“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, March 25, 2006

more on anti-recruitment -- leaflet work

As we have said before, LI is extremely tired of the discussion about what the Democrats could do about the war. Or the Republicans. We could give a fuck. We wanted to know what we could do about the war. Which is the start of this project which I am tentatively calling: killthewarinyourgarage. You get a little taste of the army's plight in this oped at WAPO.

LI has been busily working at the anti-recruitment leaflet we mentioned a couple of posts ago. Mr. VD has sent us a graphic, and we've been assured banner space at one left leaning blog. Actually, as the leaflet idea gets more concrete, it might be the case that the website we get will hold several different leaflets. My friend Dave in the Great Pacific Northwest promised to help me on the graphix too.

The tone of the leaflet is the deflated boner in the mix for LI. We are well aware that our black humored, bile & candy prose is inappropriate here. We don't want to appeal to the 18-25 set that goes to anti-war demos, cause, like, why? -- we want to appeal straightforwardly to those potential recruits who may be Republicans, may be evangelical Christians, may be hardworking 4 H-ers, and most likely come from families that "support our troops." So, there is a no irony rule here.

Anyway, this stuff below is what we are mulling. I'd love to hear suggestions about this. Mail me at rgathman@netzero.net. Evidently, certain parts of this are not satisfactory at the moment. In particular, we want to get across the point that patriots can chose not to fight in a war that they believe is badly led. The quotes from Bush and Cheney are about that. But it is a subtle point, and I don't think I've made it well, yet. There is a part of me that wants to strongly insinuate how evil these people are -- and that is completely stupid and self indulgent. Rather, I need to simply suggest that every generation makes its choices, and that there is no shame in chosing to wait until the army is out of Iraq to enlist.




Before you talk to an army recruiter, there are a few facts you should know:

· 11,852 members of the military had been wounded in explosions - from so-called improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.'s, mortars, bombs and grenades as of January, 2006
· American military deaths numbered 2,225 as of Jan. 20; American military wounded: 16,472
· More than half wounded in explosions sustain head injuries
· The Government is looking for ways to cut down on helping the wounded pay for their treatment over the years: the Pentagon’s top personnel officer, David Chu, wrote in January, 2005 in the Wall Street Journal: "The amounts have gotten to the point where they are hurtful," David Chu Pentagon's top personnel official
Your benefits will almost certainly be cut. If you are the victim of an IED (Improvised Explosive Devise), your lifetime care will depend on benefits coming from Washington. And Washington has to cut benefits. Bottom line: you will be out on the street: “At least tens of thousands of veterans with non-critical medical issues could suffer delayed or even denied care in coming years to enable President Bush to meet his promise of cutting the deficit in half if the White House is serious about its proposed budget.
After an increase for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing by leaps and bounds, White House budget documents assume a cutback in 2008 and further cuts thereafter.” – ABC, February 27, 2006.
In this part, I am going to put in a description of IEDs and some of the destruction they have wrought.
· Who wants to continue this war? Not the American people. Polls show 56 percent of the American people think the Iraq war was a mistake. And when people don’t support a war, don’t be fooled by “we support the troops” rhetoric. If you join now, you have a higher chance of injury or death and a lower assurance you will get benefits to help you get over it, and an even higher chance that any money they promise you will be inadequate.
· If someone offered you a ten thousand dollar bonus to work in a butcher shop, would you? Would you if you couldn’t get out of the contract? Would you if you had a one in six chance of injury? Would you if 2.5 of your fellow employees died per day? Think about it – why take the risk of chronic pain, death, and possible mental stress for years to come unless there was a larger cause you were fighting for? So, let’s look at that larger cause. First, let’s look at the patriotism of the men who started the war and are continuing it. Then, let’s look at the reasons the war was started and is continuing. Finally, let’s look at the positive side of not feeding the war machine – or, Getting America back to the Constitution.
·
· Patriotism
So you want to serve your country? You can serve it in many ways. But you don’t have to go to an unpopular and unwinnable war. History shows us many American patriots that avoided war. Did you know President George Bush avoided going toVietnam? Here is what he said about the topic
“Russert: Were you favor of the war in Vietnam?
President Bush: I supported my government. I did. And would have gone had my unit been called up, by the way.
Russert: But you didn't volunteer or enlist to go.
President Bush: No, I didn't. You're right. I served. I flew fighters and enjoyed it, and provided a service to our country. In those days we had what was called "air defense command," and it was a part of the air defense command system.
The thing about the Vietnam War that troubles me as I look back was it was a political war. We had politicians making military decisions”
Vice President Cheney avoided going to Vietnam. Why? As he told a newspaper: "I had other priorities in the sixties than military service." While others were going to war, Cheney was getting ahead. That was the smart thing to do.

