Archive for November, 2010

Quarter To Three


About 36 hours after I posted this video came news that Willie Nelson had been arrested for marijuana possession at a border-patrol checkpoint in Sierra Blanca, Texas.

What foolishness.

Almost every band’s tour-bus is an automatic bust, but especially so is Nelson’s. This is a man who has made no secret of the fact that he’s daily smoked marijuana for the past several decades; Nelson is co-chair of the NORML advisory board, has filmed pro-pot NORML commercials, has appeared on the cover of High Times. The stuff doesn’t seem to have done him any harm: in Nelson’s life as a stoner there has emerged no evidence of sloth or paranoia, usually the worst side effects of steady marijuana consumption. It was when Willie was a drinker, not a dope-smoker, that he caused problems for other human beings.

Nelson is a native and long-time resident of Texas; in fact, he is probably the best goodwill ambassador that state has. Arresting Willie Nelson at this stage of his life is like putting the cuffs on Santa Claus.

Border-patrol agents who opened the door to Nelson’s bus encountered the odor of marijuana. Well: duh. A search uncovered six ounces. The agents contacted Hudspeth County sheriff’s officials, who apparently made the decision to arrest. Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West seems to seek admittance to the Texas Asshat Hall Of Fame, telling the press:

“It’s kind of surprising, but, I mean, we treat him like anybody else. He could get 180 days in county jail, which if he does, I’m going to make him cook and clean. He can wear the stripy uniforms just like the other ones do.”

That’s right, hoss. Put a 77-year-old man in stripes and then make him clean your boots for you.

Jeebus wept.


“Men Should Put This On For One Day”

This is a brave woman. Amal Basha, of Yemen. One of maybe 22 women in that country who does not wear the veil.

“I had to wear the full niqab when I was 8 years old,” she says of the face veil worn by women here. “I couldn’t breathe. I saw the world in dark colors. I fell down because I couldn’t see when I walked. Men should put this on for one day. They would change their thinking. They don’t know how horrible it is under sun, heat and sweat. It’s a kind of torture. I decided I wanted to see the beautiful colors of life—red, blue, green. Not black.”

Basha is a descendant of the prophet Mohammed; today she heads the Sisters’ Arab Forum For Human Rights, in the planet’s poorest Islamic nation. In the light of her mind she reaches back to Mohammed—”you know,” she says, “we’re all created from the same soul”—but in life she must contend with the darkness of a world dominated by the ossified barnacles that have attached themselves to her forebear . . . such as Yemeni cleric Shiek Abdul Majeed Zindani, who claims to possess “scientific proof that women cannot speak and remember simultaneously.”

“Yemen is the home of the Queen of Sheba,” Basha retorts. “How can you say women can’t govern? Yemen is a failed state today, and men have been the rulers.”

Basha’s work documenting torture in her country moved the United Nations to call for an official investigation. She strives to legislatively end the practice of marrying off Yemeni “women” as young as eight years old. She seeks to help Yemeni women who are victims of domestic violence, of sexual harassment, of illiteracy, of caste prejudice. She advocates for prisoners and refugees.

For her pains, Basha has been threatened with death, had the brakes cut on her car, had acid hurled at her face. She has been branded by her countrymen as “un-Islamic,” a “Zionist,” an “agent of the West,” a “temptress of Eve.” Her accusers forgetting that it was Adam who received the injunction against plucking the forbidden fruit. Not Eve. Eve was innocent.


A Lot Of Flowers In This World Are Never Seen

My daughter’s award-winning poem, which can be read here, and which I recently mentioned here, is reminding me of Eugene Field’s wistful little fable “The Robin And The Violet.”

I placed Field’s fable in my queue here probably 16-18 months or so ago, but never got around to actually posting it.

I think the original idea was that I was going to bloviate at length about Field, a person people these days have forgotten.

But we’ll forget about that now, and just go with the fable.

I do remember that I intended to dedicate the fable to my daughter, because it kinda reminded me of her. Pretty uncanny, now, given what she’s since written.

