July 2002 Archives

The wonders of the internet brings us still more from one of the people who might yet save the country, if not the world.

[Miss Scarlet must have been told that a lady does not sweat in the summer. She glows. How were us northern folk supposed to know that? It would'a made all the difference for a lot of us, surely.]

The NYTimes editors like to regularly wax poetical about our more natural seasonal pleasures, and pains, sometimes actually adding something worthy to what we normally enjoy or suffer privately. Today's notes are sort of a tribute to the fullness of summer in New York,

The thickness of the weather is most obvious just at dusk, when the heat tapers off a bit but the humidity comes into its own. Darkness seems to arrive from no place in particular. It condenses into a vapor that lies low over the hills north of the city and obscures the river edge of New Jersey. The damp air blunts every outline and blurs the distinction between colors until finally only darkness is left, but a darkness you can taste in your mouth and feel on your skin.
and yet they offer some sensible help in dealing with its discomforts.
Southerners know that the trick of living in damp heat is getting used to being sticky all the time. Northerners prefer to feel as though they'd just dried off after a long shower, their skin slick, except that in weather like this that effect quickly vanishes. For all the clarity of azure autumn days and the softness of the best weeks of spring, a few days of shirt-drenching weather in late July or early August are every bit as truly New York.
[I guess winter just doesn't count anymore. I think we did away with it a little while back.]

I came across this amazing site yesterday, but I doubt that we will have much call for the products it offers.

No matter what critter is eating up your garden or invading your yard, we have the proven, all-natural solution: 100% Predator Urines!
Even though both deer and coyotes have been found in Manhattan in recent years, I really doubt that either will be likely to get into our little roof garden, and the neighbors would in any event certainly not be happy with such a defense system.

Letters in both the NYTimes and the Daily News this morning try to draw a distinction between the morality of the recent Israeli murders in Gaza and that associated with Palestinian bombers.

There is a world of difference between the civilian deaths that occur during the Israeli assassination of the Hamas military leader and the civilian deaths that occur when buses or pizza parlors or discos or restaurants are blown up.

In one case, even if the Israeli military knew that there would be civilian casualties, the target was a killer. In the other, the purposeful target was the child holding the ice cream cone or the teenager out for a night of dancing.

It is outrageous and absurd that the Palestinians have the audacity to condemn Israel for its attack on Salah Shehada in Gaza. While Israel, as a rule, does everything possible to try to avoid civilian casualties, the terrorists only strike at innocents.
The Israelis occupy every inch of Palestine, have one of the most powerful military establishments on the planet, routinely employing its tools, whether tanks or F-16 jets, and have the expressed or implied support of the only superpower left in the world--which pays for almost all of this terror.

Some Palestinians have replaced stones with their own bodies as the only weapons available to them. Now if we were to force Israel out of the occupied territories and equip Palestinians with the same kind of power and weaponry, not to mention allies, that we give to the Israelis, we might be able to fairly compare the morality of what they do with such parity.

A well-directed missile intended for Sharon might end up killing civilians, including babies, but apparently it would be the thought that counts.

Our tree arrives wednesday, and I feel like an expectant father! I'm sure what follows then will be like a new career. I've been without a garden since leaving the little 1760 house in Providence. While New York certainly has its compensations elsewise, if it's not generally imcomparable, I've still missed the garden in Rhode Island, perhaps most of all.

Well, it would be pretty cool if now I could reproduce at least one of the four working fireplaces I had on Transit Street, but that really would be quite a project, what with four apartments stacked above us here, and even then we wouldn't know where to store two cords of wood!

And just why do you think that's a bad move at this time, Senator Lieberman?

The conservative Democratic believes his presidential running mate, Al Gore, shifted too far to the left [sic] during the 2000 campaign.

In recent weeks, Mr. Lieberman has repeatedly expressed concerns that Democratic efforts to seize on allegations of corporate abuse on Wall Street could undo efforts made by some members of the party — most of whom are affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council [formed in the 1980s to elect Republican knock-offs] and refer to themselves as New Democrats — to move the Democratic Party to the center, and rebut its image as antibusiness.

In the interview last night, Mr. Lieberman said that he had felt the same way in 2000, when Mr. Gore presented his campaign as an appeal on behalf of "the people" against "special interests."

This is from a speech he gave yesterday, not last year! Hasn't anyone told him what's going on in the country these days, or is this courtesan simply too horribly compromised by his own illicit or shadowy corporate l'affair de coeuer? The party should be stepping up to its own "bully pulpit!" If not now, when? If not critical of corporate malfeasance, supportive?

At least for the fortunes of his party, but certainly for the good of the Republic, this man must be shunted aside pronto!

Our policy throughout the Middle East has succeeded in creating enemies and weakening real or potential friends, in building-up repressive, violent and aggressive regimes and destroying the hopes of reformers and democrats.

Perhaps nowhere else at the moment is this better illustrated than in the Palestinian community, where, for those who have eyes and ears, the human dimension of our stupidity plays out so intimately yet dramatically, and at such great cost to any hope for peace and stability.

Palestinian-Americans (and other well-educated and prosperous Palestinians) are possibly in the best position to put an end to the violence thoughout the region and build a viable and just state. Now however they are being encouraged to leave, in many cases after returning from abroad during the last decade, when it appeared that their homeland was on the verge of statehood.

The residents of Turmus Aya, most of whom are American citizens, are trapped most days behind concrete blocks that Israeli soldiers have placed across the road into town, which is not a hot spot in the conflict.


[Because of the Israeli military occupation] Universities are inaccessible, and beyond selling corn flakes at the Supermarket California or pizza at the local restaurant, there is little work to be had.

Palestinian-Americans are concentrated in the southern West Bank, in Ramallah and surrounding villages like this one, where there are plenty of basketball hoops and residents tend to greet strangers with, "How ya doin'?" Like Turmus Aya, Deir Dibwan, to the south, also feels like a ghost town, because so many residents have gone to America.


These days, some Palestinian-Americans are embarrassed to be leaving for the United States, and others even to admit their citizenship, but Mustafa Zatar, 55, who worked for many years in Puerto Rico, proudly wears a baseball cap bearing the American flag.

"Every Fourth of July I fly the flag on my roof," he said.

For four generations, as the West Bank passed from the Turks to the British to the Jordanians and then the Israelis, Palestinians have been leaving to seek their fortunes elsewhere. They gained citizenship in the United States, or Panama or France, and passed it on to their children.

The pattern has been for men like Ziad Igbara to leave after they finish high school to study or to work, but to raise their families here. Mr. Igbara said he did not know his own father until he was 14.

With his father and brothers, Mr. Igbara has been selling clothes in the Bronx for 22 years now. Unlike his brother Najeh, he is leaving his wife and six children here when he returns to the United States again this summer, because he is determined that they establish roots here. But he said he did not know how long he could hold out.

Orwell's 1984, written decades before the date, projected what the year 1984 would look like. At least we made it to 2002, even as the book has been stuck in my consciousness since Dubya was voted president by the Supremes. Can we delay the full authoritarian state a bit longer, or have we already lost the battle?

As President Bush wages his war against terrorism and moves to create a huge homeland security apparatus, he appears to be borrowing heavily, if not ripping off ideas outright, from George Orwell. The work in question is "1984," the prophetic novel about a government that controls the masses by spreading propaganda, cracking down on subversive thought and altering history to suit its needs. It was intended to be read as a warning about the evils of totalitarianism -- not a how-to manual.
I you don't expect to pick up the book again, at least take a look at this essay.

Is it American to give up liberty to be safe, or to give up safety to have liberty? Don't bother asking the gang in Washington.

The administration consistently reminds us that we must take these steps [eroding our fundamental freedoms] to protect our lives. Perhaps it needs to be reminded that when our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, they pledged "our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor" to protect the fundamental freedoms they held so dear and not the other way around.
Well, I wouldn't feel safe without liberty, and I think that should be the basis of any discussion of what is to be done, since safety without liberty would be an illusion at best, and safety can only be enhanced by a citizenry with liberty, especially if we are willing to share liberty with the rest of the world.

Two very, very good men are together about to make a very big difference in South Africa--and the world. South Africa's most visible HIV activist, Zackie Achmat, and its undisputed moral leader, Nelson Mandela, are joining together to create a future for people with AIDS and the world which needs them.

[At great risk to his declining health, Achmat] refuses to take anti-retroviral drugs until the government makes them available to the general population.

Holding hands with Mr Achmat, Mr Mandela said the Aids campaigner was "a role model and his action is based on a fundamental principle which we all admire".

After the meeting, Mr Mandela, whose attacks on the government's Aids policies are subtle but insistent, said he would meet President Mbeki to discuss Mr Achmat's condition, and by implication, those same government policies.

"I think that I've got a case to take to the president of the country and to acquaint him with what his position is," said Mr Mandela.

President Mbeki's notorious, anti-scientific views on AIDS are hugely responsible for the country's disastrous response to the epidemic, and anything which might neutralize or reverse the impact on government policy of his current attitudes would be an enormous victory for sanity, and life, even beyond South Africa.

Ok, what's this one spunky cicada doing outside our windows on 23rd Street at one o'clock in the morning? We're astonished we can hear him well above the ambient sounds of all kind of traffic late on a saturday night, but we can't imagine what he's doing there in the first place. I mean, even though the block may be an interesting location for certain male bipeds to hang out socially on a hot night, what's this little guy expect to find?

Yo papi!

The Barcelona AIDS Conference can be seen as the latest, problematic worldwide attempt to come to terms with what is expected to be the worst epidemic in human history*. Unfortnately it can also be seen through the demented eyes of
those who have condemned themselves to the sickness of ignorance and hate.

Most people, even in the United States, are blissfully unaware of the extent of the pure hatred and viciousness which has always been thrown at queers and, in the last twenty years, at those who have been perceived as representing HIV disease (for these fools' purposes, the two groups are indistinguishable), but even after the death of tens of millions, this particular horror, produced by the hatred which arises from our lowest instincts, remains.

Distinct from the vituperation hurled at what is thought of as "The Other" is that cast by some gays and HIV positive people themselves at those whom they consider impolite or impolitic troublemakers.