Karl Rove, President Bush’s top advisor, was draft age during the Vietnam war. He didn’t go. Neither did Vice President Cheney’s top advisor, Scooter Libby.

· These men and others like them were able to use the years that others spent in Vietnam getting ahead. They are now sending other men off to Iraq. Does that sound like a fair deal? It isn’t. If it is right for America’s highest ranking officials to avoid a mismanaged war, if this is patriotism, then it should be all right for you. Having “other priorities” means finding other ways of succeeding in this country. Patriotism is contributing something positive, no matter what.
· Don’t be the last soldier to die, or have a shattered spine, or a torn off limb, in a war with no mission end point. Unless we the people exert ourselves through not volunteering, the war will go simply go on and on, since nobody is willing to stop it. But YOU CAN STOP IT.

Friday, March 24, 2006

the two bit underground man

As a small timer, a two-bit underground man, LI has a bit of a chip on his shoulder about the rich – envy of all that spread. At the same time, however, there is always the eternal mystery of wealth. Not the mystery of how it is accrued – the mystery of why. A mystery best expressed in the immortal dialogue between J. Gittes and Noah Cross in Chinatown:

“Cross: That's what I am doing. If the bond issue passes Tuesday, there'll be eight million dollars to build an aqueduct and reservoir. I'm doing it.
Gittes: Gonna be a lot of irate citizens when they find out that they're paying for water that they're not gonna get.
Cross: Oh, that's all taken care of. You see, Mr. Gits. Either you bring the water to LA or you bring LA to the water.
Gittes: How you gonna do that?
Cross: By incorporating the valley into the city. Simple as that.
Gittes: How much are you worth?
Cross: I've no idea. How much do you want?
Gittes: I just want to know what you're worth. Over ten million?
Cross: Oh my, yes!
Gittes: Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What can you buy that you can't already afford?
Cross: The future, Mr. Gits - the future! Now where's the girl. I want the only daughter I've got left. As you found out, Evelyn was lost to me a long time ago.
Gittes: Who do you blame for that - her?
Cross: I don't blame myself. You see, Mr. Gits. Most people never have to face the fact that at the right time, the right place, they're capable of anything.”

This rather neatly ties together two of the great mysteries of society: the incest prohibition (poor nervous Evelyn) and the desire of certain people to endlessly, endlessly acquire wealth. But let’s not go to Freud just yet. I’ve been, in fact, going to Georg Simmel. The translating job I have has forced me to read a bit of Simmel’s Philosophy of Money. Simmel’s complete works are up on the Net, for those who have the German to read it. For pauvre moi, always a week away from having not a pot to piss in, I’ve been extremely interested in Simmel’s notion of a the connection between money and the its degree of separation from labor. The series of ends, as he calls it, that money has to traverse has an unpredictable impact on money. Anybody who has hung around the rich puzzles over how certain petty expenditures can discombobulate them at the same time that large, gaudy, unbelievable expenditures are so very calmly made that there is a greatness in them. It is the latter quality that F. Scott Fitz was talking about.

So here is a bit from Simmel:

“We can’t deny, on a large enough scale … that there is a proportion between the tempo of earnings and that of expenditure.
Thus, nobody expends money more easily and with less prudence than the gambler, the goldminer and the demi-monde; and the ruinous financial policy of the Spanish since Carlos V can be pinned to the relative lack of work with which America’s noble metal fell to the lot of the Spanish.

This as it comes, so it goes (»wie gewonnen, so zerronnen«) refers not only to the objective structure of the economy, that tends to posit the security of the earned only as a price of a certain solidity of the earning: the professions of particularly easy and quick earning already contains in their objective circumstances the little canals, through which the earned has the tendency and chance to once again drain away.”

Now, for an economist, consumption is just consumption and there is no more mystery in it than the Eucharist holds for a Unitarian. But for LI, always wondering where the fuck my pittance goes to, those little canals are like fate, or the unconscious: the objectified unconscious of being broke. And yet, at a certain point, what can you do with that extra money? The objective circumstances of the rich, to correct F. Scott, are different. LI will return in another post to Simmel’s explanation of that.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

More on an anti-recruiting pamphlet

I received an email about the anti-recruiting pamphlet idea. And I’ve been spinning around ideas in my head. But LI needs suggestions.

