A Different Reality

Bravo!! for Michael Moore!
March 25, 2003

We should've brought this up a couple of nights ago, but did anyone actually think he wouldn't get the award for Best Documentary for Bowling for Columbine? And did anyone actually think he wouldn't sieze upon this wonderful opportunity to make a strong political statement?

You can read his acceptance speech here. You can even watch a video of the post-award press conference (Click the link under the picture on the left). We finally found a video of the acceptance speech (Click on the link under Mr. Moore's picture on the right. Thank you, Canadian TV.). Unfortunately, you have to have Satan's media player to do view either of these videos. (BOO!! to the webmasters of oscar.com and ctv.ca for not having QuickTime video available).

More Recommended Reading
March 25, 2003

Two comment pieces from this morning's Guardian...
First, we have George Monbiot with "One rule for them". Noting that Rumsfeld has complained that showing American POWs on Iraqi TV is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, he writes...

He is, of course, quite right. ... but the conventions, ratified by Iraq in 1956, are non-negotiable. If you break them, you should expect to be prosecuted for war crimes.

This being so, Rumsfeld had better watch his back. For this enthusiastic convert to the cause of legal warfare is, as head of the defence department, responsible for a series of crimes sufficient, were he ever to be tried, to put him away for the rest of his natural life.

From this point, Mr. Monbiot ticks off at least 15 articles of the Geneva Convention that the Americans are violating at their "detention facility" at Guantanamo Bay.

Next up is Matthew Engel with "Death to French Fries". Mr. Engel's job is to keep Guardian readers informed as to what we Americans are up to, and here he describes the silly and ridiculous French-bashing that's going on these days. He also points out why an earlier bout of German-bashing was so short-lived:

...the change came at the very end of February, immediately after a visit to Washington by Angela Merkel, the German opposition leader, who was granted an A-list schedule, seeing just about everyone who matters except the president himself. Her public statements were strongly pro-American; privately, it is thought, she told Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice to back off, because the more they attacked the chancellor, Gerhard Schršder, the more they strengthened him politically. There are no comparable political divisions in France.


German-Americans are the largest ethnic group in the country, and are especially strong in the heartland. ... In contrast, the concept of "French-American" hardly exists. Most Americans have probably never met a Frenchman, nor drunk French wine, eaten French cheese or driven a French car. ... French is associated with the folks who go to fancy restaurants, vote Democratic and talk of Mer-LOW, Ren-WA and Van GO.

Finally, on the theme of nations boycotting one-another's products, we have this refreshing story from Reuters (via Yahoo). Germans, French, Swiss and other Europeans are boycotting American beer, cigarettes, soft drinks and fast food. We will set aside, for the moment, the question of why any sensible European would want any of that stuff anyway.

What the War Looks Like to an Iraqi
March 24, 2003

Too much that's too depressing to write about this week. The warmonger crowd got their wish, and now some of the troops they claim to support are getting shot to bits.

One thing worth reading is this piece from this morning's Guardian by Aida Kaisy, an Iraqi native working in London as an advertising executive. It's titled, "It's my family they're bombing."

When you're watching this evening's news, slightly frustrated that night vision isn't as clear as it is on your Playstation 2, spare a moment for the people in their beds, in whose direction that red dot is heading. If you hear someone waxing lyrical about it being a "clean" war, gently remind them that just because you don't see lost limbs on your TV screen doesn't mean they aren't there.

Much of her family still lives in Baghdad, working as medics, so when she sees the bombing, all she can think of are the people she knows that still live there.
(Not knowing much about Arabic names, we're being a bit presumptuous with the gender of our pronouns. Profound apologies are extended to Mr. Kaisy in the event that he is not a she after all.)

So Much Important Stuff...
March 18, 2003

... it's hard to figure out where to start. Let's start with this...

That's "NO WAR" painted on the Sydney Opera House (Photo from AP via The Guardian). That spot is hundreds of feet in the air, so the painters had to hang from the top to do this. No matter how you feel about the war, you've got to say that this demonstration of rappelling skill (without getting caught!) is impressive.

While we're passing along media, check out this masterfully produced music video directed by Michael Moore.
Click here for a 3-minute Real Media link. You might need a fast connection.

It took a long time to get out of The Guardian this morning. We'll skip over Bill Clinton's plea for everyone to cut some slack to his old friend Tony Blair. Much more relavent and compelling are:
„ Robin Cook's explanation for resigning as head of the House of Commons. In short, he's not too keen on supporting a government that not only disregards World opinion, but the will of its own people.
• George Monbiot has a piece titled "Left Behind to Starve". It describes how desperately needy people all over the world are being ignored while the rich countries pursue imperial conquest. He also spells out how the people of Afghanistan were quickly forgotten after they were bombed, just as the Iraqi people are likely to be forgotten soon after the end of this week's war.
• For an Iraqi perspective, read "Whose Interests at Heart?" by Sami Ramadani, an Iraqi political exile who's now a sociology professor at London Metropolitan University. He reminds us how Saddam got into power in the first place.
In Iraq, the US record speaks for itself: it backed Saddam's party, the Ba'ath, to capture power in 1963, murdering thousands of socialists, communists and democrats of all shades; it backed the Ba'ath party in 1968 when Saddam was installed as vice-president; it helped him and the Shah of Iran in 1975 to crush the Kurdish nationalist movement; it increased its support for Saddam in 1979, the year he elevated himself to president, helping him launch his war of aggression against Iran in 1980; it backed him throughout the horrific eight years of war (1980 to 1988), in which a million Iranians and Iraqis were slaughtered, in the full knowledge that he was using chemical weapons and gassing Kurds and Marsh Arabs...
He forgets to mention that in the 1980's, Saddam studied "Chemical Weapons 101" under Donald Rumsfeld.