Upon returning from Barcelona this month, one member of ACT UP found in the group's mailbox an avalanche of emails revealing a perverse literature produced by blind hatred. I have seen some of the messages themselves** and they are incredibly sick, and the "stack" includes messages from gays as well.

Here is another ACT UP correspondent's take on the phenomenon, written in response to an email distribution of the message texts:

So very, very sad. These poor ignoramuses have no idea what AIDS [activism] has done for patient empowerment, for public-private cooperative community-based interventions, for basic virology, for holding drug companies accountable and causing them to change their course, for getting research spread across several institutes of NIH integrated....

Of course, the unifying thread in all these letters is homophobia. I
don't think I have heard as many variations of stick it up your ass
since I went to a conference on anal-genital neoplasms. It's
interesting. These horrid, hateful people were always here, but they
seem to have dropped the "...and the poor babies" bit.

Based on what I infer of these authors' intelligence and compassion
after reading these letters, I would say pissing them off was a sign
you're doing the right thing.


[my apologies for the length of these two texts, but they were simply not available as links, and I thought it important to somehow include them here]

* an item from the Chicago Tribune


July 26, 2002

Viewed as a whole, the global AIDS epidemic is a calamity so immense it
likely will leave you feeling powerless. You're tempted to turn to other,
more manageable problems. It defies the imagination.

As of the end of last year, approximately 40 million people worldwide were
living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and 22 million more had
died of the disease. At the present rate of growth, the number of infected
people is likely to rise to 100 million by decade's end, according to the
latest batch of grim statistics released by the United Nations earlierthis
month. Add the collateral damage--children left without parents, economies
without workers, countries without futures--and the AIDS epidemic takes on
apocalyptic proportions.

But surrendering to AIDS by not mounting an effective global response
amounts to virtual suicide. The answer lies in breaking up the challenge
into more comprehensible pieces and acting accordingly, as participants at
the recent International AIDS Conference in Barcelona attempted to do.
essential elements:

- A strategy has to be both global and coherent. This is a challenge
custom-made for the UN if there ever was one, and Secretary General Kofi
Annan's initiative to develop a global fund to coordinate money-raising,
determine priorities and collect reliable information about the scope of
the disease is the right place to start.

- Money--in the tens of billions of dollars--will be needed. Annan has
set a
yearly target of $7 billion to $10 billion, also targeting malaria and
killers. Depending on who's doing the arithmetic, the U.S. has contributed
as much as $1 billion or as little as $200 million.

The real number is probably somewhere in between--and not enough. Annan
would like the U.S. to contribute $2.5 billion yearly. The size of the
American economy--and the economic and security implications of AIDS in
Africa and of the exploding number of cases in Russia, China and India--
Annan's number a good down payment on what the U.S. ought to contribute.

- The debate over prevention versus treatment in developing countries is
past. Both are needed: Treatment of those already infected is an integral
part of the process of preventing additional infections.

- Beating up on the big bad pharmaceutical companies is self-defeating-
are the ones coming up with new treatments. Instead, international
dual-pricing agreements ought to be established to maintain the financial
incentive for further research while making drugs affordable to poorer

- At this juncture, proven and blunt prevention methods--distribution of
clean hypodermic needles, condoms and sex education, among others--have
take precedence over moralizing. In Russia, the number of cases is nearly
doubling every year. Most of the victims are drug addicts who use dirty
needles. In the U.S., clean-needle distribution has repeatedly been
by some conservative groups despite its effectiveness. That is not an

- Local leadership is essential. While some underdeveloped nations have
ravaged by AIDS, Brazil has set an example of how head-on strategies of
treatment, prevention, education and other interventions can begin to
the rate of infection. Global efforts cannot bear fruit amid local apathy.

The UN fund to fight AIDS deserves both active American participation and
dollars. Doing otherwise flies on the face of fundamental human compassion
and our clear national interest.

Copyright (c) 2002, Chicago Tribune

** the hate mail to ACT UP

[interesting that the action which shouted-down Secretary Thompson was actually the work of GMHC, not heretofore known for in-your-face activism, and not that of ACT UP]


I don't think we serve society by hiding this ugliness:Do you now,or did you ever think that in the ongoing stupidity of the human
race,that instead of sreaming at politicians,homophobes,and everyone else
you think is involved in some way of not coming up with a solution,that
maybe,just maybe,the answer starts with the peaple spreading the disease?

Act-Up - have you ever heard of maybe, acting mature? Your arrogance knows
no bounds. Let me educate you a little since you seem to fail to realize the truth: most Americans don't give a fuck about aids and never will. In fact, the more you idiots "act-up" like a bunch of assholes, the more you alienate your cause.

To counter your irrational activism, I've recently started a grass-roots
action group to end tax dollars expenditures on aids research. We have a
petition signed by hundreds of citizens already and we are completely
commited and totally motivated towards ending this total waste of our money.

As far as I'm concerned, the more of you freaks that die from aids, the
better off this world will be.

Why should we give your organization any more money? You people who are
irresponsible take funds away from Breast Cancer research. You are saying
that Bush administration is killing people with aids. Why don't you homos
who practice butt sex be more responsible and wear your rubbers, better yet, the only safe sex is no sex. You are the ones killing yourselves. In the Bible it talks against homosexuality, you should read it and get saved.


My first impression was to tell your organization to go fuck itself. But
before you give me the racist homophobic bullshit blowoff, I'd just like to
let you in on an obvious fact.

You guys are your own worst enemy and you will ultimately bring yourselves

You guys are fascist idiots and only hurt our cause.

You know, I for one am sick and disgusted and tired of the homosexual
community, period. You participate in risky behaviors and then, when you
come down with AIDS you want the taxpayer to foot the bill for your illness.
Here's a unique concept: Stop Fucking

While it is absolutely your right to demonstrate, I have just got to tell
you that many of your organization's tactics "stink". Please don't classify
this as "hate" mail...because it isn't. As a former NYer, I have been
watching ACT UP act up in public for quite a while, and I often wonder what
the response would be to a conservative group -young, loud, and hip- who
used the same , some would say harrassment, methods to demonstrate

If you FAGS quit puttin' it up your INFECTED asses, aids would be under
control. More money??? HELL NO!!! You want to reduce aids in the US? drop a fuckin' h-bomb on SF...........for starters.... Homo-sexual activity IS the problem...I really dislike your kind and this organ-ization.

Does it really prove anything to act like a bunch of unevolved cave men,
when people are there and trying to help you?.What a bunch of moorons, in
the good old days they would have shot ass hole groups like you on the white house lawn. What if you all lived in Egypt, would the Government take care of you any better, if you feel it would, then get the hell out of this country....The Old addage holds true, God helps those who help them
selves....So quit blameing others for your downfalls, and quit expecting
true Americans to bail your asses out.....But being the typical liberal
lovers you are I doubt that will happen....give me give me give me.....when
u should think , more like how can I help my self.....

I listened to the news reports of your actions to silence Secretary Thompson at the AIDS confernece. Free speech is guaranteed in this country. Your should be ashamed of your behavior. Your malady is preventable, particularly in the developed world. It is a self induced problem. I will write my representatives to divert the US's 40% fundingto the war on terrorism. I believe under that definition, you may become a target yourself.

Freedom is earned, not granted. Free speech is a right not to be taken
away. Despots have learned that the hard way. Perhaps you did not listen
well in you history classes.

In Light of todays development in Barcelona and your actions regarding
Secretary Thompson, what can you tell me, a straight, right wing, Republican who nevertheless has compassion for all suffering people, that will cause me to take up your cause, keeping in mind that you will need me and millions like me to lobby congress in order to help YOUR CAUSE ? No matter what you do or say you guys ( Gays , Queers , People that think your OK ) are a minority and you need the rest of the country in order to help your cause , so will you keep aleniating us to the point that we say fuck it let them rot; i dont want to do this but this is were all your attitude is leading me to, what can you say to convince me to be sympathetic to your cause ?

You should be ashamed of yourselves. Taking resources from the whole of
humankind for your pitiful disease which has a cure. Taking research money
from diseases like cancer for a bunch of fools who can't keep their clothes
on, is perhaps the most abhorant manifestation of selfishness known to the
world today.


Hello - I read today that your organization took part in the protesting
durring Tommy thompson's speach at the AIDS conference in Spain. The article said that Mark Milano from ACT-UP New York, and others,argued that "U.S. funding to fight AIDS remains inadequate."
I would like to know why your organization wants me and other tax payers
to pay for preventing and treating a disease that is 100% preventable through actions of those not infected. It doesn't cost anything to avoid AIDS through sexually transmitted avenues. The cost to better screen blood before blood transfusions would be minimal and I don't believe the tax payers should have to pay for it unless they use the services. I am very interested in your response and will share it with those I work with. Thanks for your time.

I've been trying to be empathetic with your organization and the search for
a cure for the AIDS virus. Your endorsement and/or condoning of the
silencing of Secretary Thompson after being invited by the Barcelona
Conference today has certainly gotten my attention. I will no longer ever
consider supporting an organization which does not believe in free
speech...you're killing yourselves! I'll now write my congressmen and tell
them to take our 40% funding of the World's Aids fight and put it toward the War against Terrorism, which by the way, you may be added to that infamous list...

I read a UPI story today about the demonstrations at the 14th International
AIDS Conference and how Sec. Tommy Thompson was kept from making his speech. In particular I read with disgust the statement by Milano Mark organization: ³He was going to tell lies and we shut him down." How mature. We don¹t like what someone has to say so we are going to act like children having a temper tantrum and shout them down. Very productive. I think the technical term is CENSORSHIP.

As someone who is battling with HIV, I find your organization and its
members totally reprehensible. You are nothing more than a bunch of
ignorant anti-American radicals doing your best to destroy America. Do the
country a favor and go get a real job. Those of us with HIV don¹t need you
or ACT UP.

I pray and work daily for the destruction of your organization.

