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... and thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, have died because of his religious mania.

I always suspected this was what was really going on in his mind - after all, Bush had some pretty close ties with all sorts of millenialist evangelicals - but I simply am boggled by the fact that he came out and told world leaders that they should join in the invasion of Iraq because he was on a mission from God.[1]

Some exerpts from the article:
In 2003 while lobbying leaders to put together the Coalition of the Willing, President Bush spoke to France's President Jacques Chirac. Bush wove a story about how the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and how they must be defeated.


The story has now been confirmed by Chirac himself in a new book, published in France in March, by journalist Jean Claude Maurice. Chirac is said to have been stupefied and disturbed by Bush's invocation of Biblical prophesy to justify the war in Iraq and "wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs".

In the same year he spoke to Chirac, Bush had reportedly said to the Palestinian foreign minister that he was on "a mission from God" in launching the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and was receiving commands from the Lord.
You know, this is almost enough to make one think that prospective heads of governemnt should be required to affirm, with their hand on a copy of Darwin's Origin of Species, that they will not in any way allow public policy to be influenced by their personal religious beliefs before being allowed to take office.

[1]And yes, I am totally trying to keep myself from seeing GWB in my mind's eye wearing dark sunglasses and an ill-fitting black suit, singing the Blues while Ackroyd plays harmonica and Belushi does backflips, because that would not only be wrong, but also so disresepctful to the people who have suffered from this man's delusions of divine inspiration.

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A Thunder Bay woman is demanding an explanation after a teacher's aide at her son's school cut his long hair — an action her lawyer says is clearly assault while the Crown insists there are no grounds for charges....

The seven-year-old boy had chin-length hair before the incident last month. His mother said staff at McKellar Park Central Public School were aware her son was letting his hair grow so that he could take part in traditional First Nations dancing.

I've heard more detail on this in TV reports. The boy reported that the teacher's aide took hold of him bodily, placed him on a stool, cut off his bangs, then took him down and made him walk to a mirror and look at what she had done. In what world is that not a physical assault - to say nothing of an act powerfully and revoltingly evocative of the way that Aboriginal children were shorn of their hair when they were taken to residential schools.

Oh, I forgot - the boy is First Nations, and that means it's just fine for a fucking teacher's aide to grab him and do anything he/she wants to him to make him look "acceptable" to white eyes.

TV reports are also saying that the same person has done this before, cutting the hair of an older First Nations boy becasue his hair was too "feminine."

Gah. Not just physical assault, but continuation of cultural genocide - imposing white North American cultural assumptions and standards on Aboriginal people. Forced assimilation all over again.

And all the school had to say was that it was a "regrettable incident." And the Crown says this isn't assault.

Fuck that. I hope the family's lawyer takes this as far as they have to, to get recognition of just what was done to both of these boys (and I wonder how many others at this school, and others, have been treated the same way).

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In the comments on the post in which Patricia Wrede's book, The Thirteenth Child, is being discussed, Tor user Alo, in comment 196, quotes from a rec.arts.sf.composition post by Ms Wrede, discussion her own (then) work-in-progress:
The *plan* is for it to be a "settling the frontier" book, only without Indians (because I really hate both the older Indians-as-savages viewpoint that was common in that sort of book, *and* the modern Indians-as-gentle-ecologists viewpoint that seems to be so popular lately, and this seems the best way of eliminating the problem, plus it'll let me play with all sorts of cool megafauna). I'm not looking for wildly divergent history, because if it goes too far afield I won't get the right feel. Not that it'll be all that similar anyway; no writing plan survives contact with the characters, and it's already starting to morph.

I repeat my subject line:

She said WHAT?

::head explodes::

It seems that, according to Ms. Wrede, at least on the occasion of the quote:

1. The best way to eliminate sterotypes of marginalised people in writing is to eliminate the marginalised people from one's writing?

2. Eliminating whole nations of people with thousands of years of history and rich, diverse cultures when writing alternative history isn't "widely divergent history"?

I know something about being erased from cultural representations of both history and modern society, and about people who are in certain ways like me being presented as often profoundly insulting and disturbing stereotypes when they do appear in cultural narratives - after all, I'm a woman, a queer person, a person with multiple disabilities, both visible and invisible.

And this just makes me sick at heart.

