Wednesday, October 1, 2014

artificial reef park indonesia

Teguh Ostenrik, the Indonesian artist vagabond, has finally brought to life his underwater fascination to realize his environmental concern, with artworks planted deep in the waters around Senggigi, Lombok.
But instead of the delicate shapes and colors that often form his canvases, a maze-like structure seems to push its tentacles underneath the water mass. Soon corals will be covering the iron bars of scrap metal through whose pipes a light electric stream flows.
The project was launched on May 24, an uses the biorock artificial reef park indonesia system, which turns dissolved minerals in seawater into biorock or “seament,” to accelerate coral growth six times faster than natural growth.
The initiative is a collaborative effort by the Lombok Hotel Association (LHA) and the Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, with support from the Gili Eco Trust.
Starting off in the middle of Senggigi Beach, it is planned to extend to the entire length of the beach.
Teguh’s installation, which he calls Domus Sepiae, or Squid House, appears like artists’ floating palettes dancing five meters below the surface of the water. The lightweight appearance is deceptive, as each of the 16 modules of six-millimeter-thick iron plates, measuring 130 by 140 centimeters, weights 200 kilograms. Each is set on a two-meter-high iron pole.
“I have made holes in the thick plates as a way of fortification against strong currents and to allow fish to play around or hide from predators,” Teguh says.
“The poles are linked to each other to ensure that they stand firm even against strong currents.”
Asked how working with scrap metal this time differed from the process for his scrap metal works in the Defacement series in 2008, the artist says that this time he had to heed the guidelines from Delphine Robbe to protect the budding corals from being crushed when the structure trembles.
How did he come to be so passionate about the coral reefs?
“I was shocked when I found that the underwater landscape near Senggigi was barren like the Sahara desert,” Teguh says, explaining his resolve to use his art to reclaim the coral reefs.
He had been diving there nearly 30 years ago, admiring the underwater paradise. His fascination led him to present his amazing installation “Alam Dibawah Air” in 1988 at the building that now is the National Gallery. The public was invited into a darkened room, and entering it as if coming into the realm of the underwater world, one was provided a mask to make the illusion more real when looking at his paintings featuring his artistic representations of this wondrous world.
But when he returned to Lombok in 2011 he was taken aback: instead of the coral reefs and the pristine paradise with schools of fish, lobster and squid that he vividly remembered, he found a lifeless underwater desert.
Apalled, the artist whose sublime series “Homo Sapiens,” with his ancient images morphing the past with the present,  then decided to do what he considers his mission as an artist living amid such grave environmental degradation.
Indonesia, which has the highest coral reef biodiversity in the world, has only 6 percent left in a pristine state. Overfishing, dynamite fishing, pollution and other factors have left the rest destroyed or damaged.
When invited for a residency at Qunci Villas in Lombok, Teguh proposed to research the possibility of revitalizing the coral reefs through his art works.
“Rather than only making works to decorate walls with, I wanted my art to help recover the reefs that are the habitats of fish and so many other  species and the livelihood of the people dependent on them,” he says.
He learned of biorock, the artificial reef system that has been applied in other places, and was fortunate to get to know Robbe, the passionate and inspiring director of Gili Eco Trust, a local nongovernmental organization with an active involvement in protecting coral reefs.
After a lot of effort collecting enough scrap metal from around Lombok, Teguh then created his underwater installation that he called Domus Sepiae.
While other foreign artists have previously been involved in such efforts, Teguh is the first to provide his own materials, according to Robbe. For the others, the Gili Eco Trust provided for their needs.
And on May 24, the ARTificial Reef Park that Teguh denoted as an underwater museum was launched, off the beach from de Quake restaurant, located approximately midway along Senggigi. It is planned to extend along the entire beach eventually.
“I hope other artists will be interested in collaborating,” the 64-year-old says

for more information about artificial reef park indonesia , please kindly visit

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Soto Betawi di Gading Serpong

GADINGSERPONG - menu sup pasti sudah tidak asing di telinga foodies. Makanan Indonesia yang terbuat dari daging dan kaldu sayuran terkenal karena kelezatan. Salah satu menu sup yang cukup populer adalah sup daging sapi. Ingin mencicipi menu, sepertinya Anda perlu datang ke Roxy Restaurant Soto H Darwasa. restoran gading serpong ini terletak di Bolsena komersial, ini adalah cabang pertama dari Soto Roxy H Darwasa. Di restoran Jakarta cukup legendaris, seperti yang telah didirikan sejak tahun 1950 lalu. Tidak hanya usia tua terkenal, restoran gading serpong ini terkenal untuk melayani sup daging yang memiliki rasa khusus. "Khusus untuk kaldu sup, kaldu daging kita menggunakan dicampur dengan santan dicampur dengan rempah-rempah pilihan. Jadi rasanya lebih enak dan aman untuk makan karena mereka tidak menggunakan rasa bumbu, seperti monosodium glutamat (MSG)," kata Zulkarnain, pemilik Soto Roxy H Darwasa. Ada beberapa menu sup yang bisa dipilih sesuai keinginan pelanggan. Ada yang digoreng dan direbus sup daging, daging sapi paru-paru, lidah, kikil, usus dan vena. "Isi sup dapat disesuaikan dengan selera pelanggan," kata Zulkarnain. Dia menambahkan bahwa salah satu favorit dan terlaris menu di sini digoreng sup daging. "Jadi dalam daging goreng pertama, dan kemudian disajikan dengan sup saus. Sebagai pelengkap diberi kerupuk dan irisan daun bawang. Jangan lupa wedges kapur untuk lebih terasa segar". Untuk mendapatkan porsi menu, Anda tidak perlu menghabiskan mendalam. Semua menu sup di sini mulai dari Rp 28.000. Sementara itu, dalam rangka untuk memanjakan pelanggannya,restoran gading serpong Soto H Darwasa Roxy melayani rencana paket untuk katering, pertemuan sosial, pernikahan, dan pertemuan.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Masakan Kepiting

Kuliner - Masakan seafood terkenal kelezatannya. Dari sekian banyak korban dari hidangan makanan laut, kepiting adalah salah satu yang menjadi favorit banyak orang. Di balik cangkang keras, daging kepiting memiliki tekstur yang lembut dan lezat. Nah, untuk pecinta makanan pecinta kepiting olahan, ada satu tempat di Gading Serpong yang dapat menjadi tujuan referensi kuliner Anda. Leaf Crab Restaurant nama Jembo. Family restaurant konsep restoran yang memiliki menu andalan yang patut dicoba, daun kepiting jembo terbakar. Sebelum diolah, kepiting bumbu racikan diolesi pilihan pertama. Agar bumbu lebih meresap, kepiting direbus dan kemudian digoreng dengan pembungkus daun pisang. "Bungkus daun pisang dibuat campuran rempah-rempah yang lebih luas. Tampaknya cukup menggoda, daging lembut, lezat, dan tidak terlalu pedas saat dimakan. Untuk kepiting, pelanggan bebas memilih sesuka hati. Ada pilihan kepiting jantan, telur, dan jumbo, "kata Harris F Aison, Crab Restaurant General Manager Leaves Jembo pemilik restoran gading serpong. Ada juga pilihan lain kepiting olahan senilai check-out. Seperti saus lada hitam kepiting, gurun, dan tiram. Namun, bagi pelanggan yang ingin merasakan sensasi kepiting persiapan soft shell, menu kepiting soka bisa menjadi pilihan. "Jika menu ini, soft shell dan mudah untuk membuka. Jadi, pelanggan tidak perlu repot-repot untuk memakannya," kata Haris. Tidak hanya kepiting menu, pergi Haris, di mana ia juga menyajikan menu seafood olahan lainnya. Mulai dari panggang ikan kuwe lilin jimbaran, kerang madu, panggang cumi melompat telur jembo udang rebus, dan berbagai sayuran olahan. Sementara haus rilis, bandung es yang terbuat dari campuran fanta jeruk dan santan dan es bisa menjadi pilihan yang pas. "Untuk Berbicara tentang harga menu sekarang tetap laris es jeruk kelapa., Semua menu kami mulai dai tag harga Rp 40 ribu," pungkasnya

Sewa Mobil Surabaya

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


What were your favorite breakfast cereals when you were a kid?