I just read an article about you crazy whackos and the way you treated our
Commissioner of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. Again you people
show what you are really all about, and that is causing mayhem and trouble.
What possible good can it do when you are complaning that the US should pay
$10 billion to treat the AIDS crisis worldwide to spit in the face of the
man who has a large role in getting the funds you are fighting for.
Wouldn't it make more sense to listen and try to work together. By the way
why is it the job of the US to pay for other countries problems? why is it
all out job to take care of everyone else? do you have a sensible answer for this? I know you don't so don't even try. Your organization is a joke and your members are crazy finatical lunitics who will never do any good for anyone engaging in the tactis you use. So why don't you all get a life and try to help someone in your own neighboorhood and forget about some guy in Africa who refuses to use a condem.
You are Pathetic,

Are you proud of the actions taken by your delegates
in Spain? I think it is a disgrace to speak over a
person, especially a person in a leadership position
at a meeting of this nature. There are ways to get
points across, but I really think you missed the boat
on this one.

[the names and email addresses of these items have been deleted, what, to protect the innocent? No, to make the problem, and our enemy, less personal]

[note: This post is not intended to suggest any obligation to contribute to or vote for Ralph Nader, the Green Party or any of the other alternatives to orthodoxy locked out of the commercial media; we have to remember this is for us. We have to know what's going on and we have to make the decisions.]

This is only meant as a field map, and a guide to the tools still available to us.

It's about democracy.

I lived in Providence, Rhode Island, for twenty years, most of that time very much in the midst of an extrordinary community of Cape Verdeans. Cape Verdeans? Most Americans have no reference whatsoever for this part of our immigrant history and national heritage, but part of New England knows it well.

A story in today's NYTimes about a small nineteenth-century sailing ship brought back memories of Fox Point in Providence and of the Ernestina in particular. Even almost forty years ago, since it was already an era described as the jet age, it was almost impossible for me to register that this noble little ship had been functioning as an immigrant transport. I visited it in port in the early sixties, and I was astounded by the pluck, no, the enormous stamina and courage of those it brought across the Atlantic to a new world and a new life.

I was a white guy grad student living only blocks away in a modern city! How could I possibly understand what this was all about? I wanted to know more, but my shyness and the Cape Verdeans' sense of privacy precluded much interaction with that part of the larger Portuguese-heritage community in southeastern New England. My biggest successes were friendships and affairs with Portugese boys whose families had come from Portugal or the Azores, but not Cape Verde. For at least those blessings, thank Mother Nature for the tenacity of homosexual desire!

I am now living in New York in the midst of a lot more stories and many more immigrants, of the past and of today. I think I am able to understand this thing a little more. These are the real All-American heroes. The rest of us are living on their dreams and the dreams of our own immigrant parents.

That is, move the location of square footage lost with the destruction of the World Trade Center.

One important re-imagining of a solution has West Street buried entirely from below Chambers Street through old Battery Park until it joins FDR Drive around the bottom of Manhattan. Above ground, on the footprint of the current intrusive West Street there would be more than enough room to restore all that was lost September 11 and much more, leaving the actual 16-acre site of the Trade Center for whatever grand purpose consensus the City may produce.

Mr. Schwartz's plan, which builds on precedents going back to Westway in the 1970's and the Plan for Lower Manhattan before that, sets forth two integrated goals. The first is to reduce market pressure on the World Trade Center site. The second is to mend the cityscape now shattered by the stretch of West Street south of Chambers Street. With remarkable elegance, both objectives are accomplished with a single move: transferring the bulk of the required commercial space from the World Trade Center site and distributing it along West Street.

The aim of this concept, I hasten to add, is not to create a huge void in the middle of Lower Manhattan. Nothing in the plan precludes building on the 16-acre site. The goal is simply to reduce the economic and political pressures that have compelled the development corporation's planners to pack the 16-acre site with more bulk than it can handle.

For my part, whatever the comparative merits of this proposal, the mere fact that it suggests the effective elimination of the disruptive, dehumanizing and anti-urban assault of a broad highway in the midst of one of the most densely-occupied sections of the City makes it especially worthy of consideration. Battery Park City would become part of New York at last, as New York would become part of Battery Park City. Win win.

Do we have something in mind that we want to keep hidden from the world? We'll almost certainly never know now.

The United States lost a bid today to rewrite a United Nations plan intended to reinforce the 1989 convention against torture.


Diplomats say, and American officials do not dispute, that the United States is sensitive about this issue because of potential demands for access to the detention camp at the United States naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where more than 500 detainees suspected of being Al Qaeda members and others seized in Afghanistan are being held, as well as to others held in the United States as "enemy combatants."

"The male ego is not a hardy perennial; it's a very delicate flower."
--David Rudgers, a 22-year veteran of the CIA, and author of Creating the Secret State, speaking about the U.S. military's pricklish attitude toward gays and lesbians in its midst, in one of a number of interviews conducted recently by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Let's see what else can we do to destroy the country while no one is looking? The Cheney administration hasn't gotten anything right yet. It seems to be (fortunately) doing pretty well at messing up even its own pet projects (especially the golden-egg-laying goose) while it destroys everything that has made us as a nation successful and admired. But now it wants to bring in the military to whip us all into shape at home.

They are considering it. They are re-thinking the military's role in policing domestic affairs. Because as we all know it is a time of forced paranoia and false terrorist warnings and of increasingly obvious co-opting of 9/11 for oil and powermongering and political gain on both sides of the aisle. And you know what that means. Exactly: The government does whatever the hell it wants, calls it anti-terrorism, and please repress your deep cringing.

Mark Morford's spectacular column is one of the most dramatic responses to this latest villainy from the Junta in Washington, but the drama of the proposal merits such a response, and he does it justice.

With the elimination of the phrase, "under God," from the Pledge of Allegiance, and the brand recognition that went with it, does the country risk losing its marketing powers?

The U.S. Justice Department, assigned the difficult task of finding a replacement, said it has already been in contact with several entities ("One nation, but 24,000 Starbucks") interested in having their brands associated with America. Until an agreement is reached, however, the U.S. will advertise the position by replacing the phrase "One nation, under God," with "One nation, (sponsorship opportunities available)."


Europeans, meanwhile, seemed to be confused by the entire episode. "I don't understand. I always thought it was 'One nation, we are God,'" said British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "Oh my, I've been worshipping them for nothing."

(at least for a few million years) Researchers have announced the discovery of an entirely new genus and species in the Ramble in Central Park.

"We didn't know what was out there," Ms. Johnson said. "We wanted to see who's out there in the spring, who's out there in the fall and the summer."
[sounds like so many guys I know, and they're all naturalists themselves in their own special way] Actually the new genus is a centipede, certainly a disappoinment to most readers, but oddly exciting for those who read further.
"I was astonished," Dr. Hoffman said. The odds against it surviving in a densely populated city — and, in particular, the constant trampling of millions of Central Park visitors — were astronomical, he said.


"Nobody in Manhattan is native. Exotics have displaced native North American species, just like we did the Indians."


Ms. Johnson said the discovery of Nannarrup hoffmani gives new reason to appreciate the virtues of natural mess in parks.

"If they rake all the leaves, remove all the fallen twigs and branches, new species — and the regular guys — will not survive," she said. "The whole system will cease to function. We need to appreciate unmanicured nature."

Could we just as easily be talking about people after all?

I for one don't think there is a chance, a chance that they will pick up the challenge, but here's the case outlined.

The big, unacknowledged picture is this: The people in power represent an economic clique whose interests are only superficially tied to the well-being of the country as a whole. In collusion with their delighted big-money supporters, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and their Cabinet-level entourage spent years lining their pockets with sweetheart loans, option deals and golden parachutes from oil companies and other related industries. They built political careers thundering against regulation, fueled by a cozy camaraderie with Enron and like companies that grew fat on--surprise!--deregulation. In office, these men make energy policy in cahoots with their ultra-wealthy sponsors, a club of very special Americans whose membership list they still keep secret. They consistently fight to secure America's energy dependency on oil and related fuels. Toward that end, defying the understanding of virtually everyone else in the world, they have denied the existence of global warming, willfully distorting the scientific evidence. When its own government scientists sounded alarms, the Bush posse dismissed them as ''the bureaucracy" and kept galloping down the oily path toward even more catastrophic global climate changes associated with petroleum dependency.


Democrats have a golden opportunity now to pound the podium and make a case to the nation that the interests in power--the interests who won a minority of the ballots cast but a majority of the Supreme Court during the 2000 presidential election--cannot be relied on to solve problems that their entire careers were devoted to creating. These interests are in revolt against plain American value and virtue. Even the honest men and women among them cannot muster the resolve to reform--their thinking is too deeply molded by the lives they've led.


Now, the Democrats need to do more than win the votes for this or that new corporate regulation. They need to move beyond merely feeling smug about how the Republicans have sabotaged themselves. They need to confess their own sins--as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has done. But even more, they need to back the Republicans into their chosen corner. They need to connect with the healthy side of American skepticism. They need to be thunderous and clear on the essentials.

If the Democrats forfeit the opportunity now handed them to connect all the flaming dots, they are truly as flabby, corrupt and venal as Ralph Nader says.

"Spiritual autobiography" is not my thing, but still, the mind reels, thinking about the other possibilities, after reading an author describe how he simply slips his own books onto store shelves, rather than wait for the middleman to get to him.

To the Editor:

As a book lover and a book thief, I found your article about book theft ("The Best Stealer List," Making Books column, July 18) riveting.

My habit started when I self-published a spiritual autobiography about my experiences at Union Theological Seminary, only to discover that it was virtually impossible to get bookstores to carry it. That's when I start stealing in reverse (that is, stocking the shelves with my own book).

While some steal for drugs, others for money, some of us — and I'm sure that I'm not alone — steal from ourselves for a broader readership.
Summit, N.J., July 19, 2002

Are we dizzy yet? Some people were just beginning to sort out the old categories, but new species seem to be popping out all over, contributing to a delightful confusion for those who welcome life, and a nightmare for the half-dead.

He's well dressed, narcissistic and bun-obsessed. But don't call him gay.


For some time now, old-fashioned (re)productive, repressed, unmoisturized heterosexuality has been given the pink slip by consumer capitalism. The stoic, self-denying, modest straight male didn't shop enough (his role was to earn money for his wife to spend), and so he had to be replaced by a new kind of man, one less certain of his identity and much more interested in his image -- that's to say, one who was much more interested in being looked at (because that's the only way you can be certain you actually exist). A man, in other words, who is an advertiser's walking wet dream.