This isn't even a case of someone not thinking about the implications of making such a decision in developing her created world. No, she actually thought about ways in which the indigenous peoples of North America have been portrayed in settler literature, identified what she saw as problems, and deliberately decided to make the indigneous people vanish so she wouldn't have to apply herself to trying to do a better job of representing indigenous peoples that the problematic literature she identifies as the genre she's working in.

I say again:

She said WHAT?

::head explodes::

morgan_dhu: (Default)

Shall we call this AmazonFail 09?

It seems that and its subsidiaries and – and possibly other Amazon subsidiaries as well – have decided that books addressing gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other queer issues – and a number of other books dealing with issues of sexual diversity - are very naughty books. You can still buy them, if you know how to search for them, but books that have been identified as dealing with these issues have been stripped of their sales rankings and therefore do not appear in bestseller lists or (I am told, I haven’t in the past used Amazon often enough to know the ins and outs) certain kinds of searches based on sales rankings.

One small press publisher who noticed that the titles he sells had lost their sales rankings asked Amazon what was up, and received this charming note in response:

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

Hence, if you have further questions, kindly write back to us.

Best regards,

Ashlyn D
Member Services Advantage

People who have been checking out the extent of the stripping have reported that, while the exact list of “disappeared” books varies from country to country, the kinds of books being excluded are:

*Gay and lesbian romance which is not sexually explicit, or is no more sexually explicit that your typical straight romance

*Literary classics such as James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain, Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle and E. M. Forster’s Maurice

*Books on gay and lesbian parenting

*Non-fiction books on everything from theological discussions of homosexuality in the church to gay histories to reports on the US military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy

*Biographies and autobiographies of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trangender people from John Barrowman to Christopher Isherwood to Harvey Milk to Oscar Wilde

Apparently, fiction and non-fiction books dealing with BDSM, polyamory, and other kinds of sexual difference, ranging from Jacqueline Carey’s very popular Kushiel fantasy series to non-fiction books on sexuality aimed at people with disabilities, have also lost their rankings.

A master list of books known to be affected on at least one of the Amazon websites can be found here.

Information on how to complain to and its various subsidiaries is being posted in various places. On-line petitions are in process and strategising for protest is happening. For more information on taking action, look through the posts being archived here.

As for me, I certainly won’t be shopping at any Amazon website until this policy has been changed, and I certainly urge anyone who reads this to consider doing the same – and to let the Amazon website that serves your country know exactly why you are refusing to buy anything more from them.

And if you can think of anything else you can do to bring pressure to bear, the more power to you, and to us all.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

Does it really need to be said that one valid response to reading something that you find profoundly angering in exactly the same way as the last fifty, or a hundred, or a thousand times you read it somewhere else, is throwing the book against the wall and writing about why that thing you read, in the book you threw against the wall, and in all the other books that you didn't throw against the wall because you hadn't reached your limit yet, made you so profoundly angry?

And even if someone comes to you and says, "that book you threw against the wall, it's written by someone who wanted to explore those issues that make you angry and try to expose them as what they are," it's perfectly reasonable to say "Just seeing it makes me angry and I don't want to see it, even in the context of trying to expose it for what it is, BECAUSE I ALREADY KNOW WHAT IT IS."

And I say this even though this particular book is one that I enjoyed, and that made me think about some of these things, because I am one of the people who doesn't know enough about those issues and hasn't been hurt by them and I wanted to see how they were dealt with and I had the privilege of knowing that anything that writer wrote about that issue could not hurt me. Plus, it had a lot of other stuff in it that was really interesting to me. So thanks to my privilege on this issue, I could read this book and not want to throw it against the wall.

But, you know, there was once this TV show that I loved. It said some wonderful things about female power, and it was lots of fun to watch. And then this TV show did something that made me profoundly angry in exactly the same way as the last fifty, or a hundred, or a thousand times I read/saw it in other places, and I didn't want to watch that show anymore. Because a lot of people seem to think that rape is such a wonderful dramatic vehicle, and getting raped by a god is even more dramatic, and they can give me all sorts of reasons why this rape was exactly the right thing to have in this TV show. But just because everyone and his metaphorical dog has used rape as a dramatic device, and sometimes they do it to show how nasty rape is and how surviving it can make a woman so strong, that doesn't mean that as a woman who has been raped, I'm not entitled to be profoundly angry and just say no to rape as a character development McGuffin.