The army is having problems. This is from one of the slew of newstories recently about recruiting

“Blacks make up about 23 percent of today’s active-duty Army, but the share of Blacks in the recruit classes of recent years dropped. From 22.7 percent at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the share slid to 19.9 percent in 2002; 16.4 percent in 2003 and 15.9 percent last year, according to figures provided by Army Recruiting Command and cited in published reports. The slide has continued, dropping to 13.9 percent as of Feb. 9 of this year.”

13.9 is outstanding. I think the African-American community, which has collectively turned its back on this president, has done a good job making joining the army now vaguely shameful. However, this can be accelerated. One of the things that I am always impressed with is how the conservative sphere is continually making good suggestions to the left about this, and how indignant the left gets. For instance, suggesting that the bad news from Iraq is just to demoralize Americans. I think that is an excellent suggestion, and one of the things this pamphlet should do is make going to Iraq seem, a., unsupported by the American population, b., dangerous beyond any risk that you would want to take, and c., futile at that. The extremely high rate of injury, much higher than in Vietnam, will I think give even the most testosteroned up 18 year old pause. The thing is, how to convey this in such a way that, a., it makes not joining up – abstinence - seem patriotic, and b., that it is written in a far less preacherly tone than the pamphlets I have seen. My ideal would be that the pictures would be stark and hard – comparisons of the ideal be all that you can be with pics of wounded men – that the message would be, no, you will not get support after your leg is blown off – the money for V.A. is being cut, and you will have to battle your entire life long against prejudice and the government – that you can actually help bring the war to a close by not signing up, and thus helping others – and that other patriots, including President Bush and Vice President Cheney, exercised the option of not going during Vietnam and instead devoted those years to getting ahead – and look where they are now. Nobody calls them unpatriotic for dodging the war in Vietnam. This is a subtle but I think very necessary point – the people who go will fall behind because the people who stay here – even the people who support them, and go yeah, go to Iraq – are really getting ahead in the game of life. It is, in essence, a sucker’s game to go to Iraq. This point has the advantage of being true, and the disadvantage of being one of those points people try to sentimentally ignore.

Since I am not used to writing for 18 year olds, though, I am a little unsure of what kind of thing works. Probably I ought to go out and by teen people and the like. Ultimately, I would like the tone of this to be don't tread on me, with the treading being by the Executive Branch, using the voluteer army as a government funded mercenary corps to do what it likes. I think I'll look up all those Readers Digest attacks on the IRS and apply them to this issue.

Do drop me some suggestions. rgathman@netzero.net

an amphibian on dry land

The London Times did a nice thing a week ago that I missed – they published several articles to celebrate Beckett, on his centenary. LI particularly liked Roy Foster’s appreciation, which ends with a very nice anecdote:

“Reading or listening to Beckett, it is the beauty and eloquence of the language that conquers, as much as the radically melancholic vision, shot with humour though it is. In 1978 my father-in-law, a doctor from much the same sort of comfortable Dublin background as Beckett's, but far from a playgoer or novel reader, noticed me reading Deirdre Bair's biography. Noting the Dublin name ("Beckett with two t's is always Irish"), he mentioned that Frank Beckett, who ran the family business, had been a close friend through the Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club, and that "his brother, the playwright, now very well known" always came over for the summer championships. "We used to have dinner together every year."

My jaw dropping at this unexpected side of his social life, I asked what he was like. "The brother?" asked my father-in-law, surprised. "Well, to tell you the truth, he never had much to say for himself." Beckett would have liked the story; but it could not have been further from the truth.”

What LI loves about Beckett is the way he pushes the rule: the bleaker, the funnier. One of our own obsessions since dear old college days is the way that one rule in life never seems to be questioned: that the serious and the non-serious are completely separate categories. Or as Mark Twain said, in his rules for funerals: “don’t laugh.” This is common sense, but LI… always laughs. Our taste tends towards the lurid and the bitter because we think of art as seriousness taken non-seriously. (and aesthetics, or the philosophy of art, is non-seriousness taken seriously -- remember, it all starts with that prating pietist, Kant, trying to stuff the genie back in the bottle). Our own little aesthetic hierarchy starts with the fact that Lear, in the end, remembers “my poor fool is hang’d.” The fool – which could be Cordelia as well – was both lucky and unlucky in that last act – for after all, one of the bits in his repertoire was to make sexual puns out of legal punishments, and a hanging fool was, of course, the kind of thing he'd zip up. Beckett's work shows just how funny this is, or could be made to be from the fool’s point of view, if he were still around, like Molloy, to enjoy his own hanging.