Mark Simpson's essay concludes with a caution however.
The final irony of male metrosexuality is that, given all its obsession with attractiveness, vanity for vanity's sake turns out to be not very sexy after all.

But then, it's much too late for second thoughts. Metrosexuality is heading out of the closet, and learning to love itself. Even more.

Pete Hamill's account of saturday's town meeting (see the log below) ends with a New York story worthy of standing alone.

Then came news of the Con Ed power failure. My subway lines were closed, and I jumped into a taxi. The driver said he was from Peshawar. He didn't want to talk about Pakistan. His shrug told me the heat and traffic were bad enough.

Below 14th St., every traffic light was dead. And then at Seventh Ave. and Bleecker St., standing in the middle of the avenue, I saw the first citizen directing traffic. A white dude with gray beard and baseball cap. "Stop right there, man," he ordered one pickup truck, and the truck stopped. At Houston St., a thin black man in his 40s was doing the same, using hand signals as if he'd worked at this job all his life. The traffic moved, and not a cop or politician was in sight.

Then at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, a packed steel-glass-and-rubber line of westbound cars refused anyone a chance to pass toward downtown.

"Goddamn Jersey drivers," the man from Peshawar said.

We the people, baby.

[I admit that I missed it because I had assumed it was just window dressing, a set-up, designed by the money and power people. At best, I believed that the crowds would mean it would be an exercise in frustration, and I hate being part of the forced passivity of political audiences. Wrong here. Pete Hamill shows us how wrong.]

...5,000 men and women, including people from the suburbs, New Jersey and Connecticut, were broken down into groups of 10, seated at tables equipped with a computer.


Their opinions - essentially votes - would be fed all day to a central computer base. Called to assembly by the Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York, there were representatives among them of every race, religion or ethnic group.


From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., they were presented with basic issues about the rebuilding of those 16 gutted acres in lower Manhattan. At each table, they debated in a sober, thoughtful, civil way. They voted, offered comments, and moved on to the next item on the agenda.

We have a word for what they were doing.

The word is democracy.

And because the process was an exercise in democracy, not demagoguery, no bellowing idiots grabbed microphones to perform for the TV cameras.

All around the vast room, you heard citizens saying politely to others, "What do you think?" And then listening - actually listening - to the replies. In this room, "I" had given way to "we." Yes, the assembly was boring to look at, too serious, too grave, too well-mannered for standard TV presentation. And it was absolutely thrilling.

At this forum, no uniformed killers in sunglasses stood along the perimeter of the room, ordering votes with a nod of the head. No religious frauds directed votes as if they were demanded by God, or justified by some vague line in an ancient book. There were no party votes, or even party lines. These were Americans having their say about the future.


Later, wandering into the hot afternoon, this visitor was exhilarated. Our modern Committees of Correspondence were sending their messages. Only fools or knaves would ignore them.

Not in our neighborhood, surely?

The opening in Battery Park City of a memorial to victims of the Irish famine of 1845-52, near the Living Memorial to the Holocaust, suggests that Americans are more comfortable remembering others' violations of human rights than our own.

The Irish famine and the Holocaust played important roles in New York's history. Thousands of immigrants fled to safety here. These events certainly deserve commemoration. Yet their impact pales in comparison with slavery's. In the colonial era, New York was a major center of slave labor. Slaves represented more than 10 percent of the population in 1750. In the first half of the 19th century, the city grew rich financing, insuring and shipping the cotton produced by Southern slaves.

When will we see, in this city and elsewhere in the country, memorials to the victims of slavery, our home-grown crime against humanity?

It's painful to even have to describe the Dubya team's latest assault on a formerly free society, TIPS, enlisting citizens spying on citizens. I thought I had already read of the proposal's actual demise, and had thought it unnecessary to address it, yet it's apparently still out there festering.

The Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism tactics — secret detentions of suspects, denial of the right to trial and now citizen spying — have in common a lack of faith in democratic institutions and a free society. If TIPS is ever put into effect, the first people who should be turned in as a threat to our way of life are the Justice Department officials who thought up this most un-American of programs[my italics].

This is only the speculation of many people who pay attention to these things (meaning not most Americans), but were I a gambling man myself, my money would be on August. Yes, that's just next month!

My own reasons for believing war is probably imminent include:

--There's the advantage of relative surprise (the official leaks and the majority outside opinion says it'll happen next year).

--With the Shrub on another vacation for a month, neither we and our allies nor the "evil ones" would expect a move in August, although getting him out of the way probably looks like a good thing to his advisors these days, and he certainly can't contribute anything intelligent to the planning or execution.

--Congress is in recess, and therefore also out of the way, for whatever small additional advantage that may add these days.

--Congress has already accepted the idea of war and even the Democratic leadership believes the Executive would not have to seek its approval for war on Irag.

--At this point most Democrats would be so relieved to have the country distracted from their own crimes and embarassments relating to campaign finance and corporate crime that they would be willing to forego Congressional victory in 2002 if a good war could get them off the hook.

--Above all an early war looks likely because it must appear to the White House as the perfect solution to the declining authority of the administration and the accelerating criticism of its competence. With this one big move the problems of Dubya's own growing financial scandals as well as the crimes of big business generally, the tanking of the stock market and the wipeout of Americans' life savings, the continuing, perhaps deepening recession, fading interest in the "War on Terrorism" and the growing attention being given to its failures and finally the potentially extraordinary relief real war could bring to the Republican Party, since at the moment it looks like it may be a big loser in the mid-term elections. Is the destruction of what's left of the environmental movement in there somewhere?

...for an administration that has deliberately made its alleged effectiveness and resolution in the war on international terror its central appeal, the desire to have good news from Iraq, or at least progress on any anti-terror front, by November is obvious.

You probably didn't hear it from me first, but you have heard it now. Are we bothered by the thought? Do we think anything can be done about it? Maybe not in time. Yet,
Perhaps, if the American people realize the crass political motivation for an Iraqi war started just before the fall elections, they will react very differently at the election booth, carefully examining their ballots to make sure the chads are not hanging, that they’ve selected the candidate they intended to vote for-- the democrat or green party candidates who will, when the republican majority in the congress is overthrown, restrain, or perhaps cage or even jail the rapacious Bush onslaught against America.

One final observation. I know I'll be attacked for even hinting at the analogy, but should this unprovoked war come about, in August or later, will we ever again be able to talk about our outrage over Pearl Harbor? Think about that one.

Kate Mayne, a wonderful friend of ours, although not an American, lived here for a couple of years prior to moving to Antwerp a few years ago. She wrote a response to my posting, "wanna make it in New York?"

I really enjoyed the piece about moving to New York. It graphically brought back many memories for me. I think the actual struggle to live in the city is quite insignificant considering the return one gets from the experience. Living in the city has made me a far more rounded and aware person; life for me in Europe and the States, well, the world, has taken on a more profound aspect, having experienced life on both sides of the water. I am sympathetic to and aware of the differences.

I frequently take the train between Brussels, Antwerp, the Netherlands. Somehow I always manage to pick out the New Yorkers (and I consider myself to be partly one of them), or we pick each other out of the crowd and have a great chat (the trombonist from Rome who spent a year at Julliard, the singer songwriter from Brooklyn who wouldn't take off his shades, the elderly dealer of african art and playwright from Manhattan telling me what really counts in life for him). Maybe New York is like a positive trait that you catch when you spend time there: the swirling, myriad possibilities that confront you wherever you look, that way of seeing, affecting your vision wherever you go. The hutzpah which took me so long to learn. The knowledge of the promise that you can have great lows but many great highs; it has something to do with optimism.

And wanting to keep your eyes always open, like Kate.

Sound like a pinko conspiracy? Well, Ralph Nader sees it as a pretty fair description of what we already have. "Safety net" hardly begins to describe the extent of the care our government takes for the welfare of big business, while "self-reliance" remains the best representation of what it offers to the individual. It's all part of the package Republicans and, increasingly, Democrats call the American way. The fact that Washington has been allowed to get away with such cynicism, and in fact to even boast of the basic "All-American" rightness of such theory and practice, should reveal just how low we have sunk as a people.

Nader's well-argued overview of the current state of American capitalism and how it got there, while uncharacteristically brief, is amazingly satisfying. It is also a critque by a defender of capitalism and ignoring such sanity would be folly for its practitioners and acolytes.

The relentless expansion of corporate control over our political economy has proven nearly immune to daily reporting by the mainstream media. Corporate crime, fraud and abuse have become like the weather; everyone is talking about the storm but no one seems able to do anything about it. This is largely because expected accountability mechanisms -- including boards of directors, outside accounting and law firms, bankers and brokers, state and federal regulatory agencies and legislatures -- are inert or complicit.

When, year after year, the established corporate watchdogs receive their profits or compensation directly or indirectly from the companies they are supposed to be watching, independent judgment fails, corruption increases and conflicts of interest grow among major CEOs and their cliques. Over time, these institutions, unwilling to reform themselves, strive to transfer the costs of their misdeeds and recklessness onto the larger citizenry. In so doing, big business is in the process of destroying the very capitalism that has provided it with a formidable ideological cover.

[Here he posits five "assumptions of a capitalistic system"]

"Corporate socialism" -- the privatization of profit and the socialization of risks and misconduct -- is displacing capitalist canons. This condition prevents an adaptable capitalism, served by equal justice under law, from delivering higher standards of living and enlarging its absorptive capacity for broader community and environmental values. Civic and political movements must call for a decent separation of corporation and state.

The City has given outright to the American Craft Museum the distinctive 1964 building, 2 Columbus Circle, now vacant, which was originally designed for Huntington Hartford's Gallery of Modern Art (his private collection of modern, non-abstact art--a fascinating story in itself). The Museum now intends to alter it beyond recognition.

Incredibly, the structure is not protected as a landmark, in spite of its wonderful historical significance, geometric purity, its landmark presence and its striking aesthetic. What are they thinking? A letter to the NYTimes attempts to shame our cultural guardians for their cultural neglect.

In "Craft Project at Columbus Circle" (news article, July 12), Holly Hotchner, the director of the American Craft Museum, makes the comment that the interior walnut paneling of 2 Columbus Circle might be retained, since it is "a museum about materials," while stating that the iconic Vermont marble facade will have to go. Is this a judgment about the quality of marble versus wood as a material, or merely a dodge to gloss over a contemplated faddish mutilation of one of New York's most recognized buildings?

