jazzoLOG: Curtains For Democracy    
 Curtains For Democracy10 comments
picture12 May 2004 @ 09:43, by Richard Carlson

Freedom of Speech
by Norman Rockwell

It's not autumn's cold that keeps me awake,
but what I feel before the grasses and trees in my courtyard.
My banana tree has lost its leaves; my parasol tree is old;
and night after night---the sound of wind, the sound of rain.

---Chujo Joshin

The assumption behind democracy is that there is such a thing as community---men and women living a social life in associations of all kinds: that in such a community men can develop and express their personalities. Government, with all the power of organization it involves, is regarded by men in a democratic state as an instrument of this community, to protect it and preserve it from disharmonies of various kinds.

---A.D.Lindsay
The Modern Democratic State, 1943

12 May 2004 @ 02:56: hahahahahahaha...
Ever hear of "The School Of The Americas?" How about "Wounded Knee?" or, this beats them all, the project for ''The New American Century?'' All the while our ''elected'' president, har har, hides under his cloak of gooseberry down.

[link]

As a result of the manipulations of this “Consortium,” the majority of Americans are inculcated into the fiction of a representative government - a democracy - and that our scientists and representatives are “taking care of business” for us, and even if they are sometimes corrupt, they aren’t as bad as a totalitarian regime. It has become most definitely obvious in the past couple of years that this is not the case - and probably never was. We don’t even really elect our representatives. It’s all a sham. But the fiction propagated by the media has clouded the ability of the American people to see their society and government for what it really is: an oligarchy that pretends to be a democracy to placate and deceive the public.

To those who suggest that it doesn’t really matter since it is an efficient way to organize and manage millions of people, let us suggest that it is suicidal to think that an oligarchy is not primarily interested in maintaining its own position to the exclusion of all other considerations. When we consider the evidence, we see that the groups in question have never acted in the best interests of the public. If you doubt this, spend some time reading about nonconsensual human experimentation. And so, logically speaking, there is no reason to even suggest that the secrecy surrounding the “alien reality” is any different.

---Vaxen Var

My Internet friend, Mr. Var, has published comments such as the above quite often, and he knows they get me down. I'm not sure I ever took time to consider why that is though. I don't think they bother me because I believe his notions to be incorrect about our contemporary United States. An oligarchy is a government operated by a few upon the many, and it certainly seems one needs incredible personal finances to stand for a political office more significant than dogcatcher. Or if one is popular through the strength of one's own personality, nevertheless the big money must beckon eventually.

No, I don't think what is depressing in what Vax has to say is his description of our Wag-The-Dog society. The real challenge is that my culture suspects and maybe knows this deception is the case...and accepts it. I hear many very tough buddies of mine around here say, "Yeah sure, but what can ya do?" The answer is we didn't wake up one morning to find they had us by the balls (well---unless you've had an operation like I just had). This process of seduction or sleight of hand took place over a period of time, a chunk I usually designate with the election of Reagan. However, the firmer the grip the more difficult to simply slap the intruder away. It took time and stubbornness to get ourselves into the backseat, and it will take time to get the steering wheel back.

Can it be gotten back? This is the challenge part. I was rather surprised this morning to visit [link] where I was searching for gloomy figures about how many eligible voters turn out for elections. I didn't expect to find, albeit a presidential election, as high a figure as 67.5% in the year 2000. And that leaves, if I'm reading this chart correctly, 16.2% of eligible voters who weren't registered...which is why so many grassroots groups are out beating the bushes right now to get those folks signed up. Now of course I wouldn't want to settle for anything less than 100% turnout...but I know many people these days who say, "So what! Elections don't mean anything as far as real power is concerned."

Well, I think they do...or can, but let's pause for a moment on this note of despondency that seems so prevalent. I don't think Americans are an unhappy people today. If anything, we may be way too giddy for the real conditions of the world. Why are Americans satisfied, with so many problems facing us and a profound doubt in our system of government---which nevertheless we will send our sons and daughters to spread and defend? Why do we accept what we suspect is corruption?

For my little part of Ohio, down here by the River and West Virginia and all, I have what I call my Enclave Theory of social organization. This means that what a guy does is get a motorcycle to ride on and a trailer to live in---if that's done by means of a job, all to the good...but get it somehow. If you're renting the land that trailer's on, be on the lookout to buy, win or get given a patch of land to call your own. It doesn't matter where it is or particularly how big---just so it's yours...and that trailer can be dropped there and sit steady on it. From this point the culture says you are king of that property, and can do anything you damned want to. That means fencing it up, bringing in a herd of cattle or horses, mining/logging it, running 4-wheelers and snowmobiles all the hell over it, and of course lots of shooting. You bring in a wife and kids if you want, or chase 'em out. This is your territory, and the only sense of community you need to bother with is allowing other guys with a similar viewpoint to sniff around...especially if they bring along a case of beer.

