Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Anti-Semitic Conscousness And Consequences

Now that Mel Gibson has shown himself to be an Anti-Semitic drunk, he has taken the extra step to apologize for his recent actions, not the least of which is driving while inebriated. Although at last account there was no confirmation from authorities as to the veracity of published reports of his racist remarks, he did apologize for saying things while intoxicated that he says were wrong, further explaining that he has been fighting alcoholsim for some time.

He supposedly also said the Jews are responsible for every evil in the world. Then he asked the arressting officers and others present if they were Jews. Then he tempered his remarks by shouting "fuck you", and "I am going to fuck you."

Mel Gibson has been on the defensive lately, in fact ever since the release of his blockbuster hit "The Passion Of The Christ", which he financed with twenty five million dollars of his own money, and which currently ranks number ten in the world in box office receipts.

Still, whatever the truth or exaggeration as to his reported remarks, he has managed to come off here more as a maddened Dioysius than what you would consider a devout Christian . And, despite his apologies, you can be certain that he is destined to answer further charges of anti-Jewish racism.

The wonder is to me, not that Mel Gibson may turn out to be a virulent anti-Semitic person after all, but that, as a Bible believing conservative Catholic Christian, after all, how could he not be.

That has been the real elephant in the room the whole time, and is one that is seldom broached. When it is, it is by mainly Gibson detractors who insist that Christianity is not Anti-Semitic, that in fact at most Christianity has been used as an excuse for Anti-Semitism, though this is based on a perversion of the Gospels, that Christianity is a religion of love and tolerance and forgiveness.

Unfortunately, only one thing in the above statement is true, and that is the fact that Christianity has been used as an excuse for Anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, the rest of the argument falls apart when you carefully peruse the Gospels, which upon doing so you realize there is a reason Christianity provides this excuse.

And that reason is, sadly, that the New Testament of the Bible-most especialy the Gospels-are indeed virulently anti-Semitic.

Now some will most certainly point out what they consider the fallacy of this statement, by reminding me that the authors of Matthew, Mark, and John were Jews (Luke was evidently an early Greek convert and disciple of Paul), and that perhaps most importantly, Jesus was himself a Jew. How then can you arrive at the conclusion that the Gospels were anti-Semitic?

The issue of Jesus's parentage, or even if he ever truly existed, is up for debate, to begin with. As for the so-called apostles, there is a very definite answer to that statement, which, once it is realized, makes everything all too clear.

And that is, out of all of Jesus's original apostles (Paul, who was indeed a Jew, did not come along until after the crucifixion) eleven out of the twelve were not Jews. The one Jew, incidentally, was Judas Iscarriot.

Now, it is true the others were Jews by religion-but not by race. The people of Gallilee had previously been a pagan people who had been forcibly converted to Judeaism by the first of the Haesmonean Kings, Aristobulus I. This, by the way, was a mere one hundred years approximately before the given time frame of the crucifixion (around 27-28 AD).

The ancient Romans in time definitely came to undertand this very distinction that escapes us today, and in some cases we find references to the cult of Christianity as that of "the Gallileans".

What it all amounted to was a regional prejudice exhibited doubtless by both sides one against the other. In fact, there is every reason to believe that the cult of Christianity had been around for a good many years, even prior to the forced Jewish conversion, as one of the pagan cults adhered to by many of the formerly pagan Gallileans. In order to survive, it simply went underground for a time, then re-emerged with a suitably Jewish veneer. In this way, it might have been similar to the maner in which many transplanted African slaves to the Carribbean disguised their own partiular pagan gods as Catholic saints.

So if this much is true, why was this ancient cult transcribed and mythologized as a then fairly recent historical event? To answer that question, you have to understand Judaean history, of particular importance being the great rebellion of Judaea against Roman rule, which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and of the magnificent temple buildt not too many decades earlier by Herod The Great.

This event took place beginning about seventy AD, the final destruction being undertaken by Titus, the son of the Emperor Vespasian, who had suceeded Nero after a brief struggle in which in one year alone four different claimants, following Neros fall, claimed the Imperial throne.

It was the aftermath of this massive tragedy that resulted in the dispersal of the Jews from Jerusalem, and throughout various parts of the Empire. They were of course looked upon with suspicion and revulsion by the majority of the Empires citizens. And, to a point, they looked upon all of them as the same, whether or not they were Judaeans or Gallileans.

There is good reason to believe that there was a great deal of antagonism between the two groups. Most Gallileans of course considered themselves Jews, but they, like the Judaeans themselves, looked askance at the practices of the Gallilean Nazarite sect known as "The Way", and engaged in a good deal of what today would be considered racist propoganda.

They were in fact accussed of vile and abominable practices, such as sexual orgies, homosexuality, and even cannabalism. All of this in fact began prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and The Temple, before even the time of Nero. As far back as the reign of Tiberius, and later Claudius, who both conducted massive deportations of Jews from Rome on the grounds of their practices for "the god Christos".

Therefore, once the destruction of Jerusalem and The Temple had taken place, there was already a long history of rivalry, distrust, and even hatred between the two groups. After the disastrous rebellion, the Gallileans took it on themselves to put down in writing their own particular take on the reason for the disaster, and did so by placing the blame squarely on the Jews in a way they could begin to distance themselves from it.

"His blood be upon us and upon our children" the Jewish Hish Priest was suppossed to have said to Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator (by now conveniently long dead), who had symbolically washed his hands of any blame for the death of "this innocent man".

Even the vile and corrupt Herod Antipas had failed to find fault with him after questioning him, though Jesus had refused to answer any of his impertinent questions and challenges as to his mystical powers and reported miracles.

Even a lowly Roman centurion-a pagan-was able to recognize the obvious signs of divine displeasure as Christ lay dead on the cross, and the sun stood still and darkness engulfed the land.

"Surely", he said, "this was the Son Of God".

But the Jews as a group were unrepentent. The savior, the messiah, they had so long awaited, had come amongst them, and they had hated him, revilled him, and ultimately, demanded his murder, a demand which a supposedly reluctant Pilate felt obliged to grant.

But that is not all. The prophecies of the end times that is so often discussed, as pertaining to the Gospels, has nothing to do with some far future date, but seems to be revolved around the destruction of Jerusalem which occurred around 70 AD. More to the point, this is portrayed in the Gospels as being directly related to the Jewish rejection, condemnation, and murder of the Son of God, that same personnage who the Roman Pilate, and the Roman appointed tetrarch Herod, would have wished to avoid.

This was a typical Jewish device that was also adapted by the Gallilean sect. The art of Biblical prophecy seems to have revolved, in some cases, around looking back toward a similar time, which resulted in a specific set of circumstances, and predicting the same result to the present. At other instances, the so-caled prophecies were actually written down after the fact. More often not, many fulfilled prophecies were no more than claims. For example, Jesus entering Jerusalem on the back of a donkey was an example of an action that was purposeldy performed in order to fit a required prophecy.

Therefore, it would not be a stretch of the imagination for an adept religous leader, made familiar with history to a point uncommon to most common people of the day, to recognize the impending catastrophe the Judaean leaders were bringing on themselves and their people. In other words, someone might have legitimately pointed this out. On the other hand, if the Galilleans only claimed to have made this prophecy prior to the event, but in reality did so after the fact, who was there to disprove the claim?

The whole bizarre story of the origins of Christianity are shrouded in mystery, and it takes incisive viewing to even begin to pierce through the vale of centuries of deception. But once you begin to do so, a pattern emerges. And that pattern to a great extent reveals a complex web of prejudice on both sides, while at the same time the prejudice exhibited by one side will be seen to be excused on the grounds of the provocations of the other.

Because of this, there are many instances in the New Testament of bigotry and intolerance displayed by the Jews toward other ethnic groups-for example the Samaritans. And while these prejudices may have existed, there can be no doubt they existed on both sides pretty much equally.

And, the fact that Jesus urged tolerance, forgiveness, and love might seem to mitigate somewhat the anti-Jewish hatred of the Gallileans. Unfortunately, it also serves a further purpose-that of inflaming old resentents that much greater a degree.

Unfortunately, as we have seen far too often, it has come nowhere close to extinquishing it. Evidence of Mel Gibsons reputed Anti-Semitism, if true, is a perfect example of how old hatred and prejudices are hard pressed to fade away-even after twenty centuries. Or maybe it would be best to say, especially after that long. The ingrained nature of such feelings may amount ot a kind of societally enhanced psychic, subconscous brainwashing. It will be with us for some time to come.

Nations United In Inefficiency And Corruption

It's time for the United Nations to be disbanded. It should be more than obvious by now that it is faced with two problems, either of which might be insurmountble, but taken together amounts to almost assurred self-destruction.

The first problem is the bureaucratic inefficiency that afflicts all large organizations, compounded in this instance by international cultural barriers that make this bureaucracy an ingrained necessity, not merely an aspect of it's Byzantine size. It is a veritable labrynthe of contradictions.

The most obvious example of this is the fact that this is an organization that purports to promote peace, and even more laughably, freedom, and yet in which the majority of it's member nations are a collection of dictatorial regimes and terrorist enabling and/or enabled states.

In the meantime, the majority of it's truly democratic nations are represented within the agency by shills for  giant multi-national corporations. It is these same influences, unfortunartely, that are the only truly relevant arbitrers within the UN able to reach across the vast divide of the various contradictory and conflicting goals and policies of the member nations. They have their own agendas, which have little to do with maintaining peace, justice, and most especially, liberty.