Edward Durell Stone's Gallery of Modern Art is a touchstone of Modern architecture, an important example of the path not taken [my italics]. The building is an idiosyncratic exploration of architectural materials, shapes and forms. If that is not an example of craft worthy of being preserved, then what is?

Actually, the path seems eventually to have been taken after all. I think we call it "Postmodernism," and near the end of a long and fascinating career Stone might have gotten there first, almost like Columbus.

In the category of, "there will always be an England," or, "is the Times running fiction in the obituary section now?

"Setting off down the Thames in a bright red boat on Sept. 2, 1979, from the east London borough of Greenwich, the expedition sought to circle the world, but not by an east-west route. Instead, Mr. Burton and his colleagues followed the imaginary meridian line that connects the Royal Observatory in Greenwich — from which longitude and Greenwich Mean Time are calculated — to the North and South Poles.

The expedition was led by an old Etonian baronet, Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykenham-Fiennes, and besides Mr. Burton comprised Sir Ranulph's wife, Ginnie, the family terrier, Bothy, and a former beer salesman, Oliver Shepard. The expedition's patron, the Prince of Wales, described its members as "refreshingly mad" as he bid them farewell.

They actually did what they set out to do, returning three years later to a welcome by Charles. I'm hoping the terrier made it all the way as well, although the paper neglects to tell us.

My own belief is that there is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.

W. Somerset Maugham

[Thanks to Louise]

Unfortunately I can't locate the documentation for this at the moment, but a recent poll of Berliners found that fully 61 percent believed our dear Shrub is a dangerously incompetent maniac. I don't know any people who might be better equipped to make such a judgment, and the scrappy Berliners would probably agree about their qualifications.

If such an estimate matches my own, and it does, what shall I do with it as an American resident in America?

I saw this related observation today on a discussion site, and it should disturb or provoke each of us:

I am a citizen of the United States. I see the PATRIOT act, I see TIPS, and I think to the folks I grew up knowing as a kid, the German Jewish couple who "saw the signs and got out while they could", and remember stories of many others like them who saw where their country was going and had the foresight to get out before it was "patently obvious there was a problem"... which brings us to the modern day...

But it's not just that I don't want to live under a government that is repressive, or worse. I don't want to have to live with people who have no problem with government moving in that direction (who will never go to the barricades, or even contact their people in Congress or, damn, at the very least, talk to each other about their apprehension), and that is what we are experiencing already.

How bad does it have to get before the alarm bells go off?

[I gratefully acknowledge my Partner, Barry, as the source of much of the above material.]

Sure might help to explain why we're willing to risk world conflagration by wiping another country off the map in an unprovoked and very aggressive act of war!

"Washington" is very concerned about diversifying sources for our present dependency on oil and satisfying the wasteful gluttony of our future oil appetites. Let's simply grab Iraq and its oil for ourselves before anyone else has a chance to make friends there, even our own friends, who also need oil of course.

Access to Iraq's vast oil supplies are a key, if unspoken, reason why the Bush administration has initiated plans to attack Baghdad. Of course, as yet, no senior official in Washington has publicly acknowledged this. To do so would be to eliminate whatever remaining credibility the Bush administration has in Europe and the Middle East. It could also provoke opposition in the United States among those who question the sacrifice of blood for oil.


But there can be no doubt that the White House -- made up, as it is, of ex-oil company officials -- is aware of the oil situation in Iraq and the problems this will pose to successful realization of the administration's long-term energy strategy. Only by occupying Iraq and choosing its new government can the United States be certain that these problems will be overcome.


But if sanctions are lifted, and the current regime (or one that it allows to be formed) remains in power, Iraq's vast untapped reserves will fall under the control of non-U.S. companies. Some of these companies will, no doubt, want to sell their output to the United States; others, however, may prefer to send their oil elsewhere, or to use these supplies for political advantage. In any case, the United States can have no assurance that they will be available to satisfy America's future energy requirement. Obviously, the only way to prevent this from happening is to engineer a "regime change" in Baghdad, and install a government that will cancel these agreements.


At this point, it is impossible for outsiders to know what, exactly, is driving the administration's campaign to oust Saddam Hussein. No doubt many factors are involved -- some strategic, some political, and some economic. But it is hard to believe that U.S. leaders would contemplate such an extreme act without very powerful motives -- and the pursuit of oil has long constituted the most commanding motive for U.S. military action in the Persian Gulf region.

But it's all our oil, ain't it?

For those who have been following the scuttlebut about the Barcelona AIDS Conference, this partial account from James Wentzy, ACT UP New York veteran, of one of its few dramatic moments may be enlightening. [Note from Dean Lance's 1990 letter how almost nothing has changed in Washington in 12 years, while during those years the plague has run totally amuck.]

Although the Shouting Down of HHS Sec.Tommy Thompson at last week's moribund Barcelona AIDS Conference certainly LOOKED like an ACT UP action, the community outreach and whistles were initiated by GMHC. [ I DO love to give creditwhere deserved...but admittedly, some people should never be given whistles.]

The last time AIDS activists shouted down a "high level" political
bureaucrat at an International Conference WAS done by ACT UP at the 1990 San Francisco International AIDS Conference where HHS Sec.Louis Sullivan was also shouted down. [Conservatives are so touchy...once every 12 years shouldn't be too big a cross for them to bare.]

The following was Dean Lance's response to news writer Mark Schoofs'
"opinion." in his Village Voice article about ACT UP's 10th anniversary,
which called the Shouting down of HHS Secretary Louis Sullivan at the 1990 San Francisco International AIDS Conference a "tactical error".

Dear Mark Schoofs,

RE: The Sixth International Conference on AIDS, San Francisco 1990

I beg to differ. I was there when Louis Sullivan spoke, shooting video for
DIVA TV. I had spoken with researchers, delegates, PWAs, et al throughout the week and had my finger on the pulse (as an activist and media person) as per the sentiments of those attending.

You seem to have forgotten the boycott of that conference over the Helms legislation denying HIV+ people entry into the country. People who were delegates were detained at customs by INS and thrown into detention when AZT was found in their luggage.

Many of the delegates including the organizers of the conference wore red armbands protesting the Bush Administration's refusal to veto the
legislation. Waivers were granted, but many organizations (not to mention FRANCE!) refused to participate because of this.

At the plenary session (where it is customary for the head of state to make the opening address), George Bush couldn't be there. He chose instead to keep his "previous commitment", a fundraiser in North Carolina for Senator Helms, sending a member of his cabinet in his absence to represent the President (and to take the expected heat.)

Everyone knew well beforehand that Secretary Sullivan, in his capacity as the shill (and sacrificial lamb) for the administration, was not going to
have his speech heard. In fact, most of the delegates - by their own
admissions - were looking forward to the anticipated obfuscation of his
speech at the closing session. ACT UP placed a fact sheet on each of the
12,000 seats at the Moscone Center before the session commenced explaining why Louis Sullivan's speech was being drowned out.

For those who cared what he had to say (and they were few and far between as most of the delegates realized it was going to be mere lip service - face-saving rhetorical apologist bullshit), copies of the speech were given out in advance. So his performance was all that was blocked, not the "empowerment of information" he had to disseminate for which you accused ACT UP of being censorious.

Two nights before, when Aldyn McKean debated Dr. Sullivan on "Nightline", the Secretary of Health and Human Services stipulated that they must be in separate rooms so he would not have to confront Mr. McKean head on, face-to-face. When the speech was given that Sunday morning, delegates could have heard it through headphones, though the majority of them turned their backs to the stage as he was making his address in an expression of their outrage over the Bush administration's discriminatory policies.

It was actually a joyous celebration. Not only for those who concurred with ACT UP, but a small victory for those who have toiled on any level for the benefit of people with AIDS .

If you doubt accuracy of my account, any number of the people you'd quoted in your article who were also there will back it up anecdotally, as does the unedited video footage from the event that is now part of the Testing the Limits archives. Mine included (some of which made it into "Voices from the Front.") [..and permanently ARCHIVED in the AIDS Activist Video Preservation Project at the New York Public Library --JW]

Thought you'd want to know.

Sincerely, Dean Lance DIVA TV

Looks like we won't see change until a president contracts HIV disease, and then it will be called holy stigmata.

A headline like this works on Lefty depression like a genuine palliative.


"I've got great confidence in the vice president. ... When I picked him, I knew he was a fine business leader and a fine experienced man."

And now dead meat.

I'm posting the NYTimes' editorial take on the just-released Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's draft proposals for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site, because, coming from the establishment newspaper, it clearly shows the scale of the insult hurled at all of after we were made to await the product of ten months of behind-doors corporate planning by the people who remain convinced they know what's best for New York.

... these are dreary, leaden proposals that fall far short of what New York City — and the world — expect to see rise at ground zero. The restrictions on the designers included a requirement that the site be packed with a full 11 million square feet of office space, 600,000 square feet of retail space and another 600,000 square feet for a hotel. The result was, in the main, several variations on the theme of a park hemmed in by a bunch of very large commercial buildings.


Despite all the talk about a downtown that would be alive 24 hours a day with cultural institutions, entertainment and residential developments, these features, which make an urban area live and breathe, are missing. Instead there is office space, far more of it than the city is likely to need in the foreseeable future, and enough large-scale construction to keep the entire neighborhood in chaos for decades.


For some time now the families of victims have asked that the footprints of the two towers be reserved for a memorial. But the proposals that resulted from that directive seemed the least imaginative of all.

I won't even bother to bring up the subject of art and architecture, since the full banality, if not the urban insanity, of the actual proposals has otherwise left me in speechless rage.

That unnatural condition is not likely to prevail for very long.

Dean Daderko either does or does not have the hottest gallery in New York, and Toni Schlesinger either does or does not just write a regular column about where people live in New York.

I would say yes and no, respectively, but I would prefer to describe them both as remarkable artists in their own right.

You can visit Dean at Parlor Projects* almost every sunday, and you can visit Toni in "SHELTER" usually once a week in the Village Voice.

