Blogging from Asheville, NC circa Feb. 2003, when we were dorks.

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Even in absurdity, sacrament.
Even in hardship, holiness.
Even in doubt,
faith.
Even in chaos,
realization.
Even in paradox,
blessedness.

jay's books:

Digging the Immaterial Rainbow Over Crossroads One for the Nameless

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Mon 05 Aug 13

Statement on Mountain Moral Monday

We are standing here as Asheville residents, Buncombe County taxpayers, and concerned North Carolinians. But we've also gathered as humans, for our own causes, for whatever fire that is burning deeply in your chest. We are our Mother's children. My mother worked three jobs to raise me as a single parent, and in the early '80s took me along to her Women's Liberation Movement meetings. I can't say I remember much from those young nights, but I did gather there was some kind of inherent inequality that made no sense whatsoever, and Mom was doing her part in her own way to right wrongs that might not be realized for generations. In many ways, that work has only just begun to pay off- and now, she is teeming with cancer, dependent on the very government that only in the past decades has begun to redress the rights of women. The system is slow to yield- yet as it does, it only grows roots elsewhere that we must be ever-vigilant to watch for, lest they take hold in some unforeseen soil and strangle the harvest we’ve so long been toiling under the hot sun for.

We are our Father’s children. Sat on knees, taught right from wrong, the glowing eyes of childhood looking to men as our exemplars as to the right and noble use of power. My father, though our political views of the world contrast, taught me that the system is a thing that changes with will and attention alone- ignore governance and be governed. Participate in governance, and govern together. How we long for a world where those ideals reigned as simply as they are spoken, but the halls of power are shellacked with a veneer that keeps our hands from truly feeling the marble underneath, democracy is no longer hewn by hard-worn hands that have worked their way up- it is as cheapened as a neon sign that buzzes long into the night that the club is open to members only. To reclaim true participatory democracy, we need to tear down the false temples to its dying memory and bloody our knuckles in working to build a new liberty from the ground up- from the street corner to door of the Governor’s Mansion- if no one answers the polite knock than we take it off the hinges- that is the People’s Door, not any one man's.

I've worked for over seven years in the most poverty ridden corners of western NC. I've seen the horrors of psychosis from Meth substitutes made from insecticides. I've seen children cut their bodies all to hell because they believe there is no hurt in this world greater than being unheard. I've seen the body bags. But I've also seen the hope. I've been told countless times that without mental health and substance abuse services (which have been largely stripped down to being crisis driven), that the sobbing patient gripping my hand would have no hope to live. I was once told by a doctor that the patient I was about to evaluate was doomed to die, cirrhotic, an unmotivated drunk. That was four years ago, and with the help of the very services that are under attack he recovered and is now coaching his nephew's little league team. I also was told that a person very dear to my heart was little more than group home and jail fodder at age ten. He's now employed more than he wants to be and is addicted to nothing worse than Zombie movies and I'm damn proud of him.

Friends, let us remember that our ancestors came to America not because they were running out of land in Europe, but because they sought to create something radically different. The American experiment has suffered horrific growing pains and inflicted great injustice while seeking out a way to somehow make it- much like a teenager who struggles with identity and what to believe and how to act, we have had a very rough childhood as a nation, and we have been very hard on Mother Earth and Father Sky. But they can be forgiving, if we truly mean it. And we can make amends to “the least of these,” and keep the promises that bound us together from the start, and get better at keeping them. Practice justice. Practice kindness. Practice love. And by all means, why we are gathered today, practice transformation- we will not get it right in a day, or a decade, but it’s a progression of efforts through the generations that will be recalled by the generations to come. Transform North Carolina, Raleigh, Western North Carolina, Buncombe County, Asheville, your street, your home, your heart. That’s where it begins, ends, and where the measure of our successes will be felt the most.

filed under: the state of things blogged: 09.49 Mon, 05 Aug '13

Sun 14 Jul 13

For Trayvon

Refrain:
We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

Verses
Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons
Is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers’ sons

And that which touches we most is that I had a chance to work with people
Passing on to others that which was passed on to me

To me young people come first, they have the courage where we fail
And if I can shed some light as they carry us through the gale

The older I get the better I know that the secret of my going on
Is when the reins are in the hand of the young who dare to run against the storm

Not needing to clutch for power, not needing the light just to shine on me
I need to be just one in the number as we stand against tyranny

Struggling myself don’t mean a whole lot I come to realize
That teaching others to stand up and fight is the only way my struggle survive

I’m a woman who speaks in a voice and I must be heard
At time I can be quite difficult, I’ll bow to no man’s word

filed under: the state of things blogged: 00.17 Sun, 14 Jul '13

Fri 05 Apr 13

Comrades in Dreams

I had a dream that I was deep among some homeless and poverty stricken folks, along with a group of immigrants who had been camping out and growing their own food. They were rugged, weathered, and thoroughly good people. An elder woman of Latin descent among them said "All this talk about the poor and homeless being humans and people too. Until we are given a true voice and placed in positions among the decision makers who say those things, these are just words. We are the people. This is life."

