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Tuesday, March 25, 2003.

Things That Make You Go, Oh My God...

By way of Peking Duck comes this cheery little insight into the personality of President You're Either With Us Or Against Us:

"Bush is not an imbecile. He's not a puppet. I think that Bush is a sociopathic personality. I think he's incapable of empathy. He has an inordinate sense of his own entitlement, and he's a very skilled manipulator. And in all the snickering about his alleged idiocy, this is what a lot of people miss."

Miller's judgment, that the president might suffer from a bona fide personality disorder, almost makes one long for the less menacing notion currently making the rounds: that the White House's current occupant is, in fact, simply an idiot.

If only. Miller's rendering of the president is bleaker than that. In studying Bush's various adventures in oration, he started to see a pattern emerging.

"He has no trouble speaking off the cuff when he's speaking punitively, when he's talking about violence, when he's talking about revenge.

"When he struts and thumps his chest, his syntax and grammar are fine," Miller said.

"It's only when he leaps into the wild blue yonder of compassion, or idealism, or altruism, that he makes these hilarious mistakes."

That's Mark Crispin Miller, author of the Bush Dyslexicon, who goes on to day that equating Bush's malapropisms with Quayle's inability to spell "potato" is a dangerous assumption...:

At a public address in Nashville, Tenn., in September, Bush provided one of his most memorable stumbles. Trying to give strength to his case that Saddam Hussein had already deceived the West concerning his store of weapons, Bush was scripted to offer an old saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. What came out was the following:

"Fool me once, shame ... shame on ... you." Long, uncomfortable pause. "Fool me can't get fooled again!"

Played for laughs everywhere, Miller saw a darkness underlying the gaffe.

"There's an episode of Happy Days, where The Fonz has to say, `I'm sorry' and can't do it. Same thing," Miller said.

"What's revealing about this is that Bush could not say, `Shame on me' to save his life. That's a completely alien idea to him. This is a guy who is absolutely proud of his own inflexibility and rectitude."

CalPundit noted recently the striking way Smirk holds grudges, quoting from a recent Washington Post article which says that GOP lawmakers and lobbyists say the tactics the Bush administration uses on friends and allies have been uniquely fierce and vindictive. Well...yes. Look at the man's power base. These aren't Rockefeller republicans, hell, they aren't even Goldwater republicans. They're Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh republicans. They're Bob Jones and Pat Robertson republicans. Vindictive, paranoid gutter crawlers, with that burning resentful hatred of everything fine and noble that's possible to humanity, that comes from having to live with their own failure of character 24/7. They face life by manipulating others, and they hate with a passion those who can face life on their own, who face it with joy and awe.

God Almighty I am glad this man was not our president during the cold war, or this good earth would be nuclear ash by now. Not that he isn't trying his best with what he's got to work with.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Stand Here, And See The Future...

From The Guardian.

Hopes of a joyful liberation of a grateful Iraq by US and British armies are evaporating fast in the Euphrates valley as a sense of bitterness, germinated from blood spilled and humiliations endured, begins to grow in the hearts of invaded and invader alike.

Attempts by US marines to take bridges over the river Euphrates, which passes through Nassiriya, have become bogged down in casualties and troops taken prisoner. The marines, in turn, have responded harshly.

Out in the plain west of the city, marines shepherding a gigantic series of convoys north towards Baghdad have reacted to ragged sniping with an aggressive series of house searches and arrests.

A surgical assistant at the Saddam hospital in Nassiriya, interviewed at a marine check point outside the city, said that on Sunday, half an hour after two dead marines were brought into the hospital, US aircraft dropped what he described as three or four cluster bombs on civilian areas, killing 10 and wounding 200.
by Bruce Garrett | Link


McNamara II

From Philly.Com, headlined, Rumsfeld's strategy under fire as war risks become increasingly apparent

"The Secretary of Defense cut off the flow of Army units, saying this thing would be over in two days," said a retired senior general who has followed the evolution of the war plan. "He shut down movement of the 1st Cavalry Division and the1st Armored Division. Now we don't even have a nominal ground force."

He added ruefully: "As in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan, we are using concepts and methods that are entirely unproved. If your strategy and assumptions are flawed, there is nothing in the well to draw from."

In addition, said senior administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, Rumsfeld and his civilian aides rewrote parts of the military services' plans for shipping U.S. forces to the Persian Gulf, which they said resulted in a number of mistakes and delays, and also changed plans for calling up some reserve and National Guard units.

"There was nothing too small for them to meddle with," said one senior official. "It's caused no end of problems, but I think we've managed to overcome them all."

The above article also contains this little morsel of naked irony:

Robin Dorff, the director of national security strategy at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., said three things have gone wrong in the campaign:

_A "mismatch between expectations and reality."...

Yeah...that was item one on the list all right. It's what you get when your nation is led by a man who demands sycophancy from everyone around him, and never forgets the one moment you didn't give him that absolute blind loyalty. You're either with us (me) or against us (me). Such a man, when given power, is quickly surrounded by a comfortable little cocoon of ass kissers, where never is heard a discouraging word, and he can't remember when he last heard from that thing called reality.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Monday, March 24, 2003.

One final thought for the day, from Tom Tomorrow. I really had to post this one...

Afterthought: we took a lot of lessons from 9/11, but it occurs to me that there's one we might have overlooked--when you attack a nation, people tend to rally around their leader, even if they hate him.

So Tell Me...Which Is The Greater Disgrace...A Nation Without A Free Press, Or A Nation With A Free Press That Sells Out...?

I see the fifth estate is making hay of the televised pictures of American POWS. Evidence they say, without any apparent irony, of Iraq's contempt for the Geneva Convention. And where the hell were they when the pictures of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay being subjected to sensory deprivation were being broadcast? Uh...they were...uh...broadcasting them. But then they aren't really POWs...they're "illegal combatants". And Iraq is guilty of violating the Geneva Convention.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


That Morning After Chugging Down A Fifth Of Splendid Little War Feeling...

Tom Tomorrow has a good one up now on his web log. Posting a short transcript from Meet The Press, wherein Celebrity Journalist Tim Russert says that it's "very difficult to have any tolerance for people who are saying, 'Wait a minute,' although that is what America is all about", the cartoonist asks:

And why is that, exactly, Mr. Russert?

Why is it "very difficult to have any tolerance" for the people who never wanted to send American soldiers into this battle to begin with?

In the exceedingly unlikely event that the anti-war movement had won the day, those servicemen would still be alive this morning.

It all unfolds with ritualized familiarity. The people who clamor for war downplay or ignore the obvious consequence of war--that human beings on both sides are going to lose their lives. Until the dying starts, and then their anger is focused on those who opposed the war from the start.

Right.

Right. I see Andrew Sullivan is busy blaming the fact that this war wasn't the cake walk it was supposed to be on the dissenters. Dissent in America encourages the Enemy. Dissent in America is prolonging the war. Gosh, where have I heard that one before? And in response, TBogg makes a really good point here:

What did he think was going to happen? That the Iraqi soldiers were going to stand in formation with musket loaders while drummers and pipers played behind them? That they wouldn't use their media for propaganda purposes? Here's a news flash: Saddam or no Saddam, these people are fighting for their homes and country against an invading army.

Human territorial imperative. Is it irrational for people to fight against an invading army, when that invading army is after the head of the blood thirsty dictator who has brutalized their country for decades? In a purely intellectual sense, you could say it is. But the human identity isn't a blackboard that white house spin doctors can scribble all over at will. It's one thing to drive a foreign dictator out of a country, as we did in Kuwait, or as we did in liberating most of Europe. It's another to go after a native despot, even if he is despised. The fighting in Germany during WWII was not like the fighting in France. We had to just about reduce Germany to rubble.

Meanwhile, Donald Rumsfeld is hastily assuring the press that the bombardment of Baghdad is not another Dresden (did we say 'Shock and Awe?' Oh goodness...we meant 'Surgical and Away From Civilians'...) He knows the social and political firestorm that will sweep the middle east, let alone the rest of the world, as a result of massive civilian casualties. He's talking precision this and precision that. Once upon a time another defense secretary tried to wage a delicate war, with one eye on political considerations. His name was McNamara.

The lesson some of us thought we'd learned as a nation from Vietnam, is that war makes a good political instrument, like a chainsaw makes a good pair of tweezers. War is chaos and bloodshed and horror and you can't call yourself civilized if you embrace it for any other purpose but self defence. Conquerors have no moral basis from which to wage war, they are thieves turning the blood of innocents into their own personal riches, or worse, monsters who hate humanity, and wage war against all human achievement, all nobility, against civilization itself. Our problem now, is that we are trying to wage what is essentially a war of conquest, as though it were a war of self defense, a lie almost no one outside of the Bush cult of personality actually believes. Now we're damned if we do, and damned if we don't. We fight this thing like our survival really is at stake, and thousands of innocent Iraqis die in the holocaust we rain down on them and the world will, rightly, regard America as a criminal nation. But if we try to finesse it, a little of the right amount of force here...a little of the right amount of force there...so we don't get all that much bad press, and then we get our own soliders trapped in a bloody slow death dance of attrition, that gets bigger and bigger as more and more of the middle east becomes involved.

And if that happens, you can be sure the American facist right will be whipping up a furious domestic war against all their favorite scapegoats.

SALEM -- The harshest critics of the war protests in downtown Portland angrily called the demonstrators "terrorists" and wished aloud that the police and courts would treat them as such.

This morning, that idea gets put to the test at the Oregon Legislature, where a ranking senator has introduced a bill to "create the crime of terrorism" and apply it to people who intentionally cause injury while disrupting commerce or traffic.

If convicted, they would face imprisonment for life.

Senate Bill 742 is the brainchild of Sen. John Minnis, R-Wood Village, a Portland police detective who also serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

You can read the rest of it here. And by way of Notes on the Atrocities here is the text of the bill itself:

SECTION 1. { + (1) A person commits the crime of terrorism if the person knowingly plans, participates in or carries out any act that is intended, by at least one of its participants, to disrupt:

(a) The free and orderly assembly of the inhabitants of the State of Oregon;

(b) Commerce or the transportation systems of the State of Oregon; or

(c) The educational or governmental institutions of the State of Oregon or its inhabitants.

Why is the fact that the guy who introduced this bill is a republican not surprising?

I have never feared more for my country then I do now. And I am someone who did duck and cover drills in elementary school, can still remember the sound of the news announcer on the radio, telling me that President Kennedy was shot, and the day I read Ronald Reagan's Deputy undersecretary of Defense say that America could survive an all out nuclear war if there are enough shovels to go around.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Calling It For What It Is...

Wow...Jimmy Breslin really connects with this one:

To begin with, I wonder if anybody watching this shock and awe bombing has noted that Iraq doesn't have a plane.

And that their anti-aircraft fire has not damaged one plane this time, nor has it shot down one plane in 15 years of firing at American planes bombing their military sites.

Using the phrase "shock and awe" is a grubby effort to find a slogan. Why try? "Blitzkrieg" is part of the world language and can't be replaced.

I have been in awe of his columns recently.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Sunday, March 23, 2003.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr.: Today, it is we Americans who live in infamy.

Damn good column by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in today's Los Angeles Times.

NEW YORK -- We are at war again -- not because of enemy attack, as in World War II, nor because of incremental drift, as in the Vietnam War -- but because of the deliberate and premeditated choice of our own government.

Now that we are embarked on this misadventure, let us hope that our intervention will be swift and decisive, and that victory will come with minimal American, British and civilian Iraqi casualties.

But let us continue to ask why our government chose to impose this war. The choice reflects a fatal turn in U.S. foreign policy, in which the strategic doctrine of containment and deterrence that led us to peaceful victory during the Cold War has been replaced by the Bush Doctrine of preventive war. The president has adopted a policy of "anticipatory self-defense" that is alarmingly similar to the policy that imperial Japan employed at Pearl Harbor on a date which, as an earlier American president said it would, lives in infamy.

The Los Angeles Time's registration policy is invasive as all hell, so if that kind of thing bothers you, go read the rest of it on The Smirking Chimp. And if you don't have Smirking Chimp bookmarked, you really should consider it. That site is one of the best news digests going on the web today. I hit it at least once daily.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Shock and Awe...from today's front page of The Independent.


I reckon sooner, rather then later, Smirk and Ashcroft are going to be sitting down to discuss amending Patriot II, to prohibit the viewing of overseas newspapers online. Just for the duration of the war on terror, of course...

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Flashback...Washington D.C...March 18, 2003

Tuesday afternoon. I am attending a conference on open source software in government being held at George Washington University. I am here because my project manager is investigating the possibility of moving the system I've been working on for the past several years to open source software. Work on the Hubble Space Telescope will go into maintenance mode shortly, and the thinking is that the Institute doesn't want to spend a lot of money it won't have on software upgrades, simply because a certain vendor has a business cycle that requires you to do that. At least with open source we would have the option of making any small fixes we absolutely needed to have before the end of the mission ourselves, without breaking our systems that depend on it. The alternative is to stick to the vendor's upgrade cycle, and pray the new versions don't break anything in our software, or introduce new bugs and security holes.

