"Negotiations are a euphemism for capitulation if the shadow of power is not cast across the bargaining table." - Secretary of State George Shultz.
A couple interesting bits from The Culture of Terrorism by Noam Chomsky:

1987. During Reagan's proxy war against Nicaragua, Senators Bob Dole and John McCain visited Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Senator John McCain opened the meeting by informing Ortega breezily that he had just met with the contra military commander Enrigue Berm?dez of Somoza's National Guard: "Colonel Berm?dez sends his very best regards," Senator McCain told Mr. Ortega as the meeting began. [This is the group that was basically going buckwild on "soft targets" like farmers and nuns, burning down schools and hospitals, supported with money and training and daily airdrops of supplies by people under orders from Reagan, with the approval of McCain and Dole.] "Colonel Berm?dez and Ronald Reagan should stop killing Nicaraguan children," Ortega responded.

...When Senator Dole protested the [Sandinistas'] jailing of two opposition lawyers for 30 days for participation in an unauthorized protest rally..., Ortega responded by producing "a photograph of an American priest, the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, being arrested in the United States in April during a protest against American support for the contras." He offered to free the two lawyers immediately in exchange for the freedom of Father Bourgeois, a Navy veteran wounded in the Vietnam war and now a Maryknoll priest, who is serving a nine-month sentence in Federal Prison in Louisiana for trespassing after a demonstration at a military base; in Ortega's words, "held in your jail for protesting your president's immoral policy of killing Nicaraguans." The two opposition leaders were released in the custody of Rep. Thomas Harkin; Rev. Bourgeois remained in prison, with no further comment here, as there had been none before this odd point was raised by the totalitarian Sandinistas. [Forgive Chomsky's sarcasm there, but he tends to use the Orwellian terms employed by conservatives and the popular press. So the Sandinistas were "totalitarian" in the same way that Guatemala and El Salvador were "fledgling democracies".] Senator Dole's press aide described the exchange offer as "a gimmick," adding that "It is ludicrous to compare our system with theirs." Shown a photo of the priest being dragged off by two policemen at the moment of his arrest, Dole responded: "You have us mixed up with the Soviet Union."


Note to self: don't attempt to explain epiphanies at 4 in the morning.

In case you haven't already read it elsewhere, here's the actual obituary for Sally Burton, age 71: "Memorials in her honor can be made to any organization working for the removal of President Bush."


I had an epiphany about the "liberal media."

Start with money and empire and the need to make them grow. That's Bush and Reagan and Bush and Carter and Clinton and Nixon, et al, ad gustum. Democrat or Republican, either way, you trace the money for each of them, trace their wars and skirmishes and proxy wars, look at the benevolent relations between Reagan and Saddam, Carter and the Shah, Suharto, Ceaucescu, our leaders energetically working against democracy in Central and South America. Got the picture? Donate money and training and professional military guidance to a proxy army that's fighting against an elected government in Nicaragua, and all the while keeping up a rolling diatribe about "democracy" and "freedom fighters" who accidentally murdered a few more nuns. In order to stretch as far as they can, control more of the world and make more money, they need a steady stream of PR. They get some great minds working on it, and they manage to practically convince citizens that 2+2=5. How many hijackers on 9/11 were Iraqis? 2+2=5 of them. Which side refused to have democratic elections in Vietnam, US or the North Vietnamese? Using biological or chemical weapons is barbaric and outrageous, but Agent Orange was just for the plants, right?

Then you look at the media. GE, Disney, AOL Time Warner, all liberal? How liberal can a transnational corporation be? It's not a total conspiracy ala Orwell, because the truth can still get through in American newspapers. But look at the column inches devoted to Indonesia's invasion of East Timor, and compare it with the coverage of any other conflict at the time that resulted in one-quarter of the invaded population being killed. The truth squeaks through here and there. You can read about the nuns getting murdered, but it's not a big story, not much emphasis on their murderers being trained and funded and supplied by daily airdrops from the US, how we taught them to seek out "soft targets" like farmers and hospitals instead of fighting against actual military targets.

Still, newspapers and tv have to let big things out every once in a while, when it becomes too conspicuous. The truth is just too much. Revealing even these squeaks of truth about nuns being murdered, or reporting about war and politics in straightforward language, this still causes problems for politicians trying to convince us that 2+2=5. The damn paper occasionally concedes that 2+2 might result in something ranging between 3 and 5, and suddenly the empire's PR system has to go into overdrive.

This is unacceptable to the people who need spin doctors to make more money, the same people who pay for all politicians to reach office. And that's how corporate-owned media can be called "liberal" media, in the same kind of way that Contras were called "Freedom Fighters" and Ariel Sharon was dubbed "a man of peace."

