Thursday, August 31, 2006

Feeling morally, intellectually confused?

It is not a regular occurrence for me to repost an entire article by someone else, but this is not a regular situation. Once again, the voices of dissent have been likened unto fascists, and anyone who disagrees with the “official” views of the United States is in peril of becoming “enemies of the state”.

This is an unacceptable situation and cannot be tolerated. To disagree with a government is not the same as the fomenting of revolution, nor is it an invitation of anarchy: it is the dialogue that feeds our democracy. When we disagree with something we have an obligation as moral individuals to speak up. Do not do so is to tacitly agree with what is going on.

That is how fascism takes hold, and how genocides take place without anyone knowing (another topic for another time).

The following comment is in response to the Secretary of Defence, and was made by Keith Olbermann on his MSNBC show “Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann”.

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants -- our employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as “his” troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For in their time, there was another government faced with true peril—with a growing evil—powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the “secret information.” It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s -- questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.

It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions — its own omniscience -- needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all — it “knew” that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History — and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England — have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty — and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus, did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.

Excepting the fact, that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute -- and exclusive -- in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis.

It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscient ones.

That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.

And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.

Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience — about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago — we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their “omniscience” as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire “Fog of Fear” which continues to envelop this nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have — inadvertently or intentionally — profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes?

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?

The confusion we -- as its citizens— must now address, is stark and forbidding.

But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note -- with hope in your heart — that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light, and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a “new type of fascism.”

As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that -- though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed: “confused” or “immoral.”

Thus, forgive me, for reading Murrow, in full:

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” he said, in 1954. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.”

And so good night, and good luck.

To send Comments to Keith Olbermann, Email
him here:

Watch “Countdown” each weeknight at 8 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV
Posted at MSNBC on Aug. 30, 2006 | 4:31 p.m. ET

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Old News is Still News

This is not a new item; but the issue is one of great importance. This is an issue of the ultimate greed – where a company puts the desire for profits before anything, including the safety of the public. As a result, thousands of haemophiliacs around the world contracted HIV from tainted blood products; tainted blood products knowingly sold by an international corporation with a name that we have been told is trustworthy.

If this had been an accident, as the understanding of the mechanism of transmission of HIV was not clear in the early 1980’s, and people became infected as the result of ignorance that could possible be forgivable – assuming that the products were destroyed as soon as the flaws were discovered. Unfortunately that was not the case. Documents that were examined by the New York Times indicate that the Bayer Company not only knew about the tainted blood, but that the FDA was also aware of the fact that Bayer was selling these tainted products to people overseas (Americans and Canadians were provided with safer products).

Of course, once infecting these people, Bayer developed a whole new pool of customers to purchase their anti-retrovirals (what is a retrovirus), living up to the idea that once you poison someone you then provide the antidote … for a price (Bayer was not the exclusive evil in this event – there were three other pharmaceutical companies involved: Armour Pharmaceutical, Baxter International and Alpha Therapeutic, each selling tainted blood products when there were safer alternatives available).

This is one of those cases where profits were put way before people. Why? Once it was discovered that the blood factors were tainted they were pulled from the North American markets, but in an attempt to recoup their profits, the Bayer company decided that it would be alright to sell the liquid death to a lesser populace.

The scandal also had its spin in Japan, but it is the response of the FDA that truly leaves me speechless. Not only do they accept that they were lax in reacting to the tainted blood supply, more than half of the 16,000 haemophiliacs in the United States contracted HIV from the blood clotting factors that they took between 1982-1986.

Quite simply, this is state sponsored murder, on an international level. The Utube video is even more damning … and worth another several thousand words. The complicity of the government is undeniable, and the outrage is heinous.

Bayer sells HIV-Tainted Products

Special thanks to Lady CelticFire for posting this video and bringing this to my attention.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Real Gaza

Once again, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth ... a ... well, a lot! This was originally posted by Umkahlil and reposted on DesertPeace's blog.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Too Easy

Sometimes an article writes itself … at least, it offers the material, the inspiration, and all the other “things” requisite for a successful piece (those things, however varied, exist in each writer’s mind as a checklist [albeit unconscious for most] that is activated – or titillated – by circumstances … which some would call inspiration). This is one of those times.

The headline alone caught me … in all honesty, the story didn’t even matter, for the headline conveyed the issue: the desperation of our times is even worse than I had previously imagined. How can I know this? On what do I base such a grim statement? For once it has nothing to do with atrocities being committed by the United States or their stooges in Israel. It has nothing to do with overt violence (there are other types of violence that leave deep, long-lasting scars that may never heal).

The headline was simplicity itself: Ont. premier named 'personality of the year' by UK business magazine. Why should such an innocuous headline lead me to an outpouring of … well, of anything? Because, dear readers, I live in the province where the Right Honourable Dalton McGuinty presides as Premier, having taken the reigns from the previous premier, the Conservative party poster-boy for fiscal restraint, Mike Harris (the man who made the term “common sense” into a curse).

Through the fine leadership of Dalton McGuinty, of the Liberals, people with disabilities in Ontario have found that they have had several things happen to the payments they receive through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). McGuinty had promised to provide the first increase in the living allowance for ODSP recipients, the first such increase in at least a decade. The increase, which worked out to about $20 a month for a single individual was offset by the clawing back of several other benefits that the government had been providing.

