Thursday, December 29, 2005

Attribution Sag

Eli over at Left i on the news has an interesting post today. Scroll to the headline The "forgotten" history of Ahmad Chalabi (scroll to December 29 at 6:30 a.m.). He notes how the major papers are re-writing their descriptions of the puppet wannabe. He is now being described as a former "American protege" while omitting that he was invited to sit with the Bushes at one of the State of the Union speech.

I'm thinking it might be useful to provide a graphic indicating the arc of U.S. government friendship to villification. How long does it take a particular asshole of a human being to go from being labelled by the U.S. government as a "freedom fighter" or "friend of democracy" into the latest euphemism of "oops, we backed an asshole again." Cue Peter Lorre saying he's "Shocked! Shocked!"

Chalabi could join a long line of U.S. friends turned enemies, not the least of which is Saddam Hussein. We could show the same arc with Suharto, Noriega, the Shah or Iran, Marcos and on and on. If I get a spare moment, I'll try my hand at the graphic.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bah humbug!

Last weekend, I took my Mom book shopping at Uncle Edgar's, an independent mystery bookstore in Minneapolis. At 81, and with a couple of broken bones recently, Mom is having a hard time standing up for any length of time. I tried to run and fetch books for her, but I also managed to scope out a folding chair behind the counter and commandeered it for her use. Since she drops a couple of hundred bucks each times she shops, I figure the store would forgive my presumption. Well, low and behold, the woman staffing the store went out of her way to help my Mom in her book choices and also in making her feeling comfortable as she sat in her chair for checkout. Highest praise to independent bookstores!

The Bah Humbug portion of this post has to do with a book I picked up from mystery writer Donna Andrews. I saw that the author was a multiple award winner and was known for her humor. So I found the first novel in her series, Murder with Peacocks and purchased it. I read it over the weekend and what a supreme disappointment. The reigning queen of humorous mysteries is Janet Evanovich with her Stephanie Plum series. Her books succeed with an indomitable heroine and a cast of loony characters to back her up.

Andrews' characters suffer by comparison. For one thing, loony characters who endanger their fellow man are a lot more humorous when they are working class, as are Plum's cast of crazies. Andrews are upper class, smug, self-assured and pretty damn disgusting in their rectitude.

The plot suffers from the "idiot" syndrome: our heroine has to be an idiot to ignore major clues dropped along the way. The evil characters are detectable from the get go and the reader simply has to slog through a couple of hundred pages in order to see these nasties get what they deserve.

It's odd to have award winners turn out so crappy. Gotta wonder what the heck is going on in the mystery writing genre these days.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

January 14 Antiwar Event

Here's my latest leaflet. It is for an anti-war event to be held on the weekend honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Photo Hosted at

Monday, December 26, 2005

Activists and dirty laundry.

The antiwar movement, faced with increasing antiwar sentiment and a ruling class undecided whether to continue its imperiliast course in Iraq, has decided to turn against itself.

In a statement issued on December 12, the United for Peace and Justice organization rejected any further coordination of activities with ANSWER.

Answer responded.

So now, grassroots antiwar activists are faced with the issue of which national antiwar organization to support as we work to end the racist imperialist U.S. attack against the people of Iraq.

I say let's not make a decision. I honestly don't believe that Iraqi families give a flying fuck what the personal political alliances are of any particular U.S. citizen who is working to end this bloody violence against the people of Iraq.

If our movement is going to grow, we we increasingly come into contact with people who have different ideas about a whole lot of issues than many of us long-time activists share. There is no ideologically pure antiwar movement. There is just us in all our confusing glory.


Some online discussion can be found here:

IndyMedia discussion

Burningman's analysis -- be sure to read the discussion in the comments.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Enjoy the holiday!

Happy Hannukah

And immerse your self in a Cute Overload this weekend!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Recent Reading

Arranged Marriage by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. This is a collection of short stories about Indian women dealing with the culture of the U.S. either by immigrating or in their relations with those who have emigrated to the U.S. The writing is quite beautiful and evocative, but the message is generally depressing. With so many strikes against them, it seems women from India have very little chance of happiness in our culture.