Between conference sessions, I wander around the Foggy Bottom area, and back and forth to my hotel, which I paid for out of my own pocket, rather then hassle with Washington traffic, which is a nightmare. The hotel has a nice little kitchenette, which allows me to eat reasonably well without further damaging my budget for the month. Around noon I begin the walk back to my hotel for lunch, stopping to examine a decrepit building right next to the conference hall, that I assume is one of the student dorms. It is, and I see by the bronze plaque by the door that this one is named Lafayette Hall. I read the inscription, which briefly describes the history of Marquis de Lafayette, who fought beside George Washington, taking a bullet in the process, for the freedom of a nation that was not his own, and who later attended the first commencement ceremonies of the university that bore his friend's name, shaking the hand of each of those first graduates. While I am reading, a snarky voice in the back of my mind is saying Freedom Fries...Freedom Toast... An old friend of mine I'd had breakfast with that morning, told me a joke he'd heard about a man who, while visiting France recently, asked a random Frenchman, "Sir, can you speak German?" When the Frenchman replied that he couldn't, the American said, "You're welcome." I told my friend the Frenchman could just as easily have asked the American, "Sir, do you have a king?"

My hotel is somewhat oldish. My room is on the sixth floor and the elevators are small and slow. I press the button and when one finally appears, I see that there are already two businessmen inside. It's a tight fit for three. As we go up I feel the hair on the back of my neck rise. There are some who you would never know from the look of them, to be of the right wing thuggish persuasion, and there are others who hit you with it in waves, in the cut of the clothes, the bullying posture that is as second nature as breathing, and the coldness of the face, particularly when smiling at nothing in particular. I tune them both out, pulling out from a space within me I'd almost forgotten about, a "Yes I'm a longhair, yes I know you hate my guts, and no mister establishment person sir, I really don't give a flying fuck" attitude, close my eyes, and listen to the elevator floor counter click off the floors to mine. I toy briefly about writing a book, "Everything I know about living under Bush II, I learned from Nixon". The old elevator rises slowly. I hear one of my companions say, "I hope they don't cancel our flight out Thursday." The other chuckles and says, "The war will be over by then."

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Saturday, March 22, 2003.

A little early...

One new cartoon today, about Smirk. It's a little early, and not exactly on topic, but then I said last December I'd be doing this from time to time, and especially at times like this, which is also why it's a little early. If I can find the time during the week, I'll try to get in another on topic one.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Friday, March 21, 2003.

Your Liberal Press In Action...

After posting a pretty good article on Gulf War books by three U.S. Marines, Salon equivocator-in-chief David Talbot today waves in my face the hoary shibboleth that liberals don't really care very much about the crimes against humanity of Saddam Hussein. For this I'm supposed to keep subscribing?

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Friday, March 21, 2003.

I see where Richard (Will Piss On American Values For Food) Perle is mouth breathing at the thought that Smirk has finally killed off the UN. In today's Guardian he writes:

What will die is the fantasy of the UN as the foundation of a new world order. As we sift the debris, it will be important to preserve, the better to understand, the intellectual wreckage of the liberal conceit of safety through international law administered by international institutions.

In case you missed it, that was the architect of the Bush Administration's policy of American Empire, stating flatly that the rule of law isn't worth a damn. Particularly, one supposes, when it gets in their way of looting other countries for their natural wealth. Jeanne d'Arc writing in Body and Soul finishes the job of taking off the masks, that Perle begins...

There isn't a lot of shame in this administration. A great deal that is shameful, but no capacity to be ashamed. They'd like us to believe that the rules and constraints we think exist aren't really there at all. The Constitution is a pretty, but fragile little tchotchke -- something you might need to put out of sight until things calm down. International law does not exist unless a great power wants to invoke it. Moral standards apply to things like sex and drugs, not war and peace, not compassion. There are no standards, there is only power and expediency (but just for the hell of it, we'll call that morality). A person who believes that whatever he does is good, simply by virtue of the fact that he is the one doing it, is not shameable. He's made himself into a little god, and a god is never embarrassed.

Go read the rest of it.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Notes From George Bush's America...(continued)

From Salon (pay or view ad to read) comes Suzy Hansen's story of the time her and a female friend stopped by Madison's restaurant and bar in Windham, N.Y., one morning after skiing. Seems their suggestion that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11, doesn't sit well with the True Blue American Patriots in those parts...:

"How 'bout this. You like those people so much? You like those fuckers so much? How 'bout I throw a veil over your head and drag you by your ponytail out the door? Veil. Over your head. Drag you. By your ponytail," he said, dissolving into a bizarre, almost tribal chant.

As I said before, these men had seemed familiar to me in some way. But their vitriol genuinely surprised me, especially since the prospect of gagging us with lace and pulling our hair really seemed to turn them on. Their excitement, as much as their hatred, was palpable. We grabbed our coats to leave.

"Hey, so I guess this means we don't get a kiss, huh!" the lawyer called after us, cackling ecstatically as we slammed the door.

You have to reckon that True Blue American Patriots must feel a sense of deep and profound betrayal over the events of 9-11, that the rest of us cannot comprehend. After all, the Taliban were their soul brothers, their comrades in arms against the loathsome hypocrisy of liberty and justice for all intruding into their might makes right world. And they shared a spiritual brotherhood of contempt for the female half of the human race, and along with it, the deeply felt need to wring the neck of any uppity female unfortunate enough to get within arm's reach. 9-11 must have cold cocked the lot of them. Sure, the rest of us are angry, righteously angry, at the bastards who killed thousands of American men, women and children on the morning of September 11, 2001. But True Blue American Patriots must hold a special anger for them, over and above what the rest of us feel, because they were betrayed in a way the rest of us were not.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


From Get Your War On


That Feeling That You're Just Talking Past Each Other...

I posted a few days ago about a guy named Jerry Bowyer, who wrote what some people here on the web regarded as an intellectually dishonest NRO article claiming that the Clinton deficits were worse then president AWOL's. After Cal Pundit wondered who the heck he was, TBogg did a little digging and came up with a couple of links to the billionaire poisoner of American politics, Richard Mellon Scaife. At the time I called Bowyer a Scaife sock puppet.

Well, Bowyer took umbridge to that description, and sent e-mails to CalPundit, TBogg, myself, and I have to suppose anyone else in the blog world he googled who referenced any of us. In an email sent to CalPundit and TBogg, but not to me, Bowyer said, among other things, that a simple Google search on the words "Bowyer" and "Scaife" would have turned up "plenty of articles" demonstrating that their facts were out of date, that he is no longer president of Allegheny Institute, in fact hadn't been for three years, and that "Dick and I" had a "rather public disagreement". Well, I tried the Google search and didn't get the sort of results he claimed I would. More on that in a moment.

Well, Bowyer recently sent me an email asking me why I hadn't made any corrections. Now...I'm disinclined to make this space a forum for anyone else's hot air but my own. You don't like my opinions, feel free to start your own blog (or media company as the case may be...) But I want people reading this space to feel comfortable that I'm not jerking them around, just because I'm the sort who likes doing that to people. It matters to me that reasonably intelligent, curious minded people feel they can trust me, stipulating that I'm as fallible as the next guy, and in fact, any one of my friends will tell you I can be incredibly naive at times. In that spirit the following is, I think, instructive.

To: jerry@bowyermedia.com
From: Bruce Garrett

Hi Jerry...Glad to see there are people out there with more on their minds then the upcoming war.

Here's where I'm confused Jerry: I found the posts CalPundit and TBOGG put up of your e-mail to them...you know...the one where you say that "A simple Google search on the words "Bowyer" and "Scaife" would have led you to plenty of articles that would demonstrate that your "facts" are way out of date" (I noticed you seem to have sent both of them the exact same e-mail...), and I tried it myself, and what I found were a few links to news articles, such as the ones in the Washington Post and the Pittsburgh City Paper, which seem to strongly suggest that Allegheny Was getting Scaife funding while you were its president, at least for a time.

For instance...

[LINK] ...contains the following paragraph:

Meanwhile Jerry Bowyer, president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, has sent out e-mails outlining "talking points" critical of the living wage concept, and urging his supporters to "make your voice heard through letters to the editor, letters to [County] Council members, letters to [County Executive Jim] Roddey, and calls to local talk shows."
...and then a few paragraphs down:

But the Allegheny Institute, which is funded by conservative sources including Tribune-Review publisher Richard Mellon Scaife, will likely limit its involvement to comments and quips. Bowyer has long sparred with Murphy over development issues, and he doesn't expect to be invited to the podium at a mayoral press conference any time soon.
...which would rather tend to contradict your claim here that Scaife would fund Allegheny, only on the condition you left it. Or did you mean to say that Scaife would =continue= to fund Allegheny, only on the condition you left it?

That google search also dug up the link to a recent page from The Lincoln Institute, which lists you as a founding board member (are you the one founding board member that left?) and which also gets Scaife money...though Allegheny...according to this link.

So. Following your advice to CalPundit and TBOGG, I found yet another link between you and Mr. Scaife that I hadn't known about before. Furthermore, I could not find any links to this "rather public disagreement" you mention, in the google search you suggested.

I'll be happy to post your reply.



From: jerry@bowyermedia.com
To: bruce@brucegarrett.com


This should help:

http://www.post-gazette.com/regionstate/20001223scaifereg4.asp also Brill's Content did a profile of Scaife and wrote something about our falling out. The Trib (Scaife's paper) hit it too, but their database search capacity is pretty awful. Shortly after that Scaife's paper did a kind of hit piece on me based on the resignation of one of my board members. I do concede the point though, that you might have to go beyond google to get this stuff. I had to search the Post Gazette's web site to get it.

Regarding the Washington Post piece: Bob Kaiser interviewed me a long time before the piece came out, so at the time of the interview Scaife was still a funder (though there was tension brewing), but by the time of the article he had dropped us.

Regarding your other point, no, I meant what I said: Scaife had already cut funding and only resumed (not continued) on my departure. So, on the substance of the point, that my article in NRO (which I stand by) was some sort of Scaife-inspired action of some sort of Scaife front group is ludicrous. You ought to correct the record.

The link he provides does indeed show that Scaife cut funding to Allegheny, however it doesn't say why, or under what circumstances it was restored. A first quick pass through my back issues of Brill's Content didn't turn up anything, but I suspect the "something" Bowyer is referring to is probably tucked in there somewhere. I still don't know if he's still on the board of The Lincoln Institute, which, as I read their web page, is still getting Scaife bucks...through Allegheny. But never mind. To be some right wing billionaire's sock puppet isn't necessarily not to have a mind of your own. Of course Scaife is going to fund people who happen to see things his way. But if Bowyer and "Dick" had a falling out, which resulted in Bowyer's being blackballed from the Scaife money trough, it only goes to reenforce the point that anyone who is feeding there, is on Scaife's tight little golden leash. Which Bowyer was, at least for a time. I'm sure Scaife has used and discarded many along the way. But it's still important to note this link between the two. As I read the various web articles about his association with Allegheny, it seems clear to me that Bowyer's media presence was given a boost by those Scaife bucks. And that's the problem facing the American political dialogue. Right Wing billionaire money is grossly distorting the political conversation among Americans today. What we read and hear and watch, the soundbites, the slogans the talking points, are not organically rising to view from the thinking of the people, but are being layered over all of us, by the manipulations of a few very rich men, who could care less about democracy, let alone the American Dream.

Bowyer has one other interesting link, which I think needs to be noted.

Bowyer has cast himself as an effective gadfly, appearing regularly on talk shows - including four he hosts himself - to promote his agenda of more privatization, more reliance on "faith-based social service organizations" to deliver help to the needy. He is now accepted as a civic leader in Pittsburgh. Just six years ago he was leading the National Reform Association, a branch of the Calvinist Reformed Presbyterian Church, crusading for creation of a "theocracy" in America - "Christocracy, the rule of Christ over the nation," he called it once.

Some favor small government, because they fear the power of big government to trample over the rights of the people. Some favor small government, because they believe in government of the few and the powerful, by the few and the powerful, for the few and the powerful.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Thursday, March 20, 2003.

The Forgone Conclusion.

Well...I guess all the celebrity journalists out there can stop talking about a "possible" war now. TBogg pretty much sums up my feelings right at the moment...:

Jeez. My daughter and I go to an NIT Tournament basketball game (SDSU 67 UCSB 62 in OT...woo hoo!) and war breaks out. How the hell did that happen?

Oh, that's right. Someone gave the car keys to a drunk, and now people have to die.
by Bruce Garrett | Link


Wednesday, March 19, 2003.

