Friday, February 23, 2007

Hollow Honours

Several years ago the Canadian Government paid tribute to the former President of South Africa and icon of the anti-apartheid movement. The government bestowed upon Nelson Mandela something that had only been given once before: honorary Canadian citizenship. The first recipient of this honour, Raoul Wallenberg, was posthumously awarded for his life saving activities as a Swedish diplomat in Hungary during the Holocaust. After Mandela was so honoured the Canadian government made a bold statement by conferring the honour upon the 14th and current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso of Tibet.

Well, I can’t deny that I’m proud of Canada: We have chosen to honour three individuals who have each represented the best that humanity can offer. Wallenberg risked his life to save perfect strangers, Mandela never surrendered his dream of living in the land of his birth as a free man, and Tenzin Gyatso – the Dalai Lama – is a man who has been persecuted purely on the grounds that his beliefs fly in the face of the official doctrines imposed by the government of China. As a representative of Tibet the Dalai Lama has been a “man of peace” that you can be inspired by even if you aren’t a Buddhist.

So what is the point of this article? Quite simply, I became aware that there is an article that mentioned the idea proposing that the United States government should confer honorary citizenship upon Anne Frank. This has come about in light of new evidence that the Frank family unsuccessfully attempted to obtain visas to the United States, as did hundreds of thousands of others, before they were captured and murdered by the Nazis.

According to an editorial to be published in today’s (Friday the 23rd of February, 2007) edition of the “Jewish Daily ForwardRepresentative Steve Israel (Democrat/NY) reintroduced a bill (Joint Resolution 48) that would make Anne Frank, the most famous child victim of the Final Solution, an honorary citizen of the nation that turned away as many Jews as Canada did during this dark period in history (yes, “none is too many” shall forever be remembered as a comment to the question as to how many Jews he wanted to allow to enter the country as a result of the extenuating circumstances raised by the Nazi persecution of Jews …).

The conclusion of the editorial is that a better way to honour the memory of Anne Frank would be to allow for more refuges from Iraq to seek safe haven in the United States, the nation that has torn apart their homeland. An astonishingly low number of Iraqi refugees have been allowed to enter the United States since 2003, a number so low, they may have all come on one 747: 466 people out of the nearly four MILLION that have been displaced by the contrived war against a nation that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks against America.

While I agree that the United States has a tremendous responsibility to play towards these displaced people, innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of one megalomaniac against a despot, I also believe there is a deeper issue here; one that cannot be dismissed so easily by the conferring of honorary citizenships upon dead children. We can look at the history of the latter part of the twentieth century and see the history of the United States as having been on an inexorable collision course with its current embroiled fate in Iraq.

The United States has actively pursued a foreign policy that can be described as egocentric at its least and all out colonialist at its worst. Their self-proclaimed role as the world’s policemen, through the expression of the “Pax Americana” philosophy espoused by those who believe that America’s model of democracy should be exported to the four corners of the world, is one that serves the special interests of America, not the people of the world. Over and over it has been demonstrated that the United States is more than willing to send in the troops and (attempt to) install a new governmental system, replete with constitution, so long as the area in question has something that is of special interest to the United States.

America has a history of intervening in places only when their interests are served, yet when a purely humanitarian situation arises, and the need for intervention is desperate, where is “Pax Americana”? Where were the Americans in 1994 when the genocide in Rwanda ran rampant, killing approximately 500,000 people in about thirteen weeks? Why are they not in Darfur when another genocide takes place, and why do they tacitly allow – nay, support – the innocent killing of civilians by the IDF in Palestine?

The answers are far simpler than anyone might care to admit, but it all really comes down to the fact that no American president is interested in investing either the lives of American soldiers or the money necessary when there is nothing to be gained for the national interests of the United States. Saving a bunch of coloured people just doesn’t translate into political currency “back home”, and supporting Israel is also good for business, even though the demographic of Jews in the U.S. is very small, they have a powerful lobby through AIPAC (and, for a twist on AIPAC and their ability to keep secrets, try this; here is an article on AIPAC’s hold on Washington).

There isn’t any oil in Rwanda or Darfur; nor are there any Jews living in the path of danger … at least none with the clout to request assistance from their lobby in Washington. Thus countless innocent lives were snuffed out with impunity in the long night of genocide while the sleeping giant merely turned over in its luxury bed, barely registering the fact that anything was going on at all. Intervention into Kuwait, on the other hand, when Iraq threatened the precious oil supply, necessitated an immediate and devastating response from the United States military.

