26 September 2006

Las Vegas Homeless Advocacy Demo Pics

Went to a demo held by a new homeless advocacy group here in Las Vegas called SNAHP(Southern Nevada Advocates for Homeless People) on the Strip this evening, and was one of around 30-40 participants in the march.

Also took some pics of portions of the demo, which can be seen at http://lasvegas.staughton.indypgh.org/news/2006/09/5531.php.

Wander on over there, and check 'em out, if you feel like it.

They ain't Pulitzer Prize material, by any means.

But, aside from a cameraman for the local Fox station here in Vegas, they may be some of the relatively few footage or pics of the demo.

War Signals? A The Nation article link

Am enclosing a link to a The Nation article that I read this morning, entitled "War Signals?", in this post.

It concerns the dispatch of a US Naval task force from Virginia to the Persian Gulf, where it may or mayn't take part in any possible US military action against Iran at the end of next month.

If you think the article sound, please pass this link onto your family, friends and associates.

Everyone should know about this, as this may be one of the most important political and military decisions made in the US in the past decade.

It may also be nothing, but why take the chance???

The link's http://www.thenation.com/doc/20061009/lindorff.

12 September 2006

A Response To Keith Olbermann's Blog of 12th September, 2006

The following's a re-post of another blog, this one written to-day, that I originally posted on my MySpace blog.

Oh, before I leave you to the message below, one more thing, and that's I've made it so that you don't have to be a Blogger member to leave comment on here anymore. Have decided to go with the word verification thingy to avoid the comment spam I was gettin' on here when I first started up.

So, just enter in the word given to you if you want to leave a comment on this or any other thing featured here.

That's it.

A friend of mine sent me a link to a YouTube video of Keith Olbermann's latest commentary on 11th September and the Bush Administration. Well, I'm on the Dread Dial-Up, which generally means that down-load times for YouTube videos on my computer generally tend to range between a Day and an Age and an eternity for me.

So, I did the next best thing, and went over, via truthout.org, to Mr. Olbermann's blog at MSNBC, where I read the text version.

The following's the reactions I wrote down in response to my friend's message. Have tried to take out the personal parts of the original, because they don't fit with the general thrust of what I've to say here.

One last thing: I eventually decided not to put the following in my response as it'd have taken my friend as long to read it as I wrote it.

So, I decided to post it here, and make you poor bastards suffer, instead.

As you've doubtlessly already guessed, this is a longish post, so those of you with short attention spans or limited patience might want to avoid it.

If you don't fit into the latter, Good Luck to you, and May God Help You, 'cos I really don't know when to shut up.

If there's one thing that I think Mr. Olbermann left out of his commentary, it's this: 11th September happened for a number of reasons, the most important of which were US and Israeli policies and actions in the Middle East over the past forty-fifty years.

Whether we like it or not, our policies and actions, and those of the Israeli government as well, helped create an enviroment in which Muslim ultra-fundamentalists, like Osama Bin-Laden, could successfully argue that both countries were engaged in a "War Against Islam", and the Muslim world, and where they could exploit the trememdous anger felt by many Muslims, especially Arab ones, at the Americans and Israelis, over the Israeli/Palestinian crisis, the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia, and many other issues.

Many Muslims, Arab and non-Arab alike, were, and are, angered by our support for the kinds of authoritarian governments, like those of Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and others, and the policies and actions carried out by those governments at the expense of their own peoples.

Corruption and un-responsiveness to their own peoples by those same goverments, as well as the kind of political and social repression practised by the regimes I've mentioned above, of political and social advocates for change, of various stripes, also helped to create the form of ultra-fundamentalist Islam, since many of those same regimes also used some form of state-sponsored, or at least indulged, form of Islam as a means of channelling and diverting their peoples' anger and desire for change into what they hoped would be "harmless" religious activities that would present no threat to them and theirs.

How wrong they were, especially after the kind of mass mobilisation of Muslims to wage jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Russians in Chechnya, and the Serbs and Croats in Bosnia in the '80s and '90s, as well as the rise of radical Shi'i Islam in Iran, Lebanon and Iraq in the '70s, '80s and '90s, due, in part, to our policies and support for the Shah's regime in Iran, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in '82, and the Gemayel government that came to power in the aftermath of that invasion(the reason that the USS New Jersey, among other American and French ships and aircraft, was shelling and bombing Lebanese Druze Muslim areas in the Shuf Mountain range close to Beirut in '83, was because that goverment had sent the Lebanese Army, as well as the Lebanese Forces, the biggest Christian militia fighting in the Lebanese Civil War, which was raging at that time, into the Shuf to sock it to the Druze militia there, which was supporting the various Shi'i militias who opposed that government, with which we'd aligned ourselves), and the kinds of deals that we made with the Iraqi Ba'athists during the Iran-Iraq War at that same time.