Finally, Dan Carol gets away from The War and on to more important matters in a fine article in The Nation (via Jim Hightower). The long title starts with "Kumbaya, Dammit". It's a rallying cry to progressives to put aside their individual differences and work together on the things they agree on.
If life under W has proven anything, it's that we can't afford to fight with our friends. There are ways to stand for your principles without ending up in a fight over crumbs. ... At the core, good meetings and sustainable collaborations start with everyone sharing their vision of what they want and what they need. The dammit part is pretty simple: Check your passive-aggressiveness at the door.

Why Saddam Must Resign
March 17, 2003

He may not like doing it, but it appears the only hope for peace lies in the possibility that Saddam might give in and leave Iraq. In doing so, he can humiliate the American warmongers and come out looking like the honorable statesman he claims to be.

Read the whole story here.

Michael Moore Chimes In
March 17, 2003

It seems like months since he came out with a public message (you know, a one-man show in London and lobbying for a best-documentary Oscar can keep one busy). But Michael Moore finally came out with some Truth for "Governor Bush" on this "Day of Truth."

Catching up.....
March 16, 2003

Feeling the need to stick our heads up out of the water. We've both been busier than our income level would indicate. One of us is finishing up on a major art project, and the other one of us is just starting one. So... attention has been distracted a bit.

We have been reading the (online) papers during this time, though. And we've been occasionally exclaiming, "We have to put a link to that on the blog!" After two weeks, some of those thoughts may be forgotten, but here's a rundown of what we remember:

When Gore Vidal wrote an extensive piece on 9-11 for the London Observe late last October, we were disappointed that it only appeared in the print edition (not available in our part of the world). It's finally popped up online, and you can read it here. It's a little long, but highly recommended.

Madison activist Ben Granby has been in the Middle East since January, and we've been reading his dispatches in Madison IndyMedia. His reports from Iraq, Jordan, Gaza, and the West Bank give a look at the Middle East that the mainstream press don't give -- partly because the don't want to see it, and partly because they don't want us to see the brutal persecution that our government endorses. You can read his 26 reports from Iraq, the beginning of his reports from Palestine, and the more recent reports in reverse, web-log format. You can also catch new reports on IndyMedia as they come in.

Here's one to make your blood boil. Charlie Daniels sent out a viscious, hateful pro-war rant on the Internet. Someone (who happened to work in the Nashville music industry) responded from her personal (personal, as in "having nothing to do with her job") email account, and ended up getting fired for it. The entire rundown (the writer is not anti-war, but pro free-speech), including full text of all letters, is here.

Getting off the war theme, Arianna Huffington has a story in AlterNet that sort of goes something like this: Now that The War has brought all of these progressives together, what can we do next? One answer is to do something about the corporations that rent PO boxes in Bermuda to evade their taxes while still getting government contracts.

And finally, for some comic relief, read "Dr. Seuss Meets George W. Bush", a very well-executed piece attributed to "Radio Lobster" that appeared this week on Madison IndyMedia.

The Mister Rogers "Memorial" Press Conference
March 16, 2003

He was definitely after our time, but we did shed a tear for Mister Rogers. His gentle and soft-spoken manner was not part of a character played by an actor... that was who he actually was.

So just days after that bit of tragedy, here comes the Supreme Liar, giving a dramatically over-hyped "press conference", and talking in a voice that sounded just like Mister Rogers. Unfortunately, the voice was an insult to the memory of a man who would never consider bombing thousands of little children.

Anyway, this event was nothing like the media feeding-frenzies of the Nixon days, where presidents would have to be on their toes to answer tough, pointed questions. Prince George killed as much time as possible with his carefully-scripted kiddie-babble. Occasionally, he'd call on a reporter from a corporate news source (AP, Reuters, CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN... party line all the way) who would throw a softball question that Georgie would briefly evade and then go back to his script.

At the end of it all, you could see the frustration on the faces of reporters milling about and wondering why they'd wasted their time on this fiasco.

Relevent Contradictions
March 1, 2003

This story was passed along to us by our friends at Redhouse. It's by Sherman Alexie, an author and humorist who also happens to be Native American. He does a great job of exposing the hypocrisy of the warmongers in Washington. For instance:

As a Native American, I am intimately familiar with the long history of American lies in times of war and peace. Simply stated, the United States' executive and legislative branches have broken every treaty signed with every Native American tribe ... I am outraged that Iraq has flouted UN resolutions for 10 years, but I'm also outraged that the U.S. dares to take a position of moral superiority when it comes to treaty-making and treaty-breaking.

Read it all.

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