Notes From George Bush's America...(or, Oh, Did You Mistake This For A War Of Liberation...?)

From uggabugga Senate Minority leader Daschle makes what anyone standing on the outside of the Smirk cult of personality might regard as a highly restrained statement of dismay, over the wreakage that fratboy jackass has already made of things, even before the war begins.

I'm saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country.
In response (of course) the republican Mighty Wurlitzer showers him with fire and brimstone, calling him everything from treasonous, to French. Just to show they have a sense of humor after all, they also accuse him of playing the politics of personal destruction.

From The South Jersey Times comes an explanation of what a terrorist alert code red means. Essentially, it means martial law...

If the nation escalates to "red alert," which is the highest in the color-coded readiness against terror, you will be assumed by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your home, the state's anti-terror czar says.

"This state is on top of it," said Sid Caspersen, New Jersey's director of the office of counter-terrorism.

Caspersen, a former FBI agent, was briefing reporters, alongside Gov. James E. McGreevey, on Thursday, when for the first time he disclosed the realities of how a red alert would shut the state down.

A red alert would also tear away virtually all personal freedoms to move about and associate.

This is the America the neo-confederate branch of the republican party have been dreaming of ever since the darkies got the right to go to the same schools the white kids went to. And they're not only in power now, they're the ones who will get to decide who can leave their homes when their man in the oval office declares martial law.

From The SF Bay Guardian comes yet another example of how the Independent (sic) Gay Forum has its collective heads up its collective asses regarding their fratboy hero and the party of knuckle dragging thugs he leads:

A slender 34-year-old with expressive, deep brown eyes, Jiwnani is both Hindu and gay. In Pakistan his identity was impossible to hide: his name distinguishes him as a member of the hated religious minority. As he grew up, his demeanor and mannerisms were always more effeminate than those of other boys.

In the fundamentalist Muslim nation of his birth, belonging to either of these minorities can bring a death sentence. As a result, Jiwnani said, he suffered severe and repeated intimidation and both physical and sexual violence until he escaped to the United States 17 years ago. Now the federal government wants to send him back.

We can file the above story, right beside the call for worldwide help from gay Jews, to prevent the deportation of several gay Palestinians back to the occupied territories, where, as the Deep Thinkers at the Independent (sic) Gay Forum have repeatedly assured us, gay people don't fare very well at all, compared to how gay people are treated in Israel. Oh really? There's a reason why some of us aren't willing to hold gay rights in isolation from human rights.

And from our department of Can You Even Count The Number Of Ways That Republicans Routinely Make A Mockery Of Everything America Ever Stood For... there is this story about supreme court justice Antonin (There Is No Constitutional Right To Vote) Scalia, accepting an award for...get this...supporting free speech...

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia banned broadcast media from his speech Wednesday at an appearance where he received an award for supporting free speech.

Scalia did not mention the ban, which he insisted upon, and television reporters were allowed to see him accept the award before his remarks. The justice did not take any questions from reporters.

The City Club usually tapes speakers for later broadcast on public television, but Scalia insisted on banning television and radio coverage of his speech, the club said. Scalia was given the organization's Citadel of Free Speech Award.

"I might wish it were otherwise, but that was one of the criteria that he had for acceptance," said James Foster, the club's executive director.

The ban on broadcast media, "begs disbelief and seems to be in conflict with the award itself," C-SPAN vice president and executive producer Terry Murphy wrote in a letter last week to the City Club. "How free is speech if there are limits to its distribution?"

Mr. Murphy might want to watch what he says. You know what happened to all those uppity Voice Of America employees...

And if it occurs to you to wonder how that bunch of gutter crawling anti-democratic neofacist maggots in the driver's seat on Capital Hill right now can presume to fight a war for anyone's freedom, then you're probably already on one of John Ashcroft's little lists.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Monday, March 17, 2003.

News Just Ain't What It Used To Be...

...namely, news. I'm in Washington D.C. attending an Open Source software conference at GW University (hence, the lite blogging since Friday). All afternoon between sessions I've been hearing a helicopter circling over the Mall, which is not far from the university. I've not been in the city in quite a while, and just assumed it was an artifact of the heightened security level around the capital and white house grounds. But no.

After my last session I took a stroll down to the Mall, only to be turned away by a police roadblock. I asked the cop what was going on and all he would tell me was that the Mall area was closed. Traffic around Constitution Avenue was a nightmare. I wondered if it was special security because Smirk was about to press the button. I walked a few blocks south and asked an office critter if there was anything special going on around the Mall. They rolled their eyes and looked at me like I'd just arrived from another planet. Then they told me someone had driven a vehicle into a pond on the Mall and said they had a bomb.

One lady handed me something she'd printed out off a news web site, describing the incident. I later handed it to another poor soul stuck in traffic, and I which I'd held onto it now...

...because as I sit in my hotel room typing this, none, repeat, none of the local stations, or CNN, has said a peep about it.

Quite a different reaction from the incident many years ago, when a man drove a truck up to the Washington Monument and said he had a bomb. Then that incident was covered intensely. You couldn't turn the channels down here (I used to live in the D.C. suburbs) without seeing it. I'm probably within four or five blocks or so of the Mall, and I can still hear the helicopter. It's erie, and a tad disturbing. A man clams to have a bomb just a few blocks away from the white house, hours before the president is about to make a major speech regarding the upcoming war, and you don't hear a thing about it on TV news.

What the hell is happening to America?

[UPDATE] Okay...channel nine (CBS), the good local news station, finally said something about it. It's a guy on a tractor, I kid you not, a John Deere, who apparently drove to the Mall in a jeep, with a trailer towing the tractor behind it. He jumped a curb and drove Jeep and trailer into the pond, then abandoned the jeep in favor of the tractor. I don't know how big a bomb he could possibly have in that thing, but I doubt it could be a very strong one. The local news here is mostly reporting it as being a traffic mess (which it is, even by D.C. standards).

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Friday, March 14, 2003.

Well, If You Had Just Disowned Him Like You Were Supposed To, None Of This Would Have Happened...

From 365Gay.Com:

An Arkansas teen outed by his high school to his parents, forced by a principal to read Bible passages condemning homosexuality, and ordered not to discuss his sexuality on school property is threatening to take the local school board to court.

It's sickening, but read this article. The boy was repeatedly harassed by school administrators, and when that wasn't enough, forced to read passages from the bible used to condemn homosexuality, and when he told others about that, was suspended with a warning that he would be expelled if he continued telling others about his treatment.

And you just know this sort of thing goes on a lot more often then this one incident. This particular fourteen year old was lucky, in that he had supportive parents. Pray for those outed by these school yard thugs turned school administrators, who don't. This sort of thing puts to the lie the bellicose claims by gay haters that they want to keep honest education about homosexuality out of the schools to protect school kids. It's a pat way of whipping up anti-gay passions, to accuse homosexuals of being child molesters, but far more kids in this country are killed by their own parents, then by strangers. It's standard anti-gay rhetoric to claim that the "gay lifestyle" is unhealthy, but any teacher or school administrator who outs a kid, is quite literally placing their lives at risk. There is simply no way these adults at Jacksonville Junior High School were unaware of any of this. You really have to figure they're either attempting violence by proxy, or they're just depraved and indifferent. Either way, it's out and out child abuse. They should all be fired. In a more perfect world, they'd be behind bars.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Your White House Press In Action...

Atrios passes this along, from Poynter.Org

From JONATHAN WEISMAN, Economics Writer, Washington Post: In the wake of Seymour Hersh's open statements about the way the White House treats the press, I feel compelled to relate a personal story that illustrates how both the White House and the press have allowed manipulation of the printed word in Washington to get out of hand. This is a bit of a confession as well as an appeal to the White House and my fellow reporters to rethink the way journalism is practiced these days.

Recently, I was working on a profile of the now-departed chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, R. Glenn Hubbard. I dutifully went through the White House press office to talk to an administration economist about Hubbard's tenure, and a press office aide helpfully got me in touch with just the person I wanted. The catch was this: The interview would be off the record. Any quotes I wanted to put into the newspaper would have to be e-mailed to the press office. If approved, the quotation could be attributed to a White House official. (This has become fairly standard practice.)

Since the profile focused on Hubbard's efforts to translate relatively arcane macroeconomic theory into public policy, the quote I wanted referenced the president's effort to end the double taxation of dividends: "This is probably the most academic proposal ever to come out of an administration." The press office said it was fine, but the official wanted a little change. Instead, the quote was to read, "This is probably the purest, most far reaching economic proposal ever to come out of an administration." I protested that the point of the quote was the word "academic," so the quote was again amended to state, "This is probably the purest, most academic, most far reaching economic proposal ever to come out of an administration."

What appeared in the Washington Post was, "This is probably the purest, most academic ... economic proposal ever to come out of an administration." What followed was an angry denunciation by the White House press official, telling me I had broken my word and violated journalistic ethics.

I had, of course, violated journalistic ethics, by placing into quotation marks a phrase that was never uttered by the source, ellipses or no ellipses. I had also played ball with the White House using rules that neither I nor any other reporter should be assenting to. I think it is time for all of us to reconsider the way we cover the White House. If administration officials want to speak off the record, they are off the record. If they are on background as an administration official, I suppose that's the best we can expect. But the notion that reporters are routinely submitting quotations for approval, and allowing those quotes to be manipulated to get that approval, strikes me as a step beyond business as usual.

The letter is followed-up by a few clarifications from Weisman and his editor Jill Dutt, to the effect that it is not the Post's policy to allow text placed inside quotation marks to be altered by the reporter in any way. Weisman says he's new to the Post and, "That was the first quotation negotiation that I engaged in with the White House and it was and will be the last." Dare I hope that isn't because he blew the whistle?

by Bruce Garrett | Link


I see that A Brooklyn Bridge has linked to me. I appreciate the notice, and I've put up a link back to his site. Glen says I'm a gifted cartoonist, a complement I deeply appreciate. I must try to squeeze more drafting table time out of my work week.

You should visit Glen's site from time to time. Here's a couple posts to wet your appetite. Firstly, there's this, about the distruction of the Florida State Library, which goes to show how Jeb is pretty much doing to Florida what Smirk is doing to the country as a whole. The charitable thought is that they're simply economic incompetents, completely bamboozled by what poppy once called voodoo economics. I think they're deliberately looting the state of its valuables, pretty much the way Smirk and his gang looted Texas, and now America, and will soon be looting Iraq. Oh...and Jeb is blaming it all on Sadam too. More troubling is this little note about getting books that disturb power published.

Publishers get cold feet for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which are libel suits. And when the Vice President of the United States "suggests" that a long-standing parody site should be taken down (via Salon), we're living in chilly times.

Cheney's official counsel sent a note to that site, which among other things, accused them of breaking federal law by displaying the presidential seal. Days later Richard Perle decides to sue journalist Seymour Hersh in a British court where the libel laws favor the plaintiff. Donnahue is booted off MSNBC because the network executives don't want a liberal critic speaking his mind on their network after the war has started. In his place they put a gutter crawling racist and homophobe, whose books stare back at you from beside those of O'Reilly, Coulter and other haters of the American dream, and if the bookstores in my neck of the woods are any indication, if you want to buy a copy of What Liberal Media by Eric Alerman, you'd better be prepaired to dig for it. I'd say there's a chill in the air all right, and that coughing you're hearing in the background is Liberty And Justice For All slowly catching pneumonia.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Wednesday, March 12, 2003.

The War On Dissent...(continued)

Just so we all know where we stand. The New York Sun is reporting that Richard Perle, the chairman of the Defense Policy Board, is suing journalist Seymour Hersh in Britain over an article in an upcoming New Yorker because, as Perle said, it is easier to win over there, where the libel laws put less burden of proof on the plaintiff.

To repeat, the chairman of the Defense Policy Board is suing an American journalist over a news article that journalist wrote, in a foreign court of law, because that American Journalist is not protected by the first amendment in that foreign court.

I suppose it's out of the question for him to just wait a bit, and let Smirk pack the courts with right wing neo-confederates, and let them decide that the first amendment doesn't apply to newspapers that don't stick to the party line.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


All Together Now...'My Country Tis Of Thee...'

Signs seen in George Bush's America. Why burn books, when you can make people afraid of reading?

by Bruce Garrett | Link


From Get Your War On

Get Your War On


by Bruce Garrett | Link


Tuesday, March 11, 2003.

Desecrating Edward R. Murrow's Grave...(continued)

Well...you can hardly expect the press to give a lot of coverage to this can you...?

The Bush press conference to me was like a mini-Alamo for American journalism, a final announcement that the press no longer performs anything akin to a real function. Particularly revolting was the spectacle of the cream of the national press corps submitting politely to the indignity of obviously pre-approved questions, with Bush not even bothering to conceal that the affair was scripted.

