Friday, February 24, 2006

It's the economy, part deux

So, although that was a damn short interview for AG, it reveals more of what I believe is the over-arching strategy of the "long war" to "reshape the middle east" (more like reshape the pipeline of goods and services): they need to establish permanent bases in Iraq, and they're having a very rough time of it in there, so . . . make a deal with Dubai, and maybe that's the next best thing. I'm still piecing this thing together, and better minds than mine are working on it, too. If you have any leads, let me know.

It's the economy, stupid!

I was asked yesterday what I think of the deal whereby a company funded by the UAE of Dubai will be purchasing some port operations in this country. I said I was ambivalent. I don't think for a minute the priority of the Bush administration is "homeland security," but I don't believe our ports are any more at risk with an Arab company vs a British company managing imports and exports. No, I was waiting to hear what the deal is, the bargain you know was struck between their country and ours, where the Bush administration AND their cohorts get something from it.

Of course, there was lots of grandstanding by congresspeople on both sides, to show to their constituents that national security is all-important and even republicans are willing to fight the president on it if push comes to shove (see, they really do have the good of the American people at heart). But you know they all know that it's a done deal, and they all know why. Of course, a few things had surfaced by this morning (for those of us looking for it, because I didn't hear a thing about it this morning on npr). Associated Press has this outing of the secret deal, but doesn't quite get to the heart of the matter, which I'm sure has something to do with money. This op-ed in the Washington Post alludes to a corporate motive, but still nothing that connects the dots to my satisfaction. I'm still looking . . .

Ah! We are so lucky to have the optimistic Amy Goodman playing for our side! Here's what she'll have on her show today: "CorpWatch's Pratap Chatterjee on the Link Between the Iraq War and the White House's Support for a Dubai-Owned Firm to Take Over U.S. Ports The political firestorm continues in Washington over the proposed sale of six U.S. ports to a Dubai-owned company. Dubai Ports World offered to delay the $6.8 million deal after major clashes between the White House and both Democratic and Republican Congressmembers over national security concerns. We speak with Pratap Chatterjee of CorpWatch."

A quick jump to the website only reveals this: The ports of Dubai make up some of the busiest commercial hubs in the world for the "global war of terrorism." Conveniently located between the Afghanistan and Iraq, Dubai is the ideal jumping-off point for military contractors and a lucrative link in the commercial supply chain of goods and people.

We'll just have to tune in later for the details. This show doesn't air until later today, but they will post the transcripts shortly thereafter, usually before the end of the day.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Samba School

It's almost Carnival time around the world. I just got a fabulous cd by Seu Jorge, "Carolina," that puts me right in the mood! Go to for colorful photos and an explanantion about samba schools in Rio, "The Greatest Show on Earth!" I just learned this fun fact from the world wide web: The word "Carnival" comes from a latin word that means "goodbye to the flesh," At first I thought they were talking about a person's flesh, as in chastity, because the celebration is all about sins of the flesh, and partying it up before the big sacrifices of Lent. But they are referring to MEAT, ya know, how Catholics don't eat meat for Lent? (which I just don't get, since giving up meat is hardly a sacrifice in these modern times).

Here's a fairly good explanation of the celebration:

Throughout the world, every year, countries take part in a festival which is based upon the Christian season of Lent. In most countries, the festival is called Carnaval or in the United States you might recognize the celebration by the name of Mardi Gras. In the past this event has been marked by parades and masked balls for participants of the Catholic church. Today Carnaval has become a widely attended, secular event which the Church might view as being filled with sin and every excess known in society. Continued . . .

I think this other page gives a better overview of the tradition, for anyone who's ever wondered. I've been lucky enough to celebrate Carnival in both Brazil and Trinidad, and it is a fuckin' good time!

Yeah, I just figured out how to upload images, there's no stopping me now!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Why is figure skating so gay?