I awoke with chills.

filed under: the state of things blogged: 11.17 Fri, 05 Apr '13

Fri 30 Nov 12

The Reality of Oppression

The eerie world of Bradley Manning: "I remember thinking: I'm going to die. I'm stuck here and I'm going to die in animal cage."

filed under: the state of things blogged: 23.48 Fri, 30 Nov '12

Fri 21 Sep 12

You can say what you want, and a certain percentage will always follow behind.

Or will they, Willard?

makebelieve.jpg

filed under: the state of things blogged: 00.26 Fri, 21 Sep '12

Thu 07 May 09

Kunstler: The Bottom

Our food production system is approaching crisis. There's no way we can continue the petro-agriculture system of farming and the Cheez Doodle and Pepsi Cola diet that it services. The public is absolutely zombified in the face of this problem -- perhaps a result of the diet itself. President Obama and Ag Secretary Vilsack have not given a hint that they understand the gravity of the situation. It is probably one of those unfortunate events of history that can only impress a society in the form of a crisis. It also happens to be one of the few problems we face that public policy could affect sharply and broadly -- if we underwrote the reactivation of smaller, local farm operations instead of shoveling money to giant "agribusiness" (or Citibank, or Goldman Sachs, or AIG...). I maintain that this may be the year that the crisis gets our attention, because capital is suddenly harder to get than fossil-fuel-based fertilizer.
All these epochal discontinuities present themselves, for the moment, as a season of muted "hope" and general apathy. The days are suddenly mild. We've resumed old and happy habits of grilling meat outdoors and motoring to those remaining places that were not blanketed with franchised food huts and discount malls. We have a new, charming president with an appealing family. Newly-minted dollars are flowing to the "shovel-ready." The new bad news is less bad than the old bad news (or seems to be). And the year just past has been such a bummer that our hard-wired human nature tells us that good things must be just around the corner.

filed under: the state of things blogged: 00.03 Thu, 07 May '09

Sun 18 Jan 09

It's time for this to stop, and for the world to wake up

Enough already. Pause for a moment to reflect on all the children who die in war. Ideology can stand aside today while its most innocent casualties are accounted for.

filed under: the state of things blogged: 03.08 Sun, 18 Jan '09

Thu 08 Jan 09

Kucinich reminds congress that US is just as guilty as Israel in Gaza

filed under: the state of things blogged: 20.40 Thu, 08 Jan '09

Tue 23 Dec 08

Invoke Yourself

A new political action project... something I've never quite tried to do. This is an impromptu response to the Rick Warren mess...

We did not elect Barack Obama to elevate Rick Warren, who is scheduled to deliver the invocation on Jan. 20th 2008, a day whose celebration has been sullied in advance with the embarrassment of conceding to Warren's personal take on morality. Here is a simple proposal if you are so inclined as to protest this unfortunate selection:

When Warren approaches the podium, mute your tv or other audio/visual input

Hit record on your video camera

Recite your own prayer, poem, or any other form of counter-invocation as you see fit.

Upload your video to YouTube and tag it "invoke yourself"

You've now registered your voice of protest in perpetuity, and sent a message that inclusion of intolerant people to somehow demonstrate tolerance just doesn't make sense.

filed under: the state of things blogged: 20.59 Tue, 23 Dec '08

Thu 18 Dec 08

On winning and conceding simultaneously

Just a quick take on Obama's poor choice of Mr. Warren to lead the inaugural invocation. I'm as much for unity as the next guy, but since when is it acceptable to sacrifice moral principles for the sake of unity? Mr. Warren is an unabashed and outspoken mouthpiece for a movement which is as hateful toward the LGBT community as white nationalist racists are toward the man being inaugurated. We do not need to apologize for winning this election by having said mouthpiece invoke the divine at such a proud moment for a country ready to heal the divides of hatred.
Yes, I know we need to build alliances across all demographics in order to lead the nation out of its bipolar, dualistic fixations. But we do not need to tacitly endorse intolerance in order to foster tolerance.
So, during the inauguration, I hereby propose an alternate invocation: mute your teevee box, and say your own. Say something which speaks to your vision of America, because that's how Obama came this far, from the bottom, up. This wasn't a top down campaign, and the ultimate in participatory democracy is the right to challenge and offer workable alternatives. I challenge Mr. Warren's selection by muting a minute of history for the greater cause of love over hate.

filed under: the state of things blogged: 14.01 Thu, 18 Dec '08

Wed 05 Nov 08

And the nation broke out in dancing and song


Many more cities here

filed under: the state of things blogged: 21.35 Wed, 05 Nov '08

Wed 05 Nov 08

Dancing in the streets

The celebrations were both large big and small, but the sentiment was the same — pure joy over how far the country has come. People honked horns, high-fived each other and embraced.

