The Friends of California Libre...

31 October 2007

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid, and Not of the Kids Breaking Your Windows

Greetings, friends,
From an airplane, smoke has a very different quality than fog.  Yeah, I know it's not important, but it's interesting.  I flew up to Oakland last Friday on my never-ending quest for "the good life", and looked down on Los Angeles with all the dispassion we humans can when faced by massive (un)natural catastrophes.  Smoke is darker than fog or smog, diffuse, but crystalline; from below it intensifies the sun with its saffron lens, and from above a rainbow glowed below the jet all the way into the Central Valley.  Fog has form; it filled up the northern coast like cotton, extending a tongue down the Salinas Valley.  At the edges it burns off and spins in wisps and puffs that have more solidity than smoke.  There are differences even in darkness; flying back, I watched as the coastal towns of the Peninsula and then Santa Cruz winked in and out of fogbanks, but smoke is all-encompassing, like a smear across glass, dimming light and pulling long glowing streaks across the black sky.

Here is an amazing satellite photograph of last week's fires in Southern California.  That smoke is trailing hundreds of miles off shore...for comparison the Isla Guadalupe, the lonely island off Baja, is 150 miles offshore.

That's a lot of smoke.  I hope you also notice the huge plumes of smoke in the US compared to one small fire in Baja near San Quintin.  That's because in Mexico, there is no fire suppression, so the brush is naturally small, and fires burn low and they always have.  Until we begin to take the same attitude to fires in our wildlands, we are going to suffer these huge fires every year.  This time two of my friends evacuated and for those who know him, extend sympathy to Brad Schlei as his mother's bungalow in the Malibu Colony burned.  I searched Flickr for hours for a photograph, but curiously no one posted one among the thousands of other photos.  I can verify it, because I drove out there last Thursday -- the first day the roads were reopened.  Man, they were partying in Topanga, right down to topless girls dancing in the streets and Poles feeding beer to their dogs.  But that's California, right?  Just last night the old Hayward Fault creaked to life, springing a small 5.6 earthquake on my two uncles in San Jose.  It's the good life here in paradise.

We do have one similar problem to Mexico and, I'd guess, every other country in the world:  a moronic government.  Did anyone catch the fake FEMA news conference a week ago?  Because no reporters showed up, this fellow (who I understand is now looking for a new job) wrote down questions for his subordinates to ask him, and it was broadcast on CNN.  If you hang on until about 6 minutes in, he really starts sucking his own dick, pardon the analogy:

And incidentally, we didn't really notice the Feds around here for a few days, or just until the fires were under control, thanks less to them but to a change in the weather.  I think everyone in the sound of my screed can agree, if some terrible disaster happens to any city in the US before 2009, we are on our own.
FEMA Meets the Press, Which Happens to Be ... FEMA
By Al Kamen
The Washington Post

Whatever.  Americans will believe anything.

But hey...I'm starting to feel a little weird...maybe it's because, while I'm sitting here writing at you this All Hallows Eve, I'm listening to "Abbey Road", specifically "She's So Heavy", which makes me want to stand and pound my head against the wall.  When the end of the world comes, let's all put on "Abbey Road" and point the speakers out the windows...just to piss off the Christians.

I am now reminded why I am proud to be almost 50% Scottish:

And I'm reminded why I should be happy it's Halloween; here's the Cramps at the Napa State Mental Hospital way back when (thanks, Michelle):
something nobody in his or her right mind should miss
(ha ha)

For some of you parents, Halloween is lot scarier than it was when we were kids:
Preteens Trading Fairy Wands for Fishnets
By Brigid Schulte
The Washington Post

Earlier this month I was remiss in not observing a very important anniversary; on 4 October, the human race celebrated 50 years in outer space.  Perhaps this date was not widely noted here in the United States because said accomplishment belongs to the COMMIES?  Well, Ged and Robert are celebrating, anyway.  To our capitalist credit, JPL and the Air Force were lazily testing rockets and had been restricted from putting one in orbit by President Eisenhower...until Sputnik.  Explorer I launched four months later, and actually discovered something very vital -- the Van Allen belts of ionized particles, which protect us from cosmic rays and create the aurorae.

