What's to say about the news from and about Iraq this week? Just gets worse - and it's not going to get any better anytime soon. As to the photos that keep surfacing from Abu Ghraib prison - my vocabulary is inadequate to express the disgust and sorrow I feel over the actions perpetrated in my country's name. It's been argued, here and there, that war is a dirty business whose means oughtn't be overly analyzed by the faint of heart. That's bullshit - torture is illegal in any setting - even a "war on terror". Save us, please, from the short-sighted goons who hold sway over this decision making process.
I'm thankful for the people of conscience like Senator John McCain who've spoken out against the ill-treatment of prisoners, and are calling for an in-depth inquiry to get this nightmare dealt with as quickly as possible.
Wouldn't it be nice if Michael Moore's documentary, "Fahrenheit 9/11" opened in theaters next week? Might push Bush's approval ratings even lower than the 42% he's been getting in some polls. He's approaching numbers from which no one can return. Now wouldn't that be nice? What's also nice is that "Fahrenheit 9/11" won the equivalent of best picture at Cannes, so that'll up the pressure on Disney to release the film it says it's not going to release in the US during an election year, because it's too political... (read: Disney really, really wants those FCC rulings changes to stick and there's no way they will if the Republicans lose the presidency). click here
Meanwhile, closer to home, it was a pretty wondrous week to behold - with gays marrying all over the place - bringing a generally upbeat kind of feel to this, our merry state of Massachusetts. John Adams would have been so proud! Well, maybe not, but we sure as hell are!
What a great moment to see all of those men and women in the news, smiling, joyous, and for the most part - cheered on by well-wishers! Hurrah!
It was such a purely positive moment. I'm just so happy about it. And happy for all of those folks. I took a jaunt into Cambridge to see some of the hoopla for myself - couldn't resist (in case you don't already know, Cambridge, MA. is liberal central, and started issuing "intent to marry" forms at 12:00 AM on May 17th). While there, I saw two young women, in their mid-teens, standing very close and smiling shyly at one another, and I thought, "YES!!! This is such an awesome thing for them to see!" I enjoyed it as well. A couple of guys walked out of the building (City Hall) hand in hand and the people milling around cheered.
As the first statistics have been reported on the marriages, straight people are noting that two thirds of the marriages appear to be between lesbians...
"Work-related party" - now there's a phrase that'll strike fear into the ordinary soul... or should. Does mine. I'm being carted off to another one.
At least Ume's got the right approach to asking me: "Tulip, for this I will owe you infinite gratitude and... well... many things. Will you come with me to a... a... a work-related party?" We both wince.
I sigh. "So I guess we've been indisposed for the last six and can't get out of another one, huh?"
"I think if I come down with tuberculosis again, they're going to get suspicious."
"Aw, alright." I concede. "But you owe me. And I'll be takin' you up on that 'many things' option."
"Of course." She smiles bravely.
"Yeah, like, is that option good for now?"
Enforced socializing is not my thing. Oh sure, they say it's "optional" - but we all understand the underlying social dynamic that's at work. To create the semblance of caring for your fellow work-mates, there's a certain base minimum of social reciprocation that's necessary (read Emily Post or someone like that, she'll back me up on this).
So I get to be on view for the coworkers and the twenty-somethings who'll get to say things like, "That's her? I guess she's the wife. Kind of an odd one, isn't she?"
I use my MRI vision on this species of individual: "Ooh, lookie here at the space between those ears - super empty! Must get a wicked echo in there."
I'm not fond of being on view, makes me snarky. Even when it's mostly nice folk, who really aren't anything more than passively curious and ignorant (not maliciously ignorant, simply unfamiliar with gay folk in general and our mysterious ways).
Recently, while at a party, not work related (and probably the cause of my present anti-social sentiment), an old friend (who was a little on the inebriated side) introduced me to someone as a lesbian. An uncomfortable silence ensued. I put my hand out, smiled and said, "Nice to meet you."
The man I was being introduced to shook it and said, "Likewise."
I pointed across the room at Ume, "That's my partner, she's a lesbian too."
He looked over, "Oh yes, she's easy to spot with the short hair. Good to know who the man is."
Perplexed for the second time in a two minute interval, I paused before answering... "Actually, neither of us is a man."
He frowned, perplexed as well. I continued, somewhat familiar with the trajectory of this sort of exchange, "I know that our subculture's ways are mysterious and somewhat obscure, but we're lesbians... both women."
My friend piped up again, "His sister's a lesbian. That's why I, ah... well, um..."
"Not a real lesbian," the man, let's call him Humphrey, said.
"Oh," I said, while planning a convenient exit from the conversation.
"I thought she was?" my friend asked, confused.
"Not really," he said.
"But she has a girlfriend," my friend insisted.