It would not be a tribute to the memory of Anne Frank for the United States to bestow an honorary citizenship on her so many years after her death; in fact, the act would defile her memory by virtue of the fact that the United States actively pursued a course of non-intervention in the European theatre in the hopes that the Nazis would take care of the Soviets, a thorn in the side of FDR’s Democrat ideology and the increasing paranoia of a rabidly anti-communist America.

[As an aside, HUAC, the House Un-American Activities Committee, has appeared in several guises in the past seventy-three years. It first appeared as the McCormack-Dickstein Committee (1934), and was charged to investigate the proliferation of Nazi propaganda in America. The committee took its name from the chair and vice-chair, John W. McCormack and Samuel Dickstein. Martin Dies was the chair with Samuel Dickstein as co-chair of the Dies Committee (1938-1944), which was charged with the investigation of (supposedly) German American involvement in Nazi and Ku Klux Klan activities. It is notable that Dickstein himself was named in Soviet NKVD documents as a Soviet agent. HUAC, as most people are familiar with it, was established as a permanent standing committee under the mandate of Public Law 601, passed by the 79th Congress in 1946. The nine-member committee was empowered to investigate suspected threats (either real or perceived as the Hollywood blacklist, and others, demonstrated) of subversion or propaganda that attacked “the form of government guaranteed by our Constitution”. The result of this mandate led to one of the most paranoid episodes in modern American history, comparable to the Salem witch trials in their zeal for seeking out “enemies of the state”.]

Had America entered the war when Hitler invaded Poland, in 1939, rather than waiting until the convenient attack by Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of the Japanese force that devastated the ships that hadn’t been (coincidentally) sent out of the confines of the harbour (including the most important ships, the aircraft carriers), it is quite possible that things would have been quite different. Had Hitler seen that the United States wasn’t prepared to sit idly by while he raped and pillaged Europe and that they were mobilising to support their allies, it seems likely that he may not have been as grandiose in his attempt to take over the world … and eliminating the untermenschen that populate so much of the planet.

Of course we cannot know if this is the case at all, and I rather think that the psychotic nature of Hitler and his henchmen would dictate that he would have stayed the course regardless of the opposing forces (which is sort of like Dubya Bush and his “stay the course” idiocy relating to “victory” in Iraq).

When a nation had an opportunity to provide actual sanctuary to someone in real life, as the United States did through the rejected applications of the Franks (and hundreds of thousands of other European Jews), it is the apotheosis of hubris to believe that granting one child honorary citizenship will absolve them of their complicity in the deaths through apathy, inaction and institutional anti-Semitism.

By waiting for the attack from the Japanese Imperial Navy as an excuse to enter the war the United States allowed Hitler to become well entrenched in Europe, sealing the fate of millions, including the Gypsies, mentally ill, homosexuals, individuals with disabilities, and others who were perceived to be unfit to live. If the United States government wants to honour the memory of Anne Frank it needs to recognize that their inaction played a critical role in the extermination of these innocent people; they need to acknowledge that their motives were entirely guided by political considerations rather than the human cost of waiting not one or two but three years into the holocaust that was consuming the rest of the world.

I do want to say, for the record, that I am not discounting the brave manner and heroism that American servicemen and women demonstrated in their fight against the enemy in the Pacific theatre, as well as in Europe and Africa, nor am I dismissing the heroic Americans who volunteered to go to China as part of the “Flying Tigers” or those who participated in the “Battle of Britain”. Each of these individuals deserves to be remembered for their bravery. The national policy of isolationism that led to the United States refraining from entering the war, however, meant that a relatively few number of talented flyers participated in a desperate battle when so many more were needed.

It would be a great disservice to the memory of Anne Frank to now, after so many years, make the hollow gesture of conferring upon her something that would have likely made her story unknown to the world. Had Anne Frank and her family been allowed to emigrate to the United States the likelihood is that she would have gone on to grow up as a normal child, fulfilling her desire to become a writer. Her diary, written while the family was in hiding from the Nazis, would have been about the boat trip across the Atlantic and the processing at Ellis Island … hardly the remarkable tale that the “Diary” stands as in its current form.

