Saturday, December 25, 2004
Today’s Christmas is sometimes referred to as a consumerist orgy — an annual festival of unbridled commodity purchases aimed at expressing how much we care for others. But there are fundamental contradictions in the “tradition.”
Indeed, today’s Christmas (wouldn’t be what it is had it not been for the power of both the Church and, much more recently, corporations to tame and shape another, more traditional, kind of orgy.
Alongside industrialization came the fragmentation of communities into individualized contract workers. And with urbanization and its displacement of millions from their villages and traditional extended families came a kind of social-psychological vacuum. Accompanying this growing culture of isolation and emptiness was a broad range of “inventions” primarily developed to serve the interests of corporations, including electricity, the telegraph, and the Department Store. Together, they facilitated further urbanization, more efficiency, and importantly, more potential sales. The Department Store, for example, became a central gathering place in most cities; people were free to browse and, for the first time, were not expected to buy anything. Through the magic of electrical illuminations, potential customers now could see all the goods and potential lifestyles available to those hard-working individuals with money.
For Department Stores and the capitalists behind the production, Christmas soon became an opportunity to sell more goods by (and here's the key!) associating these commodities with social-psychological needs emerging in people’s lives.
As urbanization and industrialization proceeded, corporations successfully associated Christmas with what we now take for granted; December 25th became a time for individuals and families to re-unite and, in the absence of truly intimate relationships, familial bonds were expressed through an exchange of purchased clothes, toys and innumerable other products.
Quite suddenly Christmas had become a family holiday – something quite different from what the Church originally intended when it labeled the day as Christ’s birth. Also, through the mystical re-manufacturing of Christmas by corporations as a day - and now a “season” - for buying and exchanging gifts, the emerging world of atomized relations and fragmented communities could them-selves be exploited – exploited as a social-psychological vacuum in which the selling of commodities could be perpetuated.
Today, through the twists, turns and power interests shaping history, Christmas again has become a time of debauchery. From its roots as an agrarian pagan orgy, followed by the attempt to transform it into a religious holiday for the community, it’s now become another kind of pagan orgy – this time a capitalist one.
In our economic system, this faith in Christmas as a celebration of love through consumption has become so deeply entrenched, it exists in the very marrow of our cultural existence. But more significantly, and paradoxically, its ascendancy has paralleled the near collapse of the bases of life and love itself – the environment in which we all live.
Over these past 150 yrs, humanity has consumed more of the earth’s resources and has caused more ecological damage than all the generations, living tens of thousands of years before the mid-19th century, combined. Now, the “developing” world is being told about the wonders of our consumerist religion, and Christmas is being used as a core means of promulgating the faith; a faith being promoted even in non-Christian cultures.
Posted by cuddlefish at 9:30 AM
Friday, December 24, 2004
Thursday, December 23, 2004
THANKS TO a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights groups, thousands of pages of government documents released this month have confirmed some of the painful truths about the abuse of foreign detainees by the U.S. military and the CIA -- truths the Bush administration implacably has refused to acknowledge. Since the publication of photographs of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in the spring the administration's whitewashers -- led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- have contended that the crimes were carried out by a few low-ranking reservists, that they were limited to the night shift during a few chaotic months at Abu Ghraib in 2003, that they were unrelated to the interrogation of prisoners and that no torture occurred at the Guantanamo Bay prison where hundreds of terrorism suspects are held. The new documents establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false.
Some of the abuses can be attributed to lack of discipline in some military units -- though the broad extent of the problem suggests, at best, that senior commanders made little effort to prevent or control wrongdoing. But the documents also confirm that interrogators at Guantanamo believed they were following orders from Mr. Rumsfeld. One FBI agent reported on May 10 about a conversation he had with Guantanamo's commander, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, who defended the use of interrogation techniques the FBI regarded as illegal on the grounds that the military "has their marching orders from the Sec Def." Gen. Miller has testified under oath that dogs were never used to intimidate prisoners at Guantanamo, as authorized by Mr. Rumsfeld in December 2002; the FBI papers show otherwise.
The Bush administration refused to release these records to the human rights groups under the Freedom of Information Act until it was ordered to do so by a judge. Now it has responded to their publication with bland promises by spokesmen that any wrongdoing will be investigated. The record of the past few months suggests that the administration will neither hold any senior official accountable nor change the policies that have produced this shameful record. Congress, too, has abdicated its responsibility under its Republican leadership: It has been nearly four months since the last hearing on prisoner abuse. Perhaps intervention by the courts will eventually stem the violations of human rights that appear to be ongoing in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan. For now the appalling truth is that there has been no remedy for the documented torture and killing of foreign prisoners by this American government.
Posted by cuddlefish at 12:37 PM
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
The National Low Income Housing Coalition once again must report that the cost of rental housing in the United States is out of reach of the vast majority of low wage earners and people who are elderly or disabled with public income benefits. The disparity between income and rent for people of modest means is so wide as to be unfathomable to the two-thirds of the U.S. population who are well-housed at costs that are well within their households’ budgets.
For the other one third of the nation, the consequences of ends that do not meet are all too real. They must devise ways of coping that at a minimum mean forgoing all optional or postponeable spending or saving, too often require making impossible choices among necessities, and in the worst case, managing with no home at all.
For those who labor under the misconception that this third of the U.S. population lives somewhere other than their community, Out of Reach is a reminder that no community, no town or city or county or state, has enough housing for the low income people who live there.
Once again, this year there is not a single jurisdiction in the country where a person working full time earning the prevailing minimum wage can afford a two bedroom rental home.
Moreover, there are only four counties in the country - Wayne, Crawford, and Lawrence counties in Illinois and Washington County, Florida - where a person or a household working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year at the prevailing minimum wage can afford even a one bedroom apartment.
Posted by cuddlefish at 12:39 PM
There'll be two oaths taken come January 20th, 2005. The first, by George W. Bush, is a promise to continue the appalling and self-serving agenda of a handful of rightwing extremists cloaked under the guise of a falsely assumed people's mandate.
The second oath is a collective one. And there's nothing false about it. It's an unwavering pledge by the tens of thousands of people who mobilized in unprecedented numbers during the election to peaceably counter the Bush agenda.
Wednesday, January 19, 6:30 PM
The night before the inauguration, join CODEPINK and others for a creative protest outside the "Black Tie and Boots" Inaugural Ball, which starts at 7 PM at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Road, NW; Washington, DC. Details TBA.
Thursday, January 20
There are several exciting actions planned for inauguration day, and we're sure CODEPINK activists will want to participate in as many of them as possible. The DC Anti-War Network is organizing a January 20 march and rally called “RISE Against Bush/SHINE For a Peaceful Tomorrow.” The rally begins at 9 AM at Malcolm X Park in Washington, DC and continues to the White House. A die-in and possible civil disobedience are also in the works.
Later in the day, activists plan to line the route of the inaugural parade, to express their opposition to the Bush agenda in a myriad of ways. One group called “Turn Your Back on Bush” is encouraging activists to line the parade route and, at a given signal, turn our backs on the president.
There are also dozens of “inaugural balls” that will be taking place in hotels along the parade route and are always good targets for creative, spontaneous nonviolent actions.
Saturday and Sunday, January 22 and 23
On inauguration weekend, CODEPINK will participate in the Progressive Democratic Summit, an event that will feature experienced speakers in the progressive movement, informational workshops, and other useful information for progressive activists and organizations. For more information and to register, click here.
The fine folks at All Spin Zone are offering a plane ticket to get to DC.
If you happen to be in New Orleans, check out the Jazz Funeral for Democracy.
Posted by cuddlefish at 8:03 AM
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Six Rollergirl Leagues have announced their 2005 bout schedule. Mark your calendars.
Arizona Roller Derby
- January 8th: Bruisers vs. Surly Gurlies
- January 14th: "away" game, Details TBA
- February 12th: St. Valentine's Massacre: Surly Gurlies vs Smashers
- March 12th: Smashers vs. Bad News Beaters
- March 27th: Matinee Bruisers vs. Tucson Roller Derby
- April 9th: Championship Pre-Qualifier: Surly Gurlies vs. Bad News Beaters
- May 14th: Championship Pre-Qualifier: Smashers vs. Bruisers
- June 11th: Championship Game: April winner vs. May winner
- January 22nd: Exhibition Bout
- March 19th: Game 1
- April 23rd: Game2
- May 21st: Game 3
- June 25th: Championship Bout
- January 30th
- February 20th
- March 27th
- April 24th
- February 13th: Holy Rollers vs. All Scar Army
- March 6th: Rhinestone Cowgirls vs. Cherry Bombs
- April 3rd: Holy Rollers vs. Putas del Fuego
- April 24th: Hellcats vs. Rhinestone Cowgirls
- May 15th: Cherry Bombs vs. Putas del Fuego
- June 5th: Holy Rollers vs. Hellcats
- June 26th: Rhinestone Cowgirls vs. Putas del Fuego
- September 11th: Cherry Bombs vs. Holy Rollers
- September 25th: Hellcats vs. Putas del Fuego
- October 9th: Rhinestone Cowgirls vs. Holy Rollers
- October 23rd: Cherry Bombs vs. Hellcats
- November 13th: Calvello Cup World Championships
- February 19th: VICE Squad vs. Furious Truckstop Waitresses
- March 5th: Iron Curtain vs. VICE Squad
- April 4th: Hustlers vs. Honky Tonk Heartbreakers
/ Hell Marys vs. Hotrod Honeys
- April 24th: Honky Tonk Heartbreakers vs. Hell Marys
/ Hotrod Honeys vs. Hustlers
- May 15th: Hotrod Honeys vs. Honky Tonk Heartbreakers
/ Hustlers vs. Hell Marys
- June 5th: Honky Tonk Heartbreakers vs. Hustlers
/ Hell Marys vs. Hotrod Honeys
- June 26th: Hell Marys vs. Honky Tonk Heartbreakers
/ Hotrod Honeys vs. Hustlers
- July 17th: Hotrod Honeys vs. Honky Tonk Heartbreakers
/ Hustlers vs. Hell Marys
- August 7th: Championship!
