Friday, October 29, 2004

High on hubris

"We're an empire now" - senior adviser to President Bush

The New York Times Magazine recently posted an article by Ron Suskind titled "Without a Doubt". In it he presents a rare and candid look at George W. Bush, religious fanatic and right wing extremist. I highly recommend reading it, especially if you think Bush's confidence and decisions are based on facts or even an informed intuition. I've included a couple of paragraphs from the article below but you can read it in its entirety here, here or here. As Kerry said during the debates, "You can be certain and still be wrong". Bush is so wrong it's nothing short of chilling. In fact, even Pat Robertson has trouble with Bush's megalomania.

Excerpt from "Without a Doubt".
"REALITY-BASED COMMUNITY"
"In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"
This madness is rooted the neoconcervative program of Perception Management. George Orwell with his Newspeak has nothing on these guys.

--Ron Suskind was the senior national-affairs reporter for The Wall Street Journal from 1993 to 2000. He is the author most recently of "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House and the Education of Paul O'Neill."

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson called yesterday. He wanted to remind me to vote. General Westley Clark called today. He also reminded me to vote. Busy guys. I suppose you've also heard from them too and probably many others. I was already planning to vote. In fact, I voted today. There was a pretty good line, but it went quickly. I have to say it. I hope you vote too, and early if possible. Nov. 2nd is sure to be a very busy day. Have a question about where to go? Go here, enter you zip code and you'll be directed to local information. If you're voting early, be sure and double check on the location. It may be different than it is on Nov. 2nd. So vote, damn it!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Bill Cowee, impresario with a heart

An American director who had, along with his troupe (his two wives), nearly starved to death in Mexico told me once that you can claim to have an audience when there is one more person in the house than in the cast. I don't know if that's true. Good thing poets aren't bound by rules otherwise, even counting bartenders and baristas, we'd generally come up wanting. My fall back when doing a reading has always been to include an open mic. However, the Ash Canyon Poets don't do open mics. Cowee wants people to have attended at least one Ash Canyon meeting before reading with us in public.


Bill Cowee, poet
Ash Canyon Poet's beloved Impresario

That said, after the conclusion of our reading last night at Border's Books, Bill invited audience members to read if they wanted to. They were practically falling out of their chairs in eagerness. Cowee has an eternal soft spot for anyone with the slightest interest in writing poetry. Under his enormous wing, I have seen people improve who I would rather have dropped off a cliff. And after that, he invited them to join us at Casino Fandango. It is a garish, friendly place which, as soon as it opened, Bill immediately declared our new Friday night meeting after the meeting institution.



Susan Priest, Ash Canyon poet


Roy Chavez, Ash Canyon poet

The casino's quirky Vegas style jungle theme and pampering staff instantly earned the highest regard a group of poets, or dogs, can confer... Loyalty. Every Friday, we sit under the canopy of its neon jungle talking deep into the night over wine and coffee, lakes of chowder and mountains of fries. It provides perfect hideaway for strange birds and even includes a squawking mechanical parrot that scoots along a ceiling track randomly dropping money on people below. When I was a kid the adults warned me that if I grew up to be a poet I would die drunk and poor in the gutter. I don't know whether or not they'll turn out to be right, but that damn bird never drops a penny on any of us.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Borders Reading


After Hours

We're reading at Borders tonight (Ash Canyon Poets) and I'm at it again, doing a fourth version of my poetry zine, After Hours. Will it ever end? I changed a word, redid my SkyRiverPress logo, tweaked the cover and am printing out a few new copies. For all this, I'll probably just give the damn things away. Madness. Yes. This is madness. If, by some remote chance, you want to actually buy a copy, email me. They're 3 bucks, postage paid. ashaATashabot.com


Old logo


My revised logo. Much better.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Pat Robertson, Bush on the eve of the invasion of Iraq


Strange times. Who would have ever guessed that a playboy cowboy backed by such an unlikely combination as former Communists, Jewish extremists, fat cat CEOs, highly discrete billionaires, Ivy League Professors, otherwise known as Neoconservatives, and swarms of automaton evangelicals guided by Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition would ever be able to railroad the United States of America into this bullshit, first-strike war, needlessly sacrifice so many lives and line their pockets all in one swoop?