With the reintroduction of his bill Rep. Steve Israel is attempting to wipe away a stain that sits squarely upon the front of the American flag, and it cannot be removed so easily. It will take a great deal more to atone for the apathy of the past, and the damage that America is currently causing in Iraq. When the homeless in Iraq have been resettled and Israel is no longer able to fire American-made munitions at unarmed civilians, they will have turned a corner on the path to righteousness.

Then, perhaps, they will be able to comprehend what they could possibly do to honour people like Anne Frank. Instead of hollow honours they may finally realize that actions speak louder than words.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

In Memory: Celia Franca
June 25, 1921 – February 19, 2007

Six months ago I posted a brief article in honour of Canada’s Prima Ballerina emeritus, Celia Franca, who was being honoured by the National Arts Centre on the occasion of her 85th birthday. Alas, this morning came the sad news that Celia had died in the Ottawa Hospital after a long illness. She broke one of her vertebrae last year and had been in poor health for quite some time. The full article from CBC Arts can be found here.

I am including below my original tribute that I published on June 26th, just one day after Celia’s 85th birthday. As an aside, Celia had been married to Jay Morton, who predeceased her several years ago. I also had the honour of knowing Mr Morton, who had been the founding principal clarinettist with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. When I was a student at the University of Ottawa Mr Morton could regularly be seen when he came out of his fourth floor office and walked around the hallway. It was a great loss for the Music Department when Mr Morton died, but I always remember one thing: the way he and Celia were together.

Celia had come to the music building to meet her husband and when they left they were walking arm in arm, both wearing long coats; it was like a scene out of a classic movie, only there was nothing contrived or fake about the scene.

That is why if I had to summarize who Celia Franca was in only three words, I would say she was “a class act”.

Celia, you will be missed.

Original Article:

There are some people who cross your path and leave an impression unlike anything else. Celia Franca is that type of person. The founder of the National Ballet of Canada, Ms. Franca remains a fixture of the Canadian artistic community and a great supporter of the arts. She celebrated a milestone birthday on the 25th of October, and while it isn’t supposed to be polite to mention a ladies’ age, the press announced that Ms. Franca had turned 85 and would be honoured at the National Arts Centre this evening.

Any honours that they may decide to bestow upon her are inadequate. Celia Franca is a national treasure, and I am honoured to have met her on several occasions, and to have known her late husband, Professor James Morton (former first clarinet of the NAC Orchestra and professor at the University of Ottawa).

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Winterlude Wonderland

Peace Tower, Christmas 2006 (Amsel)
One of the great things about living in the capital city of Canada is that it sometimes manages to get things right when it comes to “putting on a good show”. Ottawa wants to be a tourist destination, and rightfully so: it is a beautiful city that has a vibrant cultural life (though I won’t get started on the state of the National Arts Centre Orchestra) and a great deal to offer children of all ages, the old and the young at heart. While I’m not sure what category I may fall into at times, I love living in this city with its diversity and endless chain of festivals and events that make this such a wonderful place to live.

Rideau Canal, 2003 (Watson)
Ottawa is famous for several things, one of which is the Rideau Canal which, when frozen, becomes the longest skating rink in the world at 7.8 kilometres. While I can’t say that I am an avid skater (having skated only a handful of times ever), it is very hard to not succumb to lure of the canal. The picture you see of the canal is the only photo in this post that I did not take over the Christmas holiday and this weekend during the Winterlude festival.

Enjoy some images of the capital of the Great White North … and yes … it is as cold as it looks.

Photos taken with a Kodak EasyShare
C643 digital camera @ 6.1 mp.

Winter Scenes, 2006-2007 and
Ice Sculptures from Winterlude 2007
(© 2007 by Amsel)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Creativity: the Origins of Speciousness

No. This is Not really about Anna Nicole Smith.

Nor is it about the recent outbreak of violence in Jerusalem, though I would offer that a few well placed Neutron bombs would put an end to that situation for good … I figure that if you can’t live together in a place in peace, nobody deserves to live there. Period. That’s all: you have one hour to leave, the bombers have been dispatched. Take your friends, take your pets, this patch of land is going to be a night-light for the space shuttle for the next fifty years.

Now … don’t get your panties in an uproar … as I said, this ISN’T about those things … I’m not advocating the destruction of Israel/Palestine (just fantasising about it), and I certainly wouldn’t suggest that killing a bunch of ignorant, intolerant fools would be a way to solve some problems … oh, maybe it would … but that’s not the point of this post … creativity is … or is it? Well, I guess you’ll just have to find out. Actually, the 2nd Amendment is the ultimate target … that’s right, friends, I’m taking aim at the right to bear arms (and its winter … I’m wearing long sleeves). I also fire shots across Holy Scripture and a number of other things … but all in good time … all in good time.