All of these events, plus many, many more that I've not mentioned here, due both to space and time considerations, desire to save you any more reading of my oft-ponderous writing style, and simple ignorance or forgetting on my part, combined to help create the kind of political and social situations in the Middle East and throughout much of the Muslim world that would come back to haunt us, resulting in what happened on 11th September, 2001.

From the Truman Administration on-wards, our policies and actions in the Middle East, combined with those of the Israeli government, the various Egyptian, Saudi, Iraqi, Iranian, Lebanese, and other governments, as well as the various Palestinian faction leaders, and leaders of other factions throughout the Arab and Muslim world, have, in one way or another, inflicted death, injury, torture, repression, fear and a fierce desire for revenge on the parts of many living in that region, and elsewhere, and it was that latter that came right at us on 11th September, 2001.

This doesn't justify the wholesale murder of thousands of people in New York, Washington and in Pennsylvania on that day, however.

Al-Qaida, the Taliban, and their various supporters and imitators throughout the world are, like their counter-parts in the West and Israel, lovers of power and death.

Those are their true religions, not Islam, just as, for the Bushes, Cheneys, Coulters, Blairs, Sharons and Olmerts in the West and Israel, Christianity and Judaism aren't.

Blood and Iron are what they love, and, if the Taliban's record of governance in Afghanistan is anything to go by, they proved themselves to be spectacularly inept in providing anything else to their desperately war-weary and needy people.

Their Northern Alliance, and other Afghan opponents, were no better on this score. They were simply even more inept and divided than the Taliban were, and that's why many Afghans, especially those from the country's Pashtun majority, from whom many Taliban leaders and recruits came, rallied to it, at least initially.

But, the Taliban soon proved themselves to be exactly what they were- a bunch of angry teen-age Pashtun refugees poorly educated, for the most part, in ultra-fundamentalist religious schools in and around the refugee camps in Pakistan, where they grew up during the Soviet-Afghan War, led by men who may have not had much more academic education than their followers, but who had plenty more worldly experience, and supported by Pakistani army and intelligence officers and Saudi money, which were provided for their donors' own purposes, who'd about as much idea of running a modern nation, as a duck does translating Shakespeare.

The only things at which the Taliban were any good were waging war and frightening and repressing an already fearful and repressed people, at least, in the areas of Afghanistan they controlled.

They relied on Japanese cars and trucks for their transport, Russian and other countries'- made arms and ammunition for their weaponry, and Saudi and Pakistani money, intelligence information and military advice to help them win their battles.

They even had help with the latter from the large number of seconded Pakistani Army officers on detached service with the Taliban forces, Pakistani volunteers to provide more cannon fodder, and, of course, the Arab and other nationals' members of Al-Qaida.

That's why, to me, any sort of Calliphate set up by Al-Qaida and its supporters, if that's what they even really want to do, would, over time, be a spectacularly ineptly-run failure, as, even though a number of its members and supporters are trained as engineers and the like, its leadership and middle-ranking officials are, first and foremost, death-and-power-lovers, just as so many of Western and Israeli leaders are, with no real interest in the welfare of their own peoples, aside from their own, and those immediately around them.

The tragedy is that, through the policies of the American, Israeli, and other Western governments, the Soviet and Russian governments, and, of course, the various Arab and Muslim goverments, these death-and-power lovers ever got the chance to emerge and be taken seriously by much of the Arab and Muslim public, much less that they got the chance to pull off their various deeds, including 11th September.

This represents a colossal failure of responsibility and will on the parts of not only those governments, but of their opposition as well, whether coming from the centre, left or right wings of their various polities, and of their publics, too.

The Western and Israeli Left have far too often been content to make the kinds of compromises, when they've been in power, that resulted in policies and actions that have contributed to the various cycles of death and destruction, or, if not in power, for sniping from the side-lines and failing to make an effective enough case to their publics, as to why they should be in power, and, once there, implementing the kinds of policies they advocate on this, and many other issues.

I include those segments of the Western and Israeli Left who've opted not to participate in elections, because they disdain bourgeois elections as being part of a rotten political and economic system.

OK. Now, I've a question for those segments and their supporters???? If not through elections or other forms of action, like the kind of general strike advocated by anarcho-syndicalists, or through violence, how else are you going to be able to take and exercice power, so that you can effectively implement the kinds of policies towards the Arab and Muslim world, as well as with every other kind of issue at hand????

Protests, agitation, and other tactics like that are great. But, without actually getting into positions of decision-making power, those can be ignored or dismissed by the Powers That Be, albeit not always easily.

