Monday, November 28, 2005


The Phenomenology of Autumn, Part II

In keeping with many years past, the long Thanksgiving weekend began in brightness and joy and ended in the silent despair of a world suddendly winter. The moist fallow landscape that streams by the car window hits you with the first realizations that it is the season for surviving. It is in these conditions that the Thanksgiving holiday assures to nudge our memory with the recollections of past injustices. In the celebration of family, tradition, bounty, and all of the other things programmed into the last Thursday of November, we are inevitably faced like no other time of the year to both recognize and then posit the absense of these things, and those times in our lives that we have underminded the modest justice that Thanksgiving typies through the warmth of all the familiar things that suddenly surround us for these four days. I would be not only a liar but a hypocrite and insensate if I did not acknowledge the wholeness of memory and the good that it contains by ignoring its scabs. Since Thanksgiving is itself a time a humble but profound subtlety, so are the the inchoate memories of past injustice. They are not black slashes in the flesh of recollection but rather grey areas that are simultaneously determinant and inchoate. Here are the memories of how we couldn't help to be, of what we were not aware of, of what we did not know and did not think to know. They are the grey areas of humanity's innocent guilt. They are discreet moments that in retrospect speak of much wider narratives in the courses of our lives. This is the melancholy of the season--that we can in the same course of time come to know how we have denied each other and come to know with whose companionship we might come to resolution and resolve about the inevitable injustices that haunt the vividly ephemeral past. These memories are indeed ghosts. They exist in the substance of spaces and phenomena but ultimately dwell in the annals of recollection. They enter the ranks of myth and lore, and find gentle abode somewhere in the mind's sense of justice and compassion, its disposition for reconciliation and worth, dignity and collectivity. Driving through the rainy farmscapes of the midwest yesterday, the ghosts of recollection rode with me, appearing in every grove of trees, every reflection on the slick concrete, every foggy horizon, every eave of every barn that stood sentry to the sacred passage of time and place that is leaving one's essential conception of home. The rooms and the spaces of the innocent, guilty past spread out from their places of origin and traveled with me, tethered behind my eyes and the tailgate of the car as it sped future-ward as I thought of where we were moving but wondered why. I am guilty of compassionlessness, and I am guilty of denying my brother and my sister, of refusing embrace, or ridicule, of disparaging, of rage, of indignity, and of neglecting the outstretched hand, be it my own or another's. But before me is only and the judge of memory, and the appraiser of the asubstantive narrative, presiding over the moments of the ephemeral past suddenly reborn in the tangible present. The tangible present and the rainy, foggy future that always seems to rest at the horizon of the last day of Thanksgiving.