And then there was this other TV show that I loved. It said some wonderful things about female power, and it was lots of fun to watch. And then this TV show also did something that made me profoundly angry in exactly the same way as the last fifty, or a hundred, or a thousand times I read/saw it in other places, and I didn't want to watch that show anymore either. Because there's only so many times a queer girl can read/watch things that written by people who think that it's the height of great drama to kill off the lesbians or turn them into insane and evil murderers, until she just doesn't want to see that anymore. Even if some people assure her that it's just because that writer never lets anyone be happy in a relationship, it's not like he's picking on the lesbians. Because lots of stories let straight people have happy endings, but they always kill the lesbians, or drive them mad.

So, yeah, I know something about lacking some kinds of privilege and getting so angry when privileged people use me and people like me in hurtful ways in books and movies and TV shows and cultural stuff in general. And I know that it's the right of anyone in that situation to throw the book against the wall, and write about why it hurt, and be as loud and angry as they want to be, because it is valid to get hurt and angry when someone is standing on your foot and not only won't get off, but tells you that they're standing on your foot so that people will see how bad it is to stand on someone's foot.

And it's the right of anyone in that situation to get even more profoundly angry when people tell you that you can't see that there's a good reason for that person to stand on your foot so people can see what it's like and learn from it because you're too emotional and not a good reader and haven't the critical tools to properly analyse what's happening in this brilliant piece of performance art in which someone is STANDING ON YOUR FOOT AND WON'T GET OFF. Or that you're being manipulative and abusive when you use strong and angry language to tell people that you're tired of people STANDING ON YOUR FOOT AND NOT GETTING OFF and you aren't going to smile, and take it, or maybe ask them politely if they wouldn't mind moving a little further away any more.

And I say this knowing that I may well be standing on someone's foot all unknowing myself, and can only ask that please, if I am, and am so stupid that I don't see it, then I would be grateful if you would tell me so I can try to do better at not standing on people's feet, because I know I don't like having my foot stood on, and I so don't want to stand on anyone else's foot either.

(If you need it, you can find context for this post here.)

morgan_dhu: (Default)

OK, we all know that a huge swath of popular culture is in reality a massive slough of despond when it comes to racial, ethnic, religious, gender and other kinds of stereotyping. In fact, sometimes it seems as though the mainstay of much popular culture is poor and/or lazy conceptualisation, design, art and writing that depends on stereotyping of one sort or another to communicate its message.

But seeing as how all sorts of people who are regularly stereotyped have been watching, analysing and complaining about this sort of thing for a very long time now, you’d think that somewhere along the line, the folks who create this kind of stuff might have toned it down just a little.

Well, you’d be thinking wrong.

First, there’s this mindboggling plotline in a children’s cartoon based on the Legion of Superheroes, in which a prospective new member is made to prove his worthiness to join the Legion by doing all the other superheroes’ laundry. Apparently it did not enter the writers’ minds that this might be a touch inappropriate, considering that the prospective member is an Asian character.

Wanna join our society as a full member with equal rights and priviliges? Maybe, sometime in the future – but for now, just shut up and do our laundry.

Then there’s the clothiers Abercrombie and Fitch, which in 2002* released a line of designer T-shirts sporting offensive caricatures of Asians:
One has a slogan that says, "Wong Brothers Laundry Service -- Two Wongs Can Make It White." Beside the prominent lettering are two smiling figures in conical hats harking back to 1900s popular-culture depictions of Chinese men.
More laundry. How original.

And then there’s the advertising for an international fast-food take-out and delivery chain that features a happy black family sitting down to partake of their featured fare. Just one bite, and the main character can’t help himself – he just has to jump up and start singing and dancing about how much he loves Kentucky Fried Chicken. (I have no link for this, but if you’re in Canada and watch English-language TV, I’m sure you’ve seen it.)

So, what have you seen lately in the realm of blatant in-your-face offensive stereotyping?

*I originally thought this was a recent product, becasue I do not always notice dates, but [personal profile] jenwritespointed out that this occurred in 2002. No matter when they did it, it's still some weird racist stereotyping shit.

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I admit it freely, I watch Canadian Idol. I enjoy listening to young singers who might be interesting, some day if not yet. But I don't think I'm going to be watching it any more.

I usually shut out what's being said in between the singing, especially if Ben Mulroney is saying it. And I don't pay much attention to promos. So while I'd sort of gathered that this year's charity project was to build a Ronald McDonald Retreat House - a resort for families of children undergoing treatment for serious illnesses - it wasn't until this week that I actually heard where this retreat is being built. And I cringed.

