September 28, 2006

I downshifted as I pulled into the driveway


Jessica Stockholder, Your Skin in this Weather Bourne Eye-Threads & Swollen Perfume

* Joe Allen asks where are the protests? excerpt:

"By every conceivable measure, the antiwar movement in the United States should be a vibrant, mass movement.

"Forty percent or less of the U.S. population gives the Bush administration a favorable job rating; other polls show that two-thirds of Americans think the Iraq war was a 'mistake;' and, most importantly, 80 percent of Iraqis want the U.S.-British occupation of their country to end.

"The increasing number of U.S. war dead and the inadequate treatment of injured and disabled veterans has infuriated many people in the U.S., while the exposure of torture and war crimes by U.S. military personnel has wiped away any 'moral superiority' the U.S. claimed over its former client Saddam Hussein.

"When one adds this list to the mounting social cost of paying for the war with increasing cuts in social welfare programs, one has to ask: why is our antiwar movement so passive?

"The reasons for this are many. The Democrats--the so-called 'opposition' party in the U.S.--have provided crucial support for the war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. There's also the hold of liberalism--which from the time of FDR through Clinton has always supported an aggressive U.S. foreign policy--on the U.S. left. The low level of class struggle, despite the huge inequalities of U.S. society and workers' growing alienation from the political establishment, is another factor.

"Another crucial reason for the weakness of the antiwar movement is the political course chosen by United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), the largest and most visible antiwar coalition in the U.S.
...
"What sense does it make for antiwar activists to support a party that worked to defeat one of tiny number of opponents of the Iraq War among its ranks?

"The antiwar movement in the United States needs to oppose the various phony 'exit strategies' put forward by the Democratic Party. Some are just election-year posturing to fool voters disgusted by Bush and Rumsfeld, while others--for example, Rep. John Murtha's "redeployment" plan--are schemes for continuing the war on Iraq from outside its borders, most likely by intensified bombing.

"The demand for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan is the only principled and practical position that the antiwar movement can take to end the misery brought to the region by the United States. Support for the Democratic Party is pulling antiwar organizations further from this principled position--and must be rejected."

-- related: Iraq war now costs approximately two billion per week.

* From a 2003 interview of robert stone. excerpt:

Interviewer: You aren't a believer in God, but you are certainly fascinated with the issues that religion(s) are concerned with.

Robert Stone: I am not a believer in God. I have been a believer in God. I am obsessed with the absence of God. I believe in that phrase from Pascal, that says—I can't remember where I used it—I think it's in Damascus Gate, where he reads somewhere in Pascal, 'Everything on Earth gives a sign of the divine presence. Everywhere we look there seems to be evidence of it. And it never yields itself to our discovery. And yet it seems to be everywhere.' Or as in the Kabalistic notions, it is as though God has separated himself forever and would have to be put together by gathering up all these items of light which is a virtually impossible task. That whatever that was, whether it was some kind of physical force, big burst, or blast we have seen the last of it, and yet it has conditioned the way we feel and what we want for all eternity. I think we go without it, we go with this longing and with this kind of half hallucination that we are seeing it out there. We want it to be there. There is almost a psychological space for it to be there, as Pascal was suggesting and yet as far as we can discover… I mean because I am finally a pragmatist when I come right down to it. I do admit that faith is not what you believe, it's not about believing in a body of doctrine. Faith is something else. Well, I don't have the body of doctrine. But I don't have the faith either. Which is an insistence that somehow that things are all right and as they should be. I don't have that.
...
Interviewer: Why did you become a writer?

Robert Stone: It was what I did best. I always wrote English best. I always got rewarded for what I had written. I plainly felt that this was one thing that I could do that—you know. Some guys had things that they could do that they did better than the other guys. This was what I did. And that was a way I could make my way through life one way or the other. I was in the Navy and I was a radio operator and got the chance to become what the Navy calls a journalist. And so I was a writer in one form or another ever since I was quite young. I worked in tabloids; I worked in writing advertising copy. Didn't much bother me to have to do that. I accepted it as…

* Billy Collins believes highlighters are tools of the devil.

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