[Toni] This is such a visually advanced room but if you look out the window you can see women in house slippers discussing arthritis. . . . . Does your landlord care that you have a gallery here?

[Dean] It doesn't particularly bother him, I think. He has a butcher shop. I've had about 16 exhibitions since January 2000. . . . . Inhwan Oh did a piece called Things of Friendship. He went through my house, looking in the medicine cabinet, in drawers. Anything he found that matched something at his house, he'd set aside—Elmer's wood glue, a gay travel guide, some Wisk. At the end, there were 25, 30 objects in common. He set up the objects in two piles, almost like mirror images. The artists tend to take advantage of the fact that this is a domestic space. (Tom [a friend of Dean's who has been in the kitchen] comes out and says: "I'm going to go now.")

[Toni] You were so quiet back there. (Tom) I was writing down everything you were saying. The meta-interview.


* 214 Devoe Street (bet. Bushwick and Humbolt) 917-723-8626

Finally, our very own ZNN (sic)! Don't forget to come up for air.

ZNN provides a contrast to CNN. ZNN is maintained as a sideline project of Tim Allen of ZNet, with a little help from a volunteer now and then. CNN is maintained by a full-scale capitalist enterprise with thousands of employees. You judge which provides more useful and insightful information -- and then, for a fuller look at our alternative content, try ZNet itself...in full.

A savy and amusing navigation of the perils in store here for those who just can't take it elsewhere any longer, and it's not just for gypsies.

I can't help quoting from Kirk Wood Bromley's recent play about The American Revolution:

Admiral Howe- Tell me, Major Andre, of yon Manhattan,
Where I expect to sleep tomorrow night.
Major Andre- You will, sir, I'm afraid, get no sleep there.
Cornwallis- For yon Manhattan is the noisiest,
Filthiest, sleaziest, sauciest mess
Of anti-civilized, counter-cultural,
Money-grubbing yahoos ever festered
Unflusht in the devil's antique outhouse.
Madness and mayhem, sir, that is Manhattan.

Some things never change. See, Manhattan does respect tradition!
I know dozens of people who leapt at New York City, but couldn't get a toe-hold, and so fell back to where they came from. Thinking over these experiences, I've concluded that the three tricks to successfully living in New York are to find:

1. An apartment you can tolerate,
2. A job you like,
3. A community you love.

Focus first on these things, not on getting an acting job right away. There's no sense getting cast in a play if you don't have an apartment and a job. You'll be distracted and may even be forced to drop out of the show (a real career killing move, by the way) if you find you can't make it in the city.

This article comes from the wonderful Inverse Theater Company http://www.inversetheater.com

"But (he or she) did it first!" goes the plaintive rationalization with which every parent is familiar. Don't expect anything better from the so-called oposition party in the campaign to return government to the voters, or the voters to government. Both Republicans and Democrats were bought out long ago.

But why do we only hear about the very latest, if banal, still no less egregious, evidence of the rape of democracy from a gossip column?

They've been calling for a crackdown on corporate abuses, but that didn't stop Democratic senators from flying corporate jets from Washington to Nantucket for a weekend schmoozefest with 250 campaign contributors.


The Democratic mouthpiece pointed out that the National Republican Senatorial Committee will have a similar event at the Greenbriar resort in West Virginia this weekend.

Last night the Senate unanimously passed a bill supposedly designed to overhaul corporate abuses that have rocked Wall Street. I guess they're afraid the pay-off money might dry up if the market totally tanks. Hadda do something.

Clinton, the master of missed opportunities and political cowardice [ok, there have been and will be worse, but few from whom we could have expected as much], said friday in Barcelona that he did not know how anyone could explain how the world had let a preventable disease infect 40 million people and threaten to infect nearly 100 million in a few more years.

We know William Jefferson Clinton is perfectly capable of explaining it all by himself. He had every opportunity to make a difference while he was the most powerful man on the planet.

It's not as if he wasn't warned, by myself personally in 1992 before he was even nominated, and thereafter by others more articulate and with far better credentials, by ACT UP of course and eventually by the entire AIDS establishment, continuously and sometimes loudly, thoughout his administration. He neglected AIDS issues in the U.S. and abroad as much as he could possibly could without incurring the condemnation of the commercial media he performed to. Nothing more was done than was absolutely necesssary for appearances, which is to say in that very complacent environment that almost nothing was done. Even talk, while certainly cheap enough, was regarded as too dear for Clinton's cynical team.

Mr. Clinton said in an interview on Thursday that he regretted not having done more about AIDS as president. Today, he said he is making AIDS his main interest as he seeks to raise money for the International AIDS Trust, of which he is cochairman with Mr. Mandela.

Mr. Clinton told the audience to "hold me accountable."

But Shaun Mellors of South Africa, a representative of people infected with H.I.V. and the vice president of the conference, said he was not sure how, now that Mr. Clinton is a private citizen, "we will hold him accountable."

Precisely. Pandora's box. While he's not the one who opened it, he could certainly have tried slamming it shut before now. Note to posterity: Don't let him off the hook.

Now that's a sound bite! Can we package this guy? Dr. Joep Lange reduced the problem to its essentials with an analogy he made in addressing the Barcelona AIDS Conference just ended:

He said that expanding treatment for infected people in third world countries required a country-by-country inventory and plan. "We need to go about it like a military operation," he said.

"If we can get cold Coca-Cola and beer to every remote corner of Africa, it should not be impossible to do the same with drugs," Dr. Lange said.

"Of all the ills that kill the poor, none is as lethal as bad government," he said. "Bad government and lack of leadership has actually killed more people with H.I.V. than anything else."

This from a blog (belonging to a beautiful woman who writes as Bazima) which I clearly visit with not enough regularity:

Friday, July 12, 2002

An Important Message from My Gay Boyfriend

I noticed that my two "straight" male friends now also refer to each other as *girl*. On the cab ride downtown: "Girl. Is this crazy cabbie gonna take 5th Avenue all the way down?" Answer: "Girl. I don't know."

Just where do we go from here?

Great art for you, emergency medical relief for a beleagured Palestinian population, and a little recognition for some brilliant and courageous artists and the people who organized an extraordinary event at White Box gallery over the last several weeks:

The "Come to Life" benefit auction ended last evening, and we were fortunate to be able to help a woefully undersolicited charity at the same time we were able to take home a fantastic art thing, but there are still great pieces in all media available for purchase.

The reason that not everything was snatched up last night is simply the fact that there was virtually no publicity. The works were all donated by the artists (the list should accordingly be considered a roll of honor), and only one curator, but not one gallery and not one representative of the media had both the desire and the courage to be connected with the event in any way. Some had expressed sympathy or support privately but confessed they could not afford to announce the fact or do anything which might connect them to the benefit, because of fear of repercussions.

This is appalling, but I suppose it should not have been a surprise.

What, are the Palestinians all lepers now?

If you have anything of an art budget and any interest in bold new work,
you can affirm your own commitment to justice at the same time by running to the phone as soon as you can and calling Noritoshi Hirakawa, who is handling the remains of the event, at (718) 302-4199, or talk to me for more background.

Yes, I think so!

Not since the last almost-presidential election have I been so hopeful about the ability of our polity to turn itself around, or correct (at least part of) itself, as I am tonight!

Except that I've been feeling this good thing all day long, I would look for its origin in the wonderful meal and good cheer Barry and I shared this evening. [No, Jim, must remember to be less self-referential.]

So many people seem to be absolutely fed up, and so many are speaking out when they would have shut up, or been shut up, especially in the past ten months. These are people at every level and in almost every part of our society. They are not a party; they are not a faction; they are the people. I think.

[This just might be the beginning of the end.]

Look at the stories we are seeing hourly even in the commercial press (they do want to sell their stuff, after all, and they can't do it with only a continuing campaign of sycophancy)! I can't even begin to link here all the evidence of the shift I believe I am seeing. Am I just kidding myself, or does it not really look like they (you know who I mean) aren't going to be able to hold on?

I mean, they look very very bad, like total fuck offs! [I never used to use this language, but then I never had such provocation.]

Even their little minds can't be unaware of what's happening, and this means were still in real danger. They may still deploy the ultimate weapon, a *real* war improvised to save their skins, but at the expense of ours, and of the future of the entire planet.

Don't let it happen [or it really will be the end].

So, it's up to the person posing as president to decide who is an American and who has a right to a lawyer, so long as he says he's protecting us!

[The judge] said the executive branch of the government is "best prepared" to exercise the military judgement regarding the capture of alleged combatants.

"According, any judicial inquiry into [the American citizen] Hamdi's status as an alleged enemy combatant in Afghanistan must reflect a recognition that government has no more profound responsibility than the protection of Americans, both military and civilian, against additional unprovoked attack."

Are we feeling safe yet, from our government and the world outside?

We are being misled, and all is not what it seems.

And it's becoming increasingly difficult to find anyone but the truest I-believe-everything-Ari-Fleischer-says jingoists who actually believes this "war" has become anything but a grand excuse, a marvelously leveragable plaything which the Bush cadre can point to as their very own personal holy shroud, some sort of sacrosanct shield to protect them from criticism and claims of blatant impropriety and selling the nation's soul for pennies on the barrel.

The more pleasant idea is that the war excuse is becoming thinner and thinner, the populace increasingly fatigued and wary of false terrorist warnings, fearmongering, lopsided Us-versus-Them posturing, the sucking dry of the budget in the name of accidentally bombing Afghan weddings.

Wary, in addition, of the idea that simply sending in troops and bombing caves and infuriating Middle Eastern countries even further will somehow solve the problem, stem the tide of terrorism, eradicate the numinous, germinating terrorist cells, make everyone look away as Bush Sr.'s sinister investment company the Carlyle Group rakes in millions from War on Terror defense contracts. Shhh.

Get out your (slash war) buttons now, before we bomb Iraq and the buttons, and those who would wear them, are banned forever.

Government in the U.S. today spends more per capita on health care than any nation on earth, including those with national health insurance.

Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, [an author of the Harvard Medical School study published in the journal Health Affairs] and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard, noted: "We pay the world's highest health care taxes. But much of the money is squandered. The wealthy get tax breaks. And HMOs and drug companies pocket billions in profits at the taxpayers' expense. But politicians claim we can't afford universal coverage. Every other developed nation has national health insurance. We already pay for it, but we don't get it."
Start asking why.