The net result is that someone on disability before Mr McGuinty came into office could have had up to $1,000 MORE in available income before the extra $20 a month was given out. It is something that I have begun to refer to as “Voodoo Economics”, something that has become, alas, far more common than should be imaginable.
Thus I was quite surprised to see that a business magazine in the United Kingdom has decided that the Premier of Ontario is their choice for the “Personality of the Year”. Of course, the fact that the premier is trying to bring in about $7 Billion in automotive investments to Ontario is a large part of the honour (money talks), but this raises a question: isn’t a component of personality the way one interacts and treats others?

In primary school children are (or, at least when I was a child … too many years ago, they were) given assessments on how well they interact with the other children. We are expected to play nicely with others, to share our toys, to not pull the hair of the little girls (even when it’s tied up in pony tails and oh so enticing). We are taught (in theory, at least) to think of the needs of those around us, and (in the best case scenario) put others before us. This is called … well, quite frankly, it’s called being civilized. Instead caring about those in need in Ontario, investing into the needs of those who aren’t able to take care of themselves, the premier decided to follow the path of profits. Obviously this isn’t something that should surprise anyone who knows even the slightest about either politics or human nature, but having lived through the political campaign and all the vitriolic rhetoric that was being fired back and forth by the minions of the various political representatives vying for the popular vote.

Through the vitriol, however, the message that seemed to come through (at least from my perspective) was that there was a discernable difference between Dalton McGuinty and his Liberal party compared to then Premier Mike Harris and his (neo-) Conservative party. As they sing in the song, meet the new boss … same as the old boss … (I WON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN).... (special thanks to The Who).

The only difference between the two political entities is the nature of the special interests they serve … and even then, it is difficult to see any real difference. From the perspective of someone living with a disability, it is more than difficult enough without having more impediments placed in our path by the government. I suppose it is a sign of being naïve, believing that the government might actually want to help people, to make life easier for those who have difficulties and aren’t able to function the same as everyone else … but at the same time, there are some things that seem like they should be a certain way just because it makes sense.

Of course, “common sense” was one of the things harped on by the Conservatives, through their “Common Sense Revolution” … so that’s out of the question.

Perhaps the U.K. business magazine’s choice of Mr McGuinty merely reflects a symptom of a larger crises in the world today: people are de-evolving, losing their humanity and, by extension, their personalities.

Dalton McGuinty is the “personality of the year”: we are desperate.

The Who: Won't Get Fooled Again (1978)

The line "meet the new boss" comes in at 7:50 of this performance ... however ... don't skip the great bass playing of John Entwhistle, or the antics of Pete Townshend on guitar, and, of course, the drama of Roger Daltry. This video was filmed in 1978 and used in the movie "The Kids Are Alright". Keith Moon played with the band for the last time on this occasion and died about three months later.

Politicising Terrorism

News has a way of becoming amplified of its own volition, or so it would seem. A story that shouldn’t be as significant as it is being made out to be has galvanized the attention of the world (taking it away from Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Lebanon, for which all involved are more than a little bit pleased). The story that I am speaking of, of course, is the averted plot by terrorists in the United Kingdom who were (allegedly) going to use “liquid explosives” to destroy not one but upwards of ten commercial airliners on route to the United States.

You likely noticed that the word “allegedly” appears in the previous paragraph. There is a good reason for that: arrests were made, but one of these purported terrorists has already been released – of course, this raises the obvious question as to whether a genuine terrorist, bent of the destruction of our way of life here in the centre of the universe (for those of you south of the border … we here in Canada usually recognize that the earth isn’t the centre of the universe, but, then again, why should America agree with Galileo?) be released without having been arraigned for their heinous acts? Oh, that’s right – there weren’t any heinous acts, were there? This was all about plots, subplots, and plans.

The allegations that the twenty-three individuals arrested by the Bobby’s in the U.K. were prepared to board planes in the very near future is quickly shown as a manufactured “fact” when other facts are brought to light: insignificant things, like there not having been any plane tickets purchased, or the fact that some of these alleged terrorists – people with planes to board international flights – didn’t even have passports. Of course, this doesn’t exclude the possibility that they may just be stupid terrorists (I can’t imagine someone with a tremendous intellect being willing to destroy themselves to make any point, regardless of its political importance [to them]).

Now we have learned that Scotland Yard doesn’t even have enough evidence to justify holding their suspects. A judge has granted the police an extension to hold 21 of their suspects until August 23 and the remaining two until the 21st of the month. Thanks to Her Majesty’s version of the Patriot’s Act (the 2006 Terrorism Act), these individuals who are “under suspicion” of panning an act of terrorism would not only lose their right to know what they are being charged with, but one of the most precious of our legal rights, the right of habeas corpus (ad subjiciendum), our right to be confronted by the evidence being used to condemn us, is itself under attack, being eroded as those in power realize that their vision of “national security” clashes with the vision of “human rights” and the dignity that every individual deserves to live with.