It is this which more than anything is the result of the massive and barely uncovered Oil-For-Food scandal, a perfect example of how what was purported to be an effort on behalf of a beleaquered national population-in this case that of Iraq's in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War-was hijacked by the corrupt forces that run the agency and turned into a vehicle for exploitation, graft, and international embezzlement which not only allowed the misery to continue unabated, but actually increased it measurably.

Corruption and inefficiency, of the kind that enables UN peacekeeping forces to participate in the rape of women and young girls in African areas they were sent into ostensily to protect, about which nothing has been done yet. Once word of the UN's atrocities got out, sure, there was the predictable hand-wringing and angst and promises of investigation and prosecution. I have yet to hear the name of any UN peacekeepers arrested and charged, assumming there was ever a serious investigation by this agency that at the same time seems obsessed to an incredible degree with every rumour or inuendo of American abuse in places such as Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay, which were and are in most instances relatively minimal in comparison.

Bureacratic inefficiency and corruption. A far cry from what the organization was originally created for. The UN was from the very beginning riddled with problems that would be difficult to overcome, but at least in the beginning it provided some hope, a promise of providing a forum for international dialoque and peaceful arbitration of disputes. So where and when did it go wrong? When did it go sliding over the edge into the morass of from which I doubt it will ever extricate itself.

I think you can find the answer to this simply by looking at an overall history of the UN, and that of it's member nations within the organization. And you need go no further back than a mere thirty years. For it was during this time, sometime in the mid nineteen seventies, that the United Nations made a fateful decision. It was a decision on the side of tyranny and oppression, and against the side of democracy and liberty.

At the time it was considered actually a diplomatic coup, this success in bringing within the fold of this brotherhood of nations the behemoth People's Republic Of China, headed by the Stalinist regime of Zhoiu En Lai, Mao's successor, and which insisted that it would only agree to membership on one condition. This of course amounted to a demand for the ouster of the small, seemingly inconsequential island nation of Taiwan.

This nation had been formed from the remnants of the itself dictatorial regime from which the communists originally rebelled, who took control of the island and, under the protecting guidance of the US, adopted over the years democratic and economic reforms which in time made it one of the most progressive and advanced nations of Asia.

As such, though it was far from perfect, it provided a needed base in Asia, and was a solidly dependable US ally, and showed promise over the years of becomming a true bastion of freedom, democracy, and human rights. On this beleaquered island nation, ture Chinese culture was allowed to flourish, and trade with the west made it one of the most prosperous economies in the Asian world.

But China demanded, and received, assurrances of an official "One China" policy, a policy which included the island nation of Taiwan. Shamefully, the US agreed to this policy, which is recognized to this day.

There was a debate, of course, but it was a matter of mere form. The overall result was a matter of foregone conclusion. Within a short period of time, representatives of the Peoples "Republic" of China took their seats at the organization, while the Taiwanese were summarily dismissed in what had to have been seen, from the cultural vantage point of the Chinese population of the island, as the ultimate insult and humiliation.

It might have been seen as a necessity at the time. And true, the Chinese did make the concession not to  invade the island, not to take it by force.  But as any rape victim might tell you, a rape is a rape is a rape, whether it be accomplished by actual physical force, or by coercion. The Taiwanese have now for thirty years been undergoing a kind of coercion, to which the world community has respounded with a hearty "fuck you".

And since that time, the UN has only gotten more audacous in it's grasp and demands. It has proven inefficent at best and more often than not toally useless in resolving international disputes, to the extent that wholesale massacres are the norm, not the exception, in vast areas of Africa.

Insofar as the Middle East, look at their record. The infuence of the Arab and Muslim nations within  the organization have insured the continuation of bloodshed, by demanding ceasefires in conflict after conflict which never seem to be of lasting duration, or if they are, have little or anything to do with any kind of UN involvement. The only exception to this, the 1991 Gulf War, was the result of pressure actually by neighboring Muslim nations of Saddam who wanted him put in check.

By the same token, look prior to this at the nearly decade  long war in the eighties between Saddams Iraq and the Ayotollah's Iran.  It would be too easy to criticize the effectiveness or lack thereof of the UN in this matter-first you have to find some evidence of their actual presence.  Here, you need look no further than the infuence of the same international business interests I mentioned before, and their lackeys, including, it is sad to say, probably especially the US. Too much was riding on the outcome of this conflict that was of vital economic and strategic importance.

And so, for the United Nations, this became a matter of international war and diplomacy as spectator sport. Nor were the United Nations any more effective in dealing with the results of the Soviet Unions invasion of Afghanistan. The list of failures goes on and on, while the only exception to be noted, besides the previously mentioned 1991 Gulf War, might be the Serbian Bosnian  conflicts of the mid-nineties, and even this was mainly influenced by European determination to prevent hordes of Albanian Muslim refugees from flooding into their countries, by the potential millions.

The only other success, though this is way prior to the inclussion of the Chinese to membership, would be the Korean War, which was actually a mere stand-off which is on-going to this day, and which becomes more tentative with each passing year. And that would never have transpired had the Peoples Republic been a member nation. In fact, there can be no doubt that the dynasty of Kim Il Sung would have soon engulfed the entirety of the Korean peninsula, and this would more than likely be the situation this day.

So what it all comes down to is that the effectiveness of the United Nations is dependent on the whims, desires, and demands of the most influential and/or tenacous members. It is nothing to do with peaceful arbitration or international dialoque, and everything to do with  the same graft, corruption, and international embezzlement schemes that made the Oil-For-Food  scandal  almost wholly synonymous with the term United Nations.

To sum up, if the powers that be at the UN have an agenda that is best served by peace and international compromise and cooperation, then something might get done. Otherwise, millions can die, and suffer, and all they will get is the same hearty "fuck you" the Taiwanese got thirty years ago.

And even in those rare instances where peace and compromise is achieved, the main beneficiaries are those who are the arbitrers of the disputes, and their international financiers and business interests that enable them Sadly, the duration of the value to them in terms of economic and political benefits is all too often exponential to the lasting duration of the peace achieved.

Little wonder then that the United Nations is revilled, hated, by more and more Americans, who look with suspicion at every proouncement from the mouth of Kofi Annan or any other figure of major importance within the organization. So when they make pronouncemnnents demanding an unconditional cease fire in the current Israeli/Hezbollah conflict that engulfs Lebannon, people naurally respond with, "there they go again", as they know all too well that such a cease fire without concrete moves to disarm the terrorist organization would doubtless result in, somewhere down the line, yet another round of hostilities, which would probably amount to even more disastrous results. As this seems to be the cycle. One conflict ends, and another eventually begins, which ends up greater than the one that preceeded it.

Nor are Americans kindly disposed towards UN insistences that the US and the rest of the world adopt international standards as to gun control and the death penalty. Whatever their reasonings, it has nothing to do with who is right or who is wrong. Simply put, it is simply none of their business.

And now, even more ominously, they are on the move on some kind of creepy drive to gain control of the Internet. According to them, this is merely to insure avialiablilty of internet access to everyone in the world, of all nations. It has nothing to do with any kind of desire to censor material and information.

Well, I don't believe them. Given their past record, why should I? And even on the off chance it were true, again given their past record, how can anyone be assurred that this would not in time fall under the same aura of coruption and inefficiency as almost eveything else they've ever touched.

Bueaucratic Ineffiency. Corruption.

I've always said, if I were to make a list of every thing or group or person in the world, and rank them in order from the most valuable, on down to the least valuable, and finally on down to those I most despise, the UN would fall somwhere under Al-Queda. That is really saying something, and in fact if I were to get some kind of information that the UN was due to be hit by Al-Queda or some other terrorist group, I would have to think long and hard before deciding whether or not to take that information to the proper authorities. I guess it would ultimately depend on the potential reward involved.

But on the other hand, I have to say that is a ridiculous thought. I would never be in a position to come into possession of such information to begin with, and if I were, I am sure such an event would never transpire.  Why would Al-Queda attack the UN? That organization is one of the best friends terrorist organizations and their supporters have ever had. In fact they rank right up there with the San Francisco Bay area - well,  Berkeley anyway.

At any rate, the UN should be disbanded, or at least entirely overhauled to where it is to all intnets and purposes an entirely new organization. Unfortunately, I know that neither one of these is likely to transpire in my lifetime, or if it does I'll probably be drooling and carrying on conversations with my shadow.

Still, I can't help but note that, in the course of typing this post, at various points in the course of editing, I had inadverdently typed the name of the organization as "The Untied Nations".

Now, I really like the sound of that. All nations of course have a degree of more or less bureaucratic inefficiency and corruption, this is unfortunatley natural. But all the United Nations manages to accomplish, at least up to this point, is to take all those tangled webs of bureaucratic inefficiency and corruption and mix them all up together into one big mass of a tangled mess.

I don't see it ever getting any better than that.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Jackson Pollock

This site could be loads of fun.  I won't say anything else, other than, once you get on it, experiment.  So, nothing really to add to that, except to say you really should give it a shot, and give your creativity free reign.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Inside Andrea Yates

Andrea Yates was found Not Guilty by reason of insanity in the murder of her five (?) children-and this is one time this has happenned that I think it's an appropriate verdict. There have been times when insanity pleas are not. But I followed this case from it's inception, and in all the photos and films of Andrea that I saw, it was obvious not so much that there was no one home. The wiring had short-circuited. This happens when there is too much load on the circuits. It can blow, with dire and catastrophic results.