Abandoning the time-honored pretense of spontaneity, Bush chose the order of questioners not by scanning the room and picking out raised hands, but by looking down and reading from a predetermined list. Reporters, nonetheless, raised their hands in between questions-as though hoping to suddenly catch the president's attention.

In other words, not only were reporters going out of their way to make sure their softballs were pre-approved, but they even went so far as to act on Bush's behalf, raising their hands and jockeying in their seats in order to better give the appearance of a spontaneous news conference.

Even Bush couldn't ignore the absurdity of it all. In a remarkable exchange that somehow managed to avoid being commented upon in news accounts the next day, Bush chided CNN political correspondent John King when the latter overacted his part, too enthusiastically waving his hand when it apparently was, according to the script, his turn anyway.

KING: "Mr. President."

BUSH: "We'll be there in a minute. King, John King. This is a scripted..."

A ripple of nervous laughter shot through the East Room. Moments later, the camera angle of the conference shifted to a side shot, revealing a ring of potted plants around the presidential podium. It would be hard to imagine an image that more perfectly describes American political journalism today: George Bush, surrounded by a row of potted plants, in turn surrounded by the White House press corps.

While Smirk's performance was grotesque, that of the press was an obscenity. The next time some pimping celebrity journalist starts bellyaching about some foreign dictator restraining freedom of the press, someone should get in their face and scream, Why The FUCK Do You Care Anyway?

I saw the above link from Atrios this afternoon, and later at home I was sitting on the sofa watching Peter Jennings on ABC, and about two minutes into his pathetic Live From Baghdad Let's All Cheer Bush On To War performance I remembered it, and the thought suddenly came to mind, why am I bothering to watch this...it isn't a news broadcast, it's white house propaganda... There is now officially no reason any more, to watch network TV news. I might as well log on to www.whitehouse.gov, then turn on my TV after work, and sit down to watch the news.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Monday, March 10, 2003.

A co-worker directed me today to a thread on Slashdot, concerning a fellow computer geek who was taking a road trip through the American west. He was looking for pointers to wireless net hot spots along I-80, and said he would be blogging throughout the trip. My co-worker said he thought of me as soon as he saw it.

I've been thinking a lot about the trip I plan to take this summer. In point of fact, it's something I've been simmering on since the trip last year. Back then I tried blogging along the way, so family and friends could share a bit of the trip. But blogging on the road was not as simple as I thought it might be. I am not always able to write about things in the heat of the moment. Frequently, I need to chew on it for a while. Sometimes, for quite a while.

Here's a little something I intended to post last year, after my visit to Navajoland. First I was going to dash it off in my motel in Flagstaff, but when my experience in Flagstaff turned into a sleepless stressed out mess, I put it off until I got to my brother's place in California. Then I put off writing about it until the trip back. Then I put it off some more until I got back home. It's been nearly a year, and now I think I'm finally ready to get this part of the travel diary out.

There are no stunning cataclysmic revelations here. Just a little slice of life that I had to turn this way and that in my mind, before I felt I was ready to set it down in words...

Flashback...Kayenta, Arizona, May 7-8, 2002...

The wind is blowing constantly. Driving south of Monument Valley, stopping here and there to take pictures of amazing rock formations, I begin to see huge red plums of sand suddenly burst into the horizon sky, then fade into a thin red haze in the distance. As I get closer to Kayenta, my little green car is being alternately shaken for brief periods, then enveloped in clouds of red sand, dense as thick fog. I begin to worry if any of it is slowly choking the motor, and make a note to check the air filter when I bed down for the night. When I drive into Kayenta, the sand is blowing across the streets like wind driven snow, collecting in little drifts around sign posts and parked cars. I stop at the Kayenta Holiday Inn, a lovely 50s style brick and stone motel with, according to my AAA guide book, better then average accommodations, and good eating. I notice the red sand is everywhere inside the doors and along the hallway leading to my room. But the room is lovely, the people beautiful and friendly, the food is excellent, and I am getting the best Internet connection I've had to date on this road trip.

I get my car unpacked, check under the hood, and then settle into my room, which is a nice, largish, 50s brick, stone and wood affair that reminds me of all the old travel brochures my mom used to read while planning her vacations. I get myself clean and change clothes and go to the dinning room. A native American musical group I've never heard before is being played on the house music system. It is lovely music, and I make a note to ask someone here who they are. I am seated by an older Indian lady, who smiles gives me a menu full of local treats. While deciding what to order, a beautiful young Indian guy waiting on tables nearby catches my eye. I try not to get caught gawking. He's tall and lean and wears his hair pulled into a few braids that hug his scalp. He walks with leonine grace among the tables, beautiful. I assume he is Navajo, although I have absolutely no way of knowing that for sure. For an instant, he turns his eyes on me and I look quickly away. I am served by another middle aged Indian lady and spend the rest of dinner thoroughly enjoying Navajo roast lamb, and trying my damndest not to get caught gawking at the waiter.

The food is fantastic, and I put this motel on my list of places to definitely revisit someday. I leave a big tip, and as I am paying my bill I look idly over at the gift shop. I am standing at the entrance to the dinning room, waiting while the cashier, a young Indian lady, takes care of the tourists ahead of me. Then I feel someone walk past me from behind, and a hand give my butt a quick squeeze. Startled, I turn around and see a young dark haired lady, I can't tell if she's Indian or not, quickly walking away. She turns a corner and vanishes from view. It was definitely not a pick pocket attempt. I'm amused and flattered and embarrassed all at once. Why can't I get my ass grabbed back in Baltimore??? I pay my bill, browse the gift shop for a bit, then walk back to my room.

Later in the evening, stomach full, tired, contented, remembering the amazing sights of Moab Utah, and Monument Valley, and thinking of the beautiful Indian waiter, I lay flopped on my room bed, idly browsing through the local cable TV channels. I find a local access channel, and sit for an hour or so watching Navajos discuss an upcoming tribal election, with a few of what I assume are the candidates. Some of them speak their piece in English, others in what I assume to be Navajo. I keep watching, even when I don't understand what is being said, trying to follow along by watching face and body language cues, and tone of voice. For a political ear weaned on Washington news media sound bites, the discussions seem slow going and ponderous. But I am a curious white boy in Indian territory, and I keep watching and listening. I didn't drive all this way just to watch The Hollywood Squares.

I wake up the next morning feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed like I haven't in ages. I have breakfast in the dinning room, another wonderful meal, and then wander on foot around Keyenta's main drag for a bit. There is a Western Auto shop across the street from my motel, and I stop in to see if I can buy another power strip for all the gizmos I've taken along with me, preferably one with a flat, right angle plug. Inside I find just what I am looking for, but for some reason it is hanging behind a glass case. I ask one of the Indian ladies at the cash registers if I can buy the power strip, and she tells me to go wait for her while she gets the keys. I wait patiently until she gets back. She tries several keys in her keychain and none of them fit. She calls back to a co-worker who agrees that one of the keys should work. She tries them again. Then she tells me to wait some more. Again I wait patiently. Here, I am on Navajo time. Eventually she comes back with a key that works.

The wind is still blowing constantly across Keyenta, but this morning it is not gusting as fiercely as it was last night. The sky is bright blue and inviting. I am ready to see more of the four corners area. I pack my car and check out. Next time I come this way I think to myself, I might stay for more then a night.

I stop at a nearby gas station to fill my tank. Out here I try not to let the tank get too far below half before looking for more. I also stock up on munchies and drinks for today's trip. I pay for my gas and food and a middle aged Indian man, wearing a cowboy hat, casts me a skeptical look as I leave. I walk out to my car, eager to see what's down the road. There are many stories told of explorers encountering uncanny, strange sounds, that seem to come from within the sands while wandering in the desert. I am about to have my own first hand experience with this.

My car leaps eagerly down the road to Shiprock. Once there I plan on taking the road to Gallup, and revisiting some trading posts I know there. I figure to be there in just a few hours, but I am only a few miles down the road before I am stopping, grabbing my cameras from the trunk, and snapping shots of the amazing landscape around me. For nearly an hour it is like this, with every little turn of the road, every small crest of a hill, bringing me before some new sight that I just have to stop and savor. This place is rivetingly beautiful.

About a half hour or so past Kayenta, I come to a small collection of strange rock formations, pillars of stone like sentinels beside the road, and what looks like a small, derelict gas station below them. I pull over and open my trunk, where I've been keeping my camera gadget bag with lenses, film and extra bodies. I have with me two Canon F-1 bodies, one loaded with Kodachrome, the other with Tri-X I bulk loaded before setting out. Nestled next to them is my little digital camera that I use to snap shots to post to the web log, so family and friends can share a little of the trip with me. It sometimes makes for less then spontaneous picture taking, and there have been times on the trip already when I've become frustrated at having to lug so much camera equipment out of the car, just to stop and explore a subject by the road.

But I am completely alone here, and on Navajo time. I open the trunk, stretch, and open my gadget bag, taking out the black and white F-1 body and a wide angle lens. I walk slowly up to the rock formations, and the derelict gas station, and begin to explore. I pop the lens cap off and stick it my back pocket, a habit that goes back to my high school days. I put my eye to the view finder, flip on the light meter and take a few readings to find my middle grey. The wind is steady but not so strong that it pushes me around while I'm trying to focus on something, as it was yesterday.

I wander around the stunning rock formations, and the derelict gas station, looking for shots. All art is exploration, and I am never living in the moment more then when I am exploring something with camera in hand. It's an almost trance like state, you forget everything else in the world. There is only you and the thing you are exploring. I take a shot. I pause and consider. I wander some more. Invariably I see something that makes me rush back to my gadget bag and change lenses or bodies. I come back and wander some more. Click, click click, loosing myself in the images I am seeing, in the meaning I am feeling in them. I have heard athletes say there is nothing in the world like the moment of competition, when everything you trained for is released inside of you, and your whole existence is in the moment you are living right then, right that instant. Your life they say, never burns as brightly as it does then, but only for the moment. These moments, with camera in hand, are my burning moments. I am never more alive then I am right then.

I drink this place with my eyes. The rock formations stand like ancient sentinels, watching over time itself. The gas station beneath them looks to my eye like it was once a model of sleek fifties gas and go architecture. Now it sits like a carcass, picked down to its white tile and metal bones. It is completely incongruous in this place, but I am not looking for fables of human technological hubris or trite statements about failure and doom. There is an aching loneliness here, a subject that was once so prevalent in my photography that I had to give it up for over a decade. And there is something else that I have never been able to verbalize, about the eternal and the infinite. The desert changes the scale of everything. Time has a completely different meaning here. I am wandering among ancient rock formations that, were I a geologist, I could read like runes, and they would tell me a story spanning millennia. Even so, their shape and form speak to me. In the west, the scale of things is huge, but you never experience the sense of the vastness of time like you do here. Elsewhere the effects of life and weather mask the passage of the eons. Here, it stares at you with relentless indifference. I think this is why some people fear the desert.

All art is exploration. In drawing or painting, you add lines here and there, teasing out what you can put down that strengthens the idea. You reach the end when the next line or brushstroke you add, begins to subtract from the idea, rather then add to it. It is the same with photography. At a certain point you snap off a shot, and something inside of you knows that there is nothing more to say about this particular subject. It has shown you all that it has for you, at least for now. There are other subjects waiting further down the road. Time to go find them. With my thumb I shut off the F-1's light meter. Then I pull the lens cap out of my back pocket and put it on the lens. I walk back to my car and fuss for a bit with my now disheveled gadget bag. I decide to keep the color body in the passenger compartment with me for the rest of the day, with the zoom lens attached. There was a time when I wouldn't tolerate a zoom lens, but as I get older I become less and less willing to sacrifice the moment for technological theology. I get in the car, fasten my seat belt, and start the motor. For a time, I just sit and look at the lovely landscape I am in the middle of.

My driver side window is part way down, a position I don't often put it in. While driving, my windows are usually either all the way rolled up or all the way rolled down. The low steady wind is blowing at an oblique angle to the car, gently buffeting the window opening. As I sit looking at the far horizon ahead of me, the wind begins making strange sounds around my car. The chaotic ruffling sound of the wind falls away like a curtain, and from behind it comes the sound of voices. It sounds like a group of very old Indian men, talking among themselves in a language I cannot understand. The voices seem to come from all around the car, sounding both distant, and yet near. Old voices, much older then the Navajo men I listened to on TV the night before, and not as urgent, surround my little green car, discussing something amicably amongst themselves, oblivious to the car, and to me.

I sit listening to them, one part of my mind, analytical and curious, delighted to be experiencing a phenomena I'd only read about in books and stories, the other completely entranced. It goes on for several minutes. Then the wind changes direction slightly, and the voices dissipate. Now all I hear is the wind, and the cheerful hum of the car, awaiting my touch on the steering wheel.