But recently Pat Robertson and the White House butted heads after Robertson reported to CNN that on the eve of invading Iraq, Bush told him "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties". Today on CNN the White House denied that Bush ever said such a stu-pid thing. What's up with that? Is the Brotherhood getting confused by its own spin? Robinson described Bush that night as "the most self-assured man I've ever met in my life. You remember Mark Twain said, 'He looked like a contented Christian with four aces.' I mean he was just sitting there like, 'I'm on top of the world'."

There's a creepy, quasi-sexual image...Bush at night, intoxicated by power, totally out of touch with reality, aroused and eager for war. Is it that he just doesn't get it or that he just doesn't care?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Monday Blue Plate Poetry Special #2


Rilke by Balladine Aquarelle

The other day, Mr. Lee reminded me that it's almost Nanowrimo time again. I immediately purged myself of the idea and wouldn't have thought of it until next year (when he will tell me again). But then someone else had to mention it. ARG! But don't get me wrong. I think Nanowrimo is a great idea. Get over yourself! Have fun! Kick out the stops! Be bold! Blast your ass out of the mud! Just write, damn it! Leap before you look! Of course, I'm not going to enter Nanowrimo. I'd have to write 1666.6666666666666666666666666667 words a day for thirty days. I'm sticking to poetry. There I can get by with writing 2 words a day. Less. I don't remember who it was but I completely relate to the poet who said of their day's work, "This morning I changed a comma to a semi-colon and in the afternoon, I changed it back again."

Which brings me to my point, Rilke's "For The Sake Of A Single Poem" which I include here for no particular reason other than it's the Monday Blue Plate Poetry Special.

from The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
...Ah, poems amount to so little when you write them too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines. For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough) – they are experiences. For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn’t pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else – ); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet, restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along high overhead and went flying with all the stars, - and it is still not enough to be able to think of all that. You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and the scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves – only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Magpie Breakfast Serenade


Magpie Chanteuse

Seeing as how they wear tuxedos to breakfast, I wrote a little tune for the magpies. I call it Magpie Breakfast Serenade. It's birdie lounge music, so I wouldn't be surprised if they start requesting it down at the Yellow-billed Magpie Warbling Lounge and Kibbels Bar. I'm sure they'd love a serenade while swilling a chardonnay and adding a piano bar can only class things up, even at the already classy Lizard House.

What's really cool was that while I was plunking around on the keyboard, a magpie started singing along down through the chimney. I wonder if the world is ready for a Magpie Chanteuse?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Adventures in Birdland


Birdie Num Num
Magpies love peanuts so I
put some out this morning along
with a little cheese then waited for
one to arrive.
It took about 3 minutes.



Lucky Magpie
However, the magpie wasn't
the only one who showed up.



Kitty Num Num



Hasty Retreat
But the cat beat a hasty retreat
as the magpie hopped along
the fense squawking at him.




Table for One
Be sure to check out the
classy black pants.




Two for One

Wizards of Oz


Georgetown, USA

Power loves a vacuum; that's why the Neoconservatives filled the one in US politics (quietly), while the rest of us were busy doing other things. Until recently the neocons were one of American's best kept secrets, but the war in Iraq changed a lot. Among other things, we got politicized, polarized and some of us began poking our noses under the tent. After all, Bush mired us in a sink hole, lose-lose war with the Muslim world. Why not ask why?

In the beginning I thought it was the Republicans who got us into this mess. But after doing some reading I found out that, at least on the national level, the Republican Party is a sockpuppet for the Neoconservatives. In case you haven't been following along, the neocons embrace a fascist ideology and are deeply embedded in Georgetown society and beltway politics. One of their main strengths is blending into the background, appearing to be mainstream but, as Michael Lind of the New Statesman put it, "they are an extremist group of former liberals; "products of the largely Jewish-American Trotskyist movement of the 1930s and 1940s, which morphed into anti-communist liberalism between the 1950s and 1970s and finally into a kind of militaristic and imperial right."