"I was born in the civil rights time. To see this happening is unbelievable. We've got the first black president. A black president!" said Mike Louis, a 53-year-old black man who got teary-eyed as he watched the election results on a giant video board in Cincinnati's Fountain Square. "It's not cured now, but this is a step to curing this country of racism. This is a big, giant step toward getting this country together."

The roar of thousands of people gathered in a plaza near the legendary Apollo Theater in New York City's Harlem neighborhood could be heard blocks away.

Asheville too, y'all.

filed under: the state of things blogged: 10.01 Wed, 05 Nov '08

Wed 05 Nov 08

Hope, at last

themoment.jpg>

The buzz word has been transformational... well, yes, this election has transformed the notion of opportunity in America. More importantly, however, it has elevated for for the first time the potential of an individual to rise against the greatest odds, to eclipse doubt to inherit a fertile field of possibility. The chances have been overcome, the fear has been overcome, and we, finally, have overcome. We have boldly fulfilled the promises borne on the back of slaves, and made real the whimsies of dreamers who said that that some day the whole idea of leadership will be transformed.

Something big has happened tonight, I will never forget it, especially for the sake of my Godson, his disabled mother, this wounded Earth, and the thusfar unrealized hope of all that has been disenfranchised and unrealized.

I am proud, finally, to call Barack Obama my President.

filed under: the state of things blogged: 01.35 Wed, 05 Nov '08

Mon 03 Nov 08

Obama: "Power doesn't concede" (easily)

filed under: the state of things blogged: 21.40 Mon, 03 Nov '08

Tue 28 Oct 08

best headline ever

Hat tip to Joshua:

zomb.jpg
Note that other monsters have not been evaluated for threatening behavior.

filed under: the state of things blogged: 15.14 Tue, 28 Oct '08

Sun 26 Oct 08

What *is* up?


Change, that's what's up

filed under: the state of things blogged: 03.35 Sun, 26 Oct '08

Thu 09 Oct 08

Big O in Asheville

It was a great day, y'all! Click for biggee.

yes-we-can-web.jpg

filed under: the state of things blogged: 10.55 Thu, 09 Oct '08

Thu 09 Oct 08

my take on the meme

candidates_as_birds1.jpg

filed under: the state of things blogged: 08.45 Thu, 09 Oct '08

Tue 07 Oct 08

Okay, okay, I'll liveblog the debate!

Also.

21.00, here goes. No teevee box, so I'll have to visualize.

21.02, I guess I'd rather not tie the word visualize to Walnuts. Brokaw. Also. The Tom sounds like he's getting a prostate exam.

21.05, B looks presidential and persuasive. Walnuts tries to almost barely acknowledge Barry. Wooden. Whoever said he's the master of this venue is exaggerating a tish. My friends, x2, drink 'em!

21.09, Wow, eBay the Treasury away!

21.12, Wall Street, Main Street, suspended my campaign, blah blah. Drink! Oh, and talk down to your audience, WTG Walnuts! Never heard of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac? Maybe you, since you've never had to use subsidized mortgages on your 13 mansions, McGrumps.

21.16, Barry doesn't get caught in Tom's semantic trap, and Walnuts has the nerve to diss the cronyism he's been a long term party to? Oh, another "my friends," drink!

21.21, Walnuts borrows Barry's use of cynicism, and doesn't answer the question, and. Also. Doesn't. Answer. The. Question. I hate that there's no follow up from the candidates. "My friends" again, and a planetarium.

21.25, Walnuts goes on about bipartisanship but borrows from Palin and doesn't answer the question, again. He was asked to put things in order, but "we can do 'em all at once." One, two, and three are all the same! Everybody wins!

21.28, willing to bet there's a POW moment coming, considering the mavericky flatlining that's going on. His biggest sacrifice? Specifics.

21.33, Avatar the Cat jumps in my lap for Obama. He's in the tank.

21.35, I propose stop drinking during Walnut's "my friends" utterances, lest we all die from liver poisoning, and, someone's losing the Miss Congeniality contest again.

21.40, Sheesh, Brokaw is the poster child of anal puckering.

21.43, If the French do it, we can do it to! Walnuts the Surrender Monkey!

21.50, Tom is a trollop. That's about all I can think of. About as condescending as his pal Walnuts. It's telling that all McSame can do is point at Obama and call him, with great incivility, "that one over there."

21.55, now watching the CNN live dial feed. Wow, Walnuts is flat to tanking with Independent voters, and even his own red boys. Ouch.
Oh, and folksy goshdern bald humor! Leave the hairplugs alone!

