July 31, 2007

Glory of love, just might come through

Jasper Johns, Target, 1958

* Last Plane to Jakarta on Tony Snow. in full:

"It's time once more for a post rooted entirely in political hopelessness. Here, try this:

July 24,2007 | WASHINGTON -- The White House said Tuesday that there was nothing improper about Bush administration political advisers briefing top diplomats about key congressional and gubernatorial races and President Bush's re-election goals.

"'You've got political appointees getting political briefings,' White House press secretary Tony Snow said Tuesday with a dose of sarcasm. 'I'm shocked. Shocked.'

"Mr. Snow is not the first political speaker to quote Casablanca in recent days. Indeed, from constantly-running mouths both right and left, you'll hear 'shocked, shocked' as a presumably clever dismissal of an opponent's arguments. It's perhaps instructive, not to say 'illuminating' but who knows, to remember the phrase's original context.

"It is spoken by Captain Renault, played by the immortal Claude Rains. Captain Renault is a corrupt Vichy official on the take. When he closes down Rick's Cafe Americain, he states loudly that he's 'shocked, shocked' to learn that gambling is going on there. The punch line of the scene is that as soon as Renault has delivered the line, a croupier hands him a wad of cash: 'Your winnings, sir.'

"The ongoing simplification of this nifty little exchange - to dumb it down so that it means 'well, duh!' - is perhaps not surprising, but something kinda awesome happens in the process. We now have the President's press secretary using the words of a corrupt Nazi-sympathizing police captain - fictional, to be sure, but drawn from real life - as a way of rebuffing allegations of impropriety within the administration. It is as if the speaker were chastising the press for not taking administrative corruption as a given, like the sun rising in the east. This is one of those situations where the irony seems both subtle and too broad to be true. Last Plane to Jakarta will personally reimburse the journalist brave enough to holler 'your winnings, sir,' while throwing a handful of cash at the next spokesman, politician or pundit whose idea of a role model is the lovable but amoral Captain Renault."

* RIP Michelangelo Antonioni. excerpt:

"Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, whose depiction of alienation made him a symbol of art-house cinema with movies such as 'Blow-Up' and 'L'Avventura,' has died, officials and news reports said Tuesday. He was 94.

"The ANSA news agency said that Antonioni died at his home on Monday evening.

"'With Antonioni dies not only one of the greatest directors but also a master of modernity,' Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni said in a statement."
"His exploration of such intellectual themes as alienation and existential malaise led Halliwell's Film Guide to say that 'L'Avventura,' Antonioni's first critical success, made him 'a hero of the highbrows.'

"The critics loved that film, but the audience hissed when 'L'Avventura' was presented at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. The barest of plots, which wanders through a love affair of a couple, frustrated many viewers for its lack of action and dialogue, characteristically Antonioni.

"In one point in the black-and-white film, the camera lingers and lingers on Monica Vitti, one of Antonioni's favorite actresses, as she plays a blond, restless jet-setter.

"'In the empty, silent spaces of the world, he has found metaphors that illuminate the silent places our hearts, and found in them, too, a strange and terrible beauty: austere, elegant, enigmatic, haunting,' Jack Nicholson said in presenting Antonioni with the career Oscar. Nicholson starred in the director's 1975 film 'The Passenger.'"

* Talking George W. Bush Paranoid Blues.

* Tidbits:

-- A designated area for booksellers existed in the central market in Athens as far back as in the fifth century BC.

-- Every passenger in the non-smoking section of a plane that crashed off Norway in 1948 was killed. Bertrand Russell had been smoking -- and was one of those able to swim to safety.

-- Albert Camus had already purchased a train ticket, between the Vaucluse and Paris, when he made a last minute decision to accept a ride with Michel Gallimard -- which would end in the crash that killed them both.

-- How miraculous it was, noted Diogenes, that whenever one felt that sort of urge, one could readily masterbate. But conversely how disheartening that one could not simply rub one's stomach when hungry.

July 30, 2007

Monday mornin, it was all I hoped it would be

silver juice?, 2007

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"2. The White House

"Of course the attorney general is supposed to avoid committing perjury - unless he's the attorney general appointed by George W. Bush, in which case he's apparently supposed to lie, obfuscate, and basically say any old shit that he can think of in order to protect his boy George. Did I mention that Alberto Gonzales used to be Our Great Leader's personal attorney? Gee, you'd never be able to tell.

"And so last week the White House stuck by the attorney general, pulling excuse after excuse out of its collective ass in an effort to spin Alberto's alleged crimes. Let's take a look at some of the tactics they used last week to weasel their way out of this one.

"The Depends On What The Meaning Of Is Is Tactic

"'Now, when you talk about the terrorist surveillance program, there are many intelligence activities in the American government. We're talking about a very thin slice, limited to exactly what I was telling you about, which is monitoring communications between al Qaeda or suspected al Qaeda affiliates, one in the United States, one overseas.' -- Tony Snow

"The Top Secret Tactic

"'Unfortunately we get into areas that you cannot discuss openly. It's a very complex issue. But the attorney general was speaking consistently. The president supports him. I think at some point this is going to be something where members are going to have to go behind closed doors and have a fuller discussion of the issues. But I can't go any further than that.' -- Tony Snow

"The So What If The Attorney General Is A Crook? The Democrats Are Big Meanies! Tactic

"'They have deliberately had this crusade against him to try to destroy the attorney general.' -- Dana Perino

"The Flat-Out Boneheaded Bullshitter Tactic

"Gonzales 'has testified truthfully and tried to be very accurate.' -- Tony Snow

* RIP Ingmar Bergman. excerpt:

"Ingmar Bergman, the 'poet with the camera' who is considered one of the greatest directors in motion picture history, died today on the small island of Faro where he lived on the Baltic coast of Sweden, Astrid Soderbergh Widding, president of The Ingmar Bergman Foundation, said. Bergman was 89."
"In his more than 40 years in the cinema, Mr. Bergman made about 50 films, often focusing on two themes — the relationship between the sexes, and the relationship between mankind and God. Mr. Bergman found in cinema, he wrote in a 1965 essay, 'a language that literally is spoken from soul to soul in expressions that, almost sensuously, escape the restrictive control of the intellect.'"

"In Bergman, the mind is constantly seeking, constantly inquiring, constantly puzzled.

"Mr. Bergman often acknowledged that his work was autobiographical, but only 'in the way a dream transforms experience and emotions all the time.'"

-- related: "Everything is worth precisely as much as a belch, the difference being that a belch is more satisfying." -- Ingmar Bergman

* MP3s from Will Oldham's October 22, 2006 show at McCabe's Guitar Shop . Will's appearance in a video for a Kanye West song. An excellent video for
The Seedling.

