November 30, 2004

Cue every memory at half-speed

* George Saunders on how to fix Iraq. [via maud newton] excerpt:

"I’ve completed the math.

"There are approximately twenty-five million Iraqis in Iraq. There are approximately three hundred million Americans in America. This means that there are approximately twelve Americans for every Iraqi. This means that, if we all go, each American will be responsible for one-twelfth of an Iraqi. An Iraqi family of five will thus be attended by sixty Americans. We will come, this second wave of three hundred million of us, unarmed. We will bring nothing but ourselves. We will simply show up, saying, 'What would you like for dinner?'

"While we cook, our Iraqis can just relax. God knows they have had a terrible couple of years. We will encourage them to sit on their couches, if they still have couches, while we clean up after dinner. We will bring them coffee, tea, dessert, whatever they like. All these months, we have winced from over here, imagining their pain. Once we are there, we will do what we can to say, 'We like you, and want the best for you. We’re sorry. This was not what we intended. No matter what it might have looked like to you, we have always wished you well.'
"What about provisions? Simple. Each American will bring a thirty-day supply of food from his or her local market. Hams, turkeys, huge roasts of beef, wheels of brie, large jars of Greek olives, bottles of champagne. We will also bring our TVs and our microwaves and our refrigerators, along with generators. We will sit around with our host families, eating ourselves into a pleasant stupor, watching TV, playing board games (we will also bring board games). If anybody gets sick, we will locate a good American doctor in one of the nearby host homes and lavish the sick Iraqi with the finest in American care.
"Now, a reasonable question is, what will be happening in the completely deserted United States of America at this point?

"This is where Phase II of my plan begins.

"Once the U.S. has been vacated, the Palestinians will be moved into the Western U.S. and the Israelis will be moved into the Eastern U.S. Between them will roll the mighty Mississippi. Even if they wanted to get to each other and do some killing, sorry, no. Armed U.N. guards will be posted at every bridge.
"I think it could work. It is only a matter of will, of giving up certain comforts (our homes, any concept of privacy, our jobs, our businesses, etc.). The hardship is great, but so will be the reward: an Iraq where nobody is killing or dying, an Iraq caught up in an ecstasy of normalcy, boredom even—people bickering, committing adultery, gossiping, sleeping in the middle of the day, mouths hanging open, flies flying in."

* List of best anti-war/political songs.

* Is marijuana a medicine? Tracey Blevins looks at some data.

* Hilarious picture of a couple apes at the zoo.

November 29, 2004

we used our bodies against our reason

Drawings by Elizabeth Peyton

November 23, 2004

You are wild and I'm in your possession

"We must find out what words are and how they function.
They become images when written down,
but images of words repeated in the mind
and not of the image of the thing itself."
- William S. Burroughs

A Thanksgiving Prayer
by William S. Burroughs

Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts.

Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison.

Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger.

Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot.

Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes.

Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until the bare lies shine through.

Thanks for the KKK.

For nigger-killin' lawmen, feelin' their notches.

For decent church-goin' women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces.

Thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the war against drugs.

Thanks for a country where nobody's allowed to mind their own business.

Thanks for a nation of finks.

Yes, thanks for all the memories-- all right let's see your arms!

You always were a headache and you always were a bore.

Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

Have a wonderful holiday. Back Monday.
dance me to the end of love

* The Paris Review has made available online many of their author interviews from the 1950s. Other decades to be added to the website soon, they say.

* Los Angeles Times editorial on the Cruel but not unusual punishment given to marijuana users. excerpt:

"A 25-year-old Utah man sold eight-ounce bags of marijuana on three occasions to an undercover officer. This week he was sentenced to 55 years in prison because he had a pistol strapped to his ankle during the deals.

"That's more time than he would have received if he had hijacked a plane, beaten someone to death in a fight, detonated a bomb in an aircraft and provided weapons to support a foreign terrorist organization. The maximum sentence for all those crimes together is less than the mandatory minimum under federal sentencing rules for a small-time dope dealer carrying a gun. Those federal rules make California's three-strikes law — recently upheld by voters — look mild."

"Weldon Angelos had no criminal record and never brandished the gun or threatened anyone. But although federal sentencing guidelines — which allow for judicial flexibility — recommend 10 years for a crime like his, a separate statute, more recently enacted, sets tougher mandatory minimums for drug felonies involving guns.

"At Angelos' sentencing in Salt Lake City, U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell decried the required 55-year term as so "unjust, cruel and even irrational" that he has appealed to President Bush to commute the sentence and to Congress to modify the law so that its harshest provisions 'apply only to true recidivist drug offenders.'"
"Angelos initially faced only a single gun charge, but when he refused a plea deal that came with a 15-year term, the government loaded his case with four new gun charges. Because federal law limits parole, Angelos will remain behind bars until he is at least 78 years old.

"Outrage is growing in legal circles over the lopsided nature of mandatory terms. A group of 29 former federal judges and prosecutors filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Angelos' case, asking Cassell to reject the mandatory sentence because it violates Angelos' right to due process and constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.
"Fairness aside, do we really want to spend $1.3 million to keep someone like Angelos locked up for the rest of his life?"

* Strap-on Veterans for Truth takes on Ann Coulter:

"We are a coalition of former friends and co-workers of Ann Coulter who are upset by her vicious anti-gay, anti-muslim, anti-feminist rhetoric and feel the truth should be told. Our organization, Strap-On Veterans For Truth, is dedicated to exposing the true past of America’s number one hatemonger."

November 22, 2004

Send me dead flowers by the us mail

At a bookstore this weekend I pulled a book of poetry, Farewell to the Starlight in Whiskey, off the shelf based on the title, opened the book to the first poem posted below and immediately bought the book.

Three poems by Barton Sutter:

The President's Prayer

Our Father who art in Washington
However hollow Thy fame,
Thy kingdom come,
Our will be one
At home as in foreign nations.
Give us this day our deficit,
And forgive us our bombing passes
As we bomb those who might surpass us.
Lead us not into conservation,
But deliver us from free will.
For ours is the thralldom,
The war, and the gory.
No matter, whatever,
Your man.