A great deal of my time of late has been devoted to the contemplation of issues relating to creativity. This is not really unusual for me given that I am a composer and writer, but in this particular case it is the result of an invitation to contribute a chapter to a textbook that is being written; my contribution, in short, is to write about creativity and mental illness. In researching this topic many things have been coming across my radar screen, much of which is totally irrelevant to my topic, but happened to come up through searches (or appeared in journals and books with material that I am using for reference).

It isn’t surprising, of course, to find things that aren’t related to your research when you are digging around for something very specific, but it never ceases to amaze me that humanity has now crested a new millennium and yet it seems completely backwards when it comes to so many things that could have been … or should have been brought into “modern” times long ago.

Of course, I may merely be expressing my naïveté regarding what I have always felt was a promising future for the human race; a future of enlightenment and civility in which all nations are able to set aside their petty differences and live together in peace, where nations of the world do not invade other nations in order to install their version of “democracy” while the country disintegrates into a violent civil war. Or, it could be merely be an expression of the repressed rage that has been building up within me for decades, a rage that has never been given a voice with which to have its grievances appropriately vented … either way, I am amazed at the level of ignorance that is being perpetuated in the western world on so many levels.

While my research has supposed to be primarily related to the realms of creativity and mental illness, it is part of my nature to be easily distracted (thus this blog, the fact that I compose, write, write poetry, paint [though badly], and have a variety of other outlets for the creative energies that seek expression in my life). I have found a variety of interesting and not so interesting lines of divergent pieces of information that can easily distract me from my goal … and may well do so if I’m not careful (thus this hopefully cathartic post giving voice to some of these grievances).

Something that continues to amaze me beyond all else is the way in which the political systems of the west have been systematically hijacked by the neo-conservative right wing movements that stand behind the Bush regime in the United States. It used to be possible to say that Canada was a politically independent nation, a country that had its own political process that was separate and distinct from our neighbours to the south (as well as different spellings of certain words, such as honour, neighbour, favour and flavour which serves to add another dash of distinction to our two nations).

Today, on the other hand, the language that is spoken in the land is virtually the only thing that serves to distinguish “us” from “them”; that and the fact the “we” aren’t embroiled in a psychotic and false anti-terrorist war in a nation that never attacked “them”. Now that Prime Minister Harper and his (neo)Conservative minority government is pushing ahead with its surreal agenda it appears that the 19th Century doctrine of Manifest Destiny is well on its way to being fulfilled. While Manifest Destiny was initially introduced by the Democrats around 1845 under the leadership of Andrew Jackson, it has been under the guidance of George W. Bush that the true fulfilment of American Colonialism has reached its apex. Thanks to the cloning technology used on Stephen Harper “we” are now well on our way to becoming just like “them”.

No, I’m not even going to cite any specific examples … I shouldn’t have to: if you are of the wont to agree with this sort of thing then you know of the sort of things that have been going on in the Canadian press of late, such as the recent visit to Israel by Peter MacKay, our Minister of Foreign Affairs; a visit that managed to turn a blind eye to every violation of human rights taking place in Israel and crimes being perpetrated against innocent civilians in the name of “national defence”.

Okay, so I did cite an example … sue me (blood … stone … water … desert … luck … none … chance … fat … honest … politicians [this gets too easy after a time]…).

Then there is the rampant and continuous perpetuation of the myths that simply will not be allowed to die. Anti-Semitism, for one thing: why is it an act of anti-Semitism to be hateful towards Jews, yet it isn’t anti-Semitism to be hateful towards Arabs? In case this confuses you, read the Book of Genesis. Abram and his TWO sons: Ishmael, the firstborn and Isaac, the second. It is a result of a lack of faith that resulted in the creation of the covenant between God and the children of Hagar (Ishmael): a lack of faith that would also appear in the bloodline of the Children of Israel when their disobedience to God led them to disregard His commands when they arrived at the Promised Land (too late now … can’t fix what you didn’t do 5,000 years ago).