One of the reasons I ask this is because I can't remember the last time I had a bowl of cereal for breakfast -- I've been working 12-hour nights for years, and concepts like "breakfast time," "lunch time," and "supper time" do not figure prominently in my life. I eat what I can eat when I need to eat it, the presence or the absence of the sun be damned. "Breakfast" often consists of half a submarine sandwich, "lunch" usually involves a salad, a yogurt, and the other half of the sub, and it's not odd for me to have a Western omelette for "supper" before bedtime. Drinking lots of beer over the years has helped just a little more than it's harmed me in this regard -- but that's a subject for another post. Now back to cereals...

I ate dozens of cereals when I was but a tiny mockling. I remember eating both Quisp and Fruit Brute at least once -- do either of those brands ring a bell, senoras and horsemen? I even remember eating Lucky Charms when that brand only featured four different marshmallows. But there are three cereals from my kidhood that I seem to recall liking the most: Cinnamon Life, Frosted Flakes, and Rice Chex. I might have been the only kid in my hometown who liked Rice Chex.

One cereal I couldn't stand was Cocoa Puffs. Never liked it, never will. Sonny, to me, was the perfect mascot for that cereal -- you truly had to be cuckoo to enjoy eating that shit. I didn't like Kellogg's Corn Flakes, either, but at one point in my life, economic troubles forced my nuclear family to live with my maternal grandparents, and they ate Corn Flakes for breakfast. This meant I was going to eat Corn Flakes for breakfast, too, so I eventually got used to that. But I don't think I'll ever acquire a taste for Cocoa Puffs.

Ho-kay, enough about me. What about you?

Ideas and Diplomacy

This week is the week that my ideas about international relations and problem-solving (example here) seem to be gaining a higher profile and even some currency. Not that I wrote any of the articles or can even claim the ideas as original thought. I can claim a longstanding belief in the underlying ideals and have articulated them in a variety of ways over four decades. So I am pleased to see that others are presenting these ideas to a larger audience.

The Institute for Policy Studies just released a report called "Just Security" in which the US would act "as a global partner, not a global boss".
Among other features, "Just Security" calls for reducing US military spending by a third, or some US$213 billion; carrying out a "rapid" withdrawal of US forces from Iraq; and seeking sharp cuts in the US and Russian nuclear arsenals as a first step toward realizing the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty's goal of banning nuclear weapons.

The new approach, laid out in a 69-page report released in Washington on Tuesday by the Institute for Policy Studies' Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF) program, also calls for sustained and generous US engagement in multilateral institutions, particularly those aimed at reducing the emission of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and enhance the abilities of poor countries to curb the spread of deadly diseases.
(emphasis added)

The Nation has a good article on liberal internationalism and notes that America's longstanding commitment to international accord and action is threatened not by neo-conservatives but liberal internationalists who still cling to the idea of great power influence (neo-cnservative lite). The article presents a good definition of international relations worthy of America:
[Genuine liberal internationalism] neither a naïve idealism that ignores the realities of power nor a crude realism that ignores the power of ideals. While universal liberalism and universal democracy are its ultimate goals, the practical and immediate goal has been global peace. Enduring international peace is a necessary, though not sufficient, condition for liberal democracy. Why? In a world of recurring great-power conflicts or widespread anarchy, concerns about security may force even liberal democracies to sacrifice their freedoms to the imperatives of self-defense. This is what Woodrow Wilson meant when he said that the United States and its allies must make the world "safe for democracy." A world safe for democracy need not be a democratic world. It need only be a world in which democracies like the United States are not forced by recurrent world wars to turn themselves into armed camps.

Two articles in a week presenting ideas that I support is pretty good. Today I came across The First Resort of Kings: American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century by Richard Arndt. The book discusses many of the above ideas in historical context as diplomacy that uses knowledge and understanding of culture and ideas in relating to other nations. Not surprisingly, this approach has contributed to international cooperation and accord. The reviewer concludes:
In concluding his thorough review of the 20th century, Arndt addresses the 21st: "Why do Americans, having discovered the appalling damage to America's image, and, beneath that thin crust, to US credibility and trust, overlook our rich history of cultural diplomacy?" Indeed, the history is rich enough and the lessons learned are universal enough that a translation of this book could serve as a handbook for the foreign service of any country that has the foresight to look beyond its immediate problems, as well as the courage to view security without wearing the blinders of panic and mistrust.

Foresight and courage. That would be good. Maybe it will even get us through that hard rain that Mimus warned us about.

I Do So Enjoy Other People's Misery

Still in a vile frame of mind. So when John Aravosis at AmericaBlog went on his quarterly tirade about Ralph Nader, it warmed the cockles of my very meager heart.

"The man lost us two elections, he deserves to be roasted on a spit."

Gee, John, how did Nader cost "you" the election when Gore couldn't even carry his home state?
How did Nader cost "you" the election when barely 51% of eligible voters cast a ballot in 2000? (Compared to the recent French run-off election when voter turnout was nearly 85%...the French obviously felt something was at stake....) And please explain to me why, in a country where we "celebrate" our right to vote for anyone we damn well please, was I obliged to vote "your way?" (Now John has lots of degrees and he's willing to whip them out at a moment's provocation to demonstrate his superior knowledge in these matters so be careful). I didn't care for Gore at the time and nor did I believe that the American Public could be stupid enough to elect George Bush. Now I now that the majority of my fellow citizens are fuckin' morons and I treat them with the respect due fuckin' morons.

I held my nose and voted for Kerry in 2004. But let me ask you this, oh Special Voice and Seer of the Democratic Process and Party, Kerry was the best you folks could come up with????
Kerry couldn't beat one of the worst sitting Presidents since Nixon. How did Nader cost "you" that one?

I am proud to say I did NOT cast one single ballot for a Democrat in 2006. I even voted against Rep. George Miller, who is a liberal Democratic Institution in this district (holding office since 1974). I voted for the Libertarian, who did rather well.

But here we are six months into 2007 and it's still necessary to bash Ralph Nader. Hey...wait...
just a moment...didn't the Democrats take back Congress in the 2006 elections? Wait, the Democrats hold majorities in both houses, so things should be looking up, shouldn't they? It would seem you would be able to check this unitary executive run amuck and steer the country back on course...How about withholding funding for the war until you get a timetable for withdrawal? How about launching some investigations into the events leading up to the war (and we'll overlook the fact that every single Democrat voted "yes" on the War Powers Authorization Act)? How about a couple of quick resolutions saying the war isn't going too well?

Meanwhile public approval of Congress is lower than that of Bush...a Democratic Congress I might lower than that of Bush. Tell me, how did you manage that?