The Bell by Iris Murdoch. Dense language and conflicting passions make this novel fascinating. A failed wannabee priest who is attracted to young boys (I'm sure this reads completely different now in light of the Catholic church scandals) tries to make out the difference between ideals and human actions. Although the book is fascinating, I was struck by the incredible self-centeredness of almost every character. Perhaps that is Murdoch's point.

61 Freezing Protesters in Minneapolis

On Saturday, 61 plus hardy Minnesotans stood on a busy street corner holding banners against the war. The majority of passers-by supported the effort. Cars honked, passengers gave the thumbs up message and even pedestrians responded by saying "honk! honk!" as they passed by a large banner saying "Honk for Peace!" The high temp for the day was in the teens.

A small group of folks from the Counterpropaganda Coalitionsang a series of fun antiwar carols. An example:

12 Lies of the Media (12 Days of Xmas)

For the first time this morning the media lied to me...

Give your rights up for more security.
Second -- Torture is OK now
Third -- The economy is thriving
Fifth -- We can't end this war
Sixth -- Terrorists are lurking
Seventh -- NPR's impartial
Eighth -- Fox is fair and balanced
Ninth -- Democrats are different
Tenth -- Halliburton's honest
Eleventh -- Taco Bell is healthy
Twelfth -- Wal-Mart loves its workers.

This evening, G.W. Bush gave a speech on Iraq attempting to offer only two ways of looking at the war in Iraq. Either his way or the loser's way. You either believe in U.S. victory in Iraq or are a defeatest who believes the U.S. is losing. Too bad his simple equation doesn't include the Iraqis and what they want.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I'll take my raise now!

This test found via The Countess

You scored 53 masculinity and 46 femininity!
You scored high on masculinity and low on femininity. You have a traditionally masculine personality.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 30% on masculinity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 8% on femininity
Link: The Bem Sex Role Inventory Test written by weirdscience on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Friday, December 09, 2005

Get your feminist bloggers here

I'm getting caught up on the Carnival of the Feminists. Here's their intro:

The Carnival of Feminists is held on the first and third Wednesday of each month. Hosted by a different blogger for each edition, it aims to showcase the finest feminist posts from around the blogsphere. Posts will usually have been made in the period since the last carnival. (Only one nomination per blog please!)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Please sign the petition for the release of the Christian Peacemakers Team

Below is a statement from Sami Rasouli regarding an appeal for the release of four members of the Christian Peacemakers Team taken one week ago in Iraq.

Sami was on Democracy Now earlier this week discussing the situation.



Arabic version

Sign the petition at Free the CPT

Four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams were taken this past Saturday, November 26, in Baghdad, Iraq. They are not spies, nor do they work in the service of any government. They are people who have dedicated their lives to fighting against war and have clearly and publicly opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq. They are people of faith, but they are not missionaries. They have deep respect for the Islamic faith and for the right of Iraqis to self-determination.

C.P.T. first came to Iraq in October 2002 to oppose the US invasion, and it has remained in the country throughout the occupation in solidarity with the Iraqi people. The group has been invaluable in alerting the world to many of the horrors facing Iraqis detained in US-run prisons and detention centers. C.P.T. was among the first to document the torture occurring at the Abu Ghraib prison, long before the story broke in the mainstream press. Its members have spent countless hours interviewing Iraqis about abuse and torture suffered at the hands of US forces and have disseminated this information internationally.

Each of the four C.P.T. members being held in Iraq has dedicated his life to resisting the darkness and misery of war and occupation.

Convinced that it is not enough to oppose the war from the safety of their homes, they made the difficult decision to go to Iraq, knowing that the climate of mistrust created by foreign occupation meant that they could be mistaken for spies or missionaries.

They went there with a simple purpose: to bear witness to injustice and to embody a different kind of relationship between cultures and faiths.