One need only consider the existence of Guantánamo Bay to see the level to which terrorism has been politicised by the Bush administration. The president, in a display of the ultimate in hubris, created his own concentration camp tucked away out of view of the fourth and fifth estates. With the press being unable to access the truth of what goes on in Guantánamo Bay, there is no accountability. Are we to accept that, after debacles such as Abu Ghirab, we should simply trust the government to handle these detainees – the majority of whom have not been charged with any crimes, but are merely being held as suspected terrorists (without the benefit of habeas corpus, of course), nor the right to counsel as guaranteed by Miranda.

The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling (5-3, one abstention) that rejected the military commissions being held at Guantánamo Bay as being violations of the rights of the detainees. The case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (link leads to Supreme Court document, including the opinions of the justices), had the Supreme Court in an interesting position: with the newly anointed Chief Justice John Roberts unable to decide which master he should be serving (a struggle that may be repeated often in the next two years) the decision still came out in favour of Hamdan – and all those like him. According to the justices, “President George W. Bush did not have authority to set up the tribunals at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and found the commissions illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva Conventions.”

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Thomas invokes the “Detainee Treatment Act”, passed in 2005. This is a piece of law that, by virtue of its design, strips away the rights of individuals being held in Gitmo. As Thomas himself puts it, “On December 30, 2005, Congress enacted the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA). It unambiguously provides that, as of that date, "no court, justice, or judge" shall have jurisdiction to consider the habeas application of a Guantánamo Bay detainee.”

How can such a law even be possible in a land that (in theory) says the law of the land extends to everyone: citizen and alien alike (though concessions will be made for Martians and other non-humanoid life forms, unless their intent is to go after Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson). But there is a loophole: The very nature of this prison. Gitmo, as the jarheads on base call it … the jargon is catchy, if not nauseating, but that’s part of the point: We’re not in Kansas (or any other state) anymore.

Guantánamo Bay is in Cuba. Cuba Libre (yeah, right)! Perhaps – the “free Cuba” – but certainly not the United States. The point is, Guantánamo Bay is not the United States. The distinction is quite hair-splitting, and most Americans would likely argue that Gitmo is, technically, American territory, if only by virtue of the seemingly permanent U.S. military presence on the base. The United States has a long-standing lease for the Guantánamo Bay base, giving them a form of exclusive jurisdiction to the area without the benefit of actual “ultimate sovereignty”.

In another Supreme Court case (Rasul v. Bush) the court reversed a 1950 decision that challenged the treatment of prisoners outside of the United States. “… this Court has recognized the federal courts' power to review applications for habeas relief in a wide variety of case involving Executive detention, in wartime as well as in times of peace … . The question now before us is whether the habeas statute confers a right to judicial review of the legality of Executive detention of aliens in a territory over which the United States exercises plenary and exclusive jurisdiction, but not ‘ultimate sovereignty’.”

On top of all of this, President Bush is trying to turn the recent arrests in the U.K. into something akin to the prevention of another 9/11. As the facts point to the opposite, Bush staggers around the campaign trail, pushing all of the fear-monger buttons to whip his audience into frenzies as they realize that the evil Democrats won’t possibly be able to protect them from the Evil Doers.

Then, President William Jefferson Clinton, weighed in on the issue. After a new GOP ad was released placing Senator Hillary Clinton’s image next to Orama bin Laden’s (with the message that, predictably, the Dem’s wouldn’t be able to stop these fascists from destroying America … although the first version of the add misspelled the word fascist – the Republicans decided that “facist” was good enough). As with the law, a lack of facts doesn’t seem to bother this bunch.

Perhaps the Ex-President was responding, in part, to the disgusting image of the advertisement, that was coming out, but his words were directed at the recent arrests in the U.K. Clinton stated, that it was wrong for Bush to politicise this event as, when they went to look for facts to back up the allegations, they would be difficult to find.

What it sounds like is that Clinton has been listening to the news and … well, it sounds like Bush has been on Vacation.

Oh, that’s right … he has been.

Remember, it was Thomas Jefferson that opined the following, “Whenever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government.” Well, at the rate things are going, America doesn’t have to worry about being responsible for quite some time yet. The control shall remain firmly in the grips of the special interest groups that pull the strings of the hapless elected officials who, for the most part, wouldn’t be able to formulate an original thought if their lives depended on it (in fact, their professional lives depend on their not forming those thoughts).

Nobody likes a thinking slave. Dissention, after all, is hard on the productivity.

As a parting note, my mother sent me an article called “The Liquid World – How to Survive in an Age of Death” by William Saletan. It is an excellent article and well worth reading. Please, check it out.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Missing Links ... and poem
"For One Child"

Now it all makes sense, in a Machiavellian sort of way. There was never supposed to be a viable ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon, the plan – from the beginning – has been to provide an advantageous situation for Israel in which they can claim a victory and the “higher moral ground” regardless of what happens. While the Israeli Cabinet passed the resolution accepting the terms of the ceasefire 24-0 (with one abstention), there is no discussion going on in Lebanon.

Is the ceasefire dead even before the countdown has passed the zero hour? No, it died weeks ago, when President Bush tied the hands of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by not mandating her with the mission of ending this conflict while it was in its infancy. The tacit acceptance of the tactics used by Israel that led to nearly 1,000 civilian deaths is only a blip on the historical trail of blood following the Zionist attempts to purge the Holy Land of its other inhabitants through any means available to them.