July 27, 2007

Another season, but the same old feelings
Another reason could be
I'm tired of aching, summer's what you make it
But I'll believe what I want to believe

Harry Callahan, Eleanor, Chicago, 1949

The Welsh People
-- Terrance Winch

— for Doug Lang

The Welsh People are waiting for me
in the Childe Harold. It is 1973. The Welsh People
have been drinking and playing Pac Man.

I go out carousing with the Welsh People.
They are all on strike because the authorities
want them to stop stealing books. It is two hours before
closing time and the Welsh People have already had 18 Irish Coffees.
They do not like the authorities. These are my Welsh People.
The Welsh People stop by with all the music of the 1940s
re-arranged Welsh-style onto hundreds of cassette tapes
and we listen all night amid the stolen books. We are
smoking a lot of cigarettes and dope with the Welsh People.
Welsh People like to make lists that have thousands
of items on them and that go back many years.
List-making is an ancient Welsh art, dating back
to Richard Burton, a Welsh person. Some of the other
Welsh People are called William, Anthony, Ivor, Allan,
Dylan, Bob, Tristam, Romney, Meredith, Lucky, Sluggo,
Gwynn, Gwyneth, Glenda, Lloyd, Llewellyn, Puff Daddy,
Becky, Andrea, Mary Ellen, Sandra, Cordelia, Calvin Lewis,
Anthony Hopkins, Tom Jones, Boom-Boom, Rocky, Ringo,
T-Bone, J. J. Lyly, Lefty. But mostly they are named Doug.

I see the Welsh People eating Welsh rabbit, or is it
rarebit? This is cheese and beer on toast. It is very healthy,
the way the Welsh People like everything to be. To build
up your Welsh vocabulary, simply type “Ll,” close your eyes,
and randomly hit letters on the keyboard. Many Welsh People
are known to get angry and set fire to their homes if the landlord
replaces the deluxe toilet bowl with a much smaller one.
The Welsh are called "The Fire People" because of
their magic Chevrolets, which they are not licensed to drive.

Some of the favorite places of the Welsh People are
The Cozy Corner, Kramer’s, The Hotel Wallaby,
The Rondo, Folio Books, The Cafe Splendide, The Fox and Hound,
The Tabard. The Welsh People smoke while playing soccer
near the castle ruins. They prefer taking drugs
and listening to jazz over working in the coal mines.

I want to explain how the Welsh People have phone bills bigger than
their rent, but I can’t.

I am with the Welsh People and they say to me
the trouble with the future is that it doesn’t stop
when it gets to the place you want to be.
I agree.

I am thinking of the Prince of Wales, a royal person.
When he calls his girlfriend and tells her he’d like to be her Tampax
the Welsh People finally accept him as their prince.
Not since Gruffyd ap Llewelyn and Owen Glendower
have the Welsh People been so pleased with a leader.

The Welsh People are riding in a cab, which is
the only officially sanctioned Welsh means of transportation.
I used to worry about the Welsh People until I realized
that they are at one with the universe and are protected
from all harm by their impenetrable spiritual armor
and by all the things they learn by watching cable t.v.
If the food is good, the Welsh People will eat
every last molecule. They will smoke all the cigarettes,
drink all the drinks. This is the secret of their success,
which is itself a secret.

A long time ago, the Welsh People came to America
and began biting Americans on the ass. This delayed
the issuance of their green cards for many years. I used to
think the Welsh People were a bunch of freaks,
wandering around Dupont Circle leaving tips that were
often really just too generous for the service they got, but
now I have come to realize that where there’s smoke
and fire, there’s Welsh People throwing a party.

-- Sam Abrams

I once got high with Miles
and Joe Early
hunched against the wind
in an alley off 2nd
off that fat hash roach

Curriculum Vitae
-- Samuel Menashe


Scribe out of work
At a loss for words
Not his to begin with,
The man life passed by
Stands at the window
Biding his time

Time and again
And now once more
I climb these stairs
Unlock this door—
No name where I live
Alone in my lair
With one bone to pick
And no time to spare

July 26, 2007

when the smell of terror brings a thousand eyes

Lily Cox-Richard, Scenes From the Family Farm (Centreville, VA, 2003)

* New York Times. excerpt:

"The House Judiciary Committee did its duty yesterday, voting to cite Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, and Joshua Bolten, the White House chief of staff, for contempt. The Bush administration has been acting lawlessly in refusing to hand over information that Congress needs to carry out its responsibility to oversee the executive branch and investigate its actions when needed. If the White House continues its obstruction, Congress should use all of the contempt powers at its disposal.

"The committee really had no choice but to hold Ms. Miers in contempt. When she was subpoenaed to testify about the administration’s possibly illegal purge of nine United States attorneys, she simply refused to show up, citing executive privilege. Invoking privilege in response to particular questions might have been warranted — the courts could have decided that later. But simply flouting a Congressional subpoena is not an option.
"If these privilege claims make it to court, it is likely that Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten will lose. The Supreme Court has held that a president’s interest in keeping communications private must be balanced against an investigator’s need for them. In this case, the president’s privacy interest is minimal, since the White House has said he was not involved in purging the United States attorneys. Congress’s need for the information, though, is substantial. It has already turned up an array of acts by administration officials that may have been criminal.

"The administration’s contemptuous attitude toward the constitutional role of Congress was on display again this week when Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He repeatedly refused to answer legitimate questions, and he contradicted himself so frequently that it is hard to believe he was even trying to tell the truth.

"Congress must not capitulate in the White House’s attempt to rob it of its constitutional powers. Now that the committee has acted, the whole House must vote to hold Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten in contempt. The administration has indicated that it is unlikely to allow the United States attorney for the District of Columbia to bring Congress’s contempt charges before a grand jury. That would be a regrettable stance. But if the administration sticks to it, Congress can and should proceed against Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten on its own, using its inherent contempt powers.

"It is not too late for President Bush to spare the country the trauma, and himself the disgrace, of this particular constitutional showdown. There is a simple way out. He should direct Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten to provide Congress with the information to which it is entitled."

* A Trampoline Dunk backfires; and somewhere a new backboard is needed.

* Dust Congress band of the week, St. Paul, Minnesota's Amasser. All the songs are good but make sure to check out Moonwatcher and Data Clip Rig.

* "One has to believe in what one is doing, one has to commit oneself inwardly, in order to do painting. Once obsessed, one ultimately carries it to the point of believing that one might change human beings through painting. But if one lacks this passionate commitment, there is nothing left to do. Then it is best to leave it alone. For basically painting is idiocy." -- Gerhard Richter, 1973

July 25, 2007

pick up my sound signal to you

Irwin Kline, Trash Can Revoltionaries, NYC, late-1960s

“Poetry should be passionate and outrageous and political and most of all revolutionary. I am a radical, although as I get older sometimes I get too soft and am just a liberal.” -- Gerald Stern

Poems by Gerald Stern:

The Bite

I didn’t start taking myself seriously as a poet
until the white began to appear in my cheek.
All before was amusement and affection-
now, like a hare, like a hare, like a hare,
I watch the turtle lift one horrible leg
over the last remaining stile and head
for home, practically roaring with virtue.
Everything, suddenly everything is up there in the mind,
all the beauty of the race gone
and my life merely an allegory.