Bear Mountain.

Well, actually, that's not its real name. That's the name used by the development company that owns the mountain, which is sacred to the Songhees, Esquimalt and Malahat Nations. The people who for centuries have visited this mountain to conduct spiritual rituals and quests and to bury their dead call it Spaet Mountain - which does mean Bear Mountain, but it's their sacred mountain, we could at least call it by the name they use for it.

The developers have already destroyed at least one of the sacred caves on the mountain, and protests against the further development of the mountain, leading to yet more destruction of sacred sites, continue.

And that's where MacDonald's is building a house for sick children, with the help of Canadian Idol. Disputed land. Stolen land. Violated land.

I'm not saying the project, in concept, is a bad one. It's not. It's a great idea. But you'd think there would be lots of places across Canada where you could build a pleasant resort that isn't someone's holy ground. I mean, what would you say if someone decided to tear down your church without your permission and build golf courses and resorts and luxury housing developments on your parents' graves?

So I think I'll pass on Canadian Idol from now on. I'd boycott McDonald's, too, but I never eat there anyway.

Here's some places where you can read more about Spaet Mountain:

What is Going on With Spaet/Skirt/Bear Mountain?

Support Aboriginal Efforts to Protect Spaet Mountain, Victoria

morgan_dhu: (Default)

It seems that all those creation "scientists" are tired of having real scientists explain that unless the science you're reading is published in a peer-reviewed journal, it is of, at best, questionable worth.

They've decided to create their own peer-reviewed journal where other "scientists" with created credentials can review their created data in support of creationism.
International Journal for Creation Research

The Institute for Creation Research is pleased to announce the inaugural Call for Papers for the International Journal of Creation Research (IJCR).

IJCR is a professional peer-reviewed journal of interdisciplinary scientific research that presents evidence for recent creation within a biblical framework.

Addressing the need to disseminate the vast field of research conducted by experts in geology, genetics, astronomy, and other disciplines of science, IJCR provides scientists and students hard data based on cutting-edge research that demonstrates the young earth
model, the global Flood, the non-evolutionary origin of the species, and other evidences that correlate to the biblical accounts.

It is our hope that you will be encouraged in your study of creation science issues that remain at the forefront of education and research.

Andrew A. Snelling

I think I'll go create a peer-reviewed journal of Vulcan anatomy. Or Developments in Defence Against the Dark Arts. Anyone who can demonstrate to my satisfaction that they have either graduated from the Vulcan Academy of Science or from Hogwarts with their N.E.W.T. levels in that field is welcome to submit and review papers for either or both journals.

I bet I'd get a better level of internal logical consistency, at the very least. ;-)

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A couple of weeks ago, I was up late at night reading and sort of listening to/watching the news in the background, as I often do, and because I live in Canada, the channel I was watching was a Canadian 24-hour news channel.

And one of the big stories that night was about the release of the Council of Europe's report confirming that the US has used extraordinary rendition to transfer prisoners captured Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries to secret prison camps in Europe, including in Romania and Poland, where they were held and tortured. The World Socialist Web Site quotes the report as follows:
“What was previously just a set of allegations is now proven,” the report began. Providing a portrait of lawlessness on an international scale, it noted, “Large numbers of people have been abducted from various locations across the world and transferred to countries where they have been persecuted and where it is known that torture is common practice. Others have been held in arbitrary detention, without any precise charges leveled against them and without any judicial oversight—denied the possibility of defending themselves. Still others have simply disappeared for indefinite periods and have been held in secret prisons, including in member states of the Council of Europe, the existence and operations of which have been concealed ever since.”
Now you might think that what I'm about to rant about would be the secret prisons, but I'm not. I've already done that elsewhere.

No, I'm going to talk about what I saw when, just out of curiosity, I turned the channel to look at the seven or eight other 24-hour news channels I get via my superduper cable package. Now surprisingly, the European channels including the Beeb, were giving appropriate coverage to the report. Even though, because it was about three in the morning when I was doing this, it was already, quite literally, yesterday's news on that side of the Atlantic.

But what do you think I found on all but one of the US 24-hour news channels?

If you guessed Paris Hilton and her emotional, medical, personal and legal woes, you are 100 percent correct. (Incidentally, I forget what the other US "news" channel was covering, but it wasn't news, not even American news.)

