Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Friday, December 19, 2003

According to Dana, Rummy only “Reassured”:

Iraqi officials have professed to be at a loss to explain our actions as measured against our stated objectives…basically anti-Arab and hostage to the desires of Israel.
George Schultz, 1984

Photo of video: Getty

Thursday, December 18, 2003
I’ve struck up conversations with a surprising number of people lately who tell me, “We’re not putting a tree up this year. Too much work, plus, it doesn’t at all feel like Christmas.”

I mentioned this to friends who said they had also heard this complaint from a surprising number of people both casually and at their places of work.
It’s sad but not surprising.
I know that sad feeling because in the last four years we here at planetsean Global HQ are 2 for 2 in the Christmas tree department.
We didn’t set up a tree last year, as I was too depressed after the midterm elections.
In 2001, to recover from the national nightmare of September 11, we had a huge tree.
The year 2000, of course, saw the disastrous Presidential election, the first of my post electoral depressions and my first treeless Christmas.
To be honest I was dreading the holiday’s approach this year and struggled against the idea even as we went to get the tree.
But, standing in the flurried chill of the tree lot, I heard a particular pine.
Dashing through the labyrinth of snow-dusted trees, I came upon a magnificent specimen and stood staring at it until my partner and the tree man found us.
The dimmed light of my soul was warming.
To deny Christmas is to deny our past and our culture and plays directly into the hands of the corporate yin and terror yang of the current world (ahem) order.

Crying like a baby, I watched my old favorite White Christmas last evening for the first time in several years.
Before the millennial horrors, I watched this movie, at least, every year, usually singing, and if Vera Ellen wasn’t watching my clumsy steps, dancing along with it.
Loved the cast with the added cachet of local girl Rosemary Clooney starring opposite Bing and all the big goofy Hollywood clichés that somehow, in this sweet innocent film, attain some degree of artistry.
In a normal year, the tears wouldn’t flow until the climactic moment at the film’s end when the veteran troops of Dean Jagger’s WW II command marched into the lodge hall singing We’ll Follow the Old Man.
Mary Wickes and I seem to have a similar tear threshold.
Last evening as old Dean played the movie’s first scene with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, I surprised even myself with an extremely premature We’ll Follow The Old Man tear flow that continued throughout the film.
I think I was crying for the innocent American exuberance that imbues this movie and feels so absent from the purposefully polarized mood of the present day.
We are, all of us I think, still in shock and grieving for the America that vanished four and then three years ago.
Much of today’s vehemence, no matter the bravado, is a manifestation of the fear we are supposed to feel in this “changed world”.
But has the world changed?
Are we a different people?
Or, are we just being misinformed and misled?
Looking at my Christmas tree, at ornaments from our past, smelling the assembled scents of this season and anticipating the holiday’s excitement, our poor world doesn’t seem so radically different nor our problems so unsolvable.
Consequently, even this new and more threatening world can be comprehended and integrated into our human experience.
So, please, America, close your festive frost-reddened ears to the fear-mongers and the endless rationalizers and complainers.
Allow yourself to celebrate a holiday season and your heart, like mine, will warm within the comforts of your family traditions and grow strong against the evils that threaten such peace.

From Wired News at, another camel-sized chunk of vital news that can’t fit through the eye of the corporate media:

An audit of Diebold Election Systems voting machines in California has revealed that the company installed uncertified software in all 17 counties that use its electronic voting equipment…The audit uncovered discrepancies between what Diebold said was installed in counties and what auditors actually found…the most serious issues related to the tabulation software known as GEMS, or global election management system. GEMS sits on a server in each county election office, counting the votes and producing summary reports of totals…”We were negligent”... Diebold president Bob Urosevich told the panel.

Modified Image:

Monday, December 15, 2003

Early yesterday, before the daylong festivities of tree trimming, I managed a quick 87 Billion-Dollar Man post and these three unposted paragraphs:

In a morning that smells suspiciously of overarching psychological manipulations more domestic than foreign, the US, after considerable expenditure of treasure, finally accomplishes, with Saddam’s capture and the deaths of his sons and grandson, a sequence of events that should register on the medieval consciousness of the average Middle Easterner.
Our soldiers deserve congratulations.
American troops would have accomplished this particular mission much sooner without the fruitless diversion of Intel and manpower hunting for nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.
American Sunday morning television has been typically crazed and overblown with alleged Special Editions rampant.
I’ve been watching NBC, CBS and C-SPAN since about 7:56 AM EST.
CBS really should reconsider a quick retirement for Dan Rather who, in a display of the hidden jitters that besets the Washington and New York bound elites, became embarrassingly moist-eyed and teary throughout CBS’ technical snafu-laden coverage.