Swan Legs

just for a second, when Mao stood up and walked
out of the theater in Leningrad the swan
stopped dancing and Khruschev just shrugged his shoulders
and lowered his eyes. Mao’s hatred of tutus
prevailed as his hatred of Russian food
and his hatred of clean napkins. Nixon and Kissinger
sat for the swan in Washington-they passed
notes between them and when they were finished reading
they tore them in tiny pieces. The swan believed
in suffering so she floated across the stage,
well, sort of floated, and so it goes; the pricks
down there in their seats they couldn’t care less, they feasted
on swan legs, they took care of themselves,
yet why should I pick on them, there is enough
feasting even without them. I usually know
pricks, the swan is lucky for such a bird
to do what she does to music, to do it to song,
her head in the air, so misunderstood and hated,
so wrongly loved; first her dark beak swaying,
and that is the violin, and then her leaping,
and that is the harp, or the comb-look at me forgetting
the comb, and the sweet potato, when I was a swan
myself, and I almost floated; the one I remember
she sang and trilled a little, that was a swan
with a voice, the thigh is wider than a chicken’s,
the flesh is dark and stringy; it was vinegar
they forced down the throat, plain distilled white vinegar,
to soften the wild flesh and kill the suffering.

Bob Summers: The Final Poem

There are two men I know who wander around all winter as I do,
half listening and half falling over rocks and curbs.
One is a bicyclist who pedals all day on
an old balloon-tire bike through Upper Black Eddy;
the other is a bridge-walker who wears a long army
overcoat with “P.O.W.” still faintly printed across the back.
There was a third who walked down the streets of Philadelphia,
touching base at the Chess Club and Frank’s and the Greek’s
like a farmer, or beggar, doing the daily round.
If you saw just the back of his head
and his hands waving you would know he was leading you
through one of his darker arguments;
if you followed him further
you would be dragged to a place where every connection was smashed
and the brain had trouble sorting out its own riches.
I last saw him concentrating with all his power
on the problem of simple existence,
trying to match words with places
and blurred thoughts with things,
reducing everyone who knew him or came near him
to a state of either pity or shame
because of his strangeness and clumsiness.
I remember the rope he carried
and the knot of terror he fingered as he daydreamed,
the knot of release, hanging slack like a crown
over the back of his neck,
always ready to guide him through his weakness,
ready to give him back his health and wisdom.

The Dancing

In all these rotten shops, in all this broken furniture
and wrinkled ties and baseball trophies and coffee pots
I have never seen a post-war Philco
with the automatic eye
nor heard Ravel’s “Bolero” the way I did
in 1945 in that tiny living room
on Beechwood Boulevard, nor danced as I did
then, my knives all flashing, my hair all streaming,
my mother red with laughter, my father cupping
his left hand under his armpit, doing the dance
of old Ukraine, the sound of his skin half drum,
half fart, the world at last a meadow,
the three of us whirling and singing, the three of us
screaming and falling, as if we were dying,
as if we could never stop–in 1945–
in Pittsburgh, beautiful filthy Pittsburgh, home
of the evil Mellons, 5,000 miles away
from the other dancing–in Poland and Germany–
oh God of mercy, oh wild God.

July 24, 2007

Out of the blue
and into the black
You pay for this,
but they give you that
And once you're gone,
you can't come back

Jeremy Blake, Dope & Guns Party Candidates, 2007

* From an interview of Hunter S. Thompson. excerpt:

MB: You write passionately about the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention. Was that the death of the American Dream for you? [Protests against the convention were met with unprecedented police brutality]

HST: No, it was just the beginning of the fight. I would say right about now, boy, we're losing. They've got this country turned into a police state. I'm not sure how that term would resound with you, but a police state is a heavy situation.

MB: Well, Bush just authorized the U.S. military to kill American citizens overseas if they're suspected of being terrorists. ["THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Dec. 4, 2002–American citizens working for al-Qaida overseas can legally be targeted and killed by the CIA under President Bush's rules for the war on terrorism, U.S. officials say."]

HST: Yeah, suspected of terrorism. It's not so bizarre that our conversation tonight could be seen by someone in the police station as sympathy for terrorists. What's going on here? Valhalla. All you have to do is keep moving west, and you'll still get arrested.

MB: Bush Sr. has been very quiet these days. Do you think he's still running the show?

HST: The answer is yes, but I wouldn't go out looking for a boogeyman. He's running it in the figurehead sense that his son is the president. I still remember the night, that horrible night I watched the Bush family [on the evening of the 2000 election], the old man laughing like a hyena. I believed Gore could win, and when they called–the whole family, gathered together in Texas–they looked like little piggies, and then the old man and that horrible laugh…

MB: The Bush family history is terrifying. They've been in business with Hitler, Saddam, Osama… [George W. Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, had his stocks in Nazi steel manufacturing removed by Congress in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act.]

HST: And they're Jesus freaks on top of it. Carter was one and I loved Jimmy Carter–we're still good friends–but this is a stupid Jesus freak. Carter deserved the Nobel Prize.

MB: Do you believe the end of the world is coming?

HST: Yeah, it is the end of the world. What, do you think it's going to come on a TV show, right on schedule? Shit. They've been digging this for a long time. Read the fucking Book of Revelations… The end of the world is not just coming; it's here. Until Bush came in it was still possible to be successful, happy. That was two years ago, but now the wheel is turning and I don't think what we're in now will possibly get any better.
MB: In the new book you admit you secretly pray to God.

HST: No, this is far beyond God.

MB: God can't save us now?

HST: There is no God.

MB: A lot of the figures from the '60s have passed on in the last 10 years–Ginsberg, Leary, Kesey–how does it feel to see that era fading away?

HST: You morbid little bastard… Yeah, how does it feel to be the last buffalo? Fuck, I don't know. I don't think anybody knows… When you talk about the '60s, you're talking about people who were scared out of their senses, trying to get the feeling for what the fuck was going on.

[Thompson suddenly screams for his assistant to turn the television volume up to eardrum-shattering levels. The History Channel is airing former U.S. ambassador Adlai Stevenson's Oct. 25, 1962 address to the United Nations General Assembly, demanding that the U.S.S.R. immediately withdraw its nuclear warheads from Cuba. The address on behalf of JFK is widely credited as having prevented the Cold War from going nuclear.]

"This one always gets to me," Thompson says wistfully, captivated for the entire duration of the speech. "You know, it haunts me that I never pursued the 'who killed Kennedy' story. I believe it's the one story I consider a failure. Yeah, I failed, and now the assumption is that obedience is normal–the president is king."