We liked this graf from Foster’s piece too:

“Nor was he ever anything but highly sociable. Old Irish friends continually descended on him in Paris, and he was endlessly ready to accommodate them, lend or give them money, and go drinking with them (though Brendan Behan presented too much of a challenge).

This made his genuinely reclusive French wife, Suzanne, despair: "Sam makes friends like a dog makes turds." And though visits to Dublin made him feel, he said, like an amphibian on dry land, nonetheless he returned -for sporting fixtures, or to see his family. As with Joyce, there were aspects of Irishness that never left him. The famously cutting response to an interviewer should be remembered. "Vous etes anglais, M. Beckett" -"Au contraire."”

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

squeeze the army to death

Bush’s press conference made clear what was clear to any thinking person: there will be no pullout of Iraq via establishment politics:

President Bush acknowledged yesterday that the war in Iraq is dominating nearly every aspect of his presidency, and he served notice for the first time that he expects the decision on when all U.S. troops come home to fall on his successors.”


Periodically, LI comes back to the subject of non-recruitment. Squeezing the volunteer army until there’s no toothpaste left in the tube is the right thing to do. Not all functions in this society have to be triangulated through a politician. The easiest and most effective thing to do is to talk to seventeen and eighteen year olds and keep them from signing up. You don’t have to attack the army. It is a matter of committing later, when the army is engaged in doing something other than a vanity project. Again, one must respectfully quote the Vice President himself about Vietnam: “I had other priorities,” he said, making it clear that the patriotic thing to do is to avoid getting into pointless wars.

We don’t need politicians to take us out of Iraq – they need us to stay in it.

The American Friends Service committee has a downloadable anti-recruitment pamphlet here.

Looking through that pamphlet, LI is thinking that it is organized along lines that are too general. We are thinking of writing our own downloadable anti-recruitment pamphlet, focusing much more strictly on staying out of the Iraq war. We are going to try to do that and put it up in the bar next to these posts. A simply worded, Tom Paine like pamphlet laying out reasons not to join the military, in any branch, during the current crisis. We don’t have time for it at the moment, but in the next month.

The one thing the Dems could do – although they won’t – is push for a law putting a divide between the National Guard and the regular army. The National Guard is going to be needed at home more than ever this hurricane season. Unfortunately, the military has been kidnapping the Guard for Bush’s project.

In the long run, the obvious problem with having a volunteer army is that the executive branch increasingly uses it as a private army – a mercenary army, at the beck and call of the White House, paid for by the taxpayer, plaguing the planet. Ultimately, squeezing that army isn’t enough – the army has to be taken back from the Executive branch. We cannot afford to allow the president to mount private wars corresponding more to the currents of his psychopathology than to the dictates of national interest.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

post elsewhere

LI has contributed another post to Long Sunday. And today is so jam packed with tasks we have to finish that we can't really fiddle in this space.

Check it out, here.

Oh, and even if you don't read my little contribution to that site, there is something you should read -- I'm down on my knees begging you to read it, as you don't get this is the MSM very often: a q and a with the marijuana legalization king, Marc Emery. Reality -- that is, the way people really talk -- is so censored in the press that reading the q and a made me feel dizzy. Sample (and this is in the WAPO!)
ME: "Cannabis is a peaceful and honest lifestyle choice, endorsed in writings by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, that is being suppressed by a Nazified, paramilitary organization (the DEA) acting under illegal authority from a White House that has usurped the Constitution. That is a rogue government in Washington DC and in a manner similar to Falun Gong, it is our duty through peaceful methods to rid the world of the evil that sits at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That is why to defeat the US War on us we use peaceful means, education, and our peaceful spirit to show that there is evil in America and it needs to be addressed. Our enemy uses guns, weapons, helicopters, wire tapping, phone surveillance, snitches, informers, German Shepherd attack dogs, gulags and concentration camps. Is there any doubt what should be eradicated from the face of the earth?"

And this:

"Montreal, Quebec: Marc, why should you and the others Michelle and Greg be charged within Canada on a an Canadian warrant and then not be prosecuted under Canadian law??