That was very cool... thinks one side of my brain, while the other wonders more secretly Well...what did that mean...? This land could completely hypnotize me if I let it. And maybe I want it to. I put my little car in gear and drive on down the road. It takes me several hours longer then I'd planned to get to Shiprock, stopping at every likely looking trading post along the way, and pausing by the road often to take pictures, or just stare amazed at the beauty of this landscape. By the time I get to Gallup I've nearly overloaded, and I'm almost relieved to be back on I-40, and well traveled territory.

A couple weeks later I am back home in Baltimore. I have a shelf at home, and one at work, where I keep some of the art work I bought while driving through the four corners area. I look at it often. If I close my eyes, I can still feel the wind.

(Edited Slightly)

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Sunday, March 9, 2003.

That Being Stared At By Hungry Wolves Feeling...

The blog world has been discovered by advertisers.

Because blogs tend to focus on specific subjects and attract people in similar demographic groups, they could be huge for advertisers hoping to target their pitches.

Dr Pepper/Seven Up is already testing this theory by mining the Blogosphere to launch an unusual marketing campaign for a new flavored milk drink called Raging Cow.

The beverage, currently available in five test markets, is aimed at teens and young adults, a demographic that has embraced blogging. To create a buzz about Raging Cow before its national launch, Richards Interactive culled through 300 blogs to find the ones that appeared most influential. The teens writing the blogs, including the likes of boymeetslife.com, italianize.com and sparkley.net, are getting some merchandise and Amazon.com gift certificates in exchange for testing the milk and expressing their opinions online during the next few months.

I think just putting up a banner ad would be more honest. But as Tom Tomorrow observed not too long ago, people go out of their way to avoid advertising. So the advertisers are always looking for new and innovative ways to sucker you into consuming advertising, preferably without your knowing that you're being pitched to. But the blogging world is one in which duplicity is quickly rewarded with lightning word of mouth that you are not a trustworthy source (Hi Andrew!). Bloggers that play for pay and don't let their readers know it are playing with fire.

If some web logs become known for being billboards then people will avoid them. Think about it. What on earth would make someone go out of their way, spend precious minutes of their lives, reading the wandering musings of average John and Jane Does? What they are looking for is something that's becoming nearly impossible to find just about anywhere in any mainstream media product: authenticity. And one other thing: simple honesty. In any case, this is a big reason why I browse the online web logs. In a day and age when the press secretary of the President of the United States can stand in front of a room full of reporters who passively accept that he is as likely to lie through his teeth then tell them the truth, when journalists view themselves as republicans first, Americans second, when most TV new stories about white house policy originate from the white house itself, you have to think that at least part of the attraction of web logs, is their simple, intimate, authenticity. People expect a degree of hype in commercial media. You don't expect to see product placements in someone's diary. But then if advertisers could figure out a way to get product placements inserted right into people's sex play...say, a tasteful little product logo tattooed on the genitals...or maybe a chastity belt that you'd have to sit through an ad to unlock...they'd be test marketing it right now.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Keeping Business In The Family

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that one of Vice President Cheney's oil companies has won a contract to provide consulting services for rebuilding Iraq's oil rigs in the event of war.

Cheney's office declined comment, but a Halliburton spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal that Kellogg Brown & Root has been doing government contracting since the 1940s. The Pentagon wouldn't discuss the exact size of the contract, nor how it was rewarded, saying the information is classified.

Surprise, surprise.

So...what on earth is the plausible man-on-the-street justification for making the terms of that contract a state secret? I mean...besides the fact that conducting business out in the open isn't something crooks generally like doing.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Hey...Let's Rent The Bedford Incident For The Weekend...

Those of us who are old enough to remember doing duck and cover drills in elementary school will be valuable assets in the coming months, as a new generation of school children will need to be taught how to cower terrified under their desks...

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Saturday, March 8, 2003.

The President Would Like To Take His Case To The People Of Europe...So Long As They Agree To Applaud Him In Advance...

I kid you not. Just when you think you've seen the most pathetic behavior imaginable from that smirking frat boy jackass... The BBC is reporting now, that Smirk asked to address the European Parliament... on the condition that a standing ovation should be guaranteed.

You know...I don't think they really care over there by now, how much contempt our kook pews express toward them. Maybe they're even laughing at us. Oh...look...the Americans are boycotting French Toast now...

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Well, This Sure Is A Surprise...

I'm shocked...shocked...to read that that President Did You Know John McCain Is A Drunken Womanizer Who Has Fathered Scores Of Illegitimate Children, Probably Including The Little Black Girl He Adopted is using forged documents to persuade the U.N. to acquiesce in his splendid little war.

U.N. weapons inspectors cast doubts on U.S. assertions about Iraq's weapons programs, saying Baghdad is cooperating with inspections and that some documents presented as evidence were forged.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the U.N. Security Council on Friday that experts had dismissed as counterfeit documents that allegedly showed Iraqi officials shopping for uranium in Africa two years ago.

Who in their right mind expects honesty from President Five to Four? Seriously. This is a man who has built a political career, and now proceeds to build an empire, on fraud, lies, threats, and gaming the system. Even to excuse him as a pampered silver spoon dolt who just doesn't get concepts like honor and truthfulness as they apply to common everyday folk, is to strain credulity way past the breaking point. The man has the conscience of a gangster. There is no way this is not staringly obvious by now. He makes Nixon look like Jimmy Carter.

But disabuse yourselves of any notions that this little bad patch for the white house propaganda machine means we're not going to do this war after all. Think about it. Since when did President Five To Four ever think he needed to worry about the will of the people?

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Why We Fight...

This story brought tears to my eyes...

[New York Police Department Detective Francis] Coppola began Sept. 11, 2001, at a lower Manhattan courthouse where he was to testify. He heard the first plane hit and headed for the World Trade Center, five minutes away on foot. Ushering people out of the lobby, he stopped only to say an Our Father the first time he saw someone jump, a woman in a white print dress with blue and yellow flowers. The purse she had clutched landed a few feet from him.

While ushering people through the unspeakable debris, he ran to the second-floor lobby, striving with colleagues to help establish a remnant of order in the chaos and fear. An injured woman grabbed his arm and asked for help getting out. The two began to move and there was Eddy, about to make his way up the tower with his fire company. They stood together for a moment. Eddy looked at the woman clutching Coppola's arm and said, "Be careful with my boy."

During the six years they were together, Eddy had not engaged in public displays of affection or acknowledgements of their life together. When Coppola left after visiting Eddy at his firehouse, Eddy would lower his hand along his side and say "I love you" in sign language.

As Eddy headed for the stairs to begin his climb up the tower, he shouted to Coppola, "I love you." Coppola, startled, gave him the familiar sign. "Chicken," called Eddy, their final exchange as he ascended into the maelstrom.

Read the rest of that article, only if you have a strong stomach. Here's a wee taste of what's in store if you do, and remember, this is one of our beloved heroes of 9-11 who this happened to:

Remember when we thought Sept. 11 would make us all a little kinder? Frank contacted a sister a month later to ask if his estranged family wondered how he was. "No," the harridan replied, "I'd rather you were dead than a fag."
by Bruce Garrett | Link


Go For It Jim!

Jim Capozzola of The Rittenhouse Review is being drafted, it looks like, by his fellow bloggers to run for the Senate. I don't want to be part of a blogger dog pile or anything, because I think running for public office is a serious undertaking. But I'm confident Jim would take it seriously if he did it, the senate would be a better place for his being there. I only wish there were more people like him who were even willing to entertain the thought. We desperately need in this country more thoughtful, humanistic people willing to take to the campaign trail. People who are not afraid of the Mighty Wurlitzer, and its army of squalid character assassin thugs. I've heard it said time and again that good people are unwilling to go through the pain and stress of having to fight with the American gutter in order to serve their country. And that is how the terrorists win.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Oh...Did You Think You Were Getting Your News From ABC...?

You gotta love the web. While browsing a favorite computer news website, The Register I was able to link through to this little tidbit from USA Today:

Of 414 stories on the Iraqi question that aired on NBC, ABC and CBS from Sept. 14 to Feb. 7, Tyndall says that the vast majority originated from the White House, Pentagon and State Department. Only 34 stories originated from elsewhere in the country, he says.

Yes...that's right. If you are a consumer of big media TV news, most of what you see and hear is coming straight from the government, with very little, if any, critical analysis. The lies come straight from Ari Fleischliar's mouth to your TV set, to you. The networks are merely conduits.

They have to be. You can't make the kind of money television networks need to keep their lobbies gilded, their executives living large and their celebrity journalists happy with six and seven figure compensation packages, and disturb power.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Wednesday, March 5, 2003.

More Enchanting Then A Toy Catalogue...

...is a road Atlas. I've been pouring over mine this week, planning my next road trip, which looks like it will happen in June. I'd originally thought to take it the same three weeks before Memorial Day I did last year, but the schedule at work won't allow that this year. I don't want to go too much later then this, because I don't want to be in the southwestern deserts at the peak of the late summer heat. I've been idly flipping map pages all week, belly flopped on the living room floor like a kid with a brand new Sears Christmas Catalogue. Except I didn't need glasses to read with back then.

Here's how it's distilling out so far: I think I'll take I-70 out to Denver, but this time instead of just shooting on through the Rockies, I'll take I-25 south through Colorado Springs and Pueblo, and into New Mexico from the north. Then I'll peel off I-25 and head for Taos and spend a day lurking around there. Then Head for Santa Fe and maybe spend another day there. Then head back north up 84 to 64 and the Navajo reservation, Shiprock, and then into Arizona and take 160 into Kayenta. I traveled between Shiprock and Kayenta last year, and it is the most beautiful land you ever saw. I'll spend a day in Kayenta, and then head west on 160 to Tuba City, then jig north on 89 and go through Marble Canyon, the Kaibab National Forest, and then take 399 into Utah. Once in Utah I'll head north on I-15 to 14, and the Kodachrome Basin. Then jig up 143 to 148 and wind through Cedar Breaks and Dixie Forest. Then Take 89 north to I-70, I-70 West to I-15, then north to Salt Lake City, pick up I-80 and take it west through Nevada. When I get to Reno I'll jig south to Carson City and enter California somewhere around there.

I'll zip to the coast and visit my brother for a few days, and then head home. I haven't sketched that part of the trip out yet, except that I really want to see Bowie Arizona one more time, and see if I think it's as beautiful as I thought it was the first time I saw it. I want to visit Tombstone while I'm there this time too.

My little green car seems ready for another cross country road trip. I'll have it looked over the month before I go, but it's been its perky little self all winter long and really giving me no reason to worry about putting another six-thousand plus highway miles on it again this summer.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Friday, February 28, 2003.

The War On Dissent...(continued...)

The Secret Police handcuffed a former public defender in Santa Fe New Mexico, in front of a computer terminal he was using at St. John's College Library:

According to O'Connor, the agents accused him of making threatening remarks about President George W. Bush in an Internet chat room. Admitting he talked politics face-to-face in the library with a woman who was wearing a "No war with Iraq" button, O'Connor recalled saying that Bush is "out of control," but that "I'm allowed to say all that. There is this thing called freedom of speech." He also speculated that the FBI might have been observing him because of his one-time involvement in a pro-Palestinian group in Boulder, Colorado.

Earlier on the same day O'Connor was questioned, officials at St. John's - as well as at the College of Santa Fe and Santa Fe Community College - issued warnings to students and faculty that the FBI had been alerted to the presence of "suspicious" people on campus within the past four weeks.

Here's a question for all you kids with steady nerves: Does anyone think for a second the neo-confederate republicans would tolerate crap like this happening under Bill Clinton and Janet Reno...even if there was a war on? No way in hell. Yet, they aren't simply investing George Bush and John Asscroft with this kind of power, but the offices they hold as well. Are they simply not thinking ahead, to the day when they'll have to get their hysteria on when democrats are wielding this kind of power...or are they counting, somehow, on there never being another democrat in the white house...?

...what is our foreign policy now...? Oh yeah. America has power. America will use it. And America will never permit another nation, friend or foe, to become powerful enough to challenge us. The first rule of having power, is holding on to it.

Pleasant dreams.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Tuesday, February 25, 2003.

Hopeful Signs

I am a largely self taught artist. My only formal training were some grade school art classes, where I learned about lighting and perspective, and picked up a few pointers on anatomy. The rest has been mostly learning my doing, and by studying the art of my favorite painters and cartoonists.

I have a few technical books. The indispensable Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques by Ralph Mayer. An old leather bound volume on Artistic Anatomy by Mathias Duval that I picked up in a used bookstore, and Cartooning The Head and Figure by Jack Hamm, which I bought back in the 1960s when I was doing cartoons for my school mates, and which even today I am constantly reaching for. Good references that really explain the principles beneath the techniques are hard to find. Most only give you a single approach to a specific subject. The best are the ones, like Hamm's that cover the same subjects using a variety of techniques. Lately I've been picking up copies of Hikaru Hayashi's impressive How To Draw Manga series, which while it only covers one general set of techniques, clearly explains the base concepts, and takes you through its subjects in a variety of ways, always taking care to point out the little details to watch for, that make a drawing come to life.