* RIP Theresa Duncan, the talented filmmaker and game designer whose blogthe wit of the staircase I read pretty much everday for the past year or so.

* Tidbits:

-- The revolver with which van Gogh shot himself had been borrowed. Van Gogh claimed he wished to fire at crows that were annoying him as he painted.

-- Jackson Pollock once casually urinated into the fireplace during a cocktail party at Peggy Guggenheim's Manhattan townhouse

-- Benny Goodman once cancelled an engagement at the Hotel New Yorker on the very day it was scheduled to start -- when he was informed that all black musicians connected with his band would have to come and go through the hotel kitchen.

July 23, 2007

snow scenes level lonely bastards

Stephen Shore, Mineral Wells, Texas June, 1972

A quote that I like very much... comes close to explaining my attitude about taking photographs.... "Chinese poetry rarely trespasses beyond the bounds of actuality... the great Chinese poets accept the world exactly as they find it in all its terms and with profound simplicity... they seldom talk about one thing in terms of another; but are able enough and sure enough as artists to make the ultimately exact terms become the beautiful terms." --Stephen Shore

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

1. George W. Bush

"The key judgments of the new National Intelligence estimate were released last week. In a nutshell, Al Qaeda has apparently 'regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability' and will 'leverage the contacts and capabilities' it has gained since the U.S. invaded Iraq. That's Al Qaeda in Pakistan, by the way, since according to Baghdad reporter Michael Ware "al-Qaeda would be lucky to make up 3 percent of the insurgency" in Iraq.

"But pay no attention to all that! Our Great Leader thinks that a resurgent Al Qaeda outside of Iraq is nothing to worry about, and announced last week that, 'Al-Qaida would have been a heck of a lot stronger today had we not stayed on the offensive.' Er, right. And maybe if you'd gone on the offensive against Osama Bin Laden instead of instead Saddam Hussein, it would all be over by now.

"So to the few remaining Bush supporters out there: given the fact that George W. Bush seems to have failed to prevent Al Qaeda from regaining strength, which of the following do you think represents reality?

"a) The president has spent five years pursuing wrong-headed policies which have directly damaged our national security, weakened our defense capability, and threatened our safety, or

"b) The world works like the Dukes of Hazzard, where the U.S. plays bumbling but lovable Roscoe P. Coltrane who week after week manages to show up just as those terroristic Dukes are getting away.

"I mean, do you really think that George W. Bush is doing the absolute best job he can, but those pesky terrorists are always just one step ahead of him? If you honestly don't believe Commander Guy bears any responsibility for making the world a more dangerous place, fair enough - but in that case you must believe that try as he might, he simply isn't quite as competent as the terrorists. Either way, don't we deserve a president who'll be more competent than the terrorists? Could we at least try to rise to that level, for fuck's sake?"

* Condi Rice, another fading star. excerpt:

"I remember the heady days for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"About 2 1/2 years ago, when she was new in office, I accompanied her on her first trip around the world, with stops in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Korea, Japan and China. Crowds gathered to see her limousine drive past; people whistled, waved and cheered. Interviewers routinely asked her whether she was planning to run for president. One TV reporter in India told her she was 'arguably the most powerful woman in the world.' She chuckled but did not exactly agree -- or disagree.

"How things change.

"A few months ago, she decided to write an opinion piece about Lebanon. She enlisted John Chambers, chief executive officer of Cisco Systems as a co-author, and they wrote about public/private partnerships and how they might be of use in rebuilding Lebanon after last summer's war. No one would publish it.

"Think about that. Every one of the major newspapers approached refused to publish an essay by the secretary of state. Price Floyd, who was the State Department's director of media affairs until recently, recalls that it was sent to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and perhaps other papers before the department finally tried a foreign publication, the Financial Times of London, which also turned it down.

"As a last-ditch strategy, the State Department briefly considered translating the article into Arabic and trying a Lebanese paper. But finally they just gave up. 'I kept hearing the same thing: 'There's no news in this.'' Floyd said. The piece, he said, was littered with glowing references to President Bush's wise leadership. 'It read like a campaign document.'"

* From a Paris Review interview of Robert Creeley:

INTERVIEWER: What do you think is the effect of hallucinatory drugs on the creative process?

CREELEY: Terrific! That’s at least what I’d like to say. I think a lot, and at times I can box myself in with all the rationale of army logistics. It can get to be a hopeless log jam. So anyhow the LSD just wiped that out—and fears and tentativenesses and senses of getting lost or of being endlessly separated from the world, all that just went. I can’t claim perhaps so simply that writing was thereby opened but I do know the past year has felt a very active one in consequence. The thing is, it’s information—extraordinary and deeply relieving information.

July 20, 2007

Captivate the senses like a ginger ale rain

Janette Beckman, Shane MacGowan, The Nips, Soho, London, 1981

white, white collars
-- denis johnson

we work in this building and we are hideous
in the fluorescent light, you know our clothes
woke up this morning and swallowed us like jewels
and ride up and down the elevators, filled with us,
turning and returning like the spray of light that goes
around dance-halls among the dancing fools.
my office smells like a theory, but here one weeps
to see the goodness of the world laid bare
and rising with the government on its lips,
the alphabet congealing in the air
around our heads. but in my belly's flames
someone is dancing, calling me by many names
that are secret and filled with light and rise
and break, and I see my previous lives.

Right Beside the Morning Coffee
-- Richard Brautigan

If I write this down, I
will have it in the morning.
The question is: Do I want
to start the day off with

Blue Yodel of the Wayfaring Stranger
-- Frank Stanford

after Pier Paolo Pasolini

I lean my head up against the juke box in the mountains
And think about the three Indian sisters tending bar
The nighthawks come down to sleep
On the knives in my shoulders
As if I was Saint Francis barefooted and all
They come down to cut their own
Throats in the snow
Which falls like the dandruff
Of Jean Cocteau
And I go on thinking of my white horse
Waiting in the roses
I can tell by the look
In its eyes my baby is dead
All my liquor is gone so is my land
I got kicked out of school for sleeping
And I spent what I had
Going to the picture show
Where I was arrested for putfing my fist through a mirror
When this song is finished
I'm leaving this place but first I'm going
Down to the Army Surplus Store
And lay away all I got
On nine guitars

Two Poems for Frank O'Hara
-- Campbell McGrath


Tonight the clouds resemble French surrealists
soft and electric and hot to the touch
hustling north from the New York Public Library
as if to grab the lease of the vacant apartment on E. 49th Street
Frank O’Hara rented for $31 a month in 1952.

Poor clouds. They have no sense of time

and no one has told them about the market system
and, being French, the plane trees in Bryant Park
have filled their beautiful heads
with a lightning storm of longing for Paris.