Eventually, some sort of negotiations between the various Western governments, the Israeli government, and the various Arab and Muslim governments, and their opponents, will have to come about, especially, as Afghanistan and Iraq have shown, the policies and actions that the former have taken thus far have only resulted in counter-productively bloody death, injury and destruction, with no positive results on the ground to show for them.

Likewise, for Al-Qaida, the Taliban, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and many others besides, while they may very well win at least some, if not all of their goals, in Iraq and Afghanistan, they may eventually run into a fact that most guerrilla armies engaged in a long-running war do, and that's, without substantial support from outside powers, and particularly outside regular armies with the resources and training to wage a decisive military campaign, they can wear their opponents down, yes, but, in turn, they and their peoples can also be worn down to a nub by the wars they fight.

Sooner or later, the choices open to them become pretty stark: keep fighting with fewer and fewer results, until the group starts splitting apart at the seams, give up entirely, and watch the group fly to flinders, or sit down at the negotiating table with their opponents, and work out the very best possible deal they can for themselves and their people.

The Provisional IRA, by the mid-'90s, was confronted with those choices, after fighting the British Army, Ulster Defence Force and Royal Ulster Constabulary, and Protestant para-militaries since 1969, and found that, the longer it went on, the fewer constructive results it was getting.

The British and Ulster Protestants had also found that, while they might have been able to badly hurt or stem the amount of damage the Provos could do to them, they couldn't destroy their opponents.

Whether any one of them wanted to admit it or not, they were all stale-mated.

Depending on how long this goes on, I think that this set of struggles will do the same to the Americans, British, Israelis, various Arab and Muslim governments, and their opponents as well.

A hit here, a victory there, a defeat somewhere else, but, in the end, all of these sides, and their respective peoples, will find that they can't completely defeat nor destroy their opponents.

Ulitmately, all concerned will have to bite the bullet, swallow all of the rhetoric they've heaped onto the world's public for years and decades, sit down and negotiate with their opposites, and eventually hash out a compromise peace of some sort.

That peace won't satisfy everyone, will include all manner of sorry, shabby deals, and will have only come after years of lives, blood, treasure and other resources have been thrown away in the pursuit of stupid dreams and goals.

It will be a peace of mutual exhaustion and resignation.

But, considering the foundations on which it will have been built, at least, it will be some sort of peace.

We in the West desperately need to change the ways in which we interact with the Muslim and Arab worlds, as well as with the rest of world, period. To do that, we need to, among other things, throw out, like the Spanish people did the Aznar goverment, those leaders and policies that are built on deceptions, lies and assumptions about what's "rightfully" ours, and what isn't.

It won't come through elections alone, nor through protests, strikes and other such tactics, but through a combination of those and other forms of public pressure on our governing classes, and, through them, the Israeli and various Arab and Muslim governing classes, too.

At the same time, Al-Qaida and company will eventually have to learn, through a combination of military, police and other pressures, that their continued use of violence will only back-fire on them as time goes on.

But, this means the judicious use of such pressure.

The American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, Israeli occupation of the West Bank and intimidation of the Gaza Strip's inhabitants, Russian occupation of Chechnya, and other actions like them, must end, so that military, intelligence and other resources can be better and more effectively used, in combination with peace overtures and other forms of positive engagement, to bring them to the negotiating table, and "jaw-jaw rather than war-war", to steal a phrase from that old arch-imperialist Winston Churchill, who at least sometimes knew when to fight and when to talk, unlike so many of our leaders to-day.

The end of those occupations will also mean the end of a prime recruiting tool for Al-Qaida, the Taliban and their ilk, as without American, British, Israeli and Russian troops running all the place, making the kinds of horrific messes that soldiers do in the countries they occupy, much of their claims of defending the Muslim and Arab worlds will start coming into question, after a short period of victorious after-glow.

It will also put them under a very different kind of pressure than anything we could ever throw at them, and that's the pressure to deliver on the promises they made during the fighting, and on rebuiliding their shattered countries' infrastructures.

That will take some time, but, not an eternity,as some might think.

The hardest thing for any politician to do, especially one who's come into power through violence, is to deal with the day-to-day work, plus the rebuilding, of his or her respective territory.

General De Gaulle quit the French government in 1946, after saying, among other things, that he didn't fight for France's liberation only to "have to worry about the macaroni ration".

Eventually, he returned to power in 1958, when France was once again involved in a grave crisis.

However, he at least learned to deal with such things as the macaroni ration his next time in.

I don't think Bin-Laden and Mullah Omar will.

Sheik Nasrallah of Hizbollah has, and will, if what I've read about Hizbollah's reconstruction efforts in Lebanon are true.

But, he's also had experience as the leader of a combined political-military-religious and charitable organisation, which neither Bin-Laden nor Omar have, and he's had to work within the confines of a political party system, which neither of the latter have had to do.