I ordered the book in the series titled Couples a while back, hoping to pick up a few good pointers, and expecting to have to try and apply a bunch of concepts on doing opposite sex couples, to the art of representing same sex couples. But the author and publishers of Couples, were more enlightened then I'd given them credit for. When I finally got the book and sat down to study it, I was amazed to see not just how throughly same sex couples were covered in it, but how underlaying that, the author took as a given that this was material that had to be covered too. Couples come in same sex and opposite sex pairs, he seemed to be saying everywhere in the book, and you can't understand how to represent the one, just by studying the other. To study only opposite sex couples, inadequately covers the topic.

For every study example of how to draw an opposite sex couple, the author took care to show how the same pose should be executed for a same sex couple. It was dazzling. Take for example the section on couples walking side by side. Here is a page heading titled, Clinging to arm while walking. Three sets of couples are given, an opposite sex pair (In the case of a male and female, their hips touch when their shoulders touch), a same sex male pair (In the case of males, their hips do not touch even when their shoulders touch), and a same sex female pair (In the case of females, their hips touch even if their shoulders are apart). The couples are shown clothed and nude, and small details of how to draw hands and arms, linked together affectionately are pointed out.

Every time I open this book, I feel like I'm in another world. One where same sex love and affection isn't simply grudgingly granted a separate place of it's own, but where it's taken as a given, as a part of life, as a part of the human experience, something that rightfully deserves study, so that the breadth and scope of our world can be more fully understood and appreciated. More, I'd never realized how much I was missing from a technical perspective, by not having same sex couples specifically studied for me. You really can't just take an opposite sex couple pose and try to re map it into a same sex couple pose. You need to really think about the body mechanics in a different way. At some intuitive level I think I always understood this, yet having a professional walk me through it was eye opening.

Of course, Japanese comic and animation art is well known for its acceptance of same sex romance. I doubt I'll be seeing an American artist and publisher covering the topic with anywhere near this level of professionalism in the immediate future. But I think that day is coming too. Sooner, rather then later.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Friday, February 21, 2003.

Immorality on the March

Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times:

Turkey has reportedly been offered the right to occupy much of Iraqi Kurdistan. Yes, that's right: as we move to liberate the Iraqis, our first step may be to deliver people who have been effectively independent since 1991 into the hands of a hated foreign overlord. Moral clarity!

Meanwhile, outraged Iraqi exiles report that there won't be any equivalent of postwar de-Nazification, in which accomplices of the defeated regime were purged from public life. Instead the Bush administration intends to preserve most of the current regime: Saddam Hussein and a few top officials will be replaced with Americans, but the rest will stay. You don't have to be an Iraq expert to realize that many very nasty people will therefore remain in power - more moral clarity! - and that the U.S. will in effect take responsibility for maintaining the rule of the Sunni minority over the Shiite majority.

Thus the smirking apocalyptic frat boy thug in the oval office went from selling out the homosexual minority in Texas for the sake of his political ambitions, to selling oppressed people around the world into bondage, for the sake of empire building. The deep thinkers over at the Independent (sic) Gay Forum, and other gay republican apologists like Andrew Sullivan, have been arguing that gay people have a stake in the war against Iraq, because of the moral issue of tyranny verses pluralistic democracy, and its values of due process, equal protection, liberty and justice for all. Unfortunately for them, they are right. This is all about morals.

Smirk didn't have to abandon conservative principals in Texas, to just let them repeal the sodomy law. He could have stood on them, said that while he personally thought homosexuality wrong, the government had no business regulating people's private bedroom behavior. But that was not the moral calculation he made. The religious right is a powerful force in Texas, and it was just easier to let them eat the hopes and dreams of his gay and lesbian neighbors, then stand on principal, especially when it was one he never believed in, in the first place. Anyone who cared to look, could see the kind of man he was then. You didn't have to listen to him mocking death row inmate Karla Faye Tucker. You didn't have to wait for him to smear John McCain in South Carolina. You didn't have to watch him and his power base swinging their knives in a frenzy at the democratic process in Florida. You saw it all when he called the sodomy laws of Texas a symbolic gesture of traditional values. You saw it then, when he embraced the values of oppressors and tyrants, over the American values of liberty and justice for all. Morals.

And now, he's in command of the most powerful military on earth, building himself an empire on the only values an empire can be built. No democracy can rule the world, no matter how rich and powerful. To be king of the world, you have to become a tyrant. And not just to the Kurd, not just to the Shiite. Here in the cradle of Liberty, Bush has moved with unerring certainty of purpose, to curtail or eliminate outright, pluralistic democracy, due process, equal protection, liberty and justice for all. You could see it coming. Morals.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Thursday, February 20, 2003.

The Bush drive to war has really lit a fire in Jeff Danziger Check out his latest cartoons, and in particular this one. In some better place, David Low is applauding.


Too Late...

Damn... this one by Digby is good! I'd quote a portion of it, but no...you need to read the whole thing.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Wednesday, February 19, 2003.

Quick...Somebody Call The Unity Council...

This, by way of Atrios...

Our society prohibits, and all human societies have prohibited, certain activities not because they harm others but because they are considered, in the traditional phrase, 'contra bonos mores,' i.e., immoral. In American society, such prohibitions have included, for example, sadomasochism, cockfighting, bestiality, suicide, drug use, prostitution, and sodomy. While there may be great diversity of view on whether various of these prohibitions should exist (though I have found few ready to abandon, in principle, all of them), there is no doubt that, absent specific constitutional protection for the conduct involved, the Constitution does not prohibit them simply because they regulate 'morality.'" (emphasis added). "Amendment 2, while not primarily about moral judgment, reflects a social statement about state and local laws benefiting homosexual conduct.

-Timothy Tymkovich, president five to four's nominee to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

In case you missed it, Tymkovich is saying there that homosexuality is like bestiality and suicide. Too bad Jerry Thacker got nominated to the commission on HIV and AIDS, where "the views that he holds are far, far removed from what the president believes", instead of to the federal courts, where they're right in line with what he believes.

Coming soon: the Independent (sic) Gay Forum says Tymkovich's not comparing homosexuality to nuclear annihilation, shows that republicans are making more progress on gay issues then democrats.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Monday, February 17, 2003.

Snow - violent torrents of it, snow like fetid ice from a God-sized glacier run through a sky-wide ice crusher, snow as Scott and Amundsen knew it, flaying the shuddering trees, whipping the whitecapped waters, violating the sodden firmament, purging purity and filth alike from the land, snow without mercy, without surcease, incontinent snow, turning to intermittent flurries overnight with partial clearing Tuesday.

(With apologies to the winner of the purple prose category of the 18th annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, run by the English Department at San Jose State University, Mr. David Hirsch of Seattle.)



2:30PM. They're saying we got a little over twenty-six inches of snow area-wide since the storm began. That sets the record. Since they began keeping track, we've never had this much snow, from any single storm.

Buildings are starting to collapse under the weight of the snow on the roofs. Several old warehouses in the city last I heard, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum, which was housed in an old railroad roundhouse, had about a third of its roof collapse onto the old locomotives on display underneath. So far, I haven't heard of any rowhouses loosing their roofs. I'm trusting here that the flat roofs of the houses in my neighborhood were build to take the load because, not having a ladder, there is no way I can get onto my roof to shovel it off if I wanted to. The aluminum porch awnings around here are all loaded up with about one and a half to two feet of snow.

Shovelling it has become a full time job today. I had a bunch of other things I wanted to do around the house, and it's turning out that all I have time to do is shovel snow for a while, rest, then shovel some more. I still need to do my front steps and the four inches I got on my rear deck, since I cleaned it last night before bed. It's starting to wear me down.

9:30PM. I finished shoveling my deck, and the front steps, then a few of us in the neighborhood shoveled the walkways of some of our older neighbors. Then I came back inside, got something to eat, and couldn't move off the sofa for a couple hours. To add insult to injury, I hear we're about to get another one to two inches tonight. I am so glad now, that I laid in a winter stash of food and stuff last November.

I see other east coast bloggers are putting up snapshots of their snowy neighborhoods. Okay...here's mine...

Snowbound cars - Baltimore, Maryland.

No I will not drive the kids to see Daredevil...

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Sunday, February 16, 2003.

Snow. Oodles of it. Here in Baltimore it looks like the Big Storm has arrived. Last night they were calling for fifteen to eighteen inches through Monday. Well...I was just outside shovelling it and we already have a foot in my backyard. Figure two inches of that came from yesterday's snow. Today's snow is light powdery stuff, and I reckon as long as I stay on top of it, it won't be that hard to keep my walkways shoveled, and my deck clear. But here's where I get to fret about my little rowhouse's flat roof. Already my bathroom skylight is covered over. But deep as the snow is, right now anyway it's pretty light weight stuff (it almost just falls off the shovel before I can toss it anywhere). I have to trust that the roofs here were built to take the loading.

I have some cartoons on the drawing board to keep me busy between shovelling. I'll post here intermittently today, and probably tomorrow, since if this storm continues like this through Monday I doubt I'll be going in to work Monday. At the Institute, we don't have President's Day as an offical holiday, but they give us three floating holidays to spend over the year as we want. If the snow around here is waste deep by tomorrow morning, I'll probably spend one then.

Vast Right Wing Conspiracy You Say? Oh...tut, tut...

TBogg is becoming another important resource here on the web. I've added his site to my list, and this post he put up last Friday pretty much explains why. It's the kind of thing that really needs doing, because people just don't realize how much of the political discussion that takes place in public these days is really just the views of a few right wing billionaires. TBogg begins from a post by CalPundit (Kevin Drum), who takes on a guy named Jerry Bowyer, who wrote a column on the National Review Online on the Bush deficits. Where Bowyer argues that Bush's deficits aren't as bad as Clinton's deficits, Drum wonders "can't these guys even be bothered to pretend to tell the truth anymore?" and goes on to shine a bright light on each and every one of Bowyers deceptions, like this one for instance:

First, the only Clinton budget on his list is from 1993. But the budget for FY1993 was prepared by the GHW Bush administration. We were a third of the way through FY1993 by the time Clinton was inaugurated

Nice huh? Drum goes on to wonder who the heck Bowyer is.

And who is Jerry Bowyer? He's the "chairman of Bowyer Media, a company specializing in radio and television production, print and internet publishing and economic analysis." I guess they couldn't dig up a single actual economist - even a conservative one - to put his name to this shameless piece of deceit. I'm not surprised.

Here is where TBogg dazzles. He tracks down Bowyer through sources on the net that are available to anyone, only to show decisively that Bowyer is yet another Richard Mellon Scaife sock puppet. Bowyer is chairman of Bowyer Media, spokesman for the Allegheny Institute Taxpayer Coalition, whose editorials have been published in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, which belongs to Scaife, and president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, which gets funding from:

You know, looking at Bowyer's website it occured to me: don't most "Media Companies" proudly trumpet their list of clients? I guess they don't when they only have one.

This is how the Mighty Wurlitzer works. If a few right wing billionaires give an opinion about something in public, people take it for the opinion of those people, and give it the weight they think its due. But if dozens of media pundits and expert opinionators say the same thing, people will go, hummm... there must be something to it after all. But what it is, are just a bunch of sock puppets all speaking for the same few right wing billionaires. The links between these media personalities and those billionaires needs to be carefully documented and publicly understood, because that, more then anything else, more then even campaign financing, is what is perverting the democratic process here in the United States.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Wednesday, February 12, 2003.

Back in the early sixties, when I was doing duck and cover drills in elementary school, I never thought I'd live to see the day the Soviet Union collapsed. And I sure never thought I'd live to see the day NATO collapsed either. When Smirk took office, the Russians were worried that NATO was going to gobble up all the pieces of the former Soviet Union. leaving them alone and isolated militarily. In less then two years, Smirk has just about managed to scuttle the organization that was the backbone of European security through the cold war. Joshua Marshall, writing in Talking Points Memo says that NATO, "is what you wish the United Nations could be, but isn't -- a credible institution of collective security which marries values to force. Its member-states are all democracies. They are all, by global standards, prosperous. They respect minority rights and the rule of law."