Chanson d'installation: Damien Jurado, Medication

Monday, November 07, 2005

Simply Put

Go ahead--I want you to call me an angry liberal

You know what? I'm not going to critique the conservative right. It's not worth it. Their ship is burning into the deepest chasm of the seas, so that's enough for me. Anyway, my aim isn't to elevate the disorganized Democratic party to some level of honor in the wake of Republican failures...of which there are many. One after the other after the other after the other in fact. Gosh, should I point out a handful? Nah...they're going through enough trouble. Their party is turning on them. Their leaders in the House are being cast aside from their subjugated freshmen and junior members, who appropriately are beginning to speak out against their totalitarian nihilism, now that their champion is a convicted felon. Cheney is running a fourth-rate operation with a staff concerned mostly with intimidation, and the Defense Department doesn't know what the fuck is going on in its various political war games. Rove continues to resist a ban on torture (in the words of his own boss and the Savior of the Constantianian Religio-Politico Complex G-Dubs, "we do not torture." Apparently, he means a literal "we." He must have had his fingers crossed, or thought he was just referring to himself, Rove, Cheney and the lot of the opposers to the ban who themselves--true--do not engage in physical torture. They instead leave it to the poor 18-year old Reserve recruits to do the dirty work). War support is fataly low. Democrats now have the edge in moral perception. Deficit continues to skyrocket. More tax cuts for the wealthiest. Unprecedented cuts to Medicare/Medicaid, housing, and other programs that serve the underpriviliged in our country. Lowest confidence rating in the President. Lowest approval rating in the President. Lowest credibility rating in the President--all separate ratings. Supreme Court fiascos. Staff indictments by federal prosecutor. Congressional investigations in senior congressional leadership. Bleak prospects for tomorrow's round of elections in places like Virginia where, if Bush's last minute stumping in support of the Republican candidate fails to win the election tomorrow, it will be another in a series of defeats for Bush. Repbulican senators and congressmen speaking out against the war. Republican senators ignoring White House budget mandates. Democratic senators stage a forced closed session to hold the Senate accountable to its responsibilites towards the populous, questioning the intelligence used to bamboozle and coax the country into war. Cheney approval at 19%. Support for Bush's terror tactics at all time low. Detainee abuse at Gunatnamo. Pentagon "Stop-Loss" orders sending troops into the fourth and fifth tours. Increasing war casualties now over 2,000 and rising. Triplefold increase in global terror attacks in 2004 since 1985. Federal bankruptcy legislations further disempowers the poor, and sent a flood of Katrina and Rita victims to federal courts in the day before the bill went into effect. White House smearing its own reports on the truth of global warming. Fruitless summit trip to South America this week that only caused massive protests and ridicule of Bush from South American leaders. The exploitative Central America Free Trade Agreement gets passed in the House by vote-period extension and arm-twisting to defeat the NAY vote, which won legitimately by five votes. It was leaked that the CIA operates secret political prisons around the world. This bizzare circumstance is vindication for all those blamed for radical conspiracy theories. It's like something out of a Hollywood expose. Well you know what folks? This is the shit our government gets involved in. Billions and billions and billions and billions and billions and billions of dollars invested in a meaningless war. The good that could be accomplished with such public funds is almost unspeakable (lest one be accused of idealism). Oh wait, Republicans don't support government spending of public funds. Unless it's a war. Or secret prisons. Or torture operations (obviously, Rove and Cheney want to maintain these practices, which cost money). Or environmental destruction. Or corporate hand-outs. In an amazing display of the true power of democratic will, Democrats made a powerful protest to the corrupt tactics of the Republican House leadership. When, after the rule-based 15-minute voting period was done, and the Republicans didn't have enough votes to pass a bill--with the bullshit, propoganda title "Gasoline for America's Security Act of 2005--that would subsidize refinery construction for oil companies (without requiring them to sell the products of these refineries in the United States--an obvious exploitation of the tragic irresponsibility that shamefully magnified the plight in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina) and waive environmental standards to allow it, the leadership held the vote WHILE DeLay, Hastert, and Barton (Republican from TEXAS and the bill's sponsor) went up and down the aisle twisting arms of their Republican colleagues who voted against its obvious cronyism in order to get them to change the vote. In other words, DeLay, Hastert, and Barton threatened their colleagues like middle school bullies so they wouldn't suffer the consequences from their under-the-table funders for not passing beneficial legislation. God Bless America. For 23 minutes, the voting time was extended until the last three Repbulican Representatives adhered to the intimidation of their powerful bosses. Meanwhile, the Democrats in the House, powerless to stop the blatant corruption, set fist to desktop and chanted "shame" in unison over and over again. CNN characterized this as "an angry protest," an objectively true statement except when Wolf Blitzer says it, when it takes on the tone of "the whiny Democrats unencumbered with pithy anger at the world and your families couldn't help but stage another one of those famous liberal protests." So what about this myth of the "liberal media?" Shame, shame, shame, shame, shame....

All of it. Fucking shame. Appalling, anti-democratic, nihilistic, cronyistic, anti-American shame. And you know what? None of these things even gets at the philosophy that the conservative right, the GOP, and the current administration take against human dignity, justice, democratic liberty, representative government, peace, public well-being, care for the needy and the underprivileged, defense of the oppressed and exploited, corporate rule and privilege, global security, environmental protection, global warming, public health--domestic and global, a TRUE conception of what it means to be pro-life (which is different from the mere pro-birth stance of the conservative right and Bush supporters in the Church), racial equality, culture, the arts, the free press, dissent and disagreement, public education, higher education, urban reconstruction, rural reconstruction, public housing, urban crime, youth empowerment, socio-economic protection, and all of the other needs of compassion and dignity that pervade the world on a constant, unlimited scale. It is, perhaps, for this sort of neglect that the Republican ship of dillusion, propoganda, denial, sedative bliss, and rampant bullshit is sinking quickly. I think it rests deep down in the machinations of individuals--people like Rove, Cheney, and certainly Bush--that works its way from the bottom-up and makes itself known in scandal, corruption, fraud and lying that only makes it clear the dilemma-at-hand. But it's not the reason for the wreck. The reason for the wreck is the foundational and comprehensive denial of human dignity. Am I mad? Fuck yes I am. And any patriot should be just the same. This patriot is, that's for damn sure. So's Eminem:

Chanson d'installation: again--Eminem, Mosh.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

November Again

The Phenomenology of Autumn, Part I

Red House Painters, in their song 'Have You Forgotten' describes with compelling accuracy what childhood in the late Eighties was like. Between the ages of 2 and 9 were a time, for me, of long hair on boys and short shorts with high socks, new records on those special Fridays, and the Pontiac Boneville wagon with wood-grain on the side. It's difficult to put my memories of my parents then in tune with what my parents are like today, but I'd like to think that it was a melancholy time for them too--melancholy as in the way the upstairs was dead still on summer afternoons on the weekends, with that light shining in on the pale yellows, the pale blues, the pale pinks, and my sister's bulging bangs and our children's books. Everybody has photographs of these moments that none would deny their melancholy tone. Christmas pictures with browns and deep greens, bright reds, and earth-toned clothing. Summer pictures with a thin layer of sweat on the brow, newer tract housing in the background, and tables set with glasses stamped with yellow, red, and green things on the outside.