The School of O’Hara was like the School of Hard Knocks
only less so a school of tickles a school of muffled taps
a school of mittened hands at the piano assaying Rachmaninoff.
All in all Frank was a pretty good teacher he mostly taught
geometry mostly because of his fondness for Pi.
What could be more beautiful than Pi he often said to us
his faithful students who loved him dearly and not least
for a cognac stain in the shape of Delaware Bay on his collar
clearly visible in the light through the windows he threw open
those mornings to the cool clatter of city buses
and the pomp of geraniums potted in rusty cans along the sill
o! what could be more ruthless and beautiful and true
than a science built upon an indeterminable constant?

July 19, 2007

It's a sad and beautiful world

Walker Evans Storefront and Signs, Beaufort, South Carolina, 1936

* George W. Bush: James Madison's nightmare and the president he warned us about. excerpt:

"George W. Bush is the imperial president that James Madison and other founders of this great republic warned us about. He lied the nation into precisely the 'foreign entanglements' that George Washington feared would destroy the experiment in representative government, and he has championed a spurious notion of security over individual liberty, thus eschewing the alarms of Thomas Jefferson as to the deprivation of the inalienable rights of free citizens. But most important, he has used the sledgehammer of war to obliterate the separation of powers that James Madison enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

With the 'war on terror,' Bush has asserted the right of the president to wage war anywhere and for any length of time, at his whim, because the 'terrorists' will always provide a convenient shadowy target. Just the “continual warfare” that Madison warned of in justifying the primary role of Congress in initiating and continuing to finance a war—the very issue now at stake in Bush’s battle with Congress.

In his 'Political Observations,' written years before he served as fourth president of the United States, Madison went on to underscore the dangers of an imperial presidency bloated by war fever. 'In war,' Madison wrote in 1795, at a time when the young republic still faced its share of dangerous enemies, 'the discretionary power of the Executive is extended ... and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.'
"There never was a congressional declaration of war to cover the invasion of Iraq. Instead, President Bush acted under his claimed power as commander in chief, which the Supreme Court has held does allow him to respond to a 'state of war' against the United States. That proviso was clearly a reference to surprise attacks or sudden emergencies.

"The problem is that the 'state of war' in question here was an al-Qaida attack on the U.S. that had nothing whatsoever to do with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Perhaps to spare Congress the embarrassment of formally declaring war against a nation that had not attacked America, Bush settled for a loosely worded resolution supporting his use of military power if Iraq failed to comply with U.N. mandates. This was justified by the White House as a means of strengthening the United Nations in holding Iraq accountable for its WMD arsenal, but as most of the world looked on in dismay, Bush invaded Iraq after U.N. inspectors on the ground discovered that Iraq had no WMD.

"Bush betrayed Congress, which in turn betrayed the American people—just as Madison feared when he wrote: 'Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it compromises and develops the germ of every other.'"

* Why Is Marijuana Still Illegal. excerpt:

"The recent arrest of Al Gore's son in Laguna Niguel for the possession of marijuana and various prescription pills provides the opportunity to ask an important question: Why the heck is marijuana illegal?

"I can drive to dozens of nearby stores and buy enough booze to drink myself to death in one night. Or I can buy enough cigarettes to wreck my health and cut decades off my life.

"These deadly substances, which by some estimates kill hundreds of thousands of people annually, are perfectly legal.

"However, get caught with even a small amount of marijuana, and your life could be turned upside down. You could lose your property, your job, and end up behind bars.

"This is nuts. By all medical evidence, marijuana is far safer than alcohol and tobacco. No one ever died from a marijuana overdose. It's physically impossible. Booze and tobacco are far more likely to cause dependency. And cancer risks from smoking marijuana are virtually nil."
"Would legalizing pot increase use? Again, the IOM: 'There is little evidence that decriminalization of marijuana use necessarily leads to a substantial increase in marijuana use.' Even if it did, it might actually be better if heavy smokers or boozers switched to less-harmful pot.

"All these arguments are important, but they're not the core issue. Bottom line, it's all about freedom. In a free society, adults should be free to do as they choose with their own lives, as long as they don't harm others. Hang-gliding, motorcycle riding, bungee jumping, eating fast food, neglecting exercise ... adults engage in lots of risky behavior. I may not approve, but it's your life, and your sacred right to choose.

"By the same logic, a free person should certainly be able to grow and ingest a common plant.

"Please note I'm not talking about driving under the influence of marijuana. That should be a crime, as it is now with alcohol. Ditto committing other crimes while under the influence. Ditto sale to minors. But these acts are illegal for alcohol, too. Still, we don't outlaw alcohol because some misuse it.

"Marijuana was legal in America right up to the mid-1930s, when a lurid, racist propaganda campaign of claptrap and lies conned Congress into outlawing it. The ban didn't make sense then, and it makes even less sense today."

* Some great record covers.

* "No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft." --H. G. Wells

July 18, 2007

Can't believe how strange it is to be anything at all

Alena "Scooter" Rudolph, Untitled

Against Writing about Children
-- Erin Belieu

When I think of the many people
who privately despise children,
I can't say I'm completely shocked,

having been one. I was not
exceptional, uncomfortable as that is
to admit, and most children are not

exceptional. The particulars of
cruelty, sizes Large and X-Large,
memory gnawing it like

a fat dog, are ordinary: Mean Miss
Smigelsky from the sixth grade;
the orthodontist who

slapped you for crying out. Children
frighten us, other people's and
our own. They reflect

the virused figures in which failure
began. We feel accosted by their
vulnerable natures. Each child turns

into a problematic ocean, a mirrored
body growing denser and more
difficult to navigate until

sunlight merely bounces
off the surface. They become impossible
to sound. Like us, but even weaker.

The Forgotten Dialect Of The Heart
-- Jack Gilbert

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind's labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not laguage but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses, and birds.

The Reductions
-- Rebecca Wolff

Let's go out and buy something. In the sun.

No, let's stay home and make something, the sun floods the room. It
could be green, on paper. It could be money. That's the way to create
new matter.

That's how I detach boats from moorings -- my boat, my mooring -- the
harbor shallow at low tide.

the skiff propelled over buffeting sand flats on

sonic puissance.

* In Praise of William Morris, a new poem by Ed Sanders.

July 17, 2007

They stayed up all night selling cocaine and hash

Georganne Dean, Obsession Persephone

* From Harper's August 2007:

-- Number of Bush appointees who regulate industries they used to represent as lobbyists: 85

-- Number of the five directors of a No Child Left Behind reading program who had financial ties to curricula they developed: 4

-- Average amount each of these directors has received from the publishers of reading materials sold to schools: $727,000

-- Minimum number of U.S. colleges that now offer on-campus sites for the ashes of alumni: 9

-- Estimated amount of oil, in barrels, used to make the bottled-water containers sold in the U.S. last year: 16,000,000

-- Average number of liters of bottled water delivered to U.S. troops in Iraq each day: 1,400,000

* Picasso-inspired car design.