21.58, Barry is keeping the road high. Good job. He is strong on specifics, and appropriate. Walnuts is just so... lost... up there.

22.01, POW reference any time now. His patriotic spiel was nice rhetoric, but was entirely empty of how we would really, truly, rebuild our lousy int'l reputation.

22.07, new game: drink every time Brokaw admonished Obama for McCain going over the time limits.

22.15, all of my feeds are crashing because my computer is seemingly haunted by java gremlins, but good work on recalling Walnuts little bomb cheering ditty.

22.22, again, sheesh, Tombat keeps schooling Barry on time, but Walnuts is certainly a greater consumer of it, and hot air. Also.

22.27, yay, we really get to talk about bombing Iran, compassionately and conservatively. And Israel always gets to determine American foreign policy. I hereby declare that Rhode Island now administer foreign policy for Australia.

thatonesk92cr1.jpg22.33, well goshdern, this liveblogging thing only really works when your video, browser, wifi and three giziliion dollar computer actually work in concert with each other. My synopsis: McCain did himself no favors tonight, showcasing an ill tempered, rambling, and pedantic way of thinking and doing. It's over for him, my friends, and he's scrambling. Both he and Caribou Barbie will both have to return to their former, or "real" jobs, as having made complete asses of themselves with no political capital or credibility left. The media deserves the same. I'd thought long and hard about whether Brokaw would have the nerve to display an obvious Walnuts bias, and he did. Just because Keating the Fifth is an elder, and was gooked in Hell, and such, does not mean that he is some glowing hero deserving of more respect than a mere former "community organizer," as Barry has been attacked for being. PTA moms, go to hell, you're organizing. Walnuts has been to Hell and back and cannot feel your filthy communist pain. Anyway, snark aside, the format sucked and yet Barry thrived and looked very commanding and presidential. I would not have even thunk to liveblog any other debate. This one is important, and not in my lifetime has any politician truly inspired so many like me who are disaffected. I feel very fortunate to witness what shall hopefully be a remarkable day in American and world history in less than a month's time. Not the election of our first African American president, but the election of our first president who is not, from the start, any kind of tyrant. We are doing this, folks, and will do incredible justice to the last two stolen elections by electing Barack Obama.

jaybird's proposed list of banned words: earmarks, in the tank, game changer, and variation of maverick (especially 'mavericky'), folksy, and low information voter (i.e. ignorant person).

filed under: the state of things blogged: 20.59 Tue, 07 Oct '08

Mon 06 Oct 08

New Zeitgeist Movie

Can't agree with all of it, but nonetheless, powerful and eye popping as always.

filed under: the state of things blogged: 20.26 Mon, 06 Oct '08

Sat 16 Aug 08

relevant to the present situation


Those of you in the know are aware of the current events in my life; this little ditty is how I'm now choosing to confront what's happening. There's no better way, really.

filed under: the state of things blogged: 08.39 Sat, 16 Aug '08

Wed 23 Jul 08

Long Live the Romany


I am just over a month away from embarking on a journey to Eastern Europe to again wander with and pay my respects to the Romany people. I've just learned that the Italian government of neofascist punk Berlusconi is seeking to catalog and fingerprint all Romany in Italy. Worse, two little Roma girls drowned on an Italian beach, their bodies were covered with fucking beachtowels, and the sunbathers and leisure class continued to play unfazed around them. Two dead girls. A beach full of heartless materialist carelessness.

Rise up Roma!

filed under: the state of things blogged: 23.00 Wed, 23 Jul '08

Mon 04 Feb 08

Yes, We Can!

Jaybird comes out of the endorsement closet:

filed under: the state of things blogged: 13.16 Mon, 04 Feb '08

Sat 12 Jan 08

Umberto Eco's 14 Ingredients of Creeping Fascism

In spite of some fuzziness regarding the difference between various historical forms of fascism, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.

  • The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.
  • Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism.
  • "Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism"
  • The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism ("disagreement is treason").
  • "Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference."
  • Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration.
  • To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country.
  • The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.
  • For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.
  • Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.
  • "[T]he Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death."
  • "[T]he Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons -- doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise."
  • Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.
  • Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.

    filed under: the state of things blogged: 14.03 Sat, 12 Jan '08

  • Fri 12 Oct 07

    Nobel Laureate Al Gore

    ...it really is time for you to run. Please, for the love of everything good about this country, Al, please enter the primaries to reclaim your rightful office. We've been through enough and we're as ready as ever for your presidency (again).

    filed under: the state of things blogged: 08.56 Fri, 12 Oct '07

    Tue 15 May 07

    Buh-Bye

    I guess that settles it Jerry. Who's still alive? That's right, it's Tinky Winky. Sorry you lost the game.

    filed under: the state of things blogged: 21.15 Tue, 15 May '07

    Fri 20 Apr 07

    Why Early Mental Health Care Is So Important

    Mental health professionals complain their hands are tied in two ways when they try to help people like Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui -- a lack of funding for mental health services in general, and laws that makes it tough to treat people against their will.