After 9/11 there were acts of horrific examples of just how Neanderthalic certain elements of humanity could be when a number of violent attacks against Mosques and individual Muslims took place as acts of retaliation, sometimes against Sikhs who weren’t even implicated (except in the bigoted minds of the White American Paranoids who are convinced of the conspiracy theories that propose alternate theories for 9/11). In none of those cases were the words “anti-Semitism” or “anti-Semitic” used, and – to my knowledge – in cases where someone was charged with a crime (in the United States) they did not invoke the “special circumstances” clause of the penal code by adding “hate crime” to the indictments, a clause that would make the charges far more serious and result in stiffer sentences in the case of a conviction.

Anti-Semitism is something that continues today in too many forms, from the streets of our cities to the Halls of Justice, from our institutions to the very governments that should be protecting us from this cancerous intellectual violence. Yet the government itself promotes this new anti-Semitism, they promote it by taking sides in a conflict between a first world nation armed with modern weaponry against impoverished peasants with a spattering of terrorists with unguided model rockets as their main weapon. Even the footage on the news this morning was a perfect example: Israeli police decked out with shields and high-tech weaponry while they faced off against civilians [idiots] armed with rocks. Yes, the violence was idiotic, but symbolic of a much larger issue, and it demonstrates that something must be changed.

Live together in peace or go somewhere else. Period. Either that or nuke them all, that would be one way to get rid of some of the stockpile.

Of course there is more to it than that … life is always more complicated when you try and reduce things down to a short article, and yet, how difficult is it to explain the issue that people are unwilling to share the space in which they live? How is it that someone can be so deluded by their importance and their place in the grand scheme of things that they feel entitled to live in a place where they are so insulated from the world, kept away from anything that may be offensive to their senses? God forbid that someone not of “their kind” should be permitted to be their neighbour, even though that “neighbour” and their family may have been living there for generations, until their land was stolen from them, reclaimed by the State of Israel.

Prime Minister Harper believes that his being a staunch supporter of Israel makes him a better Prime Minister than anyone else currently vying for the job … and yet, I am still hopeful that we will find a political leader who will find the intestinal fortitude to stand up for the truth, regardless of whether they offend B’nai Brith and the JDL … or (God forbid) AIPAC.

For decades now there has been an outcry whenever the words “conspiracy” and “Jewish” were used in the same phrase, but I am going to say something that may shock and anger some … or most … but you must continue reading so that it isn’t taken out of context: there isn’t a “Jewish conspiracy”, but there is a Zionist conspiracy; a Zionist conspiracy to capitalize on political fear-mongering in order to ensure that their ideology is promoted while their opponents are condemned.

Zionist fascism (the link takes you to a letter by Albert Einstein and refers to his concern over the “Freedom Party” in Israel, Tnuat Haherutand, which ultimately became the Likud Party) and their ilk have grown out of this abuse of political influence, and it has resulted in Israel being allowed to murder and maim with impunity while the rest of the world turns a blind eye to their actions. Israel has been allowed to construct an apartheid state, complete with a wall of shame, and western politicians praise the brave actions of “Israeli democracy”.

The irony of this is that it has demonstrated the height of creative expression to me, though not through music or painting: the ability to manipulate reality into something that bears no resemblance to the truth is quite a skill, especially when that “new reality” is turned around and used to convince the government and an entire nation that it is essential to invade a country that had nothing to do with the largest attack on American soil. I have learned that the ability to obfuscate is a talent that is beyond all others, especially if you have any aspirations for public office: the greatest skill cultivated by the political beasts in power today is their ability to weave a tale that bears precious little resemblance to the truth.

Of course, this shouldn’t arouse any surprise when one considers the source of the majority of the obfuscations: when a nation elevates their constitution to the level of Holy Writ and then finds it necessary to bastardise the meaning of the words by carefully removing portions of phrases from their proper contexts, it can be no surprise that lying is an inherent talent possessed by American (and, by extension, Canadian politicians … and of their world-wide colleagues).

Take, if you will, the example of the Word of God. Americans love God … at least, that’s what they say, and what their money says (and who doesn’t … everyone loves a good scapegoat when things start to go wrong). They also love to quote the Bible … when it is expedient and they can use a phrase to manipulate someone over to their point of view. For many people there is nothing wrong with the phrase “money is the root of all evil”. We have heard this supposed “scripture” spouted often, and with great authority and zeal by the religious wrong in their attempts to perpetuate the desperate economic disparity between the lower class citizens who bear the majority of the tax burden of the upper class parasites.

Sorry, wrong answer. Thanks for playing. Collect your parting gifts at the outer nave.