All the Best to the BC3

Marc Emery: Because the Canadian political establishment that is in governance in Canada (The Liberal-Conservative parties) both want me out of the way for as long as possible, like the enemies of freedom (White House, DEA, Congress) in the USA do.

In 10 years I achieved huge results in Canada and the world. I sent out over 4 million seeds, had people grow those plants out, over 10 years, probably produced 10 to 20 million marijuana plants around the world, forcing the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars in Nazi police style activities in the USA, Canada and the world. Then with that money, I spent just under $4 million on court cases, lawyers for class action suits, ballot initiatives, politicians, elections, rallies, conferences, political parties, all peaceful, democratic investments, completely transparent, to subvert the US drug war and bring about a legal environment where cannabis can be taxed, regulated in a manner that addresses all social concerns. Ending prohibition, to say it simply.

It was a genius plan. Produce millions of plants to Overgrow the Governments, give the US people what they want (they do want the marijuana, and they'd rather grow it themselves than buy Afghani or foreign pot) and then spend the money they have entrusted to me to achieve what Americans who must hide from their government cannot do, participate in the public process to end prohibition."

What can LI add except -- you will not get a chance to read something this good in the WAPO for a long, long time. Don't miss it!

Monday, March 20, 2006

then-ism

LI sometimes feels bad that our radical sensibilities aren’t really captured by a correspondingly radical politics. It is nice to be more ultra than thou, and to either proclaim the self-evident virtues of anarchy or Marxism or libertarianism, etc.

But no, just as we are about to launch ourself into the heady winds of ideology, we are pulled back by then-ism.

Yes, folks (he said, cartoonishly) then. As in if-then. And you do this and then this happens.

Thenism is unfashionable nowadays in these here States. LI attributes this to the American male's preference for wallowing in the action movie narrative. Don’t even try to give your American male a halfway complicated novel to follow. Middlemarch? Who needs your stinkin' Middlemarch! No, much better to watch cops and super cops and even more super cops catch and kill bad guys, and in the process spindle, mangle and mutilate the poor “then.” In action movies, when a bomb is about to go off in one minute, we know that we will have five minutes of exciting action while the hero goes through all types of obstacles to reach the bomb and defuse it.

The disjunction between the one minute and the five minute perfectly defines political ideology in America. Thus, the favorite campfire tale for your American suburbanite is that we need to shrink guvamint. We need that small guvamint. And why do we need it small? So we can have our wonderful private enterprise system work the magic of the marketplace. And why is the marketplace magic? Because every person works as hard as he can to produce his own advantage. And how then, are we gonna get that small government? Why, by electing people who completely forsake their own advantage. Of course! A perfect “then” moment.

Correspondingly, we love reading Marxist oriented criticisms of, say, the intricate capitalist structure that has led to the environmental horrors of the shrinking ozone layer and global warming. And how are we going to change that? Why, by a revolutionary breakthrough overthrowing capitalism! Brilliant. That’s a darn tootin’ brilliant plan, there, boss. And who is going to lead that, finance it, and how long will it take? Why, we just gotta trust that a party composed of self-less people, financed by George Soros and Jesus Christ, will arise from the Lit Crit departments to mirror, perfectly, the wants of the people in a brand new revolutionary space, a perfect vacuum created by destroying the influence of the capitalist. Capitalism, which in paragraphs 1 through 10 is described as an all powerful evil system, is overthrown in a wink in paragraph 11 by a group of people absolutely uninfluenced by the mechanisms used to overthrow the all powerful evil system, and now ready to lead us to nirvana. And didn’t such a party system lead to the so far greatest crimes against the environment ever committed, re the whole industrial structure of the Soviet union, as this unchecked leadership shifted social costs massively onto the general population. Well,some people are just spoilsports. Another perfect “then” moment.

The whole bloody story of Iraq is, of course, a triumph of the “then” over the action movie idealism of D.C. think tankers. That the invasion being sold in 2003 was obviously fucked, that the versions of how it was going to be paid for, how long the occupation was going to take, and what the point of it was were all in a narrative muddle unquestioned by the (at that time) Democrat dominated Senate, are the symptoms of the serious decay of narrative intelligence in America. And I have noticed, looking around at the celebration of the third year of the fiasco, that the triumph of the “then” has gone almost completely unnoticed, as new schemes, unattached to any 'then', are proposed to "get America out of Iraq.” We particularly like the one where America, much like the baddest cop on your favorite show, just tells the Iraqis, okay, break it up into three different nations. There you go! The painlessness of that solution, the obvious compliance of the Iraqis when they hear the jig is up, and the Johnny come marchin’ home of our boys (who we all support so much! support support support, that’s our middle name around here), points to the genius at work in the American population at large.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