Better to revile Nader than look at your own failings.

And even at this early stage of the two year root canal, I doubt I'll be voting for any Democrats.

ABC News: Karzai Warns NATO: Afghan Life Not Cheap

You poor, deluded man. Afghan life is not cheap; it's absolutely worthless from an American perspective. Do you really believe that the AvAm (short for Average American, a phrase coined by Mickey Z) cares for an instant about Afghani lives? The AvAm is terrified and repulsed by your very existence. You worship "false gods." You live in some twilight zone between the 9th and 14th
centuries. And you completely eschew Western Culture and Values. Prior to 9/11 very few Americans could point to a map and say, "Aw shucks, that's Afghanistan!" Perhaps a few remembered Afghanistan from the Clinton era when he launched some cruise missiles in an effort to nail Osama bin-Laden, but we all know it was a clever ploy to distract everyone from The Great Presidential DNA Horrific Crisis that nearly crippled this great land. There are even a few scholarly types, generally to be found on the coastal regions of this nation, who will remember Afghanistan as a very useful tool for entrapping the Evil Empire that once was the Soviet Union. But with the Soviet Union split into its component parts, you ceased to be useful and therefore of much interest to us.

Corporate America couldn't give a damn about Afghanistan. For starters, you have no money. And you have no natural resources for us to exploit at your expense. No oil. No bananas. No diamonds. We like all three of those things and you don't have any of them, so you're kinda screwed in the globalization scheme of things. And you steadfastly refuse to embrace Western Values and all the neat Consumer Culture that comes with it. How can we possible give you one degree of respect if you don't have at least one McDonald's, a PizzaHut or a Taco Bell. Blockbuster won't even cast a glance your way as you barely generate enough electricity annually to keep Ukiah, California lit up for a week. And you have no money.

In case you haven't noticed there is only one segment of America paying any attention to Afghanistan: the current administration. Now, this may come as a surprise and I hope it's not too much of a shock, but they don't love you. They don't respect you. They don't even really like you. It might be helpful for Afghanistan to consult a map (if the Taliban didn't destroy them all...otherwise request a subscription to "National Geographic" in your next aid package-they have really keen maps). Look who borders you to the west...yep, Iran. All this time we've been pretending to like you and insisting we are there to help, but the truth be known, you are nothing more than a hellish landing strip and assembly point for our next adventure in empire.
So Mr. Karzai, life is not cheap in Afghanistan (though I seem to recall stories from the invasion days when the CIA paramilitary types were running around with satchels of $100 bills paying off families every time we created some "collateral damage"....) it's worthless.


In January 2002, Cruver got a letter from Enron stating that his employment was terminated. All that meant to him was no more free checks. It was trivial compared to what else was unfolding that month. First, Enron fired Arthur Andersen as its auditor -- and over the next several weeks, Andersen was fired by Dynegy, Delta Airlines, Pennzoil, Sun Trust Banks, and over a hundred other companies. Less than a week after Andersen was dropped, Ken Lay resigned as Enron's CEO and Chairman of the Board. But the worst news came on January 25. A former Enron Vice Chairman, J. Clifford Baxter, had been found dead from a gunshot wound to his head behind the wheel of his Mercedes. Rumors spread that he had been murdered because of what he knew about Enron's inner workings, but after the autopsy was finished, Baxter's death was ruled a suicide. Besides, the police did find a final note to Baxter's wife:


I am so sorry for this. I feel I just can't go on. I've always tried to do the right thing but where there was once great pride now it's gone. I love you and the children so much. I just can't be any good to you or myself. The pain is overwhelming. Please try to forgive me.


That one note encapsulates Enron's entire legacy: betrayal, moral bankruptcy, and shattered lives. However repentant any of them may be, I have no sympathy whatsoever for the likes of Kenneth Lay, Jeff Skilling, Andy Fastow, Rebecca Mark, Joe Sutton, or even Mr. Blue. None of them were too concerned about their actions while they were riding high and wrecking other people's lives. Good fuckin' luck in front of that Houston jury, you members of the defense -- you're all gonna need it.

But then there's Brian Cruver. For him, life goes on after Enron. What to do?

Hey, why not write a tell-all-you-can book topped off with helpful hints? Cruver's tenth and final rule for conquering corporate America (this one's my favorite): "Always ask the person interviewing you, 'How did you become so smart?'"...


If an investor is worried about the next Enron, they need look no further than a company's board of directors. The directors are the watchdogs for the investor -- with the pure and simple task of maximizing shareholder value. The question shouldn't be, "Do I trust this company?" because a "company" is nothing more than an officially authorized illusion. A company is not a person; therefore, it should not be judged as having human characteristics. A company is not trustworthy, loyal, naughty, or nice. For those who argue that companies are "controlled" by people, I refer them to Exhibit X: Enron. The people there were "controlled" by the company.

The question of trust should be asked on an individual level, not trust in the company but trust in its leaders. Am I talking about CEOs and CFOs and the rest of the C-level managers? No.

Let me now refer you to Exhibits Y and Z: Skilling and Fastow.

The question -- and the responsibility -- of investor trust should be aimed aggressively at the independent members of the board of directors. Unlike management, they have an agenda strictly in line with shareholders. After all, directors are most often elected by the shareholders. The members of the C-level gang, on the other hand, have peripheral agendas, some that can be potentially lethal to the stock price and the stability of the company.

The days of quick and simple board meetings are over. Enron's collapse is an alarm bell for board members to start earning their $300,000 per year, instead of just sitting on their hands...

People have asked me who I blame the most for the Enron mess, and now you know my answer.

As an investor, I have three things to point out to the independent board members of every company I own stock in (and some companies I don't own stock in):

1. There are a lot of crooks out there.

Studies by the FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics in 1999... show that white-collar crime is alive and well in the United States... In that year, more than 487,000 arrests were made in the crime categories of fraud, embezzlement, forgery, and counterfeiting.

Also in 1999, federal courts convicted over 12,000 individuals of committing crimes in those same categories...


White-collar crime isn't just for breakfast anymore. Pay attention to what your senior managers are doing and what they may be hiding.

2. Risk has gotten riskier.


Risk management is not about avoiding risks -- risk management is about managing risk (Surprise!). Board members need to be aware of what these risks are and, more important, how the CEO and others are managing them.

Risks facing businesses have always been bucketed into a few basic categories: market risks (such as foreign-currency-exchange risk, interest-rate risk, commodity-price risk, and equity-price risk); business risks (such as competitor risk, technology risk, and supply/demand risk); and operational risks (such as natural-disaster risk, quality-control risk, and management-error risk).

Let's see, I left out liquidity risk, regulatory risk, environmental risk, industry-consolidation risk, internal-expansion risk, insurance risk, bankruptcy risk, credit risk, payroll risk, legal risk, model risk, Internet-hacker risk, computer-virus risk, terrorist risk, fraudulent-behavior risk, you-could-go-to-prison risk, you-just-lied-to-the-shareholders risk, the-CEO-said-"asshole" risk, Wall Street Journal risk (credit Andy Fastow with that one), and many, many, many more.


3. Ethical Behavior = Higher Returns.

As proven by Enron, dirty deeds at work inside a company can cut a stock in half in just a few stock-market minutes (see above: Wall Street Journal risk). Sudden surprises that sink well below the ethical waterline can do much more harm to the stock price than would consistent, clear doses of the unshredded truth. Especially when those sudden surprises are first revealed by news organizations like the Journal.