Members of C.P.T. willingly undertook the risks of living among Iraqis, in a common neighborhood outside of the infamous Green Zone. They sought no protection from weapons or armed guards, trusting in, and benefiting from, the goodwill of the Iraqi people. Acts of kindness and hospitality from Iraqis were innumerable and ensured the C.P.T. members' safety and wellbeing. We believe that spirit will prevail in the current situation.

We appeal to those holding these activists to release them unharmed so that they may continue their vital work as witnesses and peacemakers.

* Arundhati Roy, author, The God of Small Things
* Tariq Ali, author, Bush in Babylon
* Denis Halliday, former U.N. Assistant Secretary General and Head of the U.N. Humanitarian Program in Iraq (1997-1998)
* Cindy Sheehan, mother of Casey Sheehan
* Noam Chomsky, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
* Haifa Zangana, Iraqi novelist
* Kamil Mahdi, Iraqi economist and anti-occupation activist. Lecturer, University of Exeter
* Mahmood Mamdani, "Herbert Lehman Professor of Government," Columbia University
* Rashid Khalidi, "Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies," Middle East Institute, Columbia University
* Cindy and Craig Corrie, parents of Rachel Corrie, killed by Israeli military
* Hasan Abu Nimah, Permanent Representative of Jordan at the United Nations (1995-2000)
* Ralph Nader, former independent presidential candidate
* James Abourezk, former US Senator
* Howard Zinn, historian
* Naseer Aruri, Professor (Emeritus) University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
* Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence/Nobel Peace Prize Nominee
* Naomi Klein, author/journalist
* Michael Ratner, President, Center for Constitutional Rights
* Rev. Daniel Berrigan, poet
* Jeremy Scahill, independent journalist
* Mazin Qumsiyeh, author, Sharing the Land Of Canaan, board member US Campaign to End the Occupation
* Milan Rai, author, War Plan Iraq: Ten Reasons Against War on Iraq
* Sam Husseini, writer
* Dahr Jamail, independent journalist
* Ali Abunimah, Co-founder, Electronic Iraq/The Electronic Intifada
* Nigel Parry, Co-founder, Electronic Iraq/The Electronic Intifada
* Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator, United for Peace and Justice
* Eve Ensler, author
* Jennifer Harbury, Director, Stop Torture Permanently Campaign
* Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Detroit
* Anthony Arnove, author, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
* Medea Benjamin, Global Exchange
* G. Simon Harak, SJ, War Resisters League
* David Hartsough, Co-Founder and Capacity Building Director of Nonviolent Peaceforce and Executive Director of Peaceworkers. Nonviolent Peace Force
* Blase Bonpane, Office of the Americas
* Carol Bragg, Coordinator, Rhode Island Peace Mission
* Rev. Richard Deats, former Executive Secretary and Fellowship Editor, Fellowship of Reconciliation
* Omar Diop, Président de la Coalition Sénégalaise des Défenseurs des Droits humains
* Jim Forest, Secretary, The Orthodox Peace Fellowship
* Thomas C. Cornell, The Catholic Worker
* David Grant, Nonviolent Peaceforce
* Ted Lewis, Global Exchange
* Charles Jenks, Chair of Advisory Board, Traprock Peace Center
* Jeff Leys, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
* Andréa Schmidt, independent journalist
* Michael Albert, ZNet
* Richard McDowell, Senior Fellow for Iraq Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation
* Dave McReynolds, former Chair, War Resisters International
* Peter Lems, Program Associate for Iraq, American Friends Service Committee
* Kevin Zeese, Director, Democracy Rising
* Sunny Miller, Director, Traprock Peace Center
* Dave Robinson, Director, Pax Christi USA
* Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, National Coordinator, Clergy and Laity Concerned about Iraq
* David Swanson, Co-Founder, After Downing Street, Board Member Progressive Democrats of America, Washington Director
* Mary Trotochaud, Senior Fellow for Iraq Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation
* Michael Birmingham, activist
* Barbara Wien, Co-Director, Peace Brigades International/USA
* Bishop Gabino Zavala, President, Pax Christi USA
**Organizations and institutions are listed for identification purposes only. Contact: freethecpt(at)