Thinking back on yesterday’s tsunami of media, I’ve been struck by several things.
Of course, as I mentioned, Rather’s tears evidence a need for quiet time and a Paxil regimen but I was also struck by Tim Russert’s rictus-like grin and the panicky quality to NBC’s equally aged and humdrum anchor presence.
I was amazed by the self-described US soldiers satellite phoning into C-SPAN from within the Iraqi theater to voice very pro Bush statements.
“Your name?” the host would ask with a series of other general questions.
“Can’t tell you” was the sound effect rich reply to all questions.
These calls had the feel of the never-to be-seen-again color PhotoShop scans visible in Iraqi hands during the coverage surrounding the fall of Saddam’s statue within a zero-electricity Baghdad.
Certainly, this morning, I’ve not heard any mention of these (there were at least two callers who identified themselves as soldiers, one said “US Army”) amazing telephone calls by our feature story-crazed media.
I’ve devoted some time spent hanging ornaments thinking upon the logistics of an ordinary soldier phoning into an American television program from Iraq.
I would think the ordinary soldier’s efforts to make such a call would be extreme.
One of the soldiers said he was watching C-SPAN via satellite.
Part of me is heartened that these busy young soldiers, when offered some satellite R and R, would choose, among American television’s diverse and often sinful satellite selections, C-SPAN’s highly entertaining though somewhat dry Journal as their program of choice.
Did the soldiers call with or without permission from their ranking officers?
After all, our C-SPAN soldier is using a government issue satellite phone and likely a Pentagon phone account to place a call that would require several re-dials to be successful and, at least if successful, a moderate wait before airtime and the free expression of those pro Bush views.
C-SPAN, equally amazing considering the events they choose not to afford this sometimes interesting parallel citizen commentary, took calls throughout the day and not just within the three hour Journal period.
The callers, in a usual display of C-SPAN phone behavior on big news days, were heavy with the extremism that so handicaps America.
All the big 30-day hiatus rule breakers made their regular appearances.
The 100% and 100+% Bush support crowd of chain-smoking Goldbergesque women and the fast-talking got-it-all-figured-out multi-divorced guys were burning up C-SPAN’s lines but were still late to media’s almost universal declaration of Bush victory in the ’04 presidential race due to Saddam’s capture.
Yes, this morning it appears the American media is much more excited than your average Iraqi over Saddam’s old and new accommodations.
This morning I’ve lost track of Hole tours (and I don't mean the all-girl rock band) by the necessarily thinnest of the network’s Iraqi correspondents.
The general mood in Iraq has been determined by the absence of celebratory gunfire and, on the media, by their explosive metaphoric overabundance.
Perhaps the in-country natives are busy holding collective breath awaiting a through public airing of Saddam’s interrogations or the cleansing light of a public trial.
Media mood-swings do not require such factual grounding.

Hill Blasts Vatican at Concert

From Yahoo and Agence France-Presse:

Lauryn Hill [Saturday] stunned leading members of the Roman Catholic Church when she accused them of moral corruption, exploitation and abuse from the stage during a Christmas concert at the Vatican…"I'm not here to celebrate, like you, the birth of Christ, but to ask you why you are not in mourning for his death in this place," Hill said…"Holy God has witnessed the corruption of your leadership, of the exploitation and abuses which are the minimum that can be said for the clergy," she added, calling on the hierarchy to "repent".
Stunned hierarchy in the front row at Saturday night's concert included one of the most senior figures in the Church, Cardinal Camillo Ruini.

I learned it as a child, knowledge be the key
to unlock your brain and set your mindstate free
It's true, the times come through, chose the few
Show and prove, the power of God's in you.
--Inspector Deck, Uncontrolled Substance, 1999

Images: CBS, C-SPAN, NBC, Reuters and AFP
Sunday, December 14, 2003
The $87 Billion Man

Captured with two others and $750,000 US without a shot fired in a hole in the ground.

Photo: Reuters TV

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