Dick Cheney's Heart

Where is Dick Cheney's heart?
Does it bulge like a bubo
Under his arm?
Does it hang like a goiter
Below his groin?
Where is Dick Cheney's heart?
Polls reveal that most of the nation
Desperately want to know the location
Of Dick Cheney's missing heart.
Is it hiding out
With JFK's brain?
Did the CIA
Leave it out in the rain?
Where is Dick Cheney's heart?
Is it floating somewhere
In a large vat of oil?
Is it kept on ice,
Thought it's already spoiled
Like something moldy
You'd find wrapped in foil?
Where is Dick Cheney's heart?
We're worried about
Our vice president.
He had a bad heart,
But who knew where it went?
Is it hunkered down
In the cave of his colon?
Has it gone underground
With Osama bin Laden?
Where is Dick Cheney's heart?
Dozens of questions
Clamor for answers,
But this one would do for a start:
Where is Dick Cheney's heart.

The Neocon Con

Although they'd mostly missed their war,
The neocons had more plans in store.

The cocky thoughts of William Kristol
Called for rosary and missal.

Woolsey said get ready for
Nothing less than World War IV.

Defense investors round the world
Bought the words of Richard Perle.

Profundities of Wolfowitz
Ensured that kids were blown to bits.

All these men could count on Cheney
For intelligence chicanery.

How many American soldiers died
Defending Donald Rumsfelds pride?

Let the widows mail their funeral wreaths
And folded flags to Dougles Feith.

Selected president, their moron
Brayed this motto: 'Bring 'em on.'

We may forget dead soldiers names
But not the neocon con game.

November 18, 2004

It's a waste of time if I can't smile easily

* Information Leafblower has compilied a list of the top 40 bands in America. Here is the top ten:

1. Ted Leo
2. Wilco
3. Interpol
4. Guided by Voices
5. The Fiery Furnaces
6. The Pixies
7. Brian Wilson
8. Luna
9. Modest Mouse
10. Spoon

Have to say, very surprised to see Brian Wilson at 7. The panel was the following bloggers: Nude as The News, DCSOB, Damore Retrobuzz, Largehearted Boy, Fluxblog, Matt 5500, Teaching The Indie Kids To Dance Again, The Real Janelle, Chromewaves, Connie NYC, Seeking Irony, Kerry Sosaysi, Bradley's Almanac, The Big Ticket, Weirdcurves, Coolfer, Music For Robots, MethodOne from, Uncle Grambo, and Information Leafblower.

* Flagpole talks with the Summer Hymns. excerpt:

"Their first album, Voice Brother and Sister, released in 2000, is a remarkable collection of tender psych-pop gems, full of memorable melodies, impressive musicianship and a vague, indecisive romanticism that runs throughout Gresham's work. Love is pretty much always a haunted mystery in a Gresham song, with equal portions of regret, remorse and good old confusion running rampant. But even so, it's immediately evident once Almstead's flawless bass work suddenly erupts at the start of 'Beginning to See,' that Summer Hymns take their album-making seriously. The songs are lavishly produced, but without stifling the spirit or spontaneity of the music. The revelatory ending to 'Mr. Brewer (Cackle, Cackle),' the highlight of the early Hymns live performances, might have lost some of its visceral impact, but the whirling, breezy saxophone of Adrian Finch more than makes up the difference. A thin psychedelic haze settles in over much of the record, a slightly otherworldly layer of sound (best heard on the song 'New Underdressment') that fosters a lulling sensation and a dream-like ambiance. This atmospheric fog never blocks out the humility and humanity that is intrinsic to the group, though, qualities that are best (and most obviously) represented by Gresham's fragile, uncommonly expressive voice. Voice Brother and Sister stands as a paramount example of modern Southern psychedelic pop, and helped establish the Summer Hymns not just locally but throughout America."

* If anyone is in Norfolk, Virginia, head out Saturday night to see The Caribbean at Relative Theory Records, 271 granby st, 2nd floor, Norfolk. In DC? Saturday night at Georgetown University, as part of the New Yorker College Tour, Sonic Youth and Alex Ross will talk. 7:30 pm at the Bunn Intercultural Center Auditorium.

November 17, 2004

You expose the film in me

* Portland State Universtiy Vanguard profiles Devendra Banhardt. excerpt:

"He's been hyped as a sort of Renaissance man and/or beatnik. He was born in Texas but lived in Venezuela as a kid. His hippy parents had an Indian mystic give him his first name, which would be the equivalent of, say, 'John' in English. A true bohemian, even before being discovered by Michael Gira, he had bummed around in LA, San Francisco, New York and even Paris. In San Francisco he had a scholarship at the San Francisco Art Institute but dropped out and relocated to Paris, where he recorded his first album on a four-track and even an answering machine. These are the recordings that were on his Oh Me Oh My... album released two years ago on Gira's Young God Records label. Gira himself says of the recordings: 'We released these recordings on YGR because we'd never heard anything quite like them, ever. His voice - a quivering high-tension wire, sounded like it could have been recorded 70 years ago - these songs could have been sitting in someone's attic, left there since the 1930s.'"
"His physical resemblance to Syd Barrett is ironic as he is considered to be at the forefront of the neo-psych movement. This movement includes his friend Andy Cabic's band Vetiver which released a record last year, and for which Banhart is also featured, as well as harpist and unicorn enthusiast Johanna Newsome, with whom he's toured. He has also been known to play with Michael Gira's post-Swans project, the Angels of Light. He has also compiled a record for Arthur Magazine, which includes various obscure psychedelic recordings, including the almighty Michael Yonkers."

* Warren Jabali calls this the worst record review of the year.

Jabali believes this review takes the prize for many reasons, among them: "taking three long, excruciating paragraphs before even mentioning the band name, and including perhaps the worst line in history: 'Wolf Eyes bring the pain omnipotent.'"

* Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" voted greatest song ever in Rolling Stone poll. "Satisfaction" voted number two.
and the money that you left me for

* Briefing paper on the United States' denial of water to Iraqi cities, in breach (once again) of international law. excerpt:

"Water supplies to Tall Afar, Samarra and Fallujah have been cut off during US attacks in the past two months, affecting up to 750,000 civilians. This appears to form part of a deliberate US policy of denying water to the residents of cities under attack. If so, it has been adopted without a public debate, and without consulting Coalition partners. It is a serious breach of international humanitarian law, and is deepening Iraqi opposition to the United States, other Coalition members, and the Iraqi interim government."
"Some military analysts have attempted to justify the denial of water on tactical or humanitarian grounds. Ian Kemp, editor of military journal 'Jane's Defense Weekly', argues that: 'The longer the city [Fallujah] is sealed off with the insurgents inside, the more difficult it is going to be for them. Eventually, their supplies of food and water are going to dwindle.'