Consequently, Nasrallah's the only one of the lot I'd give more than a Hope in Hell to, of actually making the sort of society he and his supporters want work.

The others are mere players, prayers and praters, and will consequently find themselves in deep shit with their peoples, when they can't deliver on the day-to-day necessities of living that the latter need.

After a while, it doesn't matter how many Yanks, Brits, Jews or Russkies one killed in the various wars in which one fought, if one can't get working sewers or regular garbage disposal going and steadily maintained.

The more Al-Qaida, the Taliban and others fail on those issues, especially in the absence of American, British, Israeli and Russian troops in their areas, the stronger the pressure from the peoples they fought for will be for them to put up or shut up, and that's a kind of pressure that the West and Israel can't put on their opponents.

But, it may very well be that kind of pressure, along with political, military, police and economic pressures and incentives, that may very well beat Al-Qaida, the Taliban and their ilk.

Only time, plus changes in policies and actions on the parts of the West, Israel and the various Arab and Muslim governments, will tell.

11 September 2006

11th September, 2001/2006

This is the full text of a blog entry that I wrote in my MySpace blog to-day on the fifth anniversary of 11th September, 2001.

The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone, and I don't expect anyone else to either share nor agree with them.

11th September, 2001/2006
Category: News and Politics

Yesterday and earlier this morning, I was thinking of what best to say to commemorate this day, and what happened five years ago on this very day.

My answer???? This: to-day belongs to the victims, living and dead, of the hi-jackings and mass murders that happened on 11th September, 2001, their families, friends and associates, as well as to all those who died, have been wounded, or have suffered as a result of the various events in the five years following those events.

They don't belong to anyone else, me, you, Joe Blow, Sally Snow, this current Administration, nor anyone who didn't suffer a loss, either directly or indirectly as a result of everything outlined above.

This is THEIR day to grieve and to mourn, just as is every other day, and we've no right to intrude our various agendas, personal, political, what have you, upon their grief.

If we can do something, anything, at all for those people, it is to simply say that we are sorry for their losses and for the pain that they've had to endure.

Our view-points are simply immaterial and irrelevant to the story at hand here.

If we can't do anything for the victims and their loved ones, we should at least commemorate the day and its events quietly, in the privacy of our own homes and souls, maybe light a candle in the privacy of our homes, think on what happened on 11th September, 2001, and why it happened, and thusly resolve to change our lives and actions so that something like that doesn't happen again.

Forget the flags and ceremonies. They aren't for you, if you've not suffered the loss of a loved one on that day, nor afterwards, and they aren't appropriate to the occasion.

Finally, if we can't do anything else for the victims and their families, we should at least leave them decently alone, so they can cope with their losses, their memories and their pain without our intruding on them.

May the souls of those who died on 11th September, 2001 and afterwards rest in peace, may their families, friends and associates find some sort of peace and the strength to cope with the pain of their losses, and may we learn how to better conduct ourselves in the world as a result.

That is all I have to say on this subject.

That really is pretty much it on the subject for me. Anything else on my part, I think, would be exploitation of those who died on that day, their families, friends and associates, and of those who died in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world as a result of the events and their loved ones.

May all of their souls rest in peace.

09 September 2006

"Big Men" The Poem

Well, Folks. Got permission from Mr. Jason Quiggle, "Big Men"'s author, to reproduce the text of the poem here, so, here goes.

on a verdant

weeping lawn

i wept as he wept

on his knees,

my gun in his face.


told him

not to hurt what

he had

or i'd make it

so no one would see his face again-

i'd be the last.

i left

him there

and never returned.

Again, thank you so much, Jason, for the poem, the inspiration it provided me to do the pics, and for permission to quote the poem in full here.

08 September 2006

Big Men Portrayed by Little Men

Well, finally got up off my dead arse, and made the following set of pics to-night.

The series is entitled "Big Men" , and is based on a short poem of mine by an old acquaintance of mine from the Las Vegas poetry scene of the early and mid-90s, Jason Quiggle.

The poem, as can be deduced from its pictorial adaptations, is about violence, and its after-effects, on the two men involved in it.

It reminded me a bit of some of what I'd seen in James Ellroy's novels(LA Confidential, The Black Dahila, The Cold Ten Thousand, and others), and so, I thought I'd have a crack at adapting it.

Don't know if Mr. Quiggle will care for my adaptations of his work, but, will see.

To see the original poem, please go to http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=7270559&blogID=163958748&MyToken=f80edb67-d179-4df3-9b2f-646600c86531.

If you're not a MySpace member, and can't access the poem via that link, no worries, as will write Mr. Quiggle and get his permission to reproduce the poem here.

In the meantime, look on and see what you think of the pics.