"Bummer for the girlfriend," I said.
"Exactly," Humphrey said. "They're the ones I feel bad for. They get together with her thinking she's a lesbian, but she's not, she's just screwed up, and when they figure it out they leave. I feel sorry for them, I like lesbians."
"Oh..." I said, then said, "Look! They've just put out the next wave of appetizers! Ooh! Little fish eggs! My favorite. Would you please excuse me? Magda (the hostess) said I have to try those."
I don't do therapy at parties... anymore. I've become quite the conversational contortionist - I can turn just about any conversation that veers off the scripted path into a scintillating discourse on the weather. I'll be brushing up on all things low pressure and high altitude before this next party - just in case.
In the news:
So. What the hell does the US do in Iraq now? This discussion explores the fundamentals of the problem rather well:
Second Thoughts on Iraq (The Connection, 05.21.04 - RealOne file): click here
If you're shy about using RealOne Player because of it's aggressive spyware reputation, the newer version is supposed to be less toxic. It's also rumored that the BBC version of RealOne Player has been stripped of its toxic components - you can get a copy of it by clicking here.
New Images Amplify Abuse at Iraq Prison - WashPost
(Reuters, 05.21.04): click here
Pentagon investigates 'brutal' deaths of 5 Iraqi prisoners by Tom Regan (CSMonitor, 05.20.04): click here
Pentagon's Feith Again at Center of Disaster by Jim Lobe (Inter PressServices, 05.20.04): click here
The Religious Warrior of Abu Ghraib: An Evangelical US General played a Pivotal Role in Iraqi Prison Reform by Sidney Blumenthal (Guardian/UK, 05.20.04): click here
Some points in this article really ticked me off, but the general theme needs some discussion:
Feminism's Assumptions Upended: A uterus is not a substitute for a conscience. Giving women positions of power won't change society by itself. by Barbara Ehrenreich
(Los Angeles Times, 05.16.04): click here
This is the guy they handed S. Hussein's personal files over to after the war... Guess they've changed their minds:
U.S. Troops Raid Chalabi's Headquarters in Iraq by Luke Baker (Reuters, 05.20.04): click here
Not that it's gotten lots of use... eh-hem... but the Guestbook, a.k.a. Scrawl Wall is going away for a bit. Needs a tune up and whatnot.
Thanks fer the nifty posts what went up there. Y'all 'r too sweet.
There's the most amusing amalgam of Arab and Portugese pop filtering through the windows... I can't get up the gumption to be annoyed about the noise, so I'm cranking the Andrew Sisters to add it to the cacophony. Maybe I'll throw in a little Peggy Lee for good measure. I figure today we're all broadcasting our cultural musical heritage...
Who knew the Portuguese were so fond of the accordion?
Speaking of neighbors, I got a big whopping smile off of one this morning. She was in the process of not quite running me over on her bike. But it was a friendly exchange, in the main. I was tickled pink. My neighbors tend to be challenged in the cheerful department.
We've got new neighbors here in the building and they're a big improvement overall. I was way tired of the woman who looked at me like she thought I was going to assault her in the stairwell. Sad really, she wasn't my type, and had nothing to worry about on that score. Poor thing was like a rabbit. Ume had the same effect on her. Maybe everyone does.
The rabbit's come and gone, so have the women who rented that apartment after her (my landlord has a preference for ladies now - the weight-lifting, steroid-crazed Slovaks put him off of male tenants for a while). These two aristocrats were a total stitch. Specimens of the high wasp variety, with unbelievable names! One was so secure in her superiority that she'd just barely recognize your presence while walking in and out of the building (always on her cell phone - thing was attached to her ear). I felt very much as though I'd received a great favor from a distinguished personage when she'd nod and barely smile.
Which was more than Ume and I got from the wealthy Indian gal who moved in across the way for a year (who nearly burned down the building - twice - having never had to cook for herself before, I'm sure). She was a princess living off the beaten track (all the Brahmins live in Boston sweetheart). Our neighborhood is gentrifying, but not by that much. She looked at us in the way that people who are from money, who want you to know they know you're not from money, can. I'm not so concerned with someone's socioeconomic background as I am with their ability to cook dinner without burning me out of house and home. I did, however, find her superior attitude a wee bit tiresome. We were neighborly and friendly until the day I knocked on her door to ask if the car with the lights on outside was associated with someone in her apartment and she was so absolutely rude that I decided to forget that she existed until she moved out. It worked for me.
Another singer has moved into the building. I don't mind so much, but she's not as good as our opera singing mole woman, who departed last year. This new one sings pop tunes - loudly.
We've got a jolly group this year. Which is always nice. Makes running into them that much more enjoyable.