bozoism: a swedenborgian perspective

How the delights of every one's life are changed after death into things that correspond can be known from a knowledge of correspondences; but as that knowledge is not as yet generally known I will try to throw some light on the subject by certain examples from experience. All who are in evil and who have established themselves in falsities in opposition to the truths of the church, especially those that have rejected the Word, flee from the light of heaven and take refuge in caves that appear at their openings to be densely dark, also in clefts of rocks, and there they hide themselves; and this because they have loved falsities and hated truths; for such caves and clefts of rocks well as darkness, correspond to falsities, as light corresponds to truths. It is their delight to dwell in such places, and undelightful to dwell in the open country. [2] Those that have taken delight in insidious and secret plots and in treacherous machinations do the same thing. They are also in such caves; and they frequent rooms so dark that they are even unable to see one another; and they whisper together in the ears in corners. – Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell

The sinister farce of American drug policy hit its normal two notes this past week: one clownlike, and the other terroristic. The clownlike note was provided by the DEA’s demand that Canada extradite the Johnny Appleseed of marijuana to stand trial for thirty years – thirty years the monsters want to cut from his body – for selling pot seeds. Now, LI has long been in favor of putting DEA agents themselves in prison, after suitable show trials, for kidnapping, theft, blackmail, and the usual like, but we have doubts this is going to happen. It is one of those peculiarities of national character that the American, a type that tattoos snakes not being tread on on its forearm, has been shredding his rights like so much dead dermis for thirty years in the ‘war against drugs.’ Is this because the average American is a buffoon, an asskisser, a dog in love with a flea or a flea in love with a dog, a pariah among the higher order of Swedenborgian angels that circulate through our celestial body continually? I dunno, I just live here. A nation that passes two million of its population through the prison pipeline, many of them for either selling the means to medicate and enjoy oneself without a permit from the doctor and a profit made by a pharmaceutical company, should be investigated not so much by Amnesty international as by Bozo international. The alarming growth of bozoism in this country, which triumphed in Florida in 2000, is, perhaps, something that can be cured. I recommend high gas prices and another decade of 700 billion dollar debts, myself. Maybe it is a temporary epidemic. Those who think bozoism is simply a tiresome fad disease, a psycho-somatic poltergeist, are urged to read Rumsfeld’s op ed in the WAPO. Obviously, this is a man in the last throes of bozoism. Unfortunately, I have it on good authority that he has not yet been quarantined.

The terroristic face is being shown in America’s great ally in Latin America: Columbia. On the one side of the coin is sending a harmless Canadian to jail, and on the other side of the coin is supporting, with might and main, the familiar conjunction of fascist and drug dealer, all wrapped up in a very pretty package of free trade for all. Somehow, the media critics of Chavez, who go through every election and referendum in Venezuela looking for the stronghanded methods of communism – we just know they are there! – somehow ignored an election in which armed narcotics godfathers, paramilitaries who have already negotiated with the Uribe government to avoid extradition to the U.S., have helped Bush’s man achieve that magical 70 percent of the vote – with more than 60 percent of the voters abstaining.

The place to read about it is the invaluable Colombia Journal online.

“Colombia’s electoral process is undermined by paramilitiaries who use violence and intimidation to determine which candidates can and cannot run in regions under their control and to ensure that their chosen candidates are elected. As the Associated Press noted only two days before the March 12 congressional elections, paramilitary leader Rodrigo Tovar, “who’s accused of several massacres against civilians as well as being a major drug-trafficker, reigned over much of Colombia’s Caribbean coast, deciding who could and could not run for public office.”

An additional factor that aided the paramilitary cause in the congressional elections was the low voter turnout. Preliminary reports show that only 34 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, low even by Colombian standards—42 percent of voters participated four years ago. In one Bogotá precinct, only 80 of the 1,200 registered voters showed up to cast a ballot. The combination of the paramilitarization of the electoral process and the voter apathy evident in many areas not under paramilitary control ensured a victory for pro-Uribe parties.”
Hilariously, the Bush administration is worried about the coca growers in Bolivia, and so is the American news media.

Who will deliver us from the curse of Bozoism, o my fallen cohort of droogs?
I don’t know. I’m going out to smoke a joint, now.