The truth of the matter is that this is all a lie; that isn’t what is written at all: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV). Why should this be of any importance in the grand scheme of things? For the simple reason that if these obfuscating politicians have no problems lying about what is written in Scripture, why should they have any difficulties when it comes to something as mundane as their constitution, or the Bill of Rights?

The fact of the matter is that there is no difficulty. There is no such thing anymore as a conscience being “seared” by guilt for doing the wrong thing. The “wrong thing” is now measured by “grey areas” in an endless gradation of “harmless” white lie to “scandalous” offence (if discovered).

The great “God given” right that is shouted about at every opportunity by the denizens of the Right relates to the right bear arms, “guaranteed” by the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. It is a myth that the 2nd Amendment grants ordinary citizens the “right to bear arms” as has been shouted from rooftops by the National Rifle Association and their maniacal supporters. In fact, the 2nd Amendment has absolutely nothing to do with an individual’s right to carry a weapon.

To understand the true meaning of the amendment we must understand the mindset of the man behind the words. Federalist James Madison was concerned with the young republic’s ability to defend itself (1787 Philadelphia Convention) from the threat of marauding hordes invading from the renegade Loyalists that had fled into what would eventually become the Dominion of Canada. Madison was particularly concerned about the ability of the new nation to muster an army large enough to fend off the Red Coats in the event of their attack.
“Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops.”
In light of this, Madison drafted what would eventually become known as the 2nd Amendment, but the text that we have today is radically different than what was originally written … and yet, even without getting into the original, which you can see here, it is possible to see the point of this by examining the text carefully: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

The right to bear arms is inexorably tied to the first clause of the amendment: a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state. If you want the right to bear arms that right shall not be infringed, however, you must be IN A MILITIA. The RIGHT to bear arms in the United States of America is wholly intended as part of the process emplaced by the “founding fathers” to ensure the security of the nation in a time when that security was threatened by a very real foe. This is no longer the case … and yet, the “right” to bear arms is still harped after as though their very lives depended upon it, which is not the case.

This is an example of pure, unadulterated ignorance, and it represents one of the death knells of true creativity: it represents how easily we allow ourselves to accept falsehoods as truth without question for the simple reason that “millions of people” can’t be wrong. Yes; yes, millions of people can be wrong, and often are. Just because 300 million people say the sky is green does this suddenly mean that the sky is green? Of course not, but according to this line of irrational thinking that is exactly what it means. If thousands of constitutional experts and hundreds of judges and dozens of supreme court justices have declared that the 2nd Amendment preserves an individual’s right to bear arms OUTSIDE the stricture of a well regulated militia, does that make it right?

Not in one hundred trillion years. The meaning of the words does not change for the sake of convenience, nor does it change depending on the political flavour of who sits in the White House. Of course, if the Supreme Court decided to reverse its position and actually adhere to the letter (and spirit) of the law it would probably be accused of pandering to the left-wing liberal “pansies” … so, can you win? Political rhetoric is enough to make you choke at times, which reminds me of the Bard’s famous line: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” (Henry VI, II) [… then we get the politicians …]. Oh bother … (not the Bard, just a cute bear).

E=MC2 © by Ben Heine
Is it really that hard to ask for people to follow a simple rule … I’ve been trying to live by this for most of my life, and it has saved me a tremendous amount of heartache, if only because I don’t have to remember who I’ve lied to (besides, my mother has always been able to catch me in a lie … so she thinks): say what you mean and mean what you say. It is simplicity itself, and yet it is as complex as the Unified Theory of Everything (or one would think so given the way things are in the world). When we are speak freely, knowing that we have nothing to fear because there is nothing to hide, we can do something that seems quite unusual these days: we can communicate with others and actually understand what is being said to one another without needing an interpreter.

Either that or we can continue on this perilous path and end up in a situation in which it is impossible to trust anything said by anyone … ever.

Oh well … time to get back to the important things in life … maybe a bit of research into Anna Nicole … how about something about the true master of the absurd, Michael Jackson? Nah … I’ll just go bang my head against the wall until I pass out … that will hurt less. Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The New Face of Terror

In a speech that has been described as a mini “throne speech” by many in the political world, Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper of the (neo)Conservative Party has launched a new series of attacks against his political opponents. Rather than criticising them for their stances on issues relating to social policies or things that have supposedly been on the top of the Canadian consciousness lately (the environment of all things … yes, the world is killing itself … literally, and Canadians have their collective heads buried up their asses in an orgy of earth-hugging … Ok … that rant is over … for now) the Prime Minister decided to go after their stance on Israel.

