Concerto for blunt instrument

An irregular heartbeat from d.o. to you. Not like a daily kos, more like a sometime sloth. Fast relief from the symptoms of blogarrhea and predicated on the understanding that the world is not a stage for our actions, rather it is a living organism upon which we depend for our existence.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I named my tooth Dick Cheney

Day One:

Was it Prince Machiavelli who advised keeping your enemies close? I named my upper right molar Dick Cheney, just so I’d know where he is. No more undisclosed locations, no more hiding behind tinted limo windows, sneering at the masses. I can go to the mirror at any time, even up to a plate glass window, and there he is: old, dingy, discolored, showing all those years of abuse and misuse. He can’t escape my withering gaze.

Once Dick Cheney was young and virile. Once he could bear down on most anything and grind it into submission. He could tear into you, masticate all comers, bite off even more than he could chew. But as the years went by Dick Cheney began to show his age. He needed medical attention. He leaned far to the right, became pitted, yes even rotten. Some major repairs had to be made. Even so, Dick Cheney pressed on. Sure, he looked somewhat presentable after some cosmetic work cleaned up his image, but underneath? Underneath, unseen by most, the rot of a lifetime’s bad choices festered and decayed. Dick Cheney became unstable. He began to look bad. In fact, upon close inspection, he looked rather evil.

I’ve had it with Dick Cheney. Experts in the field have been telling me that he no longer serves a useful purpose, that in fact; Dick Cheney is a detriment to my health. Something has to be done. It can’t be put off any longer. Dick Cheney must be removed.

Day Two:

Today Dick Cheney was removed. It was relatively easy and painless. Now I have my hands on him. He is rootless, ugly, and seems rather small. What should I do with him? Throw him in the trash? Bad idea: someone might find him and use him for even more nefarious deeds. Drop him down the sewer? No: the rats might discover him and turn him into some sort of idol. How about I just throw him out the window onto the road? Another bad idea: anything can happen on the road. After more serious consideration I decided to tie him to the train tracks. He looked pretty pathetic lying there, unable to save himself, alone and forlorn. I liked that. I waited for the train. I waited, and waited, and waited. The train never came. I began thinking some more about the fate of Dick Cheney. Would he become another rightwing martyr if people found out? I quickly untied him and continued home.

When I reached home it occurred to me that I could just recycle Dick Cheney. I could simply toss him into the compost bin and eventually he would decompose. Then his remains could be put to good use. Dick Cheney could nourish something other than hatred and profits. No. That won’t work either. All those makeovers of the past filled Dick Cheney with toxins, substance you wouldn’t want as part of your diet. Dick Cheney would poison the compost pile. What to do? What would YOU do with Dick Cheney?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Experts agree - Bush is an incompetent idiot liar

Indy readers have known for six years that the present occupant in the White House is the worst "president" this nation has ever had, but the minions of the status quo over in the mainstream corporate media kept giving King George good ink and a free ride, as well as sucking-up to an endless rogues' gallery of ethically challenged neocons. The media is no longer the message, rather it is the mouthpiece; the megaphone for corporate interests and the PR manifestation of former President Eisenhower's military-industrial complex. Well, you can't fool all of the people all of the time (as one of our better presidents once said). Now, a new scientific survey by The Pew research Center confirms what we've been saying all along: Bush is an incompetent idiot liar. Those are the three words 48% of us to describe Bush compared with just 28% who use a positive word, and 10% who use a neutral term. Hey, welcome to the real world America!

We wondered if this Kafkaesque nightmare would ever end. It's not over yet, by a long shot, but it IS comforting to know, as Bush's numbers slip into the low 30's, that a growing majority of our neighbors have woken up and realized that the White House thorough cleaning? Of course, we are left to wonder if National Public Relations (NPR), the corporado networks, and the big dailies will catch on to what so many of their victims have finally concluded.

Sooooo, is it time for another war? That's usually what dictators, emperors, or any number of slime-ball oligarchs usually resort to when their ass is in the sling. If you think the anti-war movement, such as it is, made a big impression three years ago on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, wait 'til you see what happens if the neocons are stupid enough to go after Iran. Good luck and good night!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Suffering in silence, sort of

This is not so much about living with a hearing disability as about observing others living with my disability. Not being one to make much of an issue of my own problems, I am often silent on such matters. In fact, frequently I can be found grumbling on about the cult of self-absorption soooo pervasive in our society these days. Having said that, it is still rather curious how people react in a group setting when someone with a hearing loss is among them.

Beyond the considerations of, say, providing signers at public presentations (something we see less of in recent times) or volume controls on public phones, the person with a partial hearing loss often finds difficulty in more intimate settings. In meetings and modest-sized events where exchanges of information and ideas take place, I will usually point out during introductions that I am deaf as a post, and ask those among the group who happen to be soft-spoken to please speak louder. Interestingly, and this speaks volumes about our culture, it is most often women who are among the quietest speakers.

