Friday, September 22, 2006

Happy New Year/Shana Tova - 5767

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

When it comes to politics, there seems to be a fine line between urgency and hysteria. The WORLD CAN’T WAIT! campaign promises October 5 to be a “day of mass resistance” against the reviled “Bush regime.” I do not know whether to say right on or slow down. Honestly, it seems like a tough pick.

Sure, these fuckers need to be driven out of office as soon as possible, for the good of the nation — if not for the good of the Nation. Even if the November elections don’t prove a watershed for the (nominal) opposition party, the hope still remains with the American people who, I think, have put up with much more than anyone ought to deserve, faced with a government that seems to care little about their interests or, at least, campaigns on solid contempt for them.

All said, if this ‘mass resistance’ turns out to be some misguided, ineffectual protests at whatever designated ‘centers of power’, to hell with it! Too lame. What kind of mass resistance would that be? Not that I at all recommend this, but they’re not talking about storming the White House for God’s sake, which would never work anyway. These people intend to keep it nonviolent, and that’s good; but with a logo of the Earth on fire, that … um, fiery urgency could well turn into hysteria, which is no good for anybody.

P.S.: I wrote the above about one month ago, though I think the planned uprising is still planned to go underway. Whether it will be reported in the mainstream press is of course another issue, but I am going to try to keep hope about it. You know, we really shouldn’t keep waiting any longer. Five years is far too long; much of America has probably been destroyed. But not by al Qaeda, which did take thousands of our people from us five years ago last week.

Monday, September 11, 2006

We are five years, unbelievably half a decade, past the morning in our history when a horrific trauma impacted our collective psyche; the public discourse has yet to fully heal, though we’ve moved on. Also we’ve moved forward to a state of affairs (it pains me to say, so deeply I regret this) that has left our country in a nearly unrecognizable shape.

Albeit for a brief, clear moment, the skeletal carcass of the monuments to our financial prowess, the grevious damage upon the nerve center of our military might and a smouldering hole in a Pennsylvania field were immediately packaged like a commercial brand and spoken with a cynical tongue to the end of dividing a united citizenry.

Truthfully, I fear we have begun to forget how September 11 has long since been stripped of any physical meaning, its shocking and terrible immediacy supplanted by a slogan for perpetuating the atrocious violence of that autumn day, indeed a GOP trademark stamped onto the embers of nearly 3,000 of our countrymen. It demonstrated a remarkable contempt for the American people, bearing witness to such eager politicization of the tragedy.

This has been pointed out elsewhere, but it is important to mention that Bin Laden’s scythe killed 2,973 Americans (CNN’s statistic), and our President’s led to the deaths (by the Washington Post’s count as of August 29) of 2,944 Americans in Iraq, 330 in Afghanistan and 1,836 in the Gulf states (cit. Wikipedia).* This toll exceeds bin Laden’s 1.7 times, nearly by a factor of two.

So much has changed, and there are positive developments. It is never all gloom and doom; that way lies pessimism, one of the worst of humanity’s inclinations. Look at Lebanon: its people just recently suffered the equivalent of an Sept. 11 attack every day for one month. That is inconceivable. Of course, the Lebanese have their own problems to deal with, namely their (rough) equivalent to our Klan.**

I keep hope that we Americans will stay fast to hope, that not only will we someday heal ourselves but also that we start fighting the jihadis and cease strengthening them. For the sake of the victims we remember today, in fact for the sake of my beloved country and the world, may justice yet be done for them.

*I do not of course blame Katrina on President Bush, as that would be ludicrous; I do point out that his administrative response, that is the lack thereof, of his subordinate executive agencies magnified and amplified what was the natural consequence of the hurricane’s impact, as is amply documented.

**Naturally that is speculation; I think it is legitimate to draw an analogy between their Hizb’ullah and our Ku Klux Klan, which until it was largely marginalized by the victories of the civil rights movement had an impressive pull on our southern territories, viz. Lebanon’s south, championing similarly racist terrorism.

NOTE: The maximum toll posted as of today from Iraq Body Count is roughly 46,000 Iraqi civilian deaths. As a percentage of the U.S. population, this is about 552,000 Americans; the toll from the Civil War, by comparison, was 558,052 (the Louisiana State University Civil War Center).

That figure is roughly 235 greater than what befell us five years ago today. It is, to make a crude estimate, the equivalent of a September 11 attack every week for the entire span of time that has passed between then and now.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Enterprising blogger Beep Beep tagged (remarks), who in turn tagged the Center. So here it all is, keeping to the format. [Even the part about the crying, as in books that make you do so. Not shyin away. Not here.]

A Book That Changed My Life

Handily, this goes to Nineteen Eighty-Four by the venerable George Orwell (Eric Blair). My God, what an unthinkable dystopian picture of the future. None of it ever came true.

A Book I’ve Read More Than Once

Probably Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, but I’m sure there are others. Have to dig it.

The One Book That Would be Goin’ to a Desert Island

’Tuff question. How about Paul Johnson’s A History of the Jews. Not to pass the time per se, but rather to reflect on familial heritage going back to ancient times. And, yes, incidentally it would pass the time. Big ’ol book.

A Book that Made Me Laugh

Nothing recently, but if The Onion’s “Complete News Archives Volume 16” (or Embedded In America) counts as a book, most definitely.

A Book that Made Me Cry

Well, I’m no sentimental windbag, but several years ago there was a book that at the end of it left me with, say, a raindrop a-fallen on my head. It goes to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, an integral part of literary Americana. Or, on the other hand, I was so tired of the book that, as I closed its last page, was just so happy it was over. But that was a long time ago.

A Book that I Wish had been Written

Richard B. Cheney’s classic, comprehensive tome Iraq: Its People, History, and Customs. Not a best-seller.

A Book I Wish had Never Been Written

Mein Kampf does rank high in this category, but I’d pick Jayson Blair’s scheme to get-rich-off-my-shame-of-plagiarism that his publisher titled Burning Down My Master’s House. To add insult to the injury of staining the reputation of one of the world’s finest newspapers (the New York Times, that’s right), it seems he played the race card. Sure, no one died, and I do not intend to compare him with the former in any way, as it is obvious that Mr. Blair’s book did not lead to the unconscionable horrors of human history. And to be fair to the disgraced journalist, I did not read his book. Nor do I intend to.

A Book I Have Been Meaning to Read

The Knights Templar by Stephen Howarth. My father recommended it highly.

Currently Reading...

A few books right now, first of which is Karen Armstrong’s Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World. Then, shifting gears, America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy (Gar Alperovitz).


Ali Eteraz

David Masciotra

Jane Holland

Andy Dunn

Jill Stevenson

Friday, September 01, 2006

End of the Generation

Confidently not a dystopian forecast after all, but simply an evolution of social fabric into technotribalism, along with increasing isolation between people and pixelated stratification and fragmentation of human thought. Less things to talk about, but more to destroy. Nothing to buy; everything to sell.

In fact I see a generation aching for purpose in a seemingly nihilistic world where nothing appears to matter. But this assumes that generations still exist, and they do not. It is clear enough, in the midst of such opacity and madness, that they no longer do; no one understands the past while events of the present cripple the future.

This whole world is just hanging in limbo. Everyone is afraid to judge, and when they do it is often hysterical. We have left Utopia, and we will always fear Hell. The mission may prove to be whether we have the will to do what is best for the common good, or even ourselves. Until that proving ground is struck, may there be no decision. Only indifference, perhaps a conclusive shrug, then silence.