"Barak Salmoni, assistant professor in National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, told the San Francisco Chronicle that civilians would probably be encouraged to leave Fallujah 'by cutting off water and other supplies.'

"These arguments are deeply flawed on legal, humanitarian and political grounds. The majority of the population of Fallujah fled before the American attack. Those who have not already fled Fallujah are forced to remain, since roads out of the city have been blocked, including by British troops. Not only are those remaining unable to leave, but they are likely to consist largely of those too old, weak, or ill to flee - precisely the groups which will be most severely affected by a shortage of water."

* NBA will not allow Vince Carter to listen to his iPod during warmups.

* Wolcott on Condi Rice:

"Rice's face is the game face of the Bushies, bony with Unwavering Resolve, eyes fanatical, mouth tensed. She has shown herself to be not a listener but a dictation machine on playback. 'The President believes...' 'The President has always said...' 'The President has very consistent in arguing that...' 'The President has said all along...' And now the dictation machine is in a position to dictate to other nations how they can fight terror and help make America a bigger, better empire. It'll be the President wants this, the President wants that, the President is firm in his belief that...

"But her incompetence precedes her, as does her presumptuous statement that for their failure to support the U.S. in Iraq, France should be punished, Germany ignored, and Russia forgiven. Punished, ignored, and forgiven for being right in the first place and refusing to take part in this debacle?--such nerve.

"As America gets more militarized and messianic under Bush, it's being economically and diplomatically outmaneuvered by the rest of the world. China is exploiting the US obsession with terrorism and Iraq to consolidate power and influence in Asia, and cutting lucrative oil deals with Iran. New Europe is bailing out of its troop commitments in Iraq. And the continuing humiliation of Tony Blair, who was twitted by Jacques Chirac for getting nothing in return for his steadfastness over Iraq ('I am not sure it is in the nature of our American friends at the moment to return favors systematically'), probably hastens the day when Britain says enough and throws in its lot with Europe and the Euro rather than be dragged into another bloody folly.

"So farewell, Colin Powell, for whom no tears should be shed. (Roger Ailes is quite eloquent on the subject.) He's getting out before Iraq completely unwinds and will make millions off of whatever memoir he composes to pretty up his place in history.

"I can exclusively report what finally drove Powell over the brink. Yes, he was bummed by years of being backstabbed by the neocon hawks, most of whom spent Vietnam masturbating in their dorm rooms. But the last straw was seeing and hearing Thomas Friedman on Tim Russert's CNBC weekend show, channeling Bush's voice to advocate that Powell devote himself exclusively to negotiating a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israelis--that he be dispatched to the Middle East deal and not to be allowed to return home until he had one, even if it took a year."

November 16, 2004

may all your days be gold my child

* Not for the squimish, Fallujah: Pictures of the aftermath. Contains graphic depictions of the reality of war.

* Its Just a Plant, a book about how to discuss marijuana with your (or someone else's) children.

* POTLUCK has a new home. Beginning in January, we will be at the Wonderland Bar and Grill, the hip new place in Columbia Heights. More later, but mark your calenders for January 13, 2005. And sign up for the mailing list at the sidebar.
Step into my shoes and see things as I do

Recycled: Poems that have previously appeared on the dust congress:

Dear Mr. President
-- by Philip Whalen









Respectfully Yours, Philip Whalen 10:III:65

Called War
-- by Richard Brautigan

I never want
to go away
to a place
called war

i don't think
you want
to go there either.

my cheap lifestyle
-- by Eileen Myles

After a bourbon
I came in and turned on the tube
lit a joint and watched Monterey Pop
nearly wept when Janis came on
Janis' legs kicking on stage is a memorable site
Janis does her sweet little Texas girl smile as
her act finishes. she kicks her heals
and otis redding is so sexy
millions of young americans experience religion for the first
in their lives
or so the cameras would inform us
I'm concerned about manipulation in this media
how one gains such wonderful power
but of course I'm too tired
thrilled by the process of bringing down a familar blanket
upon my bed
it's nearly fall
nearly winter
I expect the stars will be bright
the woods full of bears

-- by Denis Johnson

since i find you will no longer love,
from bar to bar in terror i shall move
past forty-third and halsted, twenty-fourth
and roosevelt where fire-gutted cars,
their bones the bones of coyote and hyena
suffer the light from the wrestling arena
to fall all over them. and what they say
blends in the tarantellasmic sway
of all of us between the two of these:
harmony and divergence,
their sad story of harmony and divergence,
the story that begins
i did not know who she was
and ends i did not know who she was.

Keeping Things Whole
-- by Thomas Lux

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

November 15, 2004

Well you're greedy for tokens and stamps

* "Doug's" goal is to own a copy of every song ever recorded. His digital music collection exceeds 900,000 songs. excerpt:

"When I pulled into the driveway of the King of the Pirates, an upper middle class neighborhood of stylish homes and SUV’s, Infiniti’s, and more Mini-Coopers than necessary, I was surprised by the normalcy of it all. His home was nothing short of spectacular, his wife a mid-30’s ex-underwear model (honest!), and his two kids well groomed, apparently intelligent, and very wired. (As in technology, not ADD) This is not the home I would have thought would be the enclave of someone out to pirate the hell out of the music industry. This was going to be very interesting…

"Our man, let’s call him Doug, greeted me with a huge hug, a broad smile on his face, drink in hand (Grand Mariner of all things), and invited me in to his den. He was absolutely thrilled to finally be able to talk to someone who was actually interested in what he was doing. Seems that ‘the wife’ as he calls her, was bored to tears hearing about his latest collections, or the latest Bit Torrent site he found; a treasure trove of hard to find music all ripped at 256-bits. The wife wants to know why he doesn’t play more golf, like his friends. 'Golf is the most boring game in the world, what I am doing is much more fun.'

"Doug has devoted one of his extra bedrooms (7 in all) into what can only be described as The War Room. He owns three Power Mac G5’s, and just added two iMac G5’s. Several external 250GB firewire drives are attached to the iMacs, and sitting in the corner are a stack of at least 6 other external drives, all 300GB, brand new, boxed, and just waiting to go online.