And one of the new tenants appears to be a lesbian... And is nicer than the mighty wasp priestess, who was also a dyke, and I believe left her girlfriend/room mate who was actually rather sweet. We liked her - she smiled and said, "Hi". What can I say? We're easy.
PS. Ume doesn't think any of the tenants in the building have been lesbians. "Brulee, I know this may be a difficult concept for you to grasp - but two or more women living together does not make them lesbians."
"Well that's a damn shame! Waste of opportunity and whatnot." Says I.
been feeling dissonant <stop>
cognitively speaking <stop>
fundamentals have shifted <stop>
jagged realities burgeoning <stop>
artful speakage tiresome <stop>
evasive maneuvers underway...
"What if the hokey pokey is really what it's all about?"
This is one of my favorite bumper stickers, it's right up there with:
"Envision whirled peas."
Some congressperson, frustrated over the world-wide uproar over abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of US troops, said he thought people ought to remember that these people were not detained for parking violations - they were bad people, some of them terrorists...
Donald Rumsfeld voiced disbelief at the kind of mayhem that arises from the use of digital cameras (which I think is the true root of his frustration in this situation). Because you can bet your ass that without those pictures this particular problem would have barely blipped on the radar screen - it's been public knowledge since last year that these investigations were underway - so he had a clue what they contained. Maybe there would have been a documentary about it in a year or two (after the election, of course). Rumsfeld apologized, took responsibility for the problem, and went blindly back to work...
And it's only going to get worse. Thanks to the digital age. Watch the information cycle shrink before your very eyes.
We're getting a pretty good picture of what we're capable of, no? How'd you like to be "liberated" by that?
Ume said it was just a matter of time before something fucked up like this happened (apart from the whole war, of course...), given the arrogant stance of the Bush administration and the unbelievable pressure the military (not a perfect organization by a long shot) is under over there. "They've got giant targets on their backs, they're terrified. What did they expect?"
Silly me, I expected more.
How the hell could these people be so absolutely clueless? Criminally ignorant does not begin to touch upon the extent of their inability to grasp the concept of "perception". And when you get to that point of arrogance, surely you're dangerously out of step with your best interests. When will these idiots get it? That having a shitload of nuclear weapons, a couple of oceans to either side of you, lots of expendable bodies at your disposal (few, if any, related to anyone you actually know and care about), still doesn't mean that you can treat people inhumanely and have that be a good thing for your citizenry, not to mention the rest of the world? I guess they won't get it, because that's how they "won" the Cold War...
Guess that fight works a little differently in the digital age, when people have to take a good look at the reality at the other end of policy.
Let's hope that this disaster makes a dent in the "Post 9/11, Everything Goes" mindset. But I'm not hopeful it will.
How does one begin to address such a nightmare, and the reprisals it's already begun to spawn?
PS. Anyone who thinks Rumsfeld's surprise visit to Iraq coincided with the private screenings to congress of more photos of tortured prisoners (and their reactions to those photos), was not a coincidence, but an effort to preempt the media coverage that would result - raise your hand...
In the news...
Lawmakers Shocked by New Images of Iraqi Prisoners by Vicki Allen (Reuters, 05.13.04): click here
Kerry Views Iraq Abuse Images, Blames Bush by Adam Entous (Reuters, 05.13.04): click here
Just Trust Us by Paul Krugman (NY Times, 05.11.04):click here
Q&A: Rumsfeld's testimony by Gail Russell Chaddock and Josh Burek (Christian Science Monitor, 05.07.04):click here
Abu Ghraib - an indelible stain on US by Daniel Schorr (Christian Science Monitor, 05.07.04): click here
Still think privitization of the military is a great idea?:
Torture at Abu Ghraib (OnPoint Radio, 05.03.04): click here
Before Abu Ghraib news hit:
Controversy Rages as TV Show Lists U.S. War Dead (Reuters, 05.01.04):click here
Any doubts left that they've fucked up big time?:
In Front of Your Nose by Paul Krugman (New York Times, 04.30.04): click here
Because Lawrence Weschler is awesome!
He's the Picture of Racial Compassion by Lawrence Weschler (L.A. Times, 05.13.04): click here
Romney seeks authority to delay same-sex marriage: Legislature poised to reject governors bill by Raphael Lewis, (Boston Globe 04.16.04): click here
How the "NewsHour" Changed History by Norman Solomon (04.15.04): click here
Check out the NewsHour's weekly political wrap for April 16: click here
You know which way I was dissecting:
So how did the president do?: Dissecting a rare Bush press conference depends on who holds the scalpel by Jim Bencivenga (Christian Science Monitor, 04.14.04): click here
I doubt it, but this was an amazing moment:
Rice's Electoral Future Vanishes in the Fog by John Nichols (Capital Times, 04.13.04): click here
The liberal jury's in on Rice's testimony: