Here are a bunch of terrifying news stories I knew little about--like most people. Why? Because they've been under-reported or censored, so read all about them now.
September 2008 Archives
You have GOT to watch this.
and check out this commentary from the Guardian as well.
In 2003, as we moved toward war, I read The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman, which I discussed briefly in this post on the bad popes of the Renaissance. As I mentioned there, Tuchman's discussion of Vietnam served as an excellent analogy for the "conflict" in Iraq, and served as well as good notice that the whole affair was going to be a MISTAKE.
Lately I've been watching (for the umpteenth time) something that I believe also serves as an analogy for the current political situation in the US: Simon Schama's 15-hour documentary History of Britain. In particular, episode # 8, "The British Wars," which discusses the revolution by which Britain briefly became a monarch-free republic, seems relevant. Armies were raised--many of them. There was a protracted civil war, a fight started because of a ruler who thought he deserved absolute obedience. Watching the episode, I have wondered what weapons ordinary citizens have against the despots who are seizing the country. I don't think we have many.
I hope I'm wrong, but I believe we are heading towards a revolution. I think it will be bloody. I think it will be brutal. I think it will bankrupt the country even more than the war in Iraq and the bailouts of Wall Street have done, and I think in a generation or two we'll be a third-rate bankrupt dictatorship somewhere between the current Zimbabwe and the old Soviet Union in terms of its repressiveness, its inability to provide its citizens with their basic needs, its misery and its blight.
Naomi Klein's article The Battle Plan II: Sarah "Evita" Palin and the Coming Police State adds to my dread. Read the whole thing. Read it carefully, especially the bit about our preparations for a homeland army that will fight in American streets against threats like natural disasters and terrorists. I hope you'll have more guts than I did and will send it to your Republican relatives. I don't dare, because I've been told that if I want certain members of my family to continue to talk to me, I won't discuss politics. But I know that I can't just sit by and watch as this happens. I don't really have much faith that the upcoming election will be anything but rigged, but I have to do what I can to affect the outcome. I've got to volunteer.
Because so much rests on this election, please make this video as widely available as possible.
I truly suspect that if Republican national leadership could get away with it, they would treat places like New Orleans after Katrina the way the Burmese junta is treating these villagers--which is not merely to let them starve to death, but to demand taxes that hasten their deaths. Why fight your opponents when you can let Mother Nature defeat them for you?
The other day someone explained the parable of the Good Samaritan in a way that made me see both the tale and Jesus Christ in a new way. This person asked me if I knew what that story really meant, and I said, "Of course," ever so mildly miffed that he'd think I didn't. And by the end of his telling, I realized that I'd always missed a good portion of what that story was all about.
Here's how he told it (with a little extra color from me):
A general authority sees an injured man lying naked, bloody and half dead by the side of the road, and moves his car into the far lane, getting as much distance as possible between himself and the unconscious, immobile wretch. Then a temple worker sees the same injured man, and likewise leaves the poor guy there to die. They don't even get out their cell phones and call an ambulance.
Then along comes someone that the general authority and temple worker would consider the dregs of society--an anarchist lesbian who works in a vegan restaurant, maybe--who sees the poor filthy, bloody man, stops, gets out the first aid kit she carries in her car, and does her best to clean and staunch his wounds. She doesn't have a cell phone, so she can't call 911; instead, she puts they guy in the back of her Subaru station wagon and drives him to an emergency room, where she agrees to pay all his expenses even if it turns out he doesn't have insurance, and she also promises to come back and visit the guy.
Sunday afternoon I had lunch with a couple of friends, and one thing on the menu was a salad I found really delightful. It contained
one can black beans, drained (reserve some of the liquid)
one can sweet corn, drained
about a fourth of a red onion, finely chopped
a couple of tomatoes, cut into large wedges (which I appreciated because then I could pick them out easily--as I explained in the preamble to my guacamole recipe, I don't like raw tomatoes)
an avocado, cut into small chunks
the juice of one lime
a teaspoon of taco seasoning, stirred into a few tablespoons of the liquid from the beans, to form a dressing
it did not contain cilantro, because my friend forgot to buy some, but she said it's better with cilantro.
