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9/20, 9PM





Thursday, November 11, 2004
3:37 PM      

Veteran's Day used to be called Armistice day.

Armistice: A temporary cessation of fighting by mutual consent; a truce.


Was It, or Wasn't It?
I got this message from two friends within 4 minutes of each other this afternoon. If you haven't seen it, please feel free to click the link, and to pass it on...

Questions are swirling around whether the election was
conducted honestly or not. We need to know -- was it or
wasn't it?

If people were wrongly prevented from voting, or if
legitimate votes were mis-counted or not counted at all, we
need to know so the wrongdoers can be held accountable, and
to help prevent this from happening again.

Members of Congress are demanding an investigation to answer
this question. Join me in supporting their call, at:



Sacred Precept

Protecting confidential sources has been a sacred ethical precept in publishing ever since John Twyn was arrested in 1663 for printing a book that offended the king. Twyn refused to reveal the name of the book's author, so he was publicly castrated and disemboweled, and his limbs severed from his body. Each piece of his body was nailed to a London gate or bridge.

So, on the bright side, we have evidently progressed.

- From a troubling piece on the not-so-free press in the New York Times. Judges are selectively threatening members of the press with jail time for not revealing sources — curiously, they're completely hands-off with Robert Novak (who outed C.I.A. officer Valerie Plame), though.


Moveable Feast of Terrorism
Yeah, right: a week after the election, New York surprisingly lowers the terror alert, and Ashcroft sez Americans are suddenly safe from crime and terror. Now this:

The president is putting his own counsel, Alberto Gonzales, who wrote the famous memo defending torture, in charge of our civil liberties. Torture Guy, who blithely threw off 75 years of international law and set the stage for the grotesque abuses at Abu Ghraib and dubious detentions at Guantánamo, seems to have a good grasp of what's just. No doubt we'll soon learn what other protections, besides the Geneva Conventions and the Constitution, Mr. Gonzales finds "quaint'' and "obsolete.'' ...
- Maureen Dowd, New York Times

This morning, I heard one of the Replicans' African-American mouthpieces say something seemingly off-the-cuff about the Geneva Conventions being obsolete. It was the completion of a sentence, and seemingly not the point of what he was even talking about; but it could really be part of a well-scripted talking point campaign. A bit like subliminal suggestion. Typically, the reporter didn't challenge him on the insinuation.


My friend Penny and I chatted about leaving. Here are her picks: Canada. because it rocks. New Zealand for sure! Denmark, or Tonga. Sounds like I need to research Tonga.


I'd write more, but I've got an opening to attend in a couple of hours...

[ link | e-me ]

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
1:49 PM      

Was the election stolen?
Greg Palast, author of “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” isn't the only one saying so. OK, maybe that's just sour grapes, you say. But now, significant evidence seems to be amassing, and people are going public with the story, even without the support of the major media; though it's getting harder for the big M to ignore. One factor that makes the press a little less interested in covering the story: Kerry conceded.

Keith Olberman's blog (The story is getting coverage on Countdown) has some interesting tidbits:

Here’s an interesting little sidebar of our system of government confirmed recently by the crack Countdown research staff: no Presidential candidate’s concession speech is legally binding. The only determinants of the outcome of election are the reports of the state returns boards and the vote of the Electoral College. ...

• Who fixed the Exit Polls? Yes - you could deliberately skew a national series of post-vote questionnaires in favor of Kerry to discourage people from voting out west, where everything but New Mexico had been ceded to Kerry anyway, but you couldn’t alter key precinct votes in Ohio and/or Florida; and,

• What will Bush do with his Mandate and his Political Capital? He got the highest vote total for a presidential candidate, you know. Did anybody notice who’s second on the list? A Mr. Kerry. Since when was the term “mandate” applied when 56 million people voted against a guy? And by the way, how about that Karl Rove and his Freudian slip on “Fox News Sunday”? Rove was asked if the electoral triumph would be as impactful on the balance of power between the parties as William McKinley’s in 1896 and he forgot his own talking points. The victories were “similarly narrow,” Rove began, and then, seemingly aghast at his forthrightness, corrected himself. “Not narrow; similarly structured.” ...