"He has two cable modems and one DSL line. One cable modem is 'for the family,' the other dedicated to his quest. His DSL line is a backup and is sometimes used when he has discovered a new site that offers a slew of new torrents he wants to mine. The wife, and the kids, are all connected to the Internet through an Airport network, with four Airport Express base stations scattered about the house. Music is constantly heard throughout the house, all different genres playing at the same time. Doug tells me that what I am hearing is unusual, most of the time the house is relatively quiet.

"All the Macs in his 'command and control' room have JBL Creature speaker systems; some white, some blue, and a burgundy one that I have never seen before. The entire room is lit with indirect ‘rope’ lights, giving the room a feel of living in the Star Trek Universe. There are a couple of rich soft brown leather chairs and one long, very plush, baby-butt soft leather sofa that just screams comfort. I took a seat on the sofa and never felt more pampered or more comfortable. I made a mental note that once our pets’ pass on to wherever pets go this sofa was going to be the sofa in MY house. For all I cared this interview could last for days, once ensconced in this incredible piece of furniture I didn’t want to leave…ever."
"Once I got through ogling the various Macs, finding the perfect position on the sofa made by God himself, and prepared a cup of delicious coffee we began the interview. But before we did, he had one request before I began throwing questions at him. He wanted me to listen to a song he downloaded the day before; a rare unreleased track by Mick Jagger that he found on a fansite dedicated to Mick. I loved it, pure Mick, and asked him if he would burn it to CD for me. “No, sorry, I can’t do that. I don’t sell or give away any music I own. That would be against the law.” A perfect opportunity to jump into the interview…

"MacNET: I don’t understand. Here you are downloading pirated music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, yet you won’t burn a song to CD for me. Why?

"Doug:Because, like I said, it’s illegal. I don’t distribute the music, I only download it.

"MacNET: On the drive here I tried to think of a great question to start off the interview. The best I could come up with is ‘Why?’ . So, Why are you doing this?

"Doug: Because I can. No, just kidding, its much more complicated than that.

"MacNET: Care to explain then?

"Doug: Sure. Why not? I am preserving our history. When the world goes up in flames in this jihad against all things Western, music will be one of the first casualties. I want to preserve that. No matter what it costs."

* Wolcott on Fallujah.

"Watching the unquestioning, propagandistic, bombastic, indifferent-to-civilian coverage of the destruction of Fallujah on the TV news--an operation burying the Geneva Conventions under tons of rubble--makes me wonder why we just go rename the United States 'Israel West' and be done with it? We've adapted all of the Israeli tactics used against the Palestinians and incarnated them in the newly-made mythic image of the Marine Marlboro Man.

"According to Fox News, the 'Marlboro Man' soldier whose photograph was plastered on the front page of the New York Post and dozens of other rags has become a sexual icon. One female fan emailed, actual quote, 'His gaze is warm but deadly.'

"Yes, that sounds like the perfect soldier in the era of compassionate slaughter, warm but deadly.

"Interesting historical note: The actor who portrayed the Marlboro Man in those ads died of lung cancer."

November 12, 2004

Got no privacy, got no liberty cos the twentieth century people took it all away from me

Four photos to take you to the weekend:

you might see his face in the clouds or relaxing in a spirit ditch

* Bad News Hughes, from the diary of indignities, on unrequited love:

"I had never really paid any attention to her. She was skinnier than I like 'em, and fucking wore these prepostrous overalls every day. But when I saw her blow a smoke ring out of the gap in her smile that formerly had hosted a tooth, I fell in love with her. A little, anyway.

"She was smart, and she knew it. She was witty, and quick, and she didn't put up with any shit. And she told me she planned to get a diamond-studded gold tooth to fill in that gap. Yeah, it was love.
"Oh, she liked me, I suppose. A stong like. Enough like to call me every day, but not enough to fuck me. I spent plenty of time with her, happy with what I could get. Which meant lots of great conversation, the occasional late-night adventure and a neverending stream of tiny, poignant heartbreaks, the kind that make your Joy Division and George Jones records sound that much sweeter. In this way it was pretty much exactly like the other 412,987 times I've found myself with a similar unrequited crush, and no doubt like all the others would've continued in the same vein until she moved out of town. Or I instigated a total emotional meltdown by trying to yank forth some kind of emotional commitment, or acknowledgement, or something, out of our cozy little limbo.

"But it didn't play out like all the others, not this time.

"We were at a party, standing in front of her apartment building. I was drunk. I was drunk a lot around this time — this all happened during Gin And Tonic Summer, a particularly successful binge undertaken by myself, Scott Adams and Todd Campisi. Gin And Tonic Summer featured plenty of good-natured mayhem involving firecrackers, 4 a.m. games of four-square and, of course, gallons of its namesake. In fact, Gin And Tonic Summer was such a success that it stretched well into winter. Hell, it might still be going on for all I know — go ask Todd.

"Anyway, she had been out of town for a week or two. I was acting a bit aloof, little depth charges of sadness going off in my stomach every time the corner of my eye caught her laughing at some idiot dude's jokes. I think maybe I had just finished throwing a handful of bottle rockets into the mellow backyard bonfire, an immensely satisfying pastime I recommend to everyone.

"I was fixin' to leave, and she sidled up to me and gave me a hug. 'I missed you,' she said. She was unusually subdued.

"'I missed you too,' I said.

"She pulled my head down and whispered in my ear. 'You don't understand,' she said. 'I really missed you. I thought about you every day. I needed to see you.' And she kissed me, softly.

"This is the only time in my life this has happened, where someone I loved but that didn't love me back changed their mind, even a little."
"Later we went up to her room. I kissed her for the first time there, while lying on her bed. She took off her shoes, and took off those damn overalls. She was wearing some kind of weird plastic diaper with a thick elastic waistband. Maybe a Depends? Were there some kind of... Circus animals on it? What the fuck?

"She kept kissing me. I was distracted. Was that really her underwear? Was it some sort of cover that went over her regular underwear? Do those overalls chafe or something? Is it a joke? An affectation? Evidence of some sort of disease? What... The... FUCK?!

"'Don't you want to take your shoes off?' she said.

"'I... I... I think I have to go,' I said.

"She looked surprised. I split.