Andrea Yates was not so much a wife to her husband Russell Yates as she was a fuck machine, and a baby making machine, and a cooking machine, and a house cleaning machine, and a baby sitting machine, and a home school teaching machine.

A discerning person had but to look in her eyes, and you could tell that she was running on auto-pilot, and simultaneously, on fumes. She had long ago sublimated her true self to her unconscous drives. That was the only way she could cope.

Unfortunately, the subconscous mind, and the unconscous mind, are powerful things, and yet fragile; complex organisms, and yet simple. They think in amazingly simple ways. One of those ways is, if you are trapped in a situation from which there is no other way seemingly of extricating yourself-you quite simply and logically eliminate the problem. In this case, all five of them.

Russell Yates was a religous person, one of these with a very devout yet simplistic view of life and religion, and was well aware of his wifes problems. Or so he thought. Because of his religous beliefs he didn't allow her to take any medication to deal with her mounting post parnum depression. Instead, he believed the correct response was to fill her days with work, work, work. Responsibility. God would see her though it. He, however, had to go to work, as a NASA engineer. The children, their care, their education even, was solely Andrea's responsibility.

And so this obviously insane, it should have been apparrent, woman, with the ever more disintegrating and fragmented personality began to hear voices from the depth of her subconscous, which devised a simple yet foolproof plan to rid itself of this horrific problem which it was confronted with the task of solving.

The children must die for their own good. And so they were, by drowning in the bath tub, in what in retrospect seems eerily like some kind of bizzarre baptismal ritual.

Andrea Yates was eventually found guilty,and probably would have been sentenced to death had the case not garnered the attention of feminists nationwide. She was spared this fate. Eventually, the initial verdict was overturned.

Now, she might be out at some future date. Her husband, who soon after the trial divorced her, and then remarried, was happy at the latest outcome, and congratulated the jury for their ability to see beyond the obviously horrendous nature of the crime. Understandable, perhaps, that he could not do the same.

At any rate, Andrea Yates might one day be a free woman. She will be reviewed as to her progress periodically. Hopefully, she will not be released unless she is truly ready to be. But if that time ever comes, she should be.

She did not ask for the breakdown which ruined her life and destroyed the lives of her children. Her husband, who is every bit as responsible, more so actually, than she is, has gone on with his life. She should be given the same opportunity, provided that she is able to do so.

Islam And The Feminist Mystique

Nadine Chandrawinata was only the second entrant in the Miss Universe beauty pageant in close to a decade. Her presence in the pageant was not of long duration. Unfortunately, she did not escape notice. She has, in fact, received threats, and one group in particular, the women's chapter of the Islamic Defenders Front, have been demanding the Indonesian authorities arrest her, and prosecute her for indecency.

The offense seems to be that Miss Indonesia appearred in a bikini during the contest. According to the group, a law forbidding such practices is still on the books in Indonesia, actually a government decree issued in 1984 under the dictator Suharto, which actually bans Idonesians from taking part in beauty contests at all. Evidently, the decree remains in force by the merest technicality of not having yet been appealled.

Still, it has not been enforced since Suharto's fall from power. Sort of like some of those bizarre little laws that were never taken off the books in Kentucky.

For example, until recently, it was technically the law in the state of Kentucky that if you were driving on a curvy road, someone had to be with you, and walk ahead of you around the curve to ensure no traffic was on-coming, and to advise any that might be that you were there in order that both parties would know to proceed with all due caution.

This law was on the books until well into the ninteen eighties, and for all I know it might still be. No one is unduly concerned about it, though technically, they are breaking the law practically everytime they round a curve in the state.

Still, this is more than just a whimsical little oddity of state law. This is something that could be a substantial cause of grief, eventually, to Chandrawinata. So yes, this is far more than just an amusing little anachronism. It is, however, a throwback to an age of barbarism that all too many Muslims feel appropriate, even desirable.

Of course, it is no surprise to me, I have long been aware of Muslims barbaric and repressive practices toward their women folk. True, most of the women are okay with it. That should come as no surprise, either, given that the vast majority of them are brow-beaten from the age of youthful adolescence to acquiesce to this savage and oppressive treatment.

What I never could figure out was the reason so many Western feminists find it appropriate to take the side of Muslim brutality in any way, when they know of their history with their women. It is so ingrained in the Muslim culture, and anchored by religous dogma, it has become all but a part of their genetic make-up.

I mean, I get that western feminists are "liberals", I understand their oppossition to the War in Iraq, up to a point, and even can grudgingly accede they have a right to protest the overall "war on terror".

What I don't get is, the more time goes by, the more they seem to some degree to turn a blind eye toward an issue which should be of the urmost of importance to them, and that of course is the right of women everywhere, including the rights of women in Muslim countries to live in freedom, to live in dignity, to marry and divorce as they choose, to dress however they want to dress, to belong to any religion they choose-or none at all.

To be able to walk dow the street without a male relative and not be beaten, possibly severely, or killed, or have acid tossed in their faces.

To be able to work at any job in any place where they are qualified to do so, and to receive the education they might desire to earn those qualifications. And to receive fair pay for their work.

I could go on and on, but on the other hand, instead of drawing the usual distinctions between Islam and the feminist movement, it might be helpful to look at the one or two areas of agreement.

The dislike of the Bush Administration, of course, goes without saying. That the more far left of feminists would turn a blind eye to the plight of Muslim women does not surprise me in the least when you factor this in.

And then, of course, there is the Playboy factor. Extreme feminists have long been up in arms against the depiection of women in the popular culture. This is true not only in pornography, but in movies and television as well. They decry the whole of western culture where women have been turned into sex objects. In a sense they would argue that it is western women who have been browbeaten to accept this lot in their life.

But of course, in western societies, nobody is forcing a woman to accede to this. There are ample opportunities for women to make it in the workforce and as highy skilled and paid professionals, where physical beauty is not the requirement, but skill and knowledge, and maybe to a point overall manner and bearing. But not beauty.

It may not be perfect, but in western society, women do have choices. They do have options. They might have to make certain sacrifices, depending on what their goals in life are. But, we all do.

In Muslim socieities, those optons are not on the table. And there is no discussion. And may the gods help any woman that dares to wander out of the station in life that has been chosen for her, and imposed on her.

Of course, it is always the Islamic countries that are ruled by religous leaders where this hapens. It is not the case in secular countries. Yet, more and more, Muslim women from secular nations are finding themselves more and more under the gun, more and more receiving the same kinds of threats as this years Miss Indonesia.

To quote the Indonesian groups' lawyer, Sugito, Ms. Chandrawinata "intentionally and openly engaged in indecency".

So, I guess if this group of Muslim women have their way, Ms. Chandrawinata will be taught a lesson for daring to not be happy with being what the Qu'ran tells her she should be, and act like it teaches she should act.

I wonder what her punishment would be. Perhaps she would be beheaded, or merely shot in the public square. Or maybe she would be forced to live a life of deprivation and humiliation, married to a stern "good" Muslim who will be more of a brutal task master than a husband.

Or maybe as a punishment for her wickedness, her brazenness, she will have acid tossed in her face, and possibly her legs and breasts will be horribly carved up to where she would be a living horror to look at.

That way, these Muslim women can congratulate themselves over having punished a fellow Muslim woman who dared not be happy and content to be a good Muslim woman, like they are.

That's why I don't want them here. Not in any substantial numbers, if at all. They get more ridiculous, more arrogant, and more fanatical, with each passing year. And frankly, they don't belong here. We have enough problems with our own homegrown religous nuts, who incidentally also need to be put in their pews for good-but that's another story.

Possibly more to the point, it also happens to be one of the main reasons that you don't and never will read any objections from me about the suppossed brutal treatment of Muslims by the Israelis, or by the Americans.

It's not that I don't believe that excesses have never happenned, that mistakes have never been made, by the other side of these conflicts.

It's just that, with every day that passes by, I fucking care less and less.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dangers Of Swiffer Wetjet

Update: No sooner had a published the following post than I received word from Sock Puppet, who has the blog Meriels Medley (which is on the blogroll) that it is evidently a hoax. I had suspected as much, but by the same token as I am an animal lover I thought it incumbent upon me to shoot first and ask questions later.

According to Merriel, as you can read in the first comment to this post, this is a hoax that goes back to 2004 and was earlier exposed by the ASPCA.

Still, I am going to leave the post and all it's contents intact. For one thing, I feel that any post is a part of the history of this blog, so I am loathe to remove one.

Mainly, however, since this is still making the rounds, anyperson with an e-mail account with a major compnay like Yahoo might in time get this e-mail. Just on the off chance that might happen, I would advise you to familiarize yuourself with the contents of this post ahead of time.

The person who forwarded the post to me might have been as innocent a pawn in this scam as I was. Still, all e-mails you receive that is a forward and in sent to multiple addresses is automatically to be suspect, and like I said I di dsuspect, but the seriousness ofthe charges made me unsure as tohowto proceed. At any rate, forewarned is forearmed. Reading the following post might prevent you an unnecessary degree of stress and anxiety.

Now follows the original post:

I ordinarily don't do this kind of thing, but I am an animal lover, so I felt I would be remiss if I didn't do my part to make sure this information got out to as many people as possible.