Read more for yourself.

My bet: this won't amount to much, unless a new Woodward and Bernstein emerge. There's no money in stories that topple presidents, even those that claim that “moral values” delivered victory to them.


Moving and Shaking
“We wish John Ashcroft good health and a good retirement, and we hope the president will choose a less polarizing attorney general as his successor.”
- Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

Speculation about a successor to Ashcroft has centered on his former deputy, Larry Thompson, who recently took a job as general counsel at PepsiCo. If appointed, Thompson would be the nation's first black attorney general. Others prominently mentioned include Bush's 2004 campaign chairman, former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, and White House general counsel Alberto Gonzales. ...

Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, is considered a possible successor for either Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld or Secretary of State Colin Powell, should either depart.

- A.P. Report

A more recent report points to Gonzales as the successor.


Slippery Slopes

Republicans in the House and Senate said this week they plan to push for Alaska refuge drilling legislation early next year, and they predict success, given the 55-44-1 GOP Senate majority in the next Congress.

- A.P. Report

Bush also wants to bring back the line-item veto, signed into law and used by President Clinton, but struck down by the Supreme Court:

In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled on a 6-3 vote that the law gave the president unconstitutional unilateral power to change laws enacted by Congress. ...

The line-item veto helps restrain excessive spending, said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, but “failure of political will does not justify unconstitutional remedies.”

Opponents said the law seriously eroded Congress' power over the purse and tilted the Constitution's system of checks and balances dangerously in favor of the executive branch. ... more


Pigeonhole Politics

“But the phenomenon I'm seeing is that people are being narrowcast very specifically, so we tend to think of ourselves as living in very separate consumer tribes. We look at our democracy as consumers rather than as citizens.

“We look at Bush and Kerry and say, 'What's in it for me or my little group?' The democratic process, which should be a uniting one, instead becomes a fragmented and alienating one. Candidates are saying one thing to one group and something different to another. We are being taught to be customers of government rather than participants.”

- Douglas Rushkoff, from “Stop Trying to Persuade Us,” Wired

Data mining marketing companies are being used increasingly to help create targeted advertising for political campaigns as well as products. They read into people's demographics and buying habits to find ways of creating persuasive ads. We may be developing an immunity to this kind of manipulation, but at a cost — the societal fragmentation that it produces may not be reversible.

Thanks, Chris.


From an announcement for a New School public forum entitled “What Happened?”—

Andrew Arato (Paris, 11/3/04):
In almost no recent American elections have our deep political cultural antinomies yield[ed] such neat contrasts: nation vs. democracy; imperial aspiration vs. the rule of law; rhetoric vs. rationality; incarnation vs. persuasion; will vs. judgment; symbolism vs. interest; particularism vs. universalism; millenarianism vs. pragmatism ...I could go on and on. In wartime it will be said, or as others may prefer, in an imperial system not yet defeated, the national-imperial-rhetorical-plebiscitary-particular pole will always win. Yet thanks mainly to the efforts of a grass roots mobilization on behalf of the other America we came very close, and might have just succeeded. In reality, we should have won easily against one of the worst administrations in U.S. history.

(I decided to link the words I had to look up.)

Eli Zaretsky (Berlin, 11/4/04):
Few people have noticed that the causes of Bush's victory were the same that Gibbon gave for the fall of Rome: Christianity and barbarism.


OK, enough political stuff. Time to go and make some art.

[ link | e-me ]

Tuesday, November 09, 2004
1:18 PM      

My Next Show Opens 11/11
That's this Thursday. You're welcome to come! (Easier said than done for some, I know.)

NYC — Urban Verse
pictorial poetry

Louis Benjamin
Amanda Bernsohn
Robert Massman
Steve Meyer

11/11 - 12/4

Opening Reception
Thursday November 11, 6-8 PM

Concepto Gallery
613 Vanderbilt Ave. Brooklyn, NY
(Between Saint Marks Ave and Bergen St)
Gallery Hours: Thursday - Sunday 1PM - 7PM

Subway: #2 to Grand Army Plaza or B train to 7th Ave.