The “breaking news” as this is being written (with less than forty minutes to zero hour as of the moment that I began writing this - it is now thirty-five minutes past zero hour) is that there has been an intensification of fighting in an area that should be rediscovering the concept of peace. Yet can there be a ceasefire without the Lebanese cabinets approval? As a part of the Lebanese government, Hezbollah has stated that they will continue their fight so long as any Israeli soldiers remain in their country.

At the same time, there is doubt that the prescribed 15,000 Lebanese soldiers slated to act as a buffer between Hezbollah and Israel (in conjunction with 15,000 UN Peacekeepers) will be deployed. Of course, the idea of moving 30,000 armed troops (peacekeepers) into an area of concentrated contention seems like the perfect plan to reach a critical mass of tensions in the shortest possible time.

But is that the real issue? What is the missing link?

It appeared in an article that was published on Saturday, and which George W. Bush addressed in his weekly radio address to the nation: there is a link between Hezbollah and the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with the recently discovered and thwarted (really?) plot to blow up several U.S. bound passenger airliners from the U.K.

I shall expound upon this discovery so that we can all follow the chain of logic.

First, over a month ago, Israel began its undeclared war against Lebanon in order to “rescue” their “kidnapped” soldiers. Incorrect: Israel would have had far more support if they had formally declared war against Lebanon (especially considering that Hezbollah is one of the official political parties, holding elected seats, in the country) for the “overt and continuously escalating attacks against our civilians” (my phrasing), accepting that their “kidnapped” soldiers were actually prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention.

Second, during this non-war, Israel consistently fired upon emplacements rife with civilians causing nearly a thousand casualties. The Hezbollah attacks have continued, though their results have hardly seemed to be something worth going to war over. On one day there were about 175 rockets fired into northern Israel that resulted in about three deaths. While every death is tragic and a terrible waste, it seems incongruous that a nation would go to war in order to do what specially trained Special Forces troops would be far more capable of doing (with less collateral damage).

The very fact that the IDF did not employ their equivalent to the Navy SEALS, or Her Majesty’s SAS indicates that they are not really as interested in eliminating the Hezbollah emplacements as they say they are. The recent news now sheds light on this picture and I see that the entire plan of Israel was to inflict a major blow to the infrastructure of Lebanon, hurting the nation on a level that is difficult to comprehend.

The reasoning is something that is befitting the collective paranoid delusions of the times we live in: Hezbollah is linked to the plot to blow up the passenger planes out of the U.K.

As was said in his radio address, "They kill civilians and American servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they deliberately hide behind civilians in Lebanon. They are seeking to spread their totalitarian ideology."

The war in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Great and Wise One is only one part of the battle, a battle that includes the intelligence efforts to “foil terror plots against US civilians” and that Israel’s conflict with Lebanon is a “part of that same battle”.

While it would be wonderful to think that these are just the words of some raving, hyper-caffeinated blogger, expressing their delusions of conspiracy theories into the ether with a limited audience, the sad truth is that this is the most powerful man in the world. Someone with the power to influence world markets by saying he hates broccoli, these are the words of a man who systematically lied and deceived his way through a highly developed plan to initiate a war against a sovereign nation that had absolutely nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of September 11.

It is a time of true fear mongering, with a president that seems to have jumped off of the deep end. Paranoid delusions of George W. Bush allow him to connect the dots between Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Iraq, Afghanistan and the U.K. Plot (including Pakistan). Remember though, this is the same delusional mind that created the connect the dots proof used by his former Secretary of State, Colin Powell to convince the United Nations that there was no doubt that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

It is difficult to imagine that there can be a ceasefire, or lasting peace of any sort, with such despicable terrorists, fiends that were planning the wholesale slaughter of up to 4,000 innocent civilians aboard ten passenger airplanes. Innocent civilians, just as the ones being slaughtered in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon …

Of course, there’s no connection.

No, at 0500h GMT the live pictures are showing that the guns are silent, but there was an airs strike by Israel against Tyre only moments ago. Artillery was being fired until only a few moments ago, but how long will the guns remain silent?

Israel has said that they will respond to Hezbollah if they fire more rockets, and Hezbollah will not stop … so, is this is ceasefire or not? Without any recent rocket firings, there may be some cause for hope, at least there may have been before the president played his game of connecting the dots.

Now that the president has linked (in his mind) Hezbollah to a possible threat against American citizens and interests (U.S. owned planes), the door has been opened for increased aid to Israel without having to worry about the Congress getting cold feet about supporting acts of aggression against a civilian population.

Israel will get its missiles, and more bombs. They will get anything they need in their real war, the “War on Terrorism” that they are now (obviously) playing a key part in, a part that the president will not risk losing for anything.

How long, peace, how long?

Israel has dropped leaflets over Lebanon … to the effect, “the Israeli Defense Forces will return if there is a single terrorist attack by Hezbollah” … well, isn’t it nice to know who the real enemy is?

The following poem was just written - in memeory of every child, regardless of where they are from or who they were when they died ... the CrazyComposer.