Appended to “The Robin And The Violet” is a Chris Isaak song, “Fade Away,” relating to both my daughter’s poem, and Field’s fable, and to other things as well. Happily I managed—though who knows for how long—to smuggle this song through the Maginot Line that YouTube in recent days has erected to mess with my music.

So it goes.


He’s Not There

Here in the First World, we acquiesce to lives in which it is virtually impossible to get away from ourselves: enchained by birth certificates, social-security numbers, driver’s licenses, tax records, credit histories, martial and marital documents, bank accounts, fingerprints, thumbprints, blood-typing, DNA samples, retina scans—the list is endless. I personally am not happy with much of this: like the doomed cowboy in Lonely Are The Brave, “I don’t need a card to figure out who I am. I already know.”

So one of my reactions to the following story is pleasure in knowing that there are still places on this earth where people exist independently of paper and pixels and purloined pieces of their bodies.

Another reaction is that I probably really shouldn’t have become locked into referring to members of our nation’s intelligence community as “Clouseaus.” Because, now, every day, in every way, they are living up to this name, better and better.

Today, for instance, we learn, via Mean People at the New York Times, that for months and months Afghan notables and American poohbahs have been jawing with senior Taliban official Mullah Akhtar Muhammed Mansour, believed to be #2 to the fabled Mullah Omar hisself. This Mansour has been gifted with great wads of American money in “traveling expenses,” and has raised high the roofbeams that Peace Is At Hand, because his demands have been so modest—”that the Taliban leadership be allowed to safely return to Afghanistan, that Taliban soldiers be offered jobs, and that prisoners be released.” He did not, for instance, “demand, as the Taliban have in the past, a withdrawal of foreign forces or a Taliban share of the government.”

Alas, all good things must come to an end. This, then, too. For now it has been determined that this Mullah Mansour, is not Mullah Mansour at all.

“It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. “And we gave him a lot of money.”

American officials confirmed Monday that they had given up hope that the Afghan was Mr. Mansour, or even a member of the Taliban leadership.

Yet, like jilted lovers who cannot grasp what has happened to them, some of the duped and deluded are hoping the non-Mansour will keep on a-comin’.

Neither American nor Afghan leaders confronted the fake Mullah Mansour with their doubts. Indeed, some Afghan leaders are still holding out hopes that the man really is or at least represents Mr. Mansour—and that he will come back soon.

“Questions have been raised about him, but it’s still possible that it’s him,” said the Afghan leader who declined to be identified.

A more cynical Afghan believes the non-Mansour was probably a knee-slapper sent by the Taliban, who “are playing games.”

“The Taliban are cleverer than the Americans and our own intelligence service,” said a senior Afghan official who is familiar with the case.



We Have All Been Here Before

The windows overlooking the airfield were smoked and double glazed. On the runway aircraft landed and took off without making a sound. This is how they tried to win, Jerry thought: from inside sound-proof rooms, through smoked glass, using machines at arm’s length. This is how they lost.

—John Le Carre, The Honourable Schoolboy

The government of Pakistan has refused the US military permission to expand its drone show into Baluchistan province. It is believed that this is where the Afghan Taliban leadership—including the fabled Mullah Omar—today gathers, in and around the densely populated city of Quetta.

Though the drone blunderbuss is now extinguishing the lives of 98 innocents for every 2 jihadis killed, US knuckleheads apparently thought it a good idea to start sending the things over an area occupied by nearly a million civilians.

Pakistan said forget it. It has instead offered to permit an increased CIA presence in the region, with US Clouseaus yoked to teams of agents from the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service. That should work out well, since it is the ISI that protects and promotes the Taliban; the ISI has a history of bamboozling the CIA into lending its agents and equipment to operations that facilitate the ISI’s own, very selfish ends. “They are so innocent,” a Pakistani official has said fondly of US spooks.

Meanwhile, out in the badlands of North Waziristan, a semi-autonomous “tribal region” where the US is tacitly permitted by the Pakistani government to fly drones, those Al Qaeda homeboys known as the Haqqani are getting out of the way of the aircraft by elbowing into the neighboring high-mountain region of Kurram.