    They say the 23-year-old student's shooting rampage sheds new light on flaws in the U.S. mental health system.

    "Our mental health system failed this young man," said Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain researcher at Indiana University School of Medicine in Bloomington, Indiana.

    Snip.

    To right here, right now. My dear friend Jen lost one of her closest in Virginia this week, Professor Jamie Bishop. Across the country, there are hundreds of other shocked people like her, at a loss for explanation. How could this man fall through the cracks, as we've heard over and over again.

    Snip, to a potentially catastrophic of our own state mental heath system:

    The chaos and mismanagement of mental health reform under N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom justifies last week’s call by the Western Highlands Network for her resignation.

    Shortly after Odom’s tenure began, the N.C. General Assembly passed legislation revamping the mental health care delivery system. The aim was to get people out of state-run hospitals and back into the community, where an array of private providers would care for them. Local care would be overseen by area mental health programs, which became local management entities or LMEs.

    The goals were admirable. In addition to bringing care closer to home, by privatizing the system the state hoped to offer consumers more choice.

    But from the beginning, the reform has been an almost unmitigated failure, with constant turmoil between the state, the LMEs and private providers.

    Should Odom's "reforms" succeed, we have the potential for 100,000 children "falling through the cracks." I'm not reaching here.

    This is for real.

    Secretary Odom needs to resign now, and Governor Easley: you owe our children an explanation.

    filed under: the state of things blogged: 12.26 Fri, 20 Apr '07

    Fri 13 Apr 07

    Lobbying Update: Many Bent Ears, Little Movement

    I spent the day yesterday lobbying Raleigh (with a young lobbyist, even) for a reversal of the catastrophic decision to slash the mental health reform program the state and providers have fought so hard to create. It seems Governor Mike Easley, Lt. Governor Beverly Perdue, and Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom (c'mon googlebots, spider this post) have decided to hide away from the issue and impending disaster, while the Legislature is largely and bipartisanly pissed off. I will remember this, Bev, during primary season. Remember Ned Lamont?

    It's a complex issue, and good pal and bloggy comrade Screwie Hoolie has established an excellent backgrounder on the issue, to whom I now defer:

    SAVE OUR SYSTEM

    * On April 5, 2007 Sec. Odom approved slashing Community Support rates 33%.
    * By April 12, 2007 many mental health agencies across the State have announced massive layoffs.
    * The new system is only 1 year old.
    * 100's of companies across the State are teetering on the brink and will close in the next 30 days or face bankruptcy.
    * In Western NC alone 20,000 mental health, substance abuse and developmentally disabled consumers will be without any services.
    * Across NC this number is in the 100,000s.

    WHY COMMUNITY SUPPORT?Carmen2.jpg

    * Community Support is the linchpin of the Mental Health Recovery Model and Mental Health Reform.
    * Without Community Support Reform DOES NOT work.
    * DHHS found “over utilization of community support” and budget over-runs the first year of $500 million.
    * Community Support is a BRAND NEW service as of 3/20/2006.
    * DHHS created a budget not knowing how much it would cost.
    * NOW we know.
    * At beginning of reform, costs are higher the first 2 years--THESE are start up costs.
    * After 2 years costs will decrease.

    REALITY CHECK

    LIE: Mark Benton, DMA deputy director, repeatedly quoted that 98% of community support being done by paraprofessionals (high school graduates, no experience).

    FACT: 100s of Professional Provider Agencies exist and have a mix of Qualified Professionals (Bachelor's plus experience or Master's), Associated Professionals--college degree and experience and Para-professionals.

    LIE: The MAJORITY of providers are abusing the system

    FACT: Recent Audit done by DHHS only sampled the “outliers”--those agencies billing the most per client--167 agencies of over 1000. Professional Provider Agencies who volunteered for the audit were ignored.

    LIE: a 33% REDUCTION is the only way to address the large budget shortfall and over-expenditure of community support.

    FACT: Secretary Odom made this decision without consulting legislators or providers. Legislators have other solutions. Sec. Odom will not listen.

    LIE: Dep. Director Benton repeatedly quoted as saying “NO PROVIDERS WILL GO OUT OF BUSINESS” with this rate slash.

    FACT: Most providers will go out of business within 30 days--the new system will be destroyed.

    DEMAND SEC. ODOM RESCIND THIS RATE SLASH. DEMAND SERVICES BE RESTORED BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

    Should the good Secretary continue ahead with the horrid plan to take this service away from our most vulnerable, not only will I join with thousands of others to demand her resignation, I will exercise my first amendment rights in such a way that will leave little room for diplomacy.