Good news! Our trusty fascist government is no longer holding most of those arrested in racist sweeps after September 11! Nope. The bad new is that we threw them out of the country without hearings or trials, ensuring they will not be able to rejoin school, work, friends, families, even wives and children.

The Bill of Rights applies to every person in America, whether citizen or not, but it has been trashed once again by the junta in Washington. None of these South Asian and Arab residents and visitors have been charged with anything relating to terrorism, and only about half of the some 1200 arrested were detained for any irregularity, notably immigration violations like overstaying a visa. All but 74 of those had been secretly expelled as of several weeks ago, and except for a small handful, those remaining are still in custody, their identities essentially hidden to the world.

[Some] expulsions of the Sept. 11 detainees have been so abrupt that family members did not know for days after the fact.

In the case of Ali Yaghi, a Jordanian detainee who had applied for residency, his American wife and three children in Albany were never told that he was deported to Jordan on June 24, after spending nearly nine months in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn on an immigration charge.

Mr. Yaghi has not been heard from since, raising fears in his family that Jordan's security services may have been so suspicious about his long detention that they arrested him upon arrival.

Even now, Washington refuses to disclose names or to open hearings on any of the past or continuing cases. Federal lawsuits brought by civil liberties groups working through the judicial system continue to be resisted with the full authority of the executive branch.

If visitors have no rights on American soil, we have no rights either.

One of the founders of the modern British gay movement reminds us that in the first years after Stonewall we wanted to change society, not conform to it.

There would be sexual freedom and human rights for all – gay and straight. Our message was: "innovate, don't assimilate."
That dream has faded, and even the noisiest activists today are more likely to be content to settle for equal rights within the status quo than to question sociey as it is.
However, [equality] isn't the panacea that many claim it to be. Equal rights for lesbians and gay men means parity on straight terms, within a pre-existing framework of institutions and laws. Since these have been devised by, and for, the heterosexual majority, equality within their system involves conformity to their rules. This is a formula for gay incorporation, not liberation.


Oscar Wilde once wrote: "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." Thirty years after the first Gay Pride march, the gay community needs to rediscover the vision thing. That means daring to imagine what society could be, rather than accepting society as it is.

Alright, how's this take on what passes for our pretended chief executive? I know, it's wasted upon you, dear reader (preaching to the converted is stangely both immediately satisfying and ultimately unrewarding), but I gotta ask it anyway, and this is my only forum. What does it say about what our betters in the Republican and Democratic establishment think of the American yoeman that they would even think of foisting upon us the idiot puppet who they represent as our President?

I believe it may be the worst crime they have visited upon this former republic, precisely because it mocks everything it should represent, and in so doing it engineers its demise.

Our only remaining hope may lie in the very good possibiity that the puppeteers are as incompetent as the dummy itself (and there is now plenty of evidence to support that argument), even if it means we find ourselves almost rooting for bad news. But in a small world and a nuclear age, is it better to have idiots at the helm, or wizards? And finally, can we assume no additional timely terrorist events or cynically-improvised war will once again send the population running for cover and the imagined safely of flag-ism?

"I also understand how tender the free enterprise system can be."—White House press conference, Washington, D.C., July 9, 2002

[from The Complete Bushisms]

[the impact of Bushie's speech on Wall Street today]

I really love the BBC site at the moment. The lead story is that speech, and even in the skeletal form of their headlines they've taken the opportunity to tell it like it really is.

"BUSH DEMANDS 'NEW ERA OF INTEGRITY' "The US president calls for longer jail terms for corporate fraudsters and demands higher ethical business standards.

"Analysis: Bush delivers too little too late
"Shares dive in US
"Scandals' shadow over politics
"In Depth: Corporate scandals
"News in Video: 'US economy is confidence-based'
"Talking Point: Has Bush convinced you?"

The Dow and NASDAQ each plunged about 2% today after the little talk.

Gore Vidal, described in an interview as also perhaps the nation's last republican [small "r"], has a chance to do what he does best, elegantly cut through the muck of ignorance and mendacity to describe what really is happening to our world.

Those who are even the least bit interested in this item should note that he is not known to have been wrong in the past.

I don't think we, the American people, deserved what happened. Nor do we deserve the sort of governments we have had over the last 40 years. Our governments have brought this upon us by their actions all over the world. I have a list in my new book that gives the reader some idea how busy we have been. Unfortunately, we only get disinformation from The New York Times and other official places. Americans have no idea of the extent of their government's mischief. The number of military strikes we have made unprovoked, against other countries, since 1947-48 is more than 250. These are major strikes everywhere from Panama to Iran. And it isn't even a complete list. It doesn't include places like Chile, as that was a CIA operation. I was only listing military attacks.


And people in the countries who are recipients of our bombs get angry.


[So it's not true that people like Osama bin Laden] just come out of the blue. You know, the average American thinks we just give away billions in foreign aid, when we are the lowest in foreign aid among developed countries. And most of what we give goes to Israel and a little bit to Egypt.

[excerpts from a letter to the editor in today's NYTimes]

What to do when it appears that the president engaged in financial misdealings before taking office?

We know what steps the Republicans think appropriate: hire a political appointee from the opposing party to investigate, give him essentially unlimited, unaccountable power, keep the investigation dragging on indefinitely, and expand it to include unrelated matters.

We just don't hear enough from independent and courageous people any more, and in fact we cannot ever hear enough from them. So, does everyone else really believe it's unamerican to do anything but cheer the chief?

"We have a president who owes his election more to a dynasty than to democracy," said [veteran civil rights leader, Julian] Bond, chairman of the NAACP board, in an ardent opening address at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

"When he spoke to our convention in Baltimore in 2000, he promised to enforce the civil rights laws," Bond said. "We know he was in the oil business. We just didn't know it was snake oil.

"We have an attorney general who is a cross between J. Edgar Hoover and Jerry Falwell. And too often, one political party is shameless and the other is spineless."

Referring to massive disenfranchisement during the 2000 election, especially of blacks, Bond said, "There is a right-wing conspiracy, and it is operating out of the United States Department of Justice."

And this from the Chairman of a very respectable, too often painfully conservative, century-old institution! Can we then hope it's not too late?

Can the writer to the Daily News really be wondering how the 9th Circuit Court feels about religious oaths?

Bronx: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California says reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because of the words "under God." I wonder how the court feels about a witness placing his or her hand on the Bible and swearing to "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God."

Somehow I prefer the sense of the letter which follows that one.

Toms River, N.J.: How different are we from the Taliban if we let government force religion on our children?

Great headline, but still, it's a serious subject for anyone but the diminutive.

As far as I'm concerned, I'd now rather be drugged unconscious, slipped into a tube and shipped off to my ultimate destination than fly any skies no matter how friendly.

P.S. Re "Ryan Dilley,"---he of the byline---are reporters really allowed to look like that in the U.K.?

We made it in time this year! Saw the Williamsburg "Dancing of the Giglio" this hot sunday afternoon. Not just saw it, but were almost in the middle of the 100-plus beefy Italian guys who shouldered the four-ton monster tower in an exercise of testosterone, some 1600 years of tradition, real devotional piety, community and cultural pride, and good sport.

By the way, they really do dance under there, and turn about! Here they are twirling the whole steel and papier mache monster with the parish priest, the sound man and an entire brass band onboard along with the saints. It's something like a Neapolitan Tarantella, not surprisingly.

Ok, I was teary for a moment, just as they first lifted off. Their focus was pretty impressive, and I'm a sucker for maleness restrained. Also a history buff.

One of the links on Bloggy may be unique in addressing the problematic side of this male-oriented and occasionally self-described "sacred act of devotion and penance."

"[Documentary film director Tony De Nono] is obviously a fan of the feast and its importance to the community, he also points out that women have been excluded from lifting the Brooklyn Giglio, though their sisters in Nola have lifted, albeit in "ceremonial lifts."

"In Brooklyn the question still seems doubtful if women lifters will ever be allowed to partake in this glorious festival as lifters," Badalucco narrates. "But since the Brooklyn structure is made up of unpliable, unforgiving solid metal beams with pointed corners that dig in the shoulder, the question is whether the women would ever want to lift this towering structure." (The beams in other Giglio structures, in Queens and other tri-state feasts, are made of wood.)

De Nonno said that while compiling footage for his documentary, he witnessed little girls "sneaking" under the children's Giglio, disguising their long hair under hats so they could participate. In 1999, the girls were officially asked for the first time to participate in the Brooklyn children's Giglio dance.

Oh, we also noticed that the loaves of bread distributed as part of Fesival tradition are of exactly the same shape and fold as those found in the two-millenia-old ruins of Pompei, on the other side of Vesuvius.

Don't miss Bloggy's images! Much more than just zeppoles.

This headline and story beggars comment.

[At the Bushie vacation palace's local Kennebunkport church] Chaplain M.L. Agnew, in honor of his powerful guests, diverted the congregation from the usual service briefly to lead them in the Pledge of Allegiance, a pledge of loyalty to the U.S. flag and "one nation under God."


As the Bush family prepared to take the Episcopal communion, Agnew called Bush the "spiritual and political leader of the greatest nation in the world."

Yes, Arkansas's Supreme Court has overturned the state's sodomy law, but too many people have had no real problem living for 25 years with its appalling assault on queers, and in fact on human rights everywhere.

Neither Arkansas nor the Clintons, who still symbolize the state for most of America, should get off so easily.

Both Clintons lived with the law while in the Arkansas governor's mansion, and failed even to make use of the bully pulpit they occupied even to question it. Bill Clinton's sad and cowardly record in Arkansas on this and issues relating to HIV became dramatically problematic for activists around the country when he began to seek the presidency.

Disguised as a monied Democrat I crashed a private fundraiser here in New York prior to his nomination and succeeded in speaking to him a deux about AIDS and his record on gay rights as governor. His response was dissembling at best (memo to self as candidate: 'must not displease anybody'). I didn't trust him then and still do not. Hillary Clinton has demonstrated herself as no improvement on the earlier Clinton model.

But let's rejoice a little. And as my partner says, now we can finally go visit Mom.