For a quick look at who and what the neocons are, scroll through this page. I think you'll find it interesting.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Perception Management


The New War
Ever wonder how Bush has so successful passed off such obvious lies? Perception Management combined with a vast dissemination network. It's all just part of the Neo-Conservative's grand plan. After the embarrassment of Watergate and Vietnam, the big brains at the neocon think tanks decided that the real war was the "war of ideas". That's when they began sculpting what they call their "war machine". Perception Management, which includes doublespeak and newspeak, is one of their most powerful and dangerous weapons. George Orwell coined the term newspeak but the neocons brought it to life. Perception Management establishes the machinery by which opposition can be bent towards their goal; a free-wheeling, uncensored collusion between an authoritarian government and (select) private corporations. Bush's effectiveness depends on newspeak and doublespeak.

FreeDictionary.com explains that the basic idea behind newspeak is ... to remove all shades of meaning from language, leaving simple dichotomies such as pleasure / pain, happiness / sadness, good / evil. In addition, words with opposite meanings are removed, so "bad" becomes "ungood", "lies" become "misinformation". The ultimate aim of newspeak is to reduce even the dichotomies to a single word that is a "yes" of some sort: an obedient word with which everyone will answer affirmatively to whatever is asked of them. Bush does not lead. He does not have a vision. Bush jabbers newspeak while standing before hand picked audiences at select locations prized for their patriotic ambiance. http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/newspeak


Newspeak

And doublespeak. FreeDictionary defines doublespeak as "language deliberately constructed to disguise or distort its actual meaning." Doublespeak is a communication bypass. In doublespeak a corporation says "downsizing" or "non-duty, non-pay status" instead of "you're fired", and the news reports "collateral damage" rather than "innocent civilian death". A doctor may say "patient failed to fulfill his wellness potential" instead of "patient died", and a junk dealer advertises a "semi-antique rug" instead of a "used rug". As you might guess, doublespeak is also a huge hit with the government, military,and corporate institutions. Call me old-fashioned, but for me the test of a person is still what they do, not what they say they do. http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Double+speak

The name "Patriot Act" is a brilliant example of Perception Management. It equates loss of freedom with freedom. It turns the US into a ready-to-go, 21st Century style police state but the sleepers are grateful. This act was drafted before 9-11 then the neocons waited for an appropriate crisis to slip it in. Their patience paid off. After 9-11, people were desperate. Most didn't protest the Patriot Act at all. They didn't know what it entailed, but they loved the newspeak title. They snuggled right up to it. It has a nice, comforting ring, like "Homeland Security". The fact is, the Patriot Act was forced on us , a true triumph for the perception managers. It was voted into law without anybody reading it. They couldn't. No one received a copy of the some thousand page document until the night before the vote.

Over the years the neocons also built another indispensable arm of their war machine, a well-funded network of think tanks, media outlets and attack groups like Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times. Furthermore, they installed an army of over-the-top conservative commentators on TV, radio, in newspaper columns and on well-funded websites. Perhaps you've noticed.

I understand why otherwise intelligent people fall for all this. Perception management is complete. Meaning appears to be on the surface. Suggestions and ideas instantly become foregone conclusions and are reported in the media like news. When that fails, the conservatives use bribes. My hope is that Americans on both sides of the political spectrum will join together and change the frightening direction the radical right is dragging us. We shall see.

Want to read more about Perception Management? Check out the Dictionary of Modern Newspeak. There's a link to it from the Newspeak Dictionary website. It is a true formula for a very dangerous form of madness when you add in George Bush's religious fanaticism and hubris.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Monday Blue Plate Poetry Special, #1

I attend a local poetry critique group called Ash Canyon Poets that also happens to be the best one I've ever attended. In general, that's not saying much. Most writer's groups suck big time, but this is one is an exception. There are some fine poets in attendance and the group as a whole has a genuine love and awareness of what is real poetry. Even the occasional precious artiste who drifts in gets useful pointers with a minimum of mollycoddling. I tried a writer's group in Reno a couple of years ago, but it didn't go well. As is more often the case, egos got in the way. I took a break when I went on the Interferon treatment for Hep C and by the time I was ready to pick up my life again, the group faded out. Ash Canyon, on the other hand, has been meeting on Friday nights at the Brewery Arts Center for the last 18 years. That is amazing.