    Demand that our kids and families receive the respect from their government they are entitled to BY LAW. [more]

    filed under: the state of things blogged: 13.04 Fri, 13 Apr '07

    Fri 06 Apr 07

    North Carolina: more money for old buildings, less concern for mental health

    Our great state has been reworking its horrid mental health infrastructure for years now. In the process, consumers of services and their families have been strapped in to a roller coaster which peaks at new services, and suddenly drops again as these services are savaged to appropriate monies elsewhere. A result of this reform was to create an amalgam of two different services; Community Based Services (one-on-one mental health interventions in school, home, and community) and case management (linking and brokering mental health resource access). This service was implemented last March, and while some agencies have over-used it, it's been the best recovery-based model of service delivery we've seen for some time. Of course, I can say that because it's what I do, and I love what I do. I've counted many successes in my clients over the years, and they are progressing rapidly toward independence from the "system."

    Here's a snippet from the most recent memo from the state regarding its targeting of CS for budget cuts:

    cs.jpg

    It came down the wire yesterday that the state has decided to cut the rate of reimbursement for Community Support by 35%, which will effectively isolate thousands of consumers from receiving the mental health services they need and deserve. Many agencies will likely shut down. It will, in effect, create the mental health crisis the services was created to avoid. My agency has already responded to this by alerting consumers to the state's desire to shift more money (apparently) to upkeep of public buildings, which is allocated the same amount of money which the state under-projected for this service, $30 million [.pdf]. The $20 billion budget gives 23% to Health and Human Services, 60% goes to education, 10% to roads and public safety, etc. Sure, HHS already gets a large portion of the budget, but despite the glimmering Research Triangle, poverty is still a major problem in this, the most over-taxed of states in the East (while corporations enjoy countless tax breaks). Poverty has a profound impact on mental health and substance use. Disrupting this service now will only result in greater expense later.

    Cut. Off. Nose. To. Spite. Face.

    Seriously, the state needs to take a deep breath, get into a calm quiet place, and ask itself WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING? Today, I'm collecting letters from the parents and kids I service, and will be faxing them to the offices of Senator Nesbitt and Representative Insko, demanding that the state stop and think about cutting this service so drastically, while assuring that our old buildings look spotless for tourists. I'm not reaching... that's exactly the size of the problem.

    Tarheels, earn yourself a gold star and raise your voice against impacting the lives of countless kids and families with this reactive, thoughtless, negligent decision. If the kids can't depend on the state, than they must depend on your objection to this impulsive move... just as they depend on their CS Workers to help their families recover from mental illness and renew their right to a healthy childhood.

    filed under: the state of things blogged: 08.36 Fri, 06 Apr '07

    Thu 29 Mar 07

    Cloak, Dagger, and clicking "Send"

    As things crumble for the politically vile and ethically spent White House, some interesting items have some to light regarding their email system, which could in fact blow the lid off of some very interesting crimes and misdemeanors felonies:

    GWB43 is the name of an internet server owned by the Republican National Committee. The White House has its own internal email system, ending in the .gov suffix, as mandated by the Presidential Records Act. The law requires that public business be conducted on a public server. Yet documents made public in the course of the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal reveal that key Administration figures used such email addresses ending with "gwb43.com." ...A list of domains that share mailservers and nameservers with gwb43 reveals numerous sites connected to either powerful Republicans or to the Religious Right. On the mailserver list, we find domains connected to Bush, Newt Gingrich, and ohiogop.org. [snip: GWB43.com is hosted by SmartTechCorp, allied with key administration friends and cronies]. ...One does not need to exercise much imagination to see how anyone using the net for nefarious purposes would want a "friendly" hosting company handling ultra-sensitive duties. Hosting companies keep records of who does what. If you are using computers to do something you don't want the world to know about, you don't want those records available to just anyone. As the controversy over the 2004 elections gathered steam, Karl Rove made a joke about fixing the election returns from a computer in the White House basement. This remark struck some observers as the sort of jest that the villain in Rope might have uttered: "Yeah, sure, I strangled my friend for no good reason and hid his body in the cupboard! Now seriously, how about that drink...?"

    So, this ties in with the Attorney Purge scandal, and interestingly, a single piece of email might prove to be a huge indictment of Domenici, Wilson, Rove, W, et al:

    New Mexico Republican Sen. Pete Domenici’s chief of staff sent a cryptic thank-you note to Karl Rove just as the senator was recommending replacements for David Iglesias, the fired U.S. attorney in New Mexico, according to internal White House and Justice Department documents. Buried in Justice Department documents released two weeks ago, the Bell e-mail was not initially noticed by congressional investigators because it was sent to Rove’s political e-mail account—not his more clearly recognizable White House e-mail address. It is not clear from the content of the e-mail what Bell was thanking Rove for. But the thank-you note is the first indication that Rove himself may have been involved in replacing Iglesias. It is the dismissal of Iglesias—fired after Domenici complained about his handling of a local corruption investigation—that has raised the most serious questions of political interference in the U.S. attorney controversy. “This absolutely corroborates what I’ve been saying all along—this is a political matter, not a performance matter,” Iglesias said when a Newsweek reporter read him the e-mail today. “What is he thanking him [Rove] for? It’s thanking him for getting Dave out of the picture.”