I was remiss yesterday in not including this other article from the current Lavender issue, which I realized as I watched the Olympic women's singles figure skating last night (deadly dull, except for the perky Russian gal whose name I didn't catch - not the famous one). It's a fairly informative article from a magazine that, for the most part, contains an awful lot of fluff (which doesn't make it an any less interesting read), about the perception that male figure skaters are all gay. It turns out, of course, that PLENTY of them are!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

War and Gay Stuff

We watched "Gunner Palace" this weekend, a documentary made by Mike Tucker and Petra Epperlein during the early weeks and months after the fall of Baghdad. It was excellent, and very disturbing. They hang out with a few teams of soldiers who use as their headquarters the estate that previously was the pleasure palace of one of Saddam Hussein's sons, which they call Gunner Palace. Those guys (when I use the term 'guys' I include males and females alike) feel like they are out there alone, fighting a war that isn't noticed by most Americans, and that even after watching the movie, we'll go back to our microwave popcorn and talk about something else. They are cynical, sarcastic. A few are really good poets/rappers. Here's one rap I found when I Googled:

"Considered a ravenous beast if we just launch an attack,

Lose-lose situation we face an anticipation of hatin',

Although we're hunted by Satan, we're frustration abatin' the situation we facin',

Not only followed but chasin',

There's movable hatred,

That's why we feel so neglected, unprotected,

Like from the present,

No need to like this, but please respect it.

This is life."

Some of they guys you meet die.

I recommend seeing it, not just you tree-huggers who are against the war, but especially the misguided Patriots who think we are fighting a good fight in Iraq. Read a much better review than mine from the Seattle Weekly.

Speaking of the good fight, some readings online today included this article about the Gay Agenda. Also on the gay reading list was this one from Lavender Magazine on the recent denial of 2 international gay and lesbian orgs from observer status by the US and IRAN!, among other countries. And yesterday I got an email forward with Brokeback Mountain's Weekly Grocery List:

for Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, Summer, 1963

* Beans
* Bacon
* Coffee
* Whiskey

* Beans
* Ham
* Coffee
* Whiskey

* Beans al fresca
* Thin-sliced Bacon
* Hazelnut Coffee
* Sky vodka & Tanqueray gin
* K-Y gel

* Beans en salade
* Pancetta
* Coffee (espresso grind)
* 5-6 bottles best Chardonnay
* 2 tubes K-Y gel

* Fresh Fava beans
* Jasmine rice
* Prosciutto, approx. 8 ounces, thinly sliced
* Medallions of veal
* Porcini mushrooms
* 1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream
* 1 Cub Scout uniform, size 42 long
* 5-6 bottles French Bordeaux (Estate Reserve)
* 1 extra large bottle Astro-glide

* Yukon Gold potatoes
* Heavy whipping cream
* Asparagus (very! thin)
* Organic Eggs
* Spanish Lemons
* Gruyere cheese (well aged)
* Crushed Walnuts
* Arugula
* Clarified Butter
* Extra Virgin Olive oil
* Pure Balsamic vinegar
* 6 yards white silk organdy
* 6 yards pale ivory taffeta
* 3 Cases of Dom Perignon Masters Reserve
* Large tin Crisco

And, to not veer off this theme too much, there is the irrepressible Diablo Cody's blog, which I had not visited in a few weeks, so there's news to report about a new puppy! AND, whether or not you've been following the issue of Net neutrality, this article from New York Times explains it pretty well: "When you use the Internet today, your browser glides from one Web site to another, accessing all destinations with equal ease. That could change dramatically, however, if Internet service providers are allowed to tilt the playing field, giving preference to sites that pay them extra and penalizing those that don't." Call or write to your representatives TODAY!!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Watch out, you're about to step in something . . .

