I AM NOT PARANOID!

Like many of my fellow nonfamousi I have been against this war in Iraq and the policies of the Bush Administration (both at home and abroad). I and others here have been saying, all along, that this war was about OIL – primarily the unfettered access of US oil companies to Iraqi oil fields and through Iraq into the Caspian Basin.

I don’t care how many different reasons the neo-cons funnel through their mouthpiece in the oval office. The one and only reason we went to war in Iraq was OIL.
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The Economic Bill of Rights

Here are some thoughts for George’s second term.


It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people— whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth— is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights— among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however— as our industrial economy expanded— these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:


  • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

  • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

  • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

  • The right of every family to a decent home;

  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

  • The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

That’s from FDR’s State of the Union speech on 11 January 1944. Roosevelt saw security as including economic security.

Reasons to Be Thankful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving – that means it’s just about time for my annual retreat to Old Europe. Going to Europe feels somehow more significant now, as I arrive with a resident’s visa and I have actually been looking for work there, though more with a sense of capitulation then of adventure. (Before you jump on me for abandoning ship, know that anything I decide to do regarding living in Europe also means being back in time to get residency in a swing state in 2008. At least, that’s the current plan).

Anyhow, as I gather the things I need to pack, I’ve been thinking about what I have to be thankful for that has an American flavor, about things that carry some essence of Americana. Globalization means that you can buy pretty much all the same stuff everywhere, especially if it’s just Europe you’re headed to, so I don’t think so much anymore about how I wish I could get, oh, I dunno, peanut butter. But there are other, sometimes ethereal, American things that I’m thankful for. So in addition to the usual “friends, family, and good health,” here’s a handful of American induced miscellanea for which I am grateful.

1. Al Gore’s World Wide Interweb. Oh my god, I honestly can’t imagine how we got by before the Internet. After all, it’s the web that connected me with you, the nonfamousi! The web keeps my long distance phone bills down when the husband and I are on opposite sides of the Atlantic – hooray for teleconferencing – and keeps me connected with all my friends when I’m snowbound in Austria.

2. Multiculturalism. I’ve got friends of all religions, plus, is there anywhere else in the world where you can have huevos rancheros for breakfast, cous cous for lunch, and pad thai for dinner?

3. Road Trips. I was driving around in my car the other day listening to dinosaur rock and Tom Petty was singing “She was – an American girl…” Then I started thinking about one of my favorite Bowie tracks ever, Young American. Then I started thinking about driving in places where you only get old rock and roll, country western, or Jesus on the radio. I’ve done lots of traveling, but there’s something about hearing “Stuck in Lodi Again” while you’re driving south from Blackfoot with the Rockies on your right….

4. Levis. Yeah, they’re not even made in the US anymore, but they always fit, they last forever, and maybe they go in and out of style, but they’re the most comfortable jeans on the market.

5. “I can do that.” American mentality is just busting with possibility. Europeans I know are always inventing these elaborate schemes around how they’ll get all these necessary people involved with the correct licenses and paperwork and then, they’ll skim off the top while others do the work, and they’ll be rich, rich I tellya! Americans just don’t seem to think that way. They want to start a business? They start a business. They’re not bogged down in credentials and systems. They have an inventiveness of spirit that you rarely encounter in Old Europe. Freelancers, contractors, the free agents you see at Victrola and 11 am on a weekday? Virtually unheard of in my other home.

Another surprising thing I found is that in spite of my heartbreak, it wasn’t that hard to come up with American things I’m thankful for. Yet another reason to be thankful on the holiday. Enjoy the holiday. And thanks.

Dear Mr. Bush

I cried tears of rage and sadness upon learning that John Kerry had stepped down and you had been given the Presidency. You should know that I am not, by nature, a crier and I am not a bitter person. I am not given to melodrama. But I cried and it appears I haven’t finished crying. Furthermore all of my friends have confessed to exactly the same reaction: men, women, white, brown, Jews, Christians, Hindus, we have all wept openly over your success.

Perhaps it is easy for you to dismiss us as overly sensitive liberal pansies. But you might take a minute to listen to what it is that has us so worried from the voice of at least one American.

Plainly put, you terrify us.

Your vision of the US as the champion of democracy at the helm of policies that are perceived as bullying and imperialist in the eyes of our global neighbors puts us in danger when we leave the country.

Your zealous tenacity to anti-abortion rhetoric leaves us in fear that abortion, which will never go away, please don’t fool yourself, will return to back alley institution that threatens the lives of the unfortunate women – and sometimes children – who find themselves pregnant without wishing to be so.

Your narrow minded application of the term “family values” to the desired exclusion of civil rights for our gay friends and neighbors makes us fear for not just them, but for the precedent this sets for denying rights to other classes of citizens.

Your profligate spending of our tax dollars on war to the detriment of social services, including those for our soldiers, makes us wonder what will happen to the poor who have no place to turn for assistance.

Your callous disregard for the environment, including your desire to release our treasured national parks and wilderness areas to exploitation, makes us ask what the glories of Yellowstone, Sequoia, Yosemite, and other precious areas of natural beauty will look like to future generations.