Just to be fair, I switched back a couple of times during the night, looking for anything - even a crawl at the bottom of the screen - that suggested this story was getting any significant degree of coverage.

Didn't find a thing. The whole night long, there was nothing on the US news but Paris Hilton and a few other pseudo-news stories about celebrities, sensationalised crimes, or both.

Interestingly enough, a few days later, [ profile] glaurung_quena pointed me here to Making Light, the blog of Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and a comment made there by PNH about Paris Hilton as news distraction. And that blog (going, oddly, full circle) refers to an article here at the World Socialist Web Site about "why Paris Hilton."

Now, I really do wonder, why Paris Hilton? Or any of the rest of what all too often seems to pass a journalism, particularly on the US media that I can access on cable (which also includes all the main US broadcast networks and their newsmagazines, plus local news from the actual affiliate stations I'm getting the network news on).

I'm not saying that Canadian news, or what little international news based in Europe that I can access, doesn't have its share of sensationalism, puffery, silliness, and plain crap. But I do not believe I'm being biased when I say that there's less of it. And that the slant is different - for instance, many of the Canadian news stories I've seen about Paris Hilton were framed as stories about the nature of the coverage that the story was receiving, so that there was at least some attempt at social commentary in among the pointless tripe. But it does seem to me that, at least via the medium of television, the American people are not getting nearly as much news content as seems to be available through Canadian and European television.

And I do wonder why. It surely doesn't have anything to do with comprehension - I'm quite convinced that the average American is just as capable of understanding a nuanced geopolitical assessment of a news event as anyone else on the planet. The American news media seem to be saying that this kind of "infotainment," however, is what Americans want, because this is what they will watch and hence this is what the advertisers want to pay for because this is what Americans want to watch, and I'm sure we've gotten into some kind of circular reasoning here... and I really don't know if that's true or not. But for whatever reason, there really doesn't seem to be a lot of news - or at least what I am accustomed to thinking of as news - on the US TV that I have access to.

And the fact remains, that unless I want to perform a little, totally unscientific experiment like the one I've just described, the only US news organs I know of that carry anything like the kind of news coverage, analysis and commentary that I can get all over the place in Canada are The Daily Show and The Colbert Report - and even those, I watch on Canadian channels. ;-)

morgan_dhu: (knight)

I've been alternating between sickened horror and an outrage I can barely express without tears or violence for days now.

And I've been struggling to figure out why.

It's not as if I - and all of us - didn't know that countries around the world have been torturing prisoners, both criminal and political.

And it's not as if I - and all of us - didn't know that the countries of the so-called civilised Western world have been torturing people in colonised nations.

And it's not as if I - and all of us - didn't know that these same so-called civilised countries have been backing, supporting, encouraging and protecting dictatorships all around the world that have been torturing people.

And it's not as I - and surely, at least since Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, all of us - didn't know that people were being tortured by or in the name of the so-called civilised countries we live in.

And it's not as if I - and many others - didn't suspect that torture in prisons and jail cells and interrogation rooms and detention centres and other places in these so-called civilised countries was nowhere near as uncommon as those who run these places would have had us think.

No, we knew all that, and I'm sure we all thought it was horrible. and I'm sure that many of us marched or wrote letters or did something over the years to speak out for the human rights of people all around the world not to be tortured.

I think what makes it so much worse now is that at least in the past the leaders and law-makers of the so-called civilised West have at least tried to pretend that they didn't approve of torture. That it was wrong. They tried to conceal the fact that they tortured, or allowed torture to happen in their name or at the hands of dictators they gave political, financial and military support to (at least until it suited them to abandon those same dictators).

Until now, our leaders have at the very least been a little ashamed of what they were doing. They were worried that if they came out and said it, we might get angry enough to do something about it.

But not any more. Now, it's possible to debate how much you should be able to torture someone, to discuss how much pain and humiliation and damage one can inflict before you go too far.

And that sickens and outrages me to the core. How did it come to this, that every citizen of every so-called civilised country has not risen up in their disgust and outrage and demanded that those who want to torture people, or who are willing to stand aside while their allies do so, are not fit to be our leaders?

And no, I am not pointing fingers at any one country. We all, in this so-called civilised West, are responsible for letting it come to this, and for whatever will follow from it. I'm sickened and outraged by my own government's actions, and the lack of response among my fellow citizens.