I'm not condemning this kind of life. In many ways, it's the norm in lots of this country besides Appalachia. When these citizens go to vote, they are interested in poking their stick in the column that will maintain that highly private lifestyle. They don't want to hear that they can't have a rider mower and 100,000 square feet of lawn---which they like to water night and day through the summer. And they can afford a loan for that big swimming pool outside the trailer...so they oughta have it. I'm often amused to hear neo-cons condemn Hollywood for being so liberal, when in fact it's American movies that have created this icon of the cowboy loner. Redneck philosophy is the rebel outsider hero we lapped up everytime the box office offered us a new version. He doesn't need to stick around the town and work out the nuts and bolts of civic organization. He's on to his next adventure. Hollywood sold us this storyline as reality and set the stage for cowboy diplomacy as well.

But for democracy to not go completely down the drain we have to reach into the lives of these perfectly fine folks, and show them oh-so-gently a bit of the real world. Yes, they like fire and explosions in their action flicks, but those special effects are only good to rule a mob...not to educate a voter. It is not elitism to suggest a political campaign that seeks to provide leadership in solution of extremely difficult problems. But one must explain what those problems are, because really about half the voting population doesn't know what they are. Or have been betrayed further away from citizenship into the trough of cosumerism by the shill artists who teach them not to believe those problems even exist. If evolution doesn't exist, why believe in air pollution? Gentle conversation and dialogue with people you don't know at all is very delicate, but it is the foundation of community---as distinguished from the enclave. I believe here's the real work to be done.


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12 May 2004 @ 16:14 by istvan : Jazz do you like Kurt Vonnegut?
[ http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0512-13.htm ]  


12 May 2004 @ 17:01 by Quinty @68.9.129.35 : More on the same
Kurt Vonnegut is excellent. Here's another one from Common Dreams....

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0512-03.htm  



13 May 2004 @ 04:08 by jazzolog : Quinty, Meet Istvan
I've never met Istvan real-time (the man we used to know as Zendancer around here) but I'll bet I'd still know Quinty anywhere---even though we haven't seen each other in about 40 years. And I'll tell you this: I'd love to join these 2 guys in a little bistro somewhere in this world to sip and talk the hours away.  


13 May 2004 @ 13:26 by istvan : I take that as an honored compliment.
I already like Quinty since he reads COMMON DREAMS. Withoutthat news service the internet to me would be barely more than shifting desert sand.
Maybe we can someday meet at an event of Burning Man.  



14 May 2004 @ 02:09 by vaxen : Gently?

"And it seems to me perfectly in the cards that there will be within the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing … a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda, brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods."
Aldous Huxley, 1959


"Through clever and constant application of propaganda people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise."
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1923


"If ignorance is truly bliss, then why do so many Americans need Prozac?"  



14 May 2004 @ 14:40 by jazzolog : When You Are Ready You Will Awaken
Yes, gently I think. I'm not particularly wigged out by news that the whole population is zombified. I don't like it, it's a shame, but I understand how a combination of denial, stupefying technology, and maybe some intoxication and/or addiction can render folks into cement blocks. So many toys and so little time.

Wednesday I was in a doctor's office (surprise!) and the whole place was an hour or 2 behind. Such a reception area is often a wonderful microcosm of a local populace. This was in Logan, Ohio, and we don't know anybody up there...but the types are the same as in Athens pretty much. The topic came up of $2.06 a gallon for regular (around 90 cents a litre I think) and one guy said he really hates Hummers---but he was talking about the retail pricetag. I asked, "Isn't it true they only get 8 miles to the gallon?" (Notice my gentle approach.) He replied yeah, but that his truck only gets that much too.

At that point, another woman joined the conversation and started bragging about her hybrid, and went on to urge the whole room to get thinking about vanishing resources. She gave a Dump Bush speech to the whole bunch at full blast. There was utter silence when she was done. The looks on their faces were perplexed, disoriented. It may have sounded like a foreign language to those people..or else they never had actually heard a real person talking like this. The point is maybe it did some good, but the delivery was so heavy-handed there was no way to measure or be sure. And worst of all, it ended all conversation...which dialogue is the real way to help someone understand I think.

http://www.xmlauthor.com/images/clients/hummer.jpg  



15 May 2004 @ 08:46 by Quinty @68.9.129.35 : Of Waiting Rooms and Rats
I can just picture the scene in that waiting room. The heavy silence following the outburst by that woman. Is it possible she may have been uncomfortable and have come on too heavily as a result, expecting resistence? After all, those of us who oppose the war have been called unpatriotic and other unpleasant things. The war is becoming unpopular, not because it was a bad idea so much as because it is not succeeding. The costs are becoming too high. What if the US had won in Vietnam? Would Americans think it was a "just" war if we had? I can remember when openly opposing the war in public places could be quite dangerous to your health. Fortunately, I had a friend who could go into the most redneck of bars and loudly lambast the war without starting a fight. Funny thing, too, is that later on he joined the Marines, which insured fighting in Vietnam. When he returned he was a totally different person.

