new day rising

superbushI spent Monday watching the 2003 documentary Control Room, then read a mess of online farewells to George Bush. This one comes closest to what’s inside my own heart: May the Road Rise to Meet You in the Face, You Treasonous Son of a Bitch.

Contrary to the arguments made by your defenders, I didn’t root for you to fail. I never did. I greeted your installment by the Supreme Court with exhaustion and resignation, and your first few months in office with general skepticism, but I never thought, “Boy, I hope he just falls on his face and kills a lot of people and wrecks our economy and blows holes in the sand for five years.” I thought, “Maybe it’ll be okay. Maybe it won’t be so bad.”

And when 9/11 happened I said to myself and those around me, Democrats all, “Well, let’s see what he does now.” My life has not been devoid of stories about unlikely heroes arising from feckless halfwit princelings, so I was prepared for that to happen. Hopeful, even. Who doesn’t want everything to be okay? Who doesn’t recognize that you being a terrible failure would hurt us far more than it would hurt you?

I wish you had done the job. I wish you had found and tried and executed Osama bin Laden, and rebuilt Afghanistan the way we should have decades ago. I wish you had given us real security, not this dance of removing our shoes and putting lotion in a baggie. I wish you had told us to conserve and sacrifice, not spend and eat. I wish you had listened to those in the armed forces and those in Congress and those on the street when they said, don’t invade Iraq. I wish you had listened to Iraqis, afterwards, when they said, help us stop the looting and violence.

I wish you had listened to the Gulf Coast’s people when they called out for help. I wish you had listened to the sick and their doctors when they asked you to grant research to cure their disesases. I wish you had listened to women when we said, we value our autonomy.

I wish you had listened to us all when we said we are more than this, we are better than this, ask us and there’s nothing we won’t give you. I wish you had had faith in us equal to that which we placed in you. And I wish you had been worthy of what we wanted from you, and from ourselves.

I wish you had done and been all of this, but you didn’t and you weren’t, and so what we’re left with are the memories of the dead, the horrors of the living, with boarded-up houses and empty streets, a place so broken we barely recognize it anymore. It’s hard to imagine punishment fitting for that. It’s hard, having wished all this for you, to wish anything more, but I do:

May you live a life of quiet contemplation of every single one of your failures. May you live a life hemmed in by those you hurt, in a cell physical or otherwise, papered with the faces of your dead. May you be  sheltered from the rain of rotten tomatoes and sour heads of cabbage by a small, broken umbrella. May you be gnawed upon by the hunger you fostered in the poor, chilled by the cold from which you refused to shield the homeless, beset by the illnesses you refused to help cure, subjected to the indignities you inflicted upon others.

May your life be long, and healthy, and full of everything you gave to America and the world. May you come to know exactly who you are. May you come to recognize the face in the mirror each morning.

May it give to you a fraction of the nightmares you deserve.

No love at all,


More at the link and worth twice the time to read it once.

Eight years of international decline and what’s been lost may never be recovered. 

On my bookshelf, a small sample of elucidating prose that need never have been written:

The Dark Side

The Forever War

The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

In the Shadow of No Towers

Conservatives Without Conscience

The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule

The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics and Religion

Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President


Two Images that sum up this administration:



And while he was doing this:


Our elected president flew a team of doctors into New Orleans and took complete control of the mission —  exhausted, pissed, and declining media coverage for fear it would be “politicized.”


I won’t belabor what’s shaping up as the worst legacy ever, a slimeball trail future administrations will be cleaning up for life, no, enough buzz-killing. In the space of one day the tears this country flows will be of far sweeter quality, and for once I cannot wait for the speechifying to begin. Meanwhile read this smackdown of the uncomprehending winger outcry concerning our inaugural poet, Countdown to PORN and go forward laughing, citizen.

I try to praise the mutilated world

I often wonder what it will look like to reach the point of not just surviving my misfortunes but being simply and profoundly grateful for every single thing that has ever happened to me. And why people who want things like that are so perplexing to those who don’t. Those who wonder, in their golden ways what’s so funny about gallows humor, the sole comfort of those who’ve escaped the hangman and an affront to those who have no knowledge of his existence.

Welp, there it is, in black & white, no less.


by W.S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

Discovered Wordle

This summer it’s been living on the Outskirts of the Intranets since I found my library card, but have to mention a new toy making the scene; it’s a time-sink but beautiful, and about time. Just follow this link, cut, paste, Java does the work, you reap the warm inordinate glow of artistic accomplishment. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes, he says, though judging by the spellbinders my learning curve has hills to climb. But for now some thoughts inside my head are free. Sobering, yes I know.

they work best when you click them

A problem from Hell

Good to know. How can I help? I don’t have anything different to add to the online cacophony other than my endorsement, but yesterday’s statement by Eve Ensler on Huffpo perfectly describes what’s clanging around my own feminist head and heart. Actual blogging may be on hold these days but there comes a time to cut & paste:

I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it’s their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.

I don’t like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.

But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story — connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.

I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.

Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God’s plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin’s view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, “It was a task from God.”

Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist’s baby or not.

She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.

Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well be the next president of the United States. She would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth.

Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.

Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God’s name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.

I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S., but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.

If the Polar Bears don’t move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, “Drill Drill Drill.” I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.

Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?

All war dead

Jeff & I were on the phone talking about how we’d feel today with the inevitable wingnuts on parade commanding the rest of us to wave the flag and celebrate the troops. Fuck them, said Jeff. Memorial Day is not Veterans Day, this is a day to remember all war dead — children, women, civilians, animals, the innocents, the casualties. This is their only day and their day only. A day to hang your American head in grief for the size and scope of this nation’s militarism, beginning with the Civil war, including our part in it.