What kind of people are we, that we can accept this?

morgan_dhu: (Default)

On September 11, 2001, and on the long days following it, thousands of fire-fighters, police officers, and volunteers worked in the ruins of the World Trade Center, breathing in a toxic mixture of chemicals, concrete dust, asbestos, fibreglass, petroleum combustion byproducts, and some things that had never existed before because no one had ever burned all those substances together in one place before. Many had inadequate breathing gear, or none at all.

In the days following September 11, 2001, many New Yorkers remained in the city, or returned within just days or weeks, breathing in the dust, cleaning up the hazardous waste that filled their homes and offices, often with nothing more than a wet rag and a dust mop. Christine Todd Whitman, the head of the EPA assured them that the air was safe to breathe.

Hundreds, maybe thousands of New Yorkers, many of them firefighters, police officers and others who worked at Ground Zero, are now disabled due to conditions that can be medically linked to their exposures to toxins on September 11 and the days following. Some have died. Many more are still working, but struggling with asthma, gastric complaints, headaches, diminished lung capacity, dozens of other medical problems. Some are beginning to develop environmentally-induced cancers. Medical experts in human response to toxic exposures predict that as time passes, more and more of those exposed will get sick, those who are already sick will, for the most part, get sicker, and more will die.

Most of them have faced disbelief, resistance and denial every step of the way from their insurers and their governments in their search for workers' compensation, medical pensions, appropriate health care.

Many of these people were honoured by their government as heroes five years ago. What a difference five years can make.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

I am totally boggle-minded. The paintings of an American artist, Clara Maria Goldstein, have been labeled controversial because they depict Jesus as a Jew.

Goldstein has created a series of paintings showing such "controversial" images as: Jesus as a baby, being lovingly prepared for circumcision by Mary; Jesus as a boy, reading from the Torah; Jesus dressed as and in poses associated with being a rabbi; Jesus wearing a yarmulke pictured next to a menorah. Now I know that the contemporary evidence (outside of Biblical texts themselves) on Jesus is rather slim, but all the sources I know of seem to agree that Jesus was a Jew. Apparently it's even in the Bible, what with the whole being descended from the House of David, and debating with the wise men in synagogue as a child, and calling the Temple "my Father's house" when he was doing that bit of housecleaning, and other such events.

However, these paintings are being denied display because "Gundersen Lutheran [the hospital] is trying to be more patient-friendly and it doesn't want anything controversial to potentially upset patients."

Let me get this right - portraying Jesus as what he actually was, a Jew, is controversial and might upset people?

The stupid. It burns.
morgan_dhu: (Default)

I'm not sure where he thinks he's going, but George W. Bush clearly has left the world that most of us live in far behind. I had thought he had a limited grasp on reality, but recent reports make it evident that I was being far too generous.

Thom Shanker and Mark Mazzetti of The New York Times reported last week that during a Monday August 14 "lunch at the Pentagon that included the president’s war cabinet and several outside experts," Bush expressed the following sentiments, which strike me as the maunderings of someone totally dissociated from what is happening in the Middle East.

President Bush made clear in a private meeting this week that he was concerned about the lack of progress in Iraq and frustrated that the new Iraqi government — and the Iraqi people — had not shown greater public support for the American mission, participants in the meeting said Tuesday.


More generally, the participants said, the president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq, and was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah in Baghdad could draw such a large crowd. “I do think he was frustrated about why 10,000 Shiites would go into the streets and demonstrate against the United States,” said another person who attended. Source

So let me get this straight - Bush doesn't understand why the Iraqi people don't support an occupying army, and he doesn't understand why many people living in the Middle East would rather support Hezbollah than support the U.S.

Now I don't give Hezbollah a pass for killing civilians any more than I give the U.S. or Israel a pass to do the same - a war crime is a war crime no matter who committed it - but doesn't it strike anyone in the White Bubble that just maybe, trying to understand why some people in Iraq, and Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories might prefer Hezbollah or Hamas over America might help them figure out how to try and, in the sad cliche, win some hearts and minds? Or are they just going to keep on killing until everyone who doesn't like them is dead, and they don't have to ask themselves these kinds of questions any more?

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Last night I saw the first part of the award-winning BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear on CBC Newsworld's The Passionate Eye.

The documentary explores the rise of fundamentalist Islamist thought in the Middle East and the neo-conservative movement in the west, with particular attention paid to the similarities and interconnections between the two. The starting premise of the documentary is that these two movements are, at the core, both reactions to the failure of liberalism. As it traces the growth of both movements, it also highlights some of the ways in which they have influenced each other, used each other and developed in response to each other.