When I make this myself, I will of course leave out the tomatoes. Instead, I will add olives (maybe I'll experiment with different kinds), and I'll also see what happens if I add just a LITTLE garlic. Generally I like A LOT of garlic, but I think it would overpower and ruin this salad.
And if you know of any other similarly easy and refreshing salads, I'd be grateful for a link or two. I think I've been too narrow in my approach to salads--I tend to go for things with lettuce in them. While I don't intend to renounce lettuce, I think I'd like to have a larger variety in both my culinary repertoire and my dietary rotation.
My family and I have gotten along pretty well in some ways. OK, I am the black sheep and have profound political and religious differences with them, but they just go along most of the time as if there was no one in their midst who disagrees with them, and most of the time I don’t make a stink about it. I fold my arms and say “amen” when there’s a blessing on the food, even if it involves requesting blessings for President Monson. I make a point to congratulate my nieces and nephews on their baptisms. I simply walk out of the room when someone has Fox News on. I turn off lights (and more lights, and unused appliances, and unplug cell phone chargers and adapters plugged into the wall with nothing plugged into them) rather than pointing out how careless and profligate a certain branch of the family is when it comes to electricity and power. I even went to Nauvoo, Palmyra, the Sacred Grove and the Hill Cumorah with my parents, because those places were near where I was living, and they wanted to see them. Until Friday, I never said anything to anyone about how vile I consider the Proclamation on the Family.
Sometimes it takes all my willpower not to say something. One night at dinner during the cruise my family took together, a certain lawyer in my family commented that one reason the church is so afraid of gay marriage is because it knows that if gay marriage is legalized, there’s much more chance that polygamy will be decriminalized, and the church would be caught in a terrible dilemma, since it will never embrace polygamy again but doesn’t want to be forced to admit that. Another of the women stated passionately that she believed the way polygamy would work was through cloning, that God would simply make additional copies of each man righteous enough to make it to the celestial kingdom, and in any event, that better be what was going to happen, because she would never share her husband with another woman. Eventually I just rose from the table and walked about the deck for a while. But I really wanted to vomit, and scream.
In 2003, as preparations for the inevitable war intensified, I decided to do something I’d never done before: I decided to march in a protest. Marching and chanting aren’t really my style; I prefer to protest by writing. But this was important, and I wanted to do something extra. So I made arrangements to head to Phoenix for the long weekend of Presidents’ Day.
When my mother asked me about my plans for the long weekend, I told her I was going to visit friends. I didn’t tell her why I had asked these friends if I could stay with them for a few days, because I knew it would upset her. I did tell the friends about my plans.
These were people I’d known since I was an undergrad. At one time H, the husband, had been more liberal than I was. But he got more conservative as he aged, while I got more progressive. By 2003, he’d given up driving small fuel efficient cars and drove a giant truck on his hour-long commute to the prestigious hospital where he worked as a doctor. He and his family made no effort to conserve water, even though they lived in a particularly water-deprived region of the Phoenix area. And he supported the war--although more cautiously than a lot of people. But he still thought it was the right thing to do.
The night after the protest, H, his wife and I went to dinner. He told a story about going home teaching to some inactive guy. The man wasn’t there when the home teachers arrived, but the guy’s roommate was. He was pleasant to the home teachers, but said there was no reason for them to come back, because the guy had realized that he wasn’t welcome at the Mormon church. One of the home teachers kept saying, “That doesn’t sound right. We welcome everyone. Our doors are always open. We invite people back, and we mean it.”
The clueless home teacher’s partner was writhing in embarrassment, and tried his best to cut the visit short. In the car, he said to his hapless companion, “Didn’t you realize?! The guy is gay! That was his partner we were talking to! He can’t come to church because he’s gay!”