I don't know how factual this is. However, just on the off chance there might be something to it, I feel it is imperative to any animal lover to ask themselves, do I really need to use this product? On top of that, it is not only dangerous to animals, but even to toddlers as well. Therefore, it makes sense to me that people should cease and desist use of this product until such time as the charges contained in this forward are answered, and disproven, or until the product is changed to where the danger is eliminated.

The problem seems to be the inclusion of an ingedient that is to all intents and purposes a kind of anti-freeze. I will say no more, and just paste the following letter that was forwarded to me earlier. Please read it and forward to as many people as possible.

At the end of each blogger post you will see what looks like a small envelope. Clicking on this link enables you to forward blogger posts to anybody you want. Please avail yourself of this feature in this case, if in no other.

The letter follows:

All right, then, it seems that either Blogger or Yahoo is acting up, and the forwarded letter can be copied, and appears on my draft when I paste it, but for some reason or another the text does not appear when I publish the blog. So I'll just tell the story my own self.

Acording to the story, someone had to have their five year old German Shepherd put down due to liver failure. As the dog had been completely healthy, they had a necropsy done and discovered the dog had ingested some kind of poison. The dog was always either inside or when outside had someone with him at all times, so they determined the dog must have ingested something inside.

A check of all household products followed. When the Swiffer Wetjet was checked, a warning in very small letters on the label was noticed, which said "may be harmful to small children and animals"

Come to find out one of the ingredients is anti-freeze. Actually, he was told by a representative of the company, over the phone, that the ingredient is just one molecule away from being anti-freeze.

Evidently, the dog had walked on the floor,after this product was used, and upon licking it's paws had ingested enough of the substance to harm it's liver. Shortly afterward, two of the persons cats died as well.

Necropsies weren't done on the cats, and so they can't sue the company, evidently due to the warning on the label. Now, as I said, I don't know how true this story is, but just on the off chance it's the truth, I felt obliged to share the story. If you use this product, read the label, and the ingredients, and make inquiries, including to the company.

This is also dangerous to toddlers, as they crawl on the floor and have a notorious habit of sticking things in their mouths.

Better safe than sorry.

End of original post

Yeah, as somebody once said, uhhh, fool me once, shame on you....fool me twice...uuuhhhhh......can't get fooled again.

Clinton Rushes to Liebermanns Rescue

Hoping to erase or somehow counteract the ridiculed images of George W. Bush giving Joe Liebermann what has been referred to as "The Kiss Of Death", Bill Clinton in an appearrance with  Liebermann over the weekend concluded his appearance by giving the beleaquered Connecticutt Senator the Clinton seal of approval. After Clinton hugged Liebermann, the Senator smiled and almost seemed to laugh at the irony of the act.

Liebermann is in trouble. He has now fallen behind Ned Lamont, Connecticutt businessman and challenger for the 2006 Democratci primary. The latest polls have him listed at about 53% support against 47% for Liebermann.

True, that is close. But it is astounding, given that Joe Liebermann, former 2000 Vice-Presidential candidate, had started out over forty points ahead of Lamont, who has received grass roots support amongst hard core anti-war activists within the Democratic Party who are unsatisfied with Liebermanns record.

And so Bill Clinton, still very popular in Connecticutt, was called in to save Liebermann.  However, the word is, he has made it clear to Liebermann that if Lamont wins the Democratic primary and Liebermann runs as an independent, he will support Lamont.

It is the greatest of possible ironies. One of the major reasons Al Gore chose Joe Liebermann to be his vice-presidential running mate in 2000 was due to concerns over the Democratic party image after the Clinton/Lewisnski fiasco, in which Joe Liebermann personally criticized Clintons behavior on the floor of the US Senate.

"It was not only wrong", Liebermann said, "it was immoral".

Reality bites. Somehow, amazingly, it escaped the managers, (if you want to dignify them as such), of the Gore campaign, that the longer Clinton was dragged through the mud by way of the press, the higher his poll numbers went up. Gore, for his part, refused to avail himself of Clintons services during the campaign, in which he was impugned throughout by George W. Bush in an amazing bit of guilt through association. When Bush talked about the Clinton Administration of which Gore was an integral part, you would have thought he was talking about the Imperial Court of Nero.

Partially as a result of this, Bush won the election, though even with all the myriad of problems that seemed to conspire against Gore in Florida especially, Gore still won a majority of the popular vote. Even with all Gore had going against him-for example, the ineptitude of his campaign-Bush only managed to win due to skullduggery in Florida.

But it should be obvious to all that Gore did as well as he did not  because he disassociated himself from Bill Clinton, but becasue he had been associated with him from the start. Liebermann had been absolutely no help to the Gore campaign.

Still, Clinton obviously felt he was doing the right thing by campaigning for Liebermann. Liebermann is not only a Democrat-he is a liberal Democrat. His votes on traditional Democratic Party ideals are not to be questioned. He has supported the rights of women, minorities, gays, the environment, labor, and has been dependably pro-choice in his votes.

Most legitimate liberal groups tend to give him a libeal rating of more than 80 %.

That, however, is beside the point. The Democratic Party, as usual, is in dissaray, and Liebermann has been transormed into, suddenly, a symbolic battleground for control of the party's soul.

Just today, I received this in my e-mail, from a group known as "Democracy For America", a grass roots activist group headed by Jim Dean, who is himself the borther of DNC Chairman Howard Dean: 

Three months ago, Joe Lieberman led Ned Lamont in the polls
by more than forty points. But you took a chance on Ned and
thousands of DFA members around the country pitched in to help
his insurgent campaign. The result? Two new polls show that Ned
Lamont has surged into a narrow lead over Lieberman. 

Now we have the chance to put Ned Lamont over the top. Ned
has recorded an exclusive video for DFA members to give you an
update on the final 14 days. Click here to watch the video and
find out how you can get involved:

The story of an insurgent, people-powered candidate moving to
the top of the polls against the Democratic establishment is not
new. My brother, Howard, was in a similar position three and a
half years ago in the 2004 presidential primary. I don't need to
remind you about what happened when the Beltway Democrats placed
a giant target on his back and took aim. Let's make sure that
history doesn't repeat itself with Ned Lamont.

We have a plan to fight back and win. Over the next few
weeks, we'll be working closely with DFA members in Connecticut
towards a Lamont victory on August 8. DFA members will be
pounding the pavement and knocking on doors in a massive effort
to get out the vote. Click here to watch Ned's video and find
out how you can get involved:

It's going to be close -- now let's close the deal. 
Thank you again for everything.


Jim Dean

Well, you're welcome, but I didn't do anything. This e-mail ended with the following advice:

P.S. After you watch the video from Ned, don't forget to
sign-up for tonight's DFA Night School workshop about breaking
into the Mainstream Media:

Evidently, Mr. Dean and LaMonts other supporters are unaware that as a Connecticutt aeemblyman, Ned LaMonts' voting record is
seemingly as conservative as Liebermanns record  as Senator is overall liberal.

He has even bragged about voting with the conservatives in his state 80% of the time. Yet, he is now being supported by the radical left wing of the Democratic Party against a candidate who, most of the time, has represented their issues and overall concerns more than, if the past is a guide, LaMont can ever realistically be counted on to do.

They just don't get it. Or maybe I don't.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Embryonic Stem Cell Research And The Pharmaceutical Industry

The final vote on the Embryonic Stem Cell Bill, as passed by the United States Senate, came down to 63-37 in favor of passage. Bush has promised to cast the first veto in the as of now roughly five and one half years of his presidency. As he most assurredly will do so, to the surprise of no one, that will be, for now, the final word. At 63 votes in favor, the Senate is four votes short of the two thirds required to override a presidential veto. Even at the unlikely chance that Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson-the lone Democrat to vote in oppossition to the bill- might come to his senses and vote to override the veto, that would still leave them three votes short. So there you have it.

So what is the reason for this? Is this really all about ethics, as the President and other opponents insist? Does any rational human being truly, honestly believe that the harvesting of embryonic stem cells for research, stem cells that will eventually be destroyed anyway (because they can only be frozen for a maximum of five years and remain viable), is tantamount to the taking of life in order to save it?

Many ardently Pro-Life Republicans do not believe so, including such figures as former First Lady Nancy Reagan, in addition to current Senators, Tennessee Republican Bill Frist, who is the Senate Majority Leader, Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, Arizona Republican John McCain (who, evidently, temporarily forgot that he is supposed to be pandering to the extreme elements of the religious right), and a host of others. In fact, seventeen Republicans in all crossed party lines and voted with the Democrats on this issue.

And even this is not a true reflection of the depth of public support for embryonic stem cell research. According to the latest polling data, it is supported by 70% of the American public. Now that should be enough to override any potential Preisdential veto. But don’t hold your breath unless you look real good in blue.

So what is really going on? Even assumming that some of these people might honestly believe in the rightness of their cause, that they truly are bothered by the supposed moral dilemna posed by the ethics involved, does this account for all of them, or even of most of them, if any at all?

I don’t think so. In fact, I think they are all engaged in a shameful act of subterfuge, and that includes Bush. In some cases, including that of Nelsons, there might be some concern as to their positions with the voters in their states. But not to this extent.

I’ll come right out and say it. This has everything to do with the pharmaceutical companies. If embryonic stem cell research eventually yields cures for cancer, for Parkinsons Disease, for Alzheimers, diabetes, for paralysis-the list of potential cures seems neverending-then who stands to lose?