Flying drones over Kurram is apparently not an option. “It would mean big trouble between the two countries,” says Pakistani journalist/analyst Imtiaz Gul. “It would amount to a lot of friction.”

The Haqqani are bad dudes: they brought suicide bombings to Afghanistan, nearly succeeded in assassinating Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2008, and last May took on the heavily fortified Bagram airfield near Kabul. And like the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani are friends and fellows of the ISI, which has allowed the Haqqani to use North Waziristan, and “regards the Haqqani group as a valuable hedge against Indian influence in a post-U.S. Afghanistan” (see: India again).

The Pakistani military has long promised to move into North Waziristan to sweep out such riffraff, and has even pocketed a $2 billion bribe from the US to do so. But, like General Tommy Franks in Operation Iraqi Fiefdom, it has insisted on the right to “close with and engage the enemy at a time and place of our choosing.”

“I think they’ll start the operation,” opines tribal-region analyst Khadim Hussain, “once every single fighter has moved out of North Waziristan and into Kurram.”


My Daughter, The Award-Winning Deviant

As I recently noted in this post, my daughter is now hanging out with deviants; specifically, the people at deviantART, a tubes-nest of illustrating and elucubrating young people.

She has posted there her novel, Maiden of Woodland Secrets, the first of a projected seven-part saga. It is a rollicking tale of magic and mystery, featuring a mother who is a raging madwoman, and a father who is a good-hearted but feckless drunk, and thank jeebus the work is in no way autobiographical.

This novel, as I indicated then, can be accessed from my daughter’s deviant page, here. I now note that this page has been updated to include a photograph that indicates my daughter may have become a dominatrix. I reprint: you decide.

Anyway, the deviant people began by giving her feedback on her book, which was nice, and now they have gifted her with an award for that book, which is even nicer. She has been named Featured Author Of The Month.

Further, one of her poems has been selected as Poem Of The Month. That poem can be read here. It features La Musica and Variations in B-Flat, is subsumed in Eros but haunted by Eternal Recurrence, and thus is extremely depressing.

It’s a genetic thing, I guess.

My daughter is also mentioned in this deviant newsletter. A Different One explication of why the deviants believe my daughter to be Good may be found here.

I am glad that these deviant people recognize that my daughter is A Star, for that is indeed what she are.

I, as evidenced by the sentence above, am, unlike my daughter, no poet. And I know it. : /

It’s Time To Water The Plants

The advent of first Delaware’s Christine O’Kooky, and then Nazi dress-up man Rich Iott of Ohio, delivered Nevada’s Sharron Angle from the role of premier screwloose in election 2010. Yet now that all these people have lost, it is Angle’s that is the campaign that most keeps on giving.

For instance, we last week learned that the uber-paranoid Angle, she of the Strangelovian fluoridation fears, developed a Secret Code so that workers in her campaign could alert one another when Bad People attempted to Infiltrate.

Team Angle put campaign volunteers through a three-hour indoctrination. Included was an instruction of what to do if anyone came into the office who looked like a Democrat, a Reid supporter or a member of the media—they all look alike!—and that order was to dial a certain extension in front of the interloper and say, “It’s time to water the plants.”

Further, Angle had to be repeatedly restrained from publicly fellating murderous dictators like Chile’s Augusto Pinochet. Told by Sane People in the GOP to put a cork in it, she pouted: “Sometimes dictators have good ideas.”

Said sane people additionally identified the wild-hair teabaggers who infested the Angle campaign as “The Island Of Misfit Toys.”

This is a reference to the immortal “animagic” opus Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which features a collection of children’s playthings so Wrong and Mutant they are forcibly exiled to an ice floe.

News on other Wrong Mutants, specifically Fox News freakazoid Roger Ailes—a being so repugnant in every way that not even his own hair will allow itself to be associated with him—and that animal-human hybrid, Louisiana lizard-man James Carville, beyond the “furthur.”


When I Worked

November 2010
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