For One Child

a single day
without killings
is a day without death
death that doesn’t come
with trails of fire
with collapsing buildings
with panic in the streets

a day without terror
of fire descending
from the sky
tearing flesh from
small bodies … skeletons
charred remains
blackened beyond recognition

another dead child …
a Palestinian?
or Lebanese?
an Israeli?
a Christian?
a Muslim?
or a Jew?

another dead child

in death
the corpse is mute
united with countless
faceless horrors
once playing
in the street.

Copyright © 2006 by CrazyComposer
(aka Peter Amsel)

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Our lives are occasionally blessed by moments of profound insight that have long lasting effects on our lives. Call them what you will, an epiphany, a revelation, a discovery, or simply “the light bulb” going off, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that this is the type of experience we can all relate to (if you cannot relate the likelihood is that you aren’t able to read, so I’m not all that concerned … right), and that’s why I want – no, that’s why I must – share what has happened to me recently.

I have had a major revelation. No that’s wrong: not just a revelation, a major revelation (well, if you’re going to do something, it may as well be big, right). You could even call it an epiphany (Well, you could. You don’t have to, but you could … of course, if you do call it an epiphany, that may imply that this really will change my life … in which case … well, I’m not all that sure there is an application to which there is a way for this to change my life … but that, in a sense [a matter of insanity all of its own] is a part of the issue … just how obvious was this that the knowledge – the revelation thereof, so to speak – doesn’t actually make that much of a difference in the grand scheme of things?).

To say that this is important may be overstepping, but I remind myself that this relates to, arguably, the most powerful individual in the world (no, not Bill Gates … though that is an interesting idea). As much as we may like to think of all the influence peddling going on, we should also remember that Mr Gates doesn’t have military personnel accompanying him twenty-four hours a day so he can blow up the world’s computers … having the ability to end every life on the planet trumps a bank account (though The Donald might argue that point).

That is why this is the type of “eureka” moment that stands beside the greatest discoveries in our history. Just as when Newton realized that the bump on his head wasn’t just because he was falling-down drunk but because some unseen “heavy” force … a force with some serious gravitas … had influenced his head hitting the apple-bin in his pantry, or when Galileo realized that the Papacy wasn’t a celestial object that the rest of the universe orbited around. It is one of the grandest moments of my life, but I am pleased to be able to share it here with you (this is actually the second version of this, the first of which I posted at DesertPeace’s blog, but this is the “authorized version” … the “directors cut” … good grief).

The discovery – are you sitting down? I cannot be responsible for any injuries that may incur from the momentous event you are about to experience … ok, you’ve been warned: George Bush, that is, George W. Bush, the current Anointed by He who excretes Puss from countless pustules, the man called POTUS (because “dork” and “twiddlepuss” were taken up by Newt Gingrich and Dan Quayle, respectively), is NOT an idiot.

Let me repeat that, just because it bears repeating, and … well, it bears repeating: The President of the only remaining superpower (unless you count the nations with Nuclear Weapons [and, possibly, delivery systems capable of … well, delivering them, unless they are carried in a suitcase, or a backpack], in which case you must certainly include China, France, Pakistan, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and several former republics of the Evil Empire [the prime incarnation] … and then there is even the possibility of CANADA having these nuclear WMD’s – we Canucks are a very well developed nuclear-nation, quite capable of developing a multi-stage launch vehicle [something other than the “Can-arm”] and variable yield warheads – MIRV capable of devastating several targets at once … WMDs you don’t hear about in the tirades against Iraq) is NOT an idiot. The President … idiot. Not? Wow. Devastation.

To repeat, President George W. Bush is not an idiot. This was revealed to me as though a spiritual force descended upon me, filled me with painful probes (without appropriate lubrication) and sent hundreds of thousands of volts of electricity through parts of human flesh that should never be exposed to such things … therefore it must be true. At least the pain stopped when I said it was true, and at this point I’m not prepared to see what happens if I recant, so it must be true.

No, I am certain now: George W. Bush is an absolute, incontrovertible GENIUS. It’s the rest of us that are completely and utterly lost amongst illogical thoughts of naïve desires for childish things like peace and honesty from political figures.

The way this works, as it was revealed to me (the memories of the pain easily conjure the entire scenario) is quite simple … actually, it is elegant, in a “Strangelovesque” sort of way … but, well, that’s another discovery for another time (perhaps).

As this scenario plays itself out we have to accept certain truths: For the Man, POTUS, or whatever you want to call him (there are several things that come to mind, but none of them are polite to say amongst an audience of mixed species …) to be a genius, well, the rest of the world has to be … dumb. Not just dumb, for that would be easy, but I’m talking about world class stupid. You know the type, the type that puts an “e” at the end of “potato” … or insists that trees contribute to global warming. It is that global level of “D U M B” that must exist in order to elevate Bush II (as I have grown fond of calling him) to that mantle of intellect, to be recognized as a man of wisdom and discernment, an idea man valued for his insight into the complexities of humanity and the future of the world.

That’s right, for Bush II to be anything more than what he appears to be (the PAIN) the entire world must have the collective IQ of a Lima bean. Bush II, or Herr Fuehrer, deserves our undying support in everything he does, just as the brilliantly obtuse and talent-challenged Britney Spears (speared?) opined in the epic work by Michael Moore that poignantly demonstrated the brilliance of Bush II.