I wonder what people will be celebrating in fifty years?  The completion of a global seawall, composed of disposable diapers, protecting us from the 1 meter sea-rise?  They sure as hell won't be commemorating anything that happened this year.
Groups Struggle to Tally Myanmar's Dead
By Michael Casey
The Associated Press
Only Now, the Full Horror of Burmese Junta's Repression of Monks Emerges
By Rosalind Russell
The Independent UK I feel a screed coming on?  I was yelling at the television a few nights back, because one of the most evil men to dictate policy to our idiot government, Norman Podhoretz, was ranting about how we had to take the initiative in World War IV:

Did I miss World War III?  Mr. Bush did too...he's still anticipating it (keep reading).  But when did we suddenly become so willing to use our military, smashed up and in need of a break as it is?  What happened to the idea that we could all stand down and stop wasting so many trillions of dollars on death and destruction, is that idea lost for another generation?  Oh well.

The Burmese have been under the worst kind of military dictatorship for almost 50 years, and their resolve to a non-violent end should appeal to the better side of human nature:
Resistance, Not Repression, Is the Real Story From Burma
By Cynthia Boaz
t r u t h o u t | Report

They've even come up with one of those goofy fads that almost half the human race can support:
Myanmar democracy activists pin hopes on "Panty Power"

Yeah, seems that wherever you look, people are demanding freedom and justice...well, maybe not all for the same reason:
Protesters make bid to save "magic mushrooms"

At the risk of pissing off a friend in Istanbul, I was amazed that even the weakest declaration of support for the Armenians, who make up a large part of the Los Angeles community, would not get past our spineless Democratic Congress:
Democrats Put Heat on Pelosi Over Genocide Bill
By Richard Simon
The Los Angeles Times
Support Wanes in House for Genocide Vote
By Carl Hulse
The New York Times

I mean, seriously, we do nothing for the "freedom" of Burma, and we lay down in front of a threat from Turkey, one of our ALLIES, that delivered by Iran or North Korea might really start World War III or IV?  No wonder the word of the US is good for nothing.
Turkey Threatens Repercussions for US
By Christopher Torchia
The Associated Press

In many recent discussions of Kurdistan, I've never seen it remarked that the Kurds, the Armenians and the Greeks were all given sizeable portions of the Ottoman Empire after World War I.  This was written into the Treaty of Sevres:

But rebellion against the Ottomans by the Turkish military brought a new regime to power; the Greeks had to settle for less (and thousands left), the Armenians were exterminated or fled, not to have an independent homeland for 70 years, and the Kurds got nothing at all.  What surprises me is that this conflict has simmered without blowing up for so long:
In the Rugged North of Iraq, Kurdish Rebels Flout Turkey
By Sabrina Tavernise
The New York Times
"Not a Single Reform Proposed to Inspire Trust in Turkey's Kurds"
By Delphine Nerbollier
Le Temps

The first true international consequence of our invasion of Iraq is now at hand; BOO!  I don't see either side backing down:
Turkey Says Ready to Send Troops Into Northern Iraq
By Hidir Goktas and Gareth Jones
Reuters - Turkey plans incursion, PKK says ready to attack
Parliament in Turkey Votes to Allow Iraq Incursion
By Sebnem Arsu and Sabrina Tavernise
The New York Times
Turkey: US Will Not Stop Iraq Incursion
The Associated Press
Turkey: Fighting With Kurds Will Surge
By Suzan Fraser
The Associated Press
Turkey Bombs Suspected Kurdish Rebels
By Selcan Hacaoglu
The Associated Press
Turkey Kills 34 Kurdish Fighters in Northern Iraq
By Mark Tran
The Guardian UK

And this war will spread; there are Kurds in Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran:
Iran Accuses US of Helping Kurdish Rebels
By Ramin Mostaghim and Borzou Daragahi
The Los Angeles Times
In Iraq, Conflict Simmers on a 2nd Kurdish Front
By Richard A. Oppel Jr.
The New York Times