[Can you tell I've been reading Chomsky?]


The first question you need to ask is which Ten Commandments? If you're a fan of the Bible, which version do you use, and how do you feel about the possibility that judges may be ruling based on a translation rejected by your church?

Secondly, Judge Roy Moore's monument lists an abbreviated version of the Ten Commandments. This article on says: "The monument features the King James Bible version of the Ten Commandments sitting on top of a granite block. Around the monument are quotes from historical figures and documents, such as the Declaration of Independence."

No matter which Bible you pick up, you'll find that the section commonly known as the Ten Commandments is actually about 17 sentences. If you wanted to honor the words with a two ton monument, why would you take it upon yourself to edit them? Why not spell them out all the way?

I love how someone had to engrave into the top of that monument the words: "THOU SHALT NOT MAKE UNTO THEE ANY GRAVEN IMAGE."

Fans of religious displays in government spaces claim that "In God We Trust" on our money is acceptable, so the Commandments in a courtroom, crosses on lawns and prayer in schools should be no problem. Actually "In God We Trust" shouldn't be on our money either, if people had taken the First Amendment seriously. People also tend to assign these mottos to long traditions, not realizing that some of them were added less than 100 years ago, long after the Founding Fathers would have been able to voice their approval or disagreement. It was only in the 1950s that the words "under God" were appended to the Pledge of Allegiance, and "In God We Trust" replaced the secular Latin motto "E Pluribus Unum" (out of many, one).

Even if they hadn't been tacked on during a moment of high religiosity in our nation's history, even if the Founding Fathers had approved of these traditions, that still doesn't make it right. Remember, these were the clowns who officially noted that kidnapped Africans counted as three-fifths of a person. Traditions can make you feel all warm inside, but at some point we were able to overcome bad traditions like slavery or "the rule of thumb" (okay to beat your wife with any stick up to the diameter of your thumb). People who say "My money says In God We Trust, so there's nothing wrong with Ten Commandments in courthouses" might have been the kind of people a few generations ago who argued, "Slavery is sanctioned by God in the Bible, so we can continue it." In fact, that might be why they abbreviate the Commandments so often, embarassed about how some versions of these lines from Exodus say that you shouldn't covet your neighbor's slaves. (Some versions say "bondsman" or "manservant".)

You have to look at the most religious section of the Ten Commandments, think of it displayed in a state supreme court, and try to reconcile that with the First Amendment in our Bill of Rights.

"I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." - Exodus 20:2-3 King James Version (The words in bold are the first sentences on top of the illegally placed monument.)

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." - The First Amendment

Do you really expect to plant a two ton rock proclaiming "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" in the highest court of a state, and claim that this does not establish a religion? How big would the rock need to be, or how high would the letters need to be, before it gets through to you that atheists are going to be second-class citizens in that court?


Over the long Blackout 2003 weekend, Melinda and I watched With Six You Get Eggroll, a silly but passable screwball comedy starring Doris Day and Brian Keith as forty-something single parents trying to merge their families. The first time Keith visits with her children, Doris Day's youngest boy says, "Are you gonna be our new daddy?"

I sat there thinking this movie was cheesy as hell.

Today I sat at a big family get-together at Chili's, in a booth across from my grandfather and the lady he brought to dinner. He joked about taking three different grandmothers to the Heritage Festival on three days. At one point he said he was qualified to advise her about eating all her vegetables because he was 5 years older. Thinking he had called her 5 years older, she said, "See this knife?"

I'm not silly enough to come out and say it, but judging my own reactions to the situation, there's obviously a part of me that's gone all infantile and wondering, "Are you gonna be our new grammaw?!"


"George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld care about the troops in the same way that Tyson Foods cares about chickens."
- Retired Army master sergeant Stan Goff, father of a soldier recently deployed to Iraq.


Is the Pentagon intending to move their tricycle backwards, or is all their backpedalling a coincidence? There are probably more, but off the top of my head, I can think of: the Office of Strategic Influence, Total Information Awareness and Policy Analysis Market (both brainchildren of Poindexter, each one a step towards his resignation), and now the cut in combat pay to soldiers is being reversed.

Of those four, only two programs were really halted, the Policy Analysis Market and this paycut. The other two either had a makeover (now the "Terrorism Information Awareness" although it still focuses on compiling data about US citizens), or in the case of OSI, claimed to shut down even though Rumsfeld bragged that it closed in name only.