Because I've done a moderate amount of reading in the last few years on the growth of fundamentalist Islamic thought, much of the historical background addressing this aspect of the film was familiar to me - what really hit me was the recounting of things I had either forgotten about or never known about neocon politics in the US in the 70s and 80s. Though I must admit, I remember sitting with friends - some of whom were ex-pat Americans - on the night Reagan was elected and feeling in the pit of my stomach that this was the beginning of a long nightmare... and finding that everyone agreed with me. I don't think we really could have realised just how much of a nightmare it would be, and just how long it would last.

Some of the material in the film that discusses neocon politics of the Ford and Reagan eras with respect to US policy concerning the Soviet Union seemed eerily and unpleasantly familiar. And why shouldn't it? It is, after all, many of the same men who railed about the threat from the Evil Empire in the 80s who brought us yellowcake, chemical factories on wheels and the Axis of Evil in 2003.

One sequence of a profound deja vu nature outlines the way that neocons Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Pearle et al (as part of the Ford and Reagan governments) set out in the late 70s and 80s to prove that the USSR was secretly building up its armaments to threatening levels and preparing to attack the US. Does this sound at all familiar:

DONALD RUMSFELD, US Secretary of Defense, Speaking in 1976: The Soviet Union has been busy. They’ve been busy in terms of their level of effort; they’ve been busy in terms of the actual weapons they’ve been producing; they’ve been busy in terms of expanding production rates; they’ve been busy in terms of expanding their institutional capability to produce additional weapons at additional rates; they’ve been busy in terms of expanding their capability to increasingly improve the sophistication of those weapons. Year after year after year, they’ve been demonstrating that they have steadiness of purpose. They’re purposeful about what they’re doing. Now, your question is, what ought one to be doing about that? [quoted from transcript available online].

According to the documentary, when informed by the CIA that there was simply no credible intelligence to support this allegation, the neocons argued that the fact that there was no evidence merely proved that the Soviets had to be doing it, but keeping it secret.

While profoundly critical of the neocon movement, the documentary isn't pulling any punches about the Islamist movement either - the leaders of both are shown as, on the one hand, idealists who want to save their people and their worlds from what they believe to be a profound moral and spiritual disease, and on the other hand, cynical manipulators who, believing that their end is so important to the survival of what they cherish that any and all means are justified, start out by creating The Big Lie and end up at least half believing it themselves.

For Canadians and anyone else with access to CBC Newsworld, the documentary concludes tonight - check your local listings for the time.

For anyone else - this documentary is not currently available on DVD due to problems with clearing rights for archival footage, but a transcript - which I skimmed and which appears to be accurate - is available on the Net.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

I found this item courtesy of [profile] techn0goddess.

Let me ask just one simple question.



People all over this planet are strangling on the accumulations of bile-soaked hatred and slaughter justified by fundamentalist doctrines (not to ignore the contributions of all those other wonderful things like colonialism, imperialism and incessant meddling from European and american empires and the global neo-liberal nightmare of untrammelled oppression and greed in the name of the holy profit margin).

And the US military machine is humming "Onward Christian Soldiers."

Is anyone in power there even thinking anymore?

(Edit: I originally misspelled [profile] techn0goddess's name. This has been corrected. My apologies.)
morgan_dhu: (Default)

Yes, you.

You're probably reading this.

Just in case you had any doubts, yes I am a socialist, a queer, a radical, a subversive, an activist, an environmentalist, a bleeding-heart tree-hugger, altogether the sort of person you don't want in your country.

I disapprove heartily of almost every piece of foreign policy your governemnt has ever adopted, beginning with the Monroe Doctrine (you maybe thought we hadn't noticed your attempts to annex Canada back in the good old days?) and working up to preemptive strikes and invasions.

I also think you have the worst record of civil rights abuses of any developed country, and I rather suspect you do much worse than a good many developing countries, too. (And that's saying a lot, because most developed countries, including my own, have some pretty serious problems in this regard.)

Your internal social and economic policies look pretty much like a disaster to me, but that's up to your citizens to deal with, I'll just boo and hiss from the sidelines on that one.

But don't worry, I have no intentions of risking my health, life and liberty by visiting your country, at least not while the current dictatorship is in power. Yes, I know that if all your master's plans work out properly, that's going to be a very long time.