Cats in Birdland


Birdland Hanky Panky
A couple of neighborhood cats have discovered my little bird park. The bastards! I suppose it was inevitable, especially with the big piles of dry weeds laying around. They use them like hunting blinds. I haven't found any feather piles yet but not for lack of scheming on the cats' part. The birds have been a little scarse lately. I don't think they're any too happy with cats crawling though the underbrush. Definitely puts a crimp in the party. And I'm sure it's no comfort that there's a little courting action going on. But try herding cats.

Saturday, October 9, 2004

Still Afternoon

It is amusing the way words twist, no more than vapors, while in the neighborhood a buzz saw gets down to business. It is an afternoon with no where to go but home, away from the street, closed doors and sadness. An afternoon to sit and watch images of things that never were, happen in places that don't exist...happen in my mind with such detail, so quickly they are instant memories among memories of things that did happen, once, perhaps. Then a different fly starts and stops on the warm window sill. And the little, black dog, asleep on a penny, twitches and sighs with a dream, wakes to bark then, convinced, curls again to sleep. And still it is afternoon.

The big dog hears a couple of small explosions in the muted distance, rushes to the screen door, presses her nose to it, goes back under the table where she licks a crumb then, satisfied, disappears down the hall. I hear her flop and sigh in the dark innards of the house. The afternoon is finally quiet. I list in the silence like an unsinkable, wrecked ship. I will never cry. When everything else is gone, there will be one small hurling drop of water grooved in its orbit in black space.

-----------------------------------
* This may seem like a confessional poem, but it's not.

Monday, October 4, 2004

Science Update

I got this email from my brother today. It's a correction for the Mt. Saint Helen Math equation he did for me yesterday.

______________________________________________________


Mad Scientist Convention

"Oops! I added a few extra zeros. There its 5E+9 = 5,000,000,000 not 5,000,000,000,000, that number is 5 trillion. Better make changes on your blog or some scientist will roast us. You see why we use short hand notation."
______________________________________________________

So, now that we've got that straightened out, we can all enjoy our infinitesimal fraction of a human day.


Logic vs. Superstition Debate

Sunday, October 3, 2004

Mt. Saint Helen Math

Mt. Saint Helen Web Cam
Someone at Bluesky was wondering about how Mt. Saint Helen's latest eruption fits into the passage of geologic time. So I asked my brother. I always ask my brother when I need an equation. Several years ago I asked him what my total life earnings as a poet figured out to be as an hourly wage. The answer was 8 cents an hour. Yes. Anyway, on to Mt. Saint Helen.


Mt. Saint Helen and Mt. Rainier

___________________________________________________________

"Here are my calculations:

We actually don’t need to bring humans into the process, unless one thinks that our evil ways with the body politic have upset the mountain again.


Mt. Saint Helen's new dome peeking up over crater edge

Contrary to the early century Christian scholars who thought the earth was 144,000 years old, the scientist think its more like 5 billion years old. Putting in the zeros the number looks like this 5,000,000,000,000. Of course we scientist don’t like to waste things much even if they are zeros, either do Norwegians, so we use a short notation and write 5E+9, which means a five followed by nine zeros after it. The E stands for exponent, what ever that is. So if there is a 70% change of Mt. Saint Helens getting pissed off this year and we assume that she only get pissed on very occasionally, for you see she is a cool mountain, lots of snow, and so the chance of it getting pissed off over the age of the earth is this…

Let’s just first figure out what percent one year is compared to the age of the earth. That is easy..

1 year/ age of earth = 1/5,000,000,000,000

Now we are wasting zeros again, so we write this the stingy Norwegian math way 1/5E+9 was is approximately 0.5E-9. We use the minus sign after the E to denote how many zeros in front of the nine. So one year equals 50E-9 % of the earth life. Notice we moved the zeros around converting from fraction of 0.5 to percent 50%.