* Deborah Harry on The Merv Griffin Show, 1980.

* During their first four year in the East Hampton farmhouse where they would live until Pollack's death eleven years later, Jackson Pollack and Lee Krasner could not afford to install plumbing for heat and hot water.

July 16, 2007

Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

it's not the heat, it's the humidity, by sharon shapiro

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"4. The Bush Administration

"Heh, remember when that lovable prankster George W. Bush said, 'If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator,' and the press thought it was so cute and funny? Psst... he wasn't joking.

"The Senate is still trying to investigate the U.S. Attorney firings and corruption at the Justice Department, so last week Our Great Leader decided to help out by ordering his former counsel Harriet Miers to ignore a Judiciary Committee subpoena, citing executive privilege. Meanwhile, former Rove aide Sara Taylor assured senators that George W. Bush knew nothing at all about the U.S. Attorney firings but, er, executive privilege prevented her from saying anything else about the conversations he didn't have and wasn't involved in.

"Taylor also told Senators that, 'I took an oath to the president, and I take that oath very seriously,' to which Patrick Leahy replied, 'Did you mean, perhaps, you took an oath to the Constitution?'

"And in a related story, the House committee investigating the death of Pat Tillman has hit a roadblock - you guessed it, the Bush adminstration is refusing to turn over documents, citing executive privilege.

"With his stubborn insistence that 'when the president does it that means it's not illegal' and his Nixon-like approval ratings, one wonders whether George has started talking to the paintings yet."

* The story behind the greatest alcohol icons. excerpt:

"According to company legend, Wild Turkey got its name via this charming tale: In 1940, Austin, Nichols and Co. executive Thomas McCarthy filled a jug of undiluted high-proof bourbon to share with his friends during their annual turkey shoot. His chums liked it so much they insisted he bring more of that 'wild turkey bourbon' to future outings. McCarthy, a N.Y. businessman with a background in marketing, figured there might be a demand beyond his hunt-mates and launched the brand in 1952.

"Nothing enthralls a bourbon drinker more than knowing the aged corn liquor he holds in his hand was conspired by a bewhiskered 19th-century hillbilly, which explains why bourbon distilleries spend so much of their advertising budgets obsessing about their respective histories. Austin, Nichols and Co. (originally a N.Y. based food distributor) likes to hint that they can trace their liquor lineage to 1869, but the fact of the matter is they’re adopting the history of a distiller (Ripy Brothers) they bought out in the mid-20th century.
Why It Worked: The wild turkey is an crafty and, might I say, tasty creature. Benjamin Franklin was so taken by the creature's charms that he wanted it to be our fledgling nation’s national symbol instead of the bald eagle. And since Wild Turkey doesn’t own a deep history that would allow them to put a bewhiskered hillbilly founder on the label, the next best thing is an animal hillbillies might want to shoot.
Dark Secret: It may say Real Kentucky on the label, but Wild Turkey is owned by Frenchmen. The Pernod-Ricard Group bought the distillery in 1980, and they’re not too shy about the fact. Says master distiller Jimmy Russell: 'Wild Turkey is a little family distillery. It’s just that the family lives in Paris.'

Claim to Fame: Was Hunter S. Thompson’s choice of liquor. He rarely traveled without at least one bottle in his bag.

* "Baseball is what we were, football is what we have become." -- Mary McGrory (1918 - 2004)

* In DC? Tonight at Ft. Reno: The Caribbean, with Len Bias and The Ardennes. Free, first band 7:15 pm.

July 13, 2007

secondary painters
stars in their own light

Carol Bove, Strawberries Need Rain (After Dark Photo Collage), 2003

What There Is
-- Kenneth Patchen

In this my green world
Flowers birds are hands
They hold me
I am loved all day

All this pleases me

I am amused
I have to laugh from crying
Trees mountains are arms
I am loved all day

Children grass are tears

I cry
I am loved all day
Pompous makes me laugh
I am amused often enough
In this
My beautiful green world

There's love all day

-- Assata Shakur

i must confess that waltzes
do not move me.
i have no sympathy
for symphonies

i guess i hummed the Blues
too early,
and spent to many midnights
out wailing to the rain

A Driving Student Adjusts the Seat
-- Arlene Ang

When she enters
she has to adjust the seat to her size.
She thinks this is how it feels
to drive a stolen car
She leans against the wheel to change
the recline angle and smells
what she's learned to call
the starvation of damp-palmed girls.
The wipers go off. Like chemistry class,
that boy in the skeleton closet
rubbing vapor from his glasses.
For a whole year, he made room for her
in his homework, his tree house.
She is different now.
She is taller. She uses a sharper blade
to shave between the legs.
When her elbows push
against her breasts, she knows
she's come too near.
She slides back. And forth.
Then back again. Her movements
are arrhythmic, spurred, ose .
The driving instructor predicts a good day
for doing curves. His hands
around the stress ball open. Close.

Blues for Dante Alighieri
-- by Kim Addonizio

....without hope we live on in desire....

Our room was too small, the sheets scratchy and hot—
Our room was a kind of hell, we thought,
and killed a half-liter of Drambuie we'd bought.

We walked over the Arno and back across.
We walked all day, and in the evening, lost,
argued and wandered in circles. At last

we found our hotel. The next day we left for Rome.
We found the Intercontinental, and a church full of bones,
and ate takeout Chinese in our suite, alone.

It wasn't a great journey, only a side trip.
It wasn't love for eternity, or any such crap;
it was just something that happened....

We packed suitcases, returned the rental car.
We packed souvenirs, and repaired to the airport bar
and talked about pornography, and movie stars.

July 12, 2007

We will rise in anger, love and ardour,
Shining, shining, shimmering in loves armour

Kini Collins, City Bird, 2007

* I Wish I Worked In the Bush Administration. excerpt:

"I really, really want to be a member of the Bush administration. I wish I'd realized what a cool job it was earlier, but there's still time. Let's look at the perks.

"For one thing, I could get a nickname. I've never had a nickname. It could be Jon-Boy or Mr. Toasty or Smallfoot -- the president does not have a flair for nicknames, only a penchant -- but quality is not really the issue. I mean, Scooter is a dopey nickname, and yet Scooter Libby still got to be the assistant to the Eater of Worlds. He would still hold that job had he not been caught lying.

"That's another thing I could do as a member of the Bush administration: I could lie. I could lie to Congress and the FBI and pretty much everybody, knowing the president had my back. If I ever got caught (not likely), brought to trial (less likely) and convicted (heh!), I'd just have to wait until after the sentencing and get a pardon or a commutation or a surgical extraction from a minimum-security prison.

"And, if all that fails, I'd still have the Supreme Court on my side. Scalia could write an opinion explaining that it was never the intention of the framers of the Constitution for me to go to jail. Heck, they didn't even know me.