I'm still waiting for someone to talk about whether this market theory of prediction means the people with more money are more often correct. Meanwhile, here's an interesting thought from someone named Standard Schaefer in Experimental Casinos: DARPA and the War Economy:
"...there are already exchanges where speculators place bets daily precisely on life and death. They are called the stock markets. Every day people are buying shares of defense contractors, weapons makers, funeral parlors and tobacco companies-not to mention the HMOs that relentlessly lobby to stave off universal Medicare thereby sacrificing the lives of 18,000 Americans every year who die due to a lack of health insurance coverage."


from a July 29, 2003 White House Press briefing:
Mokhiber: Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Defense Secretary, said last week this: “I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq.” And I was wondering if the President agrees with that?

Scott McClellan: We've made our views very clear in terms of foreign terrorists being in that country in terms of countries that maybe could be taking steps to prevent that from happening. So I think the President has made his views very clear on that issue.

Mokhiber scored an awesome hit and McClellan couldn't even see it flying over his head, totally missed the point. It's depressing that neither Scott McClellan nor Paul Wolfowitz apparently saw any irony in that statement. Wouldn't a cessation of interference from all "foreigners" in Iraq include interfernce by the US, UK, Australia, Poland, and the other squires and waterboys of the so-called Coalition? I noted the same kind of statement a month or two ago when Bremer or Garner was trying to tell Iran to keep out because the invaders didn't want "foreign interference" in Iraq. Maybe I need to start watching these things on tv or hearing them say the words on the radio so I won't miss any nuances. Maybe the person transcribing this stuff is skipping over Wolfowitz or McClellan laughing, because it's difficult to imagine that they could keep a straight face when they're saying something like that.
The clock in Periodicals Acquisitions read 4:10 for at least forty minutes after that time actually passed. The news keeps saying the blackout happened about 4:15 locally, which just goes to show that our clock has been off. We hung out and talked in semi-darkness, waiting to hear what caused it and whether power would come back. Generators kept some emergency lights going, presumably kept the company webservers going so customers were never shut out. And I was pleased to notice that the magnetic strip thing that restricts access to some areas was still active. (Makes it sound like I'm important if I tell you that I have access to rooms that others in the company are not allowed to enter without permission, or that my title is "Periodicals Coordinator." Sounds like management, but I only coordinate periodicals, not people. And the place I get to go that others in the company can't go is the hard copy vault. Issues of Rolling Stone or Cosmo or Time would occasionally disappear if all 900 people in the building had access to the vault. And even that didn't keep issues of People and Playboy from walking away sometimes, so those get locked in cabinets.)

So anyhow, for the big Blackout of 2003, we got the word at about 4:50 that we could go home. "Company convenience pay" means we still get paid. I think? Have to call in to the bad weather/plant shutdown line tomorrow and see if they're going to be open. Luckily Jackson is just barely outside the blackout area, so we've had power all day and night. Melinda said it flickered a couple times at home but came back after a few minutes. It was spooky for a few minutes at work when people started passing rumors that the blackout covered Detroit and Washtenaw County, then they started saying the "Eastern Seaboard" which I thought meant the East Coast. Then again, NYC constitutes the only important part of the East Coast to some people, and the rest are just "flyover states." So I'm still not sure if they were inaccurate or if my understanding of the "Eastern Seaboard" is wrong.

I dug an old SR walkman out of my desk drawer, from ages past when I used to listen to tapes at work. The batteries barely had juice left, but I couldn't tell if the horrible reception was due to weak batteries, poor reception from the depths of the building, or if all radio stations within listening distance had been wiped out by the first strike of nukes, or the ElectroMagnetic Pulse! The only station I could get was playing NPR news, nothing about power outage at that time, and even the strongest signal from Ann Arbor 102.9 FM wasn't coming in clear. Then Melinda called and said Jackson still had power. And then everybody in the office was listening to my end of the conversation, so I got all self-conscious and said I should go and "I LOVE YOU!" and said bye. (People can't tease you for telling your wife "I love you" if you shout it in a tone like a big time wrestler announcing how he's going to crush his opponent. "You're goin down, Hogan! Say your prayers! Snap into a Slim Jim! I love you!")

Anyway, for a few minutes it seemed like the beginning of Night of the Living Dead, or that other disaster a few years back. Can I put some money on Policy Analysis Market for the chances of therapists in NYC being overrun by people with post-traumatic stress flashbacks in the next week or so?

Westbound I-94 was running slow, so I tried to get off at an exit and take the nearest large road running in the same direction. In hindsight, it was probably only running slow because of everyone freaking out at the exits and getting off. The secondary roads were slow because of the stoplights being off, so I probably should have kept to the highway. As it was, I went about five miles down the secondary road, then it crossed over the highway again, and I got back on because things seemed to be running almost normal. Traffic was fine from Chelsea to Jackson. At the grocery store in Jackson half an hour later, the cashiers weren't even aware of the whole story yet.