    It may be full of tubes, it may take two whole days to "send an internet," but by golly, its very nature cannot shelter the truly nefarious. Well played, internet!

    filed under: the state of things blogged: 12.29 Thu, 29 Mar '07

    Tue 27 Mar 07

    What's beyond the Left/Right Paradigm?

    Prospect Mag: We asked 100 writers and thinkers to answer the following question: Left and right defined the 20th century. What's next? The pessimism of their responses is striking: almost nobody expects the world to get better in the coming decades, and many think it will get worse.

    :( Expectation's a bitch. It will get worse if we give up on it. With the rise of what Harvey calls "cultural creatives," there's so much great potential to transform the world. But, alas, here's what the thinkers say.

    "Instead of left/right we’re moving to open/closed."

    "The coming cleavage is between zealots and realists."

    "In the future, the main conflict in developed countries will be between conservative populism and liberal elitism."

    "The new struggle is between the best of the Enlightenment legacy (rationalism, scientific empiricism, separation of church and state) on the one hand and, on the other, various forms of obscurantism and value-free relativism, often disguised as “anti-imperialism” or “anti-universalism” to give profoundly reactionary attitudes an alluringly radical veneer."

    Oh, duality. Whither the multitudes?

    filed under: the state of things blogged: 13.06 Tue, 27 Mar '07

    Thu 22 Mar 07

    Planet of Slums

    By 2015 there will be at least 550 cities with a population of more than one million. Already this aggregate population is growing ‘by a million babies and migrants each week’. The peak will come in 2050, when ten billion people, by then the great majority of humankind, will be living in cities: ‘95 per cent of this final build-out of humanity will occur in the urban areas of developing countries, whose populations will double to nearly four billion over the next generation.’ Even more striking than these huge projected increases and the assertion that they are ‘final’ is the accelerating rate at which they’re taking place – nowhere faster than in China. Davis refers to cities with a population of eight million and rising as ‘megacities’. There are more than 20 megacities in the developing world. Two of these – Mexico City and Seoul – were ‘hypercities’ (with 20 million inhabitants) at the time he published this book. Since then São Paulo and Mumbai must also have hit the 20 million mark, with Delhi fast approaching it.

    Concentric sprawl at the edges of discrete metropolitan centres is not the only model of substandard housing growth. There is also the built-up corridor, which takes shape as the hinterlands between smaller and larger cities become developed, or strictly speaking underdeveloped, and an elongated urban swathe begins to form, like that of the Rio/São Paulo Extended Metropolitan Region, effectively a serpentine city 500 km in length, with a megacity at either end and two bulges – medium-size cities – in between. A similar urban ribbon is developing in West Africa; by 2020, according to an OECD study, it will run for 600 km from Accra to Benin City and contain 60 million inhabitants. Davis believes it will be ‘the biggest single footprint of urban poverty on earth’.

    filed under: the state of things blogged: 16.08 Thu, 22 Mar '07

    Wed 14 Mar 07

    In the new science, we tell you the results of the experiment so you don't have to bother.

    Methinks that the Bush Administration Quagmire directly imports their "science" advisers directly from the Dark Ages via a magical time-warp-hole which has opened somewhere near the fleshy nether regions of one Mr. Karl Rove. As evidenced by:


    Polar bears, sea ice and global warming are taboo subjects, at least in public, for some U.S. scientists attending meetings abroad, environmental groups and a top federal wildlife official said on Thursday. Environmental activists called this scientific censorship, which they said was in line with the Bush administration's history of muzzling dissent over global climate change... The matter came to light in e-mails from the Fish and Wildlife Service that were distributed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Biological Diversity, both environmental groups. Listed as a "new requirement" for foreign travelers on U.S. government business, the memo says that requests for foreign travel "involving or potentially involving climate change, sea ice, and/or polar bears" require special handling, including notice of who will be the official spokesman for the trip.

    Hogwash. Humbug. Well, lest the secret leak out that dinosaurs weren't really put on Earth 6,000 years ago to test man's faith:

    The U.S. Geological Survey is the latest government agency that is feeling the heat from the Bush administration, which appears to be clamping down on research that may go against official policy. New government rules now require screening of all facts and interpretations by agency scientists. The scientists under this new requirement study everything from caribou mating to global warming, but the new rules apply to all scientific papers and other public documents. In fact, even minor reports or prepared talks are under scrutiny now. When asked to clarify, officials at the Interior Department's scientific arm say the rules only standardize what scientists must do to ensure the quality of their work and give a heads-up to the agency's public relations staff.