"If I were a lawyer, I might worry that a felony conviction would hamper my ability to practice law. But then I would remember: I haven't practiced law in 30 years. I could become a lobbyist and hang out with my friends, or I could just retire with my ill-gotten gains.

"Another advantage of being a member of the Bush administration: ill-gotten gains.

"And suppose I were to invite a pig to a meeting of my top aides. If some disaffected ex-employee mentioned my habit of bringing pigs into the room, I could say that I have no recollection of any pig in the room. When faced with evidence to the contrary, I could say that, although I have no memory of a pig being in the room, I now accept that there was a pig in the room. All I remember about the meeting was the cookies in the center of the table. Apparently, the pig also remembered the cookies.
"This is an important part of being part of the Bush administration: remembering that I hate the government, even though I am part of the government. The thing I really hate is taxes. I want taxes to be so low that they cover only the costs of whatever war my administration wants to fight, plus pay my mining people. The rest of it: Hey, isn't that why we have faith-based private organizations? They take up the slack. They fill the need. The government doesn't fill the need; it just digs the holes.

"If things got really hot for me, I just could declare that I was a separate branch of government. The Department of Gold and Wars, which I head, is not really part of the executive branch because my duties include 'laying down the law' to insubordinate underlings, which clearly falls within the purview of the legislative branch. So, actually, no laws at all apply to me at any time, ever, and I am free to kill any celebrities who annoy me.

"Finally, I would get to appoint my friends to stuff. Are you my friend? Would you like to be a federal prosecutor? How about an inspector of mines? Plenty of positions open at the Park Service. Want to wear a cute hat and point at squirrels? We could get a special secret appropriation for your salary (whaddya think? $300K? Sound about right?), and you could live in a brown building surrounded by lonely young men and women."

* 10 sales/marketing tips learned from strippers.

* Bonnie Prince Billie answers nine questions. excerpt:

HHEX65: The electric banjo-- have you used one? Recorded or played live with one? What are your thoughts on this instrument?

BONNIE PRINCE BILLY: My memories are like Coloured Balls in a ping pong pool; I can't find the one, if there is one, that contains an electric banjo. I had an electric guitar with a dobro-style resonating drum in it. when it was plugged in, it sounded like an electric guitar. when unplugged, it sounded like a banjo. It was better to have the two instruments, in the end.

* Years of pizza research make an expert.

* "I hope I never get so old I get religious." -- Ingmar Bergman

July 11, 2007

All that foreign oil controlling American soil

Marcel Janco, Untitled (Mask, Portrait of Tzara), 1919

The Summer Day
-- Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down--
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

My Generation Reading the Newspapers
-- Kenneth Patchen

We must be slow and delicate; return
the policeman's stare with some esteem,
remember this is not a shadow play
of doves and geese but this is now
the time to write it down, record the words—
I mean we should have left some pride
of youth and not forget the destiny of men
who say goodbye to the wives and homes
they've read about at breakfast in a restaurant:
"My love."—without regret or bitterness
obtain the measure of the stride we make,
the latest song has chosen a theme of love
delivering us from all evil—destroy. . . ?
why no. . . this too is fanciful. . . funny how
hard it is to be slow and delicate in this,
this thing of framing words to mark this grave
I mean nothing short of blood in every street
on earth can fitly voice the loss of these.

For Mac
-- Jack Spicer

A dead starfish on a beach
He has five branches
Representing the five senses
Representing the jokes we did not tell each other
Call the earth flat
Call other people human
But let this creature lie
Flat upon our senses
Like a love
Prefigured in the sea
That died.
And went to water
All the oceans
Of emotion. All the oceans of emotion
are full of such fish
Is this dead one of such importance?

-- Charles Bukowski

one of Lorca's best lines
"agony, always
agony ..."

think of this when you
kill a
cockroach or
pick up a razor to

or awaken in the morning
face the

July 10, 2007

i drink my liquor from the palm
of a child who spoke in tongues

Roswell Angier, Coty Lee, Moustrap Caberet, 1975

* Corrent Wire: Come Home America. excerpt:

"It is time to come home America, home to the cities that have been flooded, the forests left untended, the fields left untilled. It is time to come home America, to the work left undone, the minds left unschooled. It is time to come America, to the home you did not leave behind, because no home ever lasts if left unrepaired.
It is time to come home America, and when you do, you will ask how you ever let that home be put into hands such as the ones that now have it. You will wonder at how they ever seemed to be giants, and on the back of which ant the cameras were mounted to make them look that way.

"It is time America to come home. Home to the words which we written on parchment, printed on paper, but engraved on hearts and minds, with stylus of firearms, and ink mixed of blood and gunpowder: 'when it becomes destructive to these ends to alter or abolish it.'

"Look at the man who wields the seal of 13 arrows and 13 stars, of 13 leaves and 13 olives, of 13 stripes and countless hopes and dreams. Ask yourself a single question: is he worthy of placing your sons lives in his hands? Hands that have signed so many laws unjust, unwise and unAmerican. Hands which have rubber stamped commands from other unelected. Ask yourself if his words are to be trusted, coming from the same mouth that has spat out so many of us on to the ground.
"Come home America, while there is yet time, let not the sands cover us, nor the waters wash us away. It is not out there that our freedom lives, but here. It is not a Vatican in Baghdad that we must build, but a shining city on hill which we must rebuild, our golden domes pealing, our silver stars tarnished, our private places violated by rude disruption, for an adventure we did not wish, nor want. Let dead ceasers have their triumphs, let forgotten pharaohs have their obelisks. Let emperors have their might tombs, let them have them, one and all their arcs and boulevards.

* Script changes made so The Big Lebowski,one of the most profane films of all times with 260 uses of the word 'fuck,' can be shown on TV.

* The Caribbean have two upcoming DC shows:

-- Wednesday July 11
1353 H Street NE @ 9PM
W/NOMO (really cool Afro-Funk from Ann Arbor, MI)

-- Monday July 16
Chesapeake St. & Nebraska Avenue
[Across from Wilson High School]
FREE!!! @ 8PM

Following the DC shows they head out west for a short tour, catch them if you can:

Thursday, August 2nd: Hi-Dive, Denver, CO
Friday, August 3rd: Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City, UT
Saturday, August 4th: Flying M Coffeegarage, Boise, ID
Sunday, August 5th: Towne Lounge, Portland, OR, w/Davis Hooker
Monday, August 6th: SS Marie Antoinette, Seattle, WA
Wednesday, August 8th: Hemlock Tavern, San Francisco, CA
Thursday, August 9th: Pehrspace, Los Angeles, CA, w/Brad Laner
Saturday, August 11th: Trilogy Lounge, Boulder, CO

* Tidbit: George Washington left no children of his own, but a great-granddaughter of Martha's, by way of her earlier marriage, married Robert E. Lee.