Deliberately misleading stock analysts, masking true financial conditions, spewing positive propaganda around failing projects, silently delivering flawed products -- these efforts to conceal reality will indeed support a short-term gain, but ultimately the truth will wipe out investor confidence and the many price multiples that are tied to it...

(Off-topic: Good Lord, I hope someone possessing a conscience and laboring away deep within the bowels of Bush & Co. is reading this...)

On March 26, 2002 -- exactly one year after he began working at Enron -- Cruver looked in the mirror. He really needed to shave. (Frankly, so do I -- and I'm currently employed.) And he, having been betrayed by Greed Incorporated (a.k.a. Enron), wondered, of all the things one could possibly wonder about, if he was greedy...


By any definition, "greed" is an excessive desire, but I was never exactly clear where the "excessive" line should be drawn. When does desire -- for money or material goods or whatever -- become excessive?

We live in a world in which desire builds things, invents things, cures things, and discovers things. But when does this desire become gratuitous? Is it excessive to want a better life -- to want more adventure, a bigger house, a nicer car, fancier clothes, or premium dog food?

I don't think it's that simple. I think greed -- or excessive desire -- is defined by the means, not the end. It's the behavior that should be tested for excessiveness. Greedy is a term that applies to someone who lies, cheats, and steals in the name of possessing more than they need or even deserve. Financial success alone doesn't equal greed, but being a scumbag with financial success -- that's where the line should be drawn.

So, were Enron executives greedy because they had eight-digit bank accounts? No. Were they greedy if those millions were generated by fraud or at the expense of others? Absolutely!. And the Enron culture of bonus-driven behavior that twisted the truth and devastated thousands of people... Greed, Incorporated!

A year after starting at Enron I looked in the mirror, and I was thankful that I could stand to look in the mirror. I thought others might be having a hard time with that...

Don't know about Skilling, Lay, or Fastow, but I'm positive that this was a major problem for someone like Cliff Baxter...

Brian Cruver wrote Anatomy of Greed to show readers how he, and everyone else within the Death Star, not only believed in the myth spun by Lay and his underlings, but wanted to believe in it. In writing this book, whether or not he realized it, he clearly illustrated what can happen to people for whom the most important things are their illusions. Calvin Coolidge once quipped that the business of America is business. If so, then we better start paying attention to what people like Brian Cruver have to say, because we can't afford to use a disaster like Enron for our template. We can do better, we deserve better, and we know better. Corporate America needs to stop gazing at the bottom line and start looking at what goes into the bottom line. After all, it's only good business sense.

Until then, corporate America will continue flirting with the, uh... "no-bottom-line" risk.

* * *

The End.


Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld complains that America is losing the propaganda war. Gee, the Republicans were right all along -- you can't solve a problem by throwing money at it...

...Modernization is crucial to winning the hearts and minds of Muslims worldwide who are bombarded with negative images of the West, Rumsfeld told the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Pentagon chief said today's weapons of war included e-mail, Blackberries, instant messaging, digital cameras and Web logs, or blogs.

"Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today's media age, but... our country has not adapted," Rumsfeld said.

"For the most part, the U.S. government still functions as a 'five-and-dime' store in an eBay world"...


The Pentagon's propaganda machine still operates mostly eight hours a day, five days a week while the challenges it faces occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rumsfeld called that a "dangerous deficiency."
He lamented that vast media attention about U.S. abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq outweighed that given to the discovery of "Saddam Hussein's mass graves"...

True, but the mass graves discovery gets more attention than the fact that Saddam got tons of military supplies and political support from the Reagan administration. And let's not forget this classic pic:

If you must wage a propaganda war, Rummy, you could at least pick a goddamn side...


The DVD Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room features a clip from a webcast in which Jeff Skilling, who resigned as Enron's CEO less than four months before the company went bankrupt, cracks a joke about the California energy crisis several years back that triggered rolling blackouts and ridiculously high electricity rates -- a crisis that was manufactured and aggravated by Enron traders:
You know what the difference is between the state of California and the Titanic?... At least when the Titanic went down, the lights were on.
Yeah, well there's a difference between the Titanic and Enron, too: While the Titanic sank, the captain stayed on board...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Saturday Randomness

The song that's playing right now: "War of Man" by Neil Young. One of his best...

* * *

I didn't mention this earlier, but I set a new personal record at the print shop Sunday night/Monday morning: 348,600 impressions run. That I pulled this off on a Sunday is the stunning part -- I had to start everything up and complete a changeover before I could even begin running the order, and yet I still broke my record. Even my bosses were floored. I'm still not sure what got into me that night, but it was all good...

* * *

The song playing now: "The Irresistible Rhythm" by me. It's made up of GarageBand loops. I have to work on my mixing skills...

* * *

Conflicted, but comfortable: I'm glad I came out and said I'm gay here at the Medley. I've been doing some research behind the scenes, and it seems I had the right idea about what homosexuality was all about before I realized it applied to me -- it's not a choice, it's not a given, it's just a small part of human nature. Sexuality is something that develops over the course of a person's lifetime, and my course just happened to lead to being gay. Frankly, it's a bit awkward for me in more than some ways, but I believe I prefer it this way overall. Maybe that's my way of saying this is what I am, and I'm more than happy with it, I don't know. What I do know is there ain't nothin' wrong with being gay. But hell, I knew that long before I realized I was, too...

* * *

Song playing now: "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen. Tell me the timing of this isn't providential. I've never been a very religious guy, but now that I think of it, if there is a God, I can't help wondering why He made me what I am. Don't get me wrong, I'm good with it. But based on what animates me as opposed to what does not (think Fur Affinity), I'd say that God's got a really bizarre sense of humor. I'll have to ask Him about that when we finally meet...

* * *

The song I'm hearing now: "Humble Daisy" by XTC. Andy Partridge has some God-related issues of his own, now that I think of it...

* * *

Eh, I'm done for now.

Til further on...

I Can't Believe I'm Doing This...

The next forty-five days may turn out to be the longest forty-five days in my life when all's said and done. But for one last stretch, I'm going to blog on behalf of the Democratic Party. I may take it further than that, or not, I don't know yet. Hell, that I'm even going this far is kind of a surprise to me. And Lord knows I'm just about permanently fed up with politics.

There is just too much at stake for me to ignore. It's been that way for many years. But now things are really starting to spin out of control. The government bailing out the American Insurance Group is just the most recent and most glaring example of how rotted from within our system is, and since the only vehicle for addressing this situation appears to be our own government (after all, look who AIG, among others, cried "Help me! Help me!" to first), then I think it matters a hell of a lot what kind of people we have in the government to address this situation. I am anything but fond of Democrats, but for fuck's sake, what's the only alternative? The Republicans? What good are they?

They don't care about governing. They don't care about solving problems. All they care about is maintaining what power they have, so they can continue enriching themselves at the expense of the rest of us -- and covering their asses when the inevitable consequences of their selfish intentions start hammering the rest of us. I've had enough of their self-serving shit to last me until time ends. I want no Republicans to win in November. I want no Republicans in Washington at all. I want that party to go the way of the Whigs -- or, and this would be more fitting, the Edmund Fitzgerald.