    And the inanity extends even out into the sweet pristine cosmos, which surely contains heaven somewhere:

    ...Deutsch not only faked his resume but more importantly had been censoring scientific publications produced at NASA by applying a religious Creationist rewrite of technical research... The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion. It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator. This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."

    So, for the next two years, we are left to imagine what it will be like when we resume the Golden Age of Science while we settle for, well, A-Somewhat-Shoddily-Applied-Faux-Gold-Finish-Sealed-With-Polyeurothane-
    And-Gently-Presented-On-A-Pat-Robertson-Approved-Platter-To-Dear-Leader age of would-be science. In the meantime, George, Dick and Karl, no cataclysms plz kthxbi :)

    filed under: the state of things blogged: 13.59 Wed, 14 Mar '07

    Thu 08 Mar 07

    Exploring a Free Kitchen in Delhi

    Innovation and Cooperation in Defeating Hunger...

    Every Sikh temple throughout the world has a Langar (Punjabi for "free kitchen"). This is not a soup kitchen. It's not exclusively for the poor, nor exclusively for the Sikh community. Volunteering in the cooking, serving and cleaning process is a form of active spiritual practice for devotees, but the service they provide asks no religious affiliation of its recipients. Our guide's chorus was, "Man, woman, color, caste, community," meaning you will be fed here regardless of how you fit into any of those classifications. This spirit of inclusion and equality is reinforced by the kitchen's adherence to vegetarianism, not because Sikhs are vegetarian, but because others who visit may be, and by serving no meat, they exclude nobody...

    ...The Gurwara Bangla Sahib langara has been feeding Delhi residents since 1935. Day in and day out a factory of human hands churns out what one member of our group observed as a day's peace of mind for hungry members of the community. "If you get your day's meal," he said, "you can relax. You can survive."

    filed under: the state of things blogged: 12.44 Thu, 08 Mar '07

    Tue 27 Feb 07

    Chomsky on Iran, Iraq, and the Rest of the World

    If you look back at the record, what was the main reason for the U.S. attack on Vietnam? Independent development can be a virus that can infect others. That’s the way it’s been put, Kissinger in this case, referring to Allende in Chile. And with Cuba it’s explicit in the internal record. Arthur Schlesinger, presenting the report of the Latin American Study Group to incoming President Kennedy, wrote that the danger is the spread of the Castro idea of taking matters into your own hands, which has a lot of appeal to others in the same region that suffer from the same problems. Later internal documents charged Cuba with successful defiance of U.S. policies going back 150 years – to the Monroe Doctrine -- and that can’t be tolerated. So there’s kind of a state commitment to ensuring obedience.

    Going back to Iran, it’s not only that it has substantial resources and that it’s part of the world’s major energy system but it also defied the United States. The United States, as we know, overthrew the parliamentary government, installed a brutal tyrant, was helping him develop nuclear power, in fact the very same programs that are now considered a threat were being sponsored by the U.S. government, by Cheney, Wolfowitz, Kissinger, and others, in the 1970s, as long as the Shah was in power. But then the Iranians overthrew him, and they kept U.S. hostages for several hundred days. And the United States immediately turned to supporting Saddam Hussein and his war against Iran as a way of punishing Iran. The United States is going to continue to punish Iran because of its defiance. So that’s a separate factor.

    And again, the will of the U.S. population and even US business is considered mostly irrelevant.

    filed under: the state of things blogged: 12.40 Tue, 27 Feb '07

    Tue 20 Feb 07

    Game Over: Thirty-Six Sure-Fire Signs That Your Empire Is Crumbling

    You know your empire’s crumbling when the folks who are gearing up their empire to replace yours start blowing up satellites in space. And then they don’t bother to return your phone calls when you ring up to ask why.

    You know your empire’s crumbling when those same folks are cutting deals left, right and center across Asia, Latin America and Africa, while you, your lousy terms, and your arrogant attitude are no longer welcome.

    You know your empire’s crumbling when you’re spending your grandchildren’s money like a drunken sailor, and letting your soon-to-be rivals finance your little splurge (i.e., letting them own your country).

    You know your empire’s crumbling when it’s considered an achievement to pretend that you’ve halved the rate at which you’re adding to the massive mountain of debt you’ve already accumulated.

    You know your empire’s crumbling when you weaken your currency until it looks as anemic as a Paris runway model, and you’re still setting record trade deficits. (Hint: Because you’re not making anything anymore.) Etc. Etc.

    filed under: the state of things blogged: 13.19 Tue, 20 Feb '07

     

    "Aut Viam Inveniam, Aut Faciam." - Seneca