* "If Republicans would stop telling lies about democrats, we would stop telling the truth about them." -- Adlai Stevenson

July 9, 2007

I dreamed that I could do the job that others hadn't done
I dreamed that I was uncorrupt and fair to everyone
I dreamed I wasn't gross or base, a criminal on the take

unknown, william burroughs

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"In the wake of Our Great Leader's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence, Republican talking heads have had just one straw to clutch at - the infamous 'Clinton did it too' defense. Clinton committed perjury! Clinton gave out dubious pardons! Whatever. If the 'returning honor and integrity to the White House' administration wants to claim that at its best it's the same as the Clinton administration at its worst, that's fine with me. It must be a disappointment to the people who voted for them, but there you go.

"Let's recap:

"Bill Clinton was brought before a grand jury after a years-long investigation into the contents of his underpants, an issue that most reasonable people thought was a frivolous waste of time but conservatives considered to be of the utmost importance. (So much so, in fact, that some of them considered Clinton's anti-terrorism efforts to be a distraction from his penis.) As part of a deal to end the investigation Clinton later admitted that he lied about his affair before a grand jury and thus avoided criminal prosecution. Closing the investigation, Ken Starr's successor Robert Ray said, 'This matter is now concluded. May history and the American people judge that it has been concluded justly.'

"Scooter Libby was investigated by the FBI after the CIA complained that members of the Bush administration had leaked the identity of a covert CIA operative during a time of war, an issue which most reasonable people thought was potentially a serious breach of national security and conservatives considered to be of no consequence whatsoever. During the investigation Scooter Libby lied to the FBI, refused to cut a deal, pleaded not guilty, and was subsequently convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice by a jury of his peers and sentenced to 30 months in prison by a Bush-appointed judge.

"All the conservative pundits I've seen on TV this past week seem to be utterly confused by this. For example, the other day Kate O'Beirne actually argued that Scooter Libby's conviction was bogus because 'we don't have an admission of perjury and obstruction of justice, like we do in Bill Clinton's case.' The fact that Bill Clinton was never prosecuted (although he was impeached by the House and later acquitted by the Senate) but Scooter Libby was actually tried and convicted seemed to have completely escaped her. Scooter never admitted it so he must be innocent! He's an honest man, not like that lying judge and jury! Er, hello?

"Perhaps if Libby had followed Clinton's example and owned up to wrongdoing he wouldn't have been prosecuted either - or at worst gotten his sentence reduced to, oh, I don't know, probation and a fine. But he thought he could weasel his way out of it, and he was mistaken.

"So since King George decided to spare his former assistant from having to spend a single day in jail for his crimes, I thought this week it might be interesting to compare some quotes by conservatives past and present (along with a few news items) to find out how well they're doing with that whole returning honor and integrity to the White House thing."

--- related: Atrios pulled up a David Broder column discussing the Bush 1 pardons. The article is dated January 1993. Read the whole column. Here is the pertinent section:

"Today, many of those newspapers are condemning Bush for pardoning Weinberger and for failing to acknowledge the wrongdoing in the Iran-contra affair. They should look to their own behavior before they cast stones.

"And so should we all. The voters were outraged by the petty finagling of the House bank scandal, but forgive far more serious breaches of trust. Until this society is prepared to condemn and to shun those who abuse their governmental authority, there is no point in having special prosecutors or others trying to squeeze these cases through the criminal justice system.

"We don't need more convictions and pardons of government officials. We need scorn and shame for those who violate their oaths of office. And that is a penalty that the American people -- and only the American people -- can invoke." [emphasis added]

* "Now that a certain portion of mankind does not believe at all in the existence of the gods, a rational legislation ought to do away with the oaths." -- Plato -- 2,310 years before an act of the United States Congress added the phrase under God to the Pledge of Allegiance.

July 4, 2007

Who's the man who hired all the criminals
The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
They bend the facts to fit with their new stories
Of why we have to send our men to war

Happy Fourth of July

A Klipschutz poem:


(Texas crude)

Down in the ranchland, down where the oil
Is paid for in buckets of blood
A horse named George
Who lost every race
Still put himself out to stud

He fucked everything up that moves

And not even a horseshit-whisperer
Of a groom will take the fall
George, Trainer Dick says,
Piss on the flag
Feels good, huh? Piss on ’em all

-- back Monday

July 2, 2007

I don't need this corporation attitude

Vladimir Nabokov, Ithaca, New York, 1958

* I'm upset with but not surprised by the antics of our activist president.

-- related: Soft on Crime. excerpt:

"Judging from his decision yesterday to commute the 30-month sentence of I. Lewis Libby Jr. — who was charged with perjury and convicted — untarnished ideals are less of a priority than protecting the secrets of his inner circle and mollifying the tiny slice of right-wing Americans left in his political base.
"It seems clear from the record that Vice President Dick Cheney organized a campaign to discredit Mr. Wilson. And Mr. Libby, who was Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, was willing to lie to protect his boss.

"That made Mr. Libby the darling of the right, which demanded that Mr. Bush pardon him. Those same Republicans have been rebelling against Mr. Bush, most recently on immigration reform, while Democrats in Congress have pursued an investigation into whether Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney lied about Iraq’s weapons programs.

"All of this put immense pressure on the president to do something before Mr. Libby went to jail. But none of it was justification for the baldly political act of commuting his sentence.

"Mr. Bush’s assertion that he respected the verdict but considered the sentence excessive only underscored the way this president is tough on crime when it’s committed by common folk. As governor of Texas, he was infamous for joking about the impending execution of Karla Faye Tucker, a killer who became a born-again Christian on death row. As president, he has repeatedly put himself and those on his team, especially Mr. Cheney, above the law.

"Within minutes of the Libby announcement, the same Republican commentators who fulminated when Paris Hilton got a few days knocked off her time in a county lockup were parroting Mr. Bush’s contention that a fine, probation and reputation damage were “harsh punishment” enough for Mr. Libby.

"Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell."

* Keep track of PJ while he is traveling to Shanghai, Helsinki, and Moscow as an art courier on behalf of the Terra Foundation for American Art.

* Help stereogab get the Aliens (ex beta band) to come to dc. (click now).

* "I think in the whole world things are going very badly. People are becoming more materialist and cruel . . . Cruel by laziness, by indifference, egotism, becuase they only think about themselves and not at all about what is happening around them, so they let everything grow ugly and stupid. They are all interested in money only. Money is becoming their God. God doesn't exist for many. Money is becoming something you must live for. You know, even your astronauts, the first one who put his foot on the moon, said that when he first saw our earth, he said it was something so miraculous, so marvelous, don't spoil it, don't touch it. More deeply I feel the rotten way they are spoiling the earth. All the countries. Silence doesn't exist anymore; you can't find it. That, for me, would make it impossible to live." -- Robert Bresson