December 14, 2004

Tonight I've seen you in a different light

* JFK at the groundbreaking of a library in honor of Robert Rrost in Amherst, Massachusetts, on October 26, 1963:

"Robert Frost...saw poetry as the means of saving power from itself. When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area's of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment."

* Baghdad Burning discusses the current Iraq situation. excerpt:

"The situation seems to be deteriorating daily. To brief you on a few things: Electricity is lousy. Many areas are on the damned 2 hours by 4 hours schedule and there are other areas that are completely in the dark- like A'adhamiya. The problem is that we're not getting much generator electricity because fuel has become such a big problem. People have to wait in line overnight now to fill up the car. It's a mystery. It really is. There was never such a gasoline crisis as the one we're facing now. We're an oil country and yet there isn't enough gasoline to go around...

"Oh don't get me wrong- the governmental people have gasoline (they have special gas stations where there aren't all these annoying people, rubbing their hands with cold and cursing the Americans to the skies)... The Americans have gasoline. The militias get gasoline. It's the people who don't have it. We can sometimes get black-market gasoline but the liter costs around 1250 Iraqi Dinars which is almost $1- compare this to the old price of around 5 cents. It costs almost 50,000 Iraqi Dinars to fill up the generator so that it works for a few hours and then the cost isn't so much the problem as just getting decent gasoline is. So we have to do without electricity most of the day."
...
"People are wondering how America and gang (i.e. Iyad Allawi, etc.) are going to implement democracy in all of this chaos when they can't seem to get the gasoline flowing in a country that virtually swims in oil. There's a rumor that this gasoline crisis has been concocted on purpose in order to keep a minimum of cars on the streets. Others claim that this whole situation is a form of collective punishment because things are really out of control in so many areas in Baghdad- especially the suburbs. The third theory is that this being done purposely so that the Iraq government can amazingly bring the electricity, gasoline, kerosene and cooking gas back in January before the elections and make themselves look like heroes.

"We're also watching the election lists closely. Most people I've talked to aren't going to go to elections. It's simply too dangerous and there's a sense that nothing is going to be achieved anyway. The lists are more or less composed of people affiliated with the very same political parties whose leaders rode in on American tanks. Then you have a handful of tribal sheikhs. Yes- tribal sheikhs. Our country is going to be led by members of religious parties and tribal sheikhs- can anyone say Afghanistan? What's even more irritating is that election lists have to be checked and confirmed by none other than Sistani!! Sistani- the Iranian religious cleric. So basically, this war helped us make a transition from a secular country being run by a dictator to a chaotic country being run by a group of religious clerics. Now, can anyone say 'theocracy in sheeps clothing'?"

* David Byrne reviews a slice joint in New York.

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