I think it's quite possible that the damage we are doing to NATO right now will turn out to be the most profoundly damaging legacy of this administration. (And the competition is substantial.)
-Joshua Marshall, Talking Points Memo

Go read the rest of it. See the little nugget in Marshall's post, on the tight assed arrogance of Washington's press celebrities.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Desecrating The Grave Of Edward R. Murrow

Here is how the administration characterizes the new missive from Osama bin Laden:

Once again [Bin Laden] speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq. This nexus between terrorists and states that are developing weapons of mass destruction can no longer be looked away from and ignored."
-Colin Powell, on the release of a new message from Osama bin Laden

And here's what bin Laden apparently said, courtesy of Tom Tomorrow, who recorded the translation as it was being broadcast:

We would like to confirm at this time the lies of America and her allies. And what they are trying to do. We want you to be faithful in your fight. We want you to believe in God, the one and only God. We want you to get rid of the government that you have, they are (indecipherable). We want you to fight for the cause of God. Fight the tyrant and fight the agents of the devil because the devil is going to be overcome and defeated.

In other words, the only link here between al Qaeda and Iraq is between George Bush and Osama bin Laden, both of whom loath Saddam Hussein and would like very much to see him removed from power. Yet the news media is passively accepting the administration spin, that this new message from bin Laden proves the link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, which they have been insisting was there all along, even though what it actually does is once again demonstrate the exact opposite.

Every, repeat, every excuse Smirk makes for going to war with Iraq, literally melts away under even the slightest gaze. There is nothing here, nothing at all, except the bellicose determination of president Cartman and his inner circle to invade Iraq. If there is a more plausable explaination for all this, then the naked grab for Iraq's natural resources (oil), I have yet to hear it.

A friend of mine was telling me the other day, that if the news media had done their jobs when the California energy crisis broke, instead of passively accepting the Right's storyline that it was all California's fault for passing all those environmental regulations, and for not building new generating capacity, if they had actually investigated the cause of that energy crisis, they would have broke the Enron scandal, well before it actually did break. And then hundreds who invested in Enron after the California energy crisis, would not have lost everything. Now, because the news media will not do its job, because they are passively accepting the storyline on Iraq, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, soldiers and noncombatants alike, will loose more then money.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Saturday, February 8, 2003.

The archives are back on line now. There's a master index page with a few notes about what's in each file. I've also changed the archive pages a tad so people getting there from Perma Links can more easily find their way to the main log page, the rest of the archives, and my home page. So far I only have the archives going back to last October. I need to reformat the others. I'll put them up one at a time as I get that done.

[Update] They're all on line now. Everything I've ever posted to my web log from the first tentative posts in January 2002, shortly after I got my domain and web hosting set up, to today, complete with some improved formatting (blockquotes instead of dir...that kinda thing...), and PermaLinks. Looking back on a year's worth of posts was kinda fun. Reviewing the southwestern road trip posts made me really want to take another road trip again this summer. If my little green car holds up, I might try prowling around the northwestern states this time. But...we'll see what happens when summer gets here.

I see TBogg has put a link up to one of my log entries (thanks!). For the record, I got connected with Site Meter by way of seeing the icon at the bottom of his page too. It's a neat service, that tracks visits, and can give you really interesting clues as to how people are finding their way to your web site. The most fun, is to see what google searches people used to get here. Here are some of the ones I've seen so far:

sexy story

bookshelf plans
(A surprisingly popular one. Links to my new house pages)

lesbian story pictures

Armageddon Prophecies

comal county tax ass

cartoon mafia
(I get a few of these. They link to my Busy Gay Mafia cartoon)

free illustrated story - Adult Picnic

how far did people dig inside the earth

McDonalds in Political Cartoons

what did the dinning room look like in 1930s

how many people have died of suicide so far in the year 2003
(This was asked of Jeeves. Jeeves sent them here. I have no idea...)

sleeping mexican lawn ornaments
(I get these regularly. My trip to South Of The Border may explain this...)

sodomy in cartoon
(I get several of these a month, which dutifully links the searchers to my cartoon page. Alas, I don't do sex cartoons...just political ones.)

Heaven is so far away offspring

Visagoths pictures

punishment by emasculation drawings
(!!!)

martin luther king cartoon
(I got a bunch of these around the time of King's birthday. They link to a cartoon I did about Take Back Miami/Dade's use of King's memory in their anti-gay campaign last year.)

Maryland pottery fire balance initiation

Alabama House Renting

formica kitchen 1950s

every gay sex cartoon on the internet
(I know I put them somewhere around here...)

abstinence cartoon

clift notes on kill a mocking bird

king yanta reigns
(???)

heated horse water bucket with gua

full blast editorial cartooning
(Alllright!)

CARTOON HATER COUPLES

And my all time favorites so far:

strom thurmond rock roll bible devil

and...

true free short story about brothers having sex relationship with their sister

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Friday, February 7, 2003.

Threat Code Orange? Hell, Some Of Us Have Been Code Red Since The Last Election...

And speaking of the threat to innocent Americans posed by fanatical religious zealots...

By way of Eschaton comes this story of how the Minnesota branch of the Big Tent party is pushing to remove statewide protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation...protections that were enacted back in 1993. Why? Funny you should ask...

Supporters of the bill say that they don't want people to be persecuted or harassed but that the law is doing just that to Christian conservatives and others who consider homosexuality a violation of God's law.

Dig it. It's persecution of homophobes, if you don't allow homophobes to persecute homosexuals. And I suppose it's a persecution of white supremacists if you stop them from discrimination on the basis of race. Actually, I'm surprised that the republicans aren't saying this as a matter of public policy now too. They've sure as hell been saying it privately among themselves for decades now, haven't they.

Nobody is telling a homophobe they can't hold down a job because they don't like homosexuals. Nobody is telling them they can't rent a house or apartment or move into anyone's neighborhood. Nobody is telling them they can't have sex with their legally married spouses, or even their hush hush wink wink secret lovers (Hi There, Mike Bowers!). Nobody is telling them they can't raise their own children, let alone any of this county's teeming thousands of unwanted kids, waiting desperately for someone to give them a loving home. Nobody is telling them they can't serve their country in uniform. Nobody is telling them they can't be a judge, or a district attorney. All that's being required of them by these laws, is that, however they may feel about homosexuals and homosexuality, they leave homosexuals the hell alone. And that's persecution.

The unspoken subtext to their complaints of course, is that homosexuals have it coming. If you are inclined to take the love the sinner, hate the sin rhetoric seriously, if you think there is an element of truth in the claim that the religious right doesn't want to persecute anyone, but only assert their own right to live as they choose, if you doubt the depths to which they believe at the core of their being that homosexuals deserve whatever maltreatment they get at the hands of their fellow citizens, then consider this passage from that news article:

[Scott Dibble, Minnesota State Senate's only openly gay member] said he found it particularly offensive that the bill would remove sexual orientation as a classification in the human-rights law's definition of Holocaust survivors and victims.

There's a wall with pink triangles on it at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, that's there for anyone who questions what the Nazis did to homosexuals during the Holocaust, to see for themselves. But you have to think it's worth noticing to begin with now don't you. The phrase for this is, Holocaust Denial. This is what the republicans are engaging in, in Minnesota. And they're the big tent party.

Meanwhile, Mr. I'm A Uniter Not A Divider Marches On... Another of the monkey wrenches he threw recently at the Federal Courts, Jay Bybee, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, said in 1997 that the Supreme Court decision in Romer v. Evans violates the Equal Protection Clause of the fourteenth amendment to the US Constitution.

Bybee calls GBLT civil rights laws nothing more than government sponsored "preferences" for "homosexuals." He supports the rights of state governments to prevent localities from passing sexual orientation-inclusive civil rights ordinances, which he states amount to "favorable treatment based on ... sexual orientation." He also offers proposed language for "an Amendment 2 that works."

The amazing thing about the Thacker nomination, was that it was withdrawn.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Tuesday, February 4, 2003.

Why Bother?

You know, it's ironic. I've been an enthusiastic promoter of the space program ever since I sat enraptured in front of our family TV set, watching the first Mercury astronauts go into space. Now I'm a part of that amazing work, and I really can't speak my mind as freely as I once could. It's not that I'm no longer a disinterested party...when it came to space I never was to begin with. It's that the last thing I want is for anything I do to reflect badly on this thing that I love so dearly, and believe in so passionately. So I find myself biting my tongue more then I would have previously, when I read people out there taking the breakup of the Shuttle Columbia on reentry, and the loss of seven more good and noble lives, as a platform upon which to bash not just the U.S. space program in particular, but the entire concept of manned space exploration in general. Now, I think I've had just about enough of doing that.

It's the same old, same old. They ask rhetorically what the value of manned space exploration is, that justifies the cost, let alone the risk. And you watch as their eyes glaze over while you, or someone better qualified then you, recites one tangible, practical benefit to earthly life after another, from basic consumer gizmos, to advances in computer science, medicine, metallurgy, communications, and so on. But if you really want to see their eyes glaze over, speak of the manned exploration of space in terms of securing the future of the human race. Oh...you starry eyed dreamer you.

And...well...some of us are. And some of us are not. CalPundit, aka Kevin Drum, whom I've often agreed with in the past, presents us with the current thinking of the why bother crowd:

William Burrows has an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times today in which he talks about our destiny in space:
If anything good is to come out of the cause for which the Columbia astronauts died, it should be a resolve that it is humanity's destiny to inhabit Earth orbit, the moon and beyond.
But turn that around and see how this sounds instead:
If anything good is to come out of the cause for which the Titanic passengers died, it should be a resolve that it is humanity's destiny to inhabit not just the surface of the seas, but the ocean's depths, its sea floor, and beyond.
Domed colonies on the floor of the sea were a science fiction staple of Jules Verne's time, but today it sounds quaint and old fashioned. Why would we bother?

Why indeed, since we have in fact, colonized the undersea world quite nicely thank you, if not in the way Verne might have envisioned it. Right now, as you are reading this, literally hundreds of alive and breathing human beings are living and working beneath the waves, in the nuclear submarines of the navies of various sea faring nations, and the many research vessels thereof. Somehow, that seems not to have occurred to Drum as he wrote that, and it's hard to understand why, apart from the age old need of some to put the dreamers in their place...and there is no better way of doing that, then by denying the reality of the dream itself. Even if, no, especially if, you have to do it while living it yourself. It puts me in mind of the image of Ted Kaczynski, writing his anti technology manifesto...on his typewriter. We have colonized the sub surface ocean, and are extending our subsurface reach a little more every decade. That Verne's vision of an undersea human presence didn't happen exactly as Verne said it would, does not invalidate the dream of undersea exploration.

Drum later avers...

I'd love to be convinced that a manned mission to Mars is a good idea. But a combination of mundane commercial exploitation, shaking our fist at the cosmos, and weary science fiction tropes isn't going to get the job done. (emphasis mine.)

Yeah. See...those of us who think the human race ought to have a future, who thrill to each new discovery made at the edge between the known and the unknown, are really just a bunch of captain Ahabs, shaking our fist at the cosmos. Well...no. We're embracing it, not shaking our fists at it, not turning our backs on it.

Finally, in a later post still, Drum offers us this word of encouragement:

We need new dreams, not the tired dreams of our parents' generation. Let's let the kids figure out what to do next.

And so they have. Take a look at the astronauts who died last Sunday. They were not old men living in the past, not John Glenn going up for just one more mission to prove older men could go into space, but young people living fully, exuberantly in the present, for the sake of the future, just as John Glenn, and all the other Mercury astronauts did in their day. The dream has made the leap from generation to generation. Drum just doesn't want to see it.

But manned space flight is ultimately a dream about human progress, and in the past 50 years it's been superseded by newer, shinier miracles. Frankly, space is no longer the final frontier. We should move on

Many of those newer, shinier miracles having come from the space program notwithstanding. But Drum is right about one thing. Space is not the final frontier. Giving up is.

Imagination, perseverance, and a yearning need to find out what's over that next horizon, literal or figurative, brought the human race out of the caves, gave us fire, made dreams real. Most of us understand the need to explore...to learn, that to extend the reach of humankind, is to extend the longevity of humankind, that as Dylan said, "he who isn't busy being born is busy dying". But some of us can't, or won't, or would rather not. Perhaps like Stanley Kubrick, they just don't like human beings very much. Or perhaps it's that discomfort that comes from seeing change, and feeling the touch of time on the shoulder, and hearing it whisper that all things must pass and yes bub, that includes you too. Isn't the promise of many religions, not so much immortality, life after death, as that paradise that is perfect, forever, and unchanging? These are the ones who, when tragedy befalls the explorers, take care to tell the rest of us all about how much they resent us for looking to that next horizon, for dreaming of what might be, for leaving them behind.

In ancient times they told a tale of a man, Daedalus, and his son Icarus. Icarus, caught up in the breathless exaltation of flight, forgot his father's warnings not to fly too close to the sun, and his wings of wood frame and bird feathers came apart under the heat, and he fell to earth. Thousands of years hence, a terrible failure of human technology reminds us all of the dangers we face whenever we dare to get close to the powerful forces of nature, but also, that the dream of flight did not die with Icarus, though it was several thousand years coming all the same. Humans have flown higher, further and faster then the ancients ever dreamed possible, have flown around the moon, have walked upon it, and returned safely to earth. Icarus rose.