The pharmaceutical compaies, that’s who. The very people that are raking in billions of dollars in pharmaceutical drugs that mainly treat the symptoms, and rarely by comparison provide overall actual cures of serious diseases. If embyonic stem cell research leads to therapies that cure these diseases, how could this be controlled by the companies? Who would own the rights? After all, this would seem to amount to treatment by physicians, and follow up therapy. Pharmaceuticals might play a tangential role, in many cases an important one, but the overall effects, the most important treatments, would amount to direct care by hospitals and physicians, and as I said, follow up therapy. Ideally, this would eventually result in profound reversals in health conditions, and eventually total cures.

Then, the pharmaceuticals are left out. There is no further need for them, when it comes to treatment of these by now cured diseases. Thus, a potential loss of billions of dolars. So what are they to do? If they apply to the rights, if past experience is any guide, the therapies would become so expensive as to amount to a severe economic hardship, on any but the most wealthy, who might otherwise avail themselves of these therapies. The wealthy, of course, would probably get yet another tax break to make up for it.

Therefore, this is being held up, solely for the benefit of pharmaceutical company profits, and all this bullshit about the morals and ethics involved is nothing but a smoke screen, which is all too often the case. Add to the mix the confusion and outright lies about the viability of adult stem cell research from such sources as placentas and bone marrow, and you have even greater obfuscation.

The plain fact of the matter-these adult stem cells, for purposes of research, have been availiable for the last thirty years, and while they yet might lead to more advances, there is no valid scientific indication that the potential is any more than limited at best. Embryonic stem cells, by the same token, have only been used for research for the last eight years. 1998 was the first year they were completely isolated and availaible for research. It truly is a new frontier, with vast promise and potential. But it is being held up, under the pretense of religion and ethics, for the sake of company profits, in my opinion.

There is only one thing that can be done, and that is for the American people to stand up and shout, to make clear to their Senators and Representaitves that we, the vast majority of us, want this research to comence full spead ahead, and we want it to result in quality and affordable treatments and eventually, cures for diseases, with no piracy or unfair profiteering allowed.

But there is a vital first step that should first be undertaken. Look into the background of your Senators and Representatives. How many of them are supporters of the pharmaceutical industries? How many times have they voted for bills that are to the benefit of the industry? What is their voting records on health related issues? And, of course, how did they vote in relation to the Embyonic Stem Cell Research Bill?

Finally, here is the most important question of all. How much of their campaign contributions are derived from the pharmaceutial industry? You have a right to know the answers to all these questions. Especially the last one. If your Senators and Representatives receive a substantial amount of money from the pharmaceutical industry, and they tend to vote in favor of said industry, you can draw a logical conclusion that there is a correlation.

If they voted against this bill in support of embryonic stem cell research, you might well have your answer. You know then what to do. Let your voice, and your disgust, your anger, your outrage, be known, in no uncertain terms.

Of course, it goes without saying that George W. Bush is a strong supporter of the pharmaceutical industry.

Deep Purple In Lebannon

So far, it’s up in the air as to whether or not the hard rock group Deep Purple will be playing in Beirut Lebannon as they have been schelued to do late this month. One minue they are insisting they will do so. Then you hear the concert has been cancelled. Then, you hear the group refuses to cancel, that they intend to play if at all possible, or at the very least, if they do have to postpone the show, they have every intention of going ahead with the show at a later date, but definitely as a part of the current world tour, which has carried them to different parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The US tour is scheduled to begin in January of ’07.

They insist they owe it to their fans. Music, according to Ian Gillian, the long time lead singer of the group, is a universal language, and when in concert, the exchange of energy between band members and audience is phenomenal.

But is it worth the risk? Though I understand the sentiment, it would be best for all concerned should Deep Purple indeed call off the concert, at least temprorarily postpone it. To begin with, they may have no other choice than to do so. The Beirut airport is in a shambles, due to persistent Israeli bombings in what is a calculated attempt to prevent flights to and from the airport between Damascus, and especialy Tehran. The Israelis feel that the Beirut airport would amount to an open gateway to allow the transportation of more Hezbollah fighters and equipement. This is the reason as well they have attempted to blockade the country’s ports, stopping just long enough to allow American and French forces to safely, and as swiftly as possible, remove their citizens from the country, as many as are able to be removed at any one given time.

No place in Lebannon is safe. This is true not only of southern Lebannon, which is where the vast majority of Hezbollah forces and personnel are situated, but also in Beirut, which itself has taken quite a pounding over the last few days.

But over and above all of this, there are other reasons, more personal to the group and it’s members, that they should at least temporarily postpone this concert. And that is, quite simply, they could be turning themselves into targets.

During it’s heyday, beginning in 1967, Deep Purple was one of those British rock bands that were considered among the giants. Even before they turned really heavy, when they churned out such hits as “Hush”, a cover of a Joe South song, as well as a cover of Neil Diamonds “Kentucky Woman”, they quickly estsablished themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.

After several changes of personnel, after which they ended up with such musical titans as Ritchie Blackmoor on lead guitar, and Gillian on lead vocals, they quickly adopted a heavier sound. In fact, at one time, in the early seventies, they were, along with Black Sabbath and Ledd Zeppellin, considered one of the top three heavy metal groups of rock. This was during the time of such monster hits as “Smoke On The Water”, “My Woman From Tokyo”, “Highway Star”, and “Child In Time”.

They were so popular at one time, in fact, that one night, when opening a show for the group Cream, it resulted in the latter, known as the worlds first “supergroup”, being booed off the stage, amidst demands for Purple to return to the stage.

This popularity didn’t last forever, of course, and due mainly to creative tensions and dissents, particularly an unfortunate rivalry between Blackmoor and Gillian, there was another change of personnel, resulting in Gillian being replaced by David Coverdale (later of Whitesnake). There was still some success, notably in such songs as “Burn” and “Mistreated”, but for the most part the overall output, with some exceptions, was not of the former quality. There would never be anything to rival the popularity and influence of the album “Machine Head”, and eventually this group fell apart as well, resulting in a temporary reunion of Blackmoor and Gilian. After some time, it became obvious it wasn’t going to work out, and this time it was Blackmoor who left the group.

Now, Blackmoor is involved in a Renaissance Band with his wife. Oddly enough, this group from time to time performs “Child In Time”, which I mention only because, if you were to hear the song, you would think the last thing it would be adaptable with would be Renaissance.

At any rate, while Blackmoor is trying to reinvent the distant past, Ian Gillian and the remainder of Deep Purple has been one of those never say die aging rock bands who keep trying to improve on past success, and remain creative. To this end, they seem determined to continue with their Space Trucking around the globe. A new release is due out soon, and in the meantime, they seem to be as popular, as in demand, as ever. And that is where the problem for them comes in.

They might be well seen by some Middle East factions as perfect examples of decadent Western culture. Gillian especially might be a target. This is not so much for his role in Deep Purple as it is due to his past association with the rock musical “Jesus Christ Superstar”. In the movie, he played Christ, and sung on the album that resulted from this Braodway and Hollywood film megahit.

This might cause him to be looked at with revulsion not only by extremist Islamic factions, but by more conservative Christian factions as well. I fear that by holding this concert, in the middle of what can be described in no other terms but a war zone, Gillian and the group are inviting far more than just strident criticism, they are leaving themselves open to assault. The targeting of the stadium in Beirut by not so much Hezbollah fanatics, but by other Muslim extremsits, who might well hope to further fan the flames of strife and division for their own purposes, would be only one possible example. Such an attack by agents of Assad in Syria, for example, could well result in the complete destabilization, even the final collapse, of the fledgling Lebanese democracy , which is more than anything what the Syria government could use as an excuse to assert their authority over the region.

Or, it could lead to a hostage situation. After all, Lebanon has had no power over Hezbollah in it’s own borders. That is what has caused this problem to begin with, the idea that Hezbollah, with impunity, has been able to attack the Israelis from within the country where, in fact, they hold about 24 seats in the Parliament, and where they have maintained their power by providing social services the Lebanese government has been unable to provide. Lebanon has been helpless to do anything about them, and they are even more helpless now. How can they be expected to provide security for a concert such as this, a major cultural event which is sure to attract notice?

Gillian has gone on record as stating that the group owes it to their fans to hold the concert if at all possible. I would suggest that if he is truly that devoted to his fans-and I have no reason to doubt that he is-then he might want to consider their safety. A stadium full of devoted Arab fans, most of them Christian, many if not most of them teenagers, in attendance at what many would consider a decadent infidel western rock group, might make too tempting a target to pass up-even during relatively better times.

Blogroll: Newest Additions

Well, the mystery is solved. No wonder they keep her waiting in line as long as possible at her neighborhood Starbucks.

Now, she has a new blog, Star Kaats Biased Movie And Book Reviews, which you can access here. Or, drop by and visit her by way of the Blogroll, she is one of the newest additions. Just don't argue with her, you might get clawed.

Other new additions include “For Now, I Will Be A Toad”, “Bull Speaks, The”, “Miriams Medley”, and finally, “Moxie”, who is a conservative blogger that sometimes makes Ann Coulter look like Jane Fonda. Still, she’s an interesting blogger. “The Bull” is also a conservative, and a strong Second Amendment advocate, while Miriam may be recognized by regular commenters on my blog as “Sock Puppit”. She too has an interesting blog, which I recommend you check out. “For Now, I Wil Be A Toad” I haven’t quite figured out yet, but it’s a good blog.