The irony is, of course, that we aren't helping Kurds, or Burmese, or any other legitimate peoples looking for liberty.  We are only fighting for ourselves these days:
Bush's Global "Dirty War"   
By Robert Parry
Consortium News

And that kind of selfishness isn't cheap:
War Costing $720 Million Each Day, Group Says
By Kari Lydersen
The Washington Post
Iraq War Budget Jumps for 2008
By Julian E. Barnes
The Los Angeles Times

If nothing else can, this should blow your mind as it did mine:
Trillion-Dollar War: Afghanistan and Iraq Set to Cost More Than Vietnam and Korea
By Leonard Doyle
The Independent UK

And our "Democratic" Congress went right along with that too:
Senate Approves More War Funding
The Associated Press
Congress Quietly Approves Billions More for Iraq War
By John Nichols
The Nation

Maybe all the Feds think we can recoup our losses, by exporting murder to wherever we can:
US Is Top Arms Seller to Developing World
By Thom Shanker
The New York Times
US Arms Exports Up, Oversight Down
By Maya Schenwar
t r u t h o u t | Report

Too bad we can't even sell weapons to a country that we OCCUPY!
Iraqis to Pay China $100 Million for Weapons for Police
By Robin Wright and Ann Scott Tyson
The Washington Post
Iraqi Contracts With Iran and China Concern US
By James Glanz
The New York Times

Maybe that's why the Senate finally agreed we should wash our hands of "Iraq":
Senate Endorses Plan to Divide Iraq
By Shailagh Murray
The Washington Post

At first I thought this plan was the best, to break up the fight by separating the brats.  But now I feel differently; the sectarian fighting is being provoked by the worst kind of racists within the country.  To divide the country would be a reward that would take generations to undo.  There is a reason why Sunni, Shia and Kurd all mixed within Iraq; as the capital of the Caliphate, Baghdad was always intended to be in a neutral area.  It was the city of trade, not the religious capital of Mecca but the crossroads of the 1001 nights:

If anything positive is to come from removing Saddam Hussein and instigating the deaths of thousands, we should try to maintain some kind of mixed state in Iraq, with Baghdad as its capital.  When the corrupt monarchies of the Islamic world fall, as they will, there should be another example to follow other than the theocracies of Iran and Israel or the primitive fiefdoms of the Taliban and Al Qaida.

And most importantly, the Iraqis feel this way:
Biden's Immoral Blueprint for Iraq Will Only Cause More Bloodshed
By Joshua Holland and Raed Jarrar
Senate Vote Unites Iraqis in Anger
By Ned Parker and Raheem Salman
The Los Angeles Times

Yeah, the war is almost over.  It wasn't a defeat like Vietnam, but it was a very ill-planned mess, instigated by fools for revenge and a hopeless attempt to seize our oil supply.  In the end, we won't know who was hurt worse, us or the Iraqis.  We certainly have damaged our military:
Iraq Veteran Plans to Return His Medals in Protest
By Ryan J. Foley
The Associated Press
New Military Leaders Question Iraq Mission
By Nancy A. Youssef and Renee Schoof
McClatchy Newspapers

I think years after the Iraqis are living in peace, we will be struggling with our own religious zealots in this country.
Are US Troops Being Force-Fed Christianity?
By Jane Lampman
The Christian Science Monitor
Report: Pentagon Facilitating Christian Evangelism
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report
Pentagon Sued Over Mandatory Christianity
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report

Right now they're on the ropes...where's their god now?
The Evangelical Crackup
By David D. Kirkpatrick
The New York Times
Kansas church liable in Marine funeral protest

Like I said, Americans are gullible.  They'll believe anything.
Poll: One-third believe in ghosts, UFOs -*

A few days ago I read a quote from the Basque writer Pio Baroja, "Spaniards through the ages have followed their priests, either with candles, or with clubs."  I like that.  I couldn't find it in Spanish (maybe one of YOU could assist) but knowing Baroja, I believe it.  I was surprised to read in the same article that in Spain, a class in the Catholic faith was still obligatory in all schools, and it was controversial to even introduce a "civics" class that might contradict some Catholic teaching.  This in a country far less pious than the United States.  My heart goes out to them; if I have one mission in this life, it's to break the power of religion over anyone I can.