It is so obvious to me now, as the image of the barely literate Spears giving her celebrity booty call for der Fuehrer replays in my mind (the PAIN). The only problem with Ms Spears is that she was an administration too late: although her support of Bush II tends to make one think that the singer is (politically) a republican, the fact of the matter is that she is really just a power-groupie. The comment she made about Bush II was not so much support for him, but for the office: “we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens.” (Britney Spears with Tucker Carlson: CNN broadcast 03/09/2003)

It is the idiocy of this type of blind faith that ensures the eternal genius of Bush II and his progeny. I must accept that this revelation, this discovery … this epiphany is genuine. The world, for acknowledging that George W. Bush is a legitimate head of state, has lost its collective mind and is in serious need of psychiatric care.

Leaving Bush II the greatest mastermind alive.

Friday, August 11, 2006


As a departure from the normal type of post here (there’s a normal post here? Good Lord, where!) … Ok, perhaps I’m overstating things: In an effort to say something in a different way (how’s that? Better. Good) I decided to use poetry as my means of communications … you could even say that this introductions is in free verse (well, you could, some might disagree, but they are Philistines, and who gives a damn about what they say anyway, right?), so the idea is fully integrated throughout my post.

This is partially, though not entirely, inspired by a wretched work (some rhymes in free verse, though unintentional, seem conventional and work quite well so don’t get formalistic on me, lest you write your own verse in rebuttal) that opined the plight of Zionists that were offended that they should be accused of being related to the nazis.

While I replied to the posting, my response said I agreed: indeed, I don’t think that way. For the Zionist is not unto the nazis you see. They are fascists, still evil, quite violent you see. But nazis, not quite, not Aryan, not white; der Juden would never be allowed in the Party, they’d be shown through the door and into the ovens.

… ah, the politics of hatred. How refreshing … and so pathetically wasteful. For your own edification, the original poem (if you want to call it that) is here, and the article, on DesertPeace’s site is here … which is where I commented on the article.

one more

after a time
but not always that long
yet with hardly insignificant gravitas,
it waits in the shadows,
lurking like a feral dog

with patience surprisingly profound
there is hardly time for reflection
before the violence begins again
before blood flows – again
before children die – again
the feral dog, satiated
again and again
as before

fire has fallen
from the sky
on trails of smoke
from the north
on streaks of fire
from birds of steel

do the dying children
really care
as they breath their last
agonized breath
where the bombs that killed them
came from?

whether dropped from an F-15
or launched from the shadows
of Hezbollah’s entrenchments
the child knows
only one thing …

they shall not see
one more day.

Copyright © 2006 by CrazyComposer
(aka Peter Amsel)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Once again into the fray

Free association game for the moment … you know, the first word that comes to mind when you hear another word. Let’s start:
Bush … imbecile
Peace … not
Humanity … crying silently
America … complicit
Rumsfeldcriminally insane
Israel … reneged promised land
Harperbaby Bush
IraqVietnam Vietnamwar crimes
Iraqwar crimes
Americawar crimes
War crimesAmerica
Israelwar crimes Lebanoncedars burnt to the ground
Israelbombing civilians
Civilians … dying

Well, I doubt it proves anything (aside from a particular tendency towards seeing things caste in certain lights), but it was fun for a few seconds.

Now let’s play another game. Let’s list the Top 10 reasons for the war (if we’re going to be friends we must be honest with each other and call this act of “self defence” what it truly is) in Israel to continue:

10) Raping and pillaging of civilians went out of fashion, so bombing them is the next best thing.

9) Its just so much fun having you national policies reviewed in the world press every night.

8) Olmert hasn’t filled his quota with the devil yet for selling his soul.

7) Practicing artillery barrages always feels like more fun with live targets.

6) There are still some schools and hospitals standing in Lebanon.

5) Everyone really wants another chance to hear Condoleezza Rice play the piano at a fancy dinner party.

4) Israel might still find Hezbollah’s WMDs.

3) Resorting to diplomacy is just so passé.

2) Tom Cruise may still decide to take a trip to the Holy Land, and that’s a target of opportunity not to be missed.

Finally, the NUMBER ONE reason to continue the war …
Mel Gibson might be with him.

Stop the Madness!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than more than enough has been said with this picture.

That said, the second image is for anyone who happens to be on the "other side of the fence" when it comes to this issue. From either side of the fireball, the message is as clear as day.

For those who cannot decode that, here is a third image. Instead of hurling the world into a conflict, causing innocent civilians to suffer horrendous acts of violence, do yourself and the entire world a favour: FOAD.

Creative Self-Indulgent Musings

We interrupt this war for a moment of self-indulgent reflection: turning away from the violence of the world if only for a moment, to remind ourselves that there is something else to this thing we call life besides the endless news relating the latest reports of collateral damage inflicted by various force involved in various “righteous” battles. For quite some time I’ve found it better for my health to avoid watching the news on the television. It isn’t necessarily that I’m looking for something more in-depth than what is normally found on the evening news, or their sensationalist philosophy for story placement: “if it bleeds, it leads”. No, my issues with the news mostly related to my proclivity for shouting at whatever talking head happened to annoy me the most at any given time.