Check out this ad. It was brought to my attention yesterday, in an email sent by the DFL, saying it's being tested in our region. I was good and worked up after I saw it, and I dashed of a letter to the editor of our local paper. I doubt they'll print it, but the Internet being what it is, I am free to present it in my own forum:

February 16, 2006

To the Editor:

I just watched the Midwest Heroes commercial that I understand is being tested in Minnesota. In it, the family members of soldiers who have died fighting in Iraq make emotional arguments for continuing the occupation and war in that country. They reconstitute the idea that Iraq and Saddam Hussein are linked to the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, a claim that has been debunked by even the White House. Going further, they make the specious assumption that, were we not fighting in Iraq, we’d be fighting Al Qaeda here on American soil. While the individuals in the commercial may have been mislead by the Bush administration’s arguments for going to war, their loss is very real and no less tragic for the misinformation. This is worst kind of propaganda, because it will probably go unchallenged - who would dare argue with those families in the face of their losses?


And now for the lighter side of the news, read Andy Borowitz' news of the day:


At $42 Billion, Largest Contract of its Kind, Company Says

The Halliburton Company announced today that it had won a $42 billion no-bid contract from the U.S. government to reconstruct the reputation of Vice President Dick Cheney.

While Halliburton has been known for massive reconstruction projects in such war-torn nations as Iraq, the $42 billion contract represents the first time that the company has been employed to put its reconstruction expertise to work on one embattled human being.

At the White House, spokesman Scott McClellan defended the $42 billion price tag for the reconstruction effort, telling reporters, “Given how much work Dick Cheney’s reputation is going to take to rebuild, at the end of the day that $42 billion contract is going to look like a bargain.”

Mr. McClellan likened the state of Mr. Cheney’s reputation to conditions on the ground in Iraq, “only worse.”

But even as Halliburton began gearing up for the daunting task of reconstructing the vice president’s reputation, an unlikely critic of the plan, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill), questioned the wisdom of even attempting to rebuild Dick Cheney.

Rep. Hastert said that based on what he had seen of Dick Cheney’s reputation in recent days, it reminded him of the city of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, making him wonder whether the vice president could be rebuilt at all.

“It looks like a lot of Dick Cheney could be bulldozed,” Rep. Hastert said.

Elsewhere, breaking with a longstanding tradition set by his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivered his first economic report to Congress in English.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Progressives, Listen UP!

"Imagine a Democratic Party that could talk of a New Bottom Line, so that American institutions would be judged efficient, rational, and productive not only to the extent that they maximize money and power, but also to the extent that they maximize people’s capacities to be loving and caring, ethically and ecologically sensitive, and capable of responding to the universe with awe and wonder. "

Don't you feel jaded when you read that? Cynical? I sure do, even though those words, that philosophy, is exactly the view I hold and that I have failed to express over the past 2 election cycles, choosing instead to argue why the right is so wrong. Like banging your head against a wall. Like I've said to Pat, if there is a god, GW will find out on judgement day that what he's been up to is not what she had in mind.

"A progressive politics of meaning does not require that one believe in a Supreme Being, much less the specific God that has been taught in orthodox versions of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. But it does require a recognition that many people want more from their lives than an accumulation of comforts, pleasures, and material goodies. We want more than power, more than fame, more than sexual conquest, we actually want to connect our lives to something of transcendent importance the value of which will continue beyond our own individual life. Counter to the empiricist and scientific reductionism that sometimes gets confused with rational thought, the Politics of Meaning insists that not everything real or important can be quantified or verified through sense-data. The deepest human desires—the desires for loving connection, for transcendent meaning to life, and for justice and peace (not just for ourselves but for others)—are rooted in what we call a spiritual conception of the world."