The Spaniards also are taking the baby steps they need to put the Civil War behind them; although sadly, I think all the relevant parties will be dead and the country fractionated by "autonomy" before it does any good.
Spain poised to officially confront past
By Tracy Wilkinson
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
MADRID - Spain will take a major step in confronting its past today when parliament unveils legislation aimed at granting justice to hundreds of thousands of long-neglected victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship.
The complete article can be viewed at:,1,4524638.story?coll=la-news-a_section

I was a little distressed to hear that, as part of the "reconciliation", every plaque with Franco's name upon it is to be removed.  To me that smacks too much of revisionism; the country was ruled by Franco for decades, and to remove the reminders of it will have the same effect as letting the Germans demolish their death camps, or letting the US quietly hide away the wreckage of Vietnam and Iraq.  I only saw Franco's name once in Spain, on a large plaque in the entrance of the Museum of Anthropology in Sevilla.  It would be shame for that to go; I mean, he DID build the museum.  It is giving Franco and the Fascists too much credit to think that they personally were responsible for all the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War.  Just like the photos of the relaxing Nazi guards at Auschwitz I sent around a few weeks back, the Fascists in Spain were ordinary folks.  If you want to look for a monster, go look in the mirror.

Even the biggest idiot you want to condemn is probably as goofy as your stupid friends:
Pilot Said "This Is Fun" Before Fatal Blackwater Crash
CNN News

On that note, why not take a breather and enjoy my friend Janet Klein singing the "Yiddish Hula Boy"?

Okay, I'd like to get back to my SCREED, because as they say in "Thundercrack!", "We have to go back, there might be people dying back there!"  "There are people dying up ahead too."  See, we have this idea here in America, that we are the Good Guys, and we can do no wrong.  And because of that idea, a lot of people are going to keep dying:
Slum Fights: The Pentagon Plans for a New Hundred Years' War
By Nick Turse

The Jews and the Arabs have that same idea, and are not afraid to use it:
Israel Sends Middle East a Message with Syrian Airstrike
By Ilene R. Prusher
The Christian Science Monitor
Israel, Hezbollah and Gulf Monarchies Preparing for the Possibility of Strikes in Iran
By Georges Malbrunot
Le Figaro

Iraq was just a small skirmish compared to what might happen if we go up against Iran.  We'll have very few friends, and there will be resistance, as Saddam Hussein found out the hard way, with all the might and money of the oil sheiks behind him.  Yet we continue to provoke another war:
New Steps by US Against Iranians
By Helene Cooper
The New York Times
The Risks of a War Through Misunderstanding Between the United States and Iran Grow
By Renaud Girard
Le Figaro
The Secret History of the Impending War With Iran That the White House Doesn't Want You to Know
By John H. Richardson
Shifting Targets: The Administration's Plan for Iran
By Seymour M. Hersh
The New Yorker
War Supplemental Makes Room for Iran
By Maya Schenwar
t r u t h o u t | Report
Secret US Air Force Team to Perfect Plan for Iran Strike
By Sarah Baxter
The Sunday Times UK

The military knows it's madness:
Pentagon, State Department Debunk Bush Fabrications on Iran
By Gareth Porter
IPS News

But our own insane, stupid, Christian Franco is going to get us into another war before he goes, with the help of his crazy friends:
Bush: Threat of World War III if Iran goes nuclear
Petraeus Steps Up Accusations Against Iran
By Dean Yates
Cheney: US Will Not Let Iran Go Nuclear
The Associated Press
Cheney Mulled Israeli Strike on Iran: Newsweek
Bolton Calls for Bombing of Iran
By Ros Taylor
The Guardian UK

Saddest of all, our "Democratic" Congress, including your heroine Senator Hillary Clinton, are bringing it on:
Senate Urges Bush to Declare Iran Guard a Terrorist Group
By David M. Heszenhorn
The New York TImes

All I can say is, have a piece of Halloween candy, enjoy this clip of "Starman" on a ukulele (!) and bend way, way over to kiss your ass goodbye.

Vive le screed!

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