So just go fuck yourself, OK?

Thanks, and have a nice day.


morgan_dhu: (knight)

Notice to all persons who have uteri.

It doesn't matter if you're Mary Magdalen or Mary Jones from around the corner, you are a flowerpot.

You may be a flowerpot that doesn't have any earth in it yet and can't grow anything until you get some, a flowerpot containing lots of earth but no precious seed - yet, a flowerpot just about to bring forth its bounty of blossoms, or an old cracked pot that can't hold water, earth or seed any more, but never forget that you are a flowerpot.

Has nothing changed since I was ten years old and being taught by some idiot what to expect now that I was "becoming a woman"? Are women to be forever assessed in terms of the content of their wombs, and not the content of their characters?

morgan_dhu: (Default)

For anyone who found my previous rant about the Da Vinci Code nonsense interesting, my discussion of the literary histoy of the Holy Grail as presented in Richard Barber's book The Holy Grail: History of a Legend is up on my book journal: [personal profile] bibliogramma.

You know, I wouldn't have minded at all if Brown had said "This is a works of fiction. I've taken some historical people and things and reinterpreted them as is my right as a creator of works of the imagination, but this is literature, not history."

But no, he said it's all based on fact, when it simply isn't, and that makes all the difference to me.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

Well, it was an interesting night.

By the time the show started, I was more than a little amused at Heath Ledger's repeated panegyrics to his WIFE and their NEW BABY, just in case anyone thought that just because he played a GAY COWBOY in THAT MOVIE there might be something a little off about his MANLINESS. I mean, really, every time I saw an entertainment reporter ask him what he thought about his experiences doing the movie, he didn't seem to think of much to say about the acting process, just how wonderful it was that he has a WIFE and a NEW BABY. OK, Heath, I hear you, you're an actor, not a gay cowboy.

And then there was Reese. Lovely acceptance speech, Reese. Would you mind telling us what was on your mind when you kept repeating the words REAL WOMAN over and over again?

I want to say thank you to so many people who helped me create this role. Everyone at Fox, Cathy Konrad, James Keach, for producing the film. A very special thank you to Jim Mangold who directed the film and also wrote this character. Who is a real woman. Who has dignity and honor, and fear, and courage, and she's a real woman.

Right, Reese, your character was a real woman. That's not unusual in a biopic, Reese, you didn't have to shout it from the rooftops. Oh, what's that, it's not just your character that's a real woman, you are too?

And I want to say that my grandmother was one of the biggest inspirations in my life. She taught me how to be a real woman, to have strength and self respect, and to never give those things away. And those are a lot of qualities I saw in June Carter.

Reese, dear, if you keep on making a fuss about real women, someone might think that you're trying to make some kind of point. And we know you weren't trying to do that, now, were you?

Thanks for being so open about yourself, Reese. By the way, I'm really looking forward to seeing Transamerica.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

So the poor widdle heterosexual politician just can't feel comfortable sitting on the same side of the floor as his queer-loving former Liberal colleagues.

And some phobic asshats would prefer bringing down the government to letting a federal law defining marriage as a union of two persons be passed in the House.

Some people just don't get it. It doesn't matter that over half the country agrees with legitimating same-sex marriage. It doesn't matter that the fucking Supreme Courts of seven provinces and one territory have required governments to accept the legitimacy of same-sex marriage in those jurisdictions. It doesn't matter that the Supreme Court of the whole fucking country has examined the proposed legislation and declared it to be constitutional. It doesn't matter that it's an issue of human rights, and we're supposed to be big on that sort of thing up here - unless of course you're a Reformer disguised as a Conservative, or even a Liberal.

No, same-sex marriage is TEH EEVOL and some of these asshats would rather bring down the government than let queers get hitched. Because marriage is so special, you know, and if queers get their deviant and debauched claws of doom on it, all marriage between heterosexuals will immediately collapse into the same primordial slime the rest of us are condemned to live our lives in.

Or some such rot. I still have not been able to find one opponent of same-sex marriage who can make an effective argument, without resorting to religion, about how the marriage of two men or two women is going to irretrievably damage existing marriages between a man and a woman, or the concept of marriage, or society, or the fate of the universe.

Well, maybe more hot queer sex would delay the onset of heatdeath and allow the universe to survive a few extra millennia before ending with a whisper, but aside from that, just plain WTF?

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