Those quotes are
taken from Rabbi Michael Lerner's book "The Left Hand of God," and you can read a lot more at the website.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Empire Building

As usual, the ever-cheery Amy Goodman has a great show today on "Democracy Now." The guy who wrote "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" is back on, for like the 3rd time. Her show is about the only place I ever hear about him - I have wanted to read it for a long time, but haven't gotten around to it. You've got to read the transcript, today he actually explained the reason for the invasion of Iraq. Here's a snippet:

JOHN PERKINS: When he [Saddam Hussein] didn't come around, the economic hit men tried to bring him around. We tried to assassinate him. But that was an interesting point, because he had pretty loyal security forces, and in addition he had a lot of look-alike doubles, and what you don't want to be is a bodyguard to a look-alike double and you think it's the president and you accept a lot of money to assassinate him and you assassinate the look-alike, because if you do that, afterwards your life and your family's isn't worth very much, so we were unable to get through to Saddam Hussein, and that’s why we sent the military in.

AMY GOODMAN: Although Saddam Hussein was in the pocket of the U.S. for many, many years.

JOHN PERKINS: He was and – but we wanted that final deal, similar to the one we’d struck with Saudi Arabia. We wanted to get Saddam Hussein to really tie in to our system, and he refused to do that. He accepted our fighter jets and our tanks and our chemical plants that he used to produce chemical weapons that we knew were being used against the Kurds and the Iranians. He accepted all that, but he wouldn’t quite tie into our system in such a big way that he would bring in the huge development organizations to rebuild his country, as the Saudis did, in a Western image. And that's what we were trying to convince him to do and also to guarantee that he would always trade oil for U.S. dollars, instead of Euros, and that he would keep the price of oil within limits acceptable to us. He would not go along with those things. If he had, he would still be president, Amy.

Read the entire transcript of this interview on the Democracy Now website:

And if I suddenly disappear, please send John Perkins to find me.


My horoscope for this week, from Free Will astrologer Rob Brezsny:

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Imagine that you're a circus acrobat whose
specialty is working high in the air. You're skilled at swinging from one
trapeze to another. You have utmost confidence in your timing and
concentration and grip, so that when you let go of one bar and are flying
toward the next, there's no doubt you'll make it. I believe that your life
has now brought you to a transition that's metaphorically similar to the
moment of being in between trapezes. Don't think too hard as you soar
across the abyss; trust your instincts.

AND, since it doesn't look like the Strib will be printing my letter, here's that too, for all the world to read:

Star Tribune

To the editor: February 9, 2006

It’s disconcerting that pundits from across the political spectrum are falling all over themselves to point out that some Republicans are voicing concerns over the previously secret NSA wiretapping program of Americans, as if that is the ultimate proof that the program might be unconstitutional and should be receiving scrutiny from another branch of government. What is it about living in the United States that assures us of our cultural superiority, is it our commitment to democracy, with the rights and freedoms that accompany it, or merely the high standard of living we enjoy? Are we content to live happily and complacently under the rule of a fatherly autocrat, instead of the president of a democracy, as long as our comfort and safety is assured? Just how many more lies and secrets are we willing to ignore?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Long time reader, first time blogger

So, here it is, who knew it could be so easy? I should have guessed that someone had invented such a tool, but I'm a late adopter of most technology, so that's about par.

I'm feeling a little tired and blue today, so I picked a bright color for the blog template. It's a grey day, and something sunny is required to pick up the spirits. We are also only at the half-way point, so realizing that summer is a long way off doesn't help the mood.

Has everyone seen "Brokeback Mountain?" Are you sick of hearing about it? I still can't get it out of my head and my heart still feels heavy when I remember it. After Pat and I saw it at the Heights, I searched for as many articles as I could find, just to be back there with Jack and Ennis again. It was hard getting through the first 10 minutes, I have to say, because I didn't know Jake had gotten so damned gorgeous. We have seen a lot of his movies (see "Bubbleboy"!), and I thought he was cute in a goofy sort of way, not as beautiful as Keanu, but at least he can act. I think it was a Details writer who called him "born credible." But it was very distracting in the opening of "BM," and I had to really work to look past that and get into the movie.

I've got KFAI streaming in my office, as I do everyday. Right now it's "Corazon Latino," and they're playing some great Cuban music. I'd better get back to work.