I'd like to think that it was melancholy for my parents because I see some of my friends in the same position today that my parents were in at the time of these memories--the time of Red House Painters' 'Have You Forgotten.' ("when we were kids, we hated thing our sisters did"). It is the position of being young but realizing that you are getting older; of still being a dreamer of your life-to-be but realizing that what you face every morning when you get up in the cold bedroom is your life-to-be just as much as it is the moment; of longing to go it without the veneer, the anticipation of the regular, but knowing deep down that regularity is too often the best way to keep going at all. I imagine that my parents, particularly my mother, had a hard time facing these things with three kids surrounding them at all moments, each a year older or younger than his or her nearest sibling. I might even venture to say that my brother and sister and I would grasp and articulate a common solidarity of seeing our parents in this position in the late Eighties. We did not, of course, know it at the time, but children understand in ways that they just aren't able when they hit adolescense and never recover when they grow into adults (for the most part). We would know that it was a hard time for our parents, even though they loved us very clearly.

But trying to go without the veneer of a wife and kids, of the post-war way, of the exploding global world where credit cards and cable television were coming around, without the anticipation of normalcy--not knowing what five years would bring but then again knowing in that part of us that projects the melancholy of real life into the visions of life-to-be exactly what five years would bring; not being able to let go in the ways of days gone by but simultaeously clueless about what to do next, today, now, here, for these children and this spouse and this house and this person, this soul, this identity, this story, this being, this mind--all of hard. I know it was hard on my mom and dad to work their lives out in that slowmotion sunny haze of the dusty Eighties for themselves, for each other, for their children, and for their vision and hopes for life-to-be.

And yet, I know that my parents were free-thinking enough to figure it out. I see some of my friends with children doing the same. And if I asked my parents today about those inchoate days from 1982-1991, I think they would grow somewhat sentimental for that time when everything seemed uncertain but at the same time fundamentally and essentially real. I think they talk about the subtle war they fought as individuals and as a couple and as a family to get a grounding on it all. But I think they would also say that they didn't realize this quiet melancholy war when it was being waged until after the fact. It is here, that they would find their younger idiosyncracies and free will, their confident rejection of the veneer, and not their not being embarrased about their lives as they were, to be the stuff of sweet recollection, humor, and fondness.

'Have You Forgotten' reminds me of those times when I sat upstairs in the pale yellow hallway late the afternoon of a summer Saturday reading 'A Child's Garden of Verses' with a sort of nappy drowsiness while my parents went about life downstairs waging their quiet, subtle war for the autonomous self, reconciling their stories, accepting the emerging, finding beauty in the present as a promise for rootedness in the future. Even these pursuits of war they might not be able to articulate today, but I remembered as a teenager to remember that I witnessed it when I was a child, 1986.

Chanson d'installation
: Red House Painters, Have You Forgotten?

Prayer Request

Part One

Chanson d'installation
: Eminem, Mosh

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Tom DeLay Preevleezjay

A Whiny Motherfucker/Former Majority Leader

Tom DeLay just won't play if he can't have his way.

Citing "the media attention and noting that Austin [Texas], widely perceived as a liberal college town, is 'one of the last enclaves of the Democratic Party in Texas,'" DeLay's CronySquad bitched about having his trial for the betrayal of public trust and corruption in the capital city of his home state. Are we supposed to presume that DeLay is an umblemmished figure of public service when he himself cannot presume the same for those to whose authority he is now suddenly subject? Am I supposed to believe his suavingly rad claims of innocence when he his suspcious of his own elected public official? Am I supposed to ignore the convictions against DeLay vis-a-vis his own long-standing (and accussed, mind you) favortism, cronyism, and widespread donation-doling? This is exactly why I don't trust DeLay to begin with. He uses his power to get what he wants, when he wants it, and how he wants it, and wields his wealth and power to duck out on accountability--courts of law, Congressional inquiry, etc.--for his actions when he is called to do so. Now you know what it's like bitch. Oh wait, no you don't because you're a True Texas Corrupto Man.

In terms of DeLay's [now former] judge, the District Attorney hit it right on the nose: "The law expresses no need for judges to check the citizenship at the courtroom door," she said. As much as DeLay and the Republican Machine advocate Americans checking in their citizenship at the door, it's no wonder DeLay thought that his own elected official (read: chosen by the will of the people) found it threatening that his new keeper was a indeed a citizen, chosen by the will of the people to hold him accountable. I'd like to see an impoverished black man accused of a crime manage to get a trial relocation or change of judge. Won't happen--especially not in Texas.

My next post will convict the the rightest obliviates of their failure to think critically in regard to the Supreme Court. Then I'm taking a break from cynical political commentary. No more calling people motherfuckers, unless they're really, truly MFers.

Chanson d'installation: Eminem, Mosh