Israel. Yes, my friends, the Prime Minister of Canada is saying that he is a better supporter of Israel than the other politicos in Canada, and that is something that he should be applauded for: he is not a “fair weather friend”, Harper says, he unequivocally supported the month-long war waged against the civilians of Lebanon this past summer while Israel conducted its own hunt for Hezbollah, in the style that the United States has developed in their search for Osama bin Laden (bomb the hell out of half of the middle east in search of one man … right).

So, if I am getting this straight, because the (neo)Conservatives are supportive of war crimes and the senseless killing of innocent civilians, they deserve to be in office? I see … NOT.

In case you haven’t noticed, this is not how you impress people, Mr Harper. Bombing innocent people is not acceptable, even if there is a “terrorist” hiding amongst them. It is not acceptable to kill ten innocent in order to kill one “evil doer”, to use the term of the Master. But, we must also consider that this is an individual who has suckled at the teat of the southern mutt bitch residing in the doghouse across the border, a pit bull without a shred of conscience or decency, guided only by their base desire to taste blood and win a fight at all costs.

After all, if the momma dog is willing to send another 35,000 of her pups into harms way, why shouldn’t her protégé be equally willing to support a murderous regime across the ocean?

Harper © by Fewings
In the end it comes down to a willingness to permit this fool and his band of idiots to continue their charade that they insist on calling “governing”. While it is true that minority governments are able to accomplish things given the precarious nature of their existence, it is equally true that the compromises they are forced to make in order to survive often results in watered-down legislations that are essentially nothing more than window-dressing, mere representations of what could have been had the politicians allowed themselves to be freed of the constraints set by the special interest groups that whisper into their ears, setting their agendas according to their flow of dollars and cents.

The very fact that the Canadian Parliament held a vote on adhering the terms of the Kyoto accord, a treaty that Canada ratified years ago, demonstrates how out of touch with reality this Prime Minister and his (neo)Conservative government is with reality. They have been trying to prove that they are “environmentally” minded (emphasis on the “mental” in “environmental”), and yet none of their ideas are original. Instead of deciding to adhere to an accord that is set to expire in a few years, why not take a radical stance and exceed the terms outlined in the accord? The reason they haven’t done this is quite simple: it would create a demand on big businesses to curb their emissions to a point that might cut into their precious profit margins … and we can’t have that now, can we?

After all, the environment may be on the verge of collapse, but God forbid, if the stock market should happen to dip one point as a result of the actions of the political party. Suffice it to say, to borrow the term that the (neo)Conservatives have been using in their recent attack ads against Stephane Dion, the new Liberal party leader: Mr Harper, you are no leader.

If being a friend of Israel is what qualifies you to be our Prime Minister, Mr Harper, you are no leader. If being a myopic environmentalist who is only able to reiterate material that is hopelessly out of date, Mr Harper, you are no leader. If your idea of being Prime Minister, Mr Harper, means that you can obfuscate to your heart’s content and not worry about whether or not other Canadians care, then, with all due respect Mr Harper, you are no leader and it is high time to let someone else show you how it’s supposed to be done.

In the end, Mr Harper, there is no alternative to peace and the true benefits that would flow from such a situation. It is not possible to have a true peace in the middle east so long as there are those who blindly adhere to the Zionist-fascist ideologies merely because it is economically expedient to do so. Unilateral change will not result in a lasting peace: only a bilateral change, a change that includes both the education of the young and the economic rebirth of the Palestinian areas will result in something that resembles the beginnings of peace, but as long as Israel is a nation of “them and us”, or the “haves and the have-nots”, there will be the risk of armed conflict.

Blindly supporting Israel as they strike out against their “enemies” in this unending battle is hubris, and clearly demonstrates that emotions are leading rather than informed thoughts … unless it is possible to honestly accept that the slaughtering of civilians with precision guided munitions is an acceptable tactic in a war against terrorists.

Oh … of course it is … Bush … Harper … Harper … Bush … Harperbush … Bushharper … hmm … makes one wonder.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Soldier Opposes Iraq

An officer in the United States Army is facing a court martial beginning today for his refusal to fight an illegal war. To do say, according to Lt. Watada, would be to follow an unlawful order: “The war in Iraq is in fact illegal. It is my obligation and my duty to refuse any orders to participate in this war. An order to take part in an illegal war is unlawful in itself. So my obligation is not to follow the order to go to Iraq.”