I'm psyched, because I have a good amount of work in the show, and it's small enough that our work won't be overwhelmed by volume. This is the first time a gallery has taken a direct interest in my work. It's also the first time I've had one of my images blown up to 50 x 33 inches, and mounted under plexiglas. Not the kind of thing I'd do every day, but It looks great.

I've learned a lot by putting on this show. Considering the feedback I've gotten from some of my attempts at more commercial photography, I'm happy that the art photography seems to be gaining momentum.

The gallery secured a nice publicity piece in the Park Slope Courier, which gives me reason to think that people other than the ones I directly invite will actually make it to the gallery and see the work.


SONYA is launching their new gallery space:

ElevenTen Gallery
1110 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY

Opening Festivities Wed, Nov. 10
2:30 - 4 PM — Opening ceremonies and silent art auction
5 - 7 PM — Live music and Senegalese cuisine specials at Yolele African Bistro (next door)
7 PM Until... — Live art auction of original fine art by SONYA members and friends

1110 & 1108 Fulton St., between Franklin Ave & Classon Ave (Look for the yellow balloons.)
By subway: C train to Franklin Ave; 1/4 block to your left as you exit the subway station
By Bus: B25 on Fulton Street


From Warren:

The following is from Blockbuster-- when I ordered the movie "Bush's Brain", these are the movies that Blockbuster suggested I might like as well... [I've linked the titles from Warren's suggestion list to IMDB listings]

If You Like Bush's Brain...

  • Devil's Playground
    Amish teenagers experience and embrace the modern world as a rite-of-passage before deciding which life they will choose.
  • Bonhoeffer
    A chronicle which charts the dramatic life story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young German theologian who offered one of the first clear voices of resistance to Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer openly challenged his Church to stand with the Jews in their time of need, and eventually joined his family in the plots to kill Hitler. His three books, Cost of Discipleship, Letters and Papers from Prison, and Ethics, were all written during the struggle, and are considered classics in the world of religion and ethics.
  • John Carpenter: Fear is Just the Beginning ...
    [From Blockbuster]: Filmmaker John Carpenter helped redefine the American horror film in 1978 with Halloween, a low-budget thriller which became a major box office success. Since then, Carpenter has devoted his career to bringing a fresh perspective to genre filmmaking, striving to maintain the freedom of an independent while working within the studio system. (Carpenter not only writes and directs his own projects, but often also serves as producer and composer as well.) John Carpenter: Fear Is Just the Beginning...The Man and His Movies is a documentary about this two-fisted maverick auteur, which offers a look at the making of such favorites as Escape From New York, The Thing, The Fog, and many more. The documentary includes interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis, Kurt Russell, Adrienne Barbeau, Debra Hill, and other friends and colleagues.
    ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

  • Divine Trash
    The life and times of Baltimore film maker and midnight movie pioneer, John Waters. Intercut with a 1972 interview of Waters are clips from his first films and recent interviews with his parents, his brother, Divine's mom, actors and crew, other directors, film critics, a film curator, psychologists, and Maryland's last censor, who shudders at the memory of Waters's pictures...


Thinking of moving to Canada? You're not alone.


“Fate is what you call it when you don't know the name of the person screwing you over.”
- Lois from “Malcolm in the Middle” - quote of the day on IMDB 11/8

I guess when you know the name of the person(s), you just call it fucked-up.


We Return to Several Messy Situations Already in Progress...
“Unless and until a competent tribunal determines that petitioner is not entitled to protections afforded prisoners of war under Article 4 of the Geneva Convention ... of Aug. 12, 1949, he may not be tried by military commission for the offenses with which he is charged.”
- U.S. District Judge James Robertson

Powerful stuff. Looks like the courts aren't going to give Bush carte blanche to conduct kangaroo court tribunals in Gitmo.

::: recent days, Bush has appeared, if anything, more emboldened than ever, political experts and presidential historians said. When asked to name his most immediate priorities, he raised an issue that is one of the most divisive flashpoints between the two parties - capping medical malpractice lawsuit awards.

“He talks the talk of conciliation, but he walks the walk of the solid conservative,” said Allan J. Lichtman, a presidential historian at American University. “I see no sign the president is going to modify his approach.”