I see that some of the rats are deserting the ship. This morning I heard one of the top Neocon gurus, William Kristol, attack President Bush as incompetent. Kristol seems to think the jig is up, and that the US may leave Iraq with its tail between its legs. The only good thing about this war, it seems to me, is that it may have fatally punctured the Neocon hope for a worldwide Pax Americana, and prevented us from invading Iran or Syria, one of which would probably have been next. The posters are delightful.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

I think you make a good point about the woman, Paul. An anticipatory defensiveness can make one come on too strong. As I mentioned in one of the Chatrooms in here, the site of the posters is part of the University of Washington, mostly Seattle. They have an art department out there that I believe is top of the line.
---Dick  



17 May 2004 @ 01:41 by jazzolog : And What About Dennis Kucinich?
There's a nice feature on this candidate, whom my family still is supporting, in this morning's NY Times~~~
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
May 17, 2004
Down but Not Out, Kucinich Keeps On Fighting
By RICK LYMAN

PORTLAND, Ore., May 16 - Before Americans get too engrossed in a general election contest between President Bush and Senator John Kerry, Dennis J. Kucinich would like to remind them of something: He's still out here, working hard every day, slogging from town to town, the second-to-last person still standing in the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"Math is not my major, but I can count," the Ohio congressman said as his car wound along the dripping, piney woods of the central Oregon coast, a glowering sky flecking the windshield with pin-sized raindrops. "I understand that Kerry has enough delegates to be nominated. I can count, but I can also figure."

And this is how Dennis Kucinich - the former boy mayor of Cleveland whose half-forgotten, dead-but-still-twitching presidential campaign is now focusing on Tuesday's Oregon primary - figures it:

"The reason I have not dropped out of the race is that we may have a nominee, but the future direction of the Democratic Party has not yet been determined."

And what he wants Mr. Kerry, and the Democratic Party, to do is to take an unambiguous stand not only against the war in Iraq but against "the very idea that war is inevitable." The nation's whole political mindset must be changed, Mr. Kucinich said.

"We are at the unusual juncture where what is morally right and politically efficacious are in confluence," he said. "My presence in the race provides a persistent reminder of the necessity of taking a new direction, the first step of which is to bring our troops home now."

O.K. But isn't that pretty big talk for a guy who has won exactly zero primaries - in fact, who performed poorly in most of them?

Mr. Kucinich recognizes this, and knows that much of the country has pretty much forgotten that he is still running. "At this point, I am not suffering from the overwhelming burden of high expectations," he said.

However, he said, the war in Iraq is turning out to be just the disaster he had predicted, and if he can just keep accumulating delegates here and there, he might be able to go into the Democratic convention in Boston this summer with enough juice to nudge the party toward his way of thinking.

That's all he wants now.

"I guess you can say I am saving the Democratic Party from itself," Mr. Kucinich said. "And I can possibly prevent some people from jumping into the arms of a third-party candidate. I mean, why is Ralph Nader even an issue this year? What is to stop us from stealing his playbook?"

At the moment, Mr. Kucinich is focusing on Oregon. He has spent 30 days here in the last two months, and he is using some of his precious reserve of campaign funds on last-minute television advertisements.

He takes heart that Mr. Kerry, whose campaign has paid little attention to the primary calendar in recent weeks, feels compelled to come to Portland on Monday, with no less than former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont in tow.

"What's happening," Mr. Kucinich insisted, "is that events are starting to prove that I was right. When all else fails, truth has a way of protecting its own."

At the public library in Florence, on a leafy street between Highway 101 and the sea, more than 100 Kucinich supporters spilled from a small meeting room at 7:30 Saturday morning. He was due any minute for the first of six stops that day.

"I figure we have to have someone for those of us who are against the war," said Don Norton, 71, a retired corrections official wearing a "No War" button. "If it wasn't for Kucinich, there wouldn't be anyone speaking for us."

Howard Shapiro, 70, a retired schoolteacher sporting two buttons ("Dissent Is Patriotic" and "Re-Defeat Bush"), said that like many in the room, he expected to vote for Mr. Kerry in November. But on Tuesday he goes Kucinich, if only to send Mr. Kerry a message.

A microphone was passed through the crowd so people could explain what brought them there.

"I'm just getting tired of being embarrassed to be an American," one woman said.

"I really like to be in a place where my ideas are not superfluous," said another.

The crowd rose and cheered when Mr. Kucinich arrived in a blue blazer over a red shirt and blue jeans.