support your local rollergirl
Posted by cuddlefish at 6:52 AM
Monday, December 20, 2004
The Texas Rollergirls are accepting nominations for the Crowd Favorite Award to be presented at the Second Annual Whammy Awards. Last year I was proud to present this award to Anna Mosity.
To nominate a Texas Rollergirl for this award email :
devilgrrl AT txrollergirls Dot com by Saturday, January 8th.
The Awards cermony will be held on Saturday, February 12th.
support your local rollergirl
Posted by cuddlefish at 2:48 PM
Football's world governing body, Fifa, has ruled that a leading Mexican woman footballer is not eligible to play for a professional men's club.
Maribel Dominguez signed for Mexico's second-division club Celaya this week - a move which would have been a first in North and Central America's sport.
But Fifa's executive committee said that "there must be a clear separation between men's and women's football".
Dominguez, 26, has scored 42 goals in 43 games for the national women's team.
Posted by cuddlefish at 10:35 AM
Bob Herbert in the NYT.
Greg Rund was a freshman at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in 1999 when two students shot and killed a teacher, a dozen of their fellow students and themselves. Mr. Rund survived that horror, but he wasn't able to survive the war in Iraq. The 21-year-old Marine lance corporal was killed on Dec. 11 in Falluja.
The people who were so anxious to launch the war in Iraq are a lot less enthusiastic about properly supporting the troops who are actually fighting, suffering and dying in it. Corporal Rund was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. Because of severe military personnel shortages, large numbers of troops are serving multiple tours in the war zone, and many are having their military enlistments involuntarily extended.
Troops approaching the end of their tours in Iraq are frequently dealt the emotional body blow of unexpected orders blocking their departure for home. "I've never seen so many grown men cry," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former infantry platoon leader who founded Operation Truth, an advocacy group for soldiers and veterans.
The Bush administration, which has asked so much of the armed forces, has established a pattern of dealing in bad faith with its men and women in uniform. The callousness of its treatment of the troops was, of course, never more clear than in Donald Rumsfeld's high-handed response to a soldier's question about the shortages of battle armor in Iraq.
As the war in Iraq goes more and more poorly, the misery index of the men and women serving there gets higher and higher. More than 1,300 have been killed. Many thousands are coming home with agonizing wounds. Scott Shane of The Times reported last week that according to veterans' advocates and military doctors, the already hard-pressed system of health care for veterans "is facing a potential deluge of tens of thousands of soldiers returning from Iraq with serious mental health problems brought on by the stress and carnage of war."
From the earliest planning stages until now, the war in Iraq has been a tragic exercise in official incompetence. The original rationale for the war was wrong. The intelligence was wrong. The estimates of required troop strength were wrong. The war hawks' guesses about the response of the Iraqi people were wrong. The cost estimates were wrong, and on and on.
Nevertheless the troops have fought valiantly, and the price paid by many has been horrific. They all deserve better than the bad faith and shoddy treatment they are receiving from the highest officials of their government.
Posted by cuddlefish at 7:07 AM
Sunday, December 19, 2004
It is news guaranteed to make many Republicans squirm. Was Abraham Lincoln, founder of the party now seeking a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in America, actually gay himself?
A new book, published next month, certainly thinks so. The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln by C.A. Tripp produces evidence that one of America's greatest Presidents had a long-term relationship with a youthful friend, Joshua Speed, and shared his bed with David Derickson, captain of his bodyguards.
Posted by cuddlefish at 8:51 AM