"The next day Todd called and asked me what had happened. I told him I had left.

"He was surprised too. 'I thought you really liked her, dude,' Todd said.
"'Well... Yeah. Dude, I'm telling you she had on some kind of diaper.' I remembered their slick, plastic texture, and being worried I'd take 'em off and find... Poop.

"'You're fuckin' nuts. She didn't have on a diaper. You should've fucked her.'

"We finished our conversation, and I thought about what Todd said. Had I just thrown away a chance at being with someone I loved? For nothing? For some imaginary diaper? It had seemed so real. Maybe it was a manifestation of my fear of intimacy? And maybe if I really loved her the diaper shouldn't be a big deal. Sincere feelings should overcome a little petty incontinency, shouldn't they? Fuck. I screwed up.

"I needed to find her. I needed to find her, and fix things. Tell her that, whatever was up with that diaper business, we could work it out. She meant too much to me.

"I hopped on my bike and went to the Utility House, a well known punk-rock hangout. She was on the porch, drinking a quart of beer. I sat down next to her and cracked one open myself. The previous night was not acknowledged. People came and went, drinking and smoking and telling stories and laughing.

"Eventually, there was a moment where we were alone. I leaned in and started to whisper an apology in her ear...

"'Ew! Dude! Get off of me!' she shouted. 'What's wrong with you?! Why are you being so gross and romantic?! Have you lost your mind?!'

"Then she sneered, shook her head and took a swig from her beer."

* Art-O-Matic is back, running tonight until December 5, 2004.

* Interview of The Wrens drummer Jerry MacDonald. excerpt:

"We were never really part of the scene, he said. 'When we moved to New York and started trying to figure out what we wanted to be there was kind of a sense of neighborhood (there), but there’s just so many thousands of bands and I think what we woke up to was that more of the networks and friendships (we created) were with the bands we ran into on the road. That kind of became the scene, the touring bands on the road. I think that’s still present today, but the scene back in the early ’90s was kind of get out there and play and play and play, and try to get on an indie label, and hopefully you’d get on a big indie. Now things center more on the Internet and getting the word out there. We disappeared for like six years; our only scene was chatrooms. People thought we were going to be another My Bloody Valentine. The scene has become a big broad community now because of the Internet.'

"The Wrens have day jobs now, good ones in fact. Greg is a lawyer, and two others have corporate executive positions. Jerry has a family now. They are not full-time rockers again, yet. Charles is the exception.
"'It’s diametrically opposite of what you’d think,' Jerry said. 'It’s hard because we’re juggling schedules if you had a job you really dug, a professional career, and you also had something resurface that is an amazing outlet that was your dream for most of your life came back in a big way, it’s kind of the best of both worlds. We talk about rockin’ full-time a lot, but we haven’t done it yet. Everyone has been so kind to us; we might as well just have fun with it because you only go around once.'"

November 11, 2004

Just call me lucifer ’cause I’m in need of some restraint

* Skimble says it well:

"What I hate.

"As a Blue Stater, I am sick of being told how negative I am and that I hate Christians, or the American South, or heartland states, or gun owners, or people less educated than me, or families, or rural culture.

"I don't hate any of that.

"I hate incompetence. I hate unchecked greed. I hate secrecy in public institutions. I hate discrimination. I hate the distortion of public discourse by giving common words coded meanings. I hate coercion. I hate disproportionality in prosecution and sentencing. I hate the theft of public property for private gain. I hate having my privacy violated, especially in medical and financial matters. I hate that members of this administration avoided military service but abuse veterans and send soldiers and reservists to their deaths — and still pretend to recognize Veterans Day.

"All of these things reduce the choices available to our citizens. All of these things contradict compassion. All of these things reduce freedom. The bullshit versions of compassion and freedom exclude the real things from our lives.

"That's what I hate."

Me too.

* California man tries to trade weed for tires. excerpt:

"A man who unsuccessfully tried to barter with marijuana was arrested for stealing two auto tires after the deal was rejected, Roseville police said.

"Joshua Dean Williams, 20, and another man allegedly tried the pot-for-tires swap at a Sears Auto Center, said police spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther.

"When the sales clerk refused, one of the men swung at the worker with a baseball bat, Gunther said. The worker avoided being struck and threw a rock at the car, shattering a window."

* Tight jeans and the fat girl. see for yourself. [via screenhead.]
As we danced came the news that the war was not won

* Unfuckingbelievable: Tanks deployed at a peaceful anti-war protest in Los Angeles. There is video at the link, and more information at Americablog.

* Mad Kane has posted a limerick for Bush's nominee for Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales. As she says: "Such a sterling pick deserves a limerick:"

The Geneva Conventions are quaint,
Said Gonzales. A scholar, he ain't.
But he's Dub's nominee
For the post of AG,
Where no doubt he will rule sans restraint.

* Link to recent David Berman poem published in the October Believer.

November 10, 2004

I was engrossed in the film without really watching

As Virginia knows, if its in the Sun, it must be true:

"[W]hen a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental--men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost... [A]ll the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre--the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

- H. L. Mencken, in the Baltimore Sun, July 26, 1920.

Mencken, in his influential journal, The American Mercury, was the first to publish John Fante. Fante later modeled his J.C. Hackmuth character from Ask the Dust, on Mencken.

More Mencken:

Mencken's Creed

I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.

I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.

I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon liberty...

I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.

I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech...

I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.

I believe in the reality of progress.

I - But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.
here they let fame be

Four poems by Franz Wright, from The Beforelife (2000)


Death is nature's way
of telling you to be quiet.

Of saying it's time
to be weaned, your conflagration starved
to diamond.

I'll give you something to cry about.

And what those treetops swaying
dimly in the wind spelled.


There are a few things I will miss,
a girl with no shirt on
lighting a cigarette

and brushing her hair in the mirror;
the sound of a mailbox
opening, somewhere,

and closing at two in the morning
of the first snow,
and the words for them.

Nothingsville, MN

The sole tavern there, empty
and filled
with cigarette smoke;
the smell
of beer, urine, and the infinate
sadness you dread
and need so much of
for some reason

After Apollinaire

It's four o'clock in the afternoon,
and it is finished;
I sit back and light my cigarette
on a ray of dusk.
I don't want to write anymore.
All I want to do is smoke.