Be that as it may, regardless of gender, as the meeting progresses, people invariably slip back into their accustomed levels of audibility. Often this happens in a matter of a few moments, and I am left to wonder not only what the individual is talking about, but whether they suffer from short-term memory loss as well! On occasion I can patch together some semblance of the speakers' meaning by catching a word here or there while observing their body language and facial expressions. As I'm sure you are aware, our bodies make up for shortcomings by strengthening other capacities.

I certainly do not blame these soft-spoken people for their habits. Who among us does not recall some teacher admonishing a quiet member of the class to "Speak up!" ? Being singled out publicly at a tender age this way, probably throughout all their school years, soft-spoken people must harbor a good bit of resentment that may manifest itself in a kind of quiet entrenchment. Unfortunately, their rebellion or retreat becomes my inability to communicate effectively with them and thus, I, too, am inclined to retreat into silence.

Rather than constantly remind folks of my inability to hear them during the course of the meeting, something that itself may be disruptive, I will often cup my ear with my hand as a way of both focusing my aided ear toward the speaker and, hopefully, focusing the speakers' attention to the fact that I'm having trouble hearing him or her. Sometimes it works, but more often it doesn't (one of the reasons may be that many of us do not focus on individuals as we speak). Additionally, there may be background noise such as machinery or other activity nearby causing me difficulty in differentiating sounds. Standard hearing aids do not filter such sounds very well and may even exacerbate directional identification. Add to that my own internal cacophony of noise, something called tinnitus that many hearing impaired people deal with, attributed to picking up the sound of one's own blood surging through vessels in the brain or high-pitched ringing of the ears. All this can make a simple meeting a bit of a struggle.

But this is not a big problem. Meetings aren't much fun anyway. If it means I see less of them it may well be a blessing in disguise! And, I might add, the world is such a noisy, dysfunctional place. It seems to grow noisier and more dysfunctional every day. This fact is more of a problem for you with good hearing than for me with progressively worse hearing. Who knows, perhaps the Great Spirit is turning down my volume as the gods of industry crank up yours! Am I really suffering in silence?

First published in The People's Voice, a Western Mass. newsletter published every solstice and equinox.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

State Department "human rights" report hyped by war criminals

State Department "human rights" report hyped by war criminals
by Daniel Shays

Like a capo for the SS, Barry Lowenkron, Assistant Secretary of State (for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, no less) tried today to defend the Bush regime from its sorry record of torture and violations of international law. Both Lowenkron and his superior, Condoleezza Rice presently are making the rounds among the corporate media touting their Orwellian "Human Rights" report. Of course, the State Department report fails to address the growing evidence of U.S. human rights abuse in Afghanistan, Iraq, at Guantánamo and through so-called extraordinary rendition. Even though the report states: "The United States and other free nations have a duty to defend human rights and help spread democracy’s blessings", it obviously fails to note its own dereliction of duty. Such laundering of fact doesn’t hold up in the real world.

In response to the State Department's lies of omission, Amnesty International (AI) repeated that "the United States is believed to have transferred, 'rendered' or disappeared over a hundred detainees in the 'war on terror' to countries that the [State Department] report cites for torture or ill-treatment of detainees. Some detainees are believed to be held in a labyrinth of secret prisons around the globe run by the United States government in consent with regimes that have questionable human rights records". This condemnation comes on the heels of AI’s recent report titled "Beyond Abu Ghraib: detention and torture in Iraq", slamming the Bush regime for violations of prisoners rights. That report states: "International human rights law contains safeguards to protect the fundamental rights of people held in detention -- including the right not be subjected to torture or ill-treatment. Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) stipulates: 'No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment' Further rights of detainees are guaranteed in Article 9 of the ICCPR according to which no one should be subjected to arbitrary detention. In addition every detainee must have access to a court empowered to rule without delay on the lawfulness of their detention and order their release if the detention is unlawful."

The United States Senate ratified the ICCPR in 1992, with a number of reservations that it does not form part of the domestic law of the nation; something difficult to understand given that Article IV of the U.S. Constitution states: "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and ALL TREATIES made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding."

Also, in February AI renewed its call for the closing of the Guantánamo detention center where reports of torture and human rights abuses by U.S. personnel continue to surface. And in February 2004, the International Committee of the Red Cross issued a report that described serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by forces in Iraq.

Ironically, the Chinese government, targeted by the U.S. State Department report, said the report is "an act that fully exposes [Bush regime] hypocrisy and double standards" on human rights issues. Regarding internal U.S. human rights abuses, the Chinese noted that African-Americans are given heavier jail sentences, are arrested more frequently and are more likely to be targeted for hate crimes than whites. They said the country's blacks and other minorities have much lower living standards and incomes and often face job discrimination. Furthermore, they said African-Americans were more likely to face the death penalty for serious crimes. The Chinese response also said Muslims have been targeted for arrests and detention within the U.S. All of which is a matter of public record and quite valid.

This writer can’t find Condy Rice or Barry Lowenkron’s names among the list of the indicted over at the The Bush Crimes Commission; be that as it may, their fronting for the regime's crimes puts them right in the dock with their fellow cronies; just as sure as functionaries of the Nazi regime met their fate during the Nuremberg Tribunals. Let the trials begin.

Connect the dots