The defence that was used during the Nuremberg Trials, that the Nazi General Officers had merely been “following orders” is no longer a defence that will be accepted by anyone with a conscience, or a mind. Yet if it didn’t work after the Holocaust, why is such a thing allowed to continue today?

We need more soldiers with the courage of Lt. Watada: we need soldiers with the courage to see beyond the blind ambitions of the political motivations of megalomaniacal leaders who have no regard for the lives of these young men and women being sent to their deaths, so long as their agendas are fulfilled. Instead of having a General Court Martial for this fine young soldier he should be receiving a promotion (with men like this in command things like Iraq don’t happen), a meritorious service award, and a commission to the National War College as he obviously has the “right stuff” that is sorely lacking in the U.S. military machine.

Thank you, Lt. Watada. The following message tells more than I can … please read it and check out their links. If you live in an area where a demonstration is taking place, please, go!

"The war in Iraq is in fact illegal. It is my obligation and my duty to refuse any orders to participate in this war. An order to take part in an illegal war is unlawful in itself. So my obligation is not to follow the order to go to Iraq." - Lt. Ehren Watada

Lt. Watada's supporters are converging on Fort Lewis from across the country to stand with him during his court martial trial, which begins Monday morning, February 5th. Many are representatives of the organizations that coordinated rallies, forums and meetings with congressional members and hosted Bob and Rosa Watada and Carolyn Ho as they traveled across the country to support their son. On February 5th buses and carpools wiil also bring Lt. Watada supporters from Portland and across the State of Washington.

Today, as volunteers assembled support signs, artists built giant puppets for a street theater pageant, and local residents prepared a potluck dinner on Sunday to welcome out-of-town Watada supporters. Vigils, rallies, music, poetry, and street theater are all part of the events planned in support of Lt. Watada.

Join us at Fort Lewis!! The schedule of events follows. If you can't be there, organize a candlelight vigil or educational event in your town to show support for Lt. Watada and opposition to the Iraq war and occupation during the court martial. Let us know about your community's events at

National Actions

Amherst, MA * Austin, TX * Bainbridge, WA * Bellingham, WA * Bremerton, WA * Coupeville, WA * Fort Lewis, WA * Gardner, MA * Hartford, CT * Honolulu, HI * Kirkland, WA * Maui, HI * Olympia, WA * Orono, MA * Philadelphia, PA * Portland, OR * San Francisco, CA * Seattle, WA * Tacoma, WA * Chicago, IL * Melbourne, Florida * Valparaiso, IN *
... AND ... Across the street from the White House in Washington, DC.

International Actions
London, England * Athens, Greece * Dublin and Galway, Ireland * Tel Aviv, Israel, Venice, Italy * Luxembourg * Mexico City, Mexico* Istanbul, Turkey* Uruguay

5-9pm Welcome Event for Lt. Ehren Watada Supporters
First Congregational Church (Pilgram Hall-Downstairs) 209 S J St. Tacoma, WA
Supporters from across the country are coming together to celebrate our resistance to illegal, immoral war and Lt. Ehren Watada's courageous stand on the night before his court martial. We encourage local community members to greet and welcome folks arriving from out of town. The evening's event will include a potluck dinner food, music, speakers and spoken word.

Sponsored by: The Micah Project of First United Methodist Church, United for Peace of Pierce County, Friends and Family of Lt. Watada, Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, Courage to Resist, Youth Against War and Racism, and Teen Peace Project.

Full list of speakers and event schedule

Monday, February 5, 2007
11:30-6pm Lt. Ehren Watada Court Martial and Support Rally
9:30am - Lt. Watada's Military Court Martial begins
11:30am - Student Rally with Iraq Veterans Against the War
12:30pm – Vigil outside the Gates of Fort Lewis with IVAW
1:30pm - Political Street Theater and Giant Puppets Art Performance, spoken word, and DJ's
3pm – Watada Campaign Rally
4-6pm Vigil outside the Gates of Fort Lewis

For more information about Feb 5 go to
Full Schedule of Fort Lewis event and speakers list
Transportation to Fort Lewis - Buses, Carpools, Directions and Parking
Attending Lt. Watada's Court Martial
Travel and Housing Information

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