Another recent edition is “Sacred Fems”, a production of "The Widows Son”, who is also responsible for “ Burning Taper, The”. If you are interested in Masonry (though “Burning Taper” has posts on other subjects as well), I recommend it heartily, and “Fems” also.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Weird Tales

Okay, I generally don't do stuff like this, but this is too important, potentially, to pass up. I waited in vain tonight for confirmation from the NBC Network News, which never came, and so it sounds even more unlikely. Still, there is a strange rumor making the rounds on the Internet to the effect that, United States Special Forces troops have taken over the Israeli nuclear power plant at Dimona.

The supposed reason for this has to do with a comment made by the President of China in a private conversation during the G8 Sumit in St. Petersburgh with President Bush. The warning was to the effect that if Iran blockades the Persian Gulf, in response to recent hostilities between Israel and the Hezbollah organization in Lebannon, China would consider that to be tantamount to a declaration of war on the Chinese people.

In order to forestall this eventuality, Bush set in motion a of chain of directives which resulted in the action just described at Dimona. It sounds like some kind of crazy conspiracy theory to me, based on nothing more than rumor. Or perhaps an ill-advised attempt to increase readership, to whatever site is responsible for this. I don't have all the facts at hand, but I am certain it must be some Far Left blog or web-site, judging by the source from which I derived it.

If it is true, it could have far reaching implications. Israel it is said is bitterly in oppossition to the reported US action. They are also being advised in no uncertain terms, according to this story, that they should in no way undertake any overt hostile military actions against either Iran or Syria.

If the story is indeed the truth, there can only be one explanation for it. Someone has been informed through diplomatic channels, probably covertly, that Israel is strongly considering the potential for a nuclear strike, and I am guessing the intended target is Syrian President Assad, which would suggest what would amount to the annihilation of the city of Damascus. I wouldn't rule out Tehran as a potential target as well.

Like I said, I consider the report incredible, and so unlikely as to be consdiered almost laughable. But then again, I never would have suspected events up to this point to have reached the point that they have as of now.

One thing for certain, we are living in scary times. One nuclear assault by Israel, in any part of the Middle East, would have implications that could amount to a global conflagration. You almost wonder not if it will eventually happen, but when.

Okay, I just went back, found the URL to the site and story in question, and I copied and pasted it as a link which can be accessed by clicking on the title of the post. If I had bothered to do this first, I might not even have posted this. Still, it does serve some slight purpose, in that it serves to demonstrate the amount of lunacey that exists all over the Internet. That, and who knows, there might be some validity to the story, but just between you who read this, me, and the fence post, I wouldn't count on it. If you do read the original story, as posted on, be sure you navigate over to the Homepage.

I knew there had to be a reason that Weird Tales seemed an appropriate title for this post.

Songs Of Criminals And Other Assorted Lowlifes

During the immediate Russian Post-Revolutionary era, a great many Rusian immigrants fled their native lands, fleeing to various places of the world. Paris was one of the major destinations, and a lot of the emigres found themselves faced with hard times, even to the point of having even to sing for their suppers. They sang tearful, sad songs of longing for their homeland, or in some cases of cherished, happy memoires of better times, now lost forever.

And thus, from these humble beginnings, a name was given to what would eventually be applied to a standard style of specific Russian folk music-“Chanson”.

Today, the music of Chanson evokes a wide range of comparisons, from hip-hop to American country music, and an even wider range of attributes. It has been called, at best, the music of “drivers and bodyguards”, and at worse, “the music of criminals”.

It has also been banned from Russian radio and television, save for limited amounts of time during the late evenings. It has drawn the suspicion, and even the ire, of Russian politicians, much in the same way early rock and roll, and later heavy metal, and then rap, caused such consternation among the American elite, before coporate America decided it was too good a money maker to be censored.

Today, chanson is almost an underground, counter culture style, popular in cafes, with Russian citizens from all walks of life, and ever more increasingly, with American and Western European tourists.

A great lot of it revolves around subjects the Russian governemnt would just as soon be forgotten, such things as the oppressive nature of the past Soviet regimes, and most especially life in the old Russian gulags. A lot of the music is sad, a lot of it is angry, and an apreciable amount is even mocking, and satirical, of the oppressive system, it’s abuses, it’s effects, and it’s consequences. And there are of course songs about more contemporary times and troubles, ideals and criticisms, songs both serious and trite, that is not necessarily, shall we say, at all times pleasurably oriented to all aspects of modern Russian life and politics.

Chanson has been around for awhile, since before the Revolution actually, since even the Czarist times, which means that it’s original fans might have, ironically, been communist revolutionaries. No one realy knows who started it, or how old it actually is. But one thing that is for certain, is that it has a long track record of rebelliousness, an attitude of anti-establishment, in any form.

As such, it has always been repressed, save for one brief period of time, in the early days of the Soviet Union, a time known as the “New Economic Policy”. This was a period of time, initiated by Lenin around 1922, shortly before his death (1924), in which there was a policy of economic freedom, a relaxation of the economic oppression which had brought about a devastating depression in the fledgling Soviet economy.

During this period of time, private businesses were allowed to compete freely with the state owned and operated businesses. All good comunists, of course, were expected to patronize the state run businesses, and to be sure many did. However, the private businesses proved to be too much for the state to compete with. For a time, Russian business, and the economy, experienced a revitalization.

And Chanson became the popular music of the day, in the cafes, in music halls, and on the streets. They ridiculed the Soviet regime, they romanticized the time of the Czar and the days when the Chruch was respected, they mocked the Soviet officials who shopped at the private stores, sometimes in secret. It was too much for a good communist to bear.

The brief, embarrassingly successful experiment in open markets was summarily ended, and Chanson once again went underground. Shortly afterward, Lenin died. But Chanson did not. It thrived in the shadows, much like the secret Soviet shoppers it briefly satirized. It evolved with the times, adapted to them, but always remained in the shadows, save for very brief intermittent periods when it would rise to the surface, such as during the Khruschev years, thouh very tentatively, and then resubmrged during the dark and stagnant days of Leonid Breshnev.

There were recordings, but always in secret, with distribution by way of private courier, directly to the households of fans. Sometimes the recording would be done in private homes, sometimes they would be done in studios in France, Britain, and America, and smuggled into the Soviet Union.

Now, it is once again recorded in Russian recording studios, and played in Russian clubs and cafes. Yet, it continues to be frowned upon by polite society, and by the officials of the Rusian governemnt, as always. Unless there is a crackdown, however, there is ever reason to believe the music form will continue to grow, to evolve musically and stylistically, and may even become a popular export, given the amount of Russian imigrants to American and to Western Europe from the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union.

Todays Russian immigrants seldom have to sing for their supper, and they have, in the Russian Mafia, the perfect patrons to promote the production and the distribution of their native music, fitting ones since this is, after all, the “music of criminals”.

However, even if there is an ultimate censoring of the music, it will survive as it always has, possibly even thrive. It says a lot about Russian culture, and about Russian officialdom. Russian bureaucrats are by nature heavy handed, intolerant, and oppresive, mainly because they not only abuse their powers and responsibilities, they simply take themselves way too seriously.

The Russian people, however, do not, while at the same time recognizing and appreciating the dilemna due to their oppression. The music of chanson- at times melancholy, at other times hopeful and spirited, rebellious as well as satirical- has served them well throughout the years as a culturally and socially binding release mechanism. And that is precisely why the Russian governemnt still looks with disdain upon this music. They can’t bear to be ridiculed and maligned as being on the same level as past Soviet and Czarist regimes. But even more than that, they can’t abide the thought of lowering themselves to demonstrate that they are not.

The past history of Russia, and it is a long and bloody one, suggests that the way to deal with enemies is to destroy them. Anything that theatens your hold on power is an enemy. Anything that gives aid and succor to that enemy is likewise a threat. And to be laughed at, satirized, ridiculed, is the most injurious of insults. And if somebody puts such rebellious and disrespectful thoughts to music, and the song spreads throughout the land, that is looked upon as a type of character assassination.

When you think about it in that way, it is no wonder that the most popular single subject of Russian Chanson is the Gulags.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Back in the darkest days of Stalinist Russia, for all intents and purposes American movies were banned. Of all the fans, and potential fans, of American cinema, one person watched American movies, on a regular basis, with impunity. That person was Joseph Stalin, who was a rabid fan of American western movies, and many times during his last days would invite those among his inner circle to attend viewings, private screenings, of some of his favorites.

Unfortunately, most of them knew little English, some knew none at all, and so many times Stalin would avail himself of the services of Lavrentia Beria, his feared and hated NKVD Chief, to provide the translations, which, according to Nikita Khruschev, amounted to little more than relating what anyone watching the screen could easily see for themselves.

"He's leaving now", Beria would explain, and then, "now he's starting to run", would be a typical example given by Khruschev in his memoirs.

The Russian movie industry has come a long way, and in a lot of ways has come full circle. Now, not only are American movies allowed, and even encouraged to be sent into the country, but American movie companies are more and more taking advantage of what is a promising atmosphere and growing industry, with a better than 400 million population, to actually film movies in the Russian Republic.

Many of them, such as Disney, are taking baby steps, wary of throwing too much finances into what might turn out to be a relatively unstable environment. Still, they recognize the fact that the Russian film industry is indeed experiencing a boom, and unlike other nations film industries-such as India, for example-foreign investors are welcome and encouraged.

This is all thanks in large measure to Vladimir Putin, who, recognizing the sorry morass the industry found itself in following the fall of the former Soviet regime, decided to change things for the better.