- A.P. story

In another article, Bush claimed “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.”


“This isn't what we worked for. It sends the exact wrong message to the core of the Republican Party that helped win this election. No matter what Senator Specter says, there is a complete lack of trust between him and us now, no matter how much he tries to do damage control.”

- Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, who wants Senator Arlen Specter voted down as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in spite of his seniority, because he won't openly advance the right-wing's judicial agenda. He's labeled “the only Republican abortion rights senator” on the Judiciary Committee in an A.P. report.


You can either participate in politics, or simply live at the effect of them.

[ link | e-me ]

Monday, November 08, 2004
2:53 PM      

The New York City Marathon was this weekend. It's probably a good thing financially, that ING got involved, but I hate the fact that their branding now completely overwhelms the name of the marathon itself, and that of the NYC Roadrunners' club. The Tour de France is heavily sponsored by Credit Lyonnais, but it's not called the Credit Lyonnais Tour de France. Could you imagine the Gatorade World Series?


I didn't make it in time to see the beginning of the Achilles race. The winners rode the wheelchair equivalent of formula one cars, and finished the 24 miles in something like an hour and a half. I figure those chairs are rigged much like the high-end bikes used in Tour de France time trials, and cost thousands. It's impressive stuff, but I like to see the Achilles division just as much for the kind of athletes I did see yesterday: folks that simply set out to complete the course on their own terms. People who invite you to look at physical disability in a different light.



is always fascinating. After the elites and the stronger Achilles athletes have passed, the throng begins to build. Larger and larger clumps of runners appear, and suddenly the street is curb-to-curb with runners. Some of them look serious, some maybe a little scared, and a bunch of them take the run on as a sequel to Halloween. The costumes range from clowns to wigs to brilliant displays of national pride. Some of the costumes have got to be uncomfortable!

I noticed one other thing in this politicized season: a number of runner were wearing signs, or even had written on their bodies “NO MANDATE.”

Yeah, uh, listen... I can't really talk right now...


Busy Morning.
So far this morning, I've gotten two or three telemarketing calls (they're pretty forgettable, so it's hard to keep count) a hoax e-mail, and a visit from some bible-thumpers.

The hoax was about NPR losing its funding. It goes on to ask you to add your name to a “petition” and forward it along to your friends, and friends of mine have done this several times over the last few years. When I read about the hoax on NPR's site, I was surprised to find out that it's been circulating since 1995!

I'm receiving more and more automated telemarketing calls - machines that listen for a voice, then start playing. Lame. I have no idea who would bother to listen to the entire message, much less respond. I think the folks selling the machines are the ones who win out in this case. Another call was for a “Mr. Gill.” I lived with a woman whose last name was Gill about 20 years ago, and I've moved three times since. When they ask for Mr. Gill, I simply say “You have a wrong number,” and hang up. Once I said “There's no one here by that name,” and the person on the other end of the phone tried to pitch me anyway. Seinfeld had the right response: “Let me get your home phone number. I'll call you back around dinner time.”

I figure the bible folks are Jehovah's witnesses, but I didn't bother to accept their tract, so I don't know for sure. I wonder if they're stepping up their activity in response to the election. After all, the press is saying the religious right put Bush over the top this time.

Folks come to my door pushing scripture a lot more than they used to. I'd hazard to guess that they come every other week at least these days. I'm thinking about putting up a sign to ward them off, much the way that New Yorkers hang signs that say “Please - no menus and no fliers.” Not quite sure how to word it yet. I think there ought to be a graphic, too.


More Aftermath and Assessment
Several of my friends have pointed me to the Garry Wills' piece “The Day the Enlightenment Went Out,” which ran in the New York Times on 11/4. His most poignant observation:

“... Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it in the Muslim world, in Al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists. Americans wonder that the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed. ...”

For some time, I've been suspicious of polling data that gets doled out like scientific jelly beans on TV news. Having studied a bit of statistics in college, I realize how easy it is to make surveys inaccurate. Here's an example:

A Question of Values
[Excerpt from The New York Times]
November 6, 2004

A poorly devised exit poll question and a dose of spin
are threatening to undermine our understanding of the 2004
presidential election.