Yelling at televisions is not, in the general scheme of things, something that is considered to be socially acceptable (unless it is during a sporting event and you are conveying your dismay at the perceived incompetence of the referee/umpire/judge). When there are particularly significant events underway, however, I try to make an exception to this quirk of mine (the watching and the screaming). Suffice it to say, at this point I’ve managed to follow the events of the current “war” being waged by Israel without causing my landlady to serve me with an eviction (though when she isn’t home I have launched a few ICBMs at the various network minions as they take editorialising to an entirely new level).

Which brings me to the self-indulgent reflection that I mentioned. In the best traditions (already initiated here) of creating posts completely through the stream of consciousness method, I am writing this “as directed by the spirit”. You could say that this is an effort to achieve “pure creativity”, but that may be even more esoteric than the idea of “stream of consciousness” … either way, the results are essentially the same.

The reason for this divergence into self is quite simple: I took a moment to read part of my sidebar on this blog. The last line of my profile caught my eye particularly, especially because of the last few days, and it made me want to say something more about what it really means. The profile ends with, “My why for living is creativity; so long as I have that, life goes on.” I was inspired to write that by a survivor of the holocaust who also happened to be an eminent psychiatrist: Viktor Frankl. Frankl developed an approach to psychotherapy called Logotherapy/Existential Analysis (LTEA) based on three concepts, combining the philosophical and psychological realms: Freedom of Will, Will to Meaning, and Meaning in Life.

When we are able to find meaning for our lives, Frankl discovered while in Auschwitz, the human spirit is able to overcome just about anything that it must in order to return to that life. By observing his own reactions to the concentration camp and those of his unfortunate campmates, Frankl learned that the key to surviving the horrors of the concentration camp, in a sense, became the means unto an end in itself, that end being a return to the life that had been taken away by the Nazis.

This seems more important to me lately, but I’m not entirely sure why. As someone who spends a great deal of time immersed in a world where reality is not of tremendous importance, it becomes very disturbing when I am paying attention to what is going on in the news and the realities of life turn out to be even more disturbing than the fictions that I’m creating (some of which are incredibly disturbing). Perhaps it is tied to “getting older” and felling a certain sense of maturity being foisted upon me, whether I like it or not (as is usually the case). Maturity never seemed to be much of an issue in the past (well, not in my opinion), but as the years go by it certainly seems that things that seemed important in the past are now revealed for all their triviality.

Even as I try to write this there seems to be a resistance from some part of my mind, likely the part that prefers hiding from reality and frolicking through the landscapes of fantasy that I’m creating, or conducting the constant soundtrack that plays in the background. On the other hand, it may be a sense of shame that I’m experiencing; that ubiquitous “Jewish guilt” that manages to permeate our lives, regardless of how well things are going. The reality of it is that it doesn’t matter. What is important is that there’s enough of something bothering me that my sense of equilibrium (in the creative sense) is off, and I’m disturbed.

As I said, this is just coming as it goes, a non sequitur perhaps, but an appropriate description of how my mind is currently working. That said … (segue to … cue strings, softly playing in the background) the current situation in the middle east has given me a great deal to think about in the past three weeks (not to mention the past three decades).

We cannot change what we are born to be. This is a statement that could launch millions of debates with endless outcomes, many of which would be diametrically opposed to each other, but what’s the point? Had I chosen to remain “inside my head” and ignored what was going on around me (which is surprisingly easy to do) there would be no point. However, I happen to believe in something else besides creativity adding value to my life and that is the presence of a conscience that cannot be ignored.

The manifestation of conscience, in this case, has a direct bearing on the current events in the world, especially since most of the world’s attention seems galvanized by the actions on a small nation that is holding the international community to its own time table, ignoring the pleas from some of the few nations with the testicular fortitude to stand against the status quo by opposing Israel’s policies. Without declaring war, or announcing its intentions through the United Nations Israel has entered a sovereign land with ground forces and has carried out countless bombing sorties with their well equipped air force.

As a composer I know that there are times when it “isn’t right” to compose. People have asked me many times how I compose, and it’s a question that isn’t easily answered because composing a piece of music is, in many ways, like writing a novel: there are characters, plots, and numerous other things that need to be kept track of as the piece is brought to life, and if the person behind that act of creativity isn’t in tune with what is going on, the process falls apart. This is not a universally accepted philosophy regarding composing, just mine and perhaps some others (whom I would say are very sensible individuals, demonstrating true insight).

So why not just go back to my music? Ignore the news. Turn off the talking heads. When I was attending McGill University I met some people in the music industry who would likely take that route. They adhered to the “art for arts sake” philosophy, not giving a damn about the world going on around them at any time. Unfortunately, this only results in an insulated individual who is so out of touch with reality that anything they may be hoping to create will not be able to resonate with the audiences that they have been cloistered from. While it may be true that the pursuit of the arts is often, by the nature of what we do, a solitary venture, there are points (at least in my experience) where it becomes necessary to break away from the solitude where you are pouring out of yourself to create things and seek to reconnect with humanity, to refresh the spirit, find new inspiration and rejuvenate the creative imperative.