During the Yeltsin era, movies produced in Russia were few and generally poor in quality. What few exceptions there were to this general rule, and there were excpetions, found audiences not in movie theatres, but on VHS and DVD. The old Soviet era movie theatres themselves were for the most part turned to other uses, such as stores and auto dealership displays.

So what did Putins governemnt do that made the difference, that has caused this turnaround? They have reinstituted the Soviet era policy of subsidizing the industry. Of course, this has the potential disadvantage, in time, of raising the spectre of the possibility of censorship, which might be another reason for the reluctance of foreign companies to involve themselves too deeply in this vital yet fledgling market.

Still, it has it's advantages as well. A big budget movie in the US might cost around forty million dollars. In Russia, it might well be made for around two milion dollars. And Russia is a huge country, with a great deal in the way of scenic beauty. And the Russians are friendly, and eager to learn from Hollywood professionals, who themselves stand to gain in the way of this somewhat unofficial cultural exchange.

Finally, Russia has a long history in filmaking, even during the heyday of the communist era, when they produced such classics as "The Potemkin". Although there might be some degree of limitations, which is unfortunate, they have an established history of quality. It will be interesting to see the results of the present movie industry boom.

The only thing I'm wary of is the potentially negative effects on the American movie industries unions, especially such underlings as the grips, best boys, and all the other incidental workers and laborers who provide vital services in the production of American films, and who only make a relatively decent living due to the influence of their unions. True, this has contributed to the increase in ticket prices, and Russian imports are unlikely to be any less expensive, yet more profitiable to the filmmakers involved-doubtless another reason for their interet, possibly the main reason.

On the other hand, if Jack Nicholson were to settle for two million dollars for a thirty minute part as oppossed to ten million or more, it might be a big help to our own industry.

From Russia With Disdain

These last few days at the G8 Summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin looked deep into George Bush’s eyes, and got a sense of his soul, and probably as well a verification of what he had doubtless long suspected-the American President doesn’t have a clue.

The fact that Bush actually encouraged Putin to try to adopt reforms for his country, and become more like the fledgling democray of Iraq, speaks volumes about this Presiedents naivitey. And Putins response, during the course of a press conference, practically shouts his disdain toward Bush’s policies. He laughed. It was not a good humored laugh. It was dismissive, even derisive.

To be like Iraq is the last thing Russia needs, he said.

We can learn two things from this exchange. One, George W. Bush honestly believes in the validity of his admnistrations Iraqi policy, and it’s war aims to help facillitate the hoped for results, of freedom, democracy, adherence to human rights standards, sectarian inclusiveness, and free markets.

He believes in all these things, and honestly believes the war is being won, that real progress is being made, despite the unquestionable roadblocks, which he can no longer seriously deny. He believes these things, but why does he believe them? Is it simply because he is in too deep, and has no choice but to put as good a face as possible on what has turned into a disaster of epic, tragic proportions? Is it because he honestly believes in the rightness of this cause? Does he feel he has been lifted up by his God for the purpose of spreading freedom throughout the Arab and Muslim world, to pave the way for the annihilation of Islamic Jihadist Terrorism? Does he simply believe it, perhaps, because he has been sold a bill of goods by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the remainder of the Neo-Conservative cabal that has established a stranglehold of power over the nations capital, with George W. Bush nothing more than a well manipulated sock puppet?

The other thing we can learn, as pertains to Vladimir Putin, is that, whatever the reason for Bush’s faith in the Iraqi cause-Putin is simply not buying it, not for one second. To put it bluntly-he knows better, which isn’t surprising considering this is a man who began his political career on the heels of a highly placed position in the old Soviet KGB. The fact that he could treat Bush with such alarming a display of casual disregard, as to all but laugh at him in public, at a press conference, with the President in attendance, should give Americans great pause.

Bush had questioned Putins recent crackdowns, particularly on freedom of the press, in Russia, which was the reason for the Iraqi suggestion from Bush, in the course of a meeting between the two men. During the later press conference, Bush almost seemed apologetic in explaining how Putin made clear how he can not allow another country to dictate how they pursue their democratic ideals. Yet, he insisted the two of them were “good friends”.

Well, sometimes a good friend will tell you, in no uncertain terms, that you should mind your own business.

The G8 Summit, and in particular stories about Putin and Bush’s overall relationship, has taken on characteristics that seem almost allegorical in nature.

For example, there is the story about Putins dog, a large animal who jumped up aggresively on Bush and had to be restrained by Putin, who told the President that his dog could dispatch Bush’s little dog Barney with little effort,whereupon word emerged that at the visit to the Crawford ranch by Putin some years back, upon being introduced to Barney, by Bush, Putin made it clear that he viewed the little lap dog with disdain.

Whatever the reality of the story, it seems too obvious to pass up the parallel. Putin will never be a lap dog, to Bush or to anybody else.

This is a strange man. He recently vowed to track down and execute those responsible in Iraq for the recent murders of four Russian diplomats. He has unapologetically made clear that he will take whatever steps possible to crack down in the harshest terms imaginable on the Chechen rebels that have sought to engage in terroristic ativities in his own country.

He has made it abundantly clear that there will be limits to democracy in Russia, that it will be managed and regulated.

Yet, this is a man who, while on his way by foot to the Kremlin a while back, stopped at the sight of a group of children, lifted up the shirt of a small boy, kissed him on the stomach, and then ruffled his hair as he then continued on his way to the Kremlin in bounding strides. A mere display of sentimentality, perhaps, but possibly as well a revelation of what might be considered a streak of superstition, the same kind of good luck an American southerner long ago might seek to appropriate by rubbing the head of a black man.

Yet, he seems now to be popular in Russia, and this can be summed up thusly-he has in fact given the people what they want, which is, the promise of security.

As for the G8 summit, there doesn’t seem to be too much in the way of accomplishments, or long term agreements among the nations there, on such matters as trade or environmental concerns.

So far, the only decision of any importance is that, for now, Russia will not be brought into the World Trade Organization.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Tom Brokaw And The Dawn Of Doomsday

Tom Brokaw will tonight, on The Discovery Channel, host a documrntary, at 9:00 p.m. e.s.t., about global warming, about the very eral dangers it poses, as it posits the question, what can we do about it? Is it, in fact, too late to actually do anything about it at all. It purports to take a concise look at the causes, which have been upheld as valid by the majority of the scientific community. Foremost among these would be the effects of industrial pollution, as well as carbon emissions from autombiles and planes.

In addition, it presents a frightening cataloque of some of the more dramatic effects of global warming, specifically noting the effects on the polar regions, where vast glaciers can be seen to practically be melting before your eyes as huge sections of ice off the coast of Greenland and Antartica literally slide into the sea.

The long term effect of this, Brakaw notes, is the potential for devastating flooding. Practically the entire coastal areas of Florida, the North and Mid-Atlantic states, and even New York City itself, or at least huge portions of it, could end up underwater.

Although it wasn’t mentioned in the ads that I saw, one issue that would be impossible to avoid would be the detrimental effects of global warming on the weather, with the increase in numbers and intensity of severe storms, such as thunderstorms, flash floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.

The entire US has felt the effects this year. The western half of the country has experienced severe droughts, resulting in more forrest fires than usual, while the south and midwest has experienced increases in heat, humidity, and storms, resulting in tornadoes and flooding. Just last week, a number of tornadoes touched down in the Dayto Ohio area, seemingly just springing up from out of nowhere.

The Northeast, in the meantime, has experienced flooding on a scale heretofore almost unheard of. Finally, and remember, we are barely a third of the way through hurricane season, if that much.

That a newsman with the status and integrity of Tom Brokaw would agree to host this special speaks volumes about the validity of the science behind it. And, even if the science is to a limited extent debatable, just the possibility makes it a subject which is deserving of serious consideration, and national public attention.

Which leads me to my main question-why is this being shown only on the Discovery Channel? Why not on the NBC network, in addition to MSNBC? Would not a prime time network airing bring in sufficient ratings numbers? Surely a night can be determined for the showing on the network which would give it as great an impact as possible. Even if it didn’t bring in a lot of viewers, it would still be deemed a public service, and so would be worth the risk. And with the right amount of advertisement, it might even be a ratings bonanza, and for that matter, may serve to galvanize public attention and demands for action from what seems to be a reluctant, to say the least, Congress.

And, of course, I have already answered my own question. Look at who are the major advertisers on network television. Brtish Petroleum, Daimler Chrysler, all the other major oil companis in additon to auto manufcturers, airline companies, and all the major industries which depend to one extent or another on the products that in the course of their production send volumes of carbon emisions and other pollutants shooting into the atmosphere.

Ask yourself, why would they agree to sponsor a program which argues as it’s central theme that these very companies, in combination with the lifestyles of America and other industrialized developed nations, to say nothing of the other developing nations, such as India, Brazil, and China-are combining to end life and civilization on earth as we know it? It doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to think they would, does it? The wonder to me is, that they woudn’t resist showing the program on a relativly minor outlet like the Discovery Channel.

By the same token, if you’re smart, you cut your losses without incurring more casualties, or suspicion of heavy handedness. To this end, they can’t engage in killing the program all together, and to their way of thinking the harm to showing it on Discovery would be minimal. The people that tend to watch these kinds of cable networks tend to already believe the scientifically accepted view of global warming anyway, so they are really not learning anything new. The impact on them will be minimal at best, as they are already, from the perspective of these corporate entities, giant pains in the asses.