The news media has made much of the finding that a
fifth of voters picked "moral values" as the most important
issue in deciding their vote - as many as cited terrorism or
the economy. The conclusion: moral values are ascendant as
a political issue....

This distortion comes from a question in the exit
poll, co-sponsored by the national television networks and
The Associated Press, that asked voters what was the most
important issue in their decision: taxes, education,
Iraq, terrorism, economy/jobs, moral values or health care.
Six of these are concrete, specific issues. The seventh,
moral values, is not, and its presence on the list produced
a misleading result.

How do we know? Pre-election polls consistently found
that voters were most concerned about three issues: Iraq,
the economy and terrorism. When telephone surveys asked an
open-ended issues question (impossible on an exit
poll), answers that could sensibly be categorized as moral
values were in the low single digits. In the exit poll, they
drew 22 percent. ...

Moral values, moreover, is a loaded phrase, something
polls should avoid. (Imagine if "patriotism" were on the
list.) It resonates among conservatives and religious

While 22 percent of all voters marked moral values as
their top issue, 64 percent of religious conservatives
checked it. And among people who said they were mainly
interested in a candidate with strong religious faith (just 8
percent, in a far more balanced list of candidate attributes),
61 percent checked moral values as their top issue. So
did 42 percent of people who go to church more than once a
week, 41 percent of evangelical white Christians and 37
percent of conservatives. ...

The exit poll is written by a committee, and that committee voted down
my argument against including "moral values" in the
issues list. That happens - and the exit poll overall did
deliver a wealth of invaluable data. The point is not to argue
that moral values, however defined, are not important. They
are, and they should be measured. The intersection of
religiosity, ideology and politics is the staging ground
for many of the most riveting social issues of our day.

The point, instead, is that this hot-button catch
phrase had no place alongside defined political issues on the
list of most important concerns in the 2004 vote. Its
presence there created a deep distortion - one that threatens
to misinform the political discourse for years to come.

Gary Langer is the director of polling for ABC News.

My concern with polls and irresponsible reporting of poll results, is that they manipulate public opinion and even motivation. Try to imagine the election without the hourly updates on the latest poll results.

Meanwhile, I've started to get e-mails that indicate significant problems with the election results including fishy numbers in Florida, Ohio, Indiana, and New Hampshire. And Warren sent an Op-Ed piece that ran in the London Daily Mirror on Sunday:

This once-great country has pulled up its drawbridge for another four years and stuck a finger up to the billions of us forced to share the same air. And in doing so, it has shown itself to be a fearful, backward-looking and very small nation. ...

...They had somehow managed to re-elect the most devious, blinkered and reckless leader ever put before them. The Yellow Rogue of Texas.

A self-serving, dim-witted, draft-dodging, gung-ho little rich boy, whose idea of courage is to yell: "I feel good," as he unleashes an awesome fury which slaughters 100,000 innocents for no other reason than greed and vanity. ...

Were I a Kerry voter, though, I'd feel deep anger, not only at them returning Bush to power, but for allowing the outside world to lump us all into the same category of moronic muppets. [I bet the folks at CTW hated that line!] ...

Yet America would have us believe theirs is the finest democracy in the world. Well, that fine democracy has got the man it deserved. George W Bush.

But is America safer today without Kerry in charge? A man who overnight would have given back to the UN some credibility and authority. Who would have worked out the best way to undo the Iraq mess without fear of losing face.

Instead, the questions facing America today are - how many more thousands of their sons will die as Iraq descends into a new Vietnam? And how many more Vietnams are on the horizon now they have given Bush the mandate to go after Iran, Syria, North Korea or Cuba...?

Today is a sad day for the world, but it's even sadder for the millions of intelligent Americans embarrassed by a gung-ho leader and backed by a banal electorate, half of whom still believe Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11.

Yanks had the chance to show the world a better way this week, instead they made a thuggish cowboy ride off into the sunset bathed in glory.

And in doing so it brought Armageddon that little bit closer and re-christened their beloved nation The Home Of The Knave and the Land Of The Freak.

As Denise said this morning... get ready folks! It's going to get bumpy from here.

[ link | e-me ]
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