The difficulty that I am faced with (again, the self-indulgent part) is that the usually easy to find pockets of tranquillity that serve as ideal oasis for recharging my creative batteries all seemed to have been usurped seemingly overnight. It is impossible to go anywhere without encountering people either discussing the political (and military) situation that is getting increasingly unstable in Israel and Lebanon or the continuing saga that has become the 21st century incarnation of Vietnam for the United States: Iraq.

It is possible to turn off the news, or not go to particular websites that I know will aggravate me, but what I find even more difficult to cope with are some of the comments and conversations that will end up being expressed either directly to me, or merely in passing. As someone who was raised in a household where racism was banned (including racist humour, which may be called many things, but not funny), it never ceases to amaze me how easy it seems for some people to resort to absolute base ignorance when they have nothing else to use as the foundation of their arguments.

As has been written on this blog before, I am vehemently opposed to the racist apartheid policies that Israel has implemented against their second-class citizens. Israel is a nation founded upon false promises, lies, deception … and hope. Many peoples have invested their lives – their souls – in the hope that Israel would thrive as a nation, a post-holocaust homeland for the displaced European Jews who had escaped the horrors of Hitler and his maniacal henchmen.

Alas, even before the ink was dry on the plans, the hopes and dreams behind the creation of the modern State of Israel were transformed, hopelessly distorted by a small handful of manipulative politicians and ideologues who decided that the idea of a “Jewish homeland” was too small a dream to include the other people who were already living in the “promised land”. In a sense, these hard-core Zionists merely usurped the ideologies that Hitler had espoused when he proposed the political annexation of Austria. The desire for “breathing room” was used as an excuse to dismiss the first movements of the Third Reich while they consolidated the traditional, ancient homelands of the Aryan people.

Perhaps the psychotic Zionists who decided that it wasn’t going to be possible for Jews to live next to Palestinians and Arabs really believed that the Jewish people needed a homeland that was ethnically pure … free of goyim and anyone else who wasn’t one of the “Chosen” people. Then again, they were probably just a bunch of bigoted assholes whose hearts had been so hardened by what they had experienced in life that the idea of living with anyone other than “their own kind” was reprehensible.

Ah, there’s the rub, for out of these hardened hearts was born an environment that could, without much prodding, produce an atmosphere of distrust, abuse, inequality and oppression that forced people into unbearable situations. I make no concessions for the use of violence: in my heart, I believe it is – and should be – the last resort, never the first. I cannot accept that the acts of infamous organizations such as the PLO were, in any way whatsoever, justified. Killing civilians is never something that is justified. Soldiers will die in battle when there is a war, this is a part of what they expect when they sign the dotted lines on their inductee paperwork. Civilian deaths, on the other hand, are not ever acceptable.

This does not excuse what is currently taking place in Lebanon. After slaughtering innocent children the Israeli government stated that they would stop their bombing runs into Lebanon for at least 48 hours while the deaths were investigated. This cease-fire of embarrassment did not last the 48 hours Israel stated – it barely lasted twelve. Consequently, the State of Israel has become as guilty as any terrorist or terrorist group that takes the lives of innocent civilians.

A conscience is thus seared by the ongoing and seemingly senseless violence that assaults us in the ceaseless reports of violence, retaliation, countermove, and so on until all that remains is to count the bodies left over. When I was younger I discovered that the ways of the Ostrich were not very effective for dealing with things that seemed threatening. Sticking your head in the sand so you cannot see what is about to destroy you does not, in general, make that thing go away. It does, however, offer a much better target of opportunity for any potential enemy.

The only question, I suppose, remains “who is the ostrich” in this equation. Israel is approaching their policy towards Lebanon and Hezbollah with unmitigated arrogance, seemingly unconcerned with what the rest of the world things of their actions. Hezbollah has continued to do what they have done since they began, launching more missiles into Israel in retaliation for Israeli aggression, and the Palestinians continue to try and live in a land that is at times unliveable. Following the rules of a ruling nation that acts more like an occupying army than a sovereign land, which results in the encouragement of more extremists, ready to offer their lives for the cause of martyrdom.

Conscience is seared by the question that remains unanswered, and often unasked. It is a question that has no answer of meaning, for that answer makes no difference: the question being “who is to blame for this madness”. Some are claiming that to criticize Israel is to support the terrorists; to this neo-conservative rhetoric I have but one thing to say: wake up and smell the coffee.

If two people shoot each other, does it really matter who fired the first shot? Not to the families burying the bodies. Perhaps it is something to ease the conscience of those who believe there is “righteous violence” and that Israel is taking up the fight against worldwide terrorism, but that is really only a cop out answer, it doesn’t resolve the real issue. In this case, the real issue is not of blame for the violence, it is of why intelligent, articulate people cannot find an end to violence.

So long as we resort to the easy way, the path of least resistance, we will find ourselves in places where innocent victims are dying. The reason is quite simple and will only change if we change: we must learn the lesson that violence is not the way to resolve our problems. Violence does not advance our species, it pulls us down into the muck and mire of the most primitive creatures that do not think but live their entire lives with violence.

As it is written, “he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.” The truth of that, it would seem, becomes more pronounced every day.

May you know peace, and may you find a place to rediscover creative inspiration.