(Edited Slightly)

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Saturday, February 1, 2003.

No...It's Not A Routine Thing.

A friend called me this morning and asked if I'd heard the news. I hadn't heard anything, I told him. During the last hard freeze several tiles had come off of my front steps. So this morning I was busy taking off loose tiles and assessing the damage. And some kitchen shelving needed repair. I wasn't tuned into the world all morning, I told my friend, because I was busy fixing things here at home.

From the sound of his voice I knew it was bad. But I also knew it wasn't personal, like a friend or family member had died. It's amazing how much communication isn't verbal. Like when, back in 1986, almost to the day, I heard a radio announcer interrupt a commercial, and even before I heard him say the words, I knew something horrible had happened to the space shuttle Challenger. But seventeen years after that tragedy I'd almost forgotten that we had a shuttle up. When my thoughts turned to space at all this month, it was to think about the next Hubble servicing mission, which had been rescheduled for November 2004, and which as far as I knew would be the last time astronauts visited the space telescope. I thought about Iraq. I thought maybe my friend was about to tell me the first shots in the war had been fired. What he told me, and I'll remember it vividly for the rest my life, just as I can still recall the sound of that radio announcer's voice back in 1986, was that the space shuttle Columbia broke up during reentry, its seven astronauts almost certainly lost.

I still can't think clearly about it. I was a kid in elementary school when the first American astronauts went into space in the Mercury capsules, fixed atop tiny little redstone rockets. I saved space stamps at school to buy savings bonds for the space program. I watched every launch avidly, all through the Mercury and Gemini programs, and finally Apollo. They were all thrilling, and at the same time scary moments, because it was never a sure thing that any of it would work. We were exploring space, at the razor's edge of what we knew how to do technologically. The forces we were dealing with, to slug humans and their tiny protective capsules into space, were fantastic. To scream through the atmosphere, first into space, and then safely back to earth, required not only the brute force application of tons of explosive rocket fuel, but a surfer's skill and precision, skirting deftly to stay in a miniscule zone of safety, between monstrous dynamic forces that could obliterate the spacecraft faster then the blink of an eye. Looking back on those times, I am flatly amazed we didn't have more disasters then we did. But this nation's engineering skills are not renown for nothing.

Space seems so routine now. Television brings us right into the orbiting spacecraft. We see the astronauts at work. We see the spectacular views of the earth from space. Lovely and wonderful pictures from space shown on the news, and on cable TV shows, and reprinted in books and calendars. The Hubble Space Telescope brings us images from the edge of time, which we can download onto our personal computers, print out on our inkjet printers, and hang on our office walls. What were, in my childhood, jaw dropping sights of pure wonder, have become the common experience of our age. And the same technology allows us to imagine space travel with ever greater realism. The science fiction TV shows and movies I watch today, are worlds apart in special effects from the primitive black and white thrills of my childhood. It all looks so real. But it is not. We are still pioneers, venturing uncertainly into territory we cannot yet claim as our own. Space is a dangerous, hostile place. To explore it, to one day make it our own, will require great courage and bravery now, and for generations to come. My prayer is that we will always have that courage and that bravery.

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Wednesday, January 29, 2003.

Quick...Get That One A Blog!

TBogg excerpts an amazing email to Andrew Sullivan, which Sullivan posted as an example of what he's pleased to think of as simple hatred of Bush:

Since breezy theories are all the rage among the punditocracy these days (your slap at the "intelligentsia" is amusing, given that almost all political and media elites throw themselves at Bush's feet) try this on for size: Those who support Bush, who cram their theories to fit a man of his stature, are simply afraid to admit to any flaw in him because it will bring the whole house of cards tumbling down. So you invent a jut-jawed man of action, determined and resolute with a clear vision of world harmony. But the whispering in your head won't stop: he's a vile and craven little momma's boy, a snooty insider trader and coward who deserted his National Guard post while the great unwashed were still dying in Vietnam, and who rushed off to save his candy ass on September 11 and invented a lie about Air Force one being a target while the great unwashed were once again dying under the rubble. But you're too damned afraid to admit it. Sick of it? Too bad.

Nail. Hammer. Bang. That writer, whoever they are, really pegged what it is for those of us on the outside of the Bush cult of personality, to watch while journalists and pundits prostrate themselves before one of the biggest thugs to ever inhabit the White House, and command the American military machine. Sullivan, who called Bill Clinton a sociopath on national TV, says sorrowfully that it is all merely payback for conservative hatred of Clinton, "and just as self-destructive for the haters". No Andrew, this isn't payback for hating Clinton, it's where right wing neo-confederate hatred of American Democracy, and the American Dream, and everything America ever aspired to be, has led us, has led you: into the gutter, exaulting a smirking silver spoon brat who would be king of the world, pissing without stop on everything fine and noble America ever was in the process, because you know that the moment you stop, you might see the gutter crawling gangster you're calling the hero of the age for what he is, and then remember what it felt like to have a conscience once.

I came of political age during Watergate, and back then Nixon's media cheerleaders, the Andrew Sullivans of their day, used to wonder rhetorically why so many of us loathed him. The political cartoonist Herbert Block, writing in his book Herblock Special Report, said of Nixon that he had a "Multiple Bad Things Advantage", that is, there was so much that was wrong with the man and his political career, that when his cheerleaders demanded to know what his critics thought was wrong with him, it was hard for his critics to know where to begin, and they often came across seeming incoherent for that reason.

And whatever the subject of my talk, in the question-and-answer periods that followed, someone would occasionally rise to ask what was wrong with Nixon. I would generally reply with something like, "How much time have you got?"

If the dislike for the man seems personal, it's only because some of us took the American Dream to heart once upon a time, and have felt ever after that we have a personal stake in America's future. Bush isn't just a conservative republican whose policies we dislike, or even detest. Bush is a turd dropped on everything we ever held dear about America. During the State Of The Union speech, he said yet again that some ninty-two million American taxpayers would keep "an average of almost $1,100 more of their own money", which is a bullshit statistic hilariously savaged by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, thusly:

A liberal and a conservative were sitting in a bar. Then Bill Gates walked in. "Hey, we're rich!" shouted the conservative. "The average person in this bar is now worth more than a billion!" "That's silly," replied the liberal. "Bill Gates raises the average, but that doesn't make you or me any richer." "Hah!" said the conservative, "I see you're still practicing the discredited politics of class warfare."

Seeing Smirk reach yet again for this fragrant piece of bullshit in his State of the Union, Salon.Com's Scott Rosenberg made the connection that more and more people in the media, and the rest of the country, are, finally, at long last, making:

I guess I shouldn't be shocked at this late date that Bush and his administration would continue to use blatantly misleading "facts" to sell their policies; it's been their economic approach from day one. Still, it's appalling. And the very consistency of Bush's willingness to twist simple facts in demonstrably manipulative and sometimes outright deceitful ways has a more pernicious effect than simply discrediting his policies: It leaves us with the sense that the man is deeply untrustworthy.

I wouldn't buy a used car from anyone who I knew played so fast and loose with simple arithmetic -- let alone trust him on matters of life and death, war and peace.

"I wouldn't buy a used car..." Sound familiar? Time to resurrect an old slogan, for a new time: Would you buy a used car from George Bush?

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Tuesday, January 21, 2003.

I know I've been inattentive to this web log, but I've been busy, both at home and at work. So I guess I have a little catching up to do here....

Jim Capozzola Calls Our (yours and my) Attention To this CNN poll on the Bush push to war in Iraq. I know these things are utterly of no scientific value, and are probably more about marketing the web sites themselves then about the questions at hand. But I think they can at least give the poll takers idea as to what motivated people are thinking about a particular issue. If it's still running when you read this, you might want to consider stepping over there and voting. I did. I have to trust that Katherine Harris isn't counting the votes. And as for Bush, well, the only vote that ever mattered to him was the 5-4 vote that put him in the White House...

Passages - The Master Of The Line.

They're gonna take back my gay card for saying this, but I've never been much of a theater buff. I've been to Times Square several times recently, to attend programmer's conferences, and never once set foot inside a Broadway theater, although I asked about tickets to see The Invention Of Love, only to be told there were no more, and that I was asking on its last night. But I felt a sadness at the passing of Al Hirschfeld the other day. Many praised his artistic chronicling of Broadway. The New York Times headline read, Al Hirschfeld, 99, Dies; He Drew Broadway. But for me, what Al Hirschfeld drew were the most wondrous lines, in all art.

It is one thing to get a likeness right, or even close, and another altogether, to suggest something of the nature of the person in the likeness. Al Hirschfeld could do both, with an absolutely astonishing brevity and clarity of line. His drawings have that deceptive ease and simplicity that comes only from a master's hand. Study any one of them and you'll see nothing, not one stroke, that is uncertain, unassertive, or unnecessary. They strike across the paper playfully, exuberantly. And yet they are exact, every one. There is no doubting that he loved the art of drawing, took enormous joy in the act of drawing, and that he was one of its great masters.

He lived to be nearly one-hundred, and drew almost right up to the end. Last Saturday he was in his studio, working on a drawing the Marx brothers, who had been his friends in life. We could all wish for a long and happy life like that, doing what we love doing, as well as it can be done, right up to the end. He will be deeply missed.

Passages - On The Day She Died

Jim Capozzola pays a touching tribute to his friend Richard Silbert on his web log. DuPont Circle in Washington D.C. was once a regular part of my life, when I lived in the Washington suburbs. I still have friends who live in the area, and visit the circle every so often. Next time I'm there, I'll probably visualize Jim's friend carrying that picture of Dietrich up Q Street.

Department Of Minor Complaints

I saw the new Fiestaware medium green at the Hecht's at the Towson Mall yesterday, and bought a dinner plate and a sandwich plate in it. It's typical of the trend in the new Fiesta colors lately, which while thankfully several steps away from the god awful chalky pastels of the first wave, is still not quite hitting the vivid mark of the original colors. Ironically, this is the closest I've seen them come to any of the original colors yet. Original Fiesta in medium green is considered somewhat rare by collectors, and it was a nice color. But whoever is choosing the new Fiesta colors still seems to have an aversion to the original vivid color scheme that Fiestaware was known for. I saw two different shades of red on the shelves with the new green. One was that new pale rust colored red, and the other a sullen wine red. Both are awful. The new yellow is okay, I've bought a couple of plates in it, but it's a tad pale compared to the original yellow. Same for the new blue they put out a couple of years ago, which was close to the original cobalt blue, but still a tad pale by comparison.

I'm told that the new Fiesta colors are pretty much decided by one lady, a buyer for Bloomingdales, who chooses a new color for them, which Homer Laughlin then cheerfully produces, since Bloomies is their biggest customer. The rest of us get that new color after about a year or so. I don't want to get into a pop psychology rif here about people who prefer muted, verses exuberant colors. My wardrobe in general is pretty low key color wise, except for t-shirts and underwear. Read into that what you will. I prefer unpainted furniture, and light wood over dark generally, but I have a special fondness for mahogany. Most of my kitchen tools are stainless steel, except for a few Calphalon pots and a couple cast iron frying pans. I hate the relentless beige of personal computers, and think all aluminum cabinets and brightly colored cables are very cool, but putting see through panels and neon lighting inside a computer is a bit much, even for this computer geek. I don't think the whole world has to be painted in technicolor. But it would really creep me out to live with someone who thinks Fiestaware should be muted and reserved, and not loud as hell.

Department Of Not So Minor Complaints

Watched the new Exxon/Mobil Hound Of The Baskervilles Sunday night. The PBS web site says "This chilling, star-studded adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's tour de force presents Holmes and Watson as the author originally conceived them". But somehow I doubt that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle conceived them in the kind of love-hate relationship I saw Sunday. British television seems to love relationships between people who really can't stand each other. Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke did the pair through most of the 1980s Mobil Mystery Theater much more believably, but even their Hound, while the most faithful to Doyle that I've seen to date, was not entirely so. This new one is almost contemptuous of its characters and the material. The CGA Ghost Busters hound was as gratuitous as the ill will displayed between Holmes and Watson. The bickering that occasionally went on between Jeremy Brett's Holmes and both Edward Hardwicke and David Burke's Watsons, wasn't born of a mutual dislike, but quite the opposite. In this new disaster, Watson tells Holmes that he doesn't trust him, which makes the whole premise of their friendship and thereby the many dangerous adventures the two had solving crimes together, completely unbelievable. You don't just go hopping out of bed and run into danger when someone you don't trust tells you "The game is afoot", you tell him to go to hell you're trying to get some sleep. You don't write of him upon (what you thought was) his death as being "...the best and wisest man whom I have ever known." I haven't disliked a portrayal of the pair so much since I watched Christopher Plummer and James Mason in Murder By Decree playing them as a couple of doddering imbeciles.

by Bruce Garrett | Link



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