I tried to tell Melinda about what people are supposed to do during blackouts, you know, how there's always a mini baby boom 9 months after a major blackout because people have nothing better to do? But she said we have power because the tv is on. I slid the tv remote control down by my leg and hit the power button and said, "Whoa, there it goes! What will we do now? Let's go!" but the damn air conditioner was still on. I tried to convince her that air conditioners store built-up energy that they can run off of half hour after they've been unplugged, but she wasn't buying it.
All the fucking moron needed to do was spill out a few platitudes about how good people were working hard to solve the problem, something to reassure people. Instead, he called it a "rolling blackout."


While ego-surfing to see if anyone interesting linked to my biggest articles on the web, it made me giggle to discover that a Dutch website had linked to my Art of Laze cookbook. [Scroll way down the page.] Also the "Soup Lady" from wrote:

You know, this guy does a lot of thinking about his recipes, you have to hand him that. Altered thinking, but thinking none the less. Do be sure to check the cookbook for a special segment called Recipes For Things That Spread Out of Control.


One day about a month or two after the start of the war, I was watching CNN at work in the cafeteria. To prevent your eyes from resting too much, they always show a set of headlines at the bottom of the screen, usually different from what the anchor man is talking about. They have to abbreviate things and try to fit long ideas into very little space, maybe 70 or 80 characters on two lines. Some of the 55 Most Wanted Iraqis from the infamous deck of cards were being captured every few days, then they would reshuffle the cards to make it seem like they had caught somebody more important. (#26 would shoot up to #15 after he was caught, something like that.) Not much space, but you can read between the lines. These guys all had names unpronouncable to Americans anyway, so why bother listing it? One day on the little headline space at the bottom of the screen, it listed "Queen of Diamonds caught, Minister of [whatever]." In some versions of the headline, they might have used his surname, but the one that caught my attention was when they just gave his card ranking. Viewers could do without his name, but they really needed to know what his card rank was.


Jackson Stripper Breast Milk Assault updates:
Strip club gets national attention (August 1 Jackson Citizen Patriot)
Stripper tells police customer assaulted her (August 2 Jackson Citizen Patriot)
and I was wrong about Fark. They logged it way back on July 30th.
...the New York Times reported that a new group within the Pentagon, the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI), was "developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations." Headed by Brigadier General Simon P. Worden, the OSI had a multi-million-dollar budget and "has begun circulating classified proposals calling for aggressive campaigns that use not only the foreign media and the Internet, but also covert operations," the Times stated. "General Worden envisions a broad mission ranging from 'black' campaigns that use disinformation and other covert activities to 'white' public affairs that rely on truthful news releases, Pentagon officials said. 'It goes from the blackest of black programs to the whitest of white,' a senior Pentagon official said."

The proposal was controversial even within the military, where critics worried that it would undermine the Pentagon's credibility and blur the boundaries between covert operations and public relations. Moreover, disinformation planted in foreign media organizations could end up being published and broadcast to U.S. audiences. The Times report sparked an uproar in Congress and outraged newspaper editorials, and within a week the White House closed down the OSI, disavowing any intent to ever use disinformation. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed that he had "never even seen the charter for the office," even though the OSI's assistant for operations said otherwise.

In fact, however, Rumsfeld seemed to care quite a bit about preserving the functions of an office whose charter he claimed never to have seen. Nine months later, he made the following remark during an airplane flight to Chile: "And then there was the Office of Strategic Influence. You may recall that. And 'Oh, my goodness gracious, isn't that terrible, Henny Penny, the sky is going to fall.' I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing, fine, I'll give you the corpse. There's the name. You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done, and I have."

[Excerpt from Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq. Read the rest of that excerpted chapter on]

I don't remember which comedian or pundit put it in these terms, but this quote from Rumsfeld really proves that the first major disinformation spread by the OSI was their claim that the OSI shut down.

I picture a guy who screws around with dozens of women, telling each one, "You're my best girl. I'd never lie to you like I do to them other bitches."


Jackson Citizen Patriot tries to ignore the story with their headline: Opponents protest at strip club

At the headline is Do Not Read Unless Over 21. But if kids know that women have milk that comes out of their breasts, and if they know what strip clubs are, then what about this story is particularly dangerous to minors?

Finally a reasonably descriptive headline from Patron Claims Stripper Squirted Him With Breast Milk has already released the Jackson Police report on this story, but will it be good enough for Fark or Obscure Store? Nothing as of August 1.