November 9, 2004

You held up a stagecoach in the rain and I'm doing the same

A couple vintage photos of DC:

The east side of the White house shortly before the 1902 remodeling, when this become the main entrance. Visitors today enter the White House today on this side. Washington D. C. August 1899.

The Jefferson Memorial 1944

I’m just a feather on your breath

* A view of Bagdad. excerpt:

"Fear is ravaging Baghdad. Its partners are the hatred, crime and violence that intrude into daily life. Eighteen months after the capital's fall, this city of 5 million is increasingly unpredictable.

"A simple trip to the supermarket turns disastrous when a gunfight erupts. A well-to-do doctor drives a beat-up jalopy while keeping his two Mercedes on cinder blocks, fearful he'll be carjacked. Rockets tear into hotels in the heart of the city's most secure areas.

"And the car bombs, which happen daily now, are so common that some people don't even halt sentences for the explosions, much as a New Yorker might ignore a car alarm.

"This is the emerging picture of life on the streets in Baghdad, where citizens and foreigners alike live with constant fear, and new questions about the country's future abound."
"Most of Iraq gets no more than 12 hours a day of electricity, so the fans and air conditioners in schools, which were donated by coalition forces, can be useless at times.

"And posters of fundamentalist religious leaders, including Muqtada al-Sadr, adorn the walls of many schools, placed there by bands of religious enforcers. A wall near one school is covered with graffiti that says: 'Long live the resistance. Long live the holy warriors. The occupier will leave, by God. Traitors and spies, beware.'"

* The Land Grant College Review is hosting a party Thursday night, in New York at the Tank. A $10 cover gets you unlimited booze and cigarettes, as well as the music of we are scientists. Festivities begin at 9pm.

* Check out the poster for the Tim Burton remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

November 8, 2004

we've never been promised there will be a tomorrow

* My cousin was visiting this weekend and shared with me a video clip of his 5-year-old son singing (what I'm told is one of his favorite songs) the Siver Jews "Death of an Heir of Sorrows," which was written following the death of Robert Bingham. It was especially heart-warming to hear the youngster belt out the following stanzas:

"I wish I was the Royal Trux
I wish I had 1000 bucks
But mostly I wish, I wish I was with you"


"I wish I lived in the power and the light
I wish it wasn't Saturday night
Cause I can't raise hell,
no I can't raise hell for two
no I can't raise hell for two"

He's not quite Bobby Bare Jr., who was nominated for a Grammy for a duet with his father at the age of 5, but still.

* Chromewaves has posted a bunch of pictures taken last night at the bands farewell to Toronto. Other Luna final tour dates can be found here.

* Thomas Pynchon will appear on the Simpson's for a second time on November 14.
I am no more workhorse

* Democracy, by Langston Hughes

Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow's bread.

Is a strong seed
In a great need.

I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.

* "America our nation has been beaten by strangers who have turned our language inside out who have taken the clean words our fathers spoke and made them slimy and foul/their hired men sit on the judge's bench they sit back with their feet on the tables under the dome of the State House they are ignorant of our beliefs they have the dollars the guns the armed forces the power plants/they have built the electric chair and hired the executioner to throw the switch/all right we are two nations."
-- John Dos Passos [via tomothompson]

* Click here for all the election fraud information you might be looking for.

* Dong Resin:

"I took $40 out of an ATM machine this morning. It asked if I wanted a receipt, I pressed 'no', then it flashed a confirmation of my vote for Bush/Cheney in `04 and thanked me."

November 5, 2004

Light the burnt match And stick a flag on it

Look familar?

Free States and Slave States, before the Civil War

Green -- Free states and territories
Red -- Slave states
Tan -- territories open to slavery

Sail in darkness prove that you are free

Photographs by cindy sherman

November 4, 2004

the only law buy low, sell high free marketeers come out to play while 40,000 children die

* Maureen Dowd. excerpt:

"The president got re-elected by dividing the country along fault lines of fear, intolerance, ignorance and religious rule. He doesn't want to heal rifts; he wants to bring any riffraff who disagree to heel.

"W. ran a jihad in America so he can fight one in Iraq - drawing a devoted flock of evangelicals, or 'values voters,' as they call themselves, to the polls by opposing abortion, suffocating stem cell research and supporting a constitutional amendment against gay marriage.

"Mr. Bush, whose administration drummed up fake evidence to trick us into war with Iraq, sticking our troops in an immoral position with no exit strategy, won on 'moral issues.'

"The president says he's 'humbled' and wants to reach out to the whole country. What humbug. The Bushes are always gracious until they don't get their way. If W. didn't reach out after the last election, which he barely grabbed, why would he reach out now that he has what Dick Cheney calls a "broad, nationwide victory"?

"While Mr. Bush was making his little speech about reaching out, Republicans said they had "the green light" to pursue their conservative agenda, like drilling in Alaska's wilderness and rewriting the tax code.

"'He'll be a lot more aggressive in Iraq now,' one Bush insider predicts. 'He'll raze Falluja if he has to. He feels that the election results endorsed his version of the war.' Never mind that the more insurgents American troops kill, the more they create."
"Tom Coburn, the new senator from Oklahoma, has advocated the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions and warned that 'the gay agenda' would undermine the country. He also characterized his race as a choice between 'good and evil' and said he had heard there was 'rampant lesbianism' in Oklahoma schools.

"Jim DeMint, the new senator from South Carolina, said during his campaign that he supported a state G.O.P. platform plank banning gays from teaching in public schools. He explained, 'I would have given the same answer when asked if a single woman who was pregnant and living with her boyfriend should be hired to teach my third-grade children.'

"John Thune, who toppled Tom Daschle, is an anti-abortion Christian conservative - or 'servant leader,' as he was hailed in a campaign ad - who supports constitutional amendments banning flag burning and gay marriage.

"Seeing the exit polls, the Democrats immediately started talking about values and religion. Their sudden passion for wooing Southern white Christian soldiers may put a crimp in Hillary's 2008 campaign (nothing but a wooden stake would stop it). Meanwhile, the blue puddle is comforting itself with the expectation that this loony bunch will fatally overreach, just as Newt Gingrich did in the 90's.

"But with this crowd, it's hard to imagine what would constitute overreaching."