By the way, this latest development in Little Rock now puts Arkansas in line with the great progressive Empire State of New York! Sodomy laws in each state were overturned by their supreme courts, not by their people or their legislatures, and in both states the laws even now remain recorded, if temporarily nullified. A new environment and new court decisions could turn things upside down once again overnight in either state. Apparently in neither is there enough humanity or courage to eliminate the law from the statute books entirely.

As always, our lives, our liberties, remain the creatures of public opinion, since even the courts are the reflection of that opinion.

Before I walked into my local U.S. Post Office (or whatever official semi-autonomous profit-center designation it may go by these days) to update my stash of obsolescent 34-cent stamps this afternoon, I was prepared for at least the possibility of a federal confrontation over my current discomfort with representations of the stars and stripes.

I needn't have worried as it turned out, since my studly, shaved-head clerk had two armfuls of gorgeous colorful tattoos falling out of his short sleeves, and he replied sadly, when I said I needed ten three-centers, and after he had sighted my slash-war button, that unfortunately there was only one kind available.

Displaying the stamp's image of a stylized star in the national colors, he smiled but suggested, "It's not too bad." Still, he was not the least surprised when I told him I'd prefer to see what he had in one-cent stamps. I took thirty of one of the non-flag designs available (a familiar and not very exciting image of the "American Kestrel"), and I also selected and bought a number of microscoptically-reduced images of John James Audubon birds as currently the least jingoistic of the new 37-cent issues.

Mr. tattoo and the birds had saved me, and I was temporarily quite pleased with the world.

He's worked for decades, with his heart and with his mind, as an effective advocate for racial justice, but he admits that even today he often feels like an outsider.

"I live basically in a white world, day in and day out. I'm surrounded by white people. That's the reality, and very often I'm aware that I'm looking at them, to some extent, almost like I am black. I am waiting for them to express views that I find so appalling. What little purpose I have in life is to try and help white people understand the reality of racism and how it adversely affects all of us, how destructive it is to our society, our community, our ideals."

...to fill their piggy banks even further.

The Administration's plans to cut funding for the cleanup of 33 toxic waste sites in 18 states are only the latest in a tragic run of disastrous attacks on the environment which belongs to us all, but these environmental terrorists don't quite see it that way.

We've been trashing, soiling, even destroying the wonders of nature for countless ages. Why stop now? Who is Mr. Bush to step in and curb this venerable orgy of pollution, this grand tradition of fouling our own nest?
Oh, the skies may once have been clear and the waters sparkling and clean. But you can't have that and progress, too. Can you?


The Superfund decision is the kind of environmental move we've come to expect from the Bush administration. Mother Nature has been known to tremble at the sound of the president's approaching footsteps. He's an environmental disaster zone [my italics].

It's been ten months since September 11, but in the U.S. political humor is still not safe. In Israel however, in a society far more deeply threatened by the terrors originating both from its own government and from others, it is still possible to laugh at the hardships and even tweak the most sacred of cows---gallows humor and satire in prime time television during a real war!

Limor [the name of character of one of the co-stars of the show, "Only in Israel," originally] embodied what Israelis call a "frecha," a bimbo. Much of the show poked fun at her marriage to a cabdriver in the blue-collar town of Holon.


The mild tone suited the political climate. When "Only in Israel" ended its third season two summers ago, Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister at the time, was headed to Camp David, presumably to complete a peace agreement with Yasir Arafat.

After going on hiatus in the 2000-2001 television season, "Only In Israel" returned to the air in November in a far different Israel. By now, viewers learned, Limor had divorced the cabbie, moved to Ramat Aviv, the nouveau-riche suburb of Tel Aviv, and started a love affair with Anthony Zinni, President Bush's special envoy to the Middle East.

The show appears each friday night, almost regardless of what tragedies might have made the news in the few hours between taping late in the afternoon and broadcast at nine in the evening. In the event of really horrific news, the episode will include a lead-in informing viewers that "the program was taped before the last terrible events happened."

Unfortunately we can't match such hutspah here.

Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but there may be signs that sanity, and the courage of sanity, is returning to the people. Keep those cards and letters (and the questions, and the demonstrations) going, and don't let the highjackers in Washington rest.

The fresh questioning of the war on terrorism is also a phenomenon of the Democratic left. But if I have learned anything in four decades of covering politics, it is to pay heed when you hear the same questions -- in almost the same phrases -- popping up in different parts of the country.


I am not sure where this skepticism comes from or which media voices are spreading it. But the consequences can be guessed. Until now, most of the major Democratic leaders have said, "We stand shoulder to shoulder with the president in the war on terrorism." Some, such as House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, have virtually given Bush a green light to go after Saddam Hussein.

But if Democrats begin hearing doubts about the costs of the war -- and its consequences for civil liberties -- from some of their most vocal constituents, that support may not last long.

Somebody needs a jump start, and right away! The Arab world is a mess, and we're part of the problem.

[The UN has just published a report "written by a group of distinguished Arab intellectuals"] analyzing the three main reasons the Arab world is falling off the globe. (The G.D.P. of Spain is greater than that of all 22 Arab states combined.) In brief, it's due to a shortage of freedom to speak, innovate and affect political life, a shortage of women's rights and a shortage of quality education. If you want to understand the milieu that produced bin Ladenism, and will reproduce it if nothing changes, read this report.


There is a message in this bottle for America: For too many years we've treated the Arab world as just a big dumb gas station, and as long as the top leader kept the oil flowing, or was nice to Israel, we didn't really care what was happening to the women and children out back — where bad governance, rising unemployment and a stifled intellectual life were killing the Arab future.

Sometimes a man of the cloth can warm an atheist's heart. Of course, I'd like to think it's already warm, without benefit of clergy, so take that introductory sentiment as just a figure of speech.

On July 8, both priests will join 35 other defendants in [a Georgia] court to be tried for "crossing the line" during a mass demonstration at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation -- better known by its former name, the School of the Americas -- at Fort Benning, Ga.

Despite its dramatic sound, crossing the line means peacefully trespassing onto the Army base. Each November, hundreds of protesters -- who contend that the school trains foreign soldiers in such black arts as assassination and making biological and chemical weapons -- trespass and get themselves arrested.


Along with calling the court "a pimp for the Pentagon," [one of the two priests] will ask [the judge] to sentence him to study at the Fort Benning school so he can "tell the world: indeed the new institute has amended its ways and teaches only nonviolence and democracy to its students."

I don't know how it happened, but I swear that I didn't know who Martha Stewart was until just about four years ago. Never heard of her.

Now, of course none of us can get away from her and the news blitz her latest adventures inspire, whether it's the new society, financial, media, editorial or, perhaps especially exciting, gay angle. It seems however that the spunky family which now lives in the Nutley, New Jersey, house in which she grew up has the hardest time of all. Still, they do appear to be having some fun with it.

"When we bought the house, the gardens were absolutely gorgeous," said Angela Cheney. "I killed everything."

"There were irises. I killed them," she said, grinning. "The rose bushes, I killed them when we put a deck in. The wisteria tree, I've tried to kill that. It brings a lot of bees."

"I'm no Martha Stewart."


Kooks have been sneaking into Cheney's backyard since Stewart put the address in her magazine. Some fanatics swipe figs from a tree. Others dig up dirt. One guy even ate the soil.

"They must think it's more fertile than normal dirt," said Cheney's daughter Nicole, 21. "It's tough keeping up with Martha Stewart."

More than a few sane words have been delivered by an Israeli who bears really extraordinary credentials for these times, and these places.

How can we as Americans deal with our shame as a people saddled with this government? How much and for how long will we and the entire world pay for our stupidity, our greed and our egotism? What was our excuse?

Everynody knew, of course, that it was a stupid speech, perhaps the most silly ever uttered by an American president. But who will confront the leader of the world's sole superpower?


[Bush's Copenhagen speech] says that the Palestinians must chose their leader in a free, democratic election, but that they are forbidden to elect a leader not approved by Sharon and Bush.

They must establish a democratic, liberal, pluralistic and multi-party system, including separation of powers, independent courts and transparent finances. For that purpose they are commanded to accept the assistance of America's allies in the Middle East: democratic Saudi Arabia, pluralistic Egypt and liberal Jordan. Financial transparency like in Riyadh, separation of powers like in Cairo, independent courts like in Amman.

The establishment of this ideal system is a precondition to any peace negotiations. In Europe, such a system was achieved after a struggle of hundreds of years. In the Arab world, it does not exist anywhere. Arafat is the only Arab chief of state who was chosen in free elections, under close international supervision, personally overseen by ex-President Jimmy Carter.

A brief check with a reporter on the scene in Gaza today.

Gaza is completely fenced in. It's like the world's largest prison.
Gaza is a land mass of 360 square kilometers. Of that, 58% is in hands of Palestinians; 42% is in hands of the Israeli military and settlements. In Palestinian-controlled areas there are 1.25 million people. In the Israeli controlled area, only 4000. That works out to be something like 6000 Palestinians per square kilometer in their areas, and 27 Israelis per square kilometer in their areas. Each settler has 226 times as much space as each Palestinian (leaving aside land quality).
And a voice apparently crying in another wilderness, the land of gay journalism.
Good lord, you would think from the torrent of vitriol and hysteria from [letters to the editor about Gay City News articles on the Middle East]that the Palestinians were occupying Jewish land in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank; that three times as many Jews as Palestinians had died since the start of the second intifada; that in 1948, 700,000 Jews were made homeless and never allowed to return to the cities they were born in; that starting in the 1880s, a couple of thousand Palestinians told the hundreds of thousands of Jews living west of the River Jordan that one day, god willing, all the land would be theirs.

Straights who really want to look like they're gay! Sounds like a great opportunity for our next recruiting drive!

Jeff's a 32-year-old "starving artist" who likes to travel. So last fall, he pretended to be gay to get cheap airline tickets. The scheme may sound like something out of a bad Matthew Perry movie, but it worked. A gay friend who works for a major airline offered to list him as his domestic partner, even though Jeff's not the slightest bit bi-curious. "It was really easy," he confesses. "All my friend had to do was tell the airline." Unfortunately for Jeff, he was "dumped" a little while later. "My friend registered his new boyfriend, so he could get the seats."

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