But that won't happen. So I'm left with two choices in November: vote for applying a tourniquet to my hemorrhaging society (Obama), or vote for more bloodletting (McCain). This is not a tricky decision to make -- the bleeding has to stop. The bleeding must stop. And like it or not, there's only one chance we have at stopping it. Unlike some of my readers, I do not want to see my country collapse. It's possible that a collapse might be just what it needs before it can pull itself back together. I really don't know. But I do know that I'm not one to believe that you necessarily need to hit bottom before that can happen -- grabbing me by the scruff of my neck and forcing me to gaze downward into the abyss is enough to get your message across, believe me.

Obama and Biden have to win this election. That's all there is to it. Right now, I don't like their chances. But I manage to take some heart from my own track record. I've made three endorsements over the years, and my record is 2-1. My first endorsement was for John Kerry for President in 2004. He lost. But I endorsed Tim Kaine for Virginia Governor in 2005 and Jim Webb for the US Senate in 2006, and both of them won. For that matter, I endorsed Barack Obama in the Virginia primary this year. He not only won this state, he won his party's nomination. So in that sense I'm 3-1. Maybe my luck will hold out.

Til further on...

If You Think Things Are Screwed Up Now, Wait Four Years...

From sewa tenda , in its entirety:

You know, Bush's proposed $770 billion bailout plan should probably come with the warning that there cannot be any more preemptive wars, that all wars must have the consent of Congress beforehand, and that the US should withdraw from Iraq upon implementation of this bailout.

I have heard it said that the US only collects about 1.3 trillion dollars in taxes annually, so Bush's war plus the maintenance of a standing military plus the bailouts will literally leave us broke. So much for "tax and spend."

Those of you who voted for him have much to answer for. {My emphasis}

I would amend that to "so much for 'spend and spend'," and add that we should be bracing for "tax and tax" because I don't see any other way to begin climbing out of this friggin' pit. But I'm just quibbling. Anyway...

Here's what you can probably expect over the next four years. Unemployment going up. Higher prices. Higher taxes. A lower overall standard of living. Still no national health insurance. More people losing their homes because they can't make their mortgage payments. And this is if Obama wins the election -- I don't really want to imagine what would happen during a McCain presidency, so we'll stick with a hypothetical Obama one for now.

And then, come 2012, whoever the Republican candidate for president is will blame the entire mess on Obama and the Democrats, ignoring everything that transpired during the preceding eight years -- especially the last of those eight -- and how nearly all of the problems that have plagued the Obama administration were inherited from Bush & Co. It'll be Ronald Reagan redux -- "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" -- and you just watch that question stick in the minds of the American people long enough to make the whole ugly Republican lather-rinse-repeat cycle start all over again. Hell, the Republicans are still blaming some of our problems on Bill Clinton more than seven years into Bush's presidency. Why would Obama fare any better?

And if we end up with McCain? Well, we'll all have much to answer for then...

The Magic is Gone...

This Harold Meyerson article is well worth reading, but I'll just serve up the last paragraph, since it reflects my own opinion nicely:

...Someone needs to invest in the United States of America. For the past decade and, in a broader sense, for the entire duration of the Reagan era, both government and Wall Street have opted not to. Should Barack Obama win, the era of neglectful government will probably come to an end. No matter who wins, Wall Street is vanishing before our eyes. And by the measure of their contribution to America's economic strength and well being, both Reagan-era government and Wall Street's investment banks plainly deserve to die. {My emphasis}

Damn straight.

This, Is, Bullshit.

Just when I make up my mind to engage in one final push on behalf of the Democrats this election cycle...

Look, I don't care for this Bush administration bailout plan as it currently stands one damned bit. The greedy Wall Street assholes responsible for last week's economic meltdown want to dump it all on the taxpayers. And Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson seems quite happy to do their bidding -- especially since he might get his own unitary executive privileges, free of any and all sorts of oversight, out of the deal. There's nothing new or surprising about certain folks on Wall Street or their Republican enablers in D.C. trying to find new ways to turn disaster into capital -- when all you've ever really been good at and for is lusting after power and money, kicking others in the gut while they're down is pretty much the only outlet for pleasure available to you.

What gets me is that the Democrats in Congress just might go for this plan. It wouldn't be the first time they got buffaloed by their supposed political counterparts, of course. But when you place this twelve-figure bailout plan next to a war in Iraq that's going to cost more than one trillion dollars, a war in Afghanistan that is spinning out of control, what looks like an undeclared war in Pakistan now underway, our military doing all it can not to break under the strain of two (or three) wars, and then when soldiers come back wounded and traumatized, they can't even get decent treatment for their service to their country...

There's no way we can sustain all of this at once. And that's not even getting into our inability to maintain our own roads, bridges, levees, et cetera. I understand why the heads of corrupt banks and insurance companies want the people they've swindled to indemnify them for being swindlers -- they're human scum, period. But given the magnitude of this scandal -- I mean, people have been losing their homes, but people's nest eggs and pensions are being fucked with on a higher scale now than before -- why would the Democrats sign off on this without at least adding legislation that offered comparable protection to the victims of the swindling? If the taxpayers have to eat this, shouldn't they get to decide how they're going to eat it?

And if Paulson gets what he wants... Well...

I guess there won't be much left to say after all. Other than the choice of words that will be on the banner displayed for the cameras and home viewers while Bush signs the bill he wants into law. I adjusted to the Dems allowing something as heinous as the military commissions act to be signed into law -- there at least remained the chance that they'd locate that elusive spine of theirs and undo that legislation once they were in a position to do so. Or a convincing illusion of a chance. But if they let these greedy fuckers off without a hitch this time, this late into Bush's presidency? I don't think I could adjust to that, not after all the passes I've already given that party.

I wonder if this is how battered wives who keep giving their piece of shit husbands one chance after another feel? If what convinces them to stay is a kind of dread that, as bad as the relationship is, breaking it off would be even worse? Because that's the closest thing to an analogy I can come up with -- the main difference is, I'm not actually married. I never took an oath or a vow to give my loyalty to the Democratic Party, I didn't sign a contract, I just decided it was the best decision to make. None of this is binding -- I just keep holding out hope that the Dems will FINALLY start expecting as much of themselves as I, and millions of others, expect of them, and act accordingly. We're on the brink of a second great depression now. This is their time.

If they cave this time...

They can fuck November 4. The relationship's over. In fact, they can have the house and everything in it, because I won't want to look at anything that reminds me of them. Okay? All I ask from then on is that they refrain from contacting me at all times (i.e.: no more e-mailing me for donations -- they didn't ask me if I wanted to bail out a bunch of Wall Street crooks, they'll have no right to beg for any more handouts). I'm serious. I've managed to put up with illegal wiretapping, torturing of innocents in my name, my country's good name going sour because of a war launched on bogus pretenses, and all kinds of other shit only because I always thought there was a chance I'd see my side make reparations and deliver some justice in the end. The people we're expected to bail out and, in essence, exonerate them for their corruption and treachery? They never cared about who they hurt or destroyed as long as the money kept pouring into their coffers. They never gave a damn about America, only themselves and their net worths. I expect the Republicans in Congress to try and force me to pay for these scumbags' rottenness. But I also expect the Dems to put up one hell of a fight to keep this from happening. If they don't, then the only conclusion I can reasonably draw is that the Dems don't really give a damn about America, either.

And that, is, bullshit.

Something We Don't Hear Much Of...

Bringing back the country's manufacturing base. Excellent idea -- this service-based set-up of ours just ain't cuttin' it on its own. But before I get to the gist of the article, I have to post this paragraph:

...Real change means a mix of Bill Clinton in 1992, FDR in 1932, and the innovation and mindset of the 21st Century. Since the realm of media and society are so dominated by the corporate/right-wing structure, a few Clintonian morsels will have to be tossed their way. Think of it like raw meat to lions to distract them while the real work gets done.