"How many of us have had that feeling, that we can't believe what this country has become?" Mr. Kucinich asked. "I know that many of us feel a sense of disconnection from our country, and that this produces in us a kind of grief. We grieve for the America that was, the America that cared for civil liberties."

American politics, apparently, have gone completely topsy-turvy: conservatives crank up deficits and get bogged down in foreign wars while progressives pine wistfully for a golden-hued past.

Normally, Mr. Kucinich speaks in a calm, reassuring way, though every now and then his voice rises in a passionate crescendo. The effect is less that of a lonely political crusade than a religious revival, and his language has echoes of the pulpit.

"What is the way out of this?" he asked. "It is reminding us where we came from."

At a rally later in Lincoln City, nearly 200 people packed the Bijou Cinema, where Mr. Kucinich was presented with a quilt bearing the logo "Dept. of Peace." This referred to his proposal to create such a cabinet-level agency to promote harmony and conflict resolution, a notion much ridiculed on conservative talk radio shows as emblematic of the sort of fuzzy-headed thinking common among this particular strain of liberal.

"We can change the whole debate in this country, and we've got to do it," Mr. Kucinich said. "It's about the party standing for something, something other than the next check from the corporate interests."

In an almost hushed voice, he continued: "This is a spiritual matter, not just a practical political matter."

The entire time he spoke, an angelic young woman stood at the side of the auditorium with her arms raised above her head, sometimes shaking them gently, as though sending waves through the air.

The young woman, Eden Sky, 27, said she was "focusing," which she described as a kind of praying, a blessing. And she seemed almost puzzled when asked why she chose to focus on Mr. Kucinich. "Because he is the only one worth focusing on," she said.

If he continues to win a few here and a few there, Mr. Kucinich said, he expects to go to Boston with about 50 delegates, and to bring along an additional 2,000 supporters. "We will help shape the external environment of the convention as well," he said.

What he really must do, he said, is to have a serious conversation with Mr. Kerry, with whom he has a friendly relationship, to try to persuade him that a troops-out-now platform is the way to beat President Bush and unlock the door to the nation's progressive yearnings.

"Up until now, I have been his opponent in the primaries and it wouldn't be appropriate," Mr. Kucinich said. "But the time to have that discussion is probably very close."

He reached into one of his traveling bags and pulled out a thick stack of newspaper pages, each one with articles meticulously underlined, nuggets of information that he found interesting or appalling, more grist for his mill.

"We've been out here campaigning for 15 months," he said. "It's a long time."

But it will be worth it, he said, if he can just inch his party toward justice.

"In a way, I feel like Johnny Appleseed," Mr. Kucinich said. "I'm planting seeds all over this country: seeds of peace, seeds of hope. At some point, maybe years from now, there will be orchards. So in a sense, it's about more than this election. It's about more than politics. It really is about envisioning a new America."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/17/politics/campaign/17kucinich.html?th=&pagewanted=all&position=  



31 May 2004 @ 05:47 by jazzolog : Cheney Office 'Coordinated' Halliburton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Pentagon e-mail said Vice President Dick Cheney's office "coordinated" a multibillion-dollar Iraq reconstruction contract awarded to his former employer Halliburton, Time magazine reported on Sunday.
The e-mail, sent by an Army Corps of Engineers official on March 5, 2003, said Douglas Feith, a senior Pentagon official, provided arrangements for the RIO contract, or Restore Iraqi Oil, between Halliburton and the U.S. government, Time said.

The e-mail said Feith, who reports to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, approved arrangements for the contract "contingent on informing WH (White House) tomorrow. We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w VP's (vice president's) office."

A spokesman for Cheney said his office had no role in the contract process.

"Vice President Cheney and his office have had no involvement whatsoever in government contracting matters since he left private business to run for vice president," said Kevin Kellems, a spokesman for Cheney.

An administration official familiar with the e-mail, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the memo merely mentions the fact that the White House had been given a standard courtesy call notifying that a contract decision that had already been made and was being publicly announced soon.

Cheney was Halliburton's CEO from 1995 until he joined President Bush's presidential ticket in 2000.

The Texas oil services firm has been accused by some Democrats of war profiteering after winning billions of dollars in contracts from the U.S. military in Iraq.

The company has strongly denied it obtained favorable treatment.

A spokesperson for Halliburton was not immediately available for comment.

Time said the Pentagon e-mail was located among documents provided by Judicial Watch, a watchdog group.

{link:http://home.myway.com/}  



2 Jun 2004 @ 12:01 by Quinty @68.9.129.35 : Have the Neocons been disgraced?

''We need to restrain what are growing U.S. messianic instincts -- a sort of global social engineering where the United States feels it is both entitled and obligated to promote democracy -- by force if necessary'', said Senator Pat Roberts, a conservative Kansas member of Bush's Republican Party and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a speech last week that was understood here as a direct shot at the neo-cons. ... "

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0602-01.htm  



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