* shut up already tells it like it is, with some of the same day-after anger that is pent up in many of us.
the streets wet you can tell by the sound of the cars

Three poems by Philip Whalen

The Life of Literature

"Wonder whether you or they hold the rights" and would you
care and I wonder what would you do if you had the chance

I just bet you would, you'd
take one look and run away
I bet you would, even if you had the chance
you'd be afraid
you wouldn't take it even then.

"even if it was set before you on a silver platter."

Where there was one there's more
a lot more where that one came from,
to spurt right out the top of my head
"the come of the poem," as Ginsberg says.

Public Opinions

Peter Warshall says that the slow loris moves approximately
three feet per hour.

Donald R. Carpenter says, "I don't do ANY hot water numbers
in the morning."

Allen Ginsberg, reading a poem handed to him by a friend,
says, "AH, that's green armpit poetry."

Irving Oyle says: What did Chekov do but live in a small town
where everybody said, "Some day I'll go to Moscow?"

What I say is that in every toke you could taste the cold
slick throb of real DOPE: fine east india hemp.

Ducky Fault Slip
Ducky False Lip?

"no effect on me whatsoever"

I Told Myself

I told myself that I wasn't going to het high today:
and I told myself that if I did get high
it wasn't going to be on acid --
but I thought to myself, well maybe
if I just broke a little corner off it
there'd still be an awful lot of it left...
a corner off today

November 3, 2004

sometimes I feel so uninspired

Everybody Knows
by Leonard Cohen

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

[via freakgirl]

Bob Mould says it well:

"Last night's outcome leads me to believe the majority of this nation is comprised of God-fearing Christians. We are represented by a leader who has divided the country, and has turned a deaf ear to the rest of the world. We are in a holy war, and our European predecessors are very concerned. We have been instilled with fear: fear of God, fear of the Muslim world, fear everywhere we turn. Fear and hate is in the air; can't you smell it? They call it faith.

"I am truly saddened by the results of this election. As a country, we will pay for this. If you're a left-leaning, progressive, liberal type, you'd better be ready to fight for every inch of your rights. This is much more serious than any of us can imagine; there are many forest fires raging on the political landscape, and not nearly enough water or manpower to put them out. Supreme Court nominations, the Patriot Act, the Holy War, womens' right to choose, the imminent bankrupting of America. One party dominates the entire process, so there are no checks and balances. This is division."

And Kos says:

"Why were we in this fight in the first place? Because terrible leaders are doing terrible things to our country and calling this wonderful. Because radical reactionaries are trying to impose their imperialist schemes on whoever they wish and calling this just. Because amoral oligarchs are determined to enhance their slice of the economic pie and calling this the natural order. Because flag-wrapped ideologues want to chop up civil liberties and call this security. Because myopians are in charge of America’s future.

"We lost on 11/2. Came in second place in a crucial battle whose damage may still be felt decades from now. The despicable record of our foes makes our defeat good reason for disappointment and fear. Even without a mandate over the past four years, they have behaved ruthlessly at home and abroad, failing to listen to objections even from members of their own party. With the mandate of a 3.6-million vote margin, one can only imagine how far their arrogance will take them in their efforts to dismantle 70 years of social legislation and 50+ years of diplomacy."

What the fuck is wrong with this country?

* For what its worth, feeling a little better about whats above after leaving work early, heading home and spending time with one of the more useful birthday presents I've received, and archers of loaf's "freezing point" on repeat.

November 2, 2004

If you don't get out and vote you're not really groovin

* Vote, by Chris Stamey with Yo La Tengo. [via largehearted boy]

* King of Porn, a short film by Jeff Krulik: By day, Ralph Whittington worked among the stacks at the Library of Congress. But when the day was over, he toiled away archiving, cataloging and immersing himself in his world famous pronography collection.

* This pacman-esque game (by Goldie Lookin Chain) is hilarious, though not safe for work. As the disclaimer at travelersdiagram suggests, its a bit rude, but that's alright cos its British.

November 1, 2004

i love nuns when they're sad and hippies when they're cops

* for your election day enjoyment: a quickly recorded rough draft of no exit strategy (motherfucker), by the cut-ups
be good, do what you should, you know it will be alright

* Helen Thomas, just about the only journalist who stuck to her guns and stuck it to the Bush Administration everyday from day one, would win the Dust Congress award for excellence in journalism, if such an award was given. She has just written this must-read column. In Full:

Bush Win Would Mean Dark Times
World Would Perceive Support For Preemptive War

The presidential election on Tuesday is one of the most crucial in American history.

There are many reasons -- in foreign policy and on the domestic front -- why President George W. Bush should not be reelected.

Among them is the dominance of the radical right in his advisory councils, who are taking the United States down the wrong road at the start of the 21st century.

The road could lead to more mindless wars abroad and a widening gap between the rich and the poor in this country.

There will be only one way to read the election results if Bush wins: The world will see his victory as an affirmation by the American people of his disastrous preemptive war policy, which led the United States to invade Iraq without provocation.

The U.S. attack on Iraq is a clear violation of international law and has made us helpless to condemn others for similar acts.

If he wins reelection, Bush may see his victory as a signal to follow the neo-conservative dream of a political transformation of the Middle East through military force.

The president also would likely continue his new-style isolationism by giving short shrift to post-World War II treaties, such as those banning biological and chemical weapons. There is nothing to indicate Bush is willing to stop the gross violations of the Geneva Conventions on the humane treatment of prisoners of war.

Dark reports of the shameful treatment and secret transfers of detainees still emanate from Iraq and the U.S. brig at the Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba.

Despite his vehement denials, Bush may be compelled to call for another military draft if he persists in making war.

He is scraping by now with his all-volunteer military, along with reservists and National Guard members, keeping them on duty longer than planned with a so-called back-door draft. If he wins a second term, he wouldn't have to worry about running again and would have a free hand to undo his read-my-lips campaign promises.

On the homefront, the rich will be sitting pretty again with big tax cuts while the budget deficit and national debt zoom sky high.

Bush donors from the military-industrial complex are being well rewarded, especially Halliburton, formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, which already has reaped no-bid contracts to the tune of billions of dollars.

Organized labor will still be behind the eight ball under a new Bush administration. Workers will be pressured to accept "comp time" in place of overtime pay, and the lowered safety standards imposed by Bush's Labor Department will lead to more industrial accidents.