That won't cut it on its own, either. I'd try this: toss 'em the meat regularly, but stuff some powerful sedatives in it first. Let's put Big Pharma to good use for a change. That ought to keep them occupied for several years -- I'm more interested in keeping the lions from distracting us, personally. Now back to the article...

We have a crumbling infrastructure, so we need similar programs to FDR's work programs in the 1930s. Newt Gingrich and 12 years of Republican rule in Congress did a lot of damage to what makes this country great.

But we also need someone who understands that the new "job program" is about taking advantage of the fact that the average consumer is more concerned abot the environment and will accept alternative energies. The new president has to be able to work with Al Gore to implement true change. And those workers in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana also need one more thing: they need to make something tangible.

Miss this one step and you don't get the complete picture. Making a new road or creating solar energy are wonderful, but the workers of the Midwest need to point to something and say, "I made that." {my emphasis}

That salient point compliments what Scorpio said about the nation's infrastructure a little while ago. And pride has a whole lot to do with it, so it is definitely not relevant to just four states...

The American manufacturing spirit reached its peak when it could point to the clothes on their backs, and the cars they drove with pride. This new direction could easily be electric cars (not hydrogen). It doesn't have to be huge in numbers, but Americans want to buy tangible elements that they made. Bring that back and the Democratic Party can rule for a long time, and make real lasting change.

Here's another idea to help make that happen, and it's aimed right at the Democrats. Want to win more elections? Then get rid of those fucking consultants already. Just dump 'em. All of them. Now. We can put them to work in the new factories later, teach them useful trades. If they don't like that, you can threaten to have them arrested for serial highway robbery instead (Senator Clinton, please pick up your goddamned office phone if it's still cool enough to handle). Give 'em a choice -- compulsory community service assembling electric railroad cars and earning a respectable hourly wage, or hard time in jail making license plates for nadadamthing. I'm sure they'll make the wiser choice...

Of Camels and the Eyes of Needles...

I've been had. Boy, have I been had.

And now I'm getting exactly what I deserve, in the forms of frustration, disillusion, disgust, and humiliation.

I take back everything I've said about Barack Obama giving the best speech since Martin Luther King had a dream. I take back everything I've said about being glad I voted for Obama in Virginia's primary. I withdraw, once and for all, every last bit of support for the Democratic Party I've granted it. I don't like being used, I don't like seeing others being used, and I don't care what befalls a political party that manipulates people at a time when most of those people are inclined to trust that party in doing whatever it can to repair what's been wantonly broken.

Go read Pulsa Murah and streaming film subtitle indonesia if you want to know why. Not all that long ago, I thought little of Obama, dismissing him as a corporatist Democrat. His "A More Perfect Union" speech in Philadelphia impressed me -- at the time. And I started to give him more and more credence -- the more I heard him talk, the more I liked him.

Stupid me.

On Monday, Jeremiah Wright went on the Toob with Bill Moyers and said a bunch of things that made Obama look like a fool for defending him in March. So Obama formally cut Wright loose. Originally, I thought that Obama had no other choice, and left it at that. Bad decision.

What I should have done was go and see what Wright actually said, rather than taking Obama's word merely because he'd been impressing me almost without fail for several weeks. Again, go read Floyd and Silber -- they have it right, I got it all wrong. And to everyone who took my side, I am very sorry for misleading you so badly.

I have more to say. But right now, I have to unscramble it...


Here's another story the "media" won't dig into because the principals in the event are not believed to have soiled any blue dresses -- but this one's a bit peculiar. From the Guardian, "Blair-Bush deal before Iraq war revealed in secret memo":
Tony Blair told President George Bush that he was "solidly" behind US plans to invade Iraq before he sought advice about the invasion's legality and despite the absence of a second UN resolution, according to a new account of the build-up to the war published today.
A memo of a two-hour meeting between the two leaders at the White House on January 31 2003 -- nearly two months before the invasion -- reveals that Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme... (#)
Nothing new there. What's peculiar is what this memo alleges. Among other items, it says
-- Mr Bush told Mr Blair that the US was so worried about the failure to find hard evidence against Saddam that it thought of "flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft planes with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colors." Mr Bush added, "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach [of UN resolutions]..."
Okay, hold it...
Now Bush has already said that if he knew in early 2003 what he knows now, he would still have invaded Iraq. I believe him. He's the sort of guy who'll wiretap your phone to get information he can use to obtain court permission for wiretapping your phone. I wouldn't put impersonating the United Nations in order to win their support past him, either. Stupid is, after all, as stupid does.
But did he really say that to Tony Blair? In my head, I can hear him saying those words. Did he say them?
There's more than plenty of other evidence that the Bush administration was hell-bent on invading Iraq, and no amount of White House spin or "media" silence on the matter will ever restore Bush's buckshot-riddled credibility. I bring this up for one reason: What if the memo is wrong?
Think about this. Bush authorizes American U2s with UN colors to fly over Iraqi air space. Saddam Hussein finds out about it and orders the planes shot down (assuming he has the missiles Bush & Co. say he has). Whatever happens next, the incident makes the news -- "Saddam Fires at UN Reconnaissance Planes." The first entity to start asking questions will most likely be the UN. And when its people find out that none of their planes were over Iraq when the missiles were launched, given the Bush administration's months-long and quite public obsession with overthrowing Saddam, I think the UN would request to have a long, interesting chat with the American government. If Bush said what the memo claims, then even though I'm wrong, Bush is a hell of a lot more stupid that I thought.
But if the memo's wrong, then remember: You read it at the Medley first...


The trial of Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeff Skilling is slated to begin today, assuming the judge can find twelve impartial jurors to hear the sworn testimony -- no mean feat, since the trial will be in Houston, where Enron had its headquarters. Tens of thousands of people lost their jobs when Enron imploded, Wall Street lost tens of billions of dollars, and Lay and Skilling received some $250 million between them in insider stock sales before the implosion -- I don't envy you, Your Honor.
In the meantime, AOL News has a couple of polls for your freeping pleasure. Question One: Do you think Ken Lay is guilty or innocent of the charges against him? Question Two: Do you think Jeff Skilling is guilty or innocent of the charges against him?
So far, Skilling fares slightly worse than Lay, and if this poll is representative of their chances in court, they're both going to hell in a fanny pack...


Thinking about Wilson some more...
Wilson told me he loved to fish. Fly fishing was his passion. I've never heard anyone use the word "creel" as much as him. One day, he said he had a vacation coming up. I told him I liked to go to Vermont for a few days whenever I was on vacation. He said he'd never been to Vermont.
I couldn't believe him.
Wilson, you see, lived his whole life in Ashby, Massachusetts, which borders New Hampshire. Vermont is on NH's western border. I'm from Pepperell, Mass., also on the NH border and two towns east of Ashby, and I've been to Vermont many times. "You've never been to Vermont at all?" I asked. "It's an hour away!" He'd never been to any other state except New Hampshire, he told me.
"Wilson, you have got to go to Vermont," I insisted. "You'll love it there."
"You think so?"

"I know so. It's my favorite state." (Nine years later, it still is.)
So he went to Vermont. A week later he came back. "Vermont was awesome!" he said. He had pictures of himself fly-fishing in the Green Mountains and everything.
"What'd I tell ya?" I said.
I don't know where he is now, but I'm sure he spends a little time in the Green Mountains when he can...