They can, however, and I have no doubt they have, pressure NBC,who depends on their advertising dollars, from showing the program on a major network like NBC, which would result in massive exposure, with potentially devastating results for the companies.

These national, and in some cases international, mega corporations, control the media, and to a large extent they control political discourse in this country, and their reach and influence is global. It all boils down to what I have been saying for years. We are moving ever more rapidly toward a global feudalistic society, which cares for nothing whatsoever about our survival, or the long term survival of the planet, it cares for nothing but it’s own power and short term profitability.

Northern Kentucky Democrats Banned From Starbucks

You would think that if there were anyplace in the known universe where Democrats could meet in relative peace and serenity, it would be at a Starbucks.  This was probably exactly what was going through the mind of Campbell County Democratic Party Chariman Ken Mullikin, when two employees approached the group while he was speaking at abotu 6:00 p.m. on July 12th, and informed the group they would have to leave.

The employees explained to them that their regional managers said they couldn't have a political meeting or discussion there, according to one person in attendance, who replied that they had been given permission, had in fact had a previous meeting at the Starbucks, all to no avail.

"This could have been handled better", said Katie Henderson, president of the College Democrats at Northern Kentucky University. "It was humiliating."

Starbucks had not returned media requests for interviews, or responded to any questions forwarded to their regional offices. Yet, Ms. Henderson did say they receive phone calls from Starbucks Representatives, who apologized for the incident., that it was being looked into, and that it was blown out of proportion."

When I read that, I thought to myself, what a strange response to give to a customer complaint.  It is all the more remarkable in that at the time in question, there were reportedly only four other customers in the store, while attendees of the meeting assert that they were not being disruptive.

"It really feels terrible to be discriminated against in such a public place," said Kenton County Chairwoman Kahy Groob, who said she as well later received an apology, along with an assurrance that the group would be welcme back.

Groob then went on to ominously suggest that the employees should be dealt with.

Not exactly the kind of sentiments I particularly care to hear from a representative of a party that prides itself on looking out for the workingman and "the little guy". After all, every indication is that these two employees merely thought they were following company policy, and probably were at that.

At the same time I can understand the reluctance of the senior management to alienate the political group. If I had a restaurant that only drew in typically four custmers on a weeknight at 6:00 p.m., the last thing I would want to do would be to start turning customers away. Even if they are talking politics.

I also have to wonder about the state of finances of the Northern Kentucky Democratic Party, that they have to meet in a Starbucks. There were only somewhere between fifteen to twenty of them. Haven't they ever heard of The Anchor Grill?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Special Rights And The Federal Marriage Amendment

The Federal Marriage Amendment which has been touted recently in Congress, has little chance of being passed, and for the same reason the equally insane Flag Burning Amendment has-it’s supposed proponents would in reality prefer to keep it alive as an election year issue, election after election, and blame the Democratic Party for keeping it from being passed. And, just as in the case of Kentucky Senior Republican Senator and Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, when necessary they will find a Republican Senator for whom it is safe enough to “cross party lines” and vote with the majority, on some pretext or another.

There is, however, one major differences in the two proposed “conservative” amendments-

The Flag Burning Amendment should probably be allowed to pass, for no other reason than to keep this inane stupidity from ever again taking up the important, valuable time required to conduct the legitimate business of the American people.

Yet, I can promise you it never will be.

The Federal Marriage Amendment, on the other hand, is an abomination, a perverse distortion of American ideals that would enshrine discrimination into the American constitution of a disliked and reviled, by many, minority group, and it should never be passed.

Yet, there is a better than passing chance that one day, it will be.

As I was explaining today in a comment on a post on the subject by Pissed Off Patricia, in Morning Martini, the Republican Majority are under the gun this year to produce results, and the pressure grows ever greater with each passing year. To understand the reason for this, you need look no further than your local churches, and the mythology of their particular cults, as pertaining to, at least insofar as the more conservative of them go, the word of God as to the true nature of homosexuality.

It has been reviled in sacred scripture as the most heinous of sins, worthy of not only scorn, but even of death. Five entire cities were suppossedly destroyed at least in part, if not wholly, to this evil. It was stated bluntly, in palin language, that it was among the most abominable of sins.

Now, what is the natue of sin? The answer, of course, is that it is rebellion against the word and laws of God. That implies, at least, a purposeful conduct. Therefore, you are presented with the subject of choice. At least when it comes to such matters as homosexuality.

However, it is interesting to note that in most other instances of sin, it is said that people sin because they have a natural sin nature due to the fall from grace perpetrated by the first humans, Adam and Eve. This doesn’t make in any more excusable, only more to the way of presenting an explanation, flawed though it is, as to why human beings cannever possibly attain perfection. Human beings are fatally flawed.

The Apostle Paul seems to have recognized this, and talked of Nero and his Roman Imperial Court as being so debauched, that they were given over to a sin nature. They were so debauched, in other words, so rotten to the core, there was not any hope for them, as that God had given them over to a “reprobate mind”. In a sense, they no longer had any option, no true choice to act in any other way-still, they were evil, and evil is as evil does.

The Apostle Paul himself may have been a homosexual. The fact is he spoke of himself as being weak, frail, infirm, and in additon there is no record of him ever being married. Yet, it is his writings which have had by far the greatest impact on Christian morals, even to this day, in their singlemindedness and rigidity. And this would include sexual and marital matters. “ It takes Richard Nixon to go to China.”

So anyway, the point is that conservative Christians, as well as Muslims and probably Jews as well, honestly believe that to allow gay marriage would be tantamount to an open indication to either one of two things.

To those that believe it is a “choice”, a great many people might actually “choose” the homosexual lifestyle, that over a period of time it would be seen as natural, and this would lead to the wholesale desecration of the sacred rites of marriage, and to the ultimate weakening and eventual doom of society. Men and women, in ever greater numbers, would eventually decide to leave their spouses and engage in a legally recognized marriage with their same sex best friends.

Before long, thanks to radical elitist educators with some sinister “homosexual agenda” more and more innocent children would then be lead to engage in the homosexual lifestyle. Before long, America’s morals would be down the toilet. Seuxally transmitted diseases would explode, tradtional marriages would fall apart in ever more increasing numbers, and the entire culture would disintegrate into a morass of sinful vice and excess. America would, in short order, be a 300 million plus Sodom and Gommorrhah.

Those who believe that homosexuality is not a choice, but is naturally occurring, still are in agreement to an extent. They feel that homosexuality is a test, imposed by God on them, one which they should struggle with every day, with his divine help. To give in to this evil would be therefore to fail the test. To legalize gay marriage,then, would make it easier to give in to those evil urges God has decided to test them with. The net result would be the same, in their opinion.

People who adhere to this belief like to cite studies of the results of gay marriage in certain European countries where it has been made legal, in The Netherlands, for example. They cite statistics that purport to demonstrate how traditional marriages have faltered, have declined, since the legalization of same sex marriage, how there are more divorces, etc.

Without having seen these studies in depth, I can’t really say for sure, except to volunteer the opinion that they are probably skewed. There might be other factors for the decline in traditional marriages which might have as much to do with the high rate of income taxes as anything else.

But when worse comes to worse, I would have to offer the opinion that the true reason for the decline has most probably everything to do with the rights of non-married oppossite sex couples being put pretty much on an equal level as the rights traditoanlly, in times past, reserved for those couples who choose to engage in traditional marriages. If true, this would have nothing to do with homosexual marriages, per se’.

But this as well brings up a whole other issue. Why is it that a traditional, heterosexual marriage, should be afforded special rights? Isn’t that a lifestyle choice? Were they forced to be married? Were they forced to have a child? Or two, or three, or four, etc? Well, am I responsible for that? So they are having a hard time raising their children. How is this my problem? How is it that I or anybody else should be penalized for their freely chosen and engaged in “lifestyle choice”?

How is it that since they have freely decided, on their own initiative, to marry and raise a family, they now have the right to the better jobs, more tax breaks, while I in turn am taxed to pay for their childrens education, and in some cases food, shelter, and even medcial expenses? Aren’t all these “special rights”?

After all, they knew full well what they were getting into when they entered this avenue of their life. Why should anyone but them pay the price for it? And why should their needs be considered of paramount importance over the rights of either same sex couples, married or otherwise, or of heterosexual couples who might choose to share a life together without the benefits and responsibilities of marriage?

In my honest opinion, if a heterosexual couple can marry, raise children, and stand together through all the good times and the bad, while that is commendable, it deserves no special applause. If their marriage is based on reality, and entered into with maturity and reason, and they are willing to work on it, that marriage will last, and flurish and prosper, regardless of the status of same sex couples or of unmarried heterosexual couples.

But, on the off chance that it might effect certain marriages adversely, resulting in an inevitable split-it’s probably just as well.

Still, as I said close to the beginning, there is a slight chance this amendment, if not this year, might someday eventually pass. All it would take is enough demands by that socailly conservative Christian segment of society, enough conservative Republican legislators on the national level to start to realize they have to eventually produce promised results.

As more and more states enact amendments to their own states constitutions to the effect of disallowing gay marriage-many of which, by the way, also include provisions to forbid the recognition of the rights of unmarried heterosexual couples as being on the same level as traditionally married couples-the pressure will beccome greater on conservative legislators, which may as well include some Democrats in addition to Republicans.

One day, they might have to produce. And if and when they do, our country will be the poorer for it.