So then multiple that by 70%, which reduces it to a chance of say about 35E-9% which is a very small number by our normal measures


Satellite image of Mt. Saint Helen crater and new dome

But this calculation has a flaw because the mountain has not been around since the beginning of the earth. Mt. Saint Helens is more like a zit on the nose of the earth. When it gets squeezed, out comes earth blood and puss, which for the earth is red lave and white ash.

So what do humans have to do with all this? Humans have been waking around the zit for about 5E+3 years which is about 30 seconds of the history of the entire earth.

On a related subject I thought I might write a book for kids. Here is the title:

"Mathematical Ecology For 9 Year Olds or How I Learned To Get Even With My Big Sister"

___________________________________________________________

Little brothers! They never really do grow up. I can count change.

Saturday, October 2, 2004

Bushman Flub n Fumble


President Pinch Face

Watching George Bush, the President of the United States, flub and fumble like he did during the debate was not only sad, it was chilling. He clearly hasn't got what it takes in an unscripted situation. He manages okay speaking from notes, to hand picked followers. But this is not why we elect a President. The President must be able to speak for all of us in difficult situations. For this Bush is exceptionally UN-qualified. He even flubbed and fumbled at the United Nations. People wanted to work with him but when they wouldn't immediately co-sign his plans for a pre-emptive strike, he sighed. He squirmed. He fussed. He pouted. He picked up his toys and went home. And he started his war on his own. Now he tells us, "it's hard work"; that he, "sees it on TV". He pleads he's doing the best job he can, "but it's hard work folks. Everybody knows it HAARD WORK". Christ! The guy's not only a dummy. He's a menace!

His campaign promise to us is that he will, "stay the course". That's not comforting. That means George Bush is incapable of keeping up with reality, on the ground, as more is revealed. One plan fits all. Overkill. Some policy! Whether or not he gets re-elected, his oil grab has already shamed and left us with a painful legacy of distrust, ridicule, resentment, hatred and unnecessary suffering.

And at home Georgie took the healthy budget he inherited from Clinton and turned it into an unprecedented national debt of $142 billion. And that debt is increasing by $177 million per day. That's $7.4 million per hour or $122,820 per minute. $122,820 a minute! Every sixty seconds the United States is another $122,820 in the hole! I don't know about you, but I sure could use a minute's worth of money from Bush's war chest. So much for Republicans being for small government. His solution? Privatize. Let Corporate Amerika run the show...like Cheney's Enron. Lovely.

Over 1,000 Americans have already been killed in Iraq and over 12,000 Americans have been treated for illness, non-combat injury and combat injury (7,000) since March of 2002. That toll rises daily. And at least 10,000 Iraqi citizens have been killed so far and hundreds of thousands more wounded. There never were any WMDs but Bush was too antsy to wait and find that out the peaceful way. He didn't want to wait.

An action is judged by its results. Findings show that Saddam Hussein never was a member of al-Qaida. But he was a lynch pin in the stability of the Middle East. He kept his own warring factions at home, under one roof. Now he's gone, a sovereign nation is in shambles, and Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida, the man who did mastermind the 9-11 attack, is still free and planning more attacks. And Iraq now is a hot house for terrorists and the price of oil has never been higher. Just today al-Qaida released a new tape urging Muslim youth to "take the initiative like the United States and wage a preventive war". Bush should be flattered. Imitation is the highest compliment. But talk about sad? Here's what's really sad. Dead Iraqi children are now the poster children inspiring militants everywhere. What does Georgie do? He sticks in his thumb, pulls out a turd and says, "It's HAAAARD WORK."

Listen to the man himself. He says it best. It's vintage George. http://www.pleasurecaptains.com/favor/howsmall.html

I'm voting for Kerry. He's not just the other choice. He's the better choice.

Friday, October 1, 2004

Bush in a NUTshell

Here's a fun little compilation from last night's debate which isolates that folksy charm Dubya's supporters are so fond of. How Bush Did.