I will do two multi-post book reviews in February, one starting on Monday the 5th* 6th, the other on Monday the 19th* 20th. The first deals with a certain top ten Texas-based corporation that went ker-boom in 2001, the second with a certain executive branch's unruly behavior during wartime -- whose monarch wanna-be poster boy for arrested development has a cattle-free and brush-laden ranch in Texas. And those are the only hints I'm giving you.
A clarification: I intended to do three book reviews during November and December, but I only did two -- Robert Baer's Sleeping with the Devil and Lawrence Velvel's Misfits in America. The third book I wanted to review deals extensively with the author of another book, but I didn't know this before I started reading. It soon became clear that, in order to do a just review, I'd have to tackle the referenced book as well. So I've put that particular review on hold. Major setback, hairy project. I don't know when or if I'll get to it, but I do know that in this case a lack of a review is better than a half-assed one.
That's for anyone who actually remembers me saying I wanted to do three reviews.
But there will be two reviews in February, barring a computer breakdown or a medical emergency rendering me Internetless. You have been duly warned, senoras and horsemen.
Til further on...
(*: Post updated shortly after looking at the calendar. I'm just slowly growing old, people, and my sense of time is the third thing I have lost. The second thing I lost was my ability to remember things like this. The first thing I lost was... gee, I forget...)


Ronnie Dugger of the Texas Observer writes, "Impeach or Indict Bush and Cheney":
The year 2006 will be historic for the nation, and probably for humanity. Texans Bush and Rove and their conspirators in the second Bush presidency have disgraced American democracy at home and in the workd with debasements of our nation and our values that have now entered their climactic phase. What part will the rest of us Texans play in this decisive year?
...Our elections are bought, and our government is run by and for the major transnational corporations. Bush announced in 2002 his illegal presidential policy that the United States can and will attack other nations first, waging war on them, when he so decides. He is now waging, as if he were doing it in our names, a bloody war of aggression against Iraq, which on the face of it is a crime against humanity under the Nuremberg principles that we and our allies established and enforced with hangings after World War II. The President, the Vice-President, and their factors sold this war to Congress with twistings and lies that were crafted to infuriate and terrorize us about Iraq's alleged connections to Al Qaeda and mass-murder endangerments to us from Iraq itself, all of which literally di not exist. In polls now six of 10 Americans do not believe the president is honest. Yet he has three more years of dictatorial control over our nuclear and other arms and our Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps and seems to be maneuvering to use that control to wage another aggressive war on Iran, with literally incalculable consequences.
We Texans are a major source of this deterioration into crisis. The leading Democrats of the state so dishonored the liberal traditions of their party that in the resulting political vacuum, Bush was elected Governor here, and from Austin he mounted the campaign that a 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court illegally decreed made him President. After that, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, from Sugar Land, crafted his scheme to use corporate money to widen the Republicans' majority in the Texas delegation to Washngton, D.C., battening down right-wing GOP control of the House and the Congress. The third President from Texas and his Republican Congress then waged aggressive war on Iraq, drove the nation into insolvency to further enrich the already rich, and just for good measure tore up the Constitution.
As we in Texas bear guilt for this we have also begun to join the resistance and revolt against it, starting with Cindy Sheehan's brigades in Crawford. By happy accident the Texas trip-root that now threatens to help bring the Bush presidency crashing down, crushing itself under its own arrogance, hubris, and criminality, is a law against corporate money in Texas elections that was passed a century ago in the state's populist afterglow. To uphold that law, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has braved ruthless contumely, as he had done often before in order to prosecute public officials he believed had violated laws. While it is merely seemly to await the outcome of the trial of DeLay and his co-defendants on the charges that they laundered corporate money through Washington to elect Republicans to the House from Texas, in a speech in September Earle declared what he believes his prosecution is all about. "Corporate money in politics" has become "the fight of our generation of Americans... It is our job -- our fight -- to rescue democracy from the money that has captured it," he said. "The issue that we're faced with is the role of large concentrations of money in democracy, whether it's individuals or corporations, is the same"... (#)
Please read the rest...
(Credit: The sewa tenda -- which is where I got that ribbon in the upper-right corner from...)


The following excerpt comes from Julia Whitty's "Accounting Coup," an essay which appeared in the September/October 2005 issue of Mother Jones. It tells the story of Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Indians of northern Montana, and her tireless efforts to force the U.S. government to pay some 500,000 native Indians all over America the money the Bureau of Indian Affairs has withheld, lost, stolen, and misspent over the course of more than a century -- a tab that, by her estimate, comes to $176 billion:
...Her fight takes the form of Cobell v. Norton, a federal lawsuit on behalf of a half-million Indians across America whose individual property is held in trust by the Department of the Interior, which oversees the BIA. Interior leases these private Indian lands to oil, timber, and agricultural corporations and other commercial entities, then pays the Indians the revenues those leases yield. But Cobell claims the government has been grossly negligent in its 118 years of managing the Individual Indian Trust, treating the Indians not as clients and beneficiaries but as easy marks.
While generations of non-Indians have become rich harvesting the abundant resources of private Indian lands -- which once included virtually all the oil fields of Oklahoma -- Indian landowners have been paid only erratically, and far less than their due. Consequently, even landowning Indians remain among the nation's poorest citizens, joining the 23 percent of Indians in America living in poverty, and the nearly 40 percent who are unemployed. Some tribes fare even worse, and the Blackfeet suffer a 34 percent poverty rate and a 7 percent unemployment rate. Overall, Indians are more than twice as poor as the average American.
Cobell filed her lawsuit in 1996 after years of kinder antreaties failed, demanding payment of all unpaid revenues from Indian leases for the past century, a tally of past revenues, and a new accounting system to deal with future revenues. According to Cobell's forensic accountants, the government owes $176 billion to individual Indian owners, averaging $352,000 per plaintiff, making this momentarily the largest class-action lawsuit ever launched.
If successful, Cobell's lawsuit may force a historical shift of America's capital away from the cowboys -- the oil, gas, timber, mining, grazing, and agricultural industries, along with their political cohorts -- toward the Indians... Not surprisingly, the Clinton and Bush administrations have flexed unprecedented bureaucratic muscle to delay the resolution of Cobell v. Norton, spending hundreds of millions of dollars defending Interior.
To those concerned that the United States can't afford a Cobell v. Norton settlement, she says, "It's not your money and never was"...