That made sense to me.

This song is by X, which reformed for a summer tour. It alone is worth whatever the ticket price, as relevant today as when I was playing it on the radio 25 years ago.

the facts we hate: we’ll never meet walking down the road everybody yelling “hurry up, hurry up!” but i’m waiting for you i must go slow i must not think bad thoughts what is this world coming to? both sides are right but both sides murder i give up why can’t they? i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts. the civil wars and the uncivilized wars conflagrations leap out of every poor furnace the food cooks poorly and everyone goes hungry from then on it’s dog eat dog dog eat body & body eat dog i can’t go down there i can’t understand it i’m a no good coward & an american too a north american that is not a south or a central or a native american o i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts i’m guilty of murder of innocent men innocent women innocent children thousands of them! my planes! my guns! my money! my soldiers! their blood is on my hands it’s all my fault! i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts the facts we hate: you’ll never hear us (i hear the radio it’s finally gonna play new music you know the “british invasion”) but what about the minutemen flesh eaters doa big boys and the black flag? will the last american band to get played on the radio please bring the flag? please bring the flag? glitter-disco-synthesizer night school all this noble savage drum drum drum! astronauts go back in time to hang out with the cave people it’s about time it’s about space it’s about some people in the strangest places woody guthrie sang about b-e-e-t-s not b-e-a-t-s i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad not thoughts i must not think bad thoughts i must not think bad thoughts.

Wonky time

I’m not a special interest voter. I believe single-issue voters who refuse to vote for a progressive based on one policy are responsible for keeping the left in splinters and the status quo dominant. Single-issue voting also suggests over-investment in a single cause, which makes me question the voter’s overall judgment and dedication to the common good. But at base we’re all single-interest babies to some extent, and during election cycles it’s something I try to monitor and question to keep from queering my perspective, so to speak. So, while I don’t care only about mental health policy, I care enough to be frustrated by the moratorium on discussing my issue with force and meaning. Yes it’s scary and there’s a lot we don’t know about mental illness, but the same can be said for the war and we’re talking about that.

I caught some of yesterday’s Congressional hearings, and it appears Obama was the smartest person in the room. But 2 minutes into her testimony it was Hillary Clinton who said this:

The cost to our men and women in uniform is growing. Last week the New York Times noted the stress on the mental health of our returning soldiers and marines from multiple and extended deployments. Among combat troops sent to Iraq for the third and fourth time, more than one in four show signs of anxiety, depression, or acute stress. … The Administration and supporters of the Administration’s policy often talk about the cost of leaving Iraq yet ignore the greater cost of continuing the same failed policy.

Word. What she means by “anxiety, depression and acute stress” can be seen up close and personal here.

While we’re on it, might as well compare and contrast a couple mental health policy statements the candidates gave to NAMI dearest last winter. You may recall NAMI sent the candidates a 24 item questionnaire based on their pro-drug, anti-choice medical model propaganda. Thin gruel, but the only documented clue we have as to where the candidates stand on mental illness. Little wonder that McCain, who is in the news this week for calling his wife a “cunt” wouldn’t go within an inch of responding to NAMI’s questions about mental health, and the Democrat’s responses are party-line, which is good, but we need sharper discourse and real vetting, especially with regard to Obama’s focus on preventive policy, which rings the nanny bells that so many of us have had it up to here with. But then he goes and hints he will appoint our kind to his executive branch:

I also believe that the federal government should be a model employer of workers with disabilities or mental illness…. To assure that the federal government holds itself to high anti-discrimination standards, I will increase funding to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and assure that the person I appoint to chair the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is committed to enforcing anti-discrimination laws that protect federal employees through a strong Office of Federal Operations. Perhaps most important, I will provide leadership to my appointees throughout the executive branch so that they, employers in the private sector, and workers with disabilities across the country will understand the importance of this issue.

I also find his strong-worded responses to issues of discrimination, seclusion and restraint encouraging but hard to believe so long as he remains subservient to the biopsychiatry framework. On the other hand, Clinton, responding to the question of parity, takes the opportunity to link pharma with the very idea that things aren’t all that hunky dory: (my bold)

All patients should have access to effective treatments recommended by their prescribing physician without the fear that government-sponsored or private insurance will deny these life-saving medicines. That said, we do need to have a better understanding of the best pharmaceutical treatment options for all patients, which is why I have proposed establishing an independent public-private Best Practices Institute. A public-private partnership, this institute would develop and guide research priorities so that doctors, nurses, and other health professionals know what drugs, devices, surgeries, and treatments work best.

Not exactly fighting words, but a hella more than the Rethuglicans have brought to the table, which by my count is nothing.

Not born with it? Die with it!

How does Post Traumatic Stress Disorder fit into the current biological model of mental illness? It doesn’t, people are not born with this malady, PTSD is the one and only severe mental illness organized around lived experience. But that is just so 1980s; unpleasant, un-profitable, incurable PTSD, let’s pretend it never happened and bedazzle the masses with correct disease-mongering like the spanking new bi-polar child disorder, so sciency and happening with our neuro-babbling times, devoid of social implications and “treatable” with pharmaceuticals.

A paradigm is shifting, it makes no sense to me, all these new diagnoses pop up that by some happy chance mesh perfectly with the medical model and psychopharm protocol, while services for trauma victims are increasingly denied. Say goodbye to the human condition, to straightforward, reality-based narrative interpretation, goodbye to the one commonsense diagnosis that actually pertains, thanks and good-bye to the expendables who can’t live another day suffering from a benighted intellectual construct.

Try To Praise The Mutilated World

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the grey feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Adam Zagajewski
Translated by Renata Gorczynski