These are only a few of the things I’m crying about. You said in your acceptance speech that you will work to earn our trust. Understand that you do not have it now. You have not worked in the past to establish it. You have pushed us away with your war-mongering, your untrammeled spending, your restriction of civil rights, your disregard for the things we hold valuable. Right now, you’re the president that made me cry. You might start by reassuring me that the things I hold dear, my rights and my American sense of pride, are not at risk on your watch.

I am a patriot. I worked long and hard to see you defeated and for that work, I received no compensation. I did it because I did not trust you to hold the nation’s honor for me. I dare you to prove me wrong. I dare you to give me cause to stop crying and to calm my anger. I dare you to give me reason raise my head and be proud again.

PM, Seattle WA

___________________

Hey Nonfamousi: Write to the President, okay? (president(at)whitehouse.gov) And send a copy to your local paper, too.

The literary marketability of self-indulgent self-recrimination

I have a compulsion to read while I’m waiting. And while I’m waiting for something, as opposed to someone, more often than not, I seem to have a compulsion to read magazine articles, the more horrid the better. Even if I’ve got something actually worthwhile to read in my own purse.

Which is how I came to reading a story last night at about 2 am about a guy who broke his own arm off after getting his hand pinned to a rock wall by a boulder, in the veterinary emergency clinic waiting room, even though I had a Tobias Wolf novel in my handbag that I really was looking forward to reading.

Ok. So I know that what you’re thinking is, back up a step or two, chica. What were you doing in the veterinary emergency room? And what kind of opportunistic, self-absorbed mother is going to come away from an experience like that and write about what she read while her poor puppy was subjected to hours of tests by complete strangers?

The answer to the first question is spending several hours and several hundreds of dollars to find out that there doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with Yogi that would actually explain his behavior and vomiting for the last several days. The answer to the second is that, well, the point of this piece is going to be about the cult of self-indulgent self-recrimination as a literary genre.

You see, the guy who broke his own arm off, rather than die stuck to a boulder, got a book deal out of it.

And that kind of pisses me off.
Continue reading “The literary marketability of self-indulgent self-recrimination”

Seattle Times “backyard blog” project

The Seattle Times emailed today to let me know that I will be one of the bloggers in their Backyard Blog project starting Aug. 23 and running through the election. I don’t think I’ll be allowed to use all the bad words that the Badministration provokes me to, and it sounds like our posts (and comments) will be highly edited but it should be interesting. More to come.

Enter racism, stage right

Ever since the 9/11 attacks, one of my biggest concerns has not been a repeat, but rather the repercussions on those who share the same, or even just somewhat related ethnic backgrounds, to the hijackers. These fears were founded, of course, as evidenced by the stories of people of Arab decent (or even non-Muslim, non-Arabs of similar skin tone) becoming the victims of hate crimes in this country. It made me sick how, traveling by plane a few days after international flights resumed that weekend, the airline employees made no bones about hassling and searching the Arab passengers and made such a show about letting obviously white passengers go through the security checkpoints without having their bags opened and searched thoroughly. I wasn’t subjected to the humiliation of having my underwear held up to the light for inspection in front of everyone, but the Arab grandmother in front me was.

Anyway, today Salon is discussing an article that WomensWallStreet.com had the incredibly poor taste and judgement to publish, about one Americans terrifying ordeal of being trapped on a plane with 14 Syrian musicians who had the gaul, in this day and age, to be Muslim and on a plane. According to Salon, the piece has made the Internet rounds, and hasn’t been adequately discredited as one Web site’s bad judgement in publishing an obviously racist and pointless piece. I can’t say anymore. I want to, but it’s too busy a day. Just read this. And be pissed off.

Ain’t Nobody’s Bidness

If there’s one thing that gets up my nose, it’s people telling me what my family ought to look like. If my family includes a foreign husband who doesn’t share my religion or address, a gay boyfriend who lives with his long term sweetheart in White Center, a couple of church goers, their kids, and the hippies they rent to, some lefty Europeans, and other people’s pets, well, hell, why should anyone but me care?

What brings this up? A big ad in the Sunday PI from an organization called Families Northwest, who seem to think they know what my family – and yours – should look like. And who also seem to think that the state gets to say something about that. It looks all warm and fuzzy on the surface, but it’s just another insidious plan to outlaw gay marriage.

The FMA didn’t make it out of the Senate, but that doesn’t mean it’s all over. It’s time to readdress those letters and postcards to your state reps.

The Passion of Michael Moore

Oh, for crying out loud. First they try to tag it as an ‘R’ rated movie because it shows graphic clips from the war in Iraq. And now, this.

All this from the people who got the Reagan TV movie canned from CBS. I wasn’t in the US during the flap over The Passion – can someone tell me, did anyone take out television ads calling for the movie not to be shown?

And what’s with the public cry for censorship? Are protests over Farenheit 9/11 to be punctuated with book-burnings, just for good measure? Don’t forget your Salinger and your Harry Potter, folks!

When, again, is “Take a Teenager to Michael Moore’s Movie” day?