as bizarre as it is dangerous.

Nearly one third of Americans believe in the ersatz version of "Rapture" foisted over on a naive populace by right-wing fundamentalists. Believe it or not, they even have an online "Rapture Index" that puts a weekly number on how close we are to the Apocalypse, the end of the world as we know it. Not only do these believers feel fine, but they just can't wait for the end; they want to hurry it along, bring in on sooner. By the way, today's Rapture Index = 154, within their highest range of endliness, or as their own guide says: "Fasten your seat belts." They are ready to go.

The last time I checked, this has always been called a "self-fulfilling prophecy". You predict some objective future, but then the subterfuge is that you work toward creating that very same future. If I predict that I will fail a test, and therefore don't study for the test, then of course my prediction will come true. But this Rapture delusion is dangerous: They predict the utter collapse of civilization and then work toward bringing it about.

If you're wondering why the fundamentalist christians joined hands with the neo-conservative imperialists, then wonder no more. From the fundamentalist viewpoint, both are setting into place conditions that edge us ever closer to apocalypse. This is why Bush's policies might seem on the surface to be utterly unrealistic and ignorant, but when you look behind the scenes, you find that they are quite coherent. It makes perfect sense to them. Destroy the environment, since there's no tomorrow anyway. Bring the Holy Land into ultimate readiness for Armageddon, the grandmother of all battles. Prepare the way for the return of the king and the disappearance of all those annoying democrats. Don't teach evolution in the schools. Don't teach complicated history in the schools, because it's all over anyway. Teach sexual abstinance instead, because there won't be a next generation. Don't worry about running out of oil in the next 30 years, because by then we'll all be flying like angels.

For 2,000 years the Christians have expected Christ's return within their own lifetime. Every generation has been disappointed that life continues as it is. When you read the gospel of Matthew and the epistles of Paul in the New Testament, take them at their word: they expected Christ to return in their time, not 2000 years later. This expectation, ironically, recurs today among many Americans. They have the smug audacity to read the New Testament as about our own time today rather than the historical period that ended 2000 years ago. This is an enormous anachronism.

They literally expect that Jesus Christ quote "will descend from heaven, while remaining in the air, he will snatch his Bride, the Church, out from among this sinful world. Christ then takes the Church to heaven for the 7 year wedding feast...." etc. After the 7 year honeymoon, Christ then brings the right-wing back down to earth for the new Reich, the "1000 Year Reign" under HIs authority. But that can only be established after the horrendous ultimate battle against evil -- in other words, the rest of us here left on earth have to be exterminated in the final solution: genocide.

I know this sounds hysterically exaggerated, but follow the links throughout this post and you'll discover the baleful truth about a huge class of Americans. I devoutly wish that it was an exaggeration. In other words, we are in deep trouble here since the office of the President is occupied by a man who believes this crap.

Later this week, I'll post more about how and why the evangelical churches strongly supported the Nazi fascists. But if you understood the implications of the above, you already know why.

Passive-aggressive Thought: hacking passwords of the present

I believe that most of you are hyper enough, having fired up the browser for another jaunt through cyberspace, to catch onto what sort of thinking goes on at this site. But for a Moonday of light reflections, refracted through the intertext of hyperspace, here's somebody else thinking about his sort of thinking:

"I attempt to free myself from a referential, teleological thinking in order to pursue the play of a sort of thinking which is aware that something else thinks it. This is why I have always been quite close to news of current events -- not so much in sociological or political terms, but rather so as to measure the angle of incidence of a parallel world into those events, a world with which a perpetual confrontation is going on.
"Thought must play a catastrophic role, must be itself an element of catastrophe, of provocation, in a world that wants to cleanse everthing absolutely, to exterminate death and negativity. But thought at the same time must remain humanist, concerned for the human, and to that end, recapture the reversibility of good and evil, of the human and inhuman."
---Baudrillard's conclusion to Passwords

A critic has called this "passive-aggressive" thought, but Baudrillard puts his best face on it. OK, so I believe that thought should be a bit more aggressive than passive, but probably not as aggressive as to impose one's faiths onto reality itself. (See for example, DobSon SquarePants below.) The "passive" element is to feel out how things are not like they were yesterday; to open one's imagination to the muse of history in passage to the future. What people find most provocative and aggressive in Baudrillard's work is itself the result of of his oddly passive articulation of the currents, of the "something else" of the parallel world; of symbolic confrontation, ironic reversals, reappropriations; to find the passwords and hack the mainframe. So thanks for stopping by this Moonday. Now go forth leapfrogging into that spun curve-balled cyberspace and do some thinking.