Don't expect Bush to lift a finger to stem the tide of outsourcing of the nation's biggest companies to China, India and other points East, where they can find cheaper labor.

The president is expected to keep trying to weaken public education with voucher programs to aid private schools, many of them religious. He is certain to follow through on his pet project to privatize part of the Social Security system with voluntary private investment accounts, driving a big hole in the program's trust fund. We should all hope that Congress won't go along with such a dangerous idea.

Social Security was the 1936 Depression-era program to support the elderly, the disabled and deprived dependent children.

Senior citizens, meantime, are staying away in droves from Bush's highly touted prescription drug program, which the administration publicly underpriced by $1 billion. Furthermore, the resident's compassionate conservative legislation banned importation of cheaper drugs from Canada. That is not expected to change in a new Bush term.

Bush also wants to cater to corporate interests by capping damages in medical malpractice suits at $250,000.

If reelected, Bush -- who has injected religion into public affairs more than any president has in modern times -- is expected to continue his messianic mission in the White House. He will blur even more the separation of church and state.

For women and minorities who support abortion rights and affirmative action, there is the scary prospect that the candidate who wins Tuesday may be able to appoint three, perhaps even four Supreme Court justices.

Bush undoubtedly will see his reelection as a mandate to push the country further to the right. And if he is elected, he will be answerable to no one.

all our evaluations are in

* Even Republicans fear Bush. excerpt:

"This country is in the hands of an evil man: Dick Cheney. It is eminently clear that it is he who is running the country, not George W. Bush." -- Former Minnesota Republican Gov. Elmer Andersen

"Nixon was a prince compared to these guys." -- Former U.S. Representative Pete McCloskey, R-California, from an article in the Palo Alto Weekly, September 8, 2004. McCloskey, who is active with Republicans for Kerry, says of members of the Bush administration, "These people believe God has told them what to do. They've high jacked the Republican Party we once knew."

"I served 20 years in the Ohio General Assembly as Republican. People have asked me why I oppose George w. Bush for president. My first response is, 'He is incompetent.' His behavior, his bad judgment, his record, all demonstrate a failure as president. He certainly misled the country into a no-win war in Iraq. Following his preemptive invasion, he totally misjudged the consequences of his action. He made a bad situation worse, fomenting widespread terrorism, all done with a frightful loss of lives and money." -- Former Ohio State Representative John Galbraith, a Republican legislator for 20 years, endorsing Kerry in a letter to The Toledo Blade, September 28, 2004.

"The current administration has run the largest deficits in U.S. history, incurring massive debts that our children and grandchildren will have to pay. Two and a half million people have lost their jobs; trillions have been wiped out of savings and retirement accounts. The income of Americans has declined two years in a row, the first time since the IRS began keeping records. George W. Bush will be the first president since Hoover to have a net job loss under his watch... President Bush wanted to be judged as the CEO president, it is time to say, 'you have failed, and you're fired." -- William Rutherford, former State Treasurer of Oregon, endorsing Kerry as a press conference for Oregon Republicans for Kerry, September 1, 2004.

"If the United States had major media that covered politics, as opposed to the political spin generated by the Bush White House and the official campaigns of both the Republican president and his Democratic challenger, one of the most fascinating, and significant, stories of the 2004 election season would be the abandonment of the Bush reelection effort by senior Republicans. But this is a story that, for the most part, has gone untold. Scant attention was paid to the revelation that one Republican member of the U.S. Senate, Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee, will refrain from voting for his party's president -- despite the fact that Chafee offered a far more thoughtful critique of George W. Bush's presidency than 'Zig-Zag' Zell Miller, the frothing, Democrat-hating Democrat did when he condemned his party's nominee. Beyond the minimal attention to Chafee, most media has neglected the powerful, and often poignant, condemnations of Bush by prominent Republicans."

* Psst. President Bush Is Hard at Work Expanding Government Secrecy. excerpt:

"It is only inevitable, I suppose, that some big issues never make it onto the agenda of a presidential campaign, and other lesser issues, or total nonissues, somehow emerge instead. Electoral politics, as Americans are regularly being reminded these final hard-fought days before the election, is a brutal, messy business, not an antiseptic political science exercise."
"President Bush's antipathy to open government continues to garner only a trivial level of attention compared with the pressing matters that seem to be engaging the country at the moment, including, in no particular order, the Red Sox, Iraq, terrorism, taxes and the mysterious iPod-size bulge visible under the back of Mr. Bush's suit jacket at the first debate. But the implications for a second term are ominous.

"Beyond undermining the constitutional system of checks and balances, undue secrecy is a proven formula for faulty White House decision-making and debilitating scandal. If former President Richard Nixon, the nation's last chief executive with a chronic imperial disdain for what Justice Louis Brandeis famously called the disinfecting power of sunlight, were alive today, I like to think he'd be advising Mr. Bush to choose another role model."
"Under a phony banner of national security, Mr. Bush has reversed reasonable steps by the Clinton administration to narrow the government's capacity to classify documents. Aside from being extremely expensive, the predictably steep recent increase in decisions to classify information runs starkly counter to recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission geared to strengthening oversight of the intelligence agencies.

"Not one for self-criticism - or any kind of criticism, for that matter - President Bush says he's content to leave it to historians to assess his presidential legacy. What he fails to mention is that he has seriously impeded that historical review by issuing a 2001 executive order repealing the presumption of public access to presidential papers embedded in the 1978 Presidential Records Act.

"On a superficial level, the hush-hush treatment of this issue on the fall campaign trail might seem perversely fitting. But Mr. Bush's unilateral rollback of laws and practices designed to promote government accountability surely rates further scrutiny by voters. We've learned over the last four years that what we don't know can hurt us."

* In this poem by David Shulman from 1936 each of the fourteen lines of the poem is an anagram of the title:

Washington Crossing the Delaware

A hard howling tossing water scene
Strong tide was washing hero clean.
"How cold!" Weather stings as in anger.
O silent night shows war ace danger!
The cold waters swashing on in rage.
Redcoats warn slow his hint engage.
When general's star action wish'd "Go!"
He saw his ragged continentals row.
Ah, he stands--sailor crew went going
And so this general watches rowing.
He hastens--Winter again grows cold;
A wet crew gain Hessian stronghold.
George can't lose war with 's hands in;
He's astern--so, go alight, crew, and win!

[via mad ink beard]