The "Norton" in the case name is Gale Norton, the current Secretary of the Interior, the department in charge of the BIA. (Note: This case was originally known as Cobell v. Babbitt, the latter being Norton's predecessor, Bruce Babbitt. Norton was appointed by President Bush in 2001, five years after the lawsuit was filed.) Believe it or not, the government is slowly losing this case. The presiding judge, Royce Lamberth, is thoroughly unamused with Interior:
The department of the Interior has responded to its ongoing losses in court with tactics the plaintiffs construe as retaliatory and intimidating. In 2004, after Judge Lamberth found the BIA was seizing land owned by Indian trustees without properly informing them of its value or location and selling it to oil companies, he ordered the agency to stop communicating with plaintiffs regarding the sale, conversion, and transfer of land. Interior reacted by shutting down BIA offices and phone lines, telling Indians they would not receive their royalty checks because of the lawsuit. Cobell's name was published on the BIA website -- tacit encouragemnt, she says, for Indians to call and blame her. "It was the dumbest thing they could have done," she says. "I returned every one of those calls and explained what was really going on."
Lamberth called these tactics "a testament to the startling inhumanity of government bureaucracy... [and] a deliberate, infantile, and frankly ridiculous misinterpretation of this Court's straightforward order." He added: "The idea that Interior would either instruct or allow BIA to withhold payments and then to stonewall the Indians who dared to ask why is an obscenity that harkens back to the darkest days of United States-Indian relations... The perniciousness and irresponsibility demonstrated by blaming the Court pales in comparison to the utter depravity and moral turpitude displayed by [Interior's] willingness to withhold needed finances from people struggling to survive and support families on subsistence incomes."
In 2003, Congress inserted itself into the machinations by attaching midnight riders to omnibus budget and Iraq appropriation bills to delay the court-ordered historical accounting. It also attempted to cut the salary of court-appointed investigators, while permitting Secretary Gale Norton to use discretionary funds to pay for the scores of private attorneys hired by all past and present Interior employees appearing in the case...

Now you may be wondering, what was all that about? Well, I told you all of that in order to prep you for this. I'd go on, but I'm coming down with a migraine, and I need some time to digest what I've already read...
(*: Queen, "White Man")


Lately, I can't seem to help thinking about my last couple of years living in Massachusetts. Particularly the spring of '97. I had been working at a factory that made paper bags for two years. This company made several types of bags: potato bags with the plastic mesh in the front, "sew" bags with the string you pull to open the top, the kind of bag with the waxy seal (known as "hot melt" in the industry) that held the tops closed, and something called "pasted valve" bags. I was primarily involved in making the pasted valve variety. These bags are flat on the top and bottom, and are opened by ripping open whichever corner has the valve -- a strip of paper inserted into the bags just before their tops and bottoms are glued closed that both allows the customer ordering the bags to fill them with their product and prevents the contents from spilling out until the bags are ripped open by hand. You've seen these bags before: they contain cement, or fertilizer, or quick-dry, or some sort of polymer, and so on. They can be a bitch to make, believe me.
In fact, during the early part of '97, I was getting so fed up with making them, I signed up to be an apprentice operator in the press department of the same plant. Under union rules (some day I need to explain the concept of a union to the cell-phone-camera-and-body-piercing kids who are young enough to be my own), when the company posted a job opening, regardless of what it was with very few exceptions, the senior-most employee who signed up for that position got it for thirty days. If it was clear that he/she couldn't handle it after thirty days, he/she was moved back to his/her prior position in the factory. If things were working out, then it was up to the employee to decide whether to stick with it or go back to his/her earlier job. As it happened, I got the apprentice position. It meant taking a cut in pay, too. But with a few days left during my trial, I was asked by the vice president if I wanted to go back to my old job. I said no. He wasn't happy to lose an operator, but hey, union rules are union rules.
All of the guys in the press department had more seniority than I did, and they were very much into the male bonding scene. The ringleader of this circus was Jerry. Everyone loved Jerry -- even me. Or, I should say, especially me. Every morning -- and I mean every morning -- when he got his press up and running, he'd take an air hose, aim it at a small recess in the press' frame, and squeeze the handle. This made a loud piercing noise similar to that of a steam train's whistle. "All aboard!" It was his way of letting the entire plant know that the train had left the station. You have no idea how much this annoyed people in some of the other departments.
Then there was Juan, a guy from Spain. Juan had a hard-headed demeanor which always kept me on edge. He could make me wonder whether he was about to slit my throat for the hell of it, although he would never do such a thing to anyone. That was just the way he was wired up. I noticed one thing about him early on: He could see everything. I'd go to inspect the print as it was running, and I'd focus on the larger stuff -- print registration, image crispness, and the like. Juan would see a yellow speck on white paper that I would never have caught, stop the press, clean the plate, and start back up. I witnessed shit like that dozerns of times. I'm a press operator nine years later and six hundred miles away, and I still marvel at his powers of observation.
On the other end of that spectrum was John, an Irishman. John was a wonderful guy to be around. I liked him more than anyone else in the department. But he was no pressman. A two-color job he could handle. Three or more, and he was lost, for some reason I never understood. Jerry once told me, "Most guys, Pauly, they don't know shit when they come to the press, but over time, they learn and they get better as they go. Not John." I think John's staying power was due to the fact that everyone liked him -- he was just that kind of guy. I still miss him. And I have no idea what's become of him.
Wayne, on the other hand, was a stinking asshole. He was intelligent, he was articulate, he knew how to do his job, and he did have a heart. And he had a vicious sense of humor -- which I've learned to appreciate over the years. But he was chiefly an asshole, and he didn't care who knew it. So many times, I wanted to belt him. However, he knew one thing I didn't: karate. So I let it all go.
And Wilson. He was in charge of the ink room. If there is one m'fug I would never dare tangle with, it's Wilson. He wasn't mean, his eyes weren't black as coal, he didn't have a bloody mouth, nothing like that. He just seemed indifferent to what is known as the "finer things," but in a threatening way; it's hard to describe. There was nothing fancy or hip about Wilson. He was who he was, and that was good enough for him. Your first impression of Wilson upon seeing him is, this dude's a motherfuckin' moron. And your first impression is totally wrong. Wilson was smart the way local yokels all over the country are smart. Maybe that's the threatening part about him. You meet him, and you instinctively start trying to fleece him; next thing you know, your head is mounted on a wooden plaque hanging on his wall. You don't screw with a guy like that.
And I'll never forget Chris. They called him Eddie Munster, which was funny, because Chris wasn't much more than five feet tall. Funnier still, all the other guys in the press department were average to extra-large in size, including me. And that holds true today. Confession: I'm about 6' 2", about 220 pounds. I'm bigger than most guys. But at the print shop I currently work in, I'm probably slightly over average. I was around average at the bag plant nine years ago. Printing and bigger-than-average people seem to go together -- hell if I know why. But regarding Chris... At some point, a roster of the members of the press department utilizing images of the Jolly Green Giant was put on display. Every member of the pressroom was represented by the Giant except Chris, who was represented by a silly cartoonish eagle. Chris had no problem with it. For all I know, it was yet another male bonding thing.
It was the last day of June. I was working second shift that day. Entering the plant, I noticed people were surlier and more withdrawn than normal.
"Oh, hey, Mimus," John said.
"Hi, John," I replied. He looked upset.
"Haven't you heard the news?"
"What news?" I wondered.
"They're shuttin' the plant down."
* * *
There was no set date. But it didn't matter. The place visibly went to hell in the two and a half months I remained there. My last day was in September. On the eleventh, believe it or not -- nowadays the date September 11 always brings two things to my mind.
Jerry quit before I did, in spite of more than twenty years of service and a considerable severance package waiting for him if he chose to stay. He lasted two weeks at his next job. I don't know where he went from there.
Juan was still working at the bag plant after I'd left. But I knew he was looking for a new job -- I'd ridden with him to one interview. Lord knows what he's up to now.
John remained at the plant for a while, too. I don't know where he is now.
Wayne told me he intended to stay to the end. Afterward, he planned to go back to college. And that's all I know.
Wilson left to work at some place in Gardner, Massachusetts. And that's the last I heard of him.
Chris stayed at the plant. I have no idea what he's up to, but I have this feeling that he's doing okay. Men who have what's known as "Little Man Syndrome" tend to excel at